On cheating...

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Slenderwife Slenderwife
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On cheating...

I've kept quiet, but the story might save someone some pain. Just don't. The guilt nearly killed me. (yes, I came clean). Even worse, I caught feelings for who I hooked up with and they were unreciprocated. Just hoping that if I put this out there, karma will smile upon me and help me heal. I still pine for him. It feels like I'm being punished.
Rea Rea
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Re: On cheating...

Don't be too hard on yourself, Slenderwife. I am just sorry that your feelings were not reciprocated - this must be incredibly painful for you. I've been there too. When you are caught up in the crazed, attraction phase, your brain chemicals work the same way, in the same brain region as when you are addicted to say, food or drugs so love is a physical NEED as well as an emotion. It becomes hard to think of anything else and the yearning feels like actual pain. So now you are dealing with heartbreak as well as guilt. There were moments when I would stay very, very still, tell myself to just keep breathing and hope to survive another day. Until I hear the pitter patter and 'Mooooooooom! Can I have....' And I have to put on a brave face and bake muffins and shit.

At this point, I will come clean myself and tell you that my then husband and I were at one point, in a consensual nonmonogamous relationship. This was his idea, after his affair, my indifference towards it and my own emotional affair. It did not work out for us in the end but it might for others, especially those who are so against the idea of divorce yet are feeling so miserable and lonely in their marriage. Who knows.
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

Thanks for these two postings, Slender and Rea.  So, the for the other side, I came very close but didn't actually sleep with the guy who I was attracted to (and who was attracted to me, but also to his very fabulous wife--lovely!).  I guess in the long run, I'm relieved that I didn't, since the hormones did settle down.  On the other hand, I can't help thinking that there's a certain creativity that comes with having one's sex life flourish, and that I'm stuck in other aspects of my life (I don't seem to have time to do everything I need to do, let alone the big creative project that is now way overdue and I should have finished long ago...), and I wonder--if I were, if I had been, more adventurous in my sexual life, rather than being ever the good girl, would it have loosened other blocks?  At least you two both stepped forward and felt, felt all your pleasures and your vulnerabilities.

It's interesting to me how the same action can also have so many vastly different shades of motivation.  There seems to me to be a huge world of difference between what you both describe and the attitude of the real quality guy who just posted about his 20 year affair.  Both of you seem to me to be sensitive seekers.

Anyhow, in this world of violence and death, I do not think you should feel guilty about seeking love.
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Rea Rea
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Re: On cheating...

Mme.X, you write so beautifully! You are a writer working on a book, I believe? I have no doubt that when you finish, it will be a huge success and that you will soon be enjoying long vacations in Bali, hopefully in excellent company. While money does not solve all our current problems, it sure is more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle. I don't you to cry, of course. I would love for you to be very, very happy and feeling oh so alive.


Slenderwife Slenderwife
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Re: On cheating...

Mme X, that last line hits reality more than you know.

It was reciprocated to some degree. I'm not sure who let go officially. I set him free to work on my shit like a grownup, not be shady. I just thought time would wash away more than it has. It's been years since this happened. I hoped the feelings would fade.
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

In reply to this post by Rea
Thank you so much for your nice words about my words!  They made me laugh, however, since, if I do manage to finish my book, I doubt it will be read by very many--too non-academic for academics, and too academic for non-academics--let alone paying my way to Bali.  However, a couple of weeks ago, I got my very first payment for having written anything--a whopping $163 one-time payment paid to me in Swedish kronor.  I waved the deposit slip around the kitchen saying, "Who's bringin' home the bacon now?!"  Suffice to say, I do not think it provoked a crisis for my husband's manhood.  And not one week later, I received a check for a bouncing $15 (deduct $3 postage!) for old stock copies of an ink drawing I did twenty years ago that someone chanced upon and then googled me to purchase.

Anyhow, feeling alive... yes... that is what really what matters.  And these days, I'm feeling kind of groggy and tired.  My big accomplishment, though, was on Sunday: finally buying two twin beds so that neither I nor my 7 yr-old have to sleep on air mattresses.  That meant getting rid of the queen bed that had been in her room.  As the nice men from Mattress Firm carted it off, and as they put in its place two little beds side by side, I suddenly realized why I had postponed the (duh-obvious) action for so long... There it went, what was once a marital bed!  As long as it stayed, it felt as though there was hope, that the problem was only one of 're-arrangement.' But watching it go was like watching my womanhood getting loaded onto a truck.  And crawling into the new litttle bed that night was so strange--talk about regression.  Of course, my daughter, on the other hand, was delighted--over the moon to get a real bed, just like mommy's, and in fact, right beside mommy's, which is just like having a sister!  Yay! We can stay up late and play!  Meanwhile, my 12 yr-old son walked in and said, "Whoa. This looks like a hotel room. Like, 'Do you want the room with the twin beds?'"

