A French man has been sued for nearly £9,000 by his ex-wife for not having enough sex with her.
The 51-year-old, known only as JeanLouis B, was fined under article 215 of France's civil code, which says that married couples must agree to a "shared communal life".
The court in Aix-en-Provence heard that the couple had been married for 21 years, and raised two children on the French Riviera. But uninspired Jean-Louis was "solely responsible" for the lack of fireworks in their bedroom, blaming lethargy and stress of work.
"A sexual relationship between husband and wife is the expression of affection they have for each other, and in this case it was absent," the judge declared, with typically French haughtiness. "By getting married, couples agree to sharing their life and this clearly implies they will have sex with each other." Mon Dieu! Perhaps there are other areas of daily life in France where people can be sued for not living up to reasonable expectations, like fromageries whose camembert isn't soft enough, or Renault salesmen who over-promise on four-wheel drive.
Presumably French law rules on the minimum amount of sexual intercourse allowed in marriages. Do most middle-aged French men and women live in fear, knowing that if it's not twice a week at least they face a costly divorce? Do weekends count for double? I wonder, too, whether in Montpelier or Lyon or Lille they opt for different kinds of sexual relations to keep the numbers up. "Not tonight, cherie, but I will kiss you six times tomorrow."
As if they didn't have enough to worry about with the collapse of the euro, the rise of the far right, and a sclerotic political system, the French government now thinks it should busy itself with policing relationships. Alas, nationalisation is for railways, police forces, water systems and school curriculums – not intimacy in the bedrooms. Good government means knowing what not to do. And though a conviction was acquired this time, there must be endless cases of sexless French relationships that cannot and will not be brought to law. But laws that are not properly enforced are a very bad thing, and what goes on in the bedroom should stay there.
If he fails to win the presidency next year, Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be looking for a new career, and sex counselling could be just the ticket. Poor Jean-Louis could be his first client.