The golden years

by Louise

My husband has stopped cheating on me after 35 years

This piece caught my eye. I know of a few long-term marriages where there was cheating and dysfunction. Everyone knew including the kids. Now, there is posting of pictures on FB of the happy couple in their golden years. I want to shout “fakes” but am I right ? Is it possible for partners to change ? To let go of resentments and forgive ? To enjoy their golden years together ?

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154 thoughts on “The golden years

  1. Ummm, wow.

    I think the truest statement in that whole thing is “refused to let any other woman win over me.”

    She definitely won. Hope it was worth it.

  2. I think I would have been out on my a$$ so fast…

    The marriage of my brother’s best friend from HS is ending now because his wife was cheating with a married man. Those people deserve each other.

  3. I want to shout “fakes” but am I right ? Is it possible for partners to change ? To let go of resentments and forgive ? To enjoy their golden years together ?

    Nobody knows what is really going on in a relationship aside from the people involved. I think it is absolutely possible for people to change, forgive, reconcile and move on.

  4. Um, yeah, I feel sorry for this woman but also felt like she was a bit crazy. It seemed like “winning” her husband in the end was more important to her than having a real marriage. I do know of a similar situation – parents of a dear friend, very wealthy and the mom just couldn’t bear the thought of losing her place so she put up with it for decades. Now that they are grandparents and in their 70s things seem to have settled down (or at least I don’t hear about my friend’s dad cheating on her mom anymore).

  5. Did she win? It seems like her DH won–he had his cake and got to eat it too.

    She is very mature about the whole thing, in recognizing that she made a choice about staying with him. She didn’t play the victim, which is very easy to do. I don’t understand how she was able to stay with him, though.

  6. “It seems like her DH won–he had his cake and got to eat it too. ”

    I thought the same thing, but I can also imagine the way she’d be seething all the time, it would not be imperceptible, and nobody really wants to live with that.

    I suspect that, for both of them, they simply place more value on the image they present to the public. A few people grossly overestimate the degree to which other people care about their lives.

  7. I don’t find this shocking. Among the young alpha-male types that draw women, I suspect more than a few don’t wish to become monogamous upon marriage, and I realized that from a fairly young age in a pretty conservative environment. I find it surprising that he wasn’t more discrete. Certain professions that require time apart (business trips, etc.) would seem to draw people like this.

    Given the challenges some divorced women I have known faced, I understand why she stayed. I was in my mid-teens when I promised myself I would never be without “tolerable” choices.

  8. I agree with anon at 10:27. You never really know what’s going on in other relationships. Who knows, maybe the wife was just as glad to be rid of the husband’s demands, or something. Or maybe they had an agreement. Who knows? I’ve seen lots of weird situations over the years.

    My friend whose husband died last fall found a bunch of all kinds of drugs in the basement. Prescription opiates, meth, Ritalin, all kinds of stuff. She seemed to think that explained some of his behavior. I have to admit I’d be more startled to learn that my partner was using hard drugs than to learn he was cheating. I’d feel dumb in both cases but seriously, meth? Whatevs.

  9. Were people texting 20 years ago? I call BS on that article. The timing of reading texts and emails couldn’t have been happening 35 years ago, could it? Not that I doubt that there are some people who care primarily about their image.

  10. We have friends where, although no cheated, they clearly loathed one another. But once they became empty nesters, they calmed down, they now spend the winters apart, and they’re much happier the rest of the year. So I think the tenor of a marriage can change for the better in the later years.
    Although we also have lots of friends in their later years where, in the words of the Dowager Countess, the couple simply isn’t able to see as much of each other as they might like.

  11. I know this group is pretty straight laced, but I am sure most of us have known 50 year marriages in the US with male infidelity (and in many cultures it is acceptable, and a man who practiced monogamous fidelity would be thought odd or uxorious), and many marriages of leading public figures included (and likely still include) either catting around or a long time mistress, the details just didn’t used to become public during anyone’s lifetime. Female infidelity is rarely tolerated for more than just a weak moment. And there is always, even in our circles, what happens on the road stays on the road. (My son just attended a big conference and had his first view of conference misbehavior.)

    That being said, we should never discount the power imbalance when a woman cannot realistically support herself and her children in a style she is willing to accept. I always take articles like this with a grain of salt, like embellished letters to advice columnists. However, to the extent this is an accurate rendering of the facts, kids 3 and 4 and the nervous breakdown were intended as additional balls to the chain that kept this man with her. Seems like a lot more trouble than just getting a job and admitting defeat in taming a serial philanderer. If she thinks she won, she can live in the world of her devising.

  12. The parents of a college friend kind of separated in their 50s. The wife said she was tired of sex and the husband said he wasn’t. So she stayed in NJ and he moved down to FL, but they never got divorced and they were kind of a team. They helped each other through illnesses and so forth. Not my preferred “golden years” outcome but again, people are different.

  13. There was something about the emphasis on staying thin in the linked article that seemed kind of odd. Like, “I’m not really pathetic because I’m not fat”. Okay.

  14. That has to be from the British version of the Onion.

    I’m surprised so many people are surprised. I see it ever day on the road. An affluent SAHM, a husband who is always traveling and working late. We all know what he’s up to. But, if you’re rich and you don’t have to work, isn’t it easier to just ignore it?

