As Long As It Takes
It's been three years since our divorce was finalized. Beth and I were married for nearly eighteen years before our breakup. We were high school sweethearts and married shortly after graduation. At the time we had no other lovers but each other. There is something to be said about that. It is really a good thing; love outweighs just sex any day of the week. Of course you don't really realize it till it's too late.
We led I guess what you might call a good life. We had four kids together: Amy, Brad, Carla, Daryl. We called them the alphabet kids. After Daryl was born I had a vasectomy. I didn't want the whole alphabet. Amy and Brad are in college now, but Carla and Daryl still live with Beth, my ex-wife.
What happened? What went wrong? We seemed to be a happy family. We were good parents and supported everything our kids did. We were like most young couples, struggling to make ends meet. I worked in a manufacturing plant and Beth started working at the local WalMart store, once the two older kids started school. The younger kids started in day care when one of us wasn't home to watch them. It wasn't the greatest thing to do but in today's society, that's how it goes.
I often wonder how my parents and grandparents were able to do it with the women not working. I don't know whether to blame society or materialism. We wanted a lot of 'things' and we wanted them too fast.
Our love life started off great like probably most young people. We did it all the time, day or night. As the kids were born we did it less and less. It's probably that way with most families. We just didn't have the time or so we thought. Looking back, the problem was us. We started taking each other for granted. Our love life became a 'hurry up and do it'. We reached our climaxes but it was nothing like the days of old; the sweat and 'I love you so much' type of sex. In a sense I guess it became boring, but only because we didn't put the love in it where it belonged.
I eventually got a promotion to supervisor. Our financial situation became much better. As the kids became older we were able to go out once in a while. Dinner and a movie was enjoyable. It started to put a little of the luster back into our somewhat boring relationship. I guess all marriages go through it. You love each other but take each other for granted.
Beth came home one day and said she wanted to go out with the other girls at work. I didn't see any problem with that since our kids were now old enough to take care of themselves. This happened about four years ago. Beth got dressed in slacks and a blouse. She looked nice. She was like a lot of women always worried about her weight but she always seemed to look nice at any weight.
When she got home, I asked her if she had a nice time. She told me she did and about some of the other girls. I have nothing against WalMart but a lot of the women that worked there were divorced and separated. It didn't seem like the type of people that Beth should be partying with. I told her so and she got mad at me for downgrading her friends.
"I did no such thing," I told her. "It's just that these women will look for men and you'll be there with them." She looked at me a little sheepish. We were together for eighteen years. I knew all her moods. I know I hit a nerve.
"Well, did you dance with any men?" I asked.
She delayed in answering me but then said, "I didn't do anything wrong. Yes, I danced with a couple of guys and that was all."
I knew a little more happened but didn't push the issue right then. She told me that she and her friends were going to go out once a month. I wasn't really happy with it but what could I really say. I would have to just wait and see.
The following month she wore a skirt with pantyhose. I watched her get dressed. She didn't say much to me. I told her that I would be waiting up for her. It was past midnight when she came in. She looked at me and started to go to the room to change.
As she started toward the bedroom, I asked her, "When you left, you had pantyhose on. Where are they?"
"It was hot and I took them off," was all she said.
"Beth, this is starting to get out of hand. We need to talk," I said.
She asked me to leave the room so she could undress. I told her that she had undressed in front of me for eighteen years and wanted to know what was so special about that night. I walked up to her and grabbed her by the arm. It was something I had never done.
"Please don't, Jerry, I beg you, please don't."
She knew what I was about to do as I reached under her skirt and found her pantyless.
She started crying as I pushed her away. Her pussy was sopping wet with another man's juices.
"Well, I guess that answers why no pantyhose, doesn't it?" I remarked.
"I'm sorry, Jerry. It just happened. I was drinking at this party and Joe kept telling me how beautiful I was and then he kissed me, and began touching me. I've never been with anyone but you Jerry. The girls kept telling me how good Joe is and I let it happen."
"No one man came that much in you. You had more than one man, didn't you?" I asked.
"When Joe took me, I was lying on the bed and a couple of other guys came in and took advantage of me also."
"They didn't take you; you let them all fuck you. Doesn't our marriage mean anything to you? Didn't you at least think about me or the kids?"
"Jerry, I'm sorry. It wasn't love like you and I have. It was raw sex and I liked it. Barb, one of the other girls, is married and she told me she and her husband are into swapping. I don't want to lose you, Jerry. Please come with me one time and try it," she begged.
I needed to think; my mind was going in a hundred different directions. I told her I didn't want to talk anymore right then. My mind didn't comprehend what just happened. I told her we could talk the next day. I'd sleep on the couch that night.
In the morning after the kids left, I got dressed and went to work. Beth was still sleeping from her hard night. I couldn't keep my mind on my job and took the afternoon off. I went to where Beth was working and walked up to her. She smiled at me; she was a cashier that day and at the next register was her friend Barb. I had read the name on her name tag.
"Honey, how come you're not at work?"
Her friend Barb kept eyeing me.
"I'm going to see Jeff, our lawyer today. I'm getting a divorce." I turned around and walked out.
