Can Anyone Ever Truly Break Up a Marriage?

marriedcheat

Let’s talk about this article, shall we?

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/style/modern-love-an-optimists-guide-to-divorce.html

Beka is my boyfriend’s wife, and the girls are their children. I met her husband, Josh, the summer before, on Mother’s Day, which coincided with their 12th wedding anniversary. Beka had shooed him out of the house to host a mother-daughter tea, and he appeared in the seat next to me at a neighborhood bar. He says it was love at first sight, while I thought he was just another sexy married guy — strictly off limits.

Over the next two months, as I cycled in and out of tumultuous relationships, he kept popping up. Occasionally we would wave across a coffee shop or exchange a few words on the street. One day he took a seat next to me at another bar, where we joined in the happy-hour conversation about politics and sex.

When he left to pick up his children, I wasn’t surprised when he said, “Can I see you again?”

I thought: “Just another creep trying to fool around behind his wife’s back.” But I agreed to meet him again, mostly because it was easier than explaining why I wouldn’t and because I was certain I would never have an affair with him.

I was wrong about Josh. He wasn’t a creep or even a cheater. He was a man who loved his children more than anything. Josh and Beka were a powerhouse couple — affluent, attractive, highly educated, generous — and the backbone of upper-middle-class respectability developing in my bohemian neighborhood. They had married in their 20s because they got along, had a lot in common (both are lawyers) and the timing was right; many of their friends were tying the knot. Twelve years in, their marriage seemed to be compatible and right. But it was a union of practicality more than passion, and Josh was miserable. He didn’t think he had any right to be miserable, but he was.

As we spent more time together, everything about our relationship felt natural. There was no imbalance in our love for one another, and we shared the same values and sense of humor. It turns out that Josh’s refusal to calculate — and my distrust in my ability to calculate — led us to the best decision of our lives: to do what it would take to be together. But that meant inflicting undeserved pain on others.

You can all read the rest. Basically, this is a fifteen-hundred word rationalization/humblebrag. The best part – to me at least – is how the ex-wife is all, “You want to write about this and humiliate yourself? Sure! GO RIGHT AHEAD, BESTIE!” I don’t know what to think of the ex-wife, as I can’t imagine ever being friends with the woman who had been sleeping with my husband behind my back. I want to say she is crazy as a fox, biding her time until she can do a Jennifer Aniston.

Eventually, those young children will grow up and figure out (thanks to Google) that this new step-mom they love so much was actually the other woman. The author is delusional if she thinks she’ll be able to talk them through that and convince them love is love and the heart wants what the heart wants and such nonsense. She’s also delusional if she doesn’t realize that Josh’s attention and affection was a product of his wanderlust. There was likely nothing wrong with his marriage at all, hence his ex-wife’s shock when he told her he wanted a divorce. It seems to me that Josh, man-child that he is, simply got bored. Which means he likely will get bored again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. ThatJosh told his ex-wife about his affair proves he’s an insensitive, thoughtless douchebag. Keep that to yourself, you ass. There’s no need to add insult to injury.

Now let’s talk about the author. I couldn’t figure out what was off about this essay until I’d read it a few times. What’s off is the author’s distorted perception of reality and naivete. She blames her history of bad relationships on her mental illness but assures everone she finally got her meds right this time, lest anyone think she’s crazy. She also truly believes she and Beka are friends. If Beka were truly her friend, she’d have told the author not to write the essay. Instead, Beka encouraged her, even gave her blessing. Why? So the author would humiliate herself.

The author sees Josh as a victim, blind to the reality that Josh is just a selfish guy who felt like having sex with someone new. His marriage to Beka had gotten stale, a fault of both Josh and Beka, and they drifted apart. Nobody can truly be blindsided by their spouse’s request for a divorce. For that to happen, the shocked partner has to be egregiously unplugged from their relationship. Beka never even suspected another woman could be involved? How is that possible? Wouldn’t that be the first thing that comes to your mind if you spouse asked for a divorce out of the blue? Someone – more likely all three players – aren’t telling the truth. All three of these people are wearing masks to hide what’s underneath. This whole twisted triangle is built on lies and delusion. Here’s what it all boils down to: Bekah gave Josh up without a fight, it seems. That speaks to her own investment in the marriage. Bekah and Josh had both gotten bored, Josh just pulled the trigger first. Now Bekah gets to lay claim to the moral high ground while acting like she’s putting her kids first. And…scene.

