A Lifelong Conversation

It’s almost my 25th anniversary. For all these years, through many up’s and some harrowingly steep down’s, the marriage everyone thought would fail, has endured. When we got married, my husband and I had known each other two months. I was widowed: He’d never even come close to being engaged. I was older. He never planned on having children. I already had four. I liked documentaries: He liked sitcoms. As a character once said to her flame on my favorite-ever TV show, The West Wing, “You’re Neil Diamond. I’m Neil Young.” What we agree upon are the basic human truths of politics and good behavior. That turns out to be a great deal. 

What percentage of husbands cheat on their wives? 

What percentage of wives cheat on their husbands?

Before I looked this up … I would have said, 40% of husbands and about 20% of wives.

Turns out that experts would suggest I was wrong – that the actual total is more like only 19% of husbands and about 7% of wives. Two things then must be true here: Either I know about all of them or I have acquaintances or relatives who are particularly frisky. 

People say to me, I wouldn’t mind so much if my spouse were to physically cheat on me: If he or she were to go to a conference on a weekend trip and had a one-night stand. That wouldn’t matter to me so much, I’ve had several of my girlfriends tell me. What they would mind is a passionate email or phone friendship, what’s now called an “emotional affair,” in which the couple traded histories and dreams. 

I’m not sure that either one of these would be something from which I could move on. Commitment might not come naturally to the human animal; but what you theoretically get when you sacrifice variety is true intimacy, the lifelong conversation. Would that be possible with someone who was grazing in greener pastures? I don’t want to know.

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