  15. Rhett – my dad’s usual comment on the topic is “Who the Hell has the *time* for this? It’s hard enough keeping *one* woman happy.”

  16. “Who the Hell has the *time* for this?

    I often have dinner at the hotel bar. I was talking to a guy who was an executive at some big company. He was talking about his family, etc. Then the women he hired for the evening showed up and they went back to his room. That doesn’t take that much time at all.

  17. “That being said, we should never discount the power imbalance when a woman cannot realistically support herself and her children in a style she is willing to accept.”

    I’m pretty sure none of my breadwinner-wife friends wants to have random affairs or thinks that being the breadwinner gives her that “right” with a SAHD husband. When we talked about feminism the other day, it’s this inherent inequality in what men and women typically want that makes me unsure if I’m a feminist. I’m still not sure if no-fault divorce is on balance good or bad.

  18. “Seems like a lot more trouble than just getting a job and admitting defeat in taming a serial philanderer.”

    What Meme said.

  19. I’m pretty sure none of my breadwinner-wife friends wants to have random affairs

    Based on my on the road experience, I’d say you are mistaken. A mom who may be a little stick of being “Billy’s mom or Mike’s wife” maybe she’s getting a little older and she gets a little attention and she’s heading back to her room with Murray the sales VP from Cincinnati.

  20. “Seems like a lot more trouble than just getting a job and admitting defeat in taming a serial philanderer.”

    Many women can’t deal with the huge status and lifestyle hit incurred when going from affluent SAHM to working divorcee.

  21. Rhett – hiring it out is one thing, but in the article, he had to spend a lifetime juggling the drama of Chloe and all the author’s other friends.

    My dad’s is probably a very middle-class perspective, like “who needs the hassle and commitment of a second house (or large yacht, etc.)

    He made that comment once when we were watching The Sopranos. At least half of Tony’s headaches were from managing jilted or jealous women–the one-legged Russian, the Mercedes saleswoman.

  22. Many women can’t deal with the huge status and lifestyle hit incurred when going from affluent SAHM to working divorcee.

    I am all for women being SAHM if that’s what’s best for them and their families. I really, truly am, and have occasionally wanted to take that road myself, though I never did. But we are at that age where some marriages around us seem to be on delicate ground, and there’s no question the SAHMs are the ones having to put up with pretty bad behavior, because their options are so limited. I have been on the receiving end of tearful calls going on about how ‘unfair’ it is, and I provide nothing but sympathy and comfort, but part of me wants to scream WHY DIDN’T YOU LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF BETTER??? I don’t, though.

  23. If she knew her husband was cheating and that she couldn’t independently support the children she already had, why on earth did she have two more?

    Also, this is not “winning.” She obviously needs to watch that old Bette Midler movie.

    The ones who puzzle me most are the parents who are utterly unqualified to support their children and yet they go out and have affairs. Being an aerobics instructor is not going to generate enough income to keep the house in a great school district, so let’s hope the kids like an apartment several towns over now that you rediscovered your high school boyfriend on Facebook.

    Well. My Lenten plan to be less judgmental has obviously been shot to heck.

  24. Oh hell no. Everyone at that party would have known what had happened on Simon’s rug. Most women, regardless of employment status, are not this much of a door mat. I would clean toilets before I would put up with that bs.

  25. he had his cake and got to eat it too.

    Didn’t she want to have her cake and eat it too? Did she expect to live in luxury without working with no price to be paid? That doesn’t seem like how the world works.

  26. Lark, I commend you on your restraint. :)

    Rhett, I suspect our respective samples are very biased. My sample includes mostly women well over 40 with engineering/science graduate degrees who choose to live in an area with a significant minority of colleagues who don’t drink for religious reasons. You chose a high-travel career.

    As I explained once in Sunday School, “Statistically, young Christians aren’t much better at thinking through the consequences of impulsive sexual situations than young non-Christians. If you want to identify the demographic group mostly likely to complete a cost-risk-benefit analysis before sex, look at women engineers.”

  27. WCE,

    Totally agree on the selection bias. But, I’d guess the median is probably halfway between our samples.

    Most women, regardless of employment status, are not this much of a door mat

    Denial, it ain’t just a river in Egypt. I think you’re underweighting the degree to which people can fail to acknowledge that which their “paycheck” depends on them not acknowledging.

  28. I know a lot of women in this situation (wife doesn’t work, husband is a high earner, husband has affair). I haven’t seen much turning a blind eye towards it. Lots of counseling, some separations, some reconcile and some divorce. Not on has sat idly by and continued on her merry little way.

  29. “WHY DIDN’T YOU LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF BETTER??? ”

    This seems unique to the upper-middle class. If you’re real middle class, then the combination of child support and your new job processing medical billing claims means you can more or less carry on as usual. And if you’re rich, the divorce settlement will keep you in high style.

  30. Not on has sat idly by and continued on her merry little way.

    If she choses to keep her husbands infidelity to herself would you be in a position to know about it?