All that said, I can’t bring myself to hate on the author. If anything, I feel bad for her. She’s justifying Josh’s behavior, saying he’s not really a cheater but rather a guy caught between a rock and a hard place. She can’t face the reality that she got involved with a married man, a man who probably fed her a bogus story to avoid looking like an entitled creep. She thinks Beka is her friend, but behind the scenes you know Beka is cackling at the author’s decision to go public with this.

Here’s the thing: it ain’t easy being forty and alone. It’s not. I would love to write some rah-rah speech about having your freedom and screwing whomever you want – and those moments do exist – but they are usually wedged between moments of crushing loneliness and frustration. The fact that the author got involved with a married man is not what I side-eye, it’s that she wrote about it. She thinks she’s achieved something special, a level of open-mindedness and maturity. She’s trying to find the silver lining of this situation and use it to defend what she did. Let’s get one thing straight: people who say they would “never” do something are usually the people who commit those very acts. She would never get involved with a married man…until she did. That’s not how never works. As humans, we make decisions based not on our values, but our options. I would love to say I would never get involved with a married man, but I’m mature enough to know that a lot of that hangs on where I’m at my head in that moment. Loneliness is awful. It can feel bottomless at times. Nobody likes to admit it, but when we’re overcome with that numbing ache in the pits of our stomachs, an hour or two with someone that isn’t ours can be what gets us through. As eye-roll-y as I find this author, I sympathize with her. No, not because I’ve ever caved and been with a married man, but because I understand the feeling of isolation that could drive a person (man or woman) to it.

Thoughts?

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42 Responses to “Can Anyone Ever Truly Break Up a Marriage?”

  1. BTownGirl Says:

    What disturbs me the most about this, as a stepmother myself, is that she paints this like it’s one great big lovefest for the kids. Really? No tears at all for the “Daddy’s not going to live with us anymore” conversation? No trepidation showing up to Dad’s new apartment and meeting her? Bull. Sh*t. This woman is a narcissistic loon and Drunken Wandering Dick is the absolute worst for bringing her into his children’s lives.

    If this ran in the NY-f*cking-Times before the custody agreement was finalized, God help him. Beka, I see you and I salute you!

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  2. 40something Says:

    Reading this makes me think The NY Times would like my story of divorce. I thought it was unique until I realized that when men engage in extramarital stuff, it reads like a script. And to be gender equal, women engaging in affairs read from a diffy script. Men generally say they stay for the kids. That he and the wife are like roommates. They haven’t had sex in forever. She doesn’t understand him. And yes, there are of course some bad marriages. But these phrases are common. And when they have an infant, they had sex once. Doesn’t make them bad folks- maybe bad husbands. However, be more original :-)

    The writer is presenting herself like she “rescued” him from a passionless marriage of convenience. I’ve known a few marriages that have started from affairs and not my lot in life to pass judgment. However, the writer seems like she’s trying to convince EVERYONE why this is all good, how she fought but succumbed to his charms (I mean, she couldn’t have turned him down. She took one for the team) and these resilient kids are giddy. Eh. I wish them the best and if this happens to her down the road, I’m confident she won’t be as understanding.

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    • KK Says:

      Yeah. Plenty of marriages start from cheating. It is still a shitty way to treat someone. I found it terrifying that the author does not seem to feel guilty at all.

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      • 40something Says:

        Oh I agree. What self respecting person wants to start a relationship with someone who is married? Apparently lots of peeps-not sure about the self respect part.

        My ex started dating a college student when we were married (she was 18 years his junior-mine too) . She said horrible things about me on social media. I never met her and was always cordial to my ex. When he started another relationship while dating her, she was absolutely shocked and couldn’t believe this happened to her. Think she forgot how their relationship began. Some people think they are the unicorn.

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        • ATWYSingle Says:

          People think they’re a unicorn because the person cheating encourages them to think that way. I would bet in 99% of the situations where the other woman or new girlfriend/wife trash talks the ex, it’s because the guy has poisoned them against his ex by feeding her lies.

