And destroy everything in their wake. There’s much to be said, but I’ll let the NYT wedding announcement (under the ironic heading, “Vows”) do the talkin’.
WHAT happens when love comes at the wrong time?
Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla met in 2006 in a pre-kindergarten classroom. They both had children attending the same Upper West Side school. They also both had spouses.
Part “Brady Bunch” and part “The Scarlet Letter,” their story has played out as fodder for neighborhood gossip. But from their perspective, the drama was as unlikely as it was unstoppable.
Ah, unstoppable. Freight trains are unstoppable. But an attraction to someone married when you’re married as well? No, not unstoppable. Unless you care absolutely nothing about your vows, your spouse or your children. But I digress.
Ms. Riddell was a reporter and anchor on WNBC television in New York and a mother of two. A glamorous, petite woman with a strong handshake and stronger opinions, she is not the type to be easily dazzled, yet she was struck by Mr. Partilla’s exuberance.
“He bounds into a room,” said Ms. Riddell, who was 40 when they met. “He doesn’t walk in, he explodes in.”
Mr. Partilla, then a 42-year-old triathlete and a president of media sales at Time Warner, recognized a kindred dynamo. “She’s such a force,” he said. “She rocks back and forth on her feet as if she can’t contain her energy as she’s talking to you.”
The connection was immediate, but platonic. In fact, as they became friends so did their spouses. There were dinners, Christmas parties and even family vacations together.
So Ms. Riddell was surprised to find herself eagerly looking for Mr. Partilla at school events — and missing him when he wasn’t there. “I didn’t admit to anyone how I felt,” she said. “To even think about it was disruptive and disloyal.”
Disruptive and disloyal. BINGO. Yet she ended up leaving her husband and children and watching her now-husband destroy his family as well. So they could be … happy. What about their kids?
“The part that’s hard for people to believe is we didn’t have an affair,” Ms. Riddell said. “I didn’t want to sneak around and sleep with him on the side. I wanted to get up in the morning and read the paper with him.”
As if that motive makes breaking your family apart any better? Because you wanted to get up in the morning and read the paper?
With that goal in mind, they told their spouses. “I did a terrible thing as honorably as I could,” said Mr. Partilla, who moved out of his home, reluctantly leaving his three children. But he returned only days later. Then he boomeranged back and forth for six months.
So reluctant. And honorable–moving in and out for six months, giving your wife and children hope that you might stay with them. Redefines honor brilliantly, no?
How ’bout this gem:
The pain he had predicted pervaded both of their lives as they faced distraught children and devastated spouses…
Easy to predict that one, eh?
“He said, ‘Remind me every day that the kids will be O.K.,’ ” Ms. Riddell recalled. “I would say the kids are going to be great, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives making it so.”
The problem was she could not guarantee that.
All they had were their feelings, which Ms. Riddell described as “unconditional and all-encompassing.”
Gag me. Your kids will be scarred forever. All because of a choice you made to find “true love” outside of your marriage. Yes, you can delude yourselves by thinking love “found” you “at the wrong time,” but that doesn’t erase the truth of what you’ve willingly put your families through. Because you met someone with whom you’d rather wake up to and read your NYT, who “explodes” into a room. How utterly selfish.
They finalized their divorces this year. “I will always feel terribly about the pain I caused my ex-husband,” said Ms. Riddell, 44 and working freelance. “It was not what I ever would have wished on him.” Or on her children.
You didn’t wish it upon him! How hard is that, really?
“My kids are going to look at me and know that I am flawed and not perfect, but also deeply in love,” she said. “We’re going to have a big, noisy, rich life, with more love and more people in it.”
Yes, more love in it to cover up the love you threw away. How fitting. And the lesson to your children is that love excuses your behavior in toto? What about vows? How will you explain how it’s different this time, that your vows mean something?
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