Behind me I heard Beth yelling at me to wait. She had a customer at the register and wasn't sure what to do. I guess she was in panic mode. I didn't wait as I walked briskly out the door and got in my truck and left. I went straight to the house and packed most of my clothing. I threw it all into boxes and put it in the truck. I had no idea where I was going but I knew where I didn't want to be. I did leave a note for my kids. I told them that their mother and I were getting a divorce and she could explain it to them. I really would like to know how she was going to explain this one. Probably make it my fault. She was good at blaming me for most things.
I ended up going to my parents' house. They were in their sixties and had been married over forty years. I told them that Beth and I were separating and would probably get divorced. I know it hurt them because they really liked Beth and this was probably a shock. I told them I needed a place to stay and they offered me the whole basement. It was all remodeled and had a nice bedroom and even a small kitchenette and living room set up down there. They told me I could stay as long as I needed. They didn't much use the basement anymore. They didn't like the stairs. About two years ago they moved the washer and dryer upstairs after Mom's hip replacement.
I might ramble on a little while telling you this story. There's so much to tell you. I know you want to know about Beth and what the kids thought as well as input from the lawyer and a few other people.
I told Mom and Dad that Beth wanted more freedom. It was kind of hard to explain that she wanted to fuck other people. I didn't want to tell my parents that. I just told them that we felt differently about a number of things and didn't think we could come to an agreement. They weren't happy with that explanation but that was all I could tell them for now. I did make it over to Jeff's, our lawyer, and he told me that Beth had already called twice. I asked him if he was going to represent me or her.
"She doesn't want a divorce, Jerry. She thinks you can work this out."
"Answer my question, Jeff. Are you her lawyer or mine?" I asked again.
"I'm hers, Jerry. She called me first and I accepted the case. I'm sorry; if you would have called me, I would have been yours. Please talk with her, Jerry; you are both my friends and I hate seeing you two in divorce court."
"Did she tell you why I walked out, Jeff? Why I want a divorce?" I asked.
"She said you two had an argument about her going out. She got drunk and cheated on you," he replied.
"Truth time, Jeff. She went out after I told her I had a bad feeling about it. She fucked three men and then asked me if I wanted to swap with her friends. There's your case, Jeff. I'm going to see Sally Black; we both know she's the best in the business. I'll have her call you as soon as we get a plan together. Thanks for nothing, Jeff."
I turned around and walked out.
Sally was the best divorce lawyer in the state. She was as hard-nosed as they come. I knew a few men who went against her and they were all taken to the cleaners. I called Sally and she gave me an appointment for the next day. She told me not to talk to Beth until we had our meeting. I asked her about the kids and she told me to have my parents call them and tell them we would talk in the next couple of days.
My parents did call the kids and talked to Amy, our oldest. They told Amy that I would call them and talk to them in the next few days. They mentioned that if any of the kids had an emergency to call them; also that I would be staying at their house.About two hours later, Beth called the house. She told my dad she needed to talk to me. I shook my head no and my dad said that my lawyer said not to talk to her that day. I would call her after meeting with my lawyer. I heard my dad say to Beth. "Beth, I don't know what happened between you two but you must have hurt Jerry terribly. I've never seen him like this." He talked a little more and hung up the phone. He looked over at me and said, "Beth told me to tell you she loves you and not to do this to your family."
I was pissed. I knew she was going to throw it in my lap, make it my fault. My mom was out of the room so I told my dad the truth. I told him not to tell Mom because it would crush her; she loved Beth. He had tears in his eyes when he left the room. My dad was a pretty sentimental guy.
I did go to work the next day. I wasn't allowed to accept personal calls in the plant except for emergencies. I told my manager about applying for a divorce and to make sure no calls were forwarded from Beth as emergencies. I was glad to be working; it kept my mind focused on something other than Beth.
I met with Sally after work. She was a beautiful lady but pretty much all business. "Jerry, what do you want to happen here?" she asked.
"Wow, I guess I'm not really sure. You see, I love Beth. I really do and probably always will. I don't want to destroy her or anything like that. I just can't live with the lifestyle she wants. I'm not into sharing her and I'm not interested in having sex with just anybody. I am somewhat worried about the kids. I know they're older but I don't want her bringing every Tom, Dick and Harry to the house. Although I don't think she would do such a thing, but I didn't think she would cheat on me either."
Sally spoke, "Jerry, people go through this every day. We can do whatever you want. I take it you don't want the affair situation publicly known for the sake of the kids. You need to support them and we can pretty much dictate the amount. You can give or take whatever you want. You're in the driver's seat here. We might have to use the affair as a weapon to get things settled but we'll go for irreconcilable differences in the end. Is that all right with you?"
"You're my lawyer. I'll follow your advice," I replied.
"You make a pretty hefty salary now. Since she is working we probably can get away with five hundred a week in child support and as the kids turn eighteen, knock off about fifty dollars a week. No spousal support, and when all the kids are over eighteen the money stops. You'll also be responsible for their medical. As far as higher education, it's up to you if you want to supply any. You don't have to legally. Your oldest is seventeen and your youngest is twelve. So you will have to pay some support for the next six years. Do you want to go with this or do you want something else?"
