In the past three years, sixteen couples in my friend group have gotten a divorce. Sixteen! Granted, I know many people, but that does seem like a lot. Statistics say 50% of marriages end in divorce, and sometimes, it’s the absolute right choice.
But this blog is for my friends who’ve been betrayed by the spouses they loved and supported. It’s for the women and men who have been blindsided, whose lives have been ripped to shreds because their partners sucker-punched them in the heart. Hint: there might be a bit of this in my upcoming book, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
In the case of the couples I know, the cheating spouses have been male, but of course, women can cheat, too. Substitute pronouns as fits.
If you’ve divorced with kindness and grace—as one couple in my friend group has—God bless, and good for you.
And now, on with the show.
“I haven’t been happy for years.” Translation: I’m bored and tired of myself, so I’ll have an affair, rather than admit that I need to get off my ass. Mister, if you really haven’t been happy for years (and that’s not true, is it?), why didn’t you say something? Do something? Get counseling? Nope. Instead you chose an affair, Monsieur Cliché. How unoriginal.
“You have stifled my dreams.” Translation: I want to be irresponsible, ignore the kids, and become an Artist with a capital A because yes, I am that talented. Also, I will create an Empire, now that I am rid of you, thou killer of my awesome potential. Yeah, sure, buddy. She supported you through grad school. She moved six times for your career. She signed a mortgage on the house to finance your “dreams.” She worked two jobs. She raised your children. She put your career before hers. She helped you every step of the way. Stifled, my ass.
“I can’t talk to you anymore.” Translation: I’ve found a woman who kisses my ass and agrees with every word out of my mouth. She thinks you’re rich, doesn’t she? And hey! You might be! Prepare to lose everything when she divorces you a couple years from now. Hint: She has at least one ex-husband in her rear-view window.
“We can stay friends, because I wish you well.” Translation: I’m not going to take any responsibility for your heartbreak, fear, financial struggles, loneliness because I am a Good Guy, and you can tell this because I just said we can stay friends. Sorry, bub. You’re not going to be friends. You are not worthy of her friendship.
“I deserve to be happy.” Translation: Everyone else can suffer—our kids, grandkids and certainly you, former wife of mine, because I am the most important person in the world, and my happiness is all that matters. If our kid is sobbing into her pillow, I don’t want to hear it. She’ll get over it because I am happy and this will make her happy, because the world rotates based on my happiness. Jeez louise. The hubris. You want to think every parent would put his or her kids' happiness first, and of course, we're wrong. It's amazing how people can justify the worst behavior because of what they think they're owed.
“The kids will love her.” Translation: Lalalala! I don’t want to hear anything that will interfere with my New Self and This Exciting Time because I am a New Man! My piece on the side and/or new wife is super nice, so the fact that I was cheating on my children’s mother doesn’t matter. She is a yoga instructor/rides horses/surfs/is an Artist and/or Great Thinker, like me, and everyone will get along just fine. Dude. You are pathetic. A cliché. Also, your kids hate her. No, they do. If they pretend not to, it’s because they still love the person they thought you were and are clinging to the shred of hope that their father isn’t an ass. But you are an ass, and they will find out.
Someday, Cheating Spouse Wrapped in Your Own Selfishness, this will all come back to bite you. You’ll be alone, divorced again. Your kids and grandkids will merely tolerate you, and your former spouse is truly happy now, having built a full life on the ashes you left her. You’ll remember the time when you threw everything away because you were lazy and bored, entitled and self-involved. You’ll shake your head at your stupidity for leaving a good woman because you thought there was something shinier out there. You’ll call your kids, but they’re very busy and can’t talk, let alone visit.
So you’ll have plenty of time to remember the life you tossed out the window. That life was pretty damn good, wasn’t it? Too bad, idiot. You don’t get to go back.
To everyone suffering from a betrayal, who’s struggling to get back on their feet after a divorce or separation, hang in there. Better days are ahead.