“I’ve heard that relationships with married men are the most fulfilling,” a single woman said in response to a married man’s claim that all married men eventually consider an affair. I grumbled and rolled my eyes, so she asked,
“Have you ever dated a married man, Stephanie?”
Her question took me right back to the first day of that relationship.
I was singing along to the car radio when I realized my turn was approaching, and I would need to swiftly change lanes to make it. At the red light, I glanced over to the driver on my left, hoping to make eye contact and convey my intentions. He smiled back and sent sparks straight out of his eyes and into my belly, igniting the fluttery wings of 45 butterflies.
I returned a flirty smile and gestured my intention to move into his lane. As the light turned green, he paused to allow me in front of him and then moved into the lane I had exited. At the next red light, we shared smiles, and sparks, again. I made my turn, and waved goodbye.
I parked at my destination, a couple of blocks down, and slowly climbed out of my car, hopeful the gorgeous human would find his way to me. I spotted his black SUV driving toward me, and walked up to him as he pulled up curbside.
“My how swiftly one becomes a stalker,” I teased through his rolled down passenger side window, his sun-kissed handsome face smiling back at me. We chatted for an hour, making us late for our next appointments, and bid farewell by making a date to get together the next day.
The romance whirled around us each time we met for coffee.
He was smart, successful, handsome, and charming. He thought I was amazing and spared no compliment currency. He was as perfect as men come, if not for one exception: he was married. But he was on the brink of divorce, he explained. He was still living in the house, but in a separate room and was actively searching for his own place.
I wanted to share the relationship with my friends; I hoped to go out in public without worry that someone might see us who hadn’t been caught up to the reality he was living. For the time being, we needed to keep our connection to ourselves.
He’s worth it, I told myself. He’s worth waiting for.
Our feelings had grown stronger, and he even admitted he was falling in love with me. We both agreed we hadn’t felt such magnetism toward anyone in a long time, if ever.
Several weeks into the relationship, I was home, stirring taco meat as I made dinner for my children, when the phone rang.
“What kind of a woman are you, what kind of mother are you?” the woman on the other end asked coldly.
The heat of my heartbeat surged through my body and burned, along with her words, into my ears.
“I’m sorry, who is this?” I asked.
It was my secret beau’s wife. They were still working on the marriage, she said, and weren’t anywhere near the end . . . and it certainly wasn’t helping that some jezebel was in the picture, trying to tempt him away from his wife and children.
As though I had fallen into a hornet’s nest, her words buzzed from all directions, each delivered with a thud and a sting.
Why hadn’t he warned me? I was his sweetheart. A woman like no other, a beautiful light in his every day. And he couldn’t even send me a quick text about life hitting the fan and an angry wife trying to send me into anaphylactic shock with her words?
I’ll never forget the many ways she chose to question my character that day.
But I listened as she became sick with her emotions. I wasn’t an intentional home wrecker, I said, enraging her even more. The scent of burning, popping taco meat brought me back into the moment around me: my children had gathered in the fringes of the kitchen, their big, batting eyes full of concern.
“I’m really sorry about this, but I need to go,” I said.
“I just want to know why,” she demanded.
“I think that is a question you need to work out with your husband,” I replied.
I wanted to share all of the things he had said about the demise of their marriage, but I realized I had already become far too entrenched and it was time to get out. Regardless of what Mr. Amazing had shared, I had chosen to step into the muddy water of their marriage.
The moment I hung up the phone was pivotal in my life. I will never forget her voice, her pain. I had always prided myself on having an outstanding moral compass, and I’m ashamed I allowed selfishness and temptation to spill over and hurt others. I take my role as a member of the Sorority of Sisterhood seriously and, with each day, as I hear and share the stories of women, as I represent the women in my region as the editor of a woman’s magazine, and as I blog on the adventures in womanhood, that commitment to you has never been clearer.
I have vowed, without question, to never entertain a relationship with someone who doesn’t have miles of distance between us and his last committed relationship. I vow, without question, to honor the bonds of womanhood.
You have my word. Do I have yours?