Divide and Conquer

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How to deal with a wife who strays.
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I suppose most men learn their wife is having an affair by arriving home at the wrong time, overhearing an imprudent conversation or finding physical evidence like soiled panties. My enlightenment was different: my wife sent me an email.

Actually, Ann didn't email me intentionally, although Freudians might say otherwise. My guess is that her email program automatically suggested my name as her intended addressee and she clicked it without checking. That's certainly easy to do, especially if you're in a hurry.

Whatever the case, I was bemused to receive a note from my wife of eighteen years entitled "About Yesterday." Since "yesterday" was a rather ordinary Wednesday, I wondered why Ann would write me an email about it. Opening the message, I found the following:

Darling, I just had to tell you again how wonderful yesterday afternoon was. You made me feel things I hadn't felt in years. I can't wait till next week.

Your Sexy Lady

I had been at work all day Wednesday and, as far as I knew, so had Ann. We hadn't even spoken on the phone that afternoon, although I did recall her being unusually cheerful when she got home that evening. Furthermore, "Sexy Lady" is not one of the terms of endearment I use with Ann.

The ugly explanation I leapt to seemed inescapable, and my first thought was to confront her that evening and demand an explanation or, more likely, a confession. But I am a logical and methodical person. It took no great imagination to suppose that she might deny the implications of the errant email, make up some alternative explanation, or simply pass the whole thing off as a joke. What could I say then? Moreover, my fruitless accusation would put her on alert, and any chance I might have of uncovering the truth would almost certainly be lost.

After further consideration, I decided to adopt a wait-and-see approach. First, it would be interesting, even amusing, to see if Ann realized her mistake and would initiate an explanation on her own. If not, I had been put on alert and had been given a schedule for her next assignation. That was information I intended to put to good use.

Ann sells real estate, so her hours tend to be irregular. This evening, she got home well after I did. I watched her carefully but found her behavior absolutely normal in every way. If she was aware that she had mis-addressed her email, she gave no sign of it. I, in turn, made no hint that anything was amiss. The whole evening was routine, but when we went to bed, I found that sleep would not come.

Instead, I lay there wrestling with my problem, looking at it from every angle to see if I could unravel the knot. One possibility, of course, remained that there was a completely innocent explanation. If this were so, I would not only make a fool of myself by acting rashly, but I might even do harm to our marriage. I loved my wife, and the last thing I wished was to do something that might drive her away from me. Alternatively, if the email was indeed the "smoking gun" that revealed an affair in progress, then my marriage was already in jeopardy, in which case I would have to take action.

Just because I try to control my emotions doesn't mean I don't have them. As I tossed and turned in my bed, the pain of my wife's possible betrayal ate deep into me. After lengthy consideration, I concluded that I my only option was to put the issue aside until I could obtain more definitive information. Fortunately, that's something I'm able to do, and once I reached that conclusion I soon drifted off to sleep.

Once I got to work the next morning, I mentally reopened the issue. In the light of a new day I realized that the coming Wednesday should provide some answers. Accordingly, I contacted a detective agency and made arrangements to have my wife followed. If she did nothing out of the ordinary on Wednesday, that wouldn't absolutely ease my fears, but I would certainly feel better. However, if she engaged in unfaithful behavior, at least I would know the truth and could begin to take appropriate action. Having done all I could do at that point allowed me to set the whole matter aside and go back to my work without distraction.

From all outward appearances, the following Wednesday was exactly like any other. Ann and I left for work as usual and returned home late that afternoon at almost identical times. There was nothing about her appearance or behavior that struck me as abnormal or unusual. I sat in the den reading my favorite collection of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and did my best to conceal any signs of my own unease and suspicions.

On Thursday morning I had an appointment with the detective agency to learn the outcome of their surveillance. While I am not a very emotional person, I can still read emotions in others. When I walked into the office, the detective handling my case avoided making eye contact with me. I knew immediately that I would not like what he was about to tell me.

