What Does It Mean?
What does it mean to forsake all others? Is there something, somewhere that qualifies that promise in the wedding vows? I didn't think so, but others apparently think differently.
I was at work that day when Charley Hughes came back to work. He'd been out sick with the flu for a couple of days and I guess he found out it can get pretty boring sitting around the house by yourself. His wife worked and his kids were in school so he had no one to talk to. Anyway, Charley was moaning about an Oprah show he'd watched the previous afternoon where she'd had several married women on the show extolling the excitement of having a lesbian affair behind their husbands' backs. Charley thought that this was a despicable thing to present on national TV to women who were easily impressed by Oprah's sophistication and wealth. He wondered very vocally about the wimpy husbands of those women going on national TV and what it would do to their marriages and also what would happen to the divorce rate if more women were encouraged to try it after watching the show?
I guess I had to agree with Charley and when I got home that night I guess I let off a little steam with my wife, Grace, about it. She listened to my ranting about it with a funny look on her face and I guess I should have recognized something was wrong but it didn't click with me right away. When I was finished she simply turned away and shrugged her shoulders as though to dismiss my concern.
"Don't get all steamed up about it. I'm sure most women would not consider such a thing and if they did, wouldn't act on it."
"What if they did?"
"It isn't as though she was really cheating on her husband doing it with another woman." she responded all the while not looking at me.
"I don't see it that way. Our wedding vows say, "forsaking ALL others, not just persons of the opposite sex. To my way of thinking that's being just as unfaithful as giving your body to another man. Would you like to see me with another man?"
"I guess you're right, but it isn't like you'd be sharing love between two people. You'd save that for the person you're married to."
"Intimate sex should only be shared with the person you love and are married. As a man and a faithful husband, my marriage is based on love, trust and respect. If those three things aren't there, then it isn't a marriage as far as I'm concerned."
She was quiet as she stood looking out the kitchen window. I think I began to suspect something then. Her attitude and behavior were telling me that she was hiding something and it had to do with the subject at hand. You don't live with someone for 23 years without learning their moods and not know when something is bothering them. Something was definitely bothering her.
"Do you have something you want to talk about, Grace?"
I guess I'd better give you a little background on our situation. My wife, Grace, and I had been married for 23 years. We had a son, Mark, who had just graduated from MIT with an engineering degree and was away living in Nashville working for a firm of consulting engineers. At 44 Grace was still a very attractive woman and kept herself in shape at a local health spa. Standing 5'6'' in her bare feet her svelte 135 lbs were blended into a nice feminine body with 34C breasts, blond hair cut fashionably short. She was a teacher at our local high school and was active in school activities, especially related to girl's education, sport and social activities. I loved her with a passion and was awed by her love for me, her intelligence and her dedication to her family and her job.
I'm Jim, a laid back guy, 6'1'' and 182 lbs. My looks are average I guess. The ladies didn't swoon when they saw me coming anyway, but I'd been hit on a couple of occasions so maybe I'm not a total loss. Anyway, I ran to keep myself in shape and was comfortable with my health and condition at 45.
With our son gone and the expense associated with supporting and educating him finished, we were free to enjoy our lives. We were putting away quite a bit of money every year as we wanted to retire in about 10 years and travel and enjoy life in our maturity. Our sex was still good, at least twice a week. Not as active as when we were younger, but not bad. I thought we had everything going for us.
Turning from the window to look at me, I saw her face and I knew something was wrong.
"What's the problem, honey?" I asked with a feeling of dread coming over me.
The look on her face was one of intense anguish and I knew then what the problem was and it related to what I'd been ranting about when I got home from work., However, I wanted her to tell me about it. For the last several months, she and a single, fellow teacher; younger than herself, had been working together on a school project to develop curriculum for a new class on girl's health issues. This required, she had told me, that they spend an evening or two each week at the other woman's apartment. I now remembered when she had come back from those evenings that she immediately went and had a shower before coming to bed but was never interested in sex on those nights. I had never suspected anything at the time. Her attitude to me hadn't changed nor had she been less caring or loving. Maybe, she had been more solicitous if anything. With a sob, she suddenly turned from me and hurried back to our bedroom and shut the door.
