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Christine McGuiness reminds me why I despise marriage – like her, so many pretend to be happy when they’re miserable




SECURITY may not be the sexiest word when it comes to relationships, but it certainly seemed to be what sustained Christine McGuinness’s 11-year marriage to TV star Paddy.

She claims that with a history of ­turbulent ex-boyfriends, meeting Paddy offered her safety and she chose to stick with it.

Christine remained in her marriage to Paddy because of a sense of security and her autism meaning that she found change hard to deal with


Christine remained in her marriage to Paddy because of a sense of security and her autism meaning that she found change hard to deal withCredit: Splash News
Their separation is a reminder why all the smug married people out there in the world shouldn't pretend that everything's okay


Their separation is a reminder why all the smug married people out there in the world shouldn’t pretend that everything’s okayCredit: Getty

Compounded by her diagnosis of autism, which meant she found change hard to deal with, she remained in the marriage despite now claiming she was unhappy, and had masked her true feelings.

The couple have three children, whose autism they have documented publicly.

It can’t be easy to have four out of five members of a family with autism.

When Christine and Paddy announced their separation last year, I wasn’t stunned because it made me wonder, yet again, if they were yet another seemingly “happy couple” where all is not as it seems.

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You know, those duos who give off a vibe of two people who’ve made a huge success of their long relationship despite the challenges of parenthood, external temptation and knowing that they’ve both substantially changed as people over the years.

I reckon there are a lot of them out there, folks. Yes, I’ve come to slightly despise marriage.

Not because I’m no longer married or because I crave it.

Not even because, having endured a couple of years of modern dating — which is akin to the Wild West — I secretly hanker for someone to empty the dishwasher with on a Wednesday night.

It’s not even because I see my divorces as failures. I utterly respect the dedication and commitment of being in a long-term marriage.

It’s because I feel some people are scared of losing what they have and what they want in their future.

Then there are those who, understandably, can’t bear the thought of the upheaval, with or without kids. It is an unbearable prospect and one I’ve had to face. It’s not pretty but it is possible.

Christine and Paddy’s case is undoubtedly made trickier by their children’s diagnoses.

And then, there are those who fear other people’s perceptions and judgments if they break loose from an unhappy marriage.

For some, it’s all about keeping up with the Joneses and maintaining a front.

We all know those couples who bicker with and bitch about their partner as if they’d rather punch them in the throat than spend another minute of their life with them.

And still, they stay.

Fundamentally, people fear change. It’s uncomfortable — whether, like Christine, you are autistic or not.

No one likes to rock the boat. Except for those who are really good swimmers, I guess.

And I’m a good swimmer.

Parenting is like a walk in Jurassic Park

I never felt I could stay with someone just because it felt secure, if I was essentially unhappy. Staying for the sake of it has never been my style.

But nor has it been my thing to pretend to others that all is well with the world when secretly I’ve wanted to stick needles in my husband’s eyes and clean the toilet with his toothbrush.

And perhaps that’s what I find irritating.

That people, like Christine, but by no means her alone, may have done everything in their power to create a public perception of utter happiness and marital bliss.

Her social media posts exude love, light and happiness.

I’m sure that behind the scenes parenting is more like a walk in Jurassic Park, like it is for all of us.

But some people’s insistence on portraying a nigh-on perfect married life gets my goat.

It’s no exaggeration to say that it just plain winds people up because it’s not the whole truth.

Don’t make me believe you are euphoric and your marriage is paradise.

If you are exaggerating your happiness in the face of actually being unhappy, it can be unfair, distorting and misleading.

So, to all those unhappily smug married people out there: Don’t pretend.

At least be honest with the world. Or alternatively, embrace change because change is the only constant in life.


GOOD on Helen Mirren who, at 77, has decided to grow her hair out after feeling she just couldn’t be bothered to cut it during lockdown.

I originally presumed she was wearing extensions, maybe for a role or for some promotion or other.

