*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
When your marriage ends, and you don't want to divorce or give up on raising a family with your spouse, you will want reasons and explanations for what took place.
Unfortunately, the decision is often not very much thought about, and what seemed like a good idea at first ends up confusing everyone. What should you do when your spouse has an affair and decides to stay with the other person even if you know you did a lot more for them than the other person ever could or would agree to do?
My friend Angelo has been married to his wife Mary for three years. They were engaged for six months before tying the knot, and they had to hurry with the ceremony because Angelo was changing his job to a different city.
"It was a lot faster than we wanted it. Initially, we'd thought about an engagement for two years so we could have a big wedding and invite everyone we knew. We had to give up on all that and focus on our love only because his work projects meant we would move to a different state sooner than we expected," Mary said.
Both their families got involved in choosing flower arrangements and the food on the menu. They made the guest list much shorter, and their wedding day was just as special, even with fewer people coming to join them.
"I wanted to support him in having a good job, so I let go of my idea of a big wedding. I'm not sure if that was right, looking back," Mary said.
After they got married, they packed their things and moved to Dallas, Texas, ready for a life together and new job challenges for Angelo.
They decided not to have kids right away, particularly since Mary also wanted to get a job and earn well.
"I wasn't going to avoid having a career to raise a family. I wanted both, and I knew I could do it. I just needed some extra time. So, we agreed to wait on kids for at least five years," Mary said.
Angelo was happy with his new job in construction, but getting used to his team and following up with any issues that needed immediate attention meant his schedule was longer than usual, and he had to cancel the dates he and Mary planned quite often.
"I understood him in the beginning, but when four months passed and everything was the same, I started questioning if his job meant more than me. Surely he could assign someone else from time to time or just say he couldn't work late," Mary said.
Angelo explained that he needed to supervise most of the work, and he couldn't leave that to someone else, but Mary got bored of listening to the same thing every time. So, she told him they didn't need to plan any dates for a while until he felt his schedule allowed him to pay more attention to her.
"I was just so tired of it. Getting ready to go out and having him call 10 minutes before to say he can't come. And then apologizing and canceling the reservation. I didn't want to go through that anymore," Mary said.
This idea got rid of constant arguments, but it also made Mary think she needed to find something to distract herself. She spent most evenings at home on her own, and she hadn't made that many friends since moving to Dallas.
So, she went on social media to see if she could connect to other women who had a similar marriage to hers with busy husbands. She ended up chatting with Dean, who was unhappy about his wife's work schedule.
"It was nice to see someone else felt the same way I did. And I no longer felt I was being selfish. I could share my disappointment and how I didn't feel loved, valued, or appreciated," Mary said.
They chatted every evening for about an hour and gradually moved on to three hours or longer. After one month of messages, they exchanged phone numbers and began calling each other every other day.
They also talked while Mary was at work or when Dean was out shopping.
"I didn't tell Angelo about my new friend. He didn't have any time to listen to me; Dean was always available," Mary said.
Once two months of calls and texting had gone by, Mary and Dean decided it was time to meet. Dean invited her for a coffee, and they have met every day since then. Mary managed to find time to see him even during the weekends, telling her husband she had to see a cousin who had actually moved away a few months ago.
"I didn't intend to use his trust that way, but I wanted to see Dean. So, I said what I had to," Mary said.
She and Dean got closer, and they began going out too. Their relationship started two years after Mary's marriage.
"We were friendly only until then. But once we started dating, there was no going back. We wanted to be together. And I could see myself being a lot happier than with Angelo, even if he didn't have a great job or money," Mary said.
She paid for their meals everywhere they went, mostly using Angelo's money, so it was only a matter of time until he saw the extra expenses.
He didn't notice coffee or cakes, but once dates were taking place, the costs were higher, and he soon had a lot of questions for his wife.
Mary said it was a high school friend, but when Angelo asked to meet Dean, she had to admit she was having an affair.
"Angelo was upset and shouted at me when he realized what it was all about. After a few days, he said it was his fault for being away so long and asked me to give him another chance. It's too late; I'm in love with Dean now," Mary said.
She told Angelo they had to get a divorce, but he kept trying to convince her to be with him. On the other hand, Dean isn't that happy knowing she won't be able to pay for much now her husband knows all about him.
"She's nice, and I like her a lot. But I can't even afford to go to the places she likes. She needs to find a way to stay with him and me," Dean said.
Angelo is also confused about why his wife would want to be with someone else since he's also been doing plenty of house chores and helping her when he wasn't at work.
"My wife chose someone else; I cook and clean. I get busy sometimes, but I will make dinner and lunch all weekend and clean the whole house twice. That's got to mean something," Angelo said.
Mary is annoyed by Dean wanting her to stay married for Angelo's money, and she's not sure she cares about her husband anymore. She hasn't gone ahead with the divorce yet, which gives Angelo hope she might reconsider and stay with him.
What do you think about this situation? Should Mary agree to stay with Angelo because he loves her and can help with housework, or is it better to be with Dean? Is it fair for Dean to ask her to avoid a divorce so she can pay for all their nights out?
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