"Grace?" I hollered before she got the door shut but got no response.
I was stunned. What the hell had she done? Collapsing in a kitchen chair I put my head in my hands as tears began to slide down my cheeks. I couldn't believe what I was thinking but it had to be true or she would never have reacted like that. She was having an affair with that other female teacher. Sitting there I thought about the 23 years we had been married and the wonderful life we'd had. I'd always wanted a daughter but she'd been unable to have more children after our son's birth. The good times, the love, even the sex were fond memories that seemed to be fill our lives up to now. Now what? I'd have to wait until she told me for sure. I'd give her an hour in the bedroom to compose herself and then we would have to talk. I wiped my eyes and went into the den and got into my recliner. Closing my eyes I prepared to wait. I knew it was not a good thing but I could feel my rage building as I waited.
It was about 45 minutes later I heard the bedroom door open and she appeared at the doorway. As I sat up in the recliner, I gestured to the sofa across from me.
"Sit down Grace. I'm here to listen to what you have to say. Is it about you and Clara?"
She looked like hell. Her eyes were red and watery as though she'd been crying, her hair was mussed and she looked defeated. I hadn't seen her like this since her mother died.
"Yes, and I'm so sorry, Jim. I'd convinced myself that it wasn't such a bad thing. It was just sex with Clara and I never suspected how you would feel about it."
"If you thought it was alright and I would be OK with it, why didn't you tell me about it and not hide it Grace? It was just sex? I can't believe you. You knew it was not right yet you went ahead and did it behind my back. Was the sex exciting or was it the fact that you thought you could hide it from me that it was exciting? Just like those women on the Oprah show. All excited because they were having illicit sex with another woman. Well, you can just go live with your lover Grace, because you're out of here. Go pack a bag and move out. You broke our wedding vows and as far as I'm concerned and we don't have a marriage anymore. So you can go live with your lover and not have to hide anything."
"Please Jim, please. We can get around this. We can go to counseling. Our marriage doesn't have to end because of a misunderstanding."
"MISUNDERSTANDING?" I hollered back in my rage. "Don't you get it? It wasn't a misunderstanding. It was out and out deceit, lying and unfaithfulness. It was not a misunderstanding. I'm giving you 10 minutes to pack a bag and get out of here. If you're not out of here by then I'm throwing your cheating ass out the front door."
"Please Jim, can't we talk about this calmly? This is my home too."
"If you want to argue about who gets to stay and who's going, see a lawyer, but you're out of here because I can't guarantee your safety if you stay. You have 9 minutes left."
Crying, she left the room and went back to our bedroom where I heard her get a suitcase out of her walk-in closet and then the sliding of bureau drawers opening and closing. I was surprised but she had a bag packed with some business clothing on hangers in less than 10 minutes.
Her eyes were still red and tearful as she headed to the door out to the garage.
"I'll be at my sisters. Please call me when you think I can come home." she told me as she went by. I just stared at her and didn't respond.
A few seconds later I heard the garage door go up and her car start, then she was gone and I was alone. I was glad she hadn't gone to Carla's.
After she left I just sat there and thought about what I was going to do, but couldn't reach any conclusion. Eventually, I got up and made myself a sandwich to get something in my stomach. Grace had already started dinner but I didn't feel like a heavy meal. My stomach was in a turmoil as I tried to reason my way through my emotions. What did I want to do? Divorce? Counseling? Get back together? Could I trust her again? Did I want to get back together again? All these things were flashing through my mind in a jumble and I couldn't put the pieces into any order of logic.
I was sitting back in the den in front of the TV but wasn't really watching it when the phone rang. Reaching over I picked it up and heard, Betty, Grace's younger sister.