  31. And if you’re rich, the divorce settlement will keep you in high style.

    My understanding is that’s not the case anymore. The courts expect the wife to work and alimony will just cover a period of transition.

  32. For my close friends, I would be shocked if they didn’t tell me. They tell me a lot. Probably way more than their husbands know or would be comfortable with them sharing.

  33. Rhett – but if you really just want to live in luxury without working, isn’t it better to do that for some period of time and get a lot of assets before you get divorced and get back to work?

  34. We know one couple where the husband cheated on his wife once before they had kids. It was years ago and DH and I found out years after the fact. It wasn’t totally surprising because he used to take his wedding ring off when we’d be out but he really doesn’t seem to be like that anymore. We didn’t say anything at the time which I think was the right thing. They now have kids and seem to be very happy but he still travels a lot so I just hope he’s as doting of a husband on the road as he seems to be.

  35. Um no. I could never put up with constant infidelity. Not sure I could put up with a single time of infidelity – but constant infidelity? No way. I would be one big mass of seething resentment.

    I’m also with Milo’s dad. I can’t imagine cheating on DH for many reasons – one of which is the thought of adding one more person in my life/thing to do would send me over the edge. It’s hard enough keeping the existing people in my life happy.

    Sky and WCE – LOL.

  36. I’m with Rhett here. Over the course of my career, I have known many lawyers who have played around and had affairs (with various levels of discretion) who remained with their long-time wives and children. For the record, I also know several who are on their third marriages.

  37. I could totally forgive once. I can definitely understand that yearning to once again be seen as totally new and irresistible. It’s the serial aspect that’s so shocking.

  38. Jealous type here. This would never fly with me. The cheating with my friends would send me over the edge. I don’t reward bad behavior. One of the reasons I became a professional was to have options in life. Including the option to kick a cheater to the curb.

  39. No doubt tons of men and women cheat. And many never get caught. But I just don’t think that many women have husbands who have sex with the woman’s best friend in their infant child’s bedroom and when the woman happens upon this, the shit doesn’t hit the fan. Nope. Don’t believe it.

  40. I have seen marriages like this-only not to the extent that one person kept sleeping with the spouses new friends repeatedly. And I have seen it from both the husband and wife. The imbalance in the relationship lends itself to this I think-one stay at home parent, or one earns more than the other, or one has a job with travel, or a hobby (golf, marathon/triathlon training) that takes one away from the home for stretches of time. I just wonder if it is “human nature”, or if the relationship has a weak foundation that makes indiscretions easier to jump in to, or if it is just resentment with one’s role in the relationship. Most of the relationships I know of don’t continue in this manner for that long-after a few years of either trying to work it out, or being done ignoring it, there is usually a resolution. 30+ years of accepting someone’s shit behavior and turning a blind eye is not something most could stomach. There is no lifestyle so good I would be ok with being treated that way so consistently for so long. My dignity and TRUE happiness is worth more than putting on appearances for anyone.

  41. I suspect this story was embellished a bit, but in any case I don’t think it’s that common for philanderers to have liaisons with their spouses’ best/good friends. Long-term marriages go through difficulties, affairs included, and do often end up in a good place. That’s pretty common, I think.

  42. Ummm. I somehow think this must be very common in rich families!

    Also, it’s been so long since I was single, I would not even know where to start having one night stands that Rhett claims women have on the road. Even flirting will be awkward.

  43. There was always lots of gossip about law firm affairs — late nights in the office always with the same people isn’t a good formula for keeping people’s minds on the family at home. I would say the public sector is better about that, but it’s probably because the standard is not to work till all hours and there’s no annual influx of fresh young faces. Legislatures, both state and federal, *do* have the long hours and the influx of young folks and, surprise! they *do* have affairs going on.

  44. Cat,

    The VP with the prostitute at the bar? She was a college student and he asked to see her student ID. Then he began to discuss, in front of everyone, how much he’d have to pay for various services. Apparently he got off on humiliating her. So, that the guy in the original post got off and risky sex? That’s a common fetish so totally believable. That she didn’t freak out – I could buy that as well. People are complex creatures.

  45. “I have seen marriages like this-only not to the extent that one person kept sleeping with the spouses new friends repeatedly.”

    Maybe because I have never been someone who was ever good at engaging women romantically without being dorky, but I can’t fathom how this happens with multiple friends (percentage-wise) let alone a majority of friends. Clearly, they’re each attracting only a very specific type of friend, with characteristics that have a high correlation with a willingness for extramarital relations.

    TL;DR, it never would have occurred to me that so many women would even be willing to sleep with me. (Perhaps they’re still not.)

  46. Dell, I think the idea is that you don’t necessarily have to start it. Your contact in the travel city, good looking guy about 10 years younger than you, has been so helpful and keeps subtly checking you out, and he’s taking you out for drinks after the presentation as a thank-you from the satellite office, and you’re really enjoying the conversation which has moved from work to more personal bonding, and . . . . For you or me, we’d be excusing ourselves because the husband and kids are expecting a call and it’s an early flight tomorrow. But not everyone thinks that way.

  47. The lady in the article should have just had her fling with him in college when she so badly wanted to jump his bones and then moved on and married a decent guy when she was older and wiser. All the stuff about how she stayed chaste to keep him chasing her and demonstrate she was the right sort of girl was just creepy.

