Angela Epstein's provocative take on married life:
Standing in front of the bedroom mirror, I give my reflection one last appreciative glance. I’ve got a night out with some female colleagues at a swanky new bar, and I’m determined to look my very best.
Arrogant as it may sound, I’m happy with what I see: freshly blow-dried hair, carefully applied lipstick, a pair of leg-stretching killer heels and a dress that manages to be both sexy and elegant.
All that’s needed is a final spritz of perfume — just enough to entice, not too much to overpower — and I grab my clutch and keys and head for the door.
Glamorous: Angela Epstein likes to make the effort to look good for her husband, Martin
Tonight, I want to attract a man. Not because I’m some predatory divorcee out to bag a scalp, nor because I’m a mistress-in-waiting looking for a little extra-curricular activity.
No, I am a happily married woman, with no interest in any man other than my lovely husband of 20 years, Martin, the father of our four children.
But that doesn’t stop me from making sure that whenever I’m 'on show', be it at a social event with Martin, a work engagement or — in the case of tonight — out with a few girlfriends, I dress in a way that will attract male attention.
A recipe for trouble? I don’t think so. It’s critical for a married woman, however happy she is, to make herself desirable to other men.
And before all those sour-faced, school-run mums with their hands up a chicken or their elbows in a twin tub start hurling their curlers at me, let me explain.
Some women dress to impress other women — so they’ll pass the brutal, look-you-up-and-down appraisal routine practised by all judgemental ladies.
But I’m not interested in what other women think. Men are the barometer by which my attractiveness to my husband can be measured, ensuring I never take his interest in me for granted.
It’s easy, after years of marriage, to assume your husband will fancy you no matter how you look. And at the end of a busy day, with four children to take care of, it can take a lot of effort to — well — make an effort.
Improvement: If men notice, your husband is likely to remember how much he fancied you in the first place
Unsexy: A stressed, scruffy woman with messy hair and a baggy shirt is not the stuff of male dreams
Bad habits set in... not bothering with make-up when you both go to the cinema (who’s going to notice your sallow complexion in the dark?)... ditching your contact lenses for your pebble-thick glasses if it’s just a quick supper at the local gastropub...
I see married women all the time in their ugly shoes or with their badly concealed baby weight, tagging alongside an uninterested spouse.
These women are, I’m afraid, inviting their man to stray. For, reprehensible as it is for any man to cheat, a woman who no longer values her own sexiness is compounding any potential weakness on her husband’s part.
The way to keep him interested is to make him insecure — show him that other men are interested in you, so he’d better value what he’s got.
I realise that mine isn’t a popular view. The other evening, I went for a drink with a female work friend. I was in tight-fitting jeans, full make-up and high heels; her notion of dressing up was to take off her apron.
I explained my theory, only for her to snarl: 'If my husband’s seen me give birth, he can cope with me in an old top and jeans.'
But that’s precisely the point. Your spouse remembers only too well watching his beautiful bride transformed into an enormous, foul-mouthed harpy on the delivery table.
He knows how you look in the morning with last night’s make-up landsliding down your face and hair matted like the bottom of a cat basket.
If that’s all you ever show him, it’s simply inevitable that he’ll take you for granted. Sure, he may love you — but when you stop showing him your desirable side, his attraction to you will become as tired and routine as the weekend shop.
Romance: Making the most of yourself makes you feel better and keeps your marriage in good shape
Beware: Scruffy women are more likely to fall prey to cheating husbands says Angela
That’s why you have to remind him that other men find you sexy — otherwise you dent his delicate male ego by suggesting he’s not worth scrubbing up for.
Remember, if he married you, he must have fancied you (once). I’m a hard-working, multi-tasking, mother-of-four battling encroaching age and fatigue. I would describe my looks — without some clever M&S upholstery and a load of cosmetics — as utterly ordinary. But that just makes me work even harder.
My husband is, at best, bemused by my theory. The other night, as I was wiggling up and down the bedroom in a clingy cream frock and fretting over which heels to team it with before we headed out to a charity do together, he commented: 'Does it really matter? Who really cares, apart
Ah, but at the function, when one of the male organisers told me I looked 'rather hot', he bristled and threw a proprietorial arm around my shoulder. Hurrah! Result!
Working hard so other men notice you triggers a Neanderthal response in your man. It takes him back to those bygone days when males, high on pheromones, would prowl round for potential mates.
Nothing is more guaranteed to drag him away from checking football scores at a party and place him firmly back by your side than the appreciative glance of a lusty competitor.
And the greater the status of the man who notices you, the greater the impact on your other half. It will reinforce his pride in the fact that you are his.
It works the other way, too. Nothing reignites my interest in my husband more than the flutter of another woman’s eyelashes in his direction.
I buy him beautiful clothes for his birthday, even though they might court the sort of female attention that I know raises my hackles. It’s all part of keeping the spark alive.
Does it get me into trouble? Occasionally, yes. There will always be men for whom a reasonably-presented woman will seem fair game.
This is why turning heads has to be done with a restrained hand. Men are simplistic about smoke signals.
If you’re heavy handed with the hair-flicking, pouting and skirt-hitching they automatically assume this is semaphore for 'there’s a Travelodge around the corner'. When I sense there is any danger of that, I can’t get back to my lovely man fast enough.
Ultimately, I still fancy my husband and want to do everything I can to ensure he still fancies me too.
But even if he put a ring on my finger, it doesn’t hurt to keep him on his toes too.