Take Back The Night
Three Fridays ago, our guru on relationships, joe d mango, read a letter to his wife on his popular radio program Love Notes. For the past 11 years, he had been giving advice to people who would write him letters about their personal problems. To the surprise of his listeners that friday, instead of reading one of his usual letters, he read one that he had written himself to his wife Bing. Joe felt that he had to tell his listeners that even someone like him could go through a marital crisis, but that he survived it. Here’s how his letter goes.
In our 11 years of marriage it was just the two of us. I never had a close circle of friends and she never had one either. Life for us was just “you and me,” day in and day out. We were literally sleeping beside each other for 11 years. It came to point that there was nothing more interesting to talk about. I was aware I was doing that but I never did anything about it. We were so close yet it seemed like we were so distant. Then came her new circle of friends. They recently had an elementary and high school reunion. Remember her persistent suitor since elementary days? He was there. We already had four daughters and the guy had four kids of his own. They exchanged phone numbers. They started to text each other and this bothered me. a big part of it was insecurity and other part was that she once denied that she was texting the guy. I felt bad because she started hiding things from me. Then the guy asked her if they could meet for lunch. It became a source of tension between us. I finally agreed, but before that, I told her that I felt that I was going through the same pain again. I have seen so many stories like this. If you told me the first part of the story I would already know where it would lead to. Bing accused me of being a “know-it-all” person. But deep in my heart I knew where she was heading. Why would a married guy see a married girl unless it was for business or professional reasons? Finally, even if it was against my will, I drove her to the meeting place. While I was waiting at the radio station, I wanted to call her but knew it wasn’t proper. So I just waited for her to tell me how their meeting went. When she related to me what happened I felt that she was keeping the other details. I was afraid to ask because I wasn’t prepared to accept her answers. I told her that it would be best if that was their last meeting. She got mad and told me that I was starting to control her life.
The following day, I saw a small, torn piece of paper that had the words, “lose you” in the trash can at home. I started picking up the pieces of paper and putting them together. She had written: “Felt sad because I felt that this will be our last meeting.” “Wanted to hug you…” Before I could figure out what the third one was, Bing was already at my back. She wanted to get the torn pieces of paper back. She said it was private property. We decided to talk. By then, I was able to figure out the third line: “Not sure if afraid to lose you.” She had crossed it out and beside it, she had written, “Wanted to cry.” That was what hit me. How could you lose something that’s not even with you yet? That was a confirmation that she was getting emotionally attached to the guy. We fought because she didn’t want to admit it. She said that what she had written was all about friendship and not about love. For the first time in our marriage she asked for freedom from me. For 11 years we were always together, and now this. She had discovered her own little world and wanted to explore it. I didn’t want to give it to her but finally I gave in. I told her that she could do anything she wanted and not worry about how I would feel.
In fact, I told her that I was planning to leave her and kids for a while so we could give each other the chance to be alone. We decided to give the new arrangement a try. The following day, Thursday, I went to work early and she texted me. I never answered back. When I didn’t respond, she called me. She said, “I’m sorry. I love you and I miss you.” For the first time in our mariage I said, “I love you and I miss you too” with tears in my eyes. I realized how much I loved her but I also knew how much she wanted her freedom. When I arrived at the station I asked for a leave. My boss advised me to think it over, but he said that he would allow me to go on leave. After letting it all out I felt relieved. It was the first time in my life that I asked for advice about our relationship. While I was talking with my boss, a messenger arrived with 12 white roses arranged in a basket. It came from Bing. Then a text message on my cellphone came, “I know that no material things can ease the pain that you’re feeling right now, but these flowers signify my pure and sincere intentions. I’m really sorry. Please forgive me.”
Still, a question continued to bug me: “I’m giving you the freedom. Will you choose to stay or go on?” I read the card, and it had the answer to my question: “Dear Dad, I finally realized that I made a very big mistake in choosing a newfound friendship at the expense of our long-time friendship. Please forgive me. I will always love you.” Bing called the guy and told him that she wanted to end the friendship. He said that they could just text or call each other.Bing said that there was no need. We had dinner and talked up to 1 am. It was like getting married all over again. We lost each other and found our way back. I do not want to go through the same pain again. Friday came and it was the first time in the history of Love Notes that I couldn’t do Love Notes. I scheduled a replay. When I was at the station at 9am, I composed a letter to Bing. I was asking myself, should I read this or do a replay? I chose to read the letter. It is not unusual to hear people say “I love you because…,” but this story has shown us that the deeper and greater love is having to say “I LOVE YOU IN SPITE OF…”