Seasons change and so do people. But no one ever tells you that sometimes, people can change so much they're barely recognizable. When I first met my wife, she entered my life like a dream. Karen was everything I was looking for: smart, funny, nurturing, ambitious, outspoken, supportive and devilishly sexy. We connected instantly and after three years of dating, I asked her to marry me. So began the best years of my life.
The first few years of marriage were rocky; we were young and still growing in our careers, individually and together–but we made it through. Then the kids came: two girls, almost two years apart. They added to the love in our home and life seemed on track. Karen and I were adamant about keeping our marriage fresh so we made an effort to spend alone-time together and check-in with each other. We worked to keep our marriage on the right path.
Then one day, Karen stopped working. It started after a good friend of hers died suddenly. Karen took it really hard and struggled to get past the pain. I hugged, I kissed, I dried tears and even went with her to therapy sessions, and for awhile nothing seemed to be working. After a few months Karen woke up with a renewed sense of purpose, the light was back in her eyes and the woman I fell for returned, partially. On the outside she was the amazing woman and mother to my children I loved, but she wasn't the wife I loved. She became cold and distant towards me, no more working to keep up our marriage because she was now too busy with her new friends and activities. When I asked to join in her new passions I was met with anger and comments like "Why can't I have a life of my own?!" At first I suspected cheating, but the private detective I'm ashamed to say I hired, found nothing, I tried spiritual and marriage counseling, but it seemed she only grew more detached.
I walked around most days a worn and beaten man and apparently the pain was all over my face because that's when Nicole decided to sit me down for a talk. Nicole and a few coworkers were concerned about my new behavior and she came to me as their representative. She was soothing, reassuring and easy to talk to, just like Karen used to be. Before I knew it I was talking to her everyday about my problems, but only at work. Then after a particularly brutal fight with my wife, I called Nicole for the first time to vent my frustrations. In a matter of months we went from casual talks in my office to lunch dates, phone calls and weekend meet ups at the park. I have to admit that Nicole is beautiful, but it wasn't her beauty that made me seek her out. Physically she had nothing on my wife, but at this point what she does have over her is the emotional connection I'm not getting at home. Karen and I don't talk anymore, we don't share laughs, we're not each others biggest fans anymore and I miss that.
With Nicole I have a friend, nothing more, nothing less. She is filling a void that Karen seems content to leave empty. It may be hard to believe but my connection to Nicole is strictly platonic, she knows all about my wife and kids and I know all about her dating life. She's never once made a suggestive or inappropriate comment or move on me and neither have I. We are content with simply being a support system for one another, laugh buddies, movie junkies, friends. I understand that situations like this can be a slippery slope and I do feel guilty sometimes about inviting a third person into my life and marriage, but I don't know what to do. I love Karen and I want to go back to sharing things with her, but I don't know how we'll ever get back to what we had. Not being able to connect with my wife makes me feel like a failure and the wounds of that cut deep.
For now, I continue to give my heart to my wife and my emotions to my friend, and to pray that one day, maybe when the seasons change again, my wife and life will go back to the way they were.
-As told to Danielle Pointdujour