Okay, no one has to tell me that this situation is still not right.  I know.  Trust me, I know.  But it is better than having her want to sleep in a big bed with me.  

More than you wanted to know!

Anyhow, thank you for the money fantasy!  Maybe Bali, maybe a Mercedes, or maybe just a fourth bedroom, a year's sabbatical, weekly massages, and twice yearly trips to New York.  Ahh, that felt so good to think about
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

In reply to this post by Slenderwife
Slenderwife wrote
It was reciprocated to some degree. I'm not sure who let go officially. I set him free to work on my shit like a grownup, not be shady. I just thought time would wash away more than it has. It's been years since this happened. I hoped the feelings would fade.
You say a lot in a very few words.  You manage to paint a rich picture of a meaningful connection, even if it wasn't right on other levels for whatever reasons. I'm struck by your words "let go" and "free." Those are strong and liberating words, as is the fact that you don't feel the need to construct an "official" story, or to make it into a drama in which you were either the victim or the simple agent.  Maybe what you got from him you are still getting.  Maybe the feelings that haven't faded have some other purpose than wanting to get back together with him.  Do you have to see him?  My own feelings for Mr. Temptation got unsettled during a momentary flash crush, and since he lives far away, there is no danger of igniting those sparks again. And yet--forgive me if this sounds maudlin and nauseatingly cliched--once in a while, when it's going to be a hard day, I take out the shoes, the glove-leather flats, that I wore on the day we spent together walking all over Paris, and I think: "These feet were in these shoes on that day."  And it's okay.
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Rea Rea
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Re: On cheating...

This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Mme.X
No need to thank me and, oh my, you can draw as well? You are a lady with many, many talents!!! I still do believe that if you were to write a light-hearted novel that appealed to the masses, you would/could be earning millions. And congrats on your payment- it will be first of many, no doubt!

As for bed-sharing, I actually love having my daughter sleep next to me. We do sometimes stay up until late chatting and playing. I have always preferred holding her in my arms and feeling the softness of her skin than having a big, hairy and  sweaty guy snoring next to me (do all overweight people sweat so much?). His weight had sunk the mattress so that inevitably, I would end up rolling towards him in my sleep. My daughter's enthusiasm for sleeping next to me won't last long for much longer, however. She is 10 now.

But back to the original topic- I think that we, the fit spouses, are the ones who have been cheated on by our overweight spouses. I know this has been discussed before but I feel that my good years, my youth has been wasted while waiting for him to do the right thing for our relationship. And I don't much care for martyrdom. I tried my best for long enough and I have been let down too many times. So I agree with Mme. X in that you definitely should not feel guilty for seeking love or happiness. Just do it sooner than later!


Rea Rea
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Re: On cheating...

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In reply to this post by Mme.X
This makes me so sad! I too, have kept an item belonging to a long lost love. The scent of him on that scarf- I wished it hadn't faded so fast. The thing about romantic affairs or relationships that end before it has run its course is that, painful tho it is, you are left with a beautiful memory. When I get to an old age, I want to have lots of fond memories and no regrets.
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

Oh, it's not sad.  Really!  I do not feel regret or lament.  What he gave me was affirmation on so many levels that I needed so deeply, all conveyed not only by words, but by a sort of effortless charge that connected us and lit up the world.  In fact, there were also a series of bizarre coincidences (the series of sculptures we encountered would sound nauseatingly contrived in a novel, but it happened), combined with a very strange experience the day before outside Notre Dame, that made me feel that I could trust life, whatever happened.  It's that sense of trusting life that I hold onto.

But before I get too rosy, I should add that I had a hard conversation with hubby this morning.  I wanted to check in to see what was happening with the therapy he'd begun to arrange.  Nothing.  I asked what our plan was for dealing with our marriage this summer.  He replied, I don't know.  I said that I felt awkward pressuring him since it turned things into a power struggle, but moved to the question of our marital relations.  At one point I said, "Hey, I'm a hot wife and you're a good-looking man, and we ought to be able to enjoy one anther that way."  He became agitated and said: "Whether you are a hot wife or I am good-looking is COMPLETELY IMMATERIAL to me. [That hurt.] My question is how to get out of bed in the morning.  Whether I will die before [son] graduates from high school." I asked him if he meant 'from natural causes' or 'by suicide,' and he said, "Whatever."  He told me that everything is a failure.

