My wife cheated on me once. Once was enough. I'm sure she thought she had everything covered and was quite surprised at the way I handled things. The build up was the usual story, married for fifteen years, things had gotten rather stale. We drifted apart, spending time in the same house, under the same roof, but in separate rooms though. She grew distant from me. I noticed at some point that we were no longer partners, no longer confidants, no longer lovers.
She left too many clues. I picked up on things and dug a little. Turns out she was having an affair, or at least an emotional one. She started complaining to me. This was normal and I had stopped listening to her complaints and digs at me over the years. Now with this new evidence, I not only heard her, I listened. She was unhappy with our marriage. She was falling out of love with me.
It was clear to me. If I tried to bring up the subject that she was wrong, that we could fix our love, that I loved her and we could reclaim our marriage, she would just pull further away from me. She would just look at me and within her eyes I would see another bridge between us collapse.
"To hell with this," I uttered to myself as I drank my beer. I had gone replayed our last argument over and over in my head. I tried to find a way to claim her back. She was mine, after all! It seemed, I thought to myself, that every time I tried harder to gain my wife back, she pulled away from me even farther. I sat there late into the night, allowing my wife to sleep in our big lonely bed, while I nursed my hurt feelings. Some where along the way, my brain kicked in and a new track of thinking worked its way into me.
Why was I arguing with her about what she felt?
Why indeed? I realized at that moment that everything my wife had been telling me was the truth. A truth I couldn't simply ignore or talk her out of. She was telling me how she felt, and here I was, arguing with her, telling her that she was wrong, that she was not actually experiencing those feelings.
How stupid was that? How can you tell someone they are wrong about how they feel?
Well that would stop right away. How she felt was how she felt, so why argue about it?
So how did I feel?
No really, it was strange, because when I sat there in the dark on the couch thinking about my recent relationship with my wife, I realized that I was unhappy too. I wasn't quite sure that I loved her anymore. I was in love with the idea of still being together and married with my loving wife, but that wasn't the reality, now was it?
That eureka moment hit me. It took me a while to put it together, but I now had a plan of action. Whether it worked or not, at this point I didn't care, because I now knew that what I had been doing, and what she had been doing was not working. What's that saying? The definition of insanity is trying the same thing that didn't work, over and over again thinking that it would work?
I smiled, tossed my beer bottles in the recycling bin and decided to sleep in the guest bedroom. All part of the plan.
"Frank?" Linda had opened the door to the guest bedroom and had flipped on the light switch to blind me out of my sleep. "What are you doing sleeping in the guest room?"
I blinked away the light until my eyes grew accustomed to the brightness. "I was up late, didn't want to disturb you," I said.
She looked at me and then shuffled off to the kitchen for coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, having been blessed with the ability to wake up and be alert immediately; I jumped into the shower and prepared for work. Today I had a spring in my step.
That evening, Linda sat down across from me in the living room. I was in my familiar seating position on the couch. Linda clenched her hands, she was anxious and I felt that she was preparing herself to tell me something.
"Frank," she started. "This isn't working. I feel frustrated and confused and I don't think I love you anymore."
I sat there looking at her. She paused then continued.
"Frank, I know we've been together for so long, but I think we need to get a divorce."
That word hung in the air.
I smiled as she nervously looked at me.
"That sounds good, dear." I said.
She blinked. "Frank, did you hear me?"
I nodded. "Yes, yes, of course I heard you. You don't feel things are working, you don't love me, you want a divorce. I agree."
"Uhh, you do?" She was unsettled now.
I got up and went to her. I knelt down in front of her.
"Linda, I can't change how you feel. You don't love me. How can I argue against that? Can I tell you that you are wrong? No. You don't love me. Well to be frank, there's been a lot of times when I didn't love you either. If you feel that you can't live with me anymore, well again, how can I argue that?"
Linda was looking at me like I was crazy. Deep down though I could see that she was nodding at my acute ability to realize that what she said was the truth and she appreciated it.
"Wait, you didn't love me?" she asked.
"There've been times, just like you."
She got a little flustered. In all the times she played out this little scene in her head, she had never anticipated me reacting like this. I enjoyed seeing her emotions play out on her face.
"Well," I said. "Anything else? I have to go out tonight so I would like to get this settled now, if you don't mind. Are you moving out right away?"
I got up and started to get my jacket on, preparing to leave.
"Uh, no ... Frank? Where are you going?"
"I'm going out. I think I'll hit up a few of the bars. I might as well start looking for someone else now. No time like the present!" I waved goodbye to her and left her still sitting in her chair with her mouth hanging open.
I stopped off at the first bar, a rather subdued and older aged hangout. There I took a bourbon and sat down at one of the tables away from the crowd. I pulled out my mobile and put another part of my plan in action. I called a friend of mine from work. Jessica worked with me in my department and was known as the company gossip. Playing the part of the poor put upon husband, I solemnly relayed the conversation I had with my wife, specifically how she had blindsided me with the request for divorce. The reason I called her, not the real reason, was that I was out on the town, drowning my sorrows and might not be into work the next day.
I could hear the wheels turning in her head, as Jessica and I had flirted at work from time to time and she was single. Next thing I knew, Jessica had invited herself along for the evening with the pretense of watching out for me and being the friend in need while I was in such an emotionally fragile situation.
I met Jessica at a lounge I knew to be frequented by my wife and her friends. Was I concerned that someone might see me? Nope. My marriage was apparently over. My wife didn't love me, and to be honest, right now I wasn't loving my wife Linda either.
Jessica looked good. She had dressed quickly, maybe she wanted to get to me before anyone had a chance, at least that's what I wanted to believe, but when she saw me, she was a little surprised that my body language and mood didn't match the news that I had told her over the phone. The smile on my face didn't help either.
"Frank, what's going on?" She sat down next to me with a scowl on her face.
I held up my hand and motioned to my ring finger which was now bare. "She wants a divorce, that's how she feels. Why should I fight it?"
I beckoned the waiter over and ordered a refill. Jessica ordered her usual Cosmo.
"Frank, you sounded more broken up over the phone..."
"Jess, we've been unhappy for a while now. I finally realized that I maybe don't love her like I did anymore. She wants this final thing from me, being the divorce, so you know what, I'm not going to fight it. She wants out? Fine. She's out. I'm not going to lay around in misery, lonely and unloved."
Jessica took a big swig from her cocktail. She sat there looking at me. I was having this effect on women, I was now realizing. What ever this attitude was that I had, I noticed it confounded the women.
"Shall we dance?" I didn't wait for her reply, just grabbed her hand and took her out on the dance floor.
"Frank what are you going to do?"
I held her closer. "I'm going to give whatever it is that she feels she wants. I'm going to do whatever it is that I want to do. Right now, I want to dance with you. Actually I've wanted to dance with you for a long time. Now I am able to!"
She looked up into my eyes and smiled.
"If you're trying to get back at her..."
I crocked an eyebrow. "And if I am... ?"
She snuggled up into my body, she felt good and warm. "I'm fine with that." She sighed.
We lost track of time. It was so pleasant to not have to worry about Linda wondering if I needed to call the house to let her know when I would be back. Jessica was fun, intelligent and we flirted throughout the evening.
She was mine for the taking. She knew it. I knew it.
I didn't take her.
It was really good to know that someone wanted me though. My wife had bruised my ego, and Jessica propped it back up. More so I would say as Jessica was a better looking woman than Linda. We kissed in the parking lot at her car. I guided her in and smiled.
"I'll see you at work tomorrow."
.... There is more of this story ...