          That said, I don’t get people who act so suprised when one partner in a marriage stray or when a marriage ends in divorce. People get bored and fall out of love all the time. It’s hardly uncommon. I think that’s scares so many women into becoming vicious mean girls when confronted with a situation like this. It makes them realize that they could do everything right and be gorgous and smart and funny and brilliant and successful and a guy could still get tired of sleeping with them.

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          • 40something Says:

            Oh gosh. I hope I didn’t sound like a mean girl. I always felt bad for the girl my ex dated. She had a very, very troubled childhood and had worked hard to achieve a great deal academically. I invited them over several times . My ex struggles with mental health issues and I wish him well. Not because I’m so evolved-rather my life is good and life is short. He’s a good person. However, he was not a great partner. And I had things that I could improve upon as well.

            I’ve akways said people will do what they do and there are no guarantees except death and taxes. Peeps try to skirt #2.

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      • ATWYSingle Says:

        What’s truly scary is that she doesn’t see how passive aggressive Josh is. “Oh, she wasn’t as mad when she found out you were older than her.” Translation: She assumes you’re unattractive or at least less attractive than her. And I don’t doubt Bekah said that, btw. I think all three of them sound pretty awful.

        And as usual the commenters (aka other women) are venemous towards the author despite the fact that Bekah seems pretty settled and borderline relieved she got to unload pasty Josh onto someone and collect a fat alimony check in the process.

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        • 40something Says:

          Josh is the one who took the vows and the writer didn’t make him do shit. He’s going to cheat on this chick. Why? Because he can. I know it’s because she wrote the story (I get it. I do), my issue with writer, is that she’s trying to convince everyone it’s all for the best. He’s a tool and she’s delusional. Hopefully the kids are okay.

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        • BTownGirl Says:

          I’m prob in the Bitch Category, because the author chose to publish this…for why? He’s a way bigger jerk than she is, but she doesn’t have the empathy or self-awareness needed to be a decent stepparent. If I were a betting woman, I’d say that the ex-wife is probably pretty devastated for her children that their father is an ass and their stepmother doesn’t seem too stable. No “fat alimony check” is going to take the sting out of that.

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          • KK Says:

            I think it is more likely that Beka is nice to the author because she is the daughters’ stepmother. This woman will take care of young children – what benefit is it to be.a jerk? Plus, who knows, maybe Beka was not so happy in the marriage

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            • BTownGirl Says:

              I meant the author’s a jerk, not the ex-wife – pardon the unclear wording! No doubt, the ex is trying to salvage this for her kids, in keeping with the long tradition of mothers sucking it up and smoothing over other people’s f*ck-ups.

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        • Parenting Says:

          Josh is a tool for saying this to the author, but I can understand why Bekah felt better knowing the woman who her husband left her for is “theoretically” less attractive than her. I was once cheated on a dumped for a younger, far more attractive woman and it felt terrible and hopeless! I can imagine feeling better knowing my marriage is over because it over, not because I’m no longer attractive or whatever other thing we say to ourselves at our lowest points.

          As for alimony, I doubt it. She’ll get child support…maybe the house too but since they have similar careers, theres no reason for a judge to award alimony. In all likelihood, they are both going to take a financial hit from this divorce. People usually do.

          It looks like their marriage fell apart with very young kids at homr. Thats not uncommon. I’ve heard of many relationships cracking under the strain right after the 2nd baby. Everyone has their own way of exiting a marriage. Some cant leave without insuring they will “have a soft landing” and hookup with a transitional girlfriend/boyfriend. I wouldnt call it a very reapectable exit strategy but people will do what people will do.

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  3. UWSGal Says:

    The author has nothing to be guilty about. She didn’t take the vows, Josh did. That said, Josh is a piece of shit. I am having a hard time hating on the author also, because (1) i don’t think she did anything wrong and (2) she is a sad woman. She got this narcissistic man child Josh man on her hands and if she thinks they are gonna have the till death do us part she’s delusional. I bet that he will leave her within 3 yeas tops, and she will be 3 years older, even more lonely, broken and pathetic. I feel bad for her. On the other hand Bekah has rid herself of this abomination of a man, she has her kids and will never be alone again, and she is young, attractive, and self sufficient and can find love again. More power to Bekah.

