File photo: One woman named complained that her husband always cared more about his mother than her.

London - They are often portrayed as being sexier and more romantic than their British counterparts.

But French men may not be the ideal husbands after all – and it could be their mothers who are to blame.

For British women who take partners from across the Channel claim they are being driven out of their marriage by their mother-in-law’s overbearing behaviour.

One, named only as Sally, a 46-year-old lawyer originally from London, left her French businessman husband shortly before Christmas, taking their five-year-old daughter with her.

She had concluded that he always cared more about his mother than her, The Sunday Times reported. “He never really left his mother,” she said. “She would sit there criticising my cooking, the way I ironed his shirt, but would never lift a finger to help.”

But when Sally complained to her husband it reportedly made things worse. “He couldn’t see what the problem was,” she said.

There are no statistics available for divorces between British women and French men. However, internet chat rooms for expats frequently feature questions about how to get along with their new family, and anecdotal evidence suggests there is an “epidemic” of splits, according to the newspaper.

Jill Bourdais, a couples therapist in Paris, said mothers who dote on their sons and criticise their wives are part of a “Latin culture” that “Anglo-Saxon” brides can struggle to cope with.

A difficult mother-in-law is a common complaint from her clients, she said, adding that they have “a tendency to be invasive”.