Wendyl Nissen
Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: 'Hired help' stole my show


Wendyl Nissen learns the hard way that not everyone cares.

Wendyl Nissen with her husband Paul Little. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Wendyl Nissen with her husband Paul Little. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

Behind every great woman there's an even greater man," someone said to my husband in a bookshop somewhere in the South Island.

We were on the book tour, which basically means we drive for hours then I stand in Paper Plus stores making natural babywipes and rabbiting on about my books while he looks on patiently.

It had occurred to me that being my "roadie" as I called it in an attempt to make it sound cool and interesting might wear a little thin on him. He seemed to like the idea initially, especially as it meant constructing complex itineraries containing exact mileage and travelling times and filling his iPod full of suitable travelling music.

It started out okay with him standing to one side, being part of the whole thing. He'd fold the paper towels for me, smile graciously when I told jokes at his expense, and generally play the role of supportive husband.

"I think I'm falling into the role of humble assistant quite nicely," he said after a few days.

I should have known something was up.

As the days wore on I noticed he gradually moved further back at the shops, once even completely disappearing behind the lever arch files and Lotto posters. Then if I hadn't known better I would have thought he was subconsciously sabotaging things a little bit. The day I had to fold my own paper towels was a bit grim, as was the day he disappeared completely right when I told the funny story about how he loves his granddaughter so much that he once brought her along on one of our romantic weekends. Ha, ha. He's supposed to say: "But she goes to sleep by seven!" However, he was strangely absent and I had to deliver the punchline on my own.

At one in-store, no one turned up. Not one person. It was my intention to shrug it off as a busy Saturday. "Mothers have so much to do with sports and things," I said, attempting to be understanding and not too hard on myself.

"Let's go," said my husband, who takes rejection of me a little harder than I do.

Instead I agreed with the shop owner to take a seat at the front of his shop for an hour while he took flyers with my picture on them around the mall to see if he could talk people into coming along.

I could just imagine how the conversations went.

"Do you know this woman?"


"Would you like to come and hear her speak?"


And so I sat there for an hour until finally someone came up who did want to hear me.

My husband's sense of outrage was wonderful to see. I'm not sure how someone can feel so hurt on behalf of someone else, but that's what he does.

Thankfully the next shop was a little more populated.

"What a wonderful husband you are, travelling around and supporting Wendyl. Do you do anything else? I don't suppose you'd have the time," I heard a woman say.

I looked behind my husband at the books on the shelf. Three best-selling biographies he has written for Willie Apiata, Ray Avery and Paul Henry.

I had my cue. "This is what he does," I said brandishing the books for everyone to see.

"He's very clever and an amazing author in his own right!"

There was a brief pause before the owner disappeared behind the counter and got out a very special little book.

"We keep this here for really famous authors to sign when they come through. Would you do me the honour?" she said to my husband while I packed up the paper towels, the rosewater, the witch hazel and all my other paraphernalia and stashed them in the car.

- Herald on Sunday

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