  48. Rhett, but I’m sure the guy mentors the new-college-graduate hires just the same whether they’re young men or young women, right? Urgh.

  49. Honolulu! I can see that working! I can totally see these things happening at the monthly bar socials even in the same city. I assume that single lawyers will of course get busy after, but maybe I need to pay attention to see if it plays out among the married lawyers too.

  50. In one marriage, the guy wanted his spouse to be both someone who had a career/business of her own but he wanted a SAHM spouse and a smoothly run household. He had a very public affair and while he did, he I’ll treated his wife. The wife had been a SAHM and didn’t have the skills or any place to go if she divorced him. It went on for quite a while. He wanted his wife to sort of be OK with the situation. She was not. I think in the end, he realized that none of his friends nor his family would stand for this, so he gave up the mistress. During that time, the wife told my mother that, my mother would never have to stand for such treatment because she had her own money. It made a huge impression on me – a big factor of why I work.

  51. “part of me wants to scream WHY DIDN’T YOU LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF BETTER??? I don’t, though.”

    That is an understandable reaction, after the fact, but do you think that every married woman who is a SAHM (or who doesn’t earn enough on her own to support herself) should make contingency plans in case mid-life adultery torpedoes the marriage?

    And the original article was horrifying on so many levels, including the basic one of invading the privacy of her children.

  52. “i.e. settled. Some people have a real problem with that.”

    On that idea, I’m thinking that the author never would have been attracted to a guy who was NOT someone whom “very few women could resist.”

  53. “contingency plans in case mid-life adultery torpedoes the marriage”

    Not as a spouse, but as a father, I’m wondering about this in terms of my estate plan.

  54. Milo – trust that pays out over a period of years, the last chunk not until they are old. Won’t protect everything, but at least you mitigate some risk. At least that is what we did.

  55. One of my first dates with DH was seeing a movie about Louis Kahn (architect) who had an entire second family without telling the first and a busy architecture practice on top of it.

    DH and I have a running joke about his second family but no way would it ever happen IRL.

  56. “Clearly, they’re each attracting only a very specific type of friend, with characteristics that have a high correlation with a willingness for extramarital relations.”

    I think this is the big thing. If you approach romance like a Harlequin novel, always looking for the “bad boy,” who your wonderfulness will reform when he realizes that You Are All He Needs, then you’re totally setting yourself up for that day when the joy of the chase wears off. This story struck me as two people who were equally-matched in their overwhelming desire for conquest — him in the “look at how many girls I can do” and “look at my beautiful skinny wife” and “look at my great house and lifestyle”; her in the “look at how I ‘tamed’ the great player” and the “look at my happy family” and the “see the beautiful house and lifestyle he gives us.” And the subtext to all of that is “because I am so much better than you.”

    OTOH, if you date, say, an engineer, who seems sort of surprised and befuddled that someone of the opposite sex is actually interested in and — gasp — talking to him, I suspect you’re going to end up with a much better chance of a solid, stable relationship that doesn’t require you to bleach the throw rugs on a regular basis.

    Yes, people change. But usually not unless/until they have a real reason to. And if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got.

  57. I’m thinking that the author never would have been attracted to a guy who was NOT someone whom “very few women could resist

    I totally agree. The crazy part, at least to me, is a women thinking it’s not going to come with any tradeoffs.

  58. I had to read Cat’s comment a few times before I realized she meant “trust” as in a legal document . . .

  59. @Milo – as a parent – yes, this concerns me too. My neighbor, has alimony for eight years (Rhett mentioned this was the way things go these days). Now, it is close to that time, she is ill and her parents have been helping to care for her. She didn’t take up any employment these past years. Upper middle class family, 50 something woman.

  60. Should SAHPs have a contingency plan for adultery? Not for adultery specifically, but in general.

    We would probably all agree that the SAHP should have a life insurnace policy on the working spouse, and death is statistically far more unlikely (that’s why the premium is 1/500 of the benefit).

    I think SAHPs should expect that we will most likely not remain SAHPs forever, and have a game plan for getting back to work on short notice for emergencies, whether that is the working spouse’s death, disability, chronic illness, job loss, or departure for the next cute young thing.

  61. I do have contingency plans in case DH dies. Why is divorce any different? Regardless of whether or not I have a husband, the kids need to be taken care of and I need to continue with my life.

  62. Milo – totally discretionary trusts, no payments to spouses. BUT my #1 advice in that situation is not to worry about it. S*** happens. We have clients who have spent thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) in legal fees trying to disinherit their illegitimate grandchild (!!!!) and making their poor son jump through all these hoops to get his $$ – totally not worth it and counterproductive for family harmony, if you ask me.

  63. I think the SAHP status of one of the people in the marriage is kind of a red herring.

  64. “OTOH, if you date, say, an engineer, who seems sort of surprised and befuddled that someone of the opposite sex is actually interested in”

    I remember being hit on by a “befuddled” type of quant who I traveled with a few times. He actually was my type, but no I didn’t let it go further. Some guys are obviously players, and some not so obvious, imo.

