It sounds a bit trite but Xfe is more interesting because he’s foreign, and there’s something else that’s really funny. We’ve never really fallen out or argued in the two years or so we’ve been together. It’s difficult for us to argue because as soon as Xfe starts getting wound up or agitated or feels he’s in a stressful situation, he loses his English. So we can’t argue in English. And I can’t argue in French because my French isn’t good enough. So we tend not to argue and that’s partly why. But, as I say, we don’t seem to get into the situation in the first place because we’re more tolerant of each other: we’re more mature and we know not only what our faults are and how to address them but what our relationship demands and expects.
One expectation of the relationship is that we’re married and that we live together. It’s my flat--I bought it before I was with Xfe—but I’m very conscious that it’s our place. So, for example, at a very basic level, there’s some of Xfe’s old-fashioned furniture, not that much. I’d never have had that. At the time it was a real compromise for me to have that in the flat because it’s really not my style. That may sound a silly thing, but it isn’t. It’s my house, but I have to be aware that it is also our home. Equally, I’m very aware that Xfe works, but he only works half the year: he’s a freelance make-up artist. He doesn’t earn as much money as me, and I’m very conscious of the fact that there shouldn’t be a financial imbalance but on the other hand I don’t need to be. I’m away working every day. Xfe’s routine is pretty much the same every day when he’s here: he gets up first, makes me my breakfast and sees me away, then he starts his cleaning. He cleans every day, and then, because he’s French, he goes shopping for fresh food every day. He buys the food then comes back and finishes his cleaning, then watches a little bit of TV and starts making me my dinner. I come home every night to find he’s made a lovely dinner—a main course with salad and bread and cheese. I used to have a cleaner, but I don’t need a cleaner now. That is his contribution, what he brings to our partnership: he’s a homemaker and that’s great. He’s the homemaker, and to me that’s just as important as me going out and being the main breadwinner. I’d love not to be. I’d love to be the one who’s supported, but that’s how it is. So there are those demands and those expectations, whereas there might have been an imbalance.