When you've been pushed as far as you can go, anything can happen, and in all probability — will.
"Yes, I'm considering having an affair," I answered calmly.
"How could you ... after all these years ... how could you betray me?" she asked incredulously.
"I really don't think of it as betrayal. It was more like alternative comfort. Someone I could talk to, share a few peaceful hours. Someone who won't argue or complain or otherwise spoil a perfectly good evening. It's something I've been missing for a while and I want to get it back," I explained.
"I can't believe you'd do this to me!" The look on my wife's face was one of both shock and incredulity.
"Oh come, Sarah. What do you care? We haven't made love in years. Yes, we've had sex once in a blue moon, but I would hardly call it making love when you just lie there dormant. I decided to find someone who would actually enjoy the act," I explained.
My wife began to sputter and turn red in the face and shake her head. She was apparently having difficulty with the idea that I would find someone more compatible than she.
My name is Thomas Lufton. I am a successful investment advisor, and I have made myself and my family quite wealthy over the past twenty years. I am forty eight years old. I am in good health and fitness due to my consistent attention to exercise and proper diet. I am married to Sarah Gaines Lufton, and have been for twenty-four years.
We have two children, Aaron, age twenty-two and Bonita, age twenty. Aaron will be a graduate of M.I.T. and by all accounts, is a genius. He will be a very wealthy young man if he chooses to use his intellect for profit. Bonita is still at Wellesley, studying some obscure art-history topic that will gain her no profit, and goodness knows what for a career.
In the past two years, I have found Sarah has changed. Changed for the worse, I'm sorry to say. She has become very negative. For someone who has been spoiled and who has "everything," she is not satisfied. She sees the dark side of everything and finds fault where no fault lies.
One of the things she finds fault with is me. I am forever disappointing her in some way or another. In her view, I am stupid, thoughtless, inane, forgetful, lazy, arrogant, irresponsible ... well, I could go on. You will notice that none of these faults relates to my lack of love for Sarah. I think she is afraid to broach that topic. I, however, am not.
The thing about newly acquired wealth is the removal of fear. Fear of loneliness is one that comes to mind. I can live without Sarah. I know that now. If she wants a divorce, I will regretfully grant her one. In fact, I plan to suggest it. Since she now thinks that I might seek another bed to lie in, she may indeed want to be rid of me. Her loss won't matter to me as much as I thought it would.
Sarah Gaines, as I first knew her, was a bright, lively, wonderfully attractive young woman from a nice, middle-class family in Boston. She was great company because she was so effervescent. She was never the most beautiful woman in my world, but she was the most spirited and compelling I had ever met. It was those qualities which drew me to her, and ultimately caused me to propose. Of course, she accepted.
Our early years together were wonderful. I delighted in our lovemaking.
When our children came along, Sarah proved a very capable and loving mother. She impressed me with her child-rearing skills. That they turned out to be bright, accomplished, and polite children I attribute entirely to Sarah. She was their guide and their mentor in all things. I loved them dearly, but their mother was their inspiration.
It wasn't until the children left home to attend college that I began to notice the change in Sarah. I wouldn't call it depression, but the joy and liveliness of my wife began to fade. This change in mood was never more apparent than in the bedroom. She had always been a willing and provocative sex partner. When that began to decline, I was upset.
I tried to discuss the problem with her, but she denied there was anything different, saying she loved me and always would. However, there was no denying our love life was dwindling. I lived with the situation far too long. I allowed our relationship to deteriorate, even if I was not the instigator. I should have challenged her and forced her to recognize the changes. To my regret, I did not.
As you have already gathered, our sexual relationship dwindled to an occasional perfunctory indulgence, with my ardor unsatisfied by her passive response. To put it crudely, she was a lousy lay! The question then became what to do about it?