  65. More on topic – neither of us is the cheating type. DH is far more sensitive to it than I because of the way his parents split up (after a HS reunion, his mom was the cheating party).

  66. Man, what *is* it with the high school reunions / FB lookups / etc.? I know it’s a powerful time of life and those early crushes and triumphs and disappointments stick around in the mind, but it’s like people delude themselves into thinking they can go back in time and not break up with the HS boyfriend after all! or get together with the crush in time for prom! and the job worries and the mortgage and the gray hairs and thickening waistline will magically fall away as the top hits from the year you were 16 start to play . . .

  67. My grandparents have an acrimonious divorce in the 1950s. They barely spoke for more than 40 years. As far as I know, grand father never paid any child support and alimony, grandmother raised my father. Grandfather went on to have three additional wives and many additional children. Fast forward to the year 2000, and grandfather has no means, but most of his driving and basic daily skills intact. Grandmother has a house and income, but can’t drive or go grocery shopping.

    They actually move back in together, and are able to maintain some kind of relationship, in their 80s, for a few years. It was really astonishing. At the time, I wanted to see it as some great romance, but it was probably cpracticality.

  68. Europe was about 10 years faster than us on texting. I know in the late 90s, my cousin was texting incessantly. I didn’t get to that stage until about five years ago.

  69. Anon 1:50, that story would make a great sit-com. Bickering over the grocery list! Life advice to the grandchildren, met with eye-rolls! And at the end of every episode, a tender smile or hand pat or something to show they really do care.

  70. We have good friends whose father left their mother for a much younger woman. He bought her a. We have good friends whose father left their mother for a much younger woman. They were in their late 50s come early 60s at the time. He bought the mistress a condo and was living there with her tween age children. He gave his wife a chance to “win him back”, which I think involves some weight loss. She worked hard to show him that she was a vibrant woman. She “won” and they are now living happily ever after. This whole process happened over a period of about three or four years.

    The family is all livid. Ironically, (or not) our friends, in their 30s, have a discreetly open relationship. Both partners have had medium term relationships with other people., while maintaining that they are happily married couple raising several children. They’ve never been that upset about the parents’ infidelity, as much as the emotional abuse. But nobody is speaking to the father.

    It’s been fascinating to observe. Most people see both of these couples as having faithful, loving relationships.

  71. Gorgeous SIL married an engineer. He had zero social skills, but left SIL for his soul mate (also gorgeous) secretary. Never figured out what these ladies saw in him.

    Yeah, his kids and ILs hate him. His family isn’t very pleased with him, either.

  72. My 70-yo aunt separated from her husband for a couple years when my cousins were maybe ages 10-15. I seem to recall that he (a doctor) had an affair with a nurse & moved out, and she (a SAHM) had a relationship with another man during that time. But at some point, they got back together and life went on. She remained friends with the other man and even catered his wedding, I think. Flash forward to now – saw my cousin a couple weeks ago and she told me how they are acting like teenagers now that her dad has retired and isn’t at the hospital all.the.time. Her mom even told her about having a nooner!

    On the other hand, I have a friend who married her high school sweetheart and had never been with another man until she started an affair with her married boss whose kids are her age. After MUCH drama, including his “retirement” from the law firm and her moving out of town, he left his wife of 30+ years and moved to be with her. The whole situation creeps me out, so I’m kind of glad they’re not in my town anymore.

  73. There is a silver lining in some of these second marriages. The father of a good friend left first wife and married a woman about 20 years younger. The father, now in his late 70’s, has a several chronic health issues and it’s the second wife that’s bearing the brunt of it. Not the kids, and not the first wife.

    I couldn’t live like Chloe. It’s not for me. I’ve said to DH, if I’m going to have an affair, I’m going to have it with MYSELF. I’m going to take myself out to lavish dinners, weekends away and indulgent gifts. The last thing I want to do is factor another person into my crazy life.

  74. The thing I don’t get from the article-if she knew he was cheating, and decided to not do anything about it-why did she continue to monitor his phone/email/etc. IF she were really “ok” with it, why keep up on his dalliances-she could have spent her time and energy on better things.

  75. “I do have contingency plans in case DH dies. Why is divorce any different?”

    It’s completely different. One is a tragic and unexpected event outside your control, which is why insurance is appropriate.

  76. Nyx – some people just want to be matyrs. I know some marriages in my family that are not happy, no cheating though. However, the endless fights and arguements are followed by “look, how long we have stayed, together, made adjustments (not), sacrificed for our kids”. I want to say to them – yes but unhappily.

  77. One is a tragic and unexpected event outside your control

    How is that different from divorce?

  78. Dh’s parents had a terrible marriage when he was growing up. Lots of fights (instigated by both parents). Now they are weathering retirement together ok. They have separate bedrooms and seem content but not in love. Dh says he enjoys them separately but hates them when they’re together.

  79. Wait – the author was a virgin when she married this jackass and he’s the only man she has ever sexed?

  80. I think death of a spouse is totally different than divorce for so many reasons. If the person dies unexpectedly, you’re left to grieve and possibly have to comfort children that are grieving. You may be upset, sad, or unable to function after the death.

