It’s not as if a change of plans is shocking for you. I know I promised a HUGE surprise today, but because of a dinner party last night I’ve changed the agenda. (I don’t think you will be disappointed.)
I’ve been known to take a detour from what I thought I would write about one day and postpone it for another. That’s what I’m doing today.
Let me explain. As a result of the conversation that consumed the majority of the evening, I wanted to share the subject/debate with you. I would also be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the discourse.
The topic was extramarital affairs. It started innocently enough, light and jokey, and then as the wine flowed so did the allusions, opinions and in one case a woman’s confession and in another a man’s rules for his many indiscretions. In fact, he claimed his affairs were not indiscretions because his guiding principle (lovely choice of words don’t you think?) was “never in the same parish.”
In other words, not close to home. He felt that demonstrated “respect” for his family. We know this couple and consider them social acquaintances, but definitely not close friends, and, as My-Reason-For-Living-In-France often says about couples who “look the other way” they are simply another example of a very common bourgeois “business arrangement.”
We were 10 at table and the exchanges were lively and agitated, but never aggressive. There seemed to be a consensus that “adventures” the word used to describe “quickies” should never put a marriage in peril. I wondered whether a love affair would.
That complicated the conversation, but both the men and the women felt that those situations were complex. Most agreed that affairs of the heart could result in divorce, but basically “one tries to find another solution other than divorce,” as one man said. One woman who remarked during the evening that (I’m translating and paraphrasing) “everyone is sleeping with everyone” agreed that divorce would be the last recourse.
I would like to wrap up the resolution of the exchanges in a nice, neat package and report that there was agreement all around, but that wasn’t the case. I imagine you know my opinion, but then again I’m simply a “naive American” — what do I know, n-est-ce pas?
The woman who revealed her affair — “brief, but no regrets” — without nuancing or excusing her behaviour admitted that it made her realize that she no longer wanted to be married to her husband. They are now in the midst of an extremely unpleasant divorce. He was not invited to the dinner.
And, she has no intention of continuing with the man who ignited her epiphany. He was, apparently, only a catalyst.
Recently one of my best American friends and I were talking about the same subject with both of us conceding that life is full of temptation, but definitely not worth jeopardizing our marriages.
“I made a promise,” she said, “and I believe that if I cannot keep that promise then there is something profoundly wrong and an affair is definitely not the answer.”