Who knows how to make love stay?

Do you remember this old Doug and the Slugs song? It poses the question "Who knows how to make love stay?" A question to which some of us (not me) have the answer and for some of us, it seems like the Riddle of the Sphinx.

This year marks the anniversaries of my two marriages: I married in 1974 and again in 2004. My first marriage lasted 12 years and my second…… I ask myself this question as I watch my cohort group mark the 40th with dogs, cats, and grandchildren while I have passed the last two evenings alone while Monsieur rehearses, dines, jokes and laughs with other women although he knows that I feel unhappy and excluded by his behaviour. Why is marriage so difficult?

When I was a young 20-ish girl with little experience, a sheltered upbringing and a great deal of insecurity, I was flattered by the attentions of Hubby 1. I was a bookish young lady but I really couldn't think of what I would do with a double major in Canadian and French Literature. No one would have suggested Grad School and to be a "professional student" (now you are a lifelong learner) was frowned upon in my family. Young ladies were expected to have a "chaste air" for as long as they lived in the family home. To my inexperienced self, marriage seemed like a good option.

And it worked! For a time…. Darling daughter came along, we had other young families as friends, bought our first home and HB 1 studied to become an accountant. His career progressed, we took family holidays, we even had a cat but after about 10 years, I felt that something was missing. The thought that my life would continue in this way forever…..How young and inexperienced I was. Nothing continues forever!

I had a part-time job in a little municipal library where I met the most interesting man….Coup de foudre!!! Marathon runner, library director, musician…..a person such as I had never met before!
I didn't gain a lot of life experience in my 11 years of marriage so I ignored that fact that Monsieur had been married and divorced twice before the age of 35 and was currently living with another woman….

I have always believed that if I do my best, if I try hard enough that I can do anything. I CAN NOT
make someone else act as I wish or care how I feel. No matter what a lovely wardrobe I compile, how much I work at my WW goals……Even if I iron the sheets!!!  All of the womanly arts, wiles or whatever else is in the bag of tricks can not make a marriage work if the marriage is not a priority for both partners. I should have been put in the Resource Class for life experience.

Last night, I cried, I dialled Monsieur's cell countless times with no reassuring response….I got frustrated, poured a glass of wine and then I chose ME! I poured it down the drain. My WW goals are too important to me to self-sabotage. I can lose weight, I can cut down on my wine consumption but I still don't know how to make love stay!!!

I promise that my next post will be about using Janice Riggs wardrobe planning sheet.

P.S. If you have a night to yourself, you might like to watch Violette, a French movie about a much-suffering 20th century author who was a contemporary of Simone de Beauvoir. Despite all the fripperies that we have come to love,  the French really seem to be able to confront the feeling of being alone and unloved.


  1. Your post rings many bells from long ago, and I wish that one could offer something other than sympathy and encouragement, but you are right . . . we have to learn our lessons ourselves.

    For what it's worth (LOL, since it's free, probably not much!) . . . I married a man who felt that if he tried hard enough, he could change me, which didn't happen -- unless you count that it might have changed me into something neither of us liked. Then, on my own, I fell for a guy or two that I must have felt I could hold if I tried hard enough to be exactly what I thought they wanted. That didn't work either. I think there aren't any answers, except, of course, to love and respect yourself. It's your only defense and positive action. And wow, good for you -- I'd have said to hell with the diet and drunk the wine, LOL! You've got guts and discernment.

    It strikes me that when you are in Paris and by yourself, you are fine. What would it take to create that feeling at home?

    1. In Paris, I am the central character in my life. Friends visit or I meet acquaintances in cafés but for the most part, I am almost completely self-sufficient. I need a little more detachment in my "at home" life.

  2. I remember that song very well -- I loved Doug and the Slugs!
    So much similarity in our early years, and I've often thought how very lucky I was in my choice of a husband, given my youth and lack of experience (although I'd made at least one life-altering big error before I met him). So easy to beat ourselves up, but I think there's much to applaud in the way you strive to live a full and satisfying life. I think RH makes a good point about the way solitude is comfortable for you in Paris. . . .and I echo that comment about the non-wine-drinking. That's what I ended up finding out about WW: rather than self-denial, it was something I did for myself, beyond the moment of consumption. . . Take care of yourself. . .

    1. Self-care is especially important as we get older. I wonder if it is luck that we meet someone who is able to emotionally bolster us and to feel for us when we are sad. The calming presence of another on our dark days is a gift.

  3. I would have had the wine and then some, too. Remember, no man is worth keeping who makes you feel this bad about yourself.

  4. Madame, I read your blog faithfully; so much that you write about resonates with me.
    I'm moved to comment on two of your phrases: "I have always believed that if I do my best, if I try hard enough that I can do anything." For most of my life this was my belief too; and nothing is more frustrating and difficult than seeing it disproved, after years of striving and work that supported it. Still, miraculously, despite the frustration and pain, you have the heart to say (and follow through with action), "...and then I chose ME!" That's something to be proud of. Remember that.

    1. It is really difficult to find that our core beliefs just don't always work. Life's lessons do not come cheaply. After children are raised, women need to consider their own well-being before all other things.That may sound selfish but I think that it is necessary for survival.

  5. I enjoyed reading your tale, which is both sad but then optimistic too. Taking care of yourself is primordial but it is also hard not to feel pain. I hope that summer and sun will help you feel better.


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