25 Things to Know When You’re Married to a French Man

25 Things to Know When You’re Married to a French Man

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married to a French man
Photo © Alexis Duclos

Life is filled with passion, culture, compromise and hélas, disputes.

When you’re married to a French man, you marry a man intrinsically tied to his culture and country. You get the whole package. So be ready for an entire new world to open up before you, and be prepared to sharpen your wits and tongue at the same time.

This year, I celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary with my French husband. That’s a quarter of a century. My goodness, I’ve lived longer with this man than any member of my own family. In fact, I have lived longer in Paris than any other city I grew up in.

Oh Mon Dieu, it has been a glorious, wonderful, passionate experience punctuated by emotional turmoil. And I am proud to say I have survived intact, still married, and clamoring for more.

Just what does it mean to be married to a French man? Why is French coupling so different from what I could possibly ever imagine?

Married to a French man. Photo © Alexis Duclos
Photo © Alexis Duclos

Here are 25 things you should know when you marry a French man:

  • They really are romantic. I’ll go one step further and say passionate about love. And they love intensely and expect to be worshipped in return.
  • French men inhale your perfume, caress your soft skin, and gently brush your hair from your face. They notice when you are dressed up and look for something sexy in the way you dress down.
  • When in love, they are inspired to write poems and leave love notes.
  • There is an endless list of love names for you: chou, Chérie, mon amour, coco.
  • He’ll remind you to stop and drink in the beauty of the landscape, think about the history behind an object or listen carefully to the play on French words.
  • Your home will be filled with classical French ballads with prolific lyrics by Felix Leclerc or Georges Brassens.
  • You will quickly learn the French language and frankly, in the beginning, you will need few words to communicate. As your relationship grows, so will your “franglais” to get the message across.
  • He will ask your opinion on politics, current events and expect an answer.
married to a French man
My church wedding in Neuilly-Sur-Seine on October 13, 1993.
  • Your friends will embrace him and his colorful Frenchness but be prepared to be sized up by his friends in the beginning. Don’t be surprised if you have nothing in common with his childhood friends who compose for the most part his inner circle.
  • Lively debates will fill your evenings but be careful not to directly criticize France and its flawed society. A word of caution: Let him be the one to analyze the French or you will have one very defensive, touchy husband to deal with.
  • A French husband is a sensitive man, and when overly sensitive, can punish you when he broods “fait la tête”.
  • Arguments can take on an overly dramatic, frightful “tone” but can be forgotten as quickly as the storm erupted.
  • He is a gentleman in a land that demands politeness. But beware! Outside of the home, do not confuse politeness for niceness.
  • Since wining and dining are part of the French culture, your marriage will be a never-ending food fest.
  • Since he loves French cuisine so much, most likely he knows how to cook a perfect “roti”, toss a healthy salad and whip up a mean “sauce“.
  • Appearance is important. Weight gain is frowned upon. It keeps you on your toes knowing that “French women don’t get fat”.
  • He believes in staying attractive not only for you but for others. A French man is no different than a woman. Don’t forget to compliment his good looks and efforts to please you, and especially don’t ignore that other women find your French man very attractive too.
married to a French man
Tying the knot first at the local city hall office in Neuilly-sur-Seine. October 13, 1993
  • I have to admit it’s true that French men find women sexy at all ages. This is great for women if you can match the energy and stamina.
  • If you have children, they will grow up learning to appreciate more than one culture but get ready to argue about everything from raising bébé to discipline and choosing the right kind of education.
  • He promotes women’s rights because his mother was probably quite the matriarch in the family. But, being French, he has definite ideas about “You woman; me man.”
  • You are the mother of his children but he doesn’t celebrate Mother’s Day because you are not his mother.
  • If you have to remind him it’s your birthday he will lovingly tell you that every day is your birthday in his eyes.
  • To prove the latter point, he often cuts a flower from the garden for you or brings home your favorite treat.
  • No matter how crazy and busy your lifestyles become, a French man will make vacation time or at the very least recognize how important it is to balance life and work.
  • Your French man loves you for your differences too. He will gallantly defend you every time someone berates you in French, and comfort you when you are at a loss for words standing up for yourself in an unfamiliar French environment. Vive la difference!

6 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with the first commenter. I’m married to a French man and he is wonderful, sharing all the work and a truly equal partner. All men are different. Frenchness is too narrow a definition.

    • Understood. The author wrote with her own personal experience in mind after twenty-five years of marriage. Also, she clearly writes that the marriage has been one filled with wonderful highs and emotional lows like all relationships, compounded by the cultural differences.

  2. What about when he & you are older; he will keep you as a wife and take on a younger mistress?
    Not cool, says this American lady.

  3. I agree with Dagmara. Being married to a french man myself, I confirm this is true. I’ve been living in France just 6 months, and I must learn French language and obtain social security number to work here (well, until now I’m still waiting for that SS number). Guess what, my husband complains about me being lazy, only a housewife etc, and when I had to go to intensive French class until evening, he complained again about me not doing the laundry etc.
    Well, that’s true he is romantic, woos me all the time etc, but once he’s complaining like that I guess he just dropped off all the plus sides.

  4. You should mention that they will never help you in house and with kids, and demand high quality cooking everyday, if not two times a day and ask to work as well ( because everybody must work )
    and as you do that , their tell you they are better than everybody else….I am just sharing real life experiences among a lot of women living in France.

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