The Scary Price I Paid Because I got Married for Social Media Likes
Hope my story helps you.
Dear Lemon Candy,
About like, two years ago, I married a guy I met on a dating app four months earlier. So yes, as of the writing of this letter to you, we are pushing three years together. I had a decent Instagram following before the wedding, but I knew with the right strategy (and photo angles) I could blow my Insta numbers outa the water.
Lucky for me my work as a lawyer was valued at my firm, so focusing pretty much all my energy on the wedding was not an issue. Everything was perfect thanks to my relentless attention to detail. My guy looked pretty hot so that was something.
We made an iron clad bargain a few weeks after we met. No children. Ever. Career plans, travel, curating and posting about our lives separately and together, that's what we were all about.
We were just starting our 30's. Unencumbered, living life to the fullest was and would be our preferred goal. We were in love, united in our plan, and ready to tame the world.
Today, I am falling apart, nothing worked out as I planned: this union is a mess.
And not only because of Covid and work from/ stay-at-home recommendations. About six months ago, maybe more, it was close to the original coronavirus lock down, Billy (my husband’s pretend name) started pressuring me to have a kid and to agree to work part-time, preferably not at all. What the...?
You should know: most guys (all, I think...) working at his banking firm have stay-at-home wives with babies on the way. Or already in the snuggli.
I am lost, Lemon Candy. Those amazing plans we made together. Our vision of our future selves. All vanished. Yet on our wedding day, I made a solemn pact for life to be with and love my guy.
Billy started to distance himself about four months after our perfectly groomed honeymoon. The timing of his cold shoulder matched his promotion to a select group of mover/shaker bros at his office.
Since I have become expert at dodging the baby question, pretty much, I get the silent treatment.
We rarely kiss or have sex anymore. In fact, Billy works 15+ hour days. Whether behind his closed and locked home office door or when he leaves to go to his almost fully shuttered corporate offices, I rarely see him.
When he does come home, often in the early morning hours, I am asleep. Which doesn't matter 'cause he races to the shower, immediately nods off, snores loudly, and then rises before I do.( I know all this 'cause, confession, sometimes I fake-sleep)
I feel undervalued, and tricked into a revised arrangement. I keep racking my brain trying to figure out something I could do that would appeal to Billy, other than the Mommy route. To myself I regularly and tearfully question my appearance, my intelligence, my accomplishments. Clearly my head space is not a good one.
On top of all this, I do have a bigger confession. I am not proud of this but it sort of fell in my lap and it does (in a way) make me feel better.
While this full-court-baby-press dominates at home, I had been (for seven months before covid hit) completely distracted by a new guy at my company. To make matters worse, he (let’s call him Andy) was and still is dating our CEO’s daughter.
He texts, meets me when possible, gives me gifts and before lockdowns, asked me to join him for meals and concerts and stuff. (In truth: we still get a few off-sites in.)
Look. I have spent time with Andy, although no sex yet. So far all we do: just a few nighty-night, passionate kisses, lots of tongue action and over-the-clothing rubbing and tugging. He insists he wants out of his relationship with the bossman’s kid. And me? Well, obviously, I am disillusioned with my marriage and have been for a good chunk of these two not-so wedded bliss years.
Soooooo. I am considering taking the Andy thing to the next level and sleeping with him if we can rig workable excuses. I do realize that we need to be super careful about being around each other during the pandemic.
I am so confused, Lemon, about all this. I don’t know what to do. My focus at work is off, and people are starting to notice, regardless of my former stellar work track record.
The strain is showing on my body and all over my face. I feel like a total loser because I chose to get married so soon after meeting Billy. I feel worse that I let Instagram likes dominate my wedding. A desert island is looking pretty good right now. Help?
IWNE (Instagrammed Weddings might Not be Enough)
First, a few collective remarks from our trio.
Girl, we feel your confusion and pain. Ouch!
Since one of us is looking at snow, Paroma suggested cracking open some Rosé. Truthfully? Hot rum might be more seasonal!
Over our latest Zoom, the three of us have been racking our brains about your dilemma. Yup, we agree, this is big. Think of this as altering the rest of your life, HUGE-ness.
First, (because we gotta do this part), please bear with us as we give you our famous disclaimer. Seriously though, we offer our chats similar to those you already have with real-time pals. The thoughts and perspectives come from an interested and concerned friend. There is no professional advice involved. That belongs to the realm of the certified and qualified and that is not us nor our intent.
