The chances that you know someone who is divorced, about to divorce or the immediate cause of a divorce are greater than you might think- well actually we all know the statistics- less than 50% of married couples stay married- and affairs are often the precursor to the end. But just this week, a couple we have known well and socialized with intimately joined the statistics- the husband had been having the affair for more than six months when his wife found out. Caught by their mutual friend who also helped keep their garden, the new woman was leaving their home one crisp afternoon.

We didn’t hear of it until a few weeks later and I was indignant that my husband kept the confidence of this unfaithful husband for even a couple of days. Questions of trust and betrayal are everywhere in these kinds of disclosures. One can’t help but wonder what other secrets may be hiding just nearby.

Still, the divorce and the affair is not a surprise. A failing marriage or relationship happens over years whether the partners are willing to discuss it or not. The wife in this situation had long given up her care of her marriage, preferring her women friends and personal interests in her menopause years. Actually the menopause itself was often blamed for the inability to keep the patience and attention that the relationship required. I often wondered how he could keep his end of the bargain going- Then she moved her sleeping space to her studio….Like I said, no surprise.

Still, the thing that strikes me is just how life as we know it can suddenly just disappear. This happens with illness too- you’re fine and then overnight- you’re not. We make decisions, take a path or sometimes just turn away at the wrong time and then everything is different- a life that barely resembles just moments before. It shocks the system and makes you realize again how grateful you ought to be and how much there is to say about loving someone. The day to day vigilance that sustainable love requires is the least we can do for it.

The alternative, where people who were once everything to each other become the ball and chain around the neck. Hard to find even a vestige of respect or kindness, which becomes the family legacy for the children. Maybe having lived that as a child is enough to keep me on my toes.

And it isn’t just the couple and their kids that experience the loss – each divorce tears at the community that the family lived in- Each family, a building block of a neighborhood or boy scout troop or group of friends. People taking sides or withdrawing because they can’t. It has been a while since it has hit so close to home.

Thoughts from your neighborhood loveologist…