    If it is a divorce, you probably shouldn’t be surprised unless the person is cheating and wants to leave with no notice. This is generally the case with the people I know that get divorced. They fight for years, or they try counseling for months/years etc. They generally know they are headed for a divorce, and they do plan for it in some cases. I guess you could do this if someone dies from certain illnesses such as cancer, but some deaths will be a complete shock.

    In a divorce, even if you hate each other, you still have to deal with the kids or share responsibilities.

    I could go on and on, but it’s not worth it.

    I DO agree with you about how much cheating goes on (men and women) on business trips, offices, conferences etc. Happens all of the time.

  81. Why wasn’t the wife concerned about getting aids or an std from her husband? Putting my health at risk would be reason enough for me to kick my husband out if he ever were to have an affair.

  82. I have known as number of situations where the divorced spouses end up taking care of each other in old age, often in a reconstituted joint household, even in cases where one person left for a new love and not just in one of those 70s style I’m just not fulfilled style divorces.

    The prime reasons are in some mixture

    1. To stave off loneliness, the devil you know, etc.
    2. To spare the kids from having to care for or support the indigent or sick one (almost always the dad)
    3. still love each other enough, disappointments mostly forgotten

  83. Meme, my parents have been divorced for more than 40 years, and they really despised each other for about 20 years after the divorce. Grandkids created a bit of a thaw, and now they are sort of friendly. She was able to call my father/stepmom for help during a recent winter with several large snowstorms because they could walk to her apartment even when it was impossible for a car to get through the streets.

  84. The craziest part was how she wrote that she couldn’t be forthright about it because she didn’t want anyone’s pity. Does she think that everyone didn’t already pity her?

  85. thinking they can go back in time and not break up with the HS boyfriend after all!

    That seems to be playing a role in my niece’s flight from justice. (No, she hasn’t shown up here yet.) She ditched her husband and two small children for her high school boyfriend, a neck-tattooed drug dealing loser. They’re 38 so their high school romance must’ve been just about 20 years ago.

  86. Does she think that everyone didn’t already pity her?

    But she’s thin. Only fat chicks are pitiable.

  87. she didn’t want anyone’s pity.

    Is pity the right word? I think she didn’t want to witness other’s taking delight in her misfortune.

  88. What do you think of the impact of joint custody on kids? Given that the adulterous spouse’s behavior would have no impact on the custody decision, I’m not sure if I would divorce (and have geographic limitations on employment or have to give up custody) or try to come to some agreement to coparent until the kids were out of the house.

    As a spouse, you can divorce the scumbag, but your kids can’t.

  89. “Why wasn’t the wife concerned about getting aids or an std from her husband? ”

    This is how my MIL caught my FIL cheating. She had an STD and confronted him. Ugly, ugly divorce.

  90. WCE- but think of the example she set for her children. Disgusting. At least with a divorce, the kids can see she stood up for herself.

    For as liberal as I am on many issues, I am a prude about this stuff. I expect loyalty in my husband. I find all of this tawdry and not something I would willing be a part of.

  91. “One is a tragic and unexpected event outside your control

    How is that different from divorce?”

    I wish I knew how to do italics.

    Rhett, what I meant was that death is outside the control of the decedent; adultery is obviously not outside the control of the adulterer. Couples usually make a joint decision on life insurance. I don’t think that many women tell their husbands, “Instead of being a SAHM, I’m going to keep my job in case I have to kick you out for cheating on me.”

  92. What do you think of the impact of joint custody on kids? Given that the adulterous spouse’s behavior would have no impact on the custody decision, I’m not sure if I would divorce (and have geographic limitations on employment or have to give up custody) or try to come to some agreement to coparent until the kids were out of the house.

    I think it’s more complicated than you’re making it out to be. My husband was a really awful person when he was married to his first wife, and she was even more awful than she is now. Personalities are created in relationships. They aren’t independent entities. She was passive aggressive and it made him angry and controlling. She cast herself in the role of victim and cast him in the role of victimizer. Possibly my stepson would have hated him if he’d stayed, not only because the Ex said DH was a bad person, but because he WAS a bad person because he was always so angry and exasperated.

    Life is really complicated.

  93. WCE – depends on this situation but I think joint custody can work out just fine on the kids – and in many cases would be preferable to staying in the same house with two parents that don’t want to be with each other. I have a friend whose parents were divorced when he and his brother were in elementary school. They would spend one week with dad, the next week with mom. He said it was great because just when they were starting to get on each other’s nerves, they would go to the other parent’s house.

  94. WCE – As I well know, that situation sucks. I look at it this way, I decided I couldn’t live in the same house as my ex anymore, so I needed to bend over backward to make the situation as best for my kids as possible – which means having their dad in their lives as much as possible (he didn’t want 50/50 and has them every other weekend and is out of town much of the time). That meant I had to swallow the hurt and anger quickly for their sake. 5 years later we are cooperating well but like before he doesn’t want to make any decisions anyway so it is more logistics than anything and that is just fine with me.

    Another thing to consider is whether the adulterous spouse will want any custody – often the case is that they are selfish to start with and don’t

  95. ATM, if a spouse divorces but has to move for employment, (s)he loses custody of her kids, at least in western states- the spouse that has to move loses custody to the spouse that doesn’t move.