"What's going on Jim. Grace is here with her luggage and she's a basket case. She can't or won't tell me what happened. She's got me, Jake (her husband) and the kids upset with you. I guess you threw her out.
"That's right, Betty. I found out she's been having an affair."
"Oh shit. You've got to be kidding. Grace!? I can't believe it. Who is it? Do you know?"
"Its that teacher she's been working with on the school project, Carla."
"Another woman? I didn't know she was gay. When did this happen?"
"The last month or so, I guess."
"Well, it was only another woman. Aren't you going to get some counseling and take her back?"
"You women! I take this as seriously as if she were doing it with another guy. It not only says that she doesn't respect me and our marriage vows but it also says I can't fulfill her needs. That she has to go somewhere else to have her needs met. That's a real slap in the face as far as I'm concerned, but I haven't made up my mind what I want to do. I just know I want her out of here until I make up my mind what I want."
"OK, Jim. We'll keep her here a few days, but if you haven't taken her back by then she'll have to find another place to live. The kids will be doubling up till she leaves. Have you told Mark yet what's going on?"
"No, and I don't plan to until I make up my mind what to do. He doesn't need to know yet."
"OK, Jim. I'm really shocked about this. I'll go and talk with her now that I know what's happened."
"Fine Betty. Keep me informed and I'll let you know what I'm going to do as soon as I can."
That night I had a restless sleep. Since our marriage we had slept in the same bed every night except for the two or three times I'd had to travel on business overnight and when she went to visit her mother. I missed her presence laying next to me. Finally, I drifted off to sleep trying to get my thoughts wrapped around what I needed to do...
When I awoke next morning I realized it was Saturday and recalled why Grace wasn't there. It saddened me immensely when I remembered, then thought it was Saturday and I couldn't contact any divorce lawyers for a couple of days. Sitting over a cup of coffee after breakfast I realized my rage had abated I could finally start to move forward on the problem. I guess I needed to know why she had done it first off and she may not be the one to be able to explain it to me. I thought we'd had a good marriage and that we found satisfaction with one another in bed. Why had she done it? She'd thought I'd be OK with it. Did she really think that or was it the only thing she could think of to justify her affair?
Had she had other affairs I didn't know about? If I forgave her, could I trust her again?
Was our marriage worth saving? We had 23 years invested in this marriage and I was looking forward to growing old together. Shit, I was getting too old to try to establish a new relationship but I wasn't going to be cuckolded again. That's for damn sure.
I finally decided what I had to do before I could reach a final decision and I reached for the phone.
"Betty, this is Jim. Can you get Grace on your extension. I've come to some sort of a decision and I want you both to hear it."
"Shouldn't you be talking with your wife, Jim? I don't think I should be involved. We've been talking and I know she's deeply remorseful for what she's done. I know she wants to tell you how sorry she is but is afraid to come home to tell she'd do anything to get through this." "I'm glad she's so remorseful." I responded sarcastically, "but she may not like what I want her to do before I see her again. I want you on the phone to make sure she understands what she's going to have to do. So please get her on the extension.
"All right, Jim. Just a moment."
"Hello Grace. Are you on Betty?"
"Yes, I'm here."
"OK Grace, here's what I need before we can even talk about a reconciliation. I want you to go and get a complete psychiatric exam to determine why you did what you did. I need to know why and I can't accept any of your excuses. Before I can trust you again I've got to have some assurances that it'll never happen again. Do you hear me Grace?"
"Yes, I hear you Jim. I'll do it but it may take awhile. Can I come home?"
"I would rather not see you again unless I think there's a chance for reconciliation. Find yourself a furnished apartment. I'll go out tomorrow afternoon and you can come and get more of your stuff. After that I'm having the locks changed."
"OK Jim." she sobbed.
"Betty, I want you to report to me on her progress with a psychiatrist. I would some closure on this at the proper time."