Good on Helen Mirren for her continued defiance of societal norms


Good on Helen Mirren for her continued defiance of societal normsCredit: Splash News

I like it. I love it. But more than anything, I love her continued defiance against societal expectation.

I remember her coming on TV-am when I was a weather girl and talking about how “morning sex” was the best.

I was 21 and shockingly didn’t even know that existed. I do now. Thanks, Hel.

I love it when older women challenge the stereotype. Older women aren’t supposed to have long hair. Why not? Helen looks great.

I remember telling a beau when I was in my 30s that I was thinking of cutting my hair short-short and he had the audacity to say that I needed a younger face with “sharper” features to pull it off.

So, I promptly cut off my hair the next day.

Ain’t nobody telling me.

I’VE always been partial to a bit of Eddie Izzard.

I’m not fussed which part. His humour, his intelligence, his hilarious French accent. 

And now I can add his compassion and common sense.

Eddie has introduced his new feminine name, Suzy.

Suzy Eddie Izzard is a gender fluid transwoman who does not care which pronoun you use as it’s just a language adjustment.

I find this so refreshing because I will adhere to whatever pronoun someone asks me to but, like Richard Madeley who mistakenly referred to Sam Smith as “he”, I might accidentally slip up.

I don’t want to feel intimidated while I get used to changes.


BEING a woman in the autumn of my life, childcare is not something I have to worry about.

When my children were small I had the resources for a nanny.

This was not so much a luxury, more a necessity due to the nature of my job and its peculiar working hours.

I rarely worked nine to five, often worked evenings and many weekends.

I don’t know how parents in this country cope with the cost of childcare nowadays. Well, I do.

They often have to choose not to go to work because it simply doesn’t make financial sense.

If it is going to cost you more than your monthly mortgage, you simply couldn’t do it.

Who can afford two mortgages? If ever there was a disincentive to return to work, surely this is it?

Some may be lucky enough to have a grandparent who can help out.

But then the Government wonders why the over-50s aren’t in work while it is quite happy for that generation to subsidise and carry the burden on its behalf.

While cost is a huge obstacle for parents, so is the lack of childcare places.

Only 48 per cent of councils have enough places, according to a survey of local authorities in England by children’s charity Coram.

I would be in a blind panic about having a child if I was that age now.

But one thing is for sure, the Government is missing a trick by excluding parents from the workforce when they could make a really valuable contribution to our somewhat compromised economy.

I hate to say it, but take a look at how the Swedes do it.

App filters lead to vicious cycle of cloned looks

WE think social media filters are our friend, enabling us to look subtly enhanced or furiously exaggerated.

So it’s worrying to hear about a filter on TikTok called Bold Glamor that has been used more than 15million times since its release a month ago.

Ageing may change things about your face but c'est la vie


Ageing may change things about your face but c’est la vieCredit: Supplied
TikTok filters such as this have been linked to an increase in demand for cosmetic surgery


TikTok filters such as this have been linked to an increase in demand for cosmetic surgeryCredit: Supplied

The software makes it look as if you have a touch of make-up on, creates better bone structure, smooths the skin and even enlarges the lips.

No one should dare to have thin lips, after all. That’s forbidden.

It is by no means a dramatic filter. Perhaps for that reason it is so alarming that research by Girlguiding UK found 48 per cent of women aged 11 to 21 regularly use apps and/or filters to enhance pictures of themselves.

Consequently, filters have been linked to an increase in demand for cosmetic surgery, researchers at the Boston Medical Center found.

As a 55-year-old woman, I have grown accustomed to my face.

I may not like all that ageing has done to it and I have done to encourage it – but c’est la vie.

My concern is that this generation of young women – and, of course, there are men, too, who fall foul of the filters – know nothing other than looking a certain way.

Big lips, high cheekbones, make-up, hair and nail extensions.

I find it increasingly difficult to tell a lot of young women apart.

It’s like a vicious cycle of filters making people feel better about themselves.

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They know it’s all a lie which, in turn, makes them want to feel better about themselves by using a filter.

And, let’s face it, no one really wants to be the first to tell or show the truth.

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