I sat in my green recliner chair, not reclined, but rocking a little. There was a news program on the television in front of me, but I wasn't really watching it. My wife was sitting on the sofa that matched my recliner, next to the end table with the light on it, looking very focused as she did a Sudoku puzzle.
As we sat in the living room after dinner, I was looking at my wife of fifteen-years, Amanda. I was marveling at how beautiful she was. A woman approaching 40-years old and she remained the definitive vision of feminine beauty to me.
It started with her feet, not what most people consider their finest feature, but I loved the high curving arch of her delicate foot, that ascended to a slim ankle and above that the taper of her calf. Her hair, a shimmering red-blond, shoulder length framing her delicate face, her perfect features.
Her torso, slim, but in perfect proportions, her swimmer's shoulders, to the slightly smaller waist, and out again, slightly to her hips. Breasts that were large enough to attract attention, but small enough to remain firm, the ravages of gravity having had little effect despite our two children.
Amanda seemed to 'feel' my stare, and she turned her face towards me and gave a little half-smile, and tilted her head, not speaking, but asking me, nonetheless: do you want to say something. In this case, I did.
"Amanda," I asked, "Is it because you've been having an affair?"
Her smile faded almost instantly as she realized what I had said. Her face became a mask of anger.
"How dare you! How dare you accuse me of such a thing!" she hotly replied.
"Just wondering. Not that it matters," I added as I got up and walked over to where she was sitting.
"You can look over these papers," I said, as I handed her a legal sized envelope.
"These documents are going to be filed tomorrow morning at the courthouse. I am suing you for fraud and breach of contract," I explained.
"What?" she whispered, looking at me like I had lost my mind.
Well, I suppose that I had her attention now.
The events of this evening had their beginnings about a week before, when several years of a deteriorating marriage came to a head, in my mind, at least.
It had been a quiet evening, and after having dinner, we retreated into the living room, each finding something we enjoyed to occupy ourselves. That evening I think we were both reading. Then came bedtime.
In the bedroom, I was sitting on the bed, waiting, while Amanda was in the bathroom doing her nightly routine before bed. Sometime in the past, I didn't even remember how or when, that routine included shutting the door, and not undressing in front of me, and when she would reappear, she would be dressed again in nightgowns that revealed nothing. Just one of the changes for the worse that had snuck up on me, slowly, without my really noticing.
As she entered the bedroom from the bathroom, I intercepted her, and standing there tried to kiss her. She avoided my mouth, and gave me a peck on the cheek. I didn't release her.
"I want a real kiss," I demanded, looking down at her face, as I held her.
She looked back up at me,
"Well, that is what you get, because if I give you a real kiss, you will be expecting it to turn into sex," she calmly explained.
"And what, in god's name, is wrong with that?" I asked, put off by her reply.
"Because I'm not in the mood for sex, so I'm not encouraging you," she stated, just rather factually.
I let her go, and kind of pushed her away at that. She stumbled backwards slightly, but recovered and walked over to her side of the bed, without any emotional reaction whatsoever.
"You haven't been 'in the mood' for sex for at least six-months, and we haven't 'made love' for well over a year!" I barked, irritated, as you might well imagine.
"I'm just not interested, so get that through your head. And if you try to force me, I will charge you with spousal rape..." she said, firmly, with a confrontational look in her eyes, giving me a warning of her seriousness.
I looked at her for a moment, and a wave of despair passed over me.
"Do you want a divorce?" came out of my mouth, even though that wasn't what I wanted to say right then.
"No, of course not, David. I LOVE you. I love our lifestyle, I love our children, and I love everything about us and our marriage, except I'm not interested in having sex. Anyway, I remember the terms of our agreement, so there will be no divorce," she concluded.
I turned from her and walked towards the guest room. I could hear her behind me.
"David, come back in here. There is no reason for you to sulk about this," she called after me.
"OK, if it's so damned important to you, you can have me," she said, the anger in her voice telling me volumes about what to expect.
I turned back to her, and more calmly than I could even believe, replied,
"No thanks, I don't need some sort of 'mercy fuck' where you lay there like a piece of dead meat. That's how you were six months ago, and it wasn't even worth the effort."
I continued down the hall, and heard the door slam behind me.
In the guest room, I turned on the light and sat in the overstuffed chair and considered my situation.
