Wisdom for happy, modern marriages | Letters

Men who want to change need to organise themselves, writes Henrietta Cubitt. And one reader reflects on her relationship of 50-plus years

What an interesting article by Hadley Freeman (Marriage isn’t the problem, it’s husbands, 30 May). I agree that for a marriage to be happy, it needs to be an equal partnership. The problem is, we learn how to behave from our parents, and other adults, showing us when we are children. A girl learns very early that she is expected to grow up and be like her mother (and other women), and she watches and learns, this before she is old enough to remember. Boys learn the same about growing up to be men; they see that they won’t be doing any childcare or managing the house, so they don’t need to learn how to do it.

With some things, people notice when they are older that something isn’t fair and they decide, consciously, to do it differently when they grow up. But it would not help relationships if women had to teach their husbands how to look after the baby, how to wash up, and especially how to keep in mind all the chores that need to be done. Could men who want to change organise themselves into a group and arrange to be taught these things? Please don’t tell me women should do that for them!
Henrietta Cubitt
Cambridge

• I think Margaret Mead hit the nail on the head with her three relationship stages (How did I get here?, G2, 29 May), but does it have to be three (or more) relationships? How about working for the first, youthful passion, to blend into parenthood, and then move on to companionship? It’s not easy, but looking back over 50-plus years I am glad we did that. And I can tell you that the first and second stages are still there even though we are now well into the third. We have missed the highs of multiple new passions, but also the lows of arguments, sadness, divorce etc. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I am with my partner of youthful passion, the father of my children and my best friend. This is what I would say to my grandchildren and any younger couples feeling strongly enough to commit to each other. Go for it. Stick with it. Evolve together. It’s worth it if you can.
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