A friend of mine sent me an instant message this morning. She wanted to pass along the link to a blog written by a mutual acquaintance. This mutual acquaintance, a 54 year old woman I'll call Wanda, had just announced that she and her husband of seven years would be getting a divorce. It is to be Wanda's third split.
Over the years, Wanda had impressed me on several levels. When I first "met" her online, Wanda weighed about 300 pounds. Her husband was also a very large man. Wanda was very open about her sexual preferences; apparently, she and her husband were swingers and had an "open marriage".
Anyway, Wanda made a concerted effort to lose weight the natural way. She exercised and dieted and stopped eating any white foods. Come to think of it, that's kind of a clever thing to do. A lot of white foods are full of sugar and fat. She stopped eating white bread, white potatoes, white sugar, white flour, milk, cream, white rice... you get the picture. She ate a lot of protein and stopped indulging in carbs. And she lost a lot of weight, but not as much as she wanted. So a couple of years ago, Wanda and her husband both had bariatric surgery. They both lost lots and lots of weight. Wanda is now literally half the woman she used to be.
About a year after her surgery, Wanda announced that she had found herself a "boyfriend". She was still married to her husband, but was hopelessly attracted to a man named "Jay". She asked her husband permission to date Jay... claiming that she didn't love Jay the way she did her husband, but was intrigued by him. Wanda's husband apparently told her it was okay to date, though his non-verbal cues were evidently telling a very different story.
So Wanda proceeded to date Jay while remaining married to her husband. She claimed that Jay was really just a fuck buddy. She compared him to her gay friends and even said she wasn't attracted to him. She said Jay didn't find her attractive, either, and that her husband's feelings seemed to range from being okay with the situation to just merely coping with it. Wanda assured everyone that her marriage was still strong and asked people not to judge her or the strength of her relationship with her husband.
At one point, Wanda told us that her husband had actually said he didn't want her dating. But even though he had supposedly asked her to cease and desist, Wanda kept up her extramarital relationship. Just a couple of months ago, Wanda insisted that her marriage was still strong. But now she's getting a divorce. Wanda's husband has packed his bags and left.
I think I know what Wanda wants. She wants validation and consolation. She wants people to tell her it's not her fault. She wants people to recognize all she's been through and excuse her behavior. She feels entitled to the break and she expects people to respect her. And yet, I don't think she's been very respectful herself.
From the very beginning of this saga, Wanda's husband was not enthusiastic about his wife dating other people. But like a lot of people, he had evidently been taught not to say that outright. Or maybe he's learned that telling Wanda "no" would not be met with a very positive response. Maybe he realized that Wanda was going to do what Wanda was going to do and he just had to put up with it. Whatever really happened, Wanda's marriage was not as strong as she claimed it was. It is now over.
It occurred to me that Wanda's mindset seems to be like that of a lot of entitled people. She seems to think she's different than other people and is entitled to different-- *special*-- treatment. Perhaps she thinks that no one can understand her or her situation and that she should be free to do as she pleases without fear of judgment or disapproval... because she is entitled to that much. Somehow, she deserves a pass that the rest of us don't.
Personally, while I grant that I don't know Wanda's husband or what he's like to live with, I think Wanda's behavior toward him was very disrespectful. From what I gathered, Wanda's husband was clear that he didn't want her to date outside their marriage, even though they'd been swingers. He eventually said it was okay-- but it appeared to me that he said that because he knew that forbidding her not to date would not be effective. A few weeks after Wanda had breathlessly told us about her boyfriend, she said that her husband was "coping" with the dating-- which doesn't make me think that he really appreciated or approved of it.
I think Wanda needed to hear her husband tell her not to date, but she had no intention of honoring his request. She wanted her husband to tell her he valued her by not giving her permission to date... but she also wanted another man to tell her he valued her by expressing a desire to date her. And she gave into the other man because the relationship is new and exciting and fun. Her husband's relationship with her was old hat and unexciting.
Wanda's marital relationship may not be fulfilling or interesting; but why get married if you want to date other people? Why disrespect the institution of marriage by being intimate with another person? If that's what you want, you should be divorced or single, which apparently Wanda will soon be. And you shouldn't expect other people to validate your disrespectful behavior, nor should you excuse your actions by saying "He said it was okay!". I think Wanda knew very well that what she was doing was not okay. Otherwise, she wouldn't have told us about it the way she did... with lots of rationalizations and explanations and descriptions...
When it comes down to it, this is Wanda's marriage and her life. What she does is not my business. Being disrespectful seems to be Wanda's forte.