Some relationships are more like a war of attrition. Not over money. Not over where to go on holiday. Not even over what we’ll charitably call ‘extra-curricular activities’. No. Some couples are at war over the cleaning

You can’t blame him (well, alright, you probably can. And will). He’s spent years being cossetted at home by a doting mother and/or father, but now he’s been catapulted into this strange new world where plates, shirts and wash basins no longer seem to mysteriously clean themselves. The poor lad’s confused. It might take him a while to adjust to the new way of the world. In the meantime his apparent phobia of going anywhere near a scouring sponge will be a cause of tension. There will be arguments, tears, recriminations. Huffs will be walked out in.

Another scenario. A busy couple, both working long hours, with friends and social lives. How on earth can either of them find time to clean? “I did it last time” will be a commonly-heard line in their house, perhaps referring to the occasion, some time before the advent of the smart phone, when one of them last cleaned inside the fridge. The tears and recriminations might be more half-hearted in this scenario, as both parties know deep down that they’re just as bad as each other.

Some couples manage a concordant home-life in which there’s tacit agreement that one or the other takes care of everything, or there’s a clear demarcation of chores that runs like clockwork without ever the need for a well-directed elbow in the ribs. But these are rare beacons of harmony in an otherwise chaotic world.

A disturbing survey recently reported that nearly one in five couples might include household chores in their reasons for breaking up. Christmas can be a particularly testing time, with disproportionately high numbers of relationships ending in January. If only he’d put the turkey tray in to soak straight away, instead of leaving the crusty bits to solidify into something only a pneumatic drill could shift…

Of course, some couples have cleaners. Leaving them with more spare time to, well, argue about something else?