By Guy Blaise
“Les meilleurs mariages se font entre pareils.”
“The best marriages are between equals.”
A colleague of mine came to me two weeks after his wedding and asked me for advice for a successful marriage from an “old man.” I wrote him this letter to relay one man’s advice on success in marriage. I am sharing this letter to explain my philosophy of a good marriage. I welcome American fathers to adapt it for their new sons-in-law.
Congratulations on your wedding and thank you for sharing the pictures of you and your beautiful wife. And welcome to the club of married couples! You asked for the secret to a happy marriage, and I can tell you there is no magic formula. But I can tell you this: marriage is comprised of hard work, with a dose of good luck. Based on what you shared with me prior to your wedding, both of you came from different levels of education. To make your marriage work, you must respect your partner’s background and remember that you have much to learn from each other.
As your colleague, I have often called you a “fine American young man” because of your manners and your attitude. I rarely saw you in a bad mood and this quality will serve you well in your marriage. Keep that good humor! Your mother and father raised you well, but you alone are responsible for your character. You have learned from the three schools in life: home, academics, and street. All three have shaped your character. Use that good character to treat your wife right. You will earn her respect and trust by being respectful and trustworthy. Don’t expect anything from her if you don’t deliver it consistently yourself. American men are notorious for embracing male privilege, at least in the eyes of this French man. Remember, Robert, being nice and doing something nice for your wife won’t make you lose your masculinity. Au contraire! Tenderness is a virtue.
Don’t let finances create an environment of tension. Your wife should be involved in all financial decisions, and you need to decide together how you wish to handle purchases, savings, and financial management. Just keep those discussions out of the bedroom. Financial equality creates a strong and healthy foundation and is critical to your relationship. Women have enough trouble being underpaid in the workplace, in marriage … equal rights should prevail. Never be afraid to admit a mistake or apologize for unintended hurt. Humility is a great quality and is a sign of strength, not a weakness as American men are sometimes led to believe. If you are always right and she is always wrong, you’ve got a problem! If you give her a smile when you are wrong, you will definitely earn her heart. We say in French an admission of guilt is forgiven. It is okay to say I was wrong, stupid, and I am sorry. You will not lose your virility, trust me!
Laughter is an anti-depressant. Make time to enjoy a peaceful evening at home watching your favorite comedian. Like we say in French, “Qui sème le rire récolte la gaieté” (he who seeds laughter harvests joy).
Every woman on this earth knows that most men have trouble expressing their feelings, primarily due to the perception that showing your feelings is not manly. You might call them “sexually impaired,” meaning marked by their inability to communicate and interact with their partners, both inside and outside of their bedroom.
I am not shy about discussing sex with you. Make love to your wife, a lot. Sex is in the head. first. Romance shouldn’t be only for the French. A bouquet of flowers to her is a great start, but flowers don’t talk. Not sharing feelings and emotions is like starving a plant of water. Tell her how you feel with tenderness, and you will melt her heart.
Her are few tips to having a healthy, lasting, romantic relationship.
Good communication is key. Talk with your wife and listen with intention.
Share your joy and laugh together.
Make time for your partner. Create a monthly or weekly date night.
Know your wife’s boundaries and respect them.
About the Author: Guy Blaise is an author and Frenchman living and working in America. Previously, he lived in eastern France and Paris, where he witnessed the dating experiences of the strong women in his family and listened closely to his grandmother’s advice about love. After two decades of living between France and the United States—and being struck by the differences between two cultures’ approaches to romance and sex—Guy began writing books offering his insights and started The French Perspective blog. His books include Love Like a Man: A Frenchman's Guide to Help American Men Be Better Partners, Love Like the French: A Guide to Better Romance and Relationships; Vive la Difference: A Frenchman’s Perspective on American Women, Love, Respect, and Relationships; Negrophobia; and Dieu Aussi se Plaindrait aux Etats-Unis.