Like most wives, I'm approaching Valentine's Day tomorrow with growing expectation tinged with a certain niggling fear that I might end up with an entirely unsuitable gift.
My husband, Craig, is an old romantic, so I have every right to feel excited. I know I'm guaranteed the traditional champagne breakfast in bed.
And when I finally polish off the warmed croissants, it'll be time for my husband to give me my present. Of course, I'm hopeful it'll be thoughtful and expensive enough to take my breath away.
Yet, as I gaze in silence at the antique book, bracelet or ring, I won't be feeling as grateful as perhaps I might.
A voice in my head will be repeating a mantra that I must try extremely hard not to say out loud. 'Gosh I wonder how much all of this cost . . . me.'
You see, I am a Breadwinner Mum, the sole earner in a household of four. So when my beloved hubby spends weeks picking out the perfect gift, regardless of the exorbitant cost, it is - perversely - me who picks up the bill anyway. Does it rankle? Sadly for us, it does.
And I would wager that I am not alone in that. Hundreds of thousands of women are now the main or sole earners in their relationship.
According to government figures, women now earn more than their husbands or partners in 21 per cent of all couples.
So what, I hear you say. In this enlightened age, why should we care who earns the most - who actually funds the children's piano lessons or who pays for new tyres on the car? Well, my husband cares. And if I'm honest about it, so do I.
I'm not saying this situation is putting our marriage under threat, but it has brought tensions which simply wouldn't exist if the situation was reversed.
According to psychologists (and divorce lawyers) many relationships where the financial burden lies entirely with the wife follow the same pattern.
First, the wife loses respect for her husband, then he begins to feel emasculated, and then sex dwindles to a full stop.
Well, I'm happy to say we're not there yet. I respect what Craig does for his family and he loves me enough to do the washing up when I'm really stressed out.
But many times I have felt simmering resentment when my income has funded bloke things like trips to London to visit his pals, or his 'must-have' tickets to this year's Rugby World Cup.
The flip side, of course, is that Craig also faces the relentless opprobrium of social prejudice which states that men should keep their wives and not be kept. On nights out, it's not uncommon for his cash to run out. Handing money to him at the bar never, ever goes unnoticed.
In hindsight, had either of us had any real idea of the petty daily irritations - let alone the larger social embarrassments - that have come with our arrangement, we might have thought twice about embarking on it.
We set off down this slightly dangerous path three years ago when, like an increasing number of couples, we decided we needed to rethink our work-life balance. Craig - whom I married in 2000 - was writing screenplays by night, and decorating flats by day. I was travelling around the country fulfilling broadcasting and writing commitments.
Even then, my journalism was earning the bulk of our income, but it didn't matter. Money was pooled into our single joint account, Craig simply handing over his wages every Friday, keeping just enough 'for the weekend'. It felt like an even financial partnership, even if it wasn't quite.
Our first child, Alexandra, arrived six years ago. But it was when Holly, our second daughter, was born in 2003 that the cost of childcare became a major issue.
London parents will know all too well the financial agony of paying a childminder more than £1,000 a month to look after their children. It all came out of my wages.
As my income continued to climb, Craig's levelled out because he was called on time and again to be available to drive the girls to and from the childminder's.
Alarmed by the violence we saw almost on a daily basis around our neighbourhood and determined to give our girls a more outdoorsy life, we decided to move to France.
So three years ago, we moved to the Dordogne and took stock of our lives and our income. A short-term plan was devised which would mean that instead of going out to work, Craig could look after the girls whenever I was on a foreign assignment. He was both pleased and irritated by the idea.
He likes being with the girls more than most fathers, but found the thought of managing the home even for a brief while very stressful. His own parents both worked and shared the chores, so being an equal partner wasn't a challenge.
For him to be a partner alone for a chunk of our lives is, however, a big deal. (As for my own parents, well, I certainly don't remember my father lifting a finger to so much as rinse a cup when I was small.)
After we moved, the idea was that Craig would also single-handedly renovate our barn into a five bedroom house. In the long term, we felt that economically this was a good use of his time, because it should add hundreds of thousands onto the value of our property.
But it left us staring at one very pertinent fact - we would be relying solely on my income. So far, so right on.
I was smashing the glass ceiling, Craig was breaking the mould. We (nervously) patted ourselves on the back. After all, we said, it doesn't matter who brings home the bacon. It'll get eaten just the same.
That was the theory. What we didn't bank on, as we sat in the French sunshine doing our sums, were the tensions and surprising pressures that would come with our new roles.
According to relationship expert Dr Gail Saltz, 'having the woman make more money than the man creates an insurmountable problem'.
Saltz believes some women resent being the breadwinner because they 'hold on to the fantasy that having a man support them makes them more feminine'. Hmm, sounds familiar.
Like most young girls, I was brainwashed into believing that one day a prince would whisk me away to a beautiful palace. This didn't quite fit in with my determination to have a career of my own, but the pattern was there for all girls of my generation to see.
