I know several people who have ended their marriages, to the complete shock and bewilderment of their spouses. In several of these cases, the ender turned on the endee, blaming him for it all (not all the enders were women, but the blamers happened to be). Marriages do end of course, and sometimes that’s for the best, and I’m not going into all that – and, before I go further, this is a judgment-free zone as far as I’m concerned and I’m meaning no more than I’m actually saying. It’s just sad, that’s all.
A few years ago, I changed hairdressers. The previous one was a nice girl, married young, with two children, and she used to chatter about family life. One visit, she did nothing but grumble about her husband. ‘Hm,’ I thought. ‘She’s having an affair or she reckons he is.’ The next visit, she said she had turned him out of the house. The next visit, she told me the whole story. A bloke had stopped to let her across the road, with her pushchair and little boys and later saw her again and gave her his phone number. She was flattered and sent a text and it followed from there in the usual pattern. I heard the latest edition every few weeks and it got more cringeworthy every time.
I didn’t stop going to the hairdresser from moral indignation, but because the whole thing was such a car-crash. It was obvious that the bloke had targeted her because she was obviously in a relationship, with little children and he thought she might be a. up for it and b. committed, in the long run, to her family – that is, he was safe from any demand for a long-term monogamous relationship. He then spent the next six months trying to get her to chuck him by being generally unreliable. It was embarrassing to listen to, because she didn’t realise how much she was giving away in what she insisted on telling me, and her hair-cutting skills went right out of the window. It was half an hour’s drive away, so in the end I found a local hairdresser, whom I like very much and who isn’t nearly so chatty.
Other family break-ups seemed to follow much the same pattern. Either one of the pair started seeing someone else or, for whatever reason, decreed that the marriage was at an end, without any real explanation, and within a short time started seeing someone else (usually known to them already).
I came to the conclusion that their pattern of thought went something like this
1 I fancy someone else!
2 Goodness, I’m having an affair! (this may come later, in which case all the other numbers shuffle up and this turns into 5)
3 But bad people have affairs. But I am not a bad person. I have high moral standards and I always vowed I would be faithful within marriage.
4 Therefore, for me to do a bad thing, not being a bad person, there must be something seriously wrong with my marriage, or otherwise I would not even be tempted.
5 It’s my spouse’s fault, because I have already reasoned that I am not a bad person, and yet it appears that I have been made unhappy and discontented. The marriage is at an end, but I am entitled to make demands that might seem quite unreasonable were anyone else to make them, because it is all my spouse’s fault that I have been driven to this.
Maybe a little more self-knowlege and cynicism might not come amiss. Perhaps for the sake of the children, at least? In every recent situation I’m referring to, the children were between 6 months and 7 years old.
In case there is any doubt I am not having, and am not planning to have, an affair. Indeed, I haven’t even been propositioned recently. I mention the subject only because of a conversation I had with a friend this morning.
If you’ve come in search of Mozart, my sincere apologies, there’s nothing for you here. But isn’t soave sia il vento the most sublime aria ever written?