We had a standing appointment that was usually on Sunday’s, he was a Jew so it wasn’t his sabbath, and we had been going to him on and off for the better part of our marriage. One hour of our time with the goal of helping us to better see the other’s point of view. I had no reason to be alarmed that the majority of our marriage had been under the microscope of a therapist she said everyone should do this. Besides wasn’t I being the supportive and compassionate husband?
A speed bump that had catapulted us back into the marriage counselor’s couch was a “friendship” the Jap had kept around. Being a fitness junkie, she had talked me into getting her a personal trainer to help “get off the baby weight quicker” after Sunshine was born. As we staggered our way back to the office that day, the original workout plan of twice per week for 90 days had grown into a relationship two years in the making. Over that time she (or he, depending on how you look at it) had maneuvered her way into tacking on more sessions. But by the time we were back there now, I had put my financial foot down and the training had ended… but the friendship remained.
After the training had stopped she had gotten a part time job at his gym and they would periodically go to lunch together with my 18 month old little girl and now my newborn son. Being too focused on other things, like keeping us in our lavish lifestyle I didn’t take the time to get to know him and saw it as nothing more than a plutonic innocence. Her phone would ring in the evening and she’d say they were gossiping about work and being that trusting husband I had no reason for suspicions. While our marriage wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, we ate dinner as a family, had consistent date nights, went on vacations, slept in the same bed nightly, and had a sex life that would be described by most professionals as healthy. Wasn’t that the textbook marriage?
They say counseling can provide turning points in a life and on this day we achieved one. Apparently, yours truly, had more of a problem with the Jap’s friendship than he was originally willing to admit. What came out on this day was I felt their friendship was coming between our own relationship and I didn’t appreciate her sharing our personal problems with him, which I found out she was doing. I felt their relationship had taken precedence over ours. So with that baggage fully unpacked it was the following exchange that, looking back, signaled the beginning of the end:
COUNSELOR – “from what he is saying to you, this relationship is threatening to him and he feels it is coming between you both. I think it’s best for your husband and your marriage that you end it immediately”
Jap – “Well, that’s just not going to happen”.
Six months later she had filed for divorce and immediately began dating the old friend who would eventually become her new husband - The Trainer.
Some might say that I was blind to reality, living in a state of denial, or simply paying to little attention to even care. Honestly, there is some truth in all three. I was blind to reality, she was my wife and I trusted her, I had never experienced divorce in my family and believed marriage was for good. Possibly my lack of reality did cause me to turn a blind eye or even shove my head in the sand that something wasn’t right with this picture. But continuing to provide the lifestyle that we had was a big deal to me, it made me feel good about myself. And besides, we were living the American dream on steroids; who in their right mind would walk away from this?
I’ll never know if their friendship during that time was more than plutonic, but one thing is for certain. Their emotional affair, which she admitted too, couldn’t have been any less damaging to our relationship than if they had taken it all the way, in our bedroom, and I had walked in on them. Humans are highly emotional creatures, when we begin to share our joys and fears, loves and hates, and intimate relationship details with non-professionals of the opposite sex, outside that relationship, feelings are destined to get involved. Sharing inner secrets helps to build a bond between two people; vulnerabilities are discovered and when we share our weaknesses closeness will always be the result. This principle will impact a relationship whether it is a marriage or just a committed dating relationship.
In my story, what started as a innocent business relationship become something much more. Feelings got in the way. He became her ‘go-to’ guy; instead of talking to me or her girlfriends about our problems she would talk with him in hopes, as she put it, of getting a male’s perspective. Her need for a guy’s point of view ultimately led to feelings strong enough to break off a marriage and separate a family forever. That day she made the relationship of a friend more important than the relationship of a husband. I hope for their own marriage she does things differently this time.