“Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to witness together this Man and this Woman drowning in holy matrimony.”
The couple was seated at the dinner table in their darkened kitchen. They sat quietly facing one another as if they were old acquaintances, instead of a couple on the verge of yet another year of marriage.
She couldn’t stop staring at him, looking intently at him because he was brand new in her eyes. The truth he presented her with has tarnished him and she couldn’t stop staring blankly across the table at the man who vowed to love and care for her “as long as we both shall live.” She opened her mouth, her stomach wanted to release a scream, she stifled it allowing instead, the gaping hole in her heart to muster a few tiny words…
“I can’t believe you let that woman into our lives…” she squeaked.
He sat motionless, feeling fully an anchor of shame pushing down on his lungs, gripping the desire to scream at her that none of this would have happened if she had remained the same woman who vowed to “love, comfort, honor and keep him.” He sat in rigid resignation as his sacrament of penance. No word, no phrase, no sentence could remove the betrayal nor ease her pain yet no words said prior were strong enough to prevent it. So he spoke the only truth he could see.
“I never wanted to hurt you…”
The incredulity in her eyes flew across the table landing a stinging slap to his senses. “Never wanted to hurt me?” she repeated then repelled the words simultaneously. “You let some woman into our personal life!!!”The pressure of denying a defensive strike was building inside her pretense of civility, and the weight of the embarrassment this would cause her came rushing to the surface. Do you promise to love, comfort, honor and keep her…he is laughing with another woman… Do you promise to love, comfort, honor and keep her… he is crying with another woman… Do you promise to love, comfort, honor and keep her…he is confiding with another woman… Do you promise to love, comfort, honor and keep her…he is sleeping with another woman… Do you promise to love, comfort, honor and keep her…he is LOVING another woman!
The vibration of his cell phone dissolved the silence. He pushed the ignore button and quickly slipped the phone into his pocket.
He couldn’t find the base in his voice when he asked his wife “What are you thinking?” He couldn’t read her face, she just sat there staring at him with that look. She use to give him a look, but it was transparent with love, lust, like. Her look use to settle on his heart and move him to action. He was beginning to feel less shame and more indignation. After all he didn’t go out looking for this woman. It was the farthest thing from his mind at the time. He hadn’t been happy for a long time but she never wanted to address his issues. Every other issue under the sun she could address but his issues with her were always conveniently set to the side. He really did not want her to feel this hurt. He didn’t wish pain on her but he was at the end of his rope with her. He took care of all the responsibilities of the house, he paid the bills, he never before. How long was he supposed to live in misery? How much humiliation should he bear begging for sex like a teenager? When did laughter and relaxation become the enemy?
He looked around the kitchen at the pots and pans cleaned and neatly placed in their pegs. He couldn’t remember the last time he came home to a wife standing in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a home cooked meal. He couldn’t remember the last inside joke shared between them, the last time she shaved her legs for him…or went down on him without a haggle and negotiation beforehand. She was just sitting there not saying a word, but he knew her thoughts were circling like a flock of osprey. He knew his wife and she just couldn’t bring herself to talk to him like a human being. She just sat there in the clothes his credit cards bought her, clicking the nails he paid for, tapping her foot in yet another useless pair of shoes she keeps buying like she has six fucking feet.
His pocket was vibrating again.
Looking down at his wedding band he noticed he had taken to the nervous habit of twisting it around his finger whenever he thought about his the misery that had become his life. He looked at her wedding ring, resting lightly on her finger…he put the car he always wanted on her finger and he wasn’t driving either. He looked down at his wedding band…a symbol of the commitment they made to each other.
This broken home and her consistent negative attitude was the outward expression of the decimation of their inner spiritual bond –and right this moment…this ring didn’t mean shit.
In another part of their world, just outside of the wife’s reach – was that woman. Standing at their bar in her coat, Prada purse dangling lazily off her forearm, impatiently clicking the keys on her phone…tap tap tap…tap…tap….send. It was the fourth text message that she’d sent him and she wasn’t accustomed to being ignored. “He’s never late” she thought to herself. “He had better get his ass here and soon.”