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    • KK Says:

      What logic is this? The author did something wrong, just nowhere near as wrong as Josh. Josh broke his vows. Josh didn’t realize he was unhappy and then divorce or try to figure out how to be happy in his marriage. That is a shitty thing to do. Inconsiderate.

      The author knowingly dated a married man. That is fucked up. That is wrong. It is. And btw I hope I would never do what she did, but I might. It is still a shitty thing to do.

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      • UWSGal Says:

        I disagree. It is not our job as women to police the behavior of other (married) men. What he did is on him and him only.

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        • Taco Says:

          It’s not policing married men’s behavior, it’s respecting other women enough to not sleep with their husband.

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          • UWSGal Says:

            Again, I disagree. I personally don’t feel that I owe some woman I don’t even know or ever met anything at all, including respect. Your marriage is not my responsibility. Your husband is not your property that I “steal” from you – he’s his own human being with his own agency who’s gonna make his *own* decisions. Now, I don’t think that it is a good or healthy choice for any self-respecting woman to have an affair with a married man, but if for whatever reasons she chooses to do so, she’s not the “bad guy”.

            I do understand the negative reaction towards the author that some married women have – but I think it speaks more about their character than anything else. These are the women who view their husbands as property, to be constantly guarded against the thieves. and the “other woman” strikes fear in their hearts as they’re afraid to lose their husbands. Wake up ladies. The other woman is never the reason why he cheated, it’s either the guy’s character, or the state of you marriage, or frankly both. The energy directed towards the hatred of the author is better spent on tending to your marriage.

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            • BTownGirl Says:

              Considering you have two failed marriages and a failed engagement under your belt, you should probably hold off on giving advice. Speaking for myself, the author’s actions as a stepmother are reprehensible and I’m guessing a lot of people are reacting to that as well. Someone with your issues has no idea what it is to love a child or what the agony of seeing them hurt feels like.

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              • ATWYSingle Says:

                Someone with your issues has no idea what it is to love a child or what the agony of seeing them hurt feels like.

                First of all, the author isn’t a step-mother. She’s not married to the guy. Second of all, she’s not responsible for that man’s children. HE IS. Don’t put that shit on her. Both he and their mother are responsible for the well-being of those children. This is another reaosn why I think Bekah sucks as hard as everyone else: she’s allowing her kids to get attached to the author knowing Josh is a turd and she’s not laying down boundaries. To use the step-mom angle as another way to pummel this woman is fucking bullshit.

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                • BTownGirl Says:

                  I have to disagree – if you’re in a close relationship, spending significant time with the children, you are partly responsible for their emotional wellbeing. Why did she have to publish this under her own name? Or, you know, at all? Of course the parents are the most in the wrong, but that means she skates? I’m assuming that because my wedding isn’t for a few months, you don’t consider me a real stepmother either, but there are adults in the world capable of putting kids’ feelings before their own. Being an aunt and a stepmother is the biggest responsibility and the greatest honor of my life – in short, I take this sh*t seriously.

                  As for the ex-wife and your vitriol for her, of course she’s f*cking pissed. Keep in mind, we’re getting the story from the author’s (clearly deluded) perspective alone, so who knows how she feels or whether she saw this before it went to print. You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about the author sleeping with her husband – my issue is with the rest of her behavior and I stand by that.

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                  • ATWYSingle Says:

                    The mother of those children gave the author her okay to publish the piece as is, names and all. Where was her concern for her children? Nobody in this scenario was thinking fo the kids.

                    Why’d the author write it? Because, YES, she’s clearly mentally unstable. All the more reason to pity this woman for feeling as though this story needed to be told at the risk of losing her professional credibility. This woman is sad, don’t you get it? She finally got a man and lost all of her senses. She’s going to get humiliated, and it will be because of that guy. With that essay, she just sped up their break-up.

                    I also imagine she wrote it for the same reason many woman make it a point to work their relationship, children, pregnancy, engagements into every thing they say: to brag, to seek validation, and to rub other women’s noses in it.

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                    • BTownGirl Says:

                      I don’t even know what to say about any of this. Why would anyone use their big life events to try and make other people feel badly? Like, pregnant women…seriously? People talk about what’s important in their lives at the time, which includes weddings, babies, etc. For example, I’ll never be super career-minded or a huge success in that realm, but I love hearing about my friends’ accomplishments, because it’s important to them and it’s every bit as valid and exciting as whatever I have going on. It’s about them, not about me. Most people are very comfortable talking about their joys in life, because they assume people like to hear about positive things and are happy for them.

