~ At coffee last week, one of the regulars, a 50ish married woman sat down at the table where my friend and I were chatting. Not only was it widely known she had been cheating on her husband, she would even bring the dude she was getting hot and heavy with into the coffee house for coffee dates.
My friend and I had never explicitly engaged her in conversation about her affair (that isn’t something you really bring up in random coffeehouse conversations; “so I see you’ve been cheating on your husband” is not a very good conversation starter.
However, the other day she broached the subject; “I’ve never said anything to you guys, but up to when my husband died last month, I had been cheating on him for the past three years. We’d been married for nearly 30 years, in the beginning he was fun and energetic, but the last part of the marriage he had become dull and boring. He wasn’t interested in excitement anymore. He just always worked, and spent what little free time he had reading the Wall Street Journal or keeping up with the news”
Apparently, what began as a fling turned into an all out affair.
“I won’t try and justify what I did, but let me tell you this, as I stood in front of the coffin at the funeral……”
At this point tears were streaming down her face and she had to excuse herself to the bathroom for a moment,
“What I’m trying to say, is that now that he’s gone, I realize how much I loved him. I never understood that his way of being a husband was making sure our finances were taken care of, and that he simply wasn’t ever going to be the 21 year old I fell in love with….I never adjusted to him becoming an older man…..and now he’s gone and I’ll never get to tell him” she said
After she left my friend made the observation, “And so goes the human condition”
It is a truth of life that you don’t truly appreciate what you have until it is gone. Perhaps that is what happened to this woman; it wasn’t until her husband was gone that she finally realized what she had in him. On the other hand, perhaps that is not the issue at all; maybe she simply feels guilty in the face of his death. It is hard to know what is really going on in her mind. Suffice to say, the death of someone close to us definitely puts life in perspective.
A good friend of mine said to me, “When my mother died it entirely rocked my life. It made me question what I wanted out of life because I finally realized that I too was going to die one day“.
The reality of relationships in America is that they don’t really look like a Disney cartoon. The typical romantic comedy focuses on all the ins and outs of the initial relationship, but once the couple gets married the credits start to roll and ‘they live happily ever after’.
But that isn’t the real picture. Somewhere between 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. Massive percentages of children are raised in broken homes. And most married people spend more time playing video games then they do furthering their mind and intellectual pursuits.
In high school and college, everyone looks attractive. Young adults are reading books and thinking about important subjects. But somewhere between college and middle age, adults get into a routine of paying bills, buying clothes and cars, and suddenly find themselves looking like Kevin Spacey in the film American Beauty; a dull suburban life that offers little meaning or purpose.
People who read are often the easiest people to engage in conversation. Readers tend to know how to talk because they have filled their minds with more interesting and important fare than what a video game player gets out of the latest role playing game.
Sadly, reading is going to the wayside. The numbers are staggering; when you look at how little fiction and nonfiction books that people are reading nowadays compared to yesteryear, it doesn’t look good for the American mind.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself” said the woman whose husband died.
I think that is how a lot of people feel.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,