It’s been called the ultimate gift of love: would your other half take over – unbidden – the peeling of a juicy Jaffa for you, should you find the whole orange messy stickiness too much? Or do they have other gentle, humble offerings which make them a keeper?
“Orange Peel Theory” is the latest fad to emerge from trend petri dish TikTok, with more than 46 million hashtag views, as people share the small but meaningful acts of love that make them feel cherished.
Does your other half, for example, meet you at the station with a brolly when it’s raining, just in case you forgot yours? Perhaps they make sure the tonic water never runs out, always do the late night dog walk, or leave the log fire laid and ready to light when they’re going out but you’re staying in?
Prized above gifts of rubies and diamonds are surely those small presents of love that remind you why your relationship will last a lifetime, not just a season.
Let’s forget about red flags, and enjoy these green flags in our writers’ relationships – and do tell us about yours in the comments below.
Doing the dirty
Monday nights are when I show my husband just how much I love him. And yes, it’s dirty.
He used to ask – beg – but he doesn’t need to any more, at least not since the pandemic.
As the closing credits roll on University Challenge, I pad my way to the kitchen, slip into outdoor shoes and remove The Dirty Bin from under the sink. I call out in a comedy Ulster accent, “The Dirty Bin is leaving the building!”
Then I go outside and empty the revolting, stinky contents of the small blue food waste caddy into the big blue bin. It is sloppy and disgusting and fetid.
But I do it because I know how much it means to him, and he will do anything in return. As I bring the big bin through the front garden and leave it outside the gate for the recycling lorry, the neighbours salute me for my heroic selflessness. I smile in response with wifely serenity.
And then I go back indoors and wonder if I should tell them I completely lost my sense of smell in lockdown and nothing gets through; not even rancid fish heads.
The perfect bedmate
Marital satisfaction often depends on what goes on between the sheets and that’s certainly the case for me and my husband. During the winter, if I go out without him and arrive home late, he falls asleep on my side of the bed to make sure it’s toasty warm for my return. A tiny gesture but one that oozes consideration, and reminds me that however much he complains about my inability to shut cupboard doors, he’s a good egg. And for someone who feels the cold in the marrow of every bone, it makes going out on wintry nights just about bearable.
Ironing out the issues
My husband has never cooked a meal for the family. Whenever I ask him to pick up the simplest food item, he always manages to buy the wrong thing. (It doesn’t matter how often I tell him Elmlea isn’t really cream…)
We have one television and it’s always tuned to a sports channel. I have to watch my programmes on the iPad, in bed. He never brings me flowers.
These are things that I know would send many women looking for a divorce lawyer, but none of it matters to me, because every couple of weeks I come home and he’s done all the ironing.
It’s all laid out on the bed in perfectly folded piles of tea towels, napkins, pillowcases, sheets and duvet covers, and shirts. His and mine.
The joy I feel when I arrive home to this surprise outstrips anything that could be triggered by a small jewellery box. It’s almost an erotic experience.
And it makes me perfectly happy to be the one who puts it all away, knowing that when the next load of washing is dry, I can just start again.
Casually dropping the things that need it into the ironing basket, without another thought, knowing that – without me ever having to ask – one day I’ll come home and find it all done. Heaven.
In restaurants, I am indecisive. I am indecisive elsewhere too, but choosing the right place to eat, and the right meal, are in my view among the most high-stakes decisions to be made.
Fortunately, I married someone who is unfussy about most things (yes, yes, maybe that’s why he’s with me). He enjoys food but hardly minds where it came from or what it is. Nevertheless, he won’t complain when I insist on checking out the menu of every place in town before returning to the first one we came to. And when I can’t decide between two dishes, he’ll sigh, “Order both, and I’ll eat whichever you like the least.”
Perhaps what he has realised is the way to a woman’s heart is in fact through her man’s selfless stomach.
Normally my boyfriend gets up earlier than me because he has a longer commute, so usually that means I’m in the shower while he’s getting dressed. On cold mornings, while I’m out of the room he always, without fail, will put my jeans, a pair of socks, and some underwear on the radiator for me so that they’re already warmed up by the time I’m putting them on. It’s a small gesture, but it warms my heart – and my legs and feet too. Bless him.
I’ve always been terribly arachnophobic, to the extent that on my first date with my now-fiancé Don, I asked what he’d do if he saw a spider. “I’d catch him under a glass, then tell him to sit there and think about what he’s done,” he replied, instantly bagging himself a second date – and he’s been protecting me from the eight-eyed, bandy-legged fiends ever since.
Sometimes, I’ll find the tell-tale signs of a glass and a piece of cardboard on the kitchen counter, where he’s quietly disposed of a spider. Once, I woke up in the middle of the night to find him standing up a ladder, pressing a tumbler to the ceiling. “Nothing to see here. Go back to sleep,” Don said, and I did – safe in the knowledge that he’ll always be there to catch spiders for me, even when I don’t even know they’re there.