Men earn the money, women should play a fulfilling but supporting role. Financially, and in every other way. Now that I was cast in the role of provider, I began to feel an almost unconscious dissatisfaction that this fairytale was not working out at all according to the script.
I remember, for example, one night a couple of years ago when, exhausted after a 15-hour day, I rang home to hear squeals of delight as the girls ran around imploring my husband to tickle them again.
'We've had a great day,' he laughed. 'Been to the aquarium, had lunch at our favourite restaurant. Really nice.' I wasn't proud of my snippy tone that night.
But the problems of having a Breadwinner Mum in the family are not restricted to the woman herself. There is an almost unlimited potential for the man who does not earn to feel emasculated when he is no longer in control of his own finances.
This comes partly from a masculine pride that is hardwired into all men - a competitive urge to win that manifests itself in a desire to be the familial provider.
And society at large is still far more comfortable with the traditional roles. Those outside a relationship like ours seem to glory in making unhelpful comments.
Take the old college friend who drunkenly demanded recently: 'So, mate, how's it feel being a kept man, eh, eh?' I watched uneasily as my husband's shoulders crept up to his ears with rising tension.
The prevailing view - in our so-called enlightened times - remains that men who take a financial back seat (whatever else they may do to care for their families) are little more than freeloaders.
One women's website carried out a survey into how married women feel about being the higher or sole income earner. More than a quarter of high-earning women reported that their friends or family members have said either outright (or hinted) that they perceive their situation as strange or wrong.
Meanwhile, almost a third admitted to being happier with it than their husbands.
The bottom line was this: 35 per cent of respondents wished their partner would find a way to earn more. And who can blame them?
It's not a breeze taking on the serious anxieties that come with being a primary earner. I'm a good sleeper, but on occasion even I get a bad case of the 3am terrors.
Mine are all based around one question: 'What happens about the mortgage, the bills, the future, if I'm suddenly unable to work?'
Another internet survey reflected these fears when it asked breadwinning women what worried them. The majority who responded said they were all terrified of getting laid off: about the mortgage going unpaid, bills spiralling out of control. Thirty eight per cent said they worry about cashflow 'all the time'.
I know that millions of men will howl and say these are the worries generations of fathers and husbands have wrestled with, and there's some truth in that. Except that those men didn't have to do the cooking and cleaning as well.
And here's the rub. While women have gained financial muscle, relations between the sexes have not yet evolved sufficiently to accommodate this shift in the balance of power between alpha women and beta men.
The most frustrating element in my experience is that the maternal breadwinner still ends up doing the lion's share of the work around the home. Not to mention the paperwork, the PE kit, the jabs, organising playdates, and on and on.
Indeed, one of the most intriguing emotional battles in a relationship like mine is over the housework and other domestic chores.
The truth is that when you are a woman and you have been away doing something exciting and fulfilling, you simply don't have the heart, when you return, to nag a man for failing to empty the dishwasher.
Perhaps a working woman carries an innate guilt that her bloke is at home clearing out the bin while she has left her children with him to go out and enjoy a stimulating career.
I know I overcompensate when I get back from a business trip. I return to a house that is hardly what you might call spotless, and, tired or not, I just roll up my sleeves and get cleaning, doing the homework and so on.
Scientists at the Centre for Research on Families, at the University of Washington, have concluded that the more money the wife makes, the more housework she does in proportion to her husband. In fact, it's not even as equitable as when both partners are working.
'There's an association with housework being woman's work,' says the centre's associate director, Julie Brines. 'Women are not going to compound the tensions by making the husband do more housework.'
Another survey found that 41 per cent of high-earning wives said they still do more than half of the household and parenting duties.
What all this is really touching on are the scores of tiny psychological battles fought every day in the home of a Breadwinner Mum.
As I write these words, Craig comes into my office with a list of grocery shopping for our dinner party tonight. I ask him with a smile: 'What's the best thing about me being the breadwinner right now?' He tucks the £80 I've just handed him into his work shirt and says a single word: 'Nothing.'
He's grumpy about the dreaded pink wallet being opened again so he can dip in his calloused palm.
I remember when I was young watching as my grandad handed my nan her 'wages' out of his pay packet each week. I asked her about it once. 'Well, I work you know, love. This is what I've earned!'
The vast majority of this went on groceries and other essentials. Grandad never, ever would have dared to treat it as a gift or make a joke about it. That money was payment for a job well done. This is a knack of giving and receiving that Craig and I have yet to crack.
When it comes to handing over his weekly 'wages' for his work on the barn, we avoid eye contact wherever possible. It just doesn't feel . . . well, nice.
By not helping financially, he thinks that I feel he's freeloading. Which I don't. Honest.
But if it makes Craig feel uncomfortable coming to me for the grocery money, how will I feel this summer when he presents me with an incredible gift for my 40th birthday present? Yet again I'll swallow the uncomfortable feeling that he's spent so much of my own income on me.
So, simmering resentment at home for me, pressure from society, plus insecurity for him.
Before you take the plunge, be warned - becoming the family breadwinner could be a one-way ticket to marriage guidance counselling.
And one way or another, you'll end up buying your own roses on Valentine's Day.