It was as bad as I had feared. Early in the afternoon, my wife had left the real estate office where she works, and the detective had followed her to a cut-rate motel near the airport. He handed me pictures showing her meeting a man there and entering a room with him. The time stamp on the photo read 1:52 p.m. Approximately two hours later, another photograph showed the two of them leaving the room together arm in arm.

"I'm sorry," the detective said to me. "We always hate to be the ones to confirm your suspicions. What would you like us to do for you now?"

I thought about it for a minute. "I need your help one more time. It would appear that this motel is the scene of their regular assignations. If that's true, is there any way you could arrange to get photos of what happens inside the room?"

The detective didn't hesitate. "We have a lot of experience obtaining such evidence. There will likely be an additional charge for ensuring the cooperation of the manager of the motel, but if that's acceptable to you, I think we can guarantee satisfaction."

I nodded. The cost would be cheap in exchange for the proof.

I returned to my office but this time found to my surprise that I was unable to concentrate on my work. Now that all doubt had been removed, my ability to compartmentalize my thoughts seemed to have vanished. Finally, I gave up trying to work and began to focus on what I had learned. Wiping my eyes, I began to make plans.

In addition to the confirmation of my wife's infidelity, I felt I had also discovered why Ann had happened to send the telltale email to me instead of him. It turned out that I knew her lover -- he was our neighbor, Mark Bradshaw. Since my name is Mack Bishop, the email program must have suggested my name after Ann had typed in the first two letters. Very careless of her not to double-check, I thought, but I suppose lust has a way of distracting lovers.

Knowing the identity of Ann's lover further increased my sense of betrayal. Mark and his wife Bobbi were friends of ours. We'd often dined at each other's homes or gone out to movies together, and I'd never noticed any special spark between Ann and Mark. Had I been blind, or had the two of them practiced the art of deception well? Whatever the case, I knew that I had to do something. The question was what.

For several hours I mentally flitted among numerous courses of action. At times, fantasies of revenge played through my mind, only to be followed by scenarios in which I imagined myself pleading with Ann not to leave. Questions about why the affair started and how long it had been going on plagued me. Anger and self-pity danced with one another in my thoughts.

Finally, I came to a conclusion. I not only knew what I wanted to accomplish, but I had a pretty well developed plan for achieving my goals. My campaign would involve two separate courses of action that would take place simultaneously. I thought of them as divide and conquer: divide the two lovers and conquer her heart again.

For the divide part of my plan, I would use my knowledge of Ann and, to a lesser extent, Mark to drive a wedge between the two of them. With any luck, I could thwart their relationship until they decided to call it quits on their own. The second part would involve an all-out campaign to win back Ann's affection by becoming the perfect husband. At the same time that I was showing her the downside of her relationship with Mark, I hoped to show her the benefits of resuming her relationship with me.

I made extensive notes for myself, listing possible actions for each part of my campaign, planning their timing and working through the interdependencies so that each would complement the other. When I had finished, I saw that the essential element for both was the need to pretend total ignorance of their relationship and to keep them unaware of my knowledge. Obviously, this would require a lot of restraint on my part, but I felt that I could do this. I'm good at not showing emotion.

I decided not to initiate my campaign until after the next report from the detective agency. But there were steps I could take in the interim to prepare. First, I purchased a recording system for our home phones, along with a voice-activated recording device which I concealed in Ann's car. Tapping our home phone covered that channel of communication, and while I couldn't tap her cellphone, I felt that the car was the most likely place for her to make cellphone calls to Mark. I didn't worry about her calling him from work. The agency had an open plan office, so I reasoned that she wouldn't be likely to hold a conversation with her lover in a place where she could so easily be overheard.

My next step was to make changes to Ann's email. Her home computer was already set up to access her work email account. She'd password-protected her system, but I knew where she kept a list of her passwords, and it didn't take me long to gain access. I quickly arranged for a copy of any messages she sent or received to be forwarded automatically to my account.

