London - Long car journeys, irritating in-laws and endless downpours - no wonder holidays are a flashpoint for marital strife, with stressed-out couples rowing over the silliest things. Here four writers reveal what sparked their most ridiculous row . . .
GUESS WHO’S COME FOR DINNER . . .
SANDRA HOWARD, 73, a novelist and former model, lives with her husband Michael, 72, former Conservative leader, in London and Kent.
‘I’d like to ask the Hadleys to dinner,’ my beloved said one day. ‘They’re fun, good value and I’d like to talk to him about all he’s doing for charity.’
A reasonable request and one I never could have imagined would spark the mother of all rows. However, preoccupied with writing a love scene for my novel and only half-listening, I thought he’d said ‘Hagleys’, not ‘Hadleys’.
‘Fine,’ I said, baffled that Michael wanted to invite the most boring couple of our acquaintance. I dutifully called them up. They were free and accepted with such alacrity I suspected they weren’t invited out often.
When Michael opened the door to greet his chosen dinner guests a week later, I couldn’t understand why his face momentarily dropped like a stone.
The shocked expression was quickly transformed into a beaming smile and he welcomed the Hagleys warmly.
Michael was charm itself to them while slipping me ferocious glances. I had no idea what I’d done wrong. Was the lamb I’d cooked overdone? Had I said something to offend him?
I wittered on brightly all through the interminable evening. It wasn’t until Michael and I were in the kitchen bringing out the dessert that I learned of my mistake.
‘How could you - are you off your rocker?’ he hissed.
It was only when we finally closed the door on the poor, unsuspecting couple that he let fly. It didn’t help that I couldn’t stop laughing. The row went on for days.
It’s taken years, but Michael has seen the funny side. And alas, we never had the Hadleys to dinner.
PS: Yes, I’ve changed the names to spare the innocent.
HE ATE ALL THE YOGURTS!
KATHRYN KNIGHT, 42, lives in Clapham, South-West London, with her husband Duncan, 32, and their 11-month-old daughter Connie.
It doesn’t take much for me to kick off an argument. Yet amid all the trivial rows started by me over the years, ‘yogurt-gate’ is the one that stands out.
My husband Duncan likes yogurt very much. So much so that he eats vast pots at a time. I like yogurt, too: in small portions with my cereal in the morning.
But over the years, I have had a hard time getting any because no matter how much we buy, he eats it all. This has led to ‘words’.
These reached a crescendo one summer morning three years ago. I opened the fridge and grabbed the yogurt pot, looking forward to enjoying the portion I had saved for breakfast.
Yet there was nothing there. Not only had Duncan eaten it all, but he had absent-mindedly put the empty pot back in the fridge.
I stormed out of the kitchen and began screaming at Duncan, who was relaxing on the sofa: he was selfish, self-indulgent, thoughtless.
Duncan was robust in his defence: he wasn’t a mind-reader and I hadn’t told him I wanted the yogurt. Why was I so unreasonable and bad tempered? And - the worst - was I hormonal? All of which, of course, only made me more furious. Sick of the ranting, he asked me to reflect on my behaviour as he made for the door.
After an hour pacing the house, I was finally able to acknowledge I might have over-reacted. I left a message on his voicemail, apologising. To his credit, he returned - clutching a pot of yogurt.
WE FIGHT OVER A FRUIT BOWL
CLAIRE DONNELLY, 40, lives with her husband, John Sheridan, 42, a teacher, and children Frank, seven, and Stanley, six, in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.
My husband and I haven’t had one ridiculous row. We have the same ridiculous row every week. Even thinking about it makes me furious.
The reason for our marital discord? The fruit bowl. Or to be more precise, the collection of stuff my husband insists on putting in the fruit bowl.
Car keys, crumpled post and even an old sock have been known to make an appearance.
While John believes ‘a bowl’s a bowl’, I think he is desecrating my lovely, well-ordered home.
If he’s feeling conciliatory, he might take everything out that he’s put in it, muttering about my control freakery. If not, we’ll have ‘a lively debate’.
The only bright side of our weekly arguments? As long as it’s only the fruit bowl we’re fighting over, things can’t be that bad.
TRAPPED IN IKEA FOR EIGHT HOURS
PAUL CONNOLLY, 50, lives with his girlfriend, Donna, 40, in London. They are journalists and have ten-month-old twins, Leila and Caitlin.
We’d just moved into a new house and had virtually no furniture, so Donna spent hours drawing up lists of things we needed.
We hired a trailer and set off for our nearest Ikea, which was three hours away.
Donna made sandwiches and filled two flasks with tea. The first row was sparked by the fact she’d put some tomato sauce in the sausage sandwiches.
‘You know I only like red sauce on egg sandwiches,’ I barked.
Even then I knew what the matter really was. I hated shopping and I hated being bossed around. A visit to Ikea entailed hours of both.
The first big blow-out occurred in the kitchen section. I chose sleek, modern cupboard handles; Donna wanted a country style.
Voices were raised. A forthright discussion took place. I accused her of being primitive. As I’d got personal, she won the argument by virtue of moral superiority.
Next up were rugs. By then I was fuming and determined to reject her choice - a red, black and white one I’d really liked when I’d seen it in the catalogue.
I told her I could not countenance a red rug because I was a Manchester City fan and red was the colour of Manchester United.
She started to shout at me. I shouted back that she was insensitive to my sporting allegiances. We were really yelling.
A sheepish manager in a yellow and blue polo shirt came over and asked us to cool it.
We lowered our voices, hissing rather than shouting, but two sales assistants shadowed us as we quietly bickered our way around the shop.
When we finally reached the check-out, we were the last people in the store. We’d been there for eight hours.
‘I’ll go get the car and bring it round to the front,’ I said, as I started to frantically pat my pockets for the keys.
Where were they? Oh, no, I’d left them in the kitchen section hours before. Donna, surrounded by £3,000-worth of shopping, glowered. She was almost beyond anger.
Almost. ‘You great useless lump,’ she started to shout.
I slunk off, protecting myself from the volley of abuse aimed at my back. We have never gone shopping together again. - Daily Mail