They argue {reprise}

Last night we resurrected the French dream. To bring our dream back to life we had to get through another frustrating and infuriating couple of hours trying to make each other see sense.

With both the kids in ‘frog’ position sleeping more soundly on the sofa than they do in our bed, we stayed up until 1 bashing out our differences in the Snug, uncomfortably sat on the floor until we started to come back together and find a way through the blockage.

Ben had to face his demons. He had to get to the root of the fear that was holding him back from coming along with my determined optimism.

He wanted to talk pounds and pence but we don’t have the information to conjure those figures right now. We needed to talk about what we both wanted from the French dream. What standard of lifestyle would we be happy with. What did we aspire to. What would we be prepared to sacrifice for the French dream. We could do something about the numbers, but there would be no point if we didn’t agree on the colour of our commitment. What did our shared dream actually look like. Did we even have a shared vision for France?

Ben could only see hardship. I was looking forward to extreme frugality and simplicity. With far less reliance on the modern conveniences of supermarkets, dishwasher, washing machine? I’d spend all my time getting to the market, shopping, preparing meals, and cleaning. He tried to protect me from this step backward for feminism, and I just felt offended.

Why would I need to get myself to the market if he was at home full-time?! What did he think he would be doing while I was cycling to the market? What did he think I would want to spend my time doing if not being a full-time home-maker, my dream? I tried to make him see, because everything would be different, EVERYTHING would be different. No more days on the laptop for me. No more days in front of the TV for the kids. Wasn’t that the whole point?

I’d have more time and freedom than I do now. Here I have to juggle the demands of being a full-time housewife and mother with having a demanding career. I insisted that our electricity bills would be negligible over the summer. We’d live, cook, eat, wash outdoors. In winter if the worst came to worst we’d gather round the fireplace by candle light, and talk, and just be together. Wasn’t that the whole point?

We went back over the numbers I had been crunching before our first disagreement about the possibility of the dream. This helped. I showed him the list of ‘potential other incomes’ I had. This continued to help. Acknowledging his fear of the kids going cold and hungry, and the sense of responsibility, that he would have failed to provide for them, was the turning point. He could come with me on my worst case scenario day of basically no money, surviving on bread and cheese. Wouldn’t he still be happy then? It would be good bread, good cheese, there’d probably be a bottle of wine lying around. He’d have his family around him, no job pressure, no chance of being kicked out of OUR house. We’d still feel secure even then wouldn’t we? Wouldn’t that give the kids more security than we have here and now?

But what scared Ben was the day after my worst case scenario. How do you recover from zero? The only way to address that fear was to come up with fail safes so that it would never come to that. We’d never reach my worst case scenario, let alone the day after.

~J

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