I call the “Sunday Styles” section of the New York Times the “Women’s Sports Section.” I love reading about the weddings and believe I could turn tales of my affair with B. into one of its “Modern Love” essays. But the above clip appeared in the “Social Q’s” column on Sunday, April 14, 2014 and it resonated. I was confronted with one of the reasons why our affair ultimately ended:
His four children from his 39-year marriage. (A marriage, by the way, that disintegrated despite my admonitions to patch it up. I was not, am not, the catalyst for his impending divorce.)
When our affair started he only had one child, a daughter. Many years (9? 12?) passed, and daughter #2 arrived. She was a handful. Then daughter #3. Another few years lapsed, and a son was born (B. told me that child #4 was unplanned.) I thrilled each time he told me his wife was pregnant; those announcements coincided with each re-kindling of our affair, our various incarnations.
Those four kids have now flown the coop. The eldest daughter ties the knot in a big society wedding this summer and the youngest graduates from a fancy WI boarding school. I know most of the details of their births, challenges, education, and personal demons. But I never wanted to meet them, not until I had to. Not unless B. and I got serious as a couple after his “conscious un-coupling” from his wife. But that’s not what I wanted, anyway.
Here’s a partial list of what those four kids struggled with: Bulimia. Herpes scare. Colic. ADD. Learning disabilities. General defiance. Body image. Depression. Psychiatrists/psychologists/social workers. School expulsion. Gender identity. “Seeing things.” Raging. Raving. Lithium. Biting others. Cutting.
I knew too much about his children and, like the writer in the above “Social Q’s” column, already had a family and didn’t want to take on the possibility of step-parenting his offspring. He is a great father, though, very involved even if a bit over-bearing. He’s assumed both father and mother roles. Most of the four are estranged from mom. And these are Trust Fund Kids…that’s for a later blog post. (Spoiled and entitled, in my opinion.)
Had I been more open to meeting his children, as columnist Galanes ultimately advised the above writer, the affair might have endured. It would have continued to the next level (B. wanting that much more than I). But I was afraid to take that step into a more serious relationship.
They say “knowledge is power.” For me, it was the power to say, “No more.”
(Philip Galanes’ column, and his response to this particular social query, is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/fashion/Social-qs-Questions-of-etiquette-in-difficult-situations.html )
Have a great weekend, all.
A former mistress (26 years, on-and-off) describes the good, the bad, and the ugly of her long-term affair. Conclusion: Affairs aren't necessarily destructive if kept in the correct perspective. Our experience enhanced BOTH our marriages.
That is, until his marriage ended and we began to love each other. When the affair morphed into a relationship, well, that's when it stopped being fun for me.
For 26 yrs we luxuriated in implicit Trust. When B. cheated on ME, it was the first time another person came into our relationship besides our respective spouses.
We have now irrevocably split.