Yesterday brought in two women clients who had some things in common that I am seeing over and over. The fact that I have two new clients in one day with this common problem set me to puzzling:
- They both have long standing marriages (27 years and 35 years)
- Both have children, just now grown (college age) and have described their husbands as totally-devoted, engaged fathers.
- Both have church as central to their lives
- Both described their marriages as “happy,” one of them said “solid.” They were blindsided by what brought them to my office.
- And here’s the common trait that has me so thoughtful: Both their husbands have left them for much younger women and have unabashedly moved in with their girlfriends. In front of God and everyone, as it were.
Whatever happened to slipping around, hiding one’s sin—or trying to? When did we come to the place that otherwise decent men just don’t seem to think anything about publicizing their betrayal in broad open daylight?
Oh, I see the traditional “no-tell Motel” trysts still, but more and more I am seeing women shocked by husbands who just move right in with a lover. No shame at all.
This has lots of ramifications, for lots of folks:
- In one case, the affair is a workplace affair. It brings into the sordid circle all kinds of folks who know both spouses and are forced to make a decision about how to act in dealing with the wife as well as the girlfriend (with whom they work).
- It is in-your-face to the kids. None of these barely-grown children will accept the girlfriends yet. One of the things they are having to cope with is the fact that their previously-devoted fathers just don’t give a rip whether their actions hurt their children or not. Both fathers have told their confronting children, “I have a right to be happy.” In other words, “You and your feelings just don’t rank in importance alongside my lust. “
- The third ramification is mine to use: neither of these men can get an immediate divorce in our state. If they had slipped around, making adultery hard for me to prove (you know, the traditional way of 25 years ago?) they might be able to manage a quicker divorce. As it is, I have no proof problem. I can hold the divorce off for a while, which is not my ultimate goal. The goal, instead, is to use that pressure to get my clients a better settlement. They’re both gonna need it.
Both these husbands are—by far—going to fare better financially than are my clients. National average: Divorced women suffer a 40% drop in standard of living after divorce. Divorced men, on average, enjoy 104% of the standard of living they had prior to divorce. Not fair. Not fair at all, but it is reality. Both these women will have to sell their dream houses (one of them is paid for completely). Both these women made the early decision not to further their education or career development in favor of raising children and supporting husband on the home front. It is, for them both, a costly life decision that they now have no chance, given their ages, to recover from. (A whole ‘nother rant comes to mind here, but I’m restraining myself.)
Here is the other reality: Both husbands are now experiencing a temporary social, “bump” to get over in their relationships. There is a ripple of shock over the waters of their circle of family and friends right now, but this time in two years I bet life is chugging along swimmingly for them, with girlfriends accepted in every niche, including by the kids because they crave a relationship with their father. Notwithstanding the devastation husband/girlfriend has caused to a blameless, devoted wife.
It is the wives’ lives that will never return to normal…they will have a much, much harder time in the last decades of their life than they deserve. With little chance of recovery from the blow they have been dealt.
So, the point of my rant is: Why have we no shame any more? Why doesn’t society help us protect our families? Where has the concept of decency gone? C
PS – See, I told you in my last post on writer’s block that a rant was surely just around the corner. Little did I know…