The Martyr Game

The Martyr Game

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I have always maintained that when God gave out husbands, I was first in line! I mean, Stephen does all the grocery shopping, he cooks amazing meals every single night – often with starters, main course and dessert! I get a bath run for me each evening, with a glass of wine and my book placed within arm’s reach. I never buy my own books or magazines, as Stephen remembers to buy them for me as soon as mine are running out! I even get foot rubs while we are watching TV, for Heaven’s sake!

Oh, don’t get me wrong – there are still moments in our marriage when I could quite happily beat him senseless with the TV remote control! He never closes his cupboard doors, insists on buying BLUE toilet paper for our cream bathroom, and leaves at least six dish towels on various kitchen countertops at least six times a day. He uses the slot between our microwave and the cupboard as a filing system, places empty milk cartons and juice bottles on the counter ABOVE the dustbin, and has a nasty habit of reading my sms’s and then forgetting to tell me what they said – and so I never reply to people!

But other than that, I have always thought that Stephen is the closest thing to perfection I have ever met.

Until our daughter was born four years ago.

And then I started to get a little worried.

At first, I just thought he was being sweet. After all, how many men offer to change a really stinky nappy?

“Don’t worry, my angel – I’ll change her,” he would say while carrying Kayla at arm’s length and breathing through his mouth. “You just sit and relax for a bit.”

And so I did.

Until the blood curdling screams sent me hurtling through to the other side of the house, half expecting to see Stephen being held at gunpoint. By an alien. With half a head.

“Oh my GOD!” he would scream. “What the HELL have you been feeding her?”

“Here, let me finish,” I would always offer, as I have never been THAT concerned with stinky nappies.

“Doh, I can do it!” Stephen would say while holding his nose closed with one hand while fanning the front of his face with the other. “It’s just REALLY nasty!”

And so I would leave him to it. Until the NEXT time it happened, and he would offer to change her again.

I was perplexed!

Why on earth would he offer to change ALL the dirty nappies when he found it so repulsive?

Until I heard him on the phone to his best friend in the UK one night.

“Oh, I change most of Kayla’s dirty nappies,” he mentioned in a rather blasé fashion. “Shell doesn’t really like to do them.”

Silence while his friend obviously expressed great admiration for his selflessness.

“It’s not THAT bad,” Stephen then commented. “I find giving her a bottle at 2am much harder.”


“Well, Shell battles to fall asleep again once she’s been up at night, so I tend to do the night feeds,” my revolting husband sighed. “You get used to the exhaustion eventually…”

And that’s when it hit me! Stephen wasn’t changing all her dirty nappies (or giving her a bottle at 2am) out of the kindness of his heart! He was doing it so that he could play The Martyr Game!

You know, the one where you get to casually comment over breakfast each morning that you got up with the baby at least FOUR times last night while your partner was sleeping. Or sigh deeply while picking his soggy towel up off the bathroom floor for the third time that week. Or roll your eyes while taking his fifth coffee cup of the evening through to the kitchen sink. Or silently bash a new toilet roll violently against the wall before changing the empty roll he left behind.

The Martyr Game – played by millions of families worldwide – now available at a supermarket near you.

The rules are actually quite simple:

  • Never ask for what you want. Instead, sigh deeply when you don’t get your own way (or in my case, when Stephen reads me the Autotrader every night and quizzes me on all the details later to make sure I listened to every word.)
  • All sighs must be deep and shuddering and accompanied by a weary “Don’t You Worry About Me, I’ll Be Fine” tone of voice.
  • Your lips must constantly resemble a chicken’s bum – pursed tightly together.
  • The phrase, “I’ll just do it then!” must be uttered at least three times a day.
  • Extra points are given for cooking a meal for your family before telling them that you are far too tired to eat it.
  • Grudges must be kept at all times – but under no circumstances are you allowed to reveal to your partner exactly what he did wrong. After all, if he doesn’t know, then you are not going to tell him.
  • You must be right under all circumstances. Even when you are wrong.
  • When someone recommends a new book to you, your response must be that you are FAR too busy to read. (A deep sigh here is also recommended).
  • Your partner is expected to mind-read and to know what you want and need without your telling him. After all, if he really loved you, he would know what to say and what to do.
  • Sulking is optional, but definitely recommended.
  • Never speak highly of your partner in front of other people. After all, you will be too busy detailing all his faults.
  • Always assume that you are the most hard-done-by person on earth.

The winner of the game is the person that manages to confuse their partners so completely and utterly that they don’t know where to turn. When you hear them screaming “I don’t know what she WANTS anymore!” to someone/ anyone, then you know you have earned the well-earned title of the Ultimate Martyr. (That is, of course, if you want it!)

Anyway, I MUST go. I am FAR too busy and nobody does a THING to help me around here. I just don’t have a life any more. But dooooon’t you worry about me. I’ll be just FINE.

See how easy it is?

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