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                    • UWSGal Says:

                      @BTownGirl:

                      I am assuming Moxie means something like this:

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN3eB29yuIs

                      may be people in your neck of woods are nicer, here happens all the time.

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                    • fuzzilla Says:

                      I think what Moxie means by “rub their faces in it” is when people bring up their relationship when it’s completely off topic to do so. Like, in the middle of performing heart surgery – “MY BOYFRIEND bought me this new scalpel, isn’t it just BEAUTIFUL? Oh, and we had the BEST TIME in The Hamptons…” But I do think that’s more about, “Look how great I am” rather than, “I hope you eat s*** and die.” Unless there’s someone you have a vendetta against, maybe.

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                    • Parenting Says:

                      There are people out there with a mean streak or some sort of complex about wanting to “prove everyone wrong” about some teenaged slight real or imagined. But thats not the majority of the world. I agree with BTownGirl. Most people share important events in their lives which include relationships, weddings, and babies but also graduations, honors, birthdays, promotions, retirement, new home purchases, trips, etc… And I feel incredibly jealous when I hear some of my friends accomplishments but if I thought for a second they were sharing their news to create a hostile “I win you lose” environment, we wouldnt be friends.

                      As for the kids mom, really hard to say. If I had to hand over my very young kid who I’m rabidly possessive and protective of over to a complete stranger who is my soon-to-be exes fruitcake mistress, I would need to do some weird emotional gymnastics to keep from murdering everyone and run off into the woods with my kid. Maybe this charade is Beka’s way of coping. Who knows if she even gave the author the ok to publish this? The author is unstable.

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        • KK Says:

          I am talking about doing something that hurts another person. The author’s actions resulted in the wife being hurt. Someone gets hurt.

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      • BTownGirl Says:

        Exactly this, KK. My guess is that The Entitled Jezebel trope is actually pretty rare among women who sleep with married guys, with the vast majority being women who don’t like themselves enough to see that they have and deserve way better options. It’s a sh*tty thing to do, to themselves and everyone else involved.

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    • Parenting Says:

      Just because Josh is the bigger a-hole in this doesnt mean the author is a girl scout here. If your neighbor robbed you and your best friend bought those stolen goods because “hey, you have some awesome jewelry and its not yours any more any way”, is she not just a wee bit complicit here?

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  4. Nia Says:

    I have some Deep Thoughts TM about this. I think one thing that leads people into cheating is this idea that marriage is the only, be-all-end-all for relationships, and that it’s going to fulfill all your needs, including validation and appreciation.

    People seem to believe that a relationship is like a shark: it moves from stage to stage or it dies. I believe there needs to be more options out there—partnership rather than marriage, polyamory, and open marriages among them.

    Singlehood needs to be presented as not only “okay” or “if nothing else pans out” but a genuine option for people. Tons of people really should *not* have gotten married. As the married man I got involved with a year ago for a “memory lane fling” put it “I suck at marriage”.

    So why was he on his second marriage? Because he got married young, had three kids, and when that broke up, he floated/drifted into another marriage because it was easy, it made sense, and he needed help with his three small children.

    In reality, it’s a partnership that should make both of your lives better and you have to treat it as such. If you have kids, it can be very fragile because the relationship almost always takes a back seat to the kids/family needs.

    Women don’t need to “police” the behavior of married men, but they do need to become much, much more inquiring and skeptical. I was a total dope—I was too scared of losing the affection and attention I was getting to ask outright “where does your marriage stand” and “are you separated” and then I was blindsided and angry when marriage consoling was “going well”. Really?!? O…kay so you have no intention of leaving her, only cheating. Got it.

    But that was on me. I should have asked. I should have read between the lines and used critical thinking.

    Critical thinking is what snapped me out of it. I asked myself “Where is this really going? Do you want to be Mrs. Cheater the Third? With 4 (!!) step-children? No, no you don’t.”

    Women, when a man marries his mistress, he creates a job opening. How he treats the women in his life, including his family, coworkers, and ex wife, is how he will eventually treat you.