Here is a good visual. The three of us and you, sipping cocktails, tea, wine, you name it at your favourite cafe or bar. Entertainment and good vibe convos. Sharing stories. That is our thing. If we can sprinkle some positive energy and oh yeahs your way... Well, that will be just dandy!
Please click this link below. It will take you to our post about the origins of For Lemon, our disclaimer and our mini-bios. Be sure to come right back, K?
Suze, you are up:
I have this cutting-the-fluffy-pink-frosted-cake-in-two image in my head right now. (Please, no intended connection to knives or chopping!) This is just me seeing two parts of the whole: the Billy issue and the Andy fiasco.
I won’t even touch (pardon the pun) how you handle all these complications during a pandemic.
Your situation kinda blows mah mind since I did experience a few similarities to your current problem. In my case, my husband, in those days, always wanted kids. I (gulp) plugged my ears singing la-la-la-la and doing the delay dance every time the convo came up. Which as time went by was a ton of times.
I came to realize that I had no maternal instincts, as in nada. Why did it take me so long to “know” myself, you ask? Another time for answers to that one, my lovely.
So yes, different than you, but the bottom line is the same. The marriage was not working. Things morph and change over time from bargains broken, to rediscovering oneself, to all things in between.
What did he and I do first? Well, we went to professional counselling, of course. It certainly helped us to sort out our issues, but in the end, the three of us (therapist, hubby and me) could smell the doom. And splitsville.
Note: it took me a single sentence to describe to you what happened. That bunch of words do no justice to the length of time and emotional pain involved to move away from a marriage. The professional help was a godsend, but we (soon to be ex-huband and me) still had to do the work.
Rarely is there any free lunch. Yeah...you don't want to hear that.
Was Paul( let's call my husband-no-more that name) pushing to create a white picket fence kind of life identical to that lived by many of his friends? Yes, indeedy, he was. Mediocrity and conformity was his goal while I wanted to run as far away from that as my runner’s legs could carry me. Building my career all the way.
Important view of mine. There is no right or wrong in these life decisions. People have to choose what works for them individually.
Why don’t we have these answers locked up before a wedding, you wonder? Well, while you are at it, contemplate why clicking your heels together in hot red stilettos won’t turn you into Dorothy from Wizard of Oz... Damn, life is gloriously complicated!
How have I fared, you also ask, taking the road I chose to travel? Marvellous. Except for those sucky days when I fall off the bicycle. Like we all do.
My thoughts on Andy? Hmmmm. Since I cannot write a book here and want to give my fantastic gal pals, Paroma and Amy, equal time, let me ask you three questions: in the interest of providing food for future thought and all.
1. How much do you know about Andy’s history?
I spent a good chunk of time being as successful as the boys in a male-dominated industry. The come-ons and penis size references directed at me were never-ending. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered, the goal was merely another mark of conquest in their pieces-of-ass list.
The smarter the female colleague, the more they wanted to get in her pants. Look. I am not saying Andy is like that. I am only telling you what I watched in supersize volume. It’s my perspective rather than an accusation of sameness.
However, these hustler guys I witnessed never, ever broke up with their current girlfriends or left their wives. Just sayin’.
2. What are the implications for your career when the boss’s daughter finds out? Are you ready for that? What alternatives do you have at other similar companies?
What is the open and hidden culture for women in your place of business?
How deeply have you and Andy discussed the future?
Why is he still with that girlfriend?
Hell, do you think she knows? Did you ask him? Did he tell you and do you believe he is no longer having sex with her? (This last one is an over used promise from many cheaters.)
3. What is the deal on Billy working into the wee hours almost every night and you two barely touching each other? Um... no sex? Zero?
Look. While sitting behind two late 20 something gals at a restaurant, I heard the following conversation.
Woman #1: “You know, now that we have the 2 kids, Sam is totally cool with us pretty much never having sex. I mean, he gets that I am too tired chasing toddlers all day. He tells me to fill my boots with my work, and he will do the same with his. In the last year, I have rarely seen him. Most weeknights, he sleeps at the office, and his boss makes him take weekend meeting trips at least two times a month.” Woman #2: Murmurs some kind of “Oh, that’s nice” response and starts scrolling on her phone.
IWNE, honey belle...ya gotta think about this. It is a tough one, but you need to ask yourself: What is your Billy really up to "recreationally" these days?
