"Having spent most of Christmas in the hospital, my conversation has been restricted to the interests of the men in the bed beside me, especially the ward I was on during Day Two of my Christmas confinement (having been moved to three different wards in three days). It's strange what personal things a person will tell you if they are very ill and you are a good listener. Day two was largely spent listening to the history of my next door bed mate in-between having one test or another performed on me.
My bed mate, Ken, spent over six hours of my day telling me about his masculine exploits and extramarital experiences when he worked as an insurance man. He told his tale with a sense of macho pride without any hint of shame for the heartache he had caused his unfortunate playmates and their families. I think he was expecting a pat on the back, but after a few hours of his boasting, I told him that he hadn't done anything of which to be proud of and I indicated that he was someone who one my sons would describe as 'a knob head!'
His conversation got me thinking about the other side of the coin which Ken and his type never give their concern to; the other woman being played. Being played as a second fiddle is such a demeaning position to find oneself in. For a variety of reasons, it is not uncommon for many a person to find themselves playing the role as 'second best' in the life of another, especially when one of the couple loves the other person, but they are merely being strung along and used as a convenience by their playmate.
I once had a female friend who'd started a relationship with a married man from the office where she worked. This man had been married for seven years and had three children under the age of five years. Their relationship rapidly turned into an affair and then for the following twelve years, my friend Barbara became no more than the 'other woman' in his life, the proverbial 'bit on the side' that was available whenever he fancied it. During the whole of this twelve-year relationship, there were repeated promises by the married man to divorce his wife and to marry Barbara. When after two or three years had passed and his promises hadn't materialised, he then promised Barbara that he'd leave when his children entered their teens and High School. Then, telling his wife was postponed until the children approached the age of going to work/university. Needless to say, that when this landmark arrived, he still had no intention of leaving his wife.
The thing about this relationship which puzzled me was why Barbara had been prepared to be strung along for over twelve years by a man who had never seen her outside his twice weekly visits to her house for sex? Not once had he taken her for a drink or a walk in the park, just in case someone saw them and told his wife. Not once did she see him at Christmas and other family times, although he would always make a point of visiting her on her birthday, but never his. I cannot count the number of times I advised Barbara to dump this waster and to get on with her life. Sometimes she seemed prepared to consider it but always backed out at the last moment. It was as though Barbara never understood the rules of affairs; that most women are prepared to play at sex to get love and the vast majority of men play at love to get sex!
Over the twelve years of this demoralising relationship, I saw Barbara change for the worse; from someone with a bubbly personality and cheerful disposition to permanent depressive. Not only had this man taken a large part of her life from her, he'd also robbed her of any self-respect she ever had. He had literally placed her future on hold for over twelve years! And the reason, Barbara never ended the relationship and cut her losses was as old as the hills. Though he undoubtedly thought very little of her, she 'loved him' to bits. Poor Barbara. She knew that love warmed the heart but never contemplated when she started their illicit relationship, that a long-term affair was capable of burning down the house and bringing her whole world crashing around her.
The last time I saw Barbara around 1990, she was no longer seeing her married lover; not because she had finally got the gumption to dump him, but because he had died. I'd like to say that Barbara looked better for not seeing him, but in truth, she looked an emotional wreck. Naturally, she was unable to attend his funeral, but that did not stop her finding out where he was buried and visiting his grave whenever she is near the area of Edgerton Cemetery in Huddersfield.
I have known so many people who have never been able to negotiate their way out of, or beyond a failed relationship. The most striking comment that Barbara once said to me was, 'My love for him is so strong that nobody could kill it; not even him!' Until I knew Barbara and of her long-term relationship with the married man, along with the visiting of his grave after his death, I never really understood how it was possible to lose someone who you never had.
The only way I can understand Barbara's situation is if I compare it with that of an addictive gambler. I guess she over-committed herself to the game at hand and emotionally invested everything she had. Each time the stakes got higher and her potential losses greater, she always risked one more roll of the dice. She just found herself unable to leave the table and remained hooked! Unfortunately, Barbara will not be the last person to hook themselves up to a loser. Neither will she be the only one to see the married man she loves and is having a long-term affair with, stay with his wife and children.
My own advice to all would be to steer clear from hopping into bed with any married man or woman; unless of course, it is your good self they are married to! And if that's the case, go for it and damn the consequences!" William Forde: December 30th, 2016.