Apples and Oranges, Wives and Girlfriends

By Cheryl Lavin

February 14, 2014 4 min read

Ethan and Elizabeth were married for 15 years. One day, Elizabeth rolled over in bed and said, "Let's end it." "End what?" Ethan asked. "The marriage," she said.

"I wish I knew why," Ethan says now. "I didn't beat her, we were well-off, we belonged to a country club, we traveled all over the world, I was a good father, and she had as much freedom as any woman I know. We had a joint checking account, and whenever she overdrew it, I went out and made more money and filled it up again.

"But she had been seeing a therapist two or three times a week for years, and her life became totally wrapped up in it. Between the therapist and her girlfriends, she didn't need me anymore."

Ethan didn't take the breakup well.

"It destroyed my whole image of myself. There was a lot of anger and guilt. I wanted to kill somebody. I wanted to kill myself. For six months, I was really depressed. I started using cocaine just to get up in the mornings. I lost a lot of money because I didn't give a damn about my business anymore. The best thing that happened to me was that after about six months, my sex drive came back and it forced me out of the house."

Ethan went after the flashiest girls he could find, preferably ones whom his wife knew — his son's teacher, a school counselor, a fitness instructor at their racquet ball club.

"I wanted to make my wife jealous, and I wanted to feed my ego at the same time. I dated a girl for six months who I never even liked, but she was the cutest thing around. I liked being seen with her. I went from one woman to another. I must have gone though nine in six months."

That stage is over. For the last year, Ethan has been seeing one woman steadily. She's a year older than he is, divorced for 11 years, with two children of her own.

"On our first date, she told me one of the funniest dirty jokes I've ever heard. I thought, 'This girl's too good to be true.' We were on our second date, and at one point I said to her, 'I think I love you,' and she said, 'Does that mean you'll call me again?' I love her sense of humor and our love life is as good as I imagined when I was 18. Better, because we're both more experienced and less inhibited. We're like a couple of teenagers."

Ethan says he can't compare this relationship to his marriage. They're too different. "It's like apples and oranges. My wife was part of a time in my life that can't be repeated. We raised children together, we went from poverty to wealth together, we tasted sushi for the first time together and saw Europe together. You can't replace that.

"The woman I'm dating is very sophisticated. She's used to dining in the best restaurants and traveling. She's dated some very important men. We met at such a different time in our lives.

"I know if we do get married, I'll be a better husband. But that might not happen right away. We have issues to work out with the kids, and I'm not pushing it. It's great the way it is."

How would you compare you marriages/relationship? Send your reply, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my new website askcheryl.net.

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