About a year ago, my younger sister (L) called me with some disturbing news. She told me that my older sister, H, would likely be calling me to tell me about an affair she’d been having. L had just hung up from listening to H tell her about an affair she’d been carrying on for months with a guy in her running club, a guy she was now in love with. She went on and on to L about how in love she was, how happy she was, etc. and all L could do was keep herself from throwing up.
I didn’t wait for H to call me. I called her immediately and asked what she had to tell me.
Same story, same enthusiasm, same nauseating love story about how her husband no longer “gets her” and that this new guys does (of course he does). She had no shame. She wanted me to be… happy for her. After all, “I supported you when you got messed up with that guy 14 years ago who was married.” A – he said he was in the middle of a divorce (a lie), B – I was 24 and it was 14 YEARS ago and I was in a rather severe bout of depression, and C – “you should never have supported me in that.” Just because she supported me 14 years ago in the biggest mistake of my life (when I had no husband, no kids of my own) did not mean I had to support her tearing her own family apart.
Her husband knew about it because he’s a web security professional and knew how to intercept her emails when he suspected something was going on, and she was INFURIATED by his betrayal. HIS BETRAYAL. How dare he betray HER like that! Holy hell, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was ready to move out and leave the kids with him, and a few weeks later, that’s exactly what she did.
My sister left her children to be with a man who then denied the affair to his own wife. He denied it at first, but then blamed my sister for it because she “pushed him into it” (of course she did. Good god, man!). My BIL got involved and shared the emails with the other wife and to prove that they were both very willing, active participants in the affair. What a hot mess.
My sister eventually moved back home because life without my BIL was rough (that’s what we all think, anyway. He filed legal docs to prepare for divorce and locked her out of his inheritance, his life insurance, his retirement from that moment forward, etc.). My BIL did the right thing – he kept the house (on my dad’s legal advice) and the kids and kept life going for everyone while she got her shit together and figured out where she wanted to be. He’s a patient man, my BIL. I don’t know that I could have done what he did. I always say that people make mistakes and I’d do anything to save my marriage, but man alive, that man paid dearly to keep his marriage.
During this entire time, my sister kept saying, “I deserve to be happy. I deserve to have the life I want.”
My next door neighbors are newly separated. She kicked him out after lots of counseling and when he said the one thing he needed from her was to stop putting him down. She kicked him out almost immediately after that marriage counseling session. Now, we don’t know what all goes on in their marriage, but we do know that she’s frosty and always acts annoyed by everyone around her, including our kids. We do know that her husband would do anything for anybody (and has helped us out quite a bit in a pinch) and is a friendly, genuine guy.
We didn’t know about the separation until our other neighbor told us, but I did wonder what in the world was going on over there. He would swing by during the day quickly to mow the lawn, which made no sense, or stop by to let the dogs out and then go back to work. I didn’t think anything of it beyond the fleeting thought that it was strange and I certainly didn’t mention it to Hottie. But I did see something from her that made me raise an eyebrow, but then I dismissed it because I figured I had to be wrong.
Hottie came home a couple of months ago from visiting with the neighbor across the street. “Have you heard about W and A?” he asked. I said no, because I hadn’t. He filled me in on the separation and asked if I had any clue. I told him that I saw something from her just one week earlier that raised suspicions, but I wrote it off because it wasn’t my business and I could easily be reading into things. I had seen her come home in some guy’s car, into her garage, and unload her bike from his bike trailer and flirt back and forth with him a bit. I figured it could be a coworker or something perfectly innocent, so I brushed it off. I didn’t even tell Hottie about it until he asked me that night. He was stunned that I had seen this and not mentioned it, and that I’d seen her husband stop by to mow and let the dogs out during the days, but never said anything to him about it. I know he doesn’t like it when I gossip and I figured he wouldn’t want to know about it, so I didn’t mention it.
Since then, she has had this man, and other men, coming and going from her house in the broad daylight. She sometimes acts weird when we’re outside and they come and go, but mostly, she acts like it’s OK. Our neighbor across the street keeps in touch with her husband and said that he does know about the guy(s) and is devastated by everything. While W lives with his parents, devastated by his ending marriage, his wife A is out and about dating very openly. She is bringing men into her husband’s house. It is so strange to me.
There’s been a lot of cheating going on around me in the last 1-2 years. People I know being badly hurt by it, the cheaters expecting me to keep their secrets, kids losing the family life they grew up with. I don’t understand it. Every single time, it’s cheating that is justified by the cheater because, “they deserve to be happy.” My question to my sister was, “what makes you so entitled to your fleeting definition of happiness, but your kids and husband don’t deserve that same entitlement?” My own MIL defended my sister with, “she deserves to be happy in the way she wants to be happy.” (My MIL is a man-hater, by the way. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned that before. If I would cheat on Hottie, we’re pretty certain she’d probably say that I deserved to be happy and it was his failures that drove me to do it.)
Why are people so shameless with their cheating these days, when it wasn’t like this 10, 20, 30 years ago? Why is the quest for individual happiness more important than family happiness? When did people become so selfish, willing to risk their family’s embarrassment and humiliation for their own open happiness?
I just don’t get it.