I received a phone call from a colleague today. I had been meeting with a client when he called, so I only saw his voice mail once the session had wrapped up. I checked the voice mail, and this colleague seemed very concerned about my well-being. Judging from the message he had left, it sounded as though he had heard some news about the situation between myself and my wife.
I have known this colleague for about 15 years. He is an older gentleman in his early 80s, and sharp as a tack. I have worked with him for much of the past 15 years, and consider him a trusted colleague. He also knows my wife, as the three of us have worked together; she met this colleague through me about 9 years ago, and eventually started working with him as well. As far as this colleague was concerned, my wife and I had been having a model marriage. Until recently, that is.
I wasn’t really in a space to call him back, and had about a half-hour drive to get home. On my way back, my mind went through all the gyrations as to how this colleague might have learned of our situation. The first culprit that came to mind was the “friend” my wife spent several months living with — the one who lives about two blocks from us, and who has been, in my view, Adultery Enabler No. 1. My wife considers this woman a “true friend,” and I suppose this is because she is one of the few people who does not challenge her agenda, but rather actually appears to support it. My mental gyrations included hashing out the conversation I’d be having with this woman, telling her how her behavior had violated my privacy and how she had therefore stepped over a line of professional decorum that is, well, common sense. You just don’t talk about other people’s private matters with people in that person’s professional circle.
Once I arrived home, I had a few minutes to relax, and then decided to call this colleague. He was very concerned, and said he was sorry to hear about my situation. I told him I was fine, but was unsure what he’d heard, or whom he had heard it from. He said he hadn’t heard anything specific, but had pieced his assumption together from a variety of evidence; he had also recently had a meeting with the aforementioned Adultery Enabler No. 1, whom he had asked about this situation, and this woman basically protected my wife by saying she didn’t really have any information to share. (Neat, huh?)
I told my colleague that I meant no offense, but I considered this to be a very private situation that simply was not an appropriate topic of conversation. He has been divorced twice (and about this said, “and didn’t learn a damn thing from either one”) and understood and was respectful of my privacy. I told him that all he really needed to know was that I am married and intend to stay married, and that I really could not say more out of respect for my wife’s privacy. We then discussed business.
After that lengthy discussion, he just wanted to make clear with me that he had understood me correctly: I’m married and plan to stay that way. I assured him this was the case. He said he had not heard anything specific from anyone about our situation, but it sounded like there was a separation that was ongoing, and that he had seen all sorts of Facebook pictures that seemed to support this. He said there were “hundreds of them” (this could be a bit of an exaggeration), and that they were pictures of nature, jewelry, or other things that my wife found to be beautiful or interesting. He described this as a sort of “cry from the darkness” of a person who seemed to be desperately reaching out to others in a vain attempt to find happiness.
We spoke briefly about spirituality, and he asked me if I thought it appropriate if he reached out to her. He feels himself guided by the principle that others should have the opportunity to attain happiness, and that he just wanted to reach out to her somehow. I asked him what he had in mind, and was pretty clear that there wasn’t much advice I could give that wouldn’t overstep the boundaries of privacy and decorum. He said he really intended nothing other than to reach out to her to say that she was loved and that others were concerned about her. I told him that, if this were the message of his heart, I could see no harm in expressing that, since the intention seemed quite pure.
So, I find this all quite interesting. This man has been around the block many, many times, and he could clearly see from the pictures my wife has been posting that she just seems to be very unhappy. I consider him an ally in this situation, and am quite certain that he would not say or do anything inappropriate. I’m not sure that, if he were to reach out to her, that this would be the wake-up call that she needs, but it could be one little hole that needs to get poked into her story.