This famous UK TV presenter recently told a national magazine why she chose to “borrow” her best friend’s boyfriend to take him on holiday with her last week. Mariella Frostrup is known in the UK for presenting various arts programs and having a gravelly voice that was once voted the sexiest voice on TV. She told Waitrose Weekend magazine that, “I have just returned from a canal boat trip in south-west France with my two children and my best friend’s boyfriend. Seriously! I have seen the future and it’s partner-sharing.”
Now before you worry that Frostrup is suggesting everyone throw their keys into the fruit bowl, know that she’s coming at this from a very moral and all-above-board fashion. That when in this busy working world, couples are forced to potentially cancel trips or events because of work schedules, they should just invite someone else along. Someone else’s partner.
In Frostrup’s situation, her husband was called away on business and was unable to join his family on a barge trip on the 17th-century Canal du Midi between Carcassonne and Beziers. So, Frostrup recounts:
“[I] asked my friend Penny Smith if I could borrow her husband. Enter Vince Leigh, shortly to appear on the West End stage in Ed Hall’s brilliant Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon. Luckily rehearsals had not yet begun so this child-friendly, easy-on-the-eye, wine-guzzling charmer was mine for the voyage. To say it was an unqualified success would be to undervalue the pleasure of a familiar but not intimate male companion.”
Penny is clearly a very understanding friend without a shred of jealousy in her bones. My question is why didn’t Frostrup invite her best friend along for the ride? Why did she invite a man instead? Ordinarily, women would replace their partner at an event by bringing a girl buddy along; I’ve taken female friends to all kinds of parties and gatherings that my husband wanted to avoid. I wonder how my husband would feel if I wanted to take a male friend in his place? Knowing my other half, who doesn’t have a flicker of the little green monster in him, he wouldn’t care. But then again, this isn’t about take a male friend to a function as a “stand-in” for the evening — this is spending a week together, in close proximity, sharing intimacies and essentially relaxing and vacationing together.
Is that a tiny bit odd? Aren’t vacations meant to be about quality time spent with your family, and therefore if your other half can’t attend, doesn’t it defeat the purpose? Then again, maybe Frostrup would have been out money if she had to cancel the whole vacation and upset her kids, so she came up with a solution. For that, she is to be applauded. But, hand on heart, how many women would be comfortable letting their men go on holiday with another attractive, funny, smart woman — married or not? Would the fact that she’s married make any difference? After all, vacationing is about relaxing, having a few glasses of wine, getting into swimwear — all of life’s seductive pleasures at the fore.
Is the person who really deserves the applause Penny Smith, for being so charitable? Or Frostrup’s husband, for being understanding? If you let your husband vacation with your best friend, no matter how many years you’ve known her or how much you trusted them, would a tiny little bit of you still raise an eyebrow and wonder, “They wouldn’t, would they?”
Or maybe we should just be more trusting and mature about the whole idea of partner-sharing in this way. After all, if you’ve made vows and raised a family together, then why shouldn’t your spouse be in the company of other women? Isn’t that what trust is all about? Plus, they are hardly likely to run off into the sunset together on a family holiday where children are also present. It isn’t like Frostrup whisked Leigh off for a romantic weekend in Paris. Or does the destination and family attendance not matter? Is it simply wrong to lend out partners at all? But ask yourself: Have you not lent your husband to the neighbor down the road who needed her faucet fixed, or to your friend who needed help painting her hall, or volunteered him to help out at a school party with lots of other women present? Isn’t this the same thing?
According to Frostrup, it has only strengthened her marriage. She says:
“Divesting myself of responsibility for another man’s peccadillos awaked in me the desire to try harder to do likewise in my own home. So much friction in life is self-induced and down to the minor annoyances and perceived injustices of daily life. My mini-break with Vince has proved the best marriage-enhancer possible. Thanks Penny!”
So maybe we all need to loosen up a bit. Borrow a friend’s spouse to be grateful for what we have at home. It’s a novel way of thinking, surely.
Photo credit: Marielle Frostrup via Twitter