    One of my work acquaintances left her kids behind to attend law school. I have no reason to suspect adultery was involved in her divorce, and she was a breadwinner spouse, but she chose to move for law school and left her kids behind.

    Either way, it’s not a great choice.

  96. I will second RMS – I was became a different person in my marriage and I didn’t like myself very much, and that was before I knew about the actual cheating. My kids now live in peace in both houses, I know they will never understand what their life would have been like if we stayed married. But both he and I would have been miserable and that wouldn’t have been good for them.

  97. RMS’s comment reminds me of a favorite line about marriage. “Of course I know how to press your buttons. I installed them myself.”

  98. WCE – I’m sorry but that was her choice. I have a job that works best for my situation, it is not the best job for me. I can change that once the kids are out of the house. Maybe there are cases where there is no employment opportunities, but I don’t think that is the norm. Also, I know of cases where the spouse that moves gets the kids for the summer, when they are out of school, so it might not be all or nothing.

  99. BAM, you’re right about opportunities and trade-offs. Kids can adjust to a variety of situations. My nieces are on public assistance, because neither parent can balance a living wage job with joint custody.

  100. There’s always Paty’s take on the matter:

    I know that you’ve been foolin’ ’round
    On me right from the start
    So I’ll give back your ring and I’ll take back my heart
    And when you’re tired of foolin’ ’round with two or three
    Just come on home and fool around with me

    Well I wasn’t foolin’ ’round the day I said “I do”
    But many a night, I wished that I had been a-foolin’ too
    I know it’s foolish taking all this misery
    But when it’s you, a fool I’ll always be

  101. And Loretta:

    No don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind
    Just stay out there on the town and see what you can find
    Cause if you want that kind of love well you don’t need none of mine
    So don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind

  102. And Tammy, of course (insert political joke):

    Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
    Giving all your love to just one man
    You’ll have bad times, and he’ll have good times
    Doin’ things that you don’t understand
    But if you love him, you’ll forgive him
    Even though he’s hard to understand
    And if you love him, oh be proud of him
    ‘Cause after all he’s just a man.

  103. Gorgeous SIL married an engineer. He had zero social skills, but left SIL for his soul mate (also gorgeous) secretary. Never figured out what these ladies saw in him.

    He’s probably great in bed.

  104. We found out today that DS got into the super-totebaggy charter HS he wanted to go to. Of course now he’s decided he wants to go to our neighborhood HS because a lot of his friends are going there. I’m fine with it because I like the convenience – it’s much closer and he can get himself to or from school if needed. And I think he’ll enjoy the traditional HS experience much more than I did.

  105. Milo – I loved that Dolly Parton song ! I haven’t listened to her – DH listens to the newer country music.

  106. @Scarlett, I didn’t say I thought they should have kept their jobs as a contingency plan. I was pretty clear in my post that I support the idea of a SAHP if that is what works for the family. But for my 2 friends going through this, who spend a lot of time talking about the unfairness, there are a lot of other steps they could have taken along the way to give themselves more flexibility and security during the divorce process. Particularly because for one of them, the road has been rocky for quite a while, so nothing has come out of the blue for her. They are embracing the role of victim to a degree I find hard to listen to. But I do, because it is what they need right now.

  107. Loretta Lynn has a new album that’s streaming on Amazon Music and I’ve got to listen to the whole thing. From the clips it appears to have some great tracks IMO. She’s 83 years old! I saw part of a recent documentary that revealed many aspects of her fascinating life. She used to tour about 300 days out of the year while her husband tended things back at the farm. Yeah, there were dalliances, but their marriage endured.

    Dolly also has a SAHP, but I’ve never heard about his womanizing. Just that he’s been a rock in her life.

  108. Oh, you’ve been makin’ your brags around town
    That you’ve been a lovin’ my man
    But the man I love, when he picks up trash
    He puts it in a garbage can
    That’s what a you look like to me
    What I see’s a pity
    You better close your face and stay outta my way
    If you don’t wanna go to fist city

  109. I thought it was generally understood that Dolly is gay and Carl served as cover early on, when the world was a lot less accepting.

  110. Late to this, but loved the music clips. I always loved Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.

  111. “Dolly also has a SAHP, but I’ve never heard about his womanizing. Just that he’s been a rock in her life.”

    I don’t think he was a womanizer. I think Jolene’s just a song, in her case. My understanding was that despite her fortune that’s roughly twice that of Mitt Romney’s, he still works as the owner of an asphalt paving business. I’m not sure why she never had kids, although feminists might yell at us for even asking that, but I hadn’t heard the gay theory before.

    Loretta, God bless her, was married around 15, had four kids before she turned 20 and two more after that, and was a grandmother by 29. Her DH was a bit of a handful, and they were probably an early example of the traditional man emasculated by his wife’s earnings.

    Tammy was the (third?) wife of George Jones (and not the last, either).

    Joshua Kennon on Dolly’s superb business acumen:
    http://www.joshuakennon.com/dolly-parton/

  112. Dolly Parton and her husband did not have any kids. However, some of her younger siblings came and lived with her a various points so I guess he could’ve been a SAHP for them.

