Previously I’d found it only to be older men who referred to their spouses ominously as ‘the wife’, the words typically uttered while despondently studying the bottom of a pint glass, accompanied by what the casual listener may understand to be a complaint against their life-long companion, but on careful examination can only be interpreted as a spiritless appeal for emotional support in their day-to-day drudgery and inner emptiness.

Then I heard a 24 year old, with barely a whisker to his name, sighing ‘…the wife’, as though consciously realising for the first time that he was married, that he didn’t want to be, and that he had no viable option other than to knuckle down and see who died first.

With kids ‘growing up’ (= getting into trouble by themselves) so fast ‘these days’ (= since recorded history began) perhaps it is only justice that misery should also start younger.

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