I mean, where to reply to that?  I took the imagery angle.  "I find it interesting that you see everything in terms of tests--of success or failure.  But what if the image is more like gardening--you throw some seeds out and see what grows.  If it's not what you want, oh, well.  If it's a flower, great.  But it doesn't cost you anything to try a therapist and see what's there."

Noble try, I guess, but even as I was speaking, I could imagine his inner monologue already imagining the things he doesn't want to find or grow.

We left it neutral--there was no argument--he went to his bed and lay down, while I got my stuff together and came to work, where I do have things to do other than type these words.  But still, typing them helps.

Thanks again, Rea.
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Rea Rea
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Re: On cheating...

Yikes! That is scary. Is his depression worse lately? Is this something you can dismiss as him being just spiteful? My ex could be melodramatic and spiteful at times. He was depressed and miserable but not clinically so, so I was much less tolerant with his diatribe. Once, during an outburst, he threw a book at me (which I dodged) but I knew that was an isolated incident and I never feared for my safety. He also had a very distorted sense of what was reasonable. Actually, you could argue that reasonable people don't overeat to the point of self harm, but I digress. Stay strong, Mme.X. And trust life, as you say.
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

No, he wasn't being spiteful, just utterly desperate--at the end of his rope.  He is in the process of switching jobs, and things have been very stressful for him at work (I am so relieved that he actually applied for and got another job, because--and he has admitted as much--if he hadn't, he surely would have gotten fired for exploding at the complete jerkoramus two levels above him who is ruining his institution, truly...).  He feels easily cornered.  He is more stubborn than any human being I have ever met.  Ever.  But he then becomes one of the most reasonable people I have ever met, too.  His self-assessment is surprisingly accurate.  What is frustrating is, at heart, is fear at getting help.  He claims that he is skeptical that any help will work.  He is also deadset against medication (and, really, I'm sympathetic to his hesitation -- although it surely helps some, it also also about treating symptoms and not causes, and more importantly, it can mess with one's brain big time).  But at heart, I think, is fear.  The root of his fear--his terror, really--is hard to say.  I asked him about abuse in his childhood, but he claims not (even though his father had a nasty temper--a real loud and vulgar personality, even if educated).  But I envision him as a super-super-sensitive child, who was afraid (who is still afraid) so assert himself until he blows up.

Gotta run!  But thank you again.
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Slenderwife Slenderwife
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Re: On cheating...

Well, I laid into him tonight. I couldn't hold it back any longer. I told him he didn't work out all winter. "I was depressed because of the cold", he said. I reminded him he overate "I'm a guy. I get hungry"

What a goddamn excuse-making waste. I hate excuses. If you're not working to improve yourself, you're being lazy. He begged me to come back if he lost weight, so he just schlubs around.
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

Slenderwife wrote
"I was depressed because of the cold", he said.
That's a good one!  And no use, I suppose, pointing out that exercise warms you up...
Slenderwife wrote
What a goddamn excuse-making waste.
I got mine to admit yesterday that he likes the status quo.  "The status quo is good," he said, "It is better than the alternative."  For him.
Slenderwife wrote
he just schlubs around.
Mine is currently watching The Incredibles, which he loves, with our daughter.  When the music came on for the scene in which Mr. Incredible is working out bench pressing train cars, I heard my daughter say, "He's exercising!  He wants to get skinnier!"  "Yes," replied my husband.  "Why do you like this movie?" asked my daughter, which just about made me hold my breath. My husband answered: "Because it is about family."

But not a train car in sight.  Here's Elastigirl, over and out.

You have my empathy!
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
sexymom sexymom
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Re: On cheating...

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What you describe here , Mme.X, is exactly what I think is happening with my husband. He is just scared of confronting issues from God knows back when, and I'm left to figure it out on my own because we talk, but some subjects are not appealing enough to him, in other words, scare him shitless, if you'll forgive the expression. But of course, it's just my personal oppinion as he won't even think about going to any type of therapy or consulting a nutritionist. Thinks it's fine for me, but doubts it could help him. In spite of that, my therapist has given me some info on a colleague of hers who speciffically works with people who have weight problems. I left the info on his nightstand, let's see if he gets the point....I haven't cheated, but if things go on like this, I'm not sure I wouldn't. It's not like I'm going to go out there and find myself a man, but if that man  happened to be there...I'd rather not think of it. The temptation would be tremendous and right now, I'm not sure I have the willpower to let it go. Of course that is just wishful thinking, or unfaithful wife thinking, I'm not sure. It's like now that I've looked the problem in the eye, I cannot go back to pretending it doesn't exist and all the years of waiting and hoping and cooking healthy and being loving and supportive have suddenly come to an end, and I want results, RESULTS, and I want them ASAP. I'm afraid of snapping and blurting out "Hey, are you gonna do something about your weight problem,or can I start accepting the fact that I will either be a young widow or a young wife moving your 298 lbs body from bed to chair to bathroom?" I wake up at night sometimes panting, dreaming that something's happened to him, heart racing, pounding in my ears. I don't know if I've reached the end of my rope, but I feel it's close...
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

