February 2013

For better or for the worst

By Wendy Plump
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Barely a year after her marriage in 1987, Wendy Plump embarked on the first of three volcanically passionate affairs she would immerse herself in before she and her husband, Bill, began having children. She did so, she freely admits, simply because she wanted to, because it was so exciting, so different from the humdrum of domestic life. But each affair was undercut by such feelings of guilt and the endless fatigue of covering up that she would ultimately confess them to Bill, who would first rage, then adjust. And so their marriage—later undergirded by the birth of two sons—continued to limp along.

Then, in January 2005, friends told Plump that Bill not only had a mistress living nearby in the same town, but that the two of them also had an 8-month-old child. (All these distressing details are revealed in the first chapter.) Plump was aware that Bill had strayed before, just as she had, but this news was devastating. Despite its glaring imperfections, she wanted her marriage to last. By the end of that year, however, Bill had moved out for good.

Plump and her husband had met in college and dated for eight years before they married. After college, she became a newspaper reporter, while he went to work as a financial advisor, a job that involved a lot of travel and which gave them both ample opportunities to find other sexual partners.

Having drawn the general outlines of their infidelities, Plump spends the remainder of her book examining where and how things went wrong. Even so, she doesn’t engage in a lot of blaming or self-excoriation. She still remembers her affairs as glorious interludes, and she understands that her husband’s temptations must have been much the same as her own. She does blame him, though, for steadfastly refusing to discuss his feelings for her or for the other women.

In 2008, Bill lost his job, the upshot of which was that Plump and her two sons had to move from their large home into a tiny rental property. It’s been mostly a downward spiral of disappointments for her ever since. Still, she finds comfort in recalling the vividness of her affairs. “When I am eighty years old,” she muses, “I will sit on my front porch, wherever that may be, and I will have sumptuous memories of these men. I will have to see if that is enough compared with the loss that infidelity has wreaked.”

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By Wendy Plump
ISBN 9781608198238

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