"We conclude that being an engaged father is very important to men."

London - Well, I could have saved them the trouble, but research from America claims that most women instinctively want a man who will provide for them.

Evolutionary biologists have discovered, it seems, that the nuclear family evolved when men found that women preferred males who provided for them and their children to those who were constantly clubbing each other in a battle for supremacy.

For thousands of years, this model of two parents, with the male looking after the female, proved successful - but new figures released by the Office of National Statistics to mark the Diamond Jubilee reveal that husband-providers have become an endangered species. There are fewer marriages and four times more divorces today than in 1952, when the Queen acceded to the throne.

In 2012, a third of Britons live alone and the traditional nuclear family seems set to become almost as outdated as the Morris Minor (1952’s most popular car).

So what is going wrong? One factor, I suspect, is the rise of the career woman. In many ways, I’m all for this: after all, I am one myself, and I would certainly want my daughter to have a career and to be capable of providing for herself. But it’s had an undeniably emasculating effect on some men.

This, combined with the trend of more and more men staying at home to bring up the children while their high-earning wives go out to work, has changed the whole order of family life in many households - and placed an immense strain on many marriages. Is this progress? Do we really want a world in which wives routinely make the money while their husbands become adept at managing the home, children and the supermarket shop?

When I married my husband, he was a junior doctor earning considerably less than me. For several years, I was the breadwinner - and when you know the mortgage is dependent on your salary, it gives you a different perspective on life. It didn’t affect our marriage because I always knew the day would come when, as a consultant, my husband would earn more than me.

But a friend who is a mother of three recently went back to work full-time because her husband, a graphic designer, decided he’d rather work for himself than have his creativity compromised by working for a company. She finds she can’t forgive him for failing to be the main provider, when he could be if he chose.

Of course, life is complicated, and a successful marriage is based on supporting each other through the bad times as well as the good. If a man’s been made redundant or has lost his job through ill-health, then it’s not only understandable but right that his wife takes over the breadwinner’s role, if at all possible.

But nothing will persuade me that men are better equipped than women to take on childcare - or that most men really want to. My husband is a loving father who was desperate to have children. He’s also a workaholic who’s never happier than when he’s working six days a week.

When I tell him that (like every working mother I know) I’m racked with guilt and worry endlessly about our children’s wellbeing, he’s genuinely amazed.

He never gives a second’s thought to whether they’re eating enough fruit, getting enough sleep or have made enough friends. He worries only when there’s something major to worry about, such as when they’re ill or unhappy. This is normal. A good father should have implacable determination to provide, the strength to protect and the stamina to survive.

I couldn’t care less how he manages in the supermarket (I already know the answer: barely). Because what’s far more important than being a good role model in the supermarket is to be a good role model as a man. - Daily Mail