I Lost Control of the Marriagebychilleywilley©
Written by ChilleyWilley. Copyright reserved.
Pandybear311 did a fine job editing this story
We married young and decided to postpone a family for a good while. You know, make some money, save some money, and see a bit of the world. We are ordinary people, neither stunningly good looking nor homely, not brilliant nor stupid. My wife is a tall slender woman, whose grand parents came from southern Italy, with clear tawny skin, dark eyes and jet black hair. She has full lips, large eyes, and a strong nose. She thinks the nose is awful, but to me it bespeaks of a strong character. She has a natural grace when she walks and moves. I first saw her from across the room and fell in love before I saw her face.
As to making money, we're doing good. We've got $100-150,000 in assets thanks to realestate appreciation, even in this lousy market.
As we have lived together for a few years, I have only two complaints. She is not as clever as I once thought and she is stubborn as hell. She's prone to making a quick assessment, and even upon reflection sees her mistake, clings to her original response. Once she gets a thought into her head, I can bury it in cognizant arguments, have her admit she was mistaken, listen to her assert to one and all my point of view as her own, only to have it rise from its grave months later. All of the dumb thoughts she ever had will probably be rattling around in her head and not leave until her last breath. This is a serious problem as I value wit and intelligence above all else.
My wife works for Bycatch Industries in Princeton, about forty five minutes away from our house. Bycatch are the fish, turtles and what not caught in fishing nets which are not commercially valuable. Therefore, they are dumped overboard, mostly dead. They amount to 70-80% of the catch and their wasteful destruction is one of the many reasons the oceans are being depleted so rapidly. We only take the fish we like and slaughter everything else. Strangely enough, Bycatch actually has nothing to do with fish or fishing. It's a Danish company that buys scrap of all kinds as well as surplus stuff and recycles or resells it. They are doing quite well for themselves.
Unlike many small European companies in the US, Americans are mostly in charge. Buying and selling, negotiating and risk taking are what they do. My wife is a well paid buyer/seller for them, a senior product manager specializing in chemicals. For example, she buys scrap methanol from a chemical plant contaminated with whatever, and sells it to...well in this case she sold it to a municipal wastewater plant where the contaminant isn't a problem. She works in a nondescript office in Princeton, New Jersey.
I rarely have occasion or the inclination to stop by her office, but right around Thanksgiving, I found myself driving by about 11:30 one morning I thought I might as well stop in and surprise Wifey. Take her out to lunch. I know a fair number of her coworkers from parties and such, so nobody saw the need to announce me. I waved to the ones I knew, stopped to chat here and there, and went upstairs into her area. I poked my head into her open office door. "Hi love! Got time for me?"
"Why Chris, how nice to see you! This is a treat."
There was a good size bunch of flowers in a cheap glass vase on her desk.
"I was going by and wondered if you were free for lunch? Say, who gave you the flowers?" Frankly they were a couple of days old but a nice bunch, probably $70-$80 delivered here, maybe a little less where we live.
"Why I thought it was you! The card said 'from your secret admirer', no name. I wondered why you didn't say anything about them."
"When did they arrive?"
"Ah... yesterday I think it was. So you didn't send them?"
"You know very well I did not. You would have mentioned it to me last night if you really thought I had sent them. Frankly, I'm disappointed you accepted them. You are a married woman who should know better. When exactly did they arrive, before or after lunch?"
"Nonsense, they're only flowers. Besides, I really did think you sent them. Why do you care when they arrived? I think it was after lunch sometime, maybe 3PM"
"Look, if you really thought I had sent them, you would have been in a loving mood last night. You said nothing and acted in a way that is unfortunately quite normal for us. So if I didn't send them, who did you suppose did?"
"Oh, I have no idea. It could have been anyone."
"Rubbish. Let's think. Your admirer has to be either a man or a woman. I mean they're the only choices, wouldn't you say? Now in my life, no woman has ever given me flowers, so we can conclude they are from a man!"
"Oh." With a look of consternation. "Right, probably not a woman."
"Presumably he sent them for a reason. He is your secret admirer. So which of your many fine attributes do you think that he admires?"
"How would I know? I don't know!"
"Give me a break, Karen! What do men usually think of when they send flowers to a woman?"
