“She is dating a co-worker of mine. I see them together everyday while I am here and they flirt with each other right in front of me.”
“And you have been married how long to this woman?”
“So, you were married a month ago and already she is cheating on you?”
“She says she isn’t, but at the end of her shift she goes home with him for the night. She has told me that nothing is going on.”
“Have you known her for awhile?”
“Yes. We have a two year old son together.” He pulled out his phone to show me a picture of himself and an adorable red headed boy.
“Was she like this before you got married?”
“She flirted with men, but it wasn’t like this. She won’t let me touch her or kiss her. She is like a totally different person.”
“Who helps you with the baby?”
“Her parents do.”
“Have you discussed her behavior with them?”
“Yes. They don’t approve but they told me that they love their daughter and it wasn’t their business to get involved in our marriage.”
“Did you tell them you might divorce her?”
“Yes, and they told me to go ahead with whatever I felt was right.”
He continued talking about how miserable his life was with this person.
“She tells me that nothing is going on, and that I am being unreasonable about all of it. She took off her wedding ring because she said she has a rash on that hand and can’t wear it. Everyone here at work knows they are together. This guy has had four kids with four different women.”
Alarm bells and red flags!
“Why are you still with her? I know you just got married a month ago, but what keeps you in this marriage?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I love her.”
“That is admirable of you, but do you see that you are being used? She is carrying on with another man while you are working, raising your son and she is making you out to look like a liar while she is cheating.”
He fiddled with his wedding ring spinning it around on his finger. “I know, but I love her.”
“Are you happy? Is this what you consider marriage?”
“No. But I love her. I want to punch the guy in the face everytime I see him.”
“What about her? She is participating along with him.”
“I know.” I saw a few glints of tears in his angry eyes.
“I am not trying to tell you what to do. I have been through a divorce and it isn’t fun at all for anybody. This person is married to you and using it as a front to be with someone else. Is this really what you want out of life?”
“No, I didn’t think it would work out like this at all. I thought things would be different.”
“Then maybe your next step should be to pack it in, start fresh, raise your son and move on and let her find her way.”
“I can’t. I love her.”
No matter what I said, it came back to this same answer. This conversation began when I had gone to the front desk of the resort where we were staying to pick up a card that would offer me discounts on area attractions. Little did I know that the representative behind the desk would begin telling me his whole life story.
I had simply asked for my card, told him the neighbors above our unit were extremely noisy and the next thing I knew he was unloading his pain on me in massive doses.
“If you are this unhappy now, what will it be like ten years from now? Will she go to counseling with you to get help?”
“No. She claims she isn’t doing anything wrong so she won’t go with me.”
“What if she gets pregnant with this man?” At this, his neck became red up to the roots of his hair.
“I am worried that might happen.” I sensed the slight tremor of fear.
“You have to take some time and think all of this through,” I said. “I have to say you are doing the best you can in a very tough situation.” He thanked me for listening, and I began my walk down the long hallway.
I have had situations such as this happen over my years where someone I don’t know very well will begin to spill very serious and intimate details of his or her life. Usually, my inward reaction is shock, and I want to check my shirt to see if it reads: Please tell me all your problems right now!
I cannot explain it fully, but while those emotions are going on, something else takes over. I often feel a calm settle over me as I listen, ask questions and try to sort through the mess. On the outside it appears that I am cool and collected while many times I am thinking,
“What is happening?!?”
As I walked away from him I began to think of how I had ‘trapped’ myself into situations over the years. I think many of us get our hearts set on something and even when it is going very badly, we cling to it hoping things will change. We make up stories in our heads and dismiss the fact that our problem is in fact our unwillingness to look things squarely in the eye and make a decision to save ourselves from agony. Sometimes, as in this man’s case, it is too painful to acknowledge the pain.
I believe in prayer. I do believe miracles can happen. I have experienced prayers being answered in ways where things that were not serving me were removed. I have prayed for burdens to be lifted and to walk in freedom only to find that I was hindering my own progress by not letting go.
As I approached the door of my condo, I saw a couple walk by holding hands and having a lively conversation. You know the kind where you can feel the electricity in their attraction as they talk and walk. I thought of the wounded and dejected guy behind the desk. This is what he was longing for deeply but missing it because his partner was not on board.
I thought about the vow he had so recently taken about being together “until death do us part”. I never used to think of it this way, but there have been times in my life where something has ‘died’ so to speak, and I have not wanted to part with it.
Relationships fizzle out when one doesn’t reverance and honor the other party. A picture comes to mind of a shell on the beach that has washed up without the creature inside. The housing still exists but the contents are empty. It appears that you have stumbled upon a treasure but when you flip it over you realize that whatever lived there before is gone. The shell is just a remnant of the life that was.
I send my best prayers to this man who so deeply loves a woman who does not love him back. He deserves a good outcome that is more than living life like an empty shell.