A few days ago, my next-door neighbour from Toronto called to say she was in town and did I want to meet up with her and a couple of friends for dinner. Sure, I said with delight!
I love this neighbour and her husband. They were totally kind to me when my marriage broke up, really looking out for me and telling me they never thought my ex was good enough for me anyway, and they took my cats in for the first six weeks that I moved here. They were also just one of those couples that really seemed in synch even though she was almost 20 years younger than he was. They had an ease and affection around one another that was really adorable.
I think you know where I’m going here.
One of the “friends” turned out to be a 30-year-old Zimbabwean guy. My neighbour, who’s 46, announced over dinner that she had left her dear husband for him, had vacated their lovely house to live in his one-bedroom apartment in a seedy part of downtown Toronto. I was stunned. Firstly, the guy was a dickhole, very young as in all possessive and jealous every time she mentioned her husband, saying he was “not a good person” simply because he’s hurt and mad that she left him. Secondly, her sweet husband! He used to bring me bowls of cherry tomatoes and raspberries from his garden and totally keep an eye over me and my house and the kids when my marriage broke up. I am SO sad for him.
I am never, ever judgmental about these things, but I just felt so weird through the whole dinner. The only thing she had to say about her husband to back up her boyfriend’s assertion that he was a “bad person” was that he had trouble with confrontation. The new guy is bad news, I can tell immediately, and that poor 65-year-old man, sitting up there alone in their house, heartbroken and thrown for a loop. I don’t know why it’s bummed me out so much, but it really has. And I noticed all the stupid things people say when they’re trying to justify ripping someone’s life apart. She honestly pulled out the Woody Allen line: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” And also: “I have found my soulmate.” “Marriage isn’t about a piece of paper, it’s about the heart.” Yada yada yada.
You know, we all feel that way in life for someone. We do. I feel that way myself. But does that mean you run out on the person who has loved and cared for you and stood by you? I have been on both sides of this debate, and it’s currently a question I grapple with due to my own romantic situation, but to me, even if it might not be in my interests right now, the answer really should sometimes be no. She has known this guy for seven months. You leave a loving marriage and destroy a kind-hearted soul for some guy you’ve known for seven months? I don’t know. Maybe I am judgmental. But it seems to me a 20-year marriage deserves more than that. You weigh the decision to leave it long and hard; for years, even. You give it time to come back. And if you decide to opt out, you make sure it’s for someone worthy. Don’t you?