It’s worth mentioning again because we are all prey to the idea that our circumstances are special, different. The rules and statistics don’t really apply, so we think. This can cloud judgment.
Mattie was married to a well-known personal injury lawyer, “Jim.“ I had heard of him; don’t know of him except by his reputation. I expected to find lots of assets. I was right.
She’d been married to him 34 years. She was 52. He was 18 years older than her and at a well-preserved 70, rich and thanks to Viagra, going strong in all respects.
Frankly, it seemed to me that Mattie ought to wait it out…he was content to be married while he continued to sow his elderly oats. Apparently when one is rich one can find plenty of fertile ground in which to do so, no matter your age. Divorce was going to be emotionally hard and, surely, he’d either die or stroke out soon.
But I always tell my clients, “Only you know what’s worth what emotionally.” Apparently, life with him was something she just could not take any more. She told me me of decades of putting up with his infidelities, his promises to get better, which invariably evolved into suspicious activities and new discoveries of betrayal by her. A never-ending cycle, it seemed. This latest was more than she could bear.
She had recently discovered him in flagrante delicto—literally. She’d walked in on hubby and his cute little thirty-year old paralegal deep kissing in his office. It was clear to her this wasn’t the first such kiss they had shared: blouse was partially off and husband’s hands were…er, not visible. Classic, isn’t it?
Now she wanted a divorce. Okay, we can do that. And she will be okay financially, although when you deal with egos like her husband’s you can expect to be put to through the wringer in a divorce. His arrogant pride will assure that, and I warned her of this.
“So, how long have you known he is a cheat?” I asked, always curious about the development of relationships.
“He’s always cheated on me,” she said. “I first caught him our third year of marriage, right after the birth of our first. I just can’t do it any longer. I deserve a few years of quiet contentment, don’t you think?”
I nodded. “How did you meet?”
“I was a receptionist in his firm. I went to work there when I was 23. He was the most handsome man I’d ever seen and so confident. He swept me off my feet. I should have known how it would be, because he was married at the time.”
My ears pricked up. I sat still, sensing she would continue. She did.
“He told me how unhappy he was in his marriage. When we discovered each other he said it gave him the push he needed to end the misery for both him and his wife.”
“Did he have children?” I asked.
“Oh, yes—three of them. All still in grade school except for the youngest who had not yet started school. They adopted her from China. You would not believe what a little snot she grew into.”
“So you aren’t close to them?”
“Well, no. I eventually had my own two girls to take care of, but every other weekend and every vacation trip and holiday, we had his three by his first marriage. The trouble was that my husband was always a workaholic, so most of this time was done under my watch. It was not easy duty, I’ll tell you. The kids never really liked me. I’m sure their mother bad-mouthed me at home. Now that all the kids are grown, I never see them, and he rarely does.”
I bet. I pried again: “So, did you ever worry at the first that he might cheat on you like he did his first wife?”
I sensed a little bristle at this. “I know what you’re thinking. No one else can understand how ‘right’ our love was—I mean we were soul mates. I really don’t think it is something most people experience; it was special. He said so, too. It was different. I didn’t break up their marriage. He would have divorced her eventually.”
Here is my thought bubble at this:
Really? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe wife no. 1 just did not tolerate humiliation as well as you did this last 34 years…truthfully, lady, you don’t know whether it was the wife who got sick of him rather than him leaving her for your perfect love…
No, I did not say that, but I thought it.
Why do women think that a cheater will cease to be a cheater---ever? Because we buy into the fairy tale definition of love…the Disney-princess-love-at-first-sight-forever-and-ever-conquers-all-through-thick-and-thin kind of love.
I’m a cynic. I no longer buy this. Rather I buy into Maya Angelou’s wise saying:
The first time someone shows you who he is, listen…
And then there’s another:
Karma’s a b*%*h.
-C (for “cynic”)