Once I had access to her email, I soon learned that their affair had apparently been going on only a month or so. That suggested they were still in the "honeymoon" stage of their relationship. My challenge was to engineer an early end to the honeymoon.

Having completed the preliminary work, all I had to do was wait until the detective agency produced photographs of their next liaison. In addition to stills, they surprised me by delivering video and audio as well. It wasn't a pleasant surprise.

I had steeled myself to see them having sex. What I had not expected were the displays of affection and -- dare I say it? -- love between them. The depth of their intimacy cut deep. It made me wonder if my plan had any real chance to succeed. But I finally decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and so I recommitted myself to the course of action I had planned.

My wife is not a patient person, and she doesn't handle disappointment well. I hoped to use that weakness against her to disturb the relationship she had developed with Mark. At the same time, she is very much a romantic, and I felt that might be the path for the other part of my plan.

Having a copy of all her emails gave me a decided advantage when it came to planning my program of interference. Their next exchange gave me everything I needed to commence the "divide" part of my plan.

Ann: Are we still on for Wednesday?

Mark: Absolutely! Same time, same place. Can't wait!

On the day of their next rendezvous, I took a late lunch and drove over to Ann's office, parking around the corner out of sight. Once she had she returned from lunch and gone inside, I casually strolled past her parking lot, took one more look around to be sure the coast was clear, then ducked down beside her car. It took me only a minute to unscrew the valve cap on a tire and let the air out. Then I returned to my car and drove back to my office. Without a membership in AAA and no men in her office, I wondered what she'd do.

Sure enough, twenty minutes before she was supposed to meet Mark at the motel, I got a frantic call from Ann. "Mack, I have a flat tire, and I'm supposed to be at a showing in a little while! Can you help me?"

"Don't worry about a thing, babe," I told her reassuringly. "Work is pretty light today, so I can fix it for you. I just have to wrap up one thing here and then I'll be right over."

Of course I waited for another fifteen minutes before leaving, which meant I didn't get to her agency until nearly the appointed time for Ann's get-together with Mark. I found her waiting impatiently beside her car.

"I'm sorry to be so late, babe," I apologized. "That took longer than I expected."

As she paced back and forth in frustration, I slowly and methodically changed her tire. I had parked my car directly behind hers so I could load her flat tire in my trunk and take it to get repaired. Of course that also prevented her from leaving until I was good and ready. By the time I had put on the spare, gotten the flat tire into my car and had come back from washing my hands, it was well over an hour after the time she was supposed to meet Mark.

I apologized to her again for taking so long, and told her I hoped this wouldn't affect her relationship with her "client."

"He'll just have to understand," she said resignedly. "Sometimes these things happen."

While I was changing her tire, I had heard her cellphone go off several times, but although she checked it, she never answered. My guess was that she saw it was Mark calling and didn't want to speak to him in front of me. My suspicion was subsequently confirmed when I got back to my office and saw the anxious email between the two of them.

Mark: Where are you? I waited at the motel for over an hour!

Ann: Arrgh! Had a flat tire!

Mark: You could have at least called to let me know. I rented a room for nothing.

Ann: Mack was here changing the tire. Couldn't talk to you in front of him.

"Good," I thought. "It looks like I've introduced a little tension into their plans."

That night after dinner, I made a point of ushering Ann to the sofa, where I proceeded to place her feet in my lap and give her a foot massage. She looked at me quizzically because she usually has to ask for such treatment. "I know you had a frustrating day, babe, and I just wanted to do something nice for you," I told her.

She looked at me to see if I was implying anything more, but when I continued to smile and work on her feet, she relaxed onto the sofa. Soon I saw a look of pleasure cross her face, and as I continued massaging, her little groans of pleasure were sweet music to my ears.

Not wanting to be too obvious, I waited the rest of the week before my next action. Then on Monday I had a large floral arrangement delivered to her office with a card that read, "To the best wife a man could have."