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  5. fuzzilla Says:

    I can’t believe she didn’t use a fake name. Would it not be juicy enough to sell as an anonymous piece..? That Justin Timberlake .gif is absolutely perfect. May have more thoughts later.

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    • BTownGirl Says:

      THIS. As Moxie demonstrated, anyone can now pull up the kids’ names and pictures. Gross.

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    • UWSGal Says:

      FYI one of the conditions of NYT Modern Love submission is that no fake names or composite characters may be used. That said, what compelled her to write this piece is a mystery to me. The author must be a masochist or something, she should have known that married women would hate her guts and trash her all over internet

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      • fuzzilla Says:

        She could’ve sent the story somewhere that did allow that, or…not written it. Even if you don’t think she did anything else wrong (and I get it, relationships are complicated, he’s the one who took the vows, etc.), it was really trashy to name names, especially if there are kids involved.

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  6. Parenting Says:

    Accepting a date from a married man is easier than explaining why dating a married man is wrong? What? What?

    He isnt just another married creep hitting the bars alone trying to cheat on his wife? He is a man who loves his children? What? What?

    I really hope she can dig into this same bag of delusional BS when he is cheating on her.

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  7. Selena Says:

    “Accepting a date from a married man is easier than explaining why dating a married man is wrong? What? What?”

    I considered skipping the rest of the essay after reading that part – kinda wish I did instead of plowing through the rest of it. I found this an icky read. I didn’t come away from it thinking it was “An optimists guide to divorce” – the author was not the one going through a divorce – it read like one long rationale about how being “the other woman” worked out well for the whole family! Cough, cough.

    And if nothing else, it seems premature to present this situation as a “happily ever after” piece. If Josh and Beka are only recently finalizing their divorce, Josh and Elizabeth probably haven’t been together for more than a couple years.

    Maybe a future essay from her will be about turning out to the transitional lover? Or perhaps, ” I Thought The If He Cheats With You, He Will Cheat On You Adage Would Never Apply To Me…Until It Did.”

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  8. Yvonne Says:

    I really had to wonder about all of the author’s contradictory statements in this piece. All the idiotic rationalizations were enough to make one’s head spin, “…I agreed to meet him again, mostly because it was easier than explaining why I wouldn’t and because I was certain I would never have an affair with him.” Not too hard to call bullshit on that one, right? While she many not be responsible for the husband’s shitty behavior, she certainly is responsible for her own choices.

    Reading about the wife’s glowing assessment of her life and her marriage in the blog post that Moxie linked to made me think about the men I’ve met through online dating who stayed in sexless marriages for several years. Usually, one or both parties stayed for the sake of appearances. If something was wrong, they were in denial about it. A few men told me that their ex-wives just wanted to stay married at any cost, no matter how bad the marriage actually was. The blog post was 4 years old, but I’m guessing that the ex-wife is still in denial, and so is the girlfriend.

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  9. Mandy Says:

    “But I agreed to meet him again, mostly because it was easier than explaining why I wouldn’t”. I do NOT get this. How hard is it to say, no, you’re married. If you want to date someone, get a divorce first. I don’t date married guys.

    “He wasn’t a creep or even a cheater.” I guess it depends on your definition of creep, but he his LITERALLY a cheater. This makes no sense.

    “Josh wants you to meet our girls, but I need to get to know you first.” This makes sense to me. Of course she wants to keep the upper hand on who is spending time with her daughters. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the bitch who started sleeping with her husband, and everything to do with ensuring her daughters are not used as pawns or treated unfairly.

    “The one thing I don’t know, and may never know, is whether our bond is genuine affection on Beka’s part or the result of her sheer will to make this work, to avoid falling prey to bitterness, to refuse to be a victim.” UGH, she’s clueless. It’s not about any of those things, this is so self-centered! The writer has her head so far up her own ass here she can’t see that Beka is doing what she needs to do to give the kids a stable environment.

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  10. coffeestop Says:

    Beka has just decided to be the adult, she is likely eyerolling privately about her kids having to deal with this crazy bitch. Josh will get bored and move on to the next woman. The reader comments mostly roasted the author. That she needed to chronicle and justify this experience is what made me call her a crazy bitch. Most people do not want to publish and memoralize their questionable decisions. As the kids get older they will hate her.

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