real life

Kim France had a 'can-opener affair'. It made all the difference.

Kim France knows the pain of being in an unhappy marriage.

She also knows what it's like to be the partner who embarks on an affair. A "can-opener affair" to be exact. 

It's a classic tale, France and her husband met and fell in love while in college, and then married in the early 2000s. 

At the time of marrying, France was also at the height of her magazine career, being the editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine in Manhattan, published by Condé Nast. Though she tells Mia Freedman on Mamamia's podcast No Filter that her decision to get married at this time wasn't exactly for romantic reasons.

"I was 37 and felt I had to really just fit the script that I was following at the time. Condé Nast felt like a company that really liked married couples with children. They wanted their editors to be a certain way. So I think I felt more pressure to fit in with that," France explains.

Four years into the marriage, however, they were getting divorced. 

From the outside things may have looked fine. They were each doing well in their respective careers and lived in a beautiful home. But things were far from idyllic.

"I was going through a very deep depression. I realised a lot of why I was unhappy was because I had married the wrong person. We were not happy together," says France.

She was also getting treatment for breast cancer during a period of the marriage, and work stresses were piling up. France wrote as well that amid getting radiation treatment, her husband was away and she didn't feel supported.


Reflecting on this time, it was the toughest moment in her life. 

France then had an affair. A "can-opener affair" as she coined it. And it changed everything, ultimately for the better, she can now say.

France didn't leave her husband for the person she had the affair with. But he did help her. 

'It got me out of my marriage. He helped me, he was a can-opener, he helped facilitate it [the break-up]," she says.

"When you're in an unhappy marriage, you can go weeks, months and years of telling yourself, 'Oh, well, it's not that bad.' I actually said to myself at one point, 'Well I guess if we don't have sex ever again, I could still stay with him.' You make these crazy bargains with yourself."

Amid the bargaining in her head, France knew deep down that the marriage had run its course. Meeting someone else helped push that little seed of doubt to the front of her mind and conscious.

"I certainly wasn't looking to have an affair when it happened for me. But it happened at a time in my life when I was in a very dark place. And it brought me joy at a time when pretty much nothing brought me joy."

The affair began like this. Man and woman meet. A few days later, woman finds out man is interested in her. Woman is curious, and feeling anger and resentment towards her husband, they agree to speak on the phone. Then they agree to meet. The rest is history.


"I really only saw him two, maybe three times, before I left my marriage. This man knows the role he played in my life, and I'm eternally grateful to him for helping me. He was somebody who probably had a proclivity for being attracted to wounded birds. And I was certainly a wounded bird then."

When it came to the divorce though, France knew she had to do that alone. By 2005, she and her husband were finished. 

For the next decade, France dated on and off. She continued with her career, starting the successful blog Girls of a Certain Age. She decided not to have children of her own. 

Get to 2021, and France was online dating and open to whatever popped up. She had also expanded her Tinder search radius to cities aside from New York City, such as Philadelphia. It turned out to be a very wise move. 

She matched with Paul Green, a music teacher from Philly and the founder of the School of Rock. (Yes, the School of Rock made famous by the Jack Black film). He was 50, nine years her junior, and had two teen children from a previous marriage. In early April 2021, France and Green went on their first date.

"That first date all we did was kiss in the park and we were in no rush for anything else to happen. And that's what felt remarkable about it because, you know, men in New York on Tinder and the other apps are typically looking to get laid. We listened to records back at my place, and we just relaxed and I made him dinner."


Before the first date finished, Green asked if France would be comfortable going exclusive together. France said yes.

"That was a very unusual thing to happen. But he said 'While we're figuring out what this is, let's just not see other people'. And it made sense to me."

Kim France and Paul Green. Image: Supplied. 


Within the week, they were essentially living together.

Looking back on it, France says it was "cuckoo" that they did that, but for them, it worked out well. Weeks into living together, both felt they were one another's person.

"It just sort of made sense. We kept wanting to be together, to see together. We spoke about how we saw our relationship and future, and we knew we were a little ahead of ourselves. We didn't want everyone around us to think it was a rebound for him, or that it was some crazy thing we were doing," France tells No Filter.

"I just got really lucky and met this person who gets me."

In April 2023, the pair married at France's mother's Manhattan apartment. It was chill, and they had their nearest and dearest in attendance, including Green's two children. France wore a floor-length black dress, and Green wore a black suit. France's sister-in-law was ordained to marry them. Their signature wedding cocktail was a spicy margarita.

Everything felt right. And still does feel right.

"It just worked out, and I know it's crazy. Recently some friends told me that they were very worried at the beginning. But that's not what ended up happening. We just make each other happy."

You can listen to the full conversation between Mia Freedman and Kim France on No Filter now

Feature Image: Supplied.

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