Now I'm a mother, why do other women think my husband is fair game? Strangers, au pairs, even her friends have thrown themselves at Lisa's man
Two Christmases ago, my husband, sons and I swept up the snow-covered driveway of my friend’s Yorkshire farmhouse, weary from a long drive up from London.
Joseph, my husband, proceeded to unpack the car, while I shepherded the three young boys into the warm. A flurry of blonde hair and lithe, fur-wrapped limbs bounded past me towards the car and planted a kiss firmly on Joseph’s cheeks.
‘No one told me what a handsome husband Lisa has,’ she giggled, taking his arm and leading him into the house.
Holding on to her man: Lisa with her husband Joseph who has been propositioned by their au pair and her friends since she became a mother
From that moment on, Josephine, a friend of our host, made it clear she was single and on the hunt for a man. And that man was my husband.
A one off? Not a chance. Over the past seven years, ever since I gave birth to our oldest son Rocco, women have seen my husband as a fair target.
Friends, strangers, au pairs — they’ve all thrown themselves at him. Usually while I’m in the room.
Josephine was no different. Over the next four agonising days, I had to watch as this 20-something lingerie-model-turned-TV-presenter hung on to his every word and even tried to win our children around with promises of visits to Santa’s grotto.
That first night, she revealed that her previous relationship was with a man who left his wife and children. ‘Married men have always been attracted to me,’ she told me as we washed the dishes.
She clearly saw my husband as an easy target. In her eyes, I was not my husband’s lover, but merely the mother of his children
She went to light a fire in the drawing room, poured Joseph a whisky and snuggled up against him for warmth. I was seething as I watched her nestle closer to him, as he in turn became more uncomfortable and started to edge away.
So why didn’t I react? Pride, in a word. I would not give her the satisfaction of seeing that I considered her a threat. Nevertheless, it was with trepidation that I left the room to check on the children.
I had one foot on the stairs when I heard her: ‘Joseph, why don’t you come into my bed later? It’s a very cold night,’ she purred.
Thank God, Joseph was horrified. ‘I’m a happily married man,’ he retorted, before scurrying upstairs with me.
Tables have turned: Pre-children, it was Lisa who had to fend off unwanted attention
But the rebuff didn’t put her off. Every morning, I’d find her dressed in tiny silk nighties and stiletto boots, while vacuuming and preparing breakfast.
The minute Joseph emerged, she’d present him with eggs Benedict and engage him in conversation. Still I refused to confront her — although I started dressing in slinky dresses and heels whenever she was around, which Joseph saw through immediately.
‘Don’t let her get to you,’ he said. ‘You’re gorgeous the way you are.’
She clearly saw my husband as an easy target. In her eyes, I was not my husband’s lover, but merely the mother of his children, with no more allure than Ena Sharples to her Greta Scacchi.
With my expanded waistline and the exhaustion of having three young children, I was no competition.
While he’s gorgeous to me, my 48-year-old husband of eight years is no George Clooney. Yet I’ve found, since I became a mother, women swoon over him.
Pre-children, it was me who had to fend off unwanted attention, while Joseph stamped his claim with outward displays of affection.
But from the moment Rocco was born, I was off the desirability radar while Joseph, who’d proved his virility, good genes and willingness to commit, found his stock had soared.
I’m not the only wife to have experienced this phenomenon. A friend told how, as she was about to leave a dinner party, a single woman suggested her husband stay, whispering slyly: ‘I’ll look after you.’
‘The awful thing is that he actually stayed,’ she told me. ‘I never forgave him and laid down strict boundaries after that.’
But what makes women act in this way? And why do middle-aged men become such hot property once they become fathers?
Relationship coach Susan Quilliam says: ‘Often sex diminishes after the birth of a first child and other women can make an assumption that a father will be more responsive to them.
‘Once a baby is born, the mother’s attention is naturally tied to her baby, so often a man can feel surplus to requirements.
‘He can feel sidelined and might well offload his emotional insecurity in a relationship with a woman outside his marriage. At this stage in his life, a man is very vulnerable to these women.’
Worryingly, it’s not just strangers who make this assumption. A close friend of 20 years — who’d attended our wedding and was married herself — made her intentions clear when she came to stay with us for a weekend after the birth of our third baby.
I thought it wholly inappropriate that she lounged around in a skimpy camisole and initiated long conversations in fluent French (my husband is Moroccan, and French is his first language). My rusty A-level French couldn’t keep up with her.
I told myself I was just being insecure but, a few months later, I mentioned to Joseph that I hoped to visit her. He was reluctant to go, admitting: ‘I’m afraid she isn’t a very good friend to you.’
Hands off, he's mine! Lisa hopes the husband predators will get the message soon that he's taken
It turned out, after I’d taken the children to the park, my ‘friend’ had emerged from the shower and dropped her towel before my husband. It explained why he’d unexpectedly joined us in the park that morning in mismatched shoes — he’d obviously been in a desperate rush to flee the house.
I was furious with Joseph for not telling me sooner. Needless to say, we did not visit them. Nor did I speak to her ever again.
19 per cent of married women and 23 per cent of married men have cheated, according to a survey
Joseph, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly irritated that he has to constantly reassure me there is no danger of him falling victim to one of these husband hunters.
Just four months ago, I endured the stomach-churning terror of watching our nanny trying to steal him before my eyes.
While working at our house, Nina always turned up for work in slouchy tracksuit bottoms. But when we all went to Marrakech (Nina, too, to help with the children), she morphed into an Amazonian Bond girl. Things came to a head over dinner one night when she looked at him and said softly, ‘I am a woman who has so much love to give, so very much, and yet I meet only men who rebuke my affections.’
So I fought back. Next morning, I put on my snazziest one-piece and marched off to the pool. I summoned Nina out of the water and told her to prepare lunch while I spent time with my husband. Joseph loudly applauded.
Hopefully, as the years pass, I will become resilient to these ‘takeover bids’. After-all, if Joseph was going to run off with someone, he would have done it by now. He’s had enough opportunities.
So, husband predators, back off. This husband really does prefer his wife.