Looking back he couldn’t think of one thing that led him to rifle through her handbag. It was a number of things, or a culmination of things that brought him to that point. Afterwards, of course, he felt justified because he found what he suspected.
In this age of electronic messaging and texting, only his wife would still write and receive letters. And more damning for her, she kept them. Well she kept this one. The one that was burning a hole in his pocket and his heart. The one that explained the changes in her.
She had grown, not physically, although she seemed to take up more space, her personality had grown. She wasn’t by any a stretch a shrunken woman but he thought of her as contained and since she lost weight, petite. Now she was larger than life, laughing out loud, a twinkle in her eye and a skip in her step. She had stopped arguing, that was it, the one thing that started him searching through the house.
She had been on vacation with her sister, on a cruise to the Caribbean. This was normal, she went every year, he hated to fly, they went on a driving tour in the UK or Ireland in September. He was three hours late picking her up at the airport, he expected a fly in his ear all the way home. Instead he was told, she went for a coffee and read her book, no worries. No worries, she said, that wasn’t his wife speaking, he appreciated it at first, the fact that he could do no wrong but after a week or so he found himself pondering on the why. Why the change? Surely the laid-back Jamaican attitude had not overwhelmed her and taken her over.
It took him over a week to search the house, he went into every room, ferreting in every nook and cranny until her handbag was the only place left to be scrutinised. He felt so low, going through her things, he would never ordinarily go in her handbag, not even to borrow a fiver. He would always ask. Maybe that is his problem, maybe that’s why she went elsewhere.
Stop that, he told himself. Yes he was broken-hearted, but he had been broken before, all the babies they had conceived that never got past ten weeks, each time that killed him. Each time it killed them both, just a little. Maybe it was inevitable that with all the elephants that lived in their lounge, one of them was bound to want out, it was so crowded.
Knowing your wife slept with someone else and acting upon the knowing, he discovered over the next few days were entirely different scenarios. In his head he screamed and shouted and plaintively cried what about me. On the surface though as with every other issue they faced, he remained calm.
When the days spilled over into a week he made a decision, he was going to fight for his marriage, he was going to fight for his wife, he was going to fight. He started the next morning, bringing her breakfast in bed, not that anything was ever resolved over a slice of toast, but it was a start. He wasn’t going to bend over backwards and become a doormat, but he was going to do little surprising gestures to bring her back into his bed. There was no need to dwell on the past, no need to talk about her indiscretion, maybe next year he might go on holiday with her, to China or India.
Maybe all he needed was a wake-up call that marriages are fragile and need nurturing.
His wife rang her sister on the day of the breakfast to tell her the plan was working. “Thanks sis, you are the most fabulous sister in the entire world. To listen to me moan on about him and the marriage. Thank you for all your suggestions, I thought writing the letter was overdoing it but it seems to be having an effect. I just wish we could talk, you know really talk, like me and you do. Maybe this will be the start, there’s a herd of elephants need shifting, love you.”