Readers' Submissions

A Letter From Janice

  • Written by Phet
  • May 28th, 2010
  • 15 min read


Dear Mr. Phet

Your name and email address was given to me by a mutual friend Mr. Devin Carew. As you know Mr. Carew is a solicitor in my town and I had approached him to act for me in a possible divorce. Devin is an acquaintance of John my (semi estranged) husband but although this contact is only having played cricket for rival clubs he convinced me there was a conflict of interest and has declined to represent me. He did however seem very keen that I should contact you.

I do not know you and we have never met, but Devin informs me that you are a “relationship guru” of some repute and a renowned expert in affairs of the heart. I appreciate that Devin has a reputation for his sardonic sense of humour but on hearing my story he immediately suggested I should write to you and relate my tale, preferably in my own words. He claimed you would be thoroughly intrigued by my story.

I welcomed the suggestion to pen this epistle to you. With a lot of free time on my hands last year I took a course in creative writing but generally I do not get any opportunity to use those writing skills. So without further ado I present my story to you.

My name is Janice I am a 52 year old English woman and I have been married for 27 years. My husband John is four years older than me and is an executive with a large civil engineering company. He definitely has his faults but he has always been a good provider; I have not had to work since the children were born. We have a nice four bedroom detached house on a select estate. I have four wardrobes crammed full of “nothing to wear” and our three children have enjoyed the benefit of a good education at excellent schools. We take regular holidays abroad to the Greek Islands. John is a good father and as a husband has never treated me with anything less than devotion. But in the last few years I have felt there has been something missing in my life and I consider I deserve better.

One of my grievances is that John never listens to me, which I consider mental cruelty. He leaves for work at 7.00 every morning and rarely returns before 7.00 in the evening. My days are hectic so it is only reasonable to expect him to help with some chores around the house on his return. By the time he has completed them it is often 9.00 and he claims to be too exhausted to listen to me, he generally goes straight to bed. At my suggestion, for the past few years we sleep separately. I have a delicate constitution; I can not be troubled with what my auntie Joan refers to as “conjugal unpleasantness”.

Weekends are equally busy; Saturdays involve John taking the youngest lad to football in the morning, the oldest boy to cricket