This affair really is the gift that keeps on giving. It just seems to poke me and cause me to re-evaluate every belief and every decision I have ever made about my marriage. Although J insisted that he had told me everything – not just everything that I “needed” to know, but everything that had happened, he actually listened to my “anything that you don’t tell me now will come back to bite you in the ass – maybe next week, maybe next month, maybe ten years from now – but it will happen and we will be back at square one AGAIN” speech. He came back and volunteered that he had given her presents. This from a man who had not given me a real present in YEARS!!! And not just impersonal grab off of the shelf presents, but thoughtful presents that reflected what he really thought of her. He actually sent her a framed print that belonged to US and was a part of a shared spiritual experience. At the infamous second visit, the “break-up” visit, he took her flowers (silk because “she doesn’t like live ones – it is too sad when they die”), a copy of his master’s thesis, and a collection of fossils and artifacts.
I swallowed it all, because it is not fair to ask for information and then throw a fit when I get it, but I think another piece of me died at that point. Actually, the idea that he would give that particular print to anyone without talking to me first really hurt, but I really cannot express the pain that I felt when I realized that he had given it to his mistress without even thinking of me or my feelings because he believed that she was somehow more spiritual than I was. The copy of his thesis actually made me laugh because such a gesture is so him, even though I understood that he did it because she had expressed so much interest in and admiration of his work. The gifts of fossils and a rock collection were a response to the same expression of interest. After all, her son had been telling her for years that she should really marry an archaeologist. Since she did not know the difference between a paleontologist and an archaeologist, there was no way she could have understood the highly technical nature of his work – the work that I had listened to in the development stage and proofread through the draft stages. It also made made me furious because I had supported him from the beginning of his return to school, picked up slack at home, missed companionship and vacations without complaining, and tried hard not to make demands so that he could devote himself to his work. What had she done to deserve any part of the results of all of this work? This is a woman used to getting diamonds and other expensive gifts from men ( as she had been quick to show him).
This part of the story also made the lack of presents in my life for years seem a lot more stark. He had given me presents when we were first dating, thoughtful presents that I had loved, but those had really disappeared after we got married. At first we had no money, and I had excused it. Whenever we came into a little cash, he always encouraged me to buy myself something I wanted, so I didn’t consider it a lack in our relationship. Also, my first serious relationship, which lasted four years – some of it long distance, had been filled with presents. Stuffed animals, chocolates, and flowers came with every special occasion, along with a lot of expensive jewelry – a topaz and 18 KT gold necklace, large pearl earrings, a gold star sapphire ring, a silver ID bracelet and a large native turquoise and silver pendant to name just some of them. I also received letters and cards filled with love and flattery and steamy bits. Sounds lovely doesn’t it…parts of it were, but he was cheating on me the entire time we were together. The relationship was constantly drama filled – yelling, breaking up, slamming doors, slamming phones, followed by love and apologies and presents. Even after I moved away, the cards and letters and presents kept coming….. So, at some level I guess I didn’t worry or feel more than an occasional twinge of loss that the husband I loved so much wasn’t willing to spend the time to buy or make me anything that spoke to any understanding of who I am – his brother has always given me better presents than he has. After all, if I had to choose between fabulous presents from a cheater or no presents from a fabulous husband – I chose the husband!