Hi, Sexy.  Quick reply because I have a long list of things I need to get done today, and in fact, I'm going to try not to post much this week until I get some stuff done that has been hanging over my head.  Periodically, I think breaks from MFS are healthy...

Anyhow, pardon the unfortunate metaphor here, but, I think the weight is just the tip of the iceberg...  And I also think that if we really were to go down the therapy route, I'd discover things about myself that might be unsettling, too--that I drove him into the marriage when he was ambivalent, and now I'm living with the consequences.  In retrospect, I think that because I had not met anyone else (ever) that came even close to being someone whom I felt comfortable sleeping with (terrible syntax--sorry!), and because I really thought that I could make him happy, that I was kind of driving or propping up the relationship sexually from the beginning.  So it doesn't seem fair to demand that he take more initiative now--be it losing weight, or showing more desire, or figuring out stuff about himself, which he'd rather not do.  But just leaving him also seems unfair, both to him and to the kids.

So this weekend, he rented Mrs. Doubtfire.  Hmm, I said as the whole family finished watching it, kind of a talk-to-the-puppet movie!  "What does that mean?" asked my son.  Oh, it's very entertaining, I replied, while narrowing my eyes and smiling at hubs.  Of course, I fixated on the cross-dressing part, while I strongly suspect that my husband was, as ever, focused on 'family.'  We have yet to debrief about it in private...  Anyhow, the rest of the weekend, he cleaned and cleaned--kitchen, laundry, mowing, while I had work events to attend Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and afternoon.  And this morning, once the kids were in school, I began to say something about the movie, but stopped myself.  Instead I said, "No!  I will not sabotage our Monday by getting into one of those horrible conversations about us that just puts us into a terrible mood and ruins the day.  So rather than treating the movie characters as puppets to be discussed, I'll just send love and support your way for however you choose to spend your day.  Good bye." and left.  I have to say, it felt pretty good.  I've got to do my own stuff and if the elephant doesn't want to come out of its pen, I'll just move to the trapeze.

Anyhow, about the other man thing (and then I'll sign off).  In my case, Mr. Temptation was married, and that was a huge factor for me both in how I acted and in how I now think of the situation (glad that nothing happened).  If he'd been single, it might have been a different story.  Either way, I do think that affairs are playing with fire, and some people are more easily burned than others, while some are just plain made of Teflon (which is carcinogenic, by the way).  The paradox of those of us who want passion is that we are, I think, easily hurt.  Of course, I can't speak for you.  But I can urge you to take care of yourself, whatever that entails.

Have a lovely week!
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Rea Rea
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Re: On cheating...

Polyamory, or consensual non monogamy, as I understood it, made a lot of sense. The explanation at the time seemed very.... Reasonable.  I still think it is not a bad option, although it definitely is not for everyone. It means no cheating, no hiding, being honest and open, having our sexual and emotional needs met and not having to feel guilty about it. All very good in theory. For some, it will be impossible to go against their social programming- it will feel plain wrong. Others are a bit more amoral. I am not sure if I fall into this category. I certainly don't judge others for doing what makes them happy.

 I found that I had no jealousy issues whatsoever with my then husband having a lover. Not only was I not attracted to him, I was relieved that he found happiness/sex elsewhere! He certainly seemed a lot more cheerful and interested in losing weight. I too, fell for someone.  The arrangement could have worked long term. It meant no divorce. We would have been more like flat mates co parenting. We were getting on better than before. For a while, it felt like we were having our cake and eating it too. We were very discreet; nobody else knew about our arrangement. So there was still the hiding and keeping secrets from friends and families but not from each other. Eventually, he decided he wanted a divorce so that he could have a proper relationship with this lady.