  113. Thanks Rhett – that clip was hilarious. So, I got to add “listen to Ms. Parton” to my list.

  114. Louise, Dolly makes at least two different kinds of albums. She make country-pop crossover albums, that sell very well, and pure bluegrass albums, that don’t. She does the bluegrass because she loves it. I heard an interview with her one time where the interviewer was gushing about how great the pure bluegrass was and Dolly said, “How come y’all never buy those albums, then?”

  115. IIRC, Dolly had trouble either getting or keeping a pregnancy. Of course, those things weren’t talked about back then, and largely still aren’t, so she and Carl are probably the only ones who know for sure. I adore her – she is way, way smarter than she lets on, she works her butt off (and has for decades), and 9 to 5 leads off one of my playlists.

  116. DD – congrats! Sounds like he can’t go wrong either way. That’s a great spot to be in.

  117. Dolly also wrote one of Whitney Houston’s big hits: I Will Always Love You. This video is by Chris Cornell, singing at a concert shortly after her death. I like his version best!

  118. Since I know you’re all fascinated by my real estate adventures, today’s news is that the appraisal came in higher than the price we offered. So that’s good. And if y’all want a place to stay in Santa Cruz, email me.

  119. LfB, any recommendations on things to do with little kids in your fair city? I’ve been to the aquarium and harbor, and we will do that again.

    Considering going for spring break :)

  120. Awesome Rocky!

    And awesome Sky! What ages? For the little kids, there’s a huge children’s museum do by the harbor — has like a 4-story jungle gym DD used to love. Fort McHenry is good for the totebaggy-educational stop. I like walking around Fells Point, and there is a sidewalk that goes all the way from the to the south side of the harbor. There are also a lot of nice state parks for hiking/biking/etc — the one near us has a tire park that is great for little kids, and a walking trail that goes along the river. And of course there’s baseball if it!s the right time of year. 😄😍 Email me at laurafrombaltimore (at) gmail if you want more details/info.

  121. Congrats Rocky on the house. I was wondering why I liked Jolene so much.
    The sound reminds me of old Bollywood movie soundtracks. The Bollywood songs are a big part of life.

    Denver Dad – wishing your DS the best as he goes on to HS.

  122. Awesome, Rocky! :)

    Just had inspection on our house – buyers may ask for concessions and DH is unwilling to give them any – we’ll see how that goes!

  123. WCE, your statement of ‘I promised myself I would never be without “tolerable” choices’ is the other side of the same coin of my mother’s biggest life lesson to me. “Never be in a situation where you cannot take care of yourself and your kids”.

    She married at 18 to my father, and felt trapped most of her life because she didn’t know how to support her two daughters on her own. He drank, cheated, lost the farm… It was a rough life in a small town.

    If I had one goal, it was to never be in such a situation. My college major was based on starting salary surveys. I had two kids 23 months apart and never even considered going part-time. My DH had some terrible health issues and I kept taking more demanding jobs. I can’t say it hasn’t worked out well, but I think fear of scarcity and feeling safe/secure has motivated me my whole life and I’m not sure that’s entirely healthy! I’m way past the stage where I really have to worry about those things (we fit right in to the totebag average income), but I still find myself thinking about worst case scenarios.

    People are complex beings, but this isn’t how any of us would advise our daughters to act if they were in that situation. My mom stayed – for 25 years, anyway – but she never let me believe it was an okay way to live.

  124. Sunshine, it’s easy for people with security to take risks. I always had some measure of security from my family, but I observed people who didn’t. I remember listening to the song “Que sera, sera” on an old record as a kid and thinking about “What will be, will be” meant. And I knew money was only part of security, because it doesn’t protect you from life upheavals like a severely disabled child or cancer.

    On an unrelated note, I am proud of my ODOT acquaintances (Motto: Keeping Oregon Out of the Mud”) for reaching completion on this very tough local highway project in an area that gets ~100 inches of rain/year. Hopefully it is sufficiently well-engineered to be stable till The Big One comes.

    http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/the-coast-is-about-clear/article_fa3a42ba-8dca-57f2-9366-3cdbbebae781.html

  125. My idiot on-the-lam niece and her idiot boyfriend showed up at a relatives’ house in the Midwest. They are still hiding from some drug-related problem and no on is allowed to know where she is. She is apparently unconcerned that her 4-year-old and 8-year-old also don’t know where she is, or when she will ever return. Next time you’re down on yourself for raising your voice or feeding your kid non-organic food, remind yourself how much worse you really could be.

  126. RMS,
    That sounds awful. I can’t remember — who is looking after her children now? It is probably just as well that they don’t know where she is or why she took off.

  127. @Rocky — Well, that adds some perspective to my weekend snit over our new school boundaries. . . .

  128. RMS, I’m glad she didn’t show up at your house!

    There is a good case to be made for drug legalization, but I often wonder if it would lead to more child abuse and abandonment if legalozation caused addiction rates to rise.

  129. Rocky– Sounds like my case load, and I’m glad (for your sake) that she didn’t show up at your door step. It is truly a good reminder of what’s traumatic for kids v. inconveniences. I hope those kids find some stability at some point soon.

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