Today, I have a guest post for you from Oliva Fane, author of ‘Possibly a Love Story‘ which is remarkably close to Olivia’s own well-publicised experience. In her first marriage to writer Adam Nicolson, they were in an open relationship, with Olivia allowed ten kisses a year, and a two-week affair every other year. She is very fluent on the subject of relationships and has many interesting ideas on love, sex, family and the Kama Sutra!
Some years ago I decided I would write a book about marriage: half of it would be a history, I decided, how marriage has changed over the ages, and half of it would be about my own experience of marriage. I eventually jettisoned the project: it turned out to be a Kiss and Tell on a grand scale. My first husband had already divorced me, I was certainly not going to risk my second following suit.
The historical research I did, however, was absolutely gripping. It confirmed my worst prejudices: sex and love are not the same thing at all. We have been made to think they are by the advertising industry. We are all being manipulated on a grand scale. This is how it all began.
In the aftermath of the First World War there was a crisis in the U.S.A. Women were divorcing their husbands up and down the country. During the war, women had discovered they could be economically independent: they worked in factories, drove tractors, lorries, buses. They no longer needed their husbands to support them. So rather than continue in a loveless marriage, for the first time in history they could live independently. News reached the White House: the Government had to act. The greatest minds of their generation were invited to create a new strategy for a new kind of marriage. But what kind? How were families, the building block of a healthy society, to be kept together?
At the time sex had suddenly become important, thanks to Freud, and contraception was more reliable. The social sciences were also being born: so the Government invited sociologists, psychologists and sexologists along to the party. If the economic bond was no longer working, how about going for the sexual bond? For three days they discussed, would it work? Would America buy it?
At first, those earnest young scientists were pessimistic. Young women were often pretty, they said. But who would want to have sex with someone old? How might it be possible to keep the sex bond running throughout an entire marriage? The answer: education, persuasion. We shall say that sex is good for your health. We shall say that sex is loving, and keeps you happy. And how were they to get this message across? Advertising!
In the U.S the beauty industry boomed. Three and a half thousand beauty parlours were opened. The billboards cried out: ‘Keep your breath smelling sweet! Use deodorant! Dye your hair! Keep your figure!’ The implication being that if you don’t do these things not only will your husband not want to have sex with you, he won’t even love you anymore. And in the 1950’s, thanks to Hollywood, the phrase ‘make love’ was used exclusively to mean ‘have sex.’ Our indoctrination was complete.
But it astonishes me how the myth carries on. I adore my husband of 23 years. We have sex about twice a week, which I enjoy hugely, but feel totally distant from him. Only this morning I was wrapping a Christmas present for ‘Anna, the nurse I flirt with’. Last night was particularly passionate. Was he thinking of her? While I sometimes think of this Japanese man who gave me a particular look when I was young…I never even knew his name, but he does the trick. Or I’m away with the fairies and think of nothing but my own private pleasure bubble. Or I’m thinking of who I need to send a Christmas card to. It’s true, when I first won my husband’s interest, I wanted him: he was very definitely the object of my desire. But you can’t go on desiring what you already possess.
Love, meanwhile, becomes ever stronger over time. Time might kill that particular frisson you once had for your partner, but love grows. Love is about caring for the inner life of a person who is not yourself. Love doesn’t give a damn about growing old. Love is the deep knowledge of another human being; love is about being thrown into this difficult world and holding out a hand to another to comfort and be comforted. Love wins, every time.
About ‘Possibly a Love Story’
Well versed in controversial relationships herself, Olivia Fane’s new novel, Possibly a Love Story, tells the story of Laura Glass, her husband Hugo, and the lovers who come to stay!
Laura Glass’s life seems perfect. She’s beautiful, wealthy, her husband loves her and their teenage kids Leo and Jemima are at good schools.
Then one day Laura’s happiness is shattered when she sees her husband kissing a young woman in a doorway. Some of Laura’s friends tell her to divorce him; others say ignore it. Instead, Laura goes off on an adventure of her own with the beautiful young Jed. On their return, seeing that her husband is still continuing his affair, she invites his lover to live in their home. And Jed too, just for good measure.
Quite the opposite of a morality tale, Possibly a Love Story is a viciously funny satire on the middle classes and middle-class values, but with a huge heart.
About the Author
Olivia Fane has endured one divorce, married two husbands, been awarded three M.A.s in Classics, Social Work and Theology, written five novels and given birth to five sons. She lives in Sussex.
You can purchase Olivia’s novel ‘Possibly a Love Story’ (which was published on the 16th Jan 2017 by Arcadia Books) for £9.99.