The Infidel

My friend, wary and weary of men, came over recently for coffee and told me the details of her marriage which had gone wrong some years before I met her. I knew nothing of it.

Plunging into the middle of the story, she described a situation where her husband had declared firmly to her that he didn’t know where Connie (an old flame turned friend) was vacationing but it turned out that he did have a copy of her itinerary. She found it in his papers while she was straightening up. Once again she looked through his email. She’d done this several times over the past few months. This single time he hadn’t signed himself out and she was able to read the messages he’s stored on his computer.  Turned out the affair wasn’t something new but had been going on for years and years. A reckless romantic, he’d saved the correspondence.

She’d been barely suspicious, just mildly aware over the past few months that he was hiding something. She was floored at the reality. Later he described the incident as so emotionally devestating for her, it was like she was being sprayed with a high pressure fire hose.

The state of wrongness in the marriage had been developing for years at a slow pace. Coldness oozed into the relationship like the fog that moved into the valley where they lived. At the beginning she described a kindness and care from him but over the years most of the affection from him had evaporated and been replaced by a curious mental cruelty.

The details of his betrayal aren’t necessary for the purpose of this story; she found out that he was in love with Connie and pursued her relentlessly over the years. The only reason he hadn’t left my friend is because his love wasn’t reciprocated in kind. Connie didn’t know he was married and liked him well enough but suffered from commitophobia. She retreated quickly from any relationship that began to demand more from her than the most superficial participation. She liked being admired and being loved in a vague unreal way. They occasionally had sex but she toyed with him. She willingly accepted his many gifts and his attention which was welcomed during her needy  times and summarily rejected at others.

What amazed my friend was the level of lying she discovered used in the correspondence. He had re-invented himself over and over again in an attempt to please the woman. The correspondence, email by email, revealed one new improved version of her husband after the other. He was braver on paper than his real self, more interesting, sensitive, unselfish, better read, more loving, family oriented with a very active, crowded social calendar. All lies.

Even with all the fantasy improvements, she was still only mildly interested in him.

He continued his pursuit of Connie until my friend discovered the relationship. He finally ended it when he suddenly realized that his marriage, valued marginally while he was in the throes of the romantic relationship but he realized, of immense value to him with his family, his finances and his personal comfort,  was hanging by a thread,

What makes this a story different from all the millions of sad stories of infidelity?

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Axel and Henry


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