"OK Jim. But you should realize she's my sister and I'm not going to rat on her."
"All I want to know is if she's seeing a shrink. If she's not I'll be contacting a divorce lawyer."
"OK Jim. Is that all?
"No, I would like you to quit your job and break all contact with Clara."
"Oh Jim, I won't see or contact Clara anymore. I'll asked to have another teacher work with me on our program and we'll do the work during my work period at the school. Please don't ask me to give that up. I will do as you demand, but I plead with you not to make me do it."
"Alright Grace, I'll back off but I would feel more comfortable if you transferred to another school for the next school year."
"I'll do that Jim. Thank you."
"You've really screwed everything up Grace."
"I know and I'm so sorry. Have you told Mark?"
"Not yet, but I guess he's got to know we're not living together. I'll tell him that we decided to have a little free time from one another. He'll know there's something more to it but I won't tell him. You can if you want."
"Thanks Jim. I appreciate it."
We signed off and I went out to cut the grass. As I was doing this I was thinking about my marital problems and how to keep tabs on Grace. When I finished the grass and went in and got on the computer and searched for GPS tracking equipment. I found what I wanted and placed an order with express delivery. Using this I could track Grace where ever she traveled in her car as long as she was within a five mile radius of home or my laptop. Now, I would have to plan on how I would get the transmitter installed in Grace's car. It was expensive but necessary to keep track of her since I couldn't count on her sister to keep me informed.
That evening the phone rang and I saw by the caller ID it was Carla. My rage returned as I picked up the phone.
"Yes?" I spoke.
"Jim, this is Carla. Is Grace there? She didn't come into school today and I wondered if she was sick? We have a meeting tonight."
"Grace doesn't live here anymore Carla." I told her through clenched teeth. "The slut is finding herself a new home. I'm surprised she hasn't contacted you, her lover, for a place to stay. Please do not call here again and I would stay a long way from me in the future."
"Oh, my god!"
Then she hung up and I was left with a dial tone. I was sort of glad she'd called because it meant Grace hadn't tried to contact her.
I got to thinking, however, that if Grace suddenly decided to end our marriage and go live with her lover I should protect my financial assets. It would be a simple matter to change back if our marriage continued. So, Monday morning I went down to the bank and moved half of our joint accounts into new accounts with just my name on it. I did the same with our non-IRA investments. I returned to work and called our insurance agent and had Grace removed as my beneficiary and replaced her name with that of our son Mark. Calling our family lawyer I asked him to prepare a new will listing only Mark as the recipient of my estate I also asked him the name of a good divorce attorney and after expressing his regrets referred me to Donna Sinclair as the best in the area. After I finishing talking with him I gave Ms Sinclair's office a call and made an appointment for the following afternoon. Although I didn't know whether I'd eventually proceed with a divorce, I thought it would be good to sit down and talk with her and find out my options.
Submerging myself in work I was able to forget my marital problems but when I went home in the evening to an empty house it depressed me. A call from Betty cheered me up somewhat. She reported that Grace had made an appointment with a psychiatrist and would be going in for her initial visit on Thursday. She also told me Grace hadn't gone into work that day but would probably start back tomorrow and she was slowly coming around, having stopped her continual crying. Good, its nice to know she's been suffering.
On Wednesday the GPS tracking equipment arrived and after reading the instructions proceeded to set it up and install the necessary programming on my laptop. The system would automatically alert me by cell phone if preset boundary limits were crossed. When finished I installed the tracking transmitter on my car and drove it around. It worked fine. Next I had to get the transmitter on Grace's car.
The tracking transmitter was very small with a magnetic attachment capability. That night I went over to Betty's place and found Grace's car parked in their drive way. It was a simple matter to reach under the rear and attach the transmitter to a steel bar behind the bumper and leave. With fresh batteries it would transmit up to a month. That would be time for me to find out what I needed to know. That is, will Grace still be seeing Carla?