By JR on Monday, May 21, 2012
She says she's proud of being a 'trophy wife'
My husband sets me a £250 allowance each month for my wardrobe, I ask his permission before booking a hair appointment and discuss with him what I will have done.
He even has an opinion — which I adhere to — on how I dress and what I weigh. He prefers I wear classic ladylike attire and, at 5ft 11in, he insists I tip the scale at no more than 10½ stone. In fact, he’s there when I weigh myself.
At this point, many of you will be thinking I’m little more than a trophy wife for my husband, Pascal, and you’re right. I am a trophy wife — and what’s more, I’m proud of it.
Pascal has built up a very successful business, he earns more than I do and I’m lucky enough not to need to bring a salary into the home, though I still work part-time to keep my wits about me.
Pascal is a Frenchman with particularly traditional views. He is a decade older than me and unashamedly tells people he chose me for my looks. But that doesn’t make me a designer-clad airhead who’s only interested in getting my hands on his cash.
People disapprove of relationships like ours because they assume love doesn’t enter the equation — that our marriage is merely an exchange of commodities: my youth and good looks for his wealth. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Whatever else the naysayers may throw at us, I’m comfortable with my trophy-wife status for two reasons: Pascal and I are deeply in love and I adore being treated like a princess.
And even in these egalitarian times, many people enjoy this kind of marriage — even if most are shy of the ‘trophy wife’ tag.
Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein and Rod Stewart are known for their clout in their fields and for their choice of younger, attractive wives: Melania Trump, Georgina Chapman and Penny Lancaster respectively.
These are smart women, just like me, who are more than a decade younger than their other half. They staunchly support their husbands and, in return, receive a wonderful lifestyle.
Reading all this, it might surprise you to learn I started out as a strident career woman. My formative years were during Thatcher’s Eighties. Being a kept housewife was out; becoming a financially independent career girl was in.
I even found myself a younger, prettier husband — one who earned less than I did. At the time of my first marriage, in my early 30s, I was working as a successful TV boss on a six-figure salary and turning over millions of pounds each year. I wore the trousers in the office and at home, and enjoyed it — for a while.
Inevitably, when you earn more than your husband, the financial responsibilities fall on your shoulders. I asked him to pay the mortgage one month and he agreed only after I assured him I would pay him back within the week. I paid for the running of our home, forked out for our holidays and it was even left to me to fund our wedding and honeymoon.
But I knew I had to get out of the relationship when I found myself writing cheque after cheque for all of our outgoings. It wasn’t the money that upset me, I just found it deeply unattractive to have a man so dependent on me. Having our roles reversed in that way — me as the breadwinner, he the part-time worker — meant my respect for him evaporated and so, eventually, did my love.
I was in my mid-30s when I met my second husband, Pascal. From our first date I knew he was a man who cherished physical looks. He complimented me on my legs, my eyes, my figure. He would endlessly tell me how beautiful I was. He wasn’t attracted by my career or my bank account. Instead he viewed me as a prize to be won and, to my surprise, I found his approach seductive.
Pascal likes being a proper gentleman — the idea of going Dutch in a restaurant is abhorrent to him. On our first date it was the first time anyone, other than a chauffeur, had opened a car door for me. I loved it — it made me feel special.
Throughout our courtship I received flowers, and was taken to boutiques, where he would hand over his credit card. He’d have a bottle of my favourite champagne on ice when I arrived at his home. When a man goes to that much effort, why wouldn’t I want to go the extra mile for him?
Before our dates I would ensure I looked my best, spending hours on my grooming routine. I’d style my hair the way he liked it, down and slightly tousled, ensure I’d painted and filed my nails and applied a light layer of sun-kissed fake tan. I even ditched my wardrobe of designer trouser suits and rediscovered a love of floral dresses.
Since the time of our blossoming romance, a day has not gone by where I haven’t made an effort with my appearance. It pains me to read that women such as Hillary Clinton feel they’ve reached an age where they no longer need make-up.
If a woman doesn’t make an effort, it’s perfectly logical that her husband will assume it’s because she feels he’s not worth making an effort for. Can you then blame a man for looking elsewhere? A trophy wife, however, would never make such a mistake. It’s part of our job description to look good and support our husbands at all times. Pascal and I understand what the other wants. It’s not something we’ve ever discussed, but we both know my role in our relationship is integral to its success.
My husband runs a thriving building company where we live. When we met I was shown off to everyone as yet another perk of his success. We regularly socialise with other suppliers, clients and colleagues. They’re all his age — in their 50s — and love seeing a ‘blonde poppet’ (as I’ve been described) on his arm.
At first, I found such a label ghastly and patronising, but I defy any woman not to be secretly flattered by such accolades when they’re genuinely given as an appreciation of your femininity.
I know my place in the home – in the bedroom and kitchen I’m a consummate professional
I’m friendly and charming to those he works with and it’s fair to say they soon realise I might be an attractive blonde, but I’ve got a brain, too.
Pascal’s business has expanded because of me. It helps that I turn the heads of his friends in a male-dominated industry.
Most of the other wives are older and are focused on their families first, their husbands a poor second. My day is organised around my husband: isn’t that what all wives should do? I know my place in the home — in the bedroom or the kitchen, I’m a consummate professional.
I don’t make the mistake of suffering from headaches when I’m between the sheets or feign sleepiness when my husband makes amorous advances. In the kitchen, I put on my apron and prepare Pascal a home-cooked meal twice a day, every day. I wouldn’t dream of serving him up something out of a packet.
Each afternoon, before his siesta, I massage his head and shoulders with lavender oil. When he arrives home in the evening, I greet him with an aperitif. Having been married before, we both know about modern relationships — shouty, stressed wives trying (and failing) to do it all, husbands who stay out all hours to avoid the messy domestic scene at home, only convenience food on the table and growing resentment destroying the relationship.
We knew we didn’t want that again — that’s why this works for us. A man who covets a trophy wife has nothing in common with those in-touch-with-their feelings metrosexual men. Accordingly, I don’t witter on about PMT or yell at him when I’m stressed. That’s what my friends and mum are for. If I’m poorly I keep out of his way. I knew from the start he was ill-equipped to deal with me when I’m not bright and cheery.
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t downsides to being a trophy wife. I know I’ll have to maintain my figure and looks. Pascal is adamant that even as I get older, it’s no excuse to let myself go. As a younger wife, you battle against the assumption you’re a gold-digger crossing off the years until your beloved is six feet under. But I have my career and own income, so my lifestyle wouldn’t suffer if I wasn’t with Pascal.
In France, there’s a flippant word used to dismiss trophy wives: potiche. It translates as an ornamental vase — something that exists purely because it looks good. Yet I don’t find it at all dismissive. We trophy wives are decorative, treasured and highly valued. And to me, that can never be a bad thing.