…Or Until A Better Offer Comes Along
It’s the holiday season and I sort of hate to do this but Good Enough Mother is going to have to bestow the second “I-call-Bullshit” award upon Carol Anne Riddell and her new husband John Partilla (Wanna see the first award recipient? Click here.
Here’s why. I came across Carol and John’s story in the Vows section of The New York Times. That’s the part of the paper that reports about glowing weddings and announcements. But this one was different; while the people in it were smiling and happy, there was an underlying theme of sadness and selfishness.
You see Carol Anne Riddell was a TV news reporter; the man she dumped her husband for, John Partilla, was president of media sales at Time Warner. The two were deeply entrenched in domestic life with their children and respective partners when they met at a function where their kids attended school. Though initially platonic, they fell in love, confessing their feelings to one another at a bar one night. ANNNNNNND this is where the music swells and abruptly stops as the needle drags across the LP playing the love ballad.
After confessing their love for one another, Mr. Partilla summed up their choices: As John saw it, their options were either to act on their feelings and break up their marriages or to deny their feelings and live dishonestly. “Pain or more pain,” was how he summarized it. I read this New York Times puff piece three times before I’d had enough. Really John? REALLY?
I’ll be honest I’m really torn about this. Part of the Good Enough Mother philosophy is to do what makes you happy. And clearly these two make each other happy. But what responsibility do you have to the other people in your life, particularly the ones who count on you? John Partilla talks about pain; but what about the pain he caused his three children when he walked out on them because he fell in love with someone else? What responsibility did these two have to their former mates whose quotes are conveniently missing from the wedding announcement?
I’m going to let you in on a secret. This piece came right on time for me. Without going into great detail (and he’ll probably kill me if he knows I even admitted this little bit) I’ve had a tough couple of months with my friend, husband and soul mate. Buff and I are coming up on 17 years of marriage. That is something to celebrate and be proud of. But it has not been easy, particularly this year for some reason. Our jobs have been stressful, the kids more demanding, our time together has dwindled and I find myself wondering, is this is all? Just a few days ago, we had a blow out so major I couldn’t even sleep in the same room with him that night. And I secretly wondered, as I tossed and turned – is this what my life will be from here on out? Is this the horse I’m gonna ride in on? What if I cut and run?
Last night, when Buff came home from work we all sat around the kitchen island chatting about everything and nothing (that was one of the things that came out in our argument, that we don’t spend enough time together as a family). Everyone was feeling good about the holidays and our upcoming trip where we’ll have more togetherness than we can possibly stand. As I looked at my husband, fatigued from the day’s work but honestly making an effort to be engaged in the conversation, I realized once again that I married a good man. Yeah sometimes he’s too tired to talk about 8th grade math with Casey or to lie on Cole’s bed and discuss attack strategy for Halo 3. That’s not really his style anyway. That’s how I do things; the fact that he relates to those kids differently doesn’t make it bad. Just, well, different.
Yes, Buff makes me angry. He also makes me happy. And without question I know he feels the same about me. You know that whole “don’t go to bed angry advice?” Well, I’ve done that more times than I can count. But I’ve also gone to bed smiling like the village idiot because of something he’s said or done (get your mind out of the gutter right now. This is sweet, not sexual).
Back to the piece in the Times for a minute. The thing that struck me about it was how they talked about “falling in love” like it was something that they had no control over. So that means this could happen again? You’re just wandering the streets of Manhattan and POW! you’re hit with Cupid’s arrow and forced to act on it? Now I’m really rolling my eyes. I’ve been married for a long time but married doesn’t mean blind or dead. In my travels I’ve come across a few hotties. Maybe if I got to know them better, feelings would develop, who knows? But are any of them worth imploding my marriage, home and the lives of my children over? In a word, no.
The way I see it, lasting love is about growth. It’s not this maelstrom that you get caught up in. Sure, that’s fun, initially. Then when you come out on the other side, your hair is a mess and with the thrill of just trying to survive over, you establish a routine. Routine is predictable and predictable can sometimes be boring. But there is also a comfort in that. Buff and I have a relationship full of ups and downs; that heart-pounding, breath-taking love has grown into a richer, deeper, more meaningful love. Predictable yes but special nonetheless.
A quote from the piece: “This is life,” said the bride, embracing the messiness of the moment along with her bridegroom. “This is how it goes.”
Well, maybe for you and your new husband Carol Anne. My messy life is worth sticking it out for, including the times I cry or am frustrated. That’s because the pendulum is in constant motion; it will swing back to the blissfully happy direction too. That, Carol Anne, is life.
What about you? What’s your take on this story and the fact that the Times glorified it with a great big glossy piece? Are you remarried – or have you ever had an affair? Fire away!