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Love and Marriage in France

Recently, we again traveled to Europe to conduct more interviews with successfully married couples for our next book entitled, Simple Things Matter in Love and Marriage. Since we had not been to France in several of years, we were beginning to believe the media reports about how the French did not like Americans. So, we braced ourselves for the difficulties we might encounter as two American authors and researchers asking intimate questions about love and marriage in France. Our fears and the media reports could not have been further from the truth.

First of all, the French people were delightful! They were wonderfully warm, open, friendly and courteous beyond imagination. Everywhere we went they treated us like members of their family. From the hotels we stayed in to the local bistros, the people were marvelous. On buses, trains, subways, and in cabs, we were greeted with open arms and great warmth.

And while we have heard for years the notion that “French people will be more friendly if you speak to them in French,” we found that a warm handshake and a big smile spoke volumes in French! They were polite to us and we reciprocated. We struggled with each other’s languages but we managed. Big smiles, hand signs, and hugs go a long way in most of the foreign countries we have visited. That’s for sure.

Our travels took us throughout France, with a focus on Paris and Lyon—both wonderful cities with fabulous cuisine, great wine, sights to behold, and history to tell. But more than anything, with all the amenities of these two great cities, we were struck by the friendliness and warmth of the French people. We were there for nearly two weeks and only have splendid experiences to report. The French passion for food, wine, life and romance cannot be missed if you just strike up a conversation with someone, observe couples strolling down the Champs Elysee, or when you mingle in a small café or bistro.

And the couples we interviewed were marvelous, which brings us to the main point of our story. You have probably heard that the French are no longer interested in marriage or some variation on that theme. Don’t you believe it! The couples we interviewed who had been successfully and happily married for 30 to 60 years reported great satisfaction in their marriage and would do it all over again. But here is where it gets interesting – we found the same themes in young French couples that were in love. The ones we interviewed loved each other very much and were looking forward to getting married, just like their aunts and uncles, parents, and grand parents before them. In fact, the word on the French streets is that marriage is making a very nice comeback in France! We heard nothing while we were there to dispute that notion.

Isn’t that wonderful news! The greatest romantic country in the world – and a very secular country as well – is getting interested in marriage again. That is encouraging news, indeed.

When we summarized our recent interview data from France we were struck by how similar the characteristics that defined their successful marriages and relationships were to those in the USA. They were virtually identical. It seems that successful marriages around the world or in romantic countries have common themes. Frankly, we continue to be extremely excited about our findings.

Prior to this visit we had already interviewed over the years couples in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, China, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Philippines and The Netherlands. On our most recent trip we interviewed additional couples in Belgium, Great Britain, France, and Luxembourg. Next week we are off to Canada to interview Canadian couples with successful marriages of more than 30 years.

While we have enjoyed immensely the couples we have interviewed in all of the countries we have visited, we particularly enjoyed our recent interviews with French couples. There are a multitude of reasons why. But if you pushed us to name just one, it would have to be their passion for enjoying the romance of life and their love for each other. We do not ever remember feeling so comfortable and welcomed by the people of a foreign country than we did in our recent trip to France.

As we began to write the individual and collective stories of these engaging French couples with successful marriages for our next book, we found ourselves wanting to share some of those findings with you right away. We were just too excited to wait!

Stay tuned for more on love, relationships and successful marriage in romantic countries and around the world!

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

Authors of Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book 2009 Nautilus Book Awards
(Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.

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