As you may have gleaned from my narrative, my marriage was on the rocks. It wasn't that I didn't love my wife, I did, and I had never cheated on her. I didn't actually believe that she had ever cheated on me, either.
In almost every way, Amanda was a perfect wife.
She kept an immaculate house. She was a wonderful cook, and an absolutely outstanding mother to our children. She had a sense of personal style that made me proud to be seen with her in public, and that style extended to our home, where her eye for decorating made our house one of those places that the 'Women's Garden Club' wanted to tour every year on their 'Fine Homes of our City' day.
The sole fissure between us was that over the past, perhaps three years, I'm not totally sure, Amanda's sex drive had tapered off to nothing. When, after some period of time, I realized how seldom she and I were having marital relations — at this point I couldn't even say 'making love' — I tried to talk to Amanda about it.
I suggested several times that we get counseling, or that she see a doctor to find out what was wrong. Her reply: since there was nothing wrong with her, there was nothing to find. We didn't need counseling, she was perfectly happy; I just needed to get my urges under control.
To be honest, I was at a point where divorce was the obvious answer.
Why is there always an 'except' in every narrative? In this case, it was a prenuptial agreement that we had signed when we married.
The reason, at the time, was that eventually my wife was going to get a decent sized inheritance from her parents, and they wanted to be sure that if we divorced, it would be protected for Amanda and their future grandchildren.
Great things, pre-nups! Helps to lay out the rules of the marriage in advance; they can prevent arguments over how property should be divided, who gets the children for what part of the time, a great idea. Everyone agreed that it would make both parties in our marriage really have to think through the consequences of splitting up.
Our agreement was pretty straightforward: if either cheated on the other spouse, they would leave the union financially eviscerated; if divorce was desired for any other reason, the filing party was only slightly better off financially then if cheating, although their access to any children from the union would be much better.
Oh, there was a lot of other stuff in the agreement, but those were the only elements that mattered.
Our folks were right, it made divorce pretty unthinkable. Unfortunately, it also made married life almost impossible unless both parties were amenable, willing to compromise, and generous towards each other. And those weren't going to happen this time, or so it seemed.
What made the situation so difficult for me was that since I had signed that agreement 15-years earlier, I had been making a small fortune as a financial adviser/manager, making my wife's inheritance pale in comparison, and I'll be damned if I was going to accept financial ruin as a condition of divorcing my wife.
Nor was I willing to live for the next, I don't know ... thirty-, forty-, forty-five-plus years of my life with little in the way of intimate moments or sex.
As I sat in the guest room that evening, I considered my options.
My main problem, one that limited my actions, was that I loved my wife. True, my love for Amanda was taking big hits as it went longer between times when we were physically intimate. Every time she rejected my romantic overtures, my love bank for her suffered additional withdrawals. But I had never loved another woman in my life, and even though I am not going to claim to be one of those saints who've never even looked at another woman (liars, one and all), I was still her prisoner in my heart.
I guess that ruled out bumping her off, too. Please — Don't get all huffy. I'm just joking!
Late that night, I had my brilliant insight. At last, I was able to lie down and sleep a couple of hours before getting up and going to work.
I was out early, before Amanda and the kids were up, not just to avoid her after our contretemps the evening before, but I needed to take some time off in the middle of the day to get the ball rolling with the attorney.
It seems as if attorneys can crank out divorce papers in minutes; open a PDF file, fill in the blanks with the names of the parties, and voila! Divorce papers!
My idea was a little more complex since it wasn't a divorce, so he needed a week to put them in order. He called (hold on, let's get real here: his secretary called) to let me know that I could pick up my copy. I did, but told them not to file the papers until I gave them the go-ahead.
It would be accurate to say that there hadn't been much communication between Amanda and me that week. I would leave early and work late. I was eating almost every meal out. I had continued to sleep in the guest room, going to bed late and getting up before anyone else; I don't think the kids even noticed, and Amanda was ignoring me. I think that she felt that she had me over a barrel, and eventually I would just have to give in and 'stop sulking, ' as she so charmingly characterized it.
That was my week preceding the night when I handed her a copy of the lawsuit.
Amanda was surprised that I was there for dinner. The other days that week, I had called and left messages during the day, telling her that I was working late, and not to expect me for dinner. But that day, I didn't tell her I would be there, I just showed up.