It seems significant to me that your predicament hasn’t attracted much comment or support. I think this reflects something of a determined effort NOT to discuss or debate the calamity that is the rate of collapse of relationships amongst British couples who emigrated to France, especially affecting women; a matter that is acknowledged by the French, with concern, not so much that it exists, but moreso that the British seem to be in denial about it.
I will expand on this later with closer attention to your own issues, Norman, unless you want me to desist.
I have been giving this subject some thought over the course of the day… and now Peter’s comment has prompted me into action.
Unlike you, Norman… I am hopeless at keeping in touch… yet I thoroughly enjoy getting a postcard/telephone call/email… or whatever… from any of my friends… both long-standing and more recent.
I will read the chit-chat and smile etc etc… but will I actually reply… mmm all depends on whether or not there is an R in the month.
If you enjoy sending news/chat… you should keep doing it… Perhaps not too often… a 3 or 6 month catch-up keeps the channels open without overloading.
and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a lot of response…
On a whim… I might send a sudden wave of emails full of our happenings, which will probably dumbfound the recipients who have not heard from me for months/years… and in some special cases, I will make a call, nothing quite like a voice-to-voice chat (for really old friends and the elderly).
I have always been this way… and friends and family know well enough that they are welcome to drop in at any time… even if we haven’t spoken for years… we simply pick up where we left off…
Let’s face it… good friends never go out of fashion.
I found that as I announced to different people that I knew at the time, that I was leaving UK for good & all, the attitude of almost all was one of abandonment…I attempted to stay in contact but found that even certain of my closest “friends”, seemed reluctant.
I never forced things;but was disappointed that it took so little to alienate people.
Maybe I have missed something but how does keeping in touch affect relationship collapse? And how does relationship collapse affect (mainly) women? And I have never come across any French people debating or discussing this in the last 16 years of living here?
Keeping in touch is a very individual thing in terms of how, how often, who initiates and who reciprocates. I would say that there is not a single “standard” amongst my circle. A very close friend moved to new zealand, so we are probably in contact once every x years. She came over to Europe last summer, came to stay and we had a whale of a time. Neither of us pretended that we would be any better at keeping in touch, but were both hugely reassured that the strength of the friendship meant we could pick up where we left off.
Myself, I would do what felt good to me. And some people are initiators and some reactors - so don’t fret about it. If people don’t respond then that’s their issue. But who knows, getting a message from you could have completely cheered up their day - they just forgot to mention it!
(Also equally baffled what relationship collapse has to do with this).
Maybe it’s a matter of professional interest, Cat. In the four years I’ve been here I have talked to doctors, nurses, social workers and policemen. They tell me that British women who come to France to live with their spouses are very susceptible to relationship breakdown and mental illness. It is, they say, in their professional experience “très fréquent”. I suppose it’s a question of who you talk to, but I have an interest in mental health issues, which is not a common topic of conversation over apéros.
The most common cause cited is social isolation and difficulty in integrating into French society because of language difficulty. Only saying.
Why specifically women, Peter? Is it perhaps because they consult more?
I don’t know that many who live here but I have seen enough of anglosaxons with too much time on their hands drinking far too much and mixing far too intensely just in their peculiar subsection of the anglosphere, I thought they don’t really live in the real world - the bunch I am thinking of seemed fairly toxic, and are probably not at all representative. I avoid them.
The ones I have come across who speak French and don’t pretend to be someone they aren’t, are very nice.
I don’t know the demographic details @vero and my information is largely anecdotal but based on French professional testimony and their expressed concern. As time goes by I may have a more secure research base for my statements, but my own local observations yield similar impressions to yours, those women who speak French are, from what I’ve seen, rare and stick together, frequenting if not haunting Anglo-Saxon hotspots, with disconsolate and sullen partners in tow. One speaks as one finds.
Are you talking about women who come to live in Brittany only?
Because I can assure you that if they came here they would find a totally different scenario.
We have a vibrant community of older women, both British and French .
In this household it is my husband who struggles with the language and he has told me to tell you that he finds your comments offensive.
You seem to me to be very quick, perhaps even eager to take personal offence at things I (and not a few others) write, Jane. And I have nothing whatsoever to apologise for. If your husband is offended by my opinion, tell him from me to mind his own business, and if that offends him I don’t give a toss.
I love a round robin at Christmas. We have friends in the US who give us a very interesting précis of their year. Their children constantly got good grades, excelled at sport and generally gave Oscar worthy performances at school concerts. I started looking at my own children with a mix of guilt and disappointment. And then we visited . There’s a fine line between positive spin and gross exaggeration!
Ha ha… similarly, we were being constantly told how “good” little Janey/Jimmy whoever was… according to the letters our parents read out to us… Got us almost hating these cousins, without even seeing them…
Anyway… when we did meet… well away from parental gaze, all of us kids found we had a great deal in common and the goody-two-shoes weren’t so goodey after all…
Well, Norman, in answer to your original point, I have been Facebooking many years.
This gives me access to mundane happenings in the lives of many - family members, friends, acquaintances, and so on - and they can see my occasional forays into print.
Consequently, there is little or no need to make direct contact with any one individual unless, of course, there is something strictly between me and one other particular person, in which case a private message can be sent.
Alternatively (and especially with those not on FB) there is email, non-urgent and non-intrusive. Urgent matters are dealt with by telephone, very seldom.
In all, I guess, you must do as you feel to be the correct mode and frequency depending on the different relationships you have with your different friends and acquaintances.
And there is always SFN, of course where someone will respond!
I have to confess that, in fact, I miss no-one from those days…I went through a very difficult period in 2011, & no-one except what remains of my close family, & 2 French people that I know here, offered any kind of help…it wasn’t solicited, but the offer was made spontaneously…this has in itself, restored my faith in humanity.
I have no regrets, as such; but wish that I’d had more confidence in myself before now.