*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
A marriage that lasts several years usually means you and your spouse have found common ground and can agree on what you want for the future, the type of family you will raise, and the home you're having.
But what do you do when things suddenly change and the person you've trusted all this time goes away for one night and doesn't feel like they should call or text you so you don't get worried?
My friend Stella has been married to her husband Ryan for seven years. They have one daughter together, Stella is working, and they have their family's help to look after their little girl.
"I couldn't let my career go, not just because I liked my job. We also needed the money. Things aren't getting cheaper, and our daughter will need so many things, and there will be fun activities for her to try. It's about money most of the time, and I don't want her to feel she has to have limits while discovering hobbies or her favorite things," Stella said.
Ryan was ok with that since he wasn't sure he could pay for everything with just one salary. He also asked his mom and his aunts to come by their house in Dallas, Texas, and look after their daughter and support his wife.
"My in-laws were great, and I had a lot of help from Ryan's aunts too. I never felt alone or overwhelmed, and I'm thankful for that," Stella said.
Time passed, and their daughter, Annie, went to kindergarten and then started school. Stella and Ryan didn't neglect their relationship either and still did their best to go out on dates a few times a month and plan a trip once every year.
"I knew I had to keep in mind that I'm a wife too. It's never ok to ignore your husband, and I wanted Ryan to know how much I loved him," Stella said.
Things seemed to go well, and the couple considered having a second baby until something unexpected happened.
On Tuesday, Ryan had to work late, and he also let Stella know they would celebrate a colleague's birthday after they were done. So, she knew he would be back home at about 9 p.m.
"I wanted to go with him to the birthday party, but he said it was just for coworkers. So, I waited for him to be back and tell how it went," Stella said.
Unfortunately, the hours passed, but Ryan still wasn't back. At 10 p.m., Stella was a bit uncomfortable; at midnight, she started calling friends and coworkers, and by 3 a.m., she was so worried she couldn't sleep and asked one of her friends to come to sit with her while she was waiting for Ryan. Their daughter was having a sleepover with one of her friends, so she didn't notice what was taking place.
"I didn't know if anything had happened to him. And his colleagues told me he didn't go with them to the party when I called. No one knew where he was; he didn't answer my texts and calls. I expected the worse. In the morning, at 6 a.m., there was still nothing new, and I thought maybe I should let his parents know too," Stella said.
As she got dressed and was ready to go and see her in-laws, Ryan came in looking happy and relaxed at 6:45 a.m.
Stella asked him what he'd been doing, and he said he'd been at the party. She pointed out his colleagues had already told her he wasn't there and asked him again about his night out.
"We've been married seven years. He stayed out all night; no call, no text. Why would he do such a thing? Didn't he realize I'd get worried and upset?" Stella said.
Ryan felt she was overreacting and even started shouting at her when she kept trying to find out what he'd been doing. Stella asked him if he'd been with another woman, but he denied having an affair.
It's been two days since then, and he still hasn't told her where he was or with whom. And the more time passes without an explanation; the less Stella feels she can trust her husband.
She went to see her parents and told them about her husband's behavior, and they agreed she must understand what took place; they encouraged her to try and stay positive and make him realize they needed to confide in each other.
Unless she can be sure Ryan wasn't dating anyone, Stella still thinks this is the most likely reason for him not answering calls and ignoring her texts.
How do you think this situation should be handled? Is it fair for Ryan to just do what he wanted for one night and then offer no explanation as to his whereabouts? Should Stella think he's having an affair if he won't say anything about what took place that night?
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