The Best Part
The best part of breaking up is, of course , not making up but going off with someone else. Throughout life most sexually based relationships and a high proportion of marriages end up in the bin. Yet despite that adults are very poor at handling the point of change,the parting of the ways.
In the recent French film Things to Come, Isabelle Hibbert is told by her husband that “he is seeing someone else.” Her oh, so cool Gallic response is “Why are you telling me, cant you keep a secret.” But for most , burning the sexual, emotional candle at both ends has to end. But can they just come out with it, start talking intelligently about the split etc. Mostly, no. There is too much emotion, too much social charge.
All this came to mind when reading “Mrs Hemingway” by Naomi Woods. This is the fact based, fictionalised story of Papa’s four marriages and how each queen found out and handled the succession. Wife one found a love letter from her best friend and bowed out quietly. Wife two found Earnest had dedicated a play to another. She fought dirty and wouldn’t give a divorce for many years. Wife three found a love poem dedicated to another. She(Martha) was thinking of leaving anyway. Wife four was of course the one who found the Nobel prize winner alone in the study with the shot gun.
What Papa was doing of course was moving the point of decision across the table. Instead of Papa looking his wife in the face and giving the bad news, he would have leave a clue. Actually more of a high voltage trip wire. The wife picks up clue and asks, are you leaving me. Answer, hey ,since you ask, yes.
Managers often say that the hardest thing is sacking colleagues especially if they have become friends. How much harder if the sacking is of a life time partner, mother/father of your children, sharer of many years of happy life. Integral part of your social network. No excuses, but people avoid hard decisions. Especially if it involves a bloody confrontation. Sackings are often done by email or text for this reason.Leaving a partner is sacking someone from a job/role/relationship they thought was for life. Sorry babe you weren’t up for it. Its difficult.
Closer to home I know of man who walked out after 30 years without any notice or information, leaving a clue might have been more adult. He might have done what a wife of a friend did, leave a note on the mantel piece. Not only is your dinner in the oven but so is our relationship. But walking out without notice may have been the only way he could make a decision which was, as always, hard to make. Another (accidentally?)left out a love letter which brought his eight year affair to crisis point. But the best was the lady, after trying for some years to break away, whose husband was not going ,so she left out a diary with the pant by pant details of her relationship with a neighbour. Another went the Attila the Hun route and announced that in the thirty years of marriage he hadn’t loved her one jot. Others mention it down the pub and let him/her hear it on the grapevine.(see link,best song of all time)
Research quoted in the bible of relationships, The Daily Mail, says that women are far more decisive than men in these situations. Once the decision has been made, while a quarter of women would soul search before making the break , half of men would go through the dithering process-hence clues and the rest.
Maybe the song should go The worst part of breaking up is the telling. In the end its just a detail in the sad process. Who said what when and how is less important than the event. Maybe as do the corporates, couples should employ consultants to do the dirty deed.