So one of my high school friends shared a story on Facebook this morning with the comment, “ Married or not… you should read this.” I thought it was going to be one of those lighthearted, inspirational stories, even if it started out with the husband asking for a divorce. (I Googled the first few lines to find the original source of this story. You can read it on Snopes.)
I’m reading through, and the husband was cheating on his wife and decided to leave her for another woman. The wife is angry, then tells him she’ll agree to the divorce in one month, but he has to carry her out of the bedroom every day like when they were first married. I’m thinking there’s going to be this really romantic ending where he realizes he loves his wife after all, and he’ll stay with her and live happily ever after.
It was almost that story. But then, when the husband has his epiphany moment, dumps his mistress, and runs home to reconcile with his wife, he finds her dead. She’d had cancer all along and didn’t want their son to have to deal with a divorce when she knew she was going to die.
I think this was supposed to be a cautionary tale about infidelity and not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone, but it’s really far more horrifying to me, and I’ve been in a dreadful mood since I read it.
Okay, the husband did his wife wrong by cheating on her with the other woman. But the wife hid her cancer and her respective treatment from him the whole time. I know some people believe infidelity is unforgivable under any circumstances, but I honestly couldn’t fault the husband here for seeking intimacy elsewhere when his wife never even tried to communicate to him that she was dying. She never asked for support, never had him hold her hand during chemo. But the most unforgivable part in my mind is that she didn’t tell him for the sake of their son. (P.S. When I commented on the Facebook post that it was a horrible story, my comment was deleted.)
This woman was dying – she knew it would be soon, within a month – and she never tried to prepare her son or her son’s father for this. Her son was young enough to call them Mommy and Daddy. Were her affairs in order? Did she think at all about how her husband would now have to raise their son as a single parent – without any warning? (Yes, I know that people die suddenly and unexpectedly all the time, but she knew.) As morbid as it sounds, she could have blessed the relationship between her husband and this other woman so he wouldn’t be alone after she was gone. (I want my husband to find happiness again if I die before he does. Although I would prefer he finds a widow who understands his love for his deceased spouse.) She could’ve gotten to know the woman who was going to be her son’s surrogate mother.
I cannot villainize the husband in this story the way I think the original author intended to. He wasn’t innocent, that’s for sure, but the wife was actually selfish in her attempt at being a martyr.
The moral of the story at the end about building happiness and intimacy in your marriage is admirable – it’s just not the message I got from the story itself.
Be there for each other.
Talk to each other.
Create happiness as an individual, a couple, and a family. Together.
And for God’s sake, know when something is important enough that you can’t keep it to yourself, despite any distance you may sense between you and your spouse.
Just to balance out all the negativity I found in this story, I present to you a link my husband sent me that made me smile: The Nerdiest Proposal Ever.
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