No really. An affair, discovered right here at Christmas, by my girlfriend. My happily married, stay-at-home girlfriend. My girlfriend who has a wonderful education and had an impressive start on her journalism career, then got married. Then had a child. And another. And another. And then, the affair.
You know, every time I hear this (and I hear it a lot), my heart just breaks and the first thought I have is for my daughter. "Please God, give me the right words to impart to my daughter that she needs to establish herself first, before ever even thinking about marriage." In other words, I pray the prayer every good mother prays, and I pray it often. The fly in the ointment, of course, is that we women come fully-equipped with biological clocks. We are genetically hard-wired to start wanting to have children at a certain age (well, many of us are), and that desire grows in intensity until there comes a point at which we'd reproduce with anything that can't outrun us. I know whereof I speak.
This hard-wired age just happens to fall within that timeframe that everyone else is building a career. We get pregnant, gestate, and many of us don't go back to work until our children are "raised," (whatever that means), if ever. In other words, we are fully dependent on the biological father of our offspring. And we hope he doesn't turn out to be a selfish jerk who's obsessed with his own desires and feelings of inadequacy. Do I sound like an expert? J
Anyway, back to my girlfriend. She is devastated. She is in a panic. She feels lost, dumb, betrayed, scared. And why? Because her husband is in his early 40s, because he's feeling trapped and unattractive and unappreciated. Because the 20-something girl he kept a secret for years hangs on his every word and thinks he's larger-than-life. Blah blah blah. So the marriage will dissolve, their children will grow up with issues, and what could have been a happy, whole home will be shattered.
The punch line? His mistress (of 6 years, did I mention that?) is pregnant. She is due in February. So a 44-year-old man will have an infant child with a woman he kept a secret for 6 years. And in a few more years, he will do the same thing to her that he did to my friend. Why? Because wherever he goes, there he is. Odds are, she probably doesn't hang on his every word any longer, either.
My friend and I spent the evening together recently. We shared a bottle of wine and stories from our childhoods and college years. I hate to cry, so I thought that lightening the mood might be appropriate. I suggested we come up with a list of possible Christmas gift ideas for her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Here's what we have so far:
A tie, some socks, a backbone, a heart and a brain. We got stuck after that.