In contrast to my implied intent to take a lover, I have a very low opinion of infidelity. It violates the marriage vows and destroys trust within the married couple. However, I was not yet past my prime. I had an active libido which was not just unsatisfied, but virtually starved. Desperate, I decided I would do something dramatic. But first, I chose to make one more try at talking to Sarah about my concerns.
"Sarah, I am very discouraged about our relationship. We seem to have drifted apart. Worse, you seem to be very unhappy with me. You find fault with me over the smallest thing and you seldom seem happy any more. Our lovemaking is so infrequent that I can't remember the last time we had sex. Perhaps the time has come to talk about our future together," I said very seriously.
"Tom ... whatever gave you the idea that I'm unhappy? You can't expect me to be the woman I was twenty years ago. I'm quite satisfied with my life. I still love you, if that's what you're asking. And what's this talk about our future?" she demanded.
"Sarah, you are still a very beautiful woman and very desirable. I'm frustrated that you don't want to make love the way we used to. I'm wondering if you want a divorce?"
"My god, Tom, whatever gave you that idea? I admit I'm not as sexually active as I once was, but that doesn't mean I want to leave you. What is your problem?" she asked, reverting to an accusatory tone.
"My problem is very simple, Sarah. We don't make love any more. We have sex once in a while, but we don't make love," I said emphatically. "You are clearly unhappy because you spend most of the time I'm around you complaining about things which are irrelevant, unimportant. You are genuinely discontented."
"No! It most certainly is not nonsense! Whether you choose to accept it or not, it is a fact!" I couldn't have been more blunt. Surely she would at least try and respond to my accusations.
"This foolishness has been going on too long. I will not stand here and listen to you invent problems that don't exist," she said haughtily.
"Well, then, you leave me no alternative. I am going to give you ninety days to consider our future. I will pack and I will leave you. I will not be in contact with you for three months. At the end of that period, I will return and you can decide if you are willing to change your ways. If you choose to continue to ignore my concerns, I will file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Do I make myself clear?" I asked in a demanding voice.
Sarah stood wide-eyed and speechless as I gave her my ultimatum. I wasn't certain that she believed me. I walked past her and upstairs to our bedroom. I began to pack my clothes and toiletries for an extended separation. After a few minutes, Sarah appeared in the doorway.
"You can't be serious. You're leaving me? You're just up and walking out?"
"Yes. Ninety days, Sarah. I'll talk to you again in ninety days. In the meantime, you might be wise to seek professional help. I know you don't believe just what a shrew you've become, but I assure you, I will not put up with another day of your miserable self. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be on my way.
I was convinced that this extreme act was the only way to jolt Sarah out of her comfortable misery. I had been thinking about a separation for a few weeks. I was sure it was the only way to change the status quo in our household. As I walked out the door into the garage, I wondered if she would follow me. She did not.
I wasn't worried greatly about the outcome. The only way I could see to turn Sarah back into the lovely wife I had so happily married all those years ago was to push her to the limit. I finally did what I should have done much earlier. I acted!
I arranged for a room at my club. It was an old, established residence and a comfortable living space with complete privacy. I exchanged my cell phone for another with a new number only a handful of trusted associates knew. I asked the club secretary to conceal my residence. I was fairly sure Sarah would search high and low for me, and yet I suspected she would never think of me hiding in plain sight. I was wrong.
"Mr. Lufton, your wife has left a message for you." It was Parsons, the club concierge.
"Well, that's a surprise. Does she know I'm staying here?" I asked.
"I'm afraid so, sir."
"I suppose I'll have to move along then," I said absently.
I found a small residence hotel in the suburbs and moved myself in that same afternoon. I learned a valuable lesson. Do not underestimate Sarah.
If there was a weakness in my plan, it was how I would spend my time for the next ninety days. I was resolved to avoid Sarah, but I really hadn't thought about myself. What would I do? I couldn't go to my office. Sarah would be on the lookout for that. I couldn't visit our children. I'm sure Sarah had already alerted them. I didn't expect sympathy from either one of them. What to do?
.... There is more of this story ...