One more quickie thing. Don't beat yourself up about hasty weddings and pressures from social media. Girl, what is done is done. Spilt milk and all. And so what, we all have our list of fuckups. It's what makes us better people through the learning that we do in the process. So cut yourself some slack, honey bunny. You have bigger fish to fry.
Now Amy, you go:
First off. Take a deep breath. And another. And another.
Repeat as needed. You are going to be ok.
A heads up - my words may seem harsh. I’m not one for sugar-coating my perspective when someone asks for it. So, with that said, feast on only what you need to hear. Remember, second helpings always offer a new taste.
It’s time to wipe away the fairy tale. “Happily ever after” is bullshit. Judging by IWNE, you know this already.
Life will unexpectedly stick its head in and scramble the shit out of perfect plans. When we are too close to the situation, we can’t see the obvious. I have been there myself. When I “saw” what I was doing, I was like duh... how was I so blind?!
Drama, hormones, feeling vulnerable, unloved, and the fear of the unknown all cloud reality. Add in a sprinkle of society’s definitions, and you find yourself with the pie in the sky smashed all over your face. Let’s look at the facts.
Billy has changed his mind. Or, more likely - let his environment change it. He sees the pie on the other side as being sweeter. Becoming fixated on the run of the mill successful life checklist. Meet the girl, marry the girl, chain the girl to the house with a family.
Nothing wrong with living that life- if you want it. Life can soon become a living hell if you don’t, and the choice is pressured by obligation.
Billy is behaving like an A1 jerk by not even opening his ears to hear what you say. Having a tantrum because he isn’t getting his way. Lost in his pile of expectations. Possibly with a side serving of sex that isn’t with you.
You are playing the victim card: Poor me. My husband is behaving like a child. I need someone to want me. Tell me I’m loveable, sexy and desirable. Someone who will do anything I want because they love me to the end of time...Come on. Seriously.
Do you think Andy is the answer? A shiny new dick tinged with a risk of losing your hard-earned career reputation. Andy has his pile of crap he is avoiding. Chasing a slice of the next serving of sweet pie.
1. What do you want out of life? Career. Hot passionate affairs. A shiny Instagram presence. No right, no wrong. If this is what living life means to you, go for it.
2. What about Billy’s wants? A trophy stay-at-home wife, kids and his social status at work.
3. And Andy's Wants? An endless chase for the next hot thing? To be number one? When the relationship doesn’t have compatible definitions, then where is the why? The why that guides you through the shit bits of love and life.
Let’s zoom out a bit. Take a walk in your imagination down a few different paths. One month out, one year out, five years out, ten years out.
The path where you seek professional help. As a couple. Alone.
The path of Billy’s expectations. Being a stay-at-home parent. Billy being a stay at home parent. Co-parenting. Both working. Becoming a mumpreneur. Yep, it’s a thing.
The path with Billy and no kids. The path with Andy. Getting caught sleeping with him - or worse -the clap! A way when you take a time out from men and be you for a bit. The desert island scenario. Any other paths you can think of? Walk them too.
You will find one that feels extra comfy. The path that lets “You” be the “You” you want to be in life. You may be unexpectedly surprised.
Take a step in that direction. Then another. And another.
Will it be easy? Hell no.
Will there be pain? Hell yes. Will it be a straight path? Fuck no.
You just need to take the step on the path that feels right to you now. No right, no wrong. Your choice.
Ten years down the track, this scenario will most likely seem like a little blip on the radar. Trust me; I have many long stories that back this up.
You are worthy. Don’t trash all parts of your life because of your husband’s expectations, pressures and dummy spits. Stop telling yourself it is all your husband’s fault for changing his mind. You are in control of yourself.
If you need a confidence boost, trust that you are amazing. Tell yourself you are loveable. You are worthy. You are enough. You are entitled to live your life on your terms. Give what you crave to yourself. Please don’t wait for someone else to give it to you.
Relationships are the icing on the cake. Your life is the cake. You got this. Ask the questions. Take a step. You already know where you need to go.
Hello Dearest IWNE,
Your instinct is right on target – you should be on a desert island right now! If not really, then at least metaphorically. But deep breath first... let’s understand why you find yourself reacting this way.
Your chosen life partner, the guy who you thought, was in tandem with you every step of the way, the one person you thought was totally in sync with you. That person seems to have disappeared.
You feel let down, your need and desire for a career undermined, and you feel insulted by Billy, expecting you to follow the norm and abandon your career for motherhood. And all this from a person who was supposed to understand your heart and everything you stand for.
