"Here." With tears streaming down her face, Dawn,* my wife of five years, stormed into my office at work and tossed a list on my desk. "I need you to stop at the grocery store on your way home. I have to pick up the kids."
"What's wrong?" I approached her, but she waved me away.
"You never talk to me, and you expect me to tell you what's wrong? Forget it!"
"Dawn, please. Sit down and tell me why you're so upset."
"Not here. Later." She left before I could argue further.
I didn't try to stop her. Dawn knew. Somehow she'd discovered the secret I'd concealed for months. I'd fallen in love with another woman.
Dawn and I had been high school sweethearts. I couldn't wait to marry her. But our marriage soon began to unravel. Close ties to her family, who lived nearby, constantly interfered with our time as a couple. Dawn didn't see the need to separate from her parents and put me first. She ran to them when we had a disagreement. If we went out for dinner and a movie, she invited them along.
Over time, I began to feel like a child waiting to join a kickball team, raising my hand and shouting, "Pick me! Pick me!" Jealousy grew, poisoning our marriage.
In a heated argument one night, I demanded, "If I asked you to choose between me and your parents, whom would you choose?"
Without speaking she answered my question.
Four years into our marriage, Dawn and I had drifted apart. I'd grown weary of being rejected, emotionally and sexually. Her excuses for refusing my sexual advances ranged from fatigue to lack of interest. One night in bed, I massaged her back and legs, knowing it was a turn on to her. She responded with a perfunctory kiss on the lips.
"Not tonight, David. Maybe tomorrow." She rolled over and went to sleep, leaving me dejected and hurt.
Before long we were having sex only once every couple months. I envied my married friends who described frequent, healthy sexual relationships. As my resentment grew, I began to wonder what I'd ever loved about Dawn.
A change of scene
Needing a change, I enrolled in a local community college. I met Stephanie my first semester. We attended several classes together. I learned her father worked for the same company I did, and Stephanie and I both had a child the same age. She was stuck in an unsatisfying relationship with her live-in boyfriend; I was disillusioned in my marriage. We connected instantly, sharing long conversations over lunch, in-between classes, and sometimes even during class.