"Bingo! Women think romance. Men think fucking. So your admirer thinks you are a nice piece of ass and suspects you are a ripe fruit. Probably an insider. Someone outside the company, a supplier or customer, could hit on you without complications. But, someone inside the company might be worried about harassment charges. So they are inside, fishing for pussy, and thinking yours might be available. Now, nobody spends $70-$80 unless they have had some encouragement, some expectations that you will be receptive. So this guy is someone who's been flirting with you and thinks you're open to their suit (pun intended), but was reluctant to come right out and say Karen, you're a hot cunt, let's fuck!"
"You are so crude! I'm sure it's not that at all. Honestly, men!"
"Let me finish. You had two choices. Accept the flowers and the spirit in which they were given, and thereby encourage him to continue. Or reject them and the guy by giving them to someone else or sticking them in the coffee nook, and telling everybody in the office, and me when you got home, that whoever the secret admirer is, he's a fool and barking up the wrong tree. Further more, it was probably someone that was around here yesterday afternoon or today because they would want to have seen your reaction to them. You know, see if the fish has swallowed the bait...which you did. So, who fits that description? If you're free for lunch, we can talk about it."
"Oh, of course. I did have plans but it's no big deal, I'll cancel them. Let me make a call first. I told you, I don't know anyone that would think that of me."
"OK, but you don't need to cancel your plans, really, I don't mind going to lunch with your coworkers."
She picked up the phone as she said to me:
"It's much more of a treat to have lunch with you." And into the phone: "Hello, look, Chris stopped by to take me to lunch, so I got a better offer. Some other time? My husband, Chris! OK, see ya than."
"Who was that?"
"Oh, just Roland St Clair. He's in one of the other offices, comes to Princeton once or twice a month. I'll catch up with him some other time. You're right about the flowers. I never gave it a thought."
She picked them up, and as we walked through the office, and said a bit louder than necessary:
"I really had thought these were from you."
And dropped them rather dramatically with a loud thunk into the trash.
As we walked to the parking lot, I asked, "Ahh, does Roland fit the profile?"
"Who, him? Naa, he's just a guy I work with. Nothing special. Why are you going on so about it. It's not important, my love."
She knew who sent them, but I was not going to get a name out of her so I let it slide. We had a nice lunch. She was touchy feely, trying to reassure me that we were a couple. For whatever reason, guilt, reassurance, or the premenstrual lust, a good time was had by all that evening.
About three weeks later at the Bycatch Christmas party, Karen was circulating while I was bantering with Natalie Waskie and Julie Sullivan, a couple of her coworkers. We were people watching when a punter came in the door. Ever spot a Pussy hound? I noticed this guy soon as he entered the room. He tossed his coat on a chair and after a quick scan of the room, made a beeline to the far side of the room towards a group of three women, one of whom was my wife. Karen spotted him coming, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw her glance at me.*
The pussy hound immediately started chatting her up to the visible annoyance of the other two women. He was lightly touching her first on the shoulder, then her upper arm, not obscenely or anything, but quite familiar. Overly familiar I thought. Although she was not responding very much, she did lay a hand on his arm a few times.
I asked, "Who's that guy talking to my wife? You can almost see him drooling."
They glanced over. Natalie sniffed with a bit of contempt.
"That's Roland St Clair. He's a piece of work. He's out of the Wilmington office, but he comes up here every week or two and basically wastes our time. He spends half his day bragging and flirting...making innuendos and wiseass remarks. The idiot has been reported two or three times for harassment. Rumor is his sister is married to Sven Cedarquist, so they keep covering it up. What a slime ball. We can always see him coming 'cause he has a brilliant yellow Humvee! What an idiot!"
We all laughed at that.
"Well he looks like a pussy hound to me! I better run him off before my wife has to report him too."
Karen's pals had broken off, either to avoid Roland or perhaps knowing when they weren't wanted. As I strolled over to the two of them the wife's back was to me. I draped my arm across her neck and over her shoulder in a deliberately proprietary gesture. She jerked her hand off Roland's wrist. She was guilty of bad thoughts, no doubt about it. My right hand was around my wife but I pointedly didn't offer a hand shake.
"Hi, I'm Chris. Karen's husband. Who're you?"