Let’s recognize this situation for the loss and abandonment you feel right now, or – are likely suppressing. When in shock, our brains go into a fight/ flight/freeze mechanism. And you are taking the flight path – straight to Andy.
Let’s be clear that this may be a shock response to a complete 180-degree turnaround and a fundamental shake-up to what you thought was a forever situation. And now, everything is up in the air. We’ll figure out how to deal with this together, the 4 of us, IWNE. It’s essential to understand what you are experiencing first, so you don’t blame yourself for a reaction you don’t identify with.
Coming back to your desert island instincts...Your instinct knows that Andy is not the solution to the issues with Billy. Your intuition knows that you must separate the two stories and distance yourself and the two men to achieve some clarity.
Andy may be the path of least resistance to blowing off some steam and getting your own back. But will this lead to a solution, or will it create more trouble than it’s worth?
First, let’s talk about Billy.
Are you right to feel blind-sided by his change of heart about the baby vs no-baby decision? Of course! People have a right to change as they grow. Each of you is entitled to your own desire (or lack of) for parenthood.
Funny how things go. It looks like you, Suze and I have all had this incident happen to us. Apparently not very uncommon these days. Just like you, my then-husband and I were very clear about not having kids. In my mind, it was one of the keystones of our marriage. A year into marriage, however, he had a change of heart and started wanting children.
There were a lot of other complicating issues that I won’t go into here. One example was the famous “Oops honey, the condom broke!” episode. Anyway, long story short, clearly, that marriage is over.
It sounds like you need to have a conversation with Billy sooner rather than later. It appears he is using silence and distance to browbeat you into “his way or the highway.”
A good question to him can be how he expects to rear children with the hours he currently works. Does he expect you to give up your career for a child that will give him the label of a father? He appears to have no time to put into actually doing the work to be a father. This conversation should be enlightening.
IWNE, if you want to leave Billy, leave Billy. You don’t need any excuses. And Andy doesn’t quite fit the bill for a viable reason anyway.
Let’s come to Andy now.
Andy has been cheating on his girlfriend with you – even if sex hasn’t happened yet. I am sure you’ll agree that what’s happened certainly qualifies as emotional cheating. If he wants out of his relationship, then why doesn’t he call it off? Does it have anything to do with the fact she’s the CEO’s daughter? If I had to put my money on it, IWNE, I would say yes.
You are attracted to Andy, yes, but is this someone you really picture yourself in a relationship with? Or is this a one-night stand type of situation for you? Because if it’s the latter, you can easily sleep with someone outside the office and salvage your career, and more importantly, your reputation at your workplace.
Your wish for freedom from the bind Billy has led to your desire to feel free, even if it is for one night. The next morning your life will not be any better. Not unless you have some difficult conversations first.
And for that, if you have to put yourself on a deserted island, perhaps that’s not too bad of an idea, girl!
Bzzzzzz. Ding ding.
Our time’s up. We could go on and on, but our wine glasses need replenishing. Below are Our Few Words of Wrap Up for you, IWNE. We are wishing you tons of good energy.
Our Few Words of Wrap Up for IWNE:
SUZE: If that were me, I would avoid any more physical contact with Andy. I would immediately seek out and meet with a professional counsellor, all by my lonesome. No guys invited. Time to figure out one’s own self first, I think. Too much is at stake.
And about Billy. Well, assuming money is not a factor, I would hire a private detective. One way to know for sure. Like, why the hell not? Yup, you got this, girl!
AMY: I’m with Suze here. Time to take the guys off the invitation list.
Spend some time alone—the deserted island scenario, in whatever form life allows that to be right now.
A space to just be.
Allow the noise to disappear to focus on your inner voice. You know the one - the quiet voice beyond the drama. The one that knows exactly what you need to do.
Your answers are waiting patiently there for you to hear.
Then...make your move. You have it in you - otherwise, you would never have asked the question.
PAROMA: Agree with mah lemony ladies here. I would find myself first, IWNE. What does your heart and soul want?
For the now, and for the future. If you want to be loved AND want a career to be proud of at the same time, you truly deserve to have them both. And a person to stand by and applaud you, in the way only true love can.
Take the time to distance yourself so the universe can find its way to deliver the best to you.
Much love to you, IWNE. Shine on, like the star you are!
Big hugs and lots of good luck wishes,
XXOO Lemon Candy: Suze, Paroma and Amy
© Suzanne V. Tanner, Paroma Sen, Amy Marley 2021. All Rights Reserved.
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