I don't remember exactly when his attentions started shifting, but I believe it was somewhere around our ninth year of marriage. It's a familiar tale, the kind I've often read about in the "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" column in Ladies Home Journal, a magazine I sometimes thumb through at the doctor's office instead of studying the "Are Hormones Right for You?" and "Talk to Your Doctor About Overactive Bladder Relief!" pamphlets that are always strewn about.
The ironic part of this whole mess is that I was the one who her brought her home in the first place. And soon after I unwittingly hooked them up, my husband began disappearing for hours on end, with no explanation beyond "going out for a drive." Like many men who find themselves with midlife dual allegiances, my husband would sometimes use the kids in his ruses to spend time with her, telling me that he was taking our then-toddlers to Stew's to visit Henrietta the hen and pick up some Pull-Ups, forgetting that Henrietta's house was closed for the winter and that he had already stockpiled enough training diapers to last our sons through college, if not beyond.
At first, I decided to ignore the signs of his increasing commitment to her. I tried not to appear hurt when Brian balked at the cost of my upkeep, such as hair coloring, manicures, gym membership, and the occasional massage, while he spared no expense when it came to hers.
But my husband's relationship with her was sometimes rocky. More than once, she left him by the side of the road and he was forced to call me and meekly request a ride home. And by always rescuing him, I became a reluctant enabler, swearing to myself and to him that this was the last time, and I really meant it. As time wore on, his connection with her grew more and more pricey, and though he sometimes forgot our major milestones, like the day we became a twosome, and where we went on our first out-of-town adventure, he never forgot the ones he spent with her, thus exhibiting a major case of male selective memory.
After several years, I finally turned to some close female friends for advice. "Just ignore it. He'll eventually get bored with her, they always do," explained one pal before adding, "Besides, do you really want to be on the market at your age? You've got baggage!" I was wondering if she was referring to my two college-bound children or my dark under-eye circles, which were always peering through two coats of maximum coverage concealer.
But my friend was wrong. He stuck with her for nearly 18 years, and he was a most dedicated supporter when her health eventually declined. And when the news was terminal, he spared no expense to keep her going. I began to respect his dedication and wondered if he would treat me the same way when I began falling apart.
And then one day, just like that, he came home, on time, no trace of her scent on him, and confessed that sadly, it was over. He planned to donate her, or what was left of her, to a worthy charitable organization.
After the dinner dishes were cleared, and with no more bogus errands to run, I thought we'd spend some time together to reconnect. I suggested splitting a bottle of wine and perhaps catching a romantic movie on Lifetime or WEtv. But no, Brian stated that he wasn't in the mood.
So I wound up spending the evening alone in cinematherapy, watching "When Harry Met Sally" while drinking an entire bottle of pinot grigio directly from the bottle, while my husband, clearly on the rebound, was holed up in the office, logged onto Craigslist in search of a replacement ... used Volvo wagon.
Layla Ann Silver is a freelance writer whose husband once again smells of Eau-de-Armor All, and is carrying on with (or at least driving around in) another used Volvo wagon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.