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Where Is the Sisterhood?

Why 'the other women' out there should know better.

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Animation of a couple embracing and the woman changes into another woman.
Veronica Cerri
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When the man I thought was the love of my life ran away with the bookkeeper in his company and married her, I was in shock. It would be months before I could see that I had ignored some signs we were in trouble, and admit that I was better off without him anyway. So, I sobbed until I was drained of tears, stopped eating for months, and drank wine — lots of wine.  

I wish I’d been more like the woman whose essay I read years ago that began: “I know what I’d do. I’d get a gun.” The essay was about her reaction to her husband’s affair, as I recall. If I’d been as angry as she was from the start, maybe I wouldn’t have wasted so much time feeling hurt and sorry for myself. I’m not totally sure whether it was the man or the woman she (facetiously) wanted to shoot, but I’m pretty sure it was the man.  

For we all know, if we’re being truthful with ourselves, when someone cheats on you, it's the fault of that lowdown skunk of a person's fault. Unless the other woman holds a gun to your lover’s head to make him cheat, that’s whom you should direct your anger at. I say that, yet I ask, “What is the other woman's problem?”  

She knows she’s taking up with someone who's in a relationship, and she’s crossing a line. I remember an acquaintance (I’ll call her Gina) who once admitted she was seeing a married man. When I asked her why, she said she couldn’t find anyone who wanted to do the things she liked to do. We talked about that for a few minutes, and she admitted that, yes, there may be ways to find people with her same interests — unattached people. Then she said that her sweetheart told her that he and his wife stayed together only for the kids, and that he was planning on leaving his wife to marry her. Sound familiar?  

Finally, a year or so later, Gina’s brother-in-law said that in the country the two men came from, many men have mistresses — and they rarely leave their wives. It took Gina another six months, but she did leave the relationship and eventually found a divorced man to pal around with. The irony for me is that I knew the bookkeeper. At one point she had been at our house lamenting the breakup of her marriage. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Give her a break. Perhaps it just happened with her and your guy. He obviously was unhappy.”  

There’s that, and a million other reasons — or excuses — why it happened. The thing is, as I’ve gotten older, kindness has become more important to me, and loyalty to and support for other women. By seeing a man who's involved in another relationship, not only does a woman do a disservice to herself (unless the couple have an open marriage or are non-exclusive), but they’re also doing a disservice to her beau's wife or lover. Would it kill this woman to honor the idea of sisterhood and wait until he’s free? 

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