If she felt any twinge of conscience at the irony of my card, she concealed it well. But she did thank me profusely when she got home that night, and told me how impressed the other women in the office had been. "But what's the occasion?" she asked. "You never did anything like that before."

"That's exactly right, sweetheart," I told her, taking her in my arms, "and that's something I want to change. What if you'd had that flat tire while you were driving on the highway? That made me think how precious your love is to me, and I wanted to be sure you knew it."

She looked at me searchingly, but after a moment's hesitation, she threw her arms around me and hugged me tightly. "That's so sweet of you, honey. That really means a lot to me." I couldn't help wondering if she was feeling any guilt.

My continuing surveillance of her email again paid off again when I learned that the lovers planned to make up for lost time at a special get-together in a few days. I wanted to disrupt their plans, but this time I felt that it might be suspicious if I tampered with Ann's car again. Accordingly, I let her go off to her rendezvous without interference; however, I made it a point to follow, staying well back to avoid being spotted.

While she was entering the room Mark had reserved, I pulled around in back of the motel and entered through a side door. The motel was downscale enough that there were no security cameras to record my pulling the fire alarm in the corridor.

I had already driven off before the fire department arrived, but I waited down the street long enough to watch the guests being herded to safety out in the parking lot. I didn't spot Ann and Mark, but I knew they had to be in the throng, probably mad as wet hens.

Back at the safety of my office, I watched with glee as the emails flew between the two frustrated lovers:

Ann: What a cock-up! I'm so mad I could scream!

Mark: I'm sorry, but it wasn't my fault.

Ann: Next time, book some place that's not a firetrap!

"That's my Ann," I thought to myself.

When she got home from work, I could see that she was still seething. But that changed to surprise when she noticed that the dinner table was set with linen napkins and our fine china. And when she smelled her favorite dish simmering on the stove, she looked at me with mock disbelief. "Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?" she asked with a big smile on her face.

"It's nothing," I said modestly. "I called your office about something this afternoon, and when they told me you had an afternoon meeting with a client that ran late, I figured the last thing you'd want to do would be to come home and cook."

I saw a fleeting look of fear pass over her face, but she recovered well and threw her arms around my neck. "That is so thoughtful of you, honey," she said. "You treat me so well."

After dinner, I made a big point of refusing to let her help with the dishes. She gave me a look of gratitude as I ushered her to the den and turned on her favorite tv program. I felt her eyes follow me as I returned to the kitchen, and I decided that the "conquer" part of my campaign was moving ahead nicely.

Whatever reservations Ann might be beginning to have about her affair, the next email I intercepted to her from Mark made clear that he was not to be deterred by any temporary setbacks. He wanted another taste of my wife's sweet pussy, and he intended to up the ante to get it.

Mark: OK, no more cut-rate motels, Sexy Lady. This time I've booked a room at the Hyatt. Finally we can spend some quality time together!

Ann: That sounds much better. See you there at the regular time.

As I read their email exchange, I cursed Mark's persistence and rued Ann's willingness to continue with their interlude. This would call for different measures.

I waited until the afternoon of the day before they were to meet, then called the Hyatt's reservation desk. "This is Mark Bradshaw. I have a reservation for a room for tomorrow, but something came up and I won't be able to make it after all. I'm afraid I'll have to cancel the reservation."

"No problem, sir," the reservation clerk replied. "In fact, we have a big convention booked, and your cancellation will really help us."

I smiled in satisfaction.

Even though I'd tossed a monkey wrench in the works, I couldn't resist showing up at the Hyatt just to watch what would happen. I found a chair with a view of the reception desk and used a newspaper to hide myself.

Sure enough, right on time the adulterous duo made an appearance, walking hand in hand, chatting and cooing like lovebirds. Their amorous mood didn't last long once they learned they didn't have a room. "But I made that reservation days ago," Mark yelled at the hapless clerk.

"I'm terribly sorry," the poor girl apologized, "but according to my screen your reservation was cancelled."