"What about our savings and my retirement package?"
"All the savings will be divided equally as well as any bills that are in both of your names. You have two vehicles so you can each have one. Your retirement is exactly that, your retirement. We won't let her touch that. The house and furnishings are the only things left. What would you like done with them?"
"Our house is worth about two hundred thousand and we owe about sixty thousand but my kids live there. I'm not sure what to do," I said.
"I have an idea to throw at you. In many cases like yours where you're not after revenge and there are kids involved, I suggest that you let her have the house to live in until the children are all grown and out of the house. Say age twenty-one for an example. At that time the house will be sold and the money divided equally, or one of the two parties can buy the house at half the worth minus what's owed on it. She will be responsible for half the house payment."
"So much to go through. Why wasn't I enough for her? Eighteen fucking years down the drain. I guess we can go with that. What if either Beth or Jeff want to fight it?" I asked.
"Then we pull out the big guns and bring up the cheating. I'm pretty sure they don't want that. If they do, then we'll ask for custody and a fifty-fifty split of everything and of course no support since she won't have the kids."
I took the next day off and Sally called Jeff and told him that she had an offer for him and Beth and asked if they could be at her office at noon. Of course Jeff balked about coming to Sally's office but agreed to it knowing it was a no-win situation for him.
Jeff and Beth showed up at the same time. I figured Jeff told her to wait for him in the parking lot. There we were at the table, Sally and me on one side and Jeff and Beth on the other.
Jeff spoke first; he knew Sally and wasn't happy about being on the opposite side. "Nice to see you again, Sally. I know how you operate and like to get down to business. Before you make us an offer, Beth would like to talk privately with Jerry."
"No," I said. "She did her talking the other night. I will talk to her only after the papers are signed. Everyone here is aware of why I'm asking for the divorce." I looked directly at Beth, "If you're afraid of having you're love life being exposed, please listen to my offer. I think it is most generous."
Sally said, "Well, that question was answered. Mrs. Cohen, Jerry has made you a very fair offer." Sally handed a copy to Beth and one to Jeff. "He will use irreconcilable differences for the reason of separation. As you can see, he has given you a decent income while your children are living at home. The only debatable issue here is the house. I think Jerry has been very fair in his offer here also."
Jeff spoke again. "We need time to look over this document and see about a possible counteroffer. Sally, I will talk with Beth and get back to you in the next couple of days."
"Jeff, just so we are clear on the issue, there will be no counteroffer. If you turn this offer down, which I believe would be very ill advised, Mr. Cohen will file under adultery and ask for custody of the kids and the house."
Beth looked up and was crying. Sally was playing hard ball and it hurt me to see Beth cry. Beth grabbed a pen and asked where to sign, without even reading it. She was crying full-fledged tears then. She was afraid of losing her kids.
"Mrs. Cohen, please calm down," replied Sally. "Jerry doesn't want to hurt you or the kids. Please take a day or so as Jeff has suggested and see if everything is agreeable. Maybe we have overlooked something. I'm sorry about my threatening tone but I wanted to make it clear that we are offering a very good settlement here. Jerry is seeing to it that you and your kids are well taken care off. So, please take the document and discuss it with your lawyer and Jeff and I will discuss it say tomorrow." Sally handed her tissue box to Beth.
Beth took a couple of tissues and looked at me while her crying lessened some. "Jerry, I do love you no matter what you think. I was just hoping that we could put some time between us and maybe get back together, but I see that you have already made your decision."
"No, Beth, you made my decision for me. You want the freedom to do as you please and I'm giving it to you. The only thing I ask is that you keep your lovers away from my kids, or I'll take them from you. That's a promise."
Beth started crying again as she hurried out of the building. Jeff said goodbye to us and told Sally he would probably see her tomorrow or the next day.
Sally looked at me and told me it looked like I would win this case. I told her there are no winners, only losers. I lost the only woman I ever loved and my kids now live in a single parent home. No, we didn't win; we just got a fair agreement.
My daughter Amy drove the two youngest over to my parents to see me. I was happy to see them. They kept asking questions and I kept telling them that their mom and I weren't getting along and we didn't see eye to eye on some major issues and we would be getting divorced. I tried to explain to them that their mother and I would always be in their lives. We just wouldn't be together.
"Daryl, I will be at your games. I wouldn't miss them, and Carla, when volleyball season gets here, I'll be in the stands rooting for you. I will always be part of your lives."
I hugged and kissed them all as they told me how much they loved me. I gave them my cell phone number and of course they could always call me at grandma's house.Brad showed up a little later. "Dad, I have a question for you. Did you cheat on Mom?"
"No, Brad, I would never cheat on your mother. Why would you ask me that?"
"Well, Jim, my buddy at school, and Travis, our neighbor, said their parents are divorced and in both cases their dad was caught cheating on their mom. I was hoping you didn't do something like that. God, I love you, Dad, and I'm going to miss you."
"Brad, you won't be missing me. I'm not leaving the country. I'll always be here for all you kids. It will just take some time getting use to our situation."