"Oh, don't you know Roland? Chris, this is Roland St Clair. He's in accounting in the Wilmington Office."
"Pleased to meet you, I'm sure," says Roland.
He started to offer his hand, but realized it would be foolishand retracted it. I don't think Karen noticed.
"Do you work with Karen? I mean do you do the accounting on her accounts, and such like?"
"Oh no, my job has nothing to do with Roland," Karen blurted rather hastily. "We both like the Flyers hockey team!"
"I presume Roland can answer for himself. So you have nothing to do with Karen, business wise? Humph! News to me that she was interested in hockey. As far as I know, she's never watched a game in her life."
"Karen's correct about the job, but I'm a big Flyer's fan! Never miss a game," said the Hound.
"Well, Roland, is your wife here? I'd like to meet her. Perhaps the four of us could go to a Flyer's game. Karen and I've never been Iit'd do us good to go with people who really know the game. Should be fun." Wifey looked at me askance. My offer didn't go over well.
"No, Sandra couldn't come. The Flyer's game would be great, but she hates sports as Karen says you do. Frankly, Karen and I ought to go and leave you and Sandra at home." Wifey smiled at that one.
"Not a plan. Karen and I have been married long enough for me to learn that it's important to share activities. I use to play hockey in high school so I at least know the game, but I've never followed the sports corporations. I've always figured if I was going to cheer a corporation, I might as well cheer on one I owned some stock in. Still, rhetoric aside, I would enjoy watching a game though, especially since you say Karen's enthusiastic! I wouldn't mind that at all. If, ah...Sandra, was it? Doesn't like hockey, what sort of things do you two like to do together?"
Long face on Wifey. She doesn't think I'm doing too well here.
"Chris, Roland and his wife," I gave her shoulder a little squeeze, but she ignored my signal. "...are a little strained with one another, right now"
"Oh, I'm genuinely sorry to hear that, Roland. Can you tell me what happened?"
"Chris! That's none of our business, now is it?"
"Do you always answer for Roland? It is annoying. How can I know how Roland feels if you keep interrupting. But since you knew about it, Roland thinks it's your business. And since married people have few secrets, it's now my business. I mean, why did you bring it up if you and he didn't want to talk about it?"
"Oh really! Why are you being so rude? Roland, let me get a few drinks into him and we can talk later." She actually drug me by the sleeve over to the bar, and ordered drinks for us. Hmmh! She was on a rip. Obviously I had provoked her more than I expected.
"OK, so what's the cause of Roland's problems with his wife? Is he running around on her?"
"Chris, I can't talk about them. It's confidential. Roland certainly doesn't want his marital troubles spread throughout work, now does he? Roland's going through a rough time right now and I'm just a friend and being supportive."
"Karen, I can understand here in this crowd may not be the time or place to talk about this, but if you think me indiscrete or that I can't keep confidences, then you really don't know the man you married. It is not only reasonable, but right that you should share with me what another man tells you about his intimate relationships.
"First, you are not a marriage councilor and often such tales serve to lower the barrier between proper and improper relationships. Secondly, it is tempting for you respond in kind and talk about your marital difficulties. This is fine if you are talking to a good friend who has no self interest in your marriage,someone who unquestionably has your best interests in mind.
"I believe you started to have Roland's best interest at heart and wish to reconcile Roland and his wife. Unfortunately, it is a short hop to feel sympathy for Roland and provide comfort to a person who is hurting. He is after your pussy. I think he wants to drive a wedge between us...split us so he can have you. His comments and advice are not in your best interest.
"And lastly I'm a man and can give you a man's perspective on this. I would be reassured if you were able to be open with me about your relationship with Roland, that your being supportive would not go too far."
"What are you accusing me of here, huh? Come on, out with it. Do you think I'm screwing him? Is that it? Well, I'm not! You've been on my case all evening. What is it with you?"
The guilty flee when none pursue. She was sucking her drink down like water. While I dumped most of my drink in a half empty beer glass, she was scanning the crowd. This was a night to be cold sober.
"I am not accusing you of screwing him. I'm advising you of a threat to us. Look, let's talk about this later. Neither of us wants to have a public brawl. Come on, let's dance, love." She finished her drink and I swallowed the few drops remaining in mine for show before we went out onto the floor.