Now I feel somewhat differently about polyamory. I am very much in love with my current partner and if he started paying too much attention to another lady, I may feel jealous. I really don't want to share him with anyone else. There is something nice about being that special someone, the only one in each others lives. And not having to hide our relationship makes it even better. My take on polyamory now is that it might work for those who are very much against divorce yet feel certain amount of detachment from their partner. I suspect, however, that the fat spouse may not find it easy to meet someone new and therefore, more likely to have jealousy issues than the fit spouse.
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

Such an interesting response!  Thanks for posting it.  Yeah, you are not the first person who has suggested to me that having an open relationship would seem to be the sanest set-up if both people are happy parenting but unhappy sexually.  There's even a web site on 'hot wives' that goes into more detail on the logistics.  And I think that there are other cultures where affairs are tolerated more openly, more openly than the Puritan streak of American culture allows (which is not to say that Americans are simply puritanical, but rather that, as a culture and often in the case of individuals, too, they have dissociative identity disorder, split between hypocritical prudishness and utter debauchery).

But although there is something temptingly reasonable about polyamory, it feels like dynamite to me just for the reason you offer.  The greatest passion is just not one that admits of sharing.  But precisely the more mediocre passion is one I can, well, take care of on my very own, thank you very much.

Moreover, the greatest passion isn't just about sex, either.
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Rea Rea
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Re: On cheating...

This post was updated on .
'Tis true. I need great passion, not just sex. Going slightly off topic here. A very dear friend of mine was, several decades ago, a high class male escort; a background he is neither ashamed nor proud of and, as far as I am concerned, of no consequence. He is now a successful business man who enjoys a very nice bachelor lifestyle. He is extremely intelligent, interesting, charming, generous, well travelled, has impeccable manners and spectacular to look at (chiselled Nordic looks, rock hard body that would put even the fittest 20 year old guys to shame). Often times, we used to sit in his sailboat drinking beer or wine and talk about relationships, sex, women, and what women want. Most of his clients had been married women. I gained some interesting insight from him from our chats. Not that we ever came to a conclusion on anything. It was an on-going chat about our own experience. But it was nice to talk about it to someone who is open minded and does not judge. He is the only person outside this forum to whom I could explain the real reason for the breakdown in my marriage. We don't see each other all that much anymore. Ah, I miss him. For whatever reason, he wanted me. We had a real connection there but I knew he wasn't the one for me. He had offered me romance, passion, sex, companionship (offer still standing). It seemed perfect. But I was not in love with this man. A crush, maybe, but not in love like I am with my current partner.

Just curious Mme. X. Is your husband Nordic in appearance only? I remember reading in one of your posts that he is not a jealous type so I thought maybe he was perhaps of a 'different culture'?
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: On cheating...

What a pleasant thought--drinking wine on a sailboat with a smart and good-looking man talking about sex... that sounds almost better to me than actually having sex.  Okay, maybe drinking wine on a sailboat with a smart and good-looking man talking about sex after having sex...

Anyhow, no hubs is not Scandinavian by upbringing, only by ethnicity, an ethnicity whose American manifestation provides the very opposite influence of what it would have had in Europe.  That is, his mother was Norwegian-American from Minnesota.  His father, on the other hand, was Pennsylvania Dutch.  So hubs gets his extreme repression from his mother, his horrible temper from his father (actually from his notorious paternal grandmother, whom everyone lived in fear of).  His lack of jealousy seems idiosyncratic to me, and it is part of a larger personality trait of acceptance, and perhaps fatalism.  (Most of the time, he comes across as being preternaturally calm, unflappable, unbulliable--a kind of slow manner, even if balanced by a quick wit.  I, on the other hand, tend towards the dramatic, the operatic, the crypto-traumatic, in the manner of a small rodent dashing through foliage all day.  He used to say to me, Non ti preoccupare, amore mio [I know, I know, that sounds unbelievably pretentious, but he really did live in Italy and Greece for four years, even if the Janeites out there can only hear echoes of Mrs. Elton's caro sposo...], and it would calm me.  I used to worry about losing my mind--I lost my father to demetia the year I met my husband--and I remember thinking, if I do lose my mind, he is the sort who would take care of me anyhow.  Noble fact and still true.  But not in itself a promising model for an erotic relationship...)  

Then again, he might also be more jealous than he lets on.  

I know what you are saying about how cryptic falling in love is--just what it is that causes that click...

And I mistrust it, too.  I see some younger women falling, sometimes, for guys they worship.  I think to myself: honey, if you were the same age as he was, you'd see that he's a total nebish.  Or, dear, you think he's so brilliant, but he's actually an intellectual monster who will dazzle you with mental acrobatics while sucking your soul dry (I hope, for your sake, that at least he's good in bed).  And then I think: well, if I'm so critical, look who I landed up with!  Except I don't think it was simply a mistake.  Just partly a mistake.  And what if life is always partly a mistake?

Ech.  Must get to work.  Please have a drink with a little umbrella for me.
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
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