Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

November 15, 2011

What is it with ambient lighting and men?

If there is one good reason to enjoy the onset of winter, it is ambient lighting: table lamps, fairy lights and candles. Ahhhhhhh, bliss, relaxing in the cosy warmth of your home while the wind howls outside and the rain lashes the windows.

That is, until your husband gets home.

What is it about the male genetic make-up which prevents them from enjoying soft, ambient, calm lighting and compels them to exist in either absolute gloomy darkness or in the harsh, stark brightness of the 'Big Light'?

Every evening it's the same routine - I go around creating a pleasant, calming mood in the house and he then goes around muttering about too many lights being on and asking what the fairy lights are doing up in October (I personally blame Nigella Lawson for this particular lighting issue - if she can have a fairy light covered kitchen all year round, why can't I?). Then, he switches off all the pleasant lights and turns on a couple of 'Big Lights' which give me a migraine and unsettle my biorhythms.

And surely, there can be no greater disappointment than returning from a rare evening out to find the entire house shrouded in absolute darkness.

'You sure this is your house love?' the taxi driver enquires as we pull up outside.
'Yes,' I sigh.

So much for coming back to a warm, welcoming, softly lit glow through the windows. Oh no - I go inside to find him sitting in total and utter darkness with just the flickering lights from the TV for company.

'Why didn't you turn the lamps on?' I'll enquire, turning the lamps on.
'I didn't need to - I can see fine without them,' he responds.

So, it seems that for my husband, lights are purely functional. They provide light, if any is needed (which it, apparently, frequently isn't). End of. And why, oh why, would you add lots of additional lights when you have one perfectly good 'Big One'?


Nevertheless, I shall persevere with my nightly routine and will continue to switch on my lamps and fairy lights and will light up my Yankee Candles and tea lights and flood the house with pleasant scents and warmth in the vague hope that one of these days, a light will switch on in his brain and he'll 'get' it.

Fairy lights are for life you know, not just for Christmas.



  1. Brilliantly perceptive post, Hazel. I, of course, have no idea what you're talking about. (Well, I do, but I actually LIKE low lighting!)

  2. We men are functional beasts which is why we want light when its needed. I don't object to the use of a lamp or my wife lighting a few candles, but these aren't for light, they are to take the edge off the darkness Light comes from lights, mood comes from lamps and flickery things.

    However, like a bed full of cuddly toys and cushions, fairy lights anywhere in a house other than a Christmas Tree are a sign of either being in a child's room or that of a knife weilding psycho who wants to go out in matching knitwear

  3. We are the opposite. I'm always putting the big light on, and my husband's always faffing around with candles.

  4. Hi Hazel
    Bright lights are hubby's preference here too. Although I do like a (bright) reading light for switching over to a book when the telly's just plain boring.

  5. I am def the candle fairy light person. Our friend just took us to a fluro lit deli in New York and all we women ( all close to 50yrs old) groaned. No amount of make-up can deal with that.

  6. I like mood lighting :) Especially on these early dark nights x

  7. I'm with you - Mr Muddling likes proper lights and I spend my time finding side lights and candles to tone everything down!

    I must get some fairy lights for my kitchen - I have some in the bedroom but kitchen would be even better

  8. My husband loves lamps and dimming the lights usually when I'm trying to read... I'm with you...fairy lights are for life!

  9. I laughed out lous at this post!! Hilarious and I am with you 100%! We call them "The flood lights" in our house and my husband is FOREVER putting them on after I have the wee lamps and candles all fired up :)

  10. :0) I can relate. I'll happily accept the darkness and TV as a compromise instead of the blinding BRIGHT light that hubby likes. Tried the candles for romantic dinners at home he smiles and praises then eats the food and switches the bright lights on again. I'm not as determined, I'll saviour the ambient light when we dine out, lol.

  11. I recall my mother giving out about exactly the same thing! Now I do it too. I love the way houses in the US have lamps wired up to the mains so that they come on when you flick the main switch, a great idea.


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