She wanted another drink and like before, drank hers quickly while I too a few sips and dumped the rest. Back on the floor, she softened up as we danced a slow one and I whispered endearments into her ear. The next dance was a fast one, which isn't one of my talents but I hung in there. The second one was fast as well. The next thing I knew, Roland was bobbing and weaving beside me. Quite a good dancer, I must admit.
I have to give him credit for brass balls. After a minute or so, he wedged in front of me and Karen began following his lead. I reached over to Roland and dug my fingers between his triceps' muscle and the bone hard enough to hurt, perhaps leave bruises. I pulled him to me to speak in his ear just soft enough so Wifey couldn't hear, but with all the music, it was loud as hell to him.
"Piss off, asshole. You can cut in on my wife when you come on to the floor with your own wife. Meanwhile, stay the Fuck away from Karen! Send her any more flowers, and I'll stick the vase up your ass. Understand?"
He glared at me, tensed as though he was going to fight. Then he ducked his head and walked away.
Karen could guess what I said and got in my face about it, started to rip me a new asshole for being belligerent with poor Roland. I could see others were noticing so I took her firmly by the upper arm, no bruising, just a firm grip, and muttered into her ear. "We need to talk someplace where we won't be making a scene in front of your coworkers. Smile as you go outside with your husband!" as I walked her out to the parking lot. "Poor Roland. He's so lonely. I am only trying to be his friend.You know, help get him and his wife get back together. You're so crude, Chris. You've no reason to be mean to Roland. Don't you ever talk to me or treat me like that again. I'm not 10 years old..."
"Cut the bullshit! You're blind here. Let me tell you how it is. Like that old song, 'He ain't nothing but a hound dog, Been snoopin' round my door."
"Those aren't the right lyrics. It goes 'You're nothing but a hound dog, crying all the time.' My mom was an Elvis fan and sang that song all the time. Besides, Roland has a right to be sad."
"I was quoting the Eric Clapton version. Everybody has a right to be sad. Look Roland's snooping around your skirt and you know why. His troubles with his wife are because he's been fucking other women and I am sure you're not the only one he's trying to hook up with."
I was speculating here, but I think I had his number.
"I would rather you stayed away from him altogether, but you do work for the same company. You both admitted he has no business reason to visit you, so you're not obligated to waste your time entertaining him or go out to lunch with him. I gather he travels to your Princeton Office regularly. He's trouble looking for a home and he's not getting in the middle of our marriage."
"Chris, I'm an adult. You will not tell me who I can talk to!"
"Karen, I've never, in all the years we've been dating or married, given you a direct order but I am now. Put up with him in public because you have to, but you are never, never to be together by yourselves outside of work. No just the two of us lunches, no drinks after work, no riding in cars, no phone calls, no email, no instant messaging. Do you understand?"
She started crying, which merged into blubbering and ranting. She wasn't very coherent, and I wondered if it were just the alcohol
As I pulled out of the parking lot, she jolted uprignt and cried:
"Wait, wait, my coat's in there. Stop. We have to go back."
"Your coat will be there tomorrow. You can get it then. Did you understand what I said a moment ago?"
"Look, goddamn it! You take me back there or else when we get home, I'm going to get in my car and drive right back here by myself."
"Fine by me. If you still want to go back to the party when we get home, I'll drive you where ever you say you want to go. You're upset barely coherent, and had a lot to drink. Roland's bad news. I love you and will not give you up without a fight."
She sulked the rest of the way home. When the car stopped in the driveway, she bolted out of the car, stormed into the house, headed directly upstairs, slammed and locked the bedroom door before throwing herself on the bed. I heard the thump. I wondered if I had been too forceful. Now Roland was the victim and forbidden fruit is sweet. No point in checking the home computer. They could IM and talk all day on their work computers.
I thought about the situation half the night. I wasn't going to give her up without a fight, but if I lost the fight, she was out the door. I would need to get the credit card information together and do a credit check to find out what cards we had open. I would need to cancel the joint ones. I needed to apply for a couple of cards in my own name. See the damn lawyer. At least I knew where the bank accounts were. Shit! Shit! Shit!