"He Started an Affair on Facebook"
"I can't believe Carl has been unfaithful," said Sue, 40, the mother of 17-year-old twin girls. "And with his high school girlfriend, Jill, who dumped him ages ago!
"I never saw this coming, though Carl has been acting distant for months. I'd ask what was wrong, but he wouldn't answer. One day, for some reason, I said, 'Are you having an affair?' He got furious and stormed out. But a few weeks later I went to use the computer. The monitor had gone dark, but when it lit up again, I realized Carl was still logged on. An e-mail from Jill was on the screen. 'We'll be together soon,' it said. 'We just need to take care of things in our marriages.'
"Despite my shaking hands I managed to dial Carl at work. I read him the e-mail, and he didn't deny anything.
"I hung up feeling faint, my mind reeling: When did the affair start? How often did they see each other? I knew Jill had friended Carl on Facebook a while back, but she lives 500 miles away, in Sacramento -- though her mom still lives here in San Diego. One day last summer Carl mentioned that she was in town and that they might have coffee. I didn't give it much thought, since people are always reconnecting on Facebook. Was I ever naive!
"I met Carl on a blind date when I was 20. He immediately announced that he'd just broken up with his long-term girlfriend. That was Jill. I liked him, but I was wary. Who wants to be in a rebound romance? Still, when he asked me out again, I said yes, and this time it was wonderful. He was funny, handsome, and thoughtful, and I felt close to him almost immediately.
"We got married two years later and had the twins a year after that. I went back to work full-time after a three-month maternity leave, and in some ways that's when our problems began. I'm proud of my career success -- I manage a 15-person department for a chain store -- and I was raised to be self-sufficient. My dad left when I was 13. Mom constantly told my younger sister and me never to count on a man.
"But I am overwhelmed. Carl seems to think that a wife, even one with a demanding job, is responsible for the housework, shopping, and cooking. We bicker constantly -- about big things and little things. He can't do something as simple as fix a curtain rod without a reminder. Often he walks out of the room while I'm still talking!
"We never discuss anything meaningful. 'What time is the swim meet?' is as deep as it gets. I've lived with this man for 18 years yet I have no idea how he truly feels. And the slightest thing sets him off. I'll accuse him of not listening and he'll explode. One thing I'll say for him, he's always been there for the girls. He shoots hoops with them, makes a big deal of their birthdays, buys presents. I can't remember the last time he did something sweet for me. Is it any wonder we never have sex?
"What's odd is that when we're out with other people, we get along and I'll catch a glimpse of the witty, wonderful man I married. I can't think straight right now, but I do still love Carl and want to save our marriage."