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Five little words to scupper a romance

PUBLISHED: 10:53 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 July 2010

THE marriage of former tennis darling Chris Evert and king of the greens Greg Norman is over after just 15 months.

His children allegedly scuppered any chance of marital bliss as the couple succumbed to the very modern relationship curse - the stepchildren.

THE marriage of former tennis darling Chris Evert and king of the greens Greg Norman is over after just 15 months.

His children allegedly scuppered any chance of marital bliss as the couple succumbed to the very modern relationship curse - the stepchildren.

Norman's adult children weren't too keen on Evert.

Stepchildren don't keep such dislike secret. It invariably means all out war, actively making life hell for them and waging vendettas of spite to drive them away.

Divorce by stepchildren is a common affliction of today's “blended” family.

Not so much “blended” as “shredded” once children get to work.

Couples in their 30s, 40s and 50s finding love the second, third or even fourth time around - ever-the-optimists, they never give up hope.

They meet and it's all hearts, flowers and lovey doveyness for the first few months. Then one mutters the words they will live to regret.

“You must meet my children.”

Five little words that can destroy a promising relationship. Two becomes three, four, five or even six. Children, rightly or wrongly, object to an “outsider” cosying up to their parent, refuse to accept them and vow to make their life hell.

And they do it very well - especially if they see the new partner as a threat.

Both partners usually have children. How lovely, they say, as they plan weekends together en-masse.

They convince themselves it's perfect sense to bring all the children together every other weekend. This arrangement will free up alternate weekends for intimate times alone together while both sets of children are with the other partner.

Perfect? No such thing. A recipe for total disaster.

So many friends have wept on my shoulder after the cute seven-year-old of a new boyfriend has turned into a Tasmanian devil.

“I can't cope with my own children bickering - now there are five of them. They don't like me or my children and I'm finding it hard to like them much.”

Then there's the sticky issue of discipline. Different families have different boundaries, rules and traditions.

One parent's strict is another's negligence. One set of children is beautifully obedient, helpful, polite and always abide by bedtimes. The other is lazy, demanding and go to bed when they please.

Cue the conflicts.

The children might be different ages with different needs. They don't get on, resent the attention their parent is lavishing on the other children or resent their space - and their bedrooms - invaded by children they've never chosen to spend time with.

Throw a bitter ex-partner into the mix feeding her children even more bitterness and the relationship is doomed before it starts.

If couples like Evert and Norman, in their 50s, rich, successful and tough, can't manage stepchildren what hope for the rest of us?

“Blended” families must work like a dream for some people. I've just never met any.

WHAT, I wonder, made council officials sit in their offices one day and suggest: “I know a good value for money project. Let's spend tax payers' money on an illustrated guide to sex for the over 50s?”

Exactly whose idea was it to offer an intimate helping hand, so to speak, to spice up stale marriages and aid divorcees with new bedroom tricks for future new loves?

Had I lived in Manchester where £800,000 has been spent such a guide, I'd preferred to have my bin emptied more frequently or my verges trimmed rather than showing Darby and Joan there's life in the old dog yet and what to do with it.

And as if the over 50s need it. It won't be them poring over the new positions and cheeky tips - they're far too busy getting on with the important things in life like gardening, the WI and committees.

It will only be pawed by the grubby mits of giggling teenagers loudly pretending to vomit in disgust at the thought of old people “doing it” but secretly studying every sentence and illustration for their own “education”.

AMANDA Holden's shiny and pumped up face is looking fit to burst.

Rock hard, rigid and plumped up cheeks with lips to give trout pout Lesley Ash a run for her money, Botox overload.

Women use Botox to stay looking young but just end up distorted and weird looking. Amanda Holden is a naturally beautiful woman turning herself in to the Bride of Frankenstein to avoid a line or a wrinkle.

“I WANT this so much,” pant teenagers on the X Factor contorting their faces in desperation.

“This is all I've ever wanted to do,” they cry.

Did their mother never tell them “I want doesn't get?” Did she heck.

So used to wanting and getting as mummy's little princes and princesses, they've been told they were special all their lives and life owes them a pampered charmed living.

They've wanted it so much they've never learned how to try or work hard.

Of 3,000 five-to11-year-olds questioned in a survey, most wanted to be famous. Fame on a plate.

“There will be a degree in being famous soon,” muttered my 10-year-old the other day when yet another numbskull announced his ambition “to be well-known.”

So cynical so young but, sadly, so spot on.

NO one uses the word Strictly Come Dancing's Anton Du Beke's apologised for using without meaning offences.

It is an offensive word.

He may spend his life twinkle toeing round in spangles but he lives in the real world enough to know what is racist and what is unacceptable.

Saying his dance partner Laila Rouass looked like “a P***” was outrageous and inexcusable.

It's totally inexcusable for it to pass the lips of a public figure.

So what if he's apologised. He said it without embarrassment or reserve in front of at least 15 other people which says it all.

He should go.

"IT'S scary that you can love a small hairy thing so much," said new national treasure Cheryl Cole.

Her dogs not husband Ashley, apparently, but I'm sure her husband would have welcomed the comment more than the accolade she reserved for him.

Ashley was a “simple person”, she said.

And it's taken how many years of marriage, money, pampering, hair extensions and privilege for Cheryl - who can only trust her mum and dogs, she said - to work that one out.

SICK of seeing the orange face and ample features of Jordan at every turn and stop, I propose a Jordan news blackout.

“News” might be stretching the issue but, as a nation, we have had our fill of the sordid saga of the talentless Jordan/Katie Price who, tragically, is idolised by so many little girls who should aim so much higher?

Out of the magazines, newspapers and TV as plain Kate, she might find her self and self-respect once more.

HARRIET Harman pimping for call girls is the last thing the nation would expect from its deputy leader.

But her public condemnation of sex worker rating website Punter Net at last week's Labour Party conference as “degrading” has been the best advertising the service has had.

Call girls are now reaping the rewards of Harman's advert and hits on the site have rocketed.

“Harriet Harman has managed to do in one day what I've been trying to do for six months, which is to increase the traffic to my personal website,” said one girl.

“The vast majority of gentlemen contacting me had never heard of Punter Net until this week.”

Perhaps Harman should demand for commission or a cut of the profits for her “marketing” input to these girls' successful businesses.

IT'S husband's joke that I'm TATT - Tired All The Time.

Perhaps this fatigue has something to do getting up with the lark to put in what feels like a full day's work at home before even starting the day job.

Research shows women spend more than two hours in the early morning doing the chores before their paid job.

Before the school run, I've made packed lunches, put on a wash, squeezed in a bit of ironing, made and cleared up breakfast, unloaded the dishwasher, fed and sorted the dog, checked homework, checked school bags, vacuumed and prepared for my working day trying to fit in a slick of lipstick and scrape the dog hairs off my work clothes.

Husband reads the paper, checks his bank account, updates his spreadsheet, surfs news channels, listens to the radio, has a shower and goes off to work. If, under duress, he contributes to any of the above he usually does it wrong, on purpose, so he's never asked again.

TATT. Just about sums up a working woman's lot.

IF the Tories think we'll vote for David Cameron because his wife Samantha - who remember works for luxury (exorbitantly expensive) - company Smythson because she's showing prudence wearing £29 shoes from Zara two days' running. they're even more naïve than they appear.

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