Having written a book about infidelity, it is amazing how many people have approached me with stories of their own or others close to them. One of the commonalities, amongst all the differences in who, how and where, is that their partners were usually blindsided. Whether it was the husband or the wife who went looking for something outside their marriage, when they announced they were leaving, their partners had no idea it was coming.
For anyone who is married or in a serious relationship, this is obviously scary. While we like to think that we know our partners and how everything is rolling, it seems that the people who were on the receiving end also thought this and were wrong. You can never know what chance encounters or events conspire to leave yourself or your partner open to the suggestion of others. Maybe it has something to do with our age, as most people I’m chatting with are around the same age as me, nearing forty with all the kids at school, but a lot of marriages are breaking down. When I ask why, partly for research and mostly because there might be something to learn from it, the reasons seem to be something that is resolvable (he/she never listened to me) or that was present from the beginning of the relationship (I don’t like his friends/family). No one has said because they fell madly in love with someone else, though a someone else is generally there in the background.
Given the level of difficulty managing new partners and extra children of blended families, especially around holidays, you’d have to really want out to put yourself through the aggravation and negotiation stretching for years ahead. Which begs the question – was the choice of partner wrong in the beginning or do people change? Or does what we want out of relationships change over time and if your partner doesn’t flow in the same direction is it largely inevitable that you will one day look across the table and feel nothing but the desire to flee? Maybe the couples who stay together are mostly lucky, and any smugness felt at not getting divorced has less to do with any conscious decisions you have made, but that you were fortunate that events outside your control went in your favour. There, but for the grace of God, go all of us.