She seated herself on the contemporary bar stool and ordered another glass of red wine. He was late and with each passing moment she was getting angry. She just knew he was being held up by…her. That stupid woman who was standing between her and her man. Ahhh! This is bullshit! She muttered to herself “Why wouldn’t he just divorce the bitch so we can get on with our life already! Damn!!” She was getting real tired of this “my wife” bullshit. She told him from jump that she wasn’t the one to mess with. She was independent and really didn’t need him; she was with him because she wanted to be with him. As the second glass of wine embraced her, she began to feel irritated. How dare he keep me waiting. I’m the one doing all the stuff his wife can’t. I’m the one screwing him like he likes it, I’m scratching his back and massaging his shoulders. I’m cooking for him and sending him love notes to keep his spirits up…not that bitch. I understood at Thanksgiving and Christmas that he had to play family man, I accepted that. I gave up New Years and Valentines – they are just stupid holidays…and we had our own Valentines and celebrated New Years in our own way…I understood all that…but keeping me waiting when I’m going out on a limb to make him happy….that’s some bullshit…
She picked up her cell phone…tap tap taptap tap taptaptaptap tap…
“Aren’t you going to answer that?” Sarcasm is the second cousin to anger and first line of defense for a devastated woman who was trembling within a myriad of emotions. This was her husband. Her lover. Her friend, and he was slipping through her fingers like sand. When she woke up this morning that last thing she thought she’d be losing was her marriage. She stared at him across the table and wondered again where it went wrong. When did she become complacent and how did she let this happen. Life was normal this morning. She wanted to go back to this morning, before that note slipped out his pocket. She can still see it falling to the floor as he walked out the door. He was rushing as always and never even noticed it.
She picked it up and intuition told her what she needed to know before she ever read it. There in her hands, in her kitchen, in her home another woman’s loving words wrapped it’s hungry legs around her husband and she felt like a stranger had broken into her house and gone through all of her personal things.
It felt harsh.
But oddly it did not feel like the end.
To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part.
It felt like a wake up call.
This wasn’t how it was suppose to go down. This was his life. His wife and he wasn’t ready to walk away or allow her to push him away. For the first time in months he felt wide awake. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the cell phone. He put it on the table and turned it off. He then flipped it over and took the battery out. He stood up and walked over to his wife, bending down on one knee, holding her hand in his, he put the battery into her hand.
He found the base in his voice when he said “We have to address what’s happening in our marriage. You need to know why I did this, I need to know why things have changed. This isn’t going to be comfortable for either of us. I broke our vows and your heart…if you want to deal with it, as it is, for what it is…then let’s do that…if you believe our marriage can not survive this…then put that battery back in my phone and I will walk away.”
She gripped the battery with all the energy she could muster. She thought if she squeezed it tight enough it would stop the tears from cresting and spilling over onto the lies she was holding in. The lies about being happy, content, and fulfilled. She was tired of faking her life, pretending to be satisfied then just giving up hope that it would happen. Tired of asking for money, begging for comfort, there was so much she hadn’t confided in him, so much she needed from him and instead of letting him in – she shut him out.
She realized she didn’t want to go back to this morning because her normal was assisting in the decay of her marriage.
She tucked the battery in her pocket and looked at her husband. He looked into her eyes and saw transparency.
Her look settled on his heart and moved him to action.
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:6
Now…the disclaimer here is that I’ve never been married (so I have no authority over this subject) and this story is a figment of my imagination. I created this story because lately I’ve been talking to several married, divorced, separated people and a few “other women”. Given that, here are my questions:
- Is this story a Fairy Tale or a possibility?
- Is infidelity the cause or a symptom?
- Can a marriage survive infidelity?
- Can couples look past what they think is the immediate problem and get to the core issues?
- Or is surface, superficial pain always going to win?
And the big question…
- How do you think this story will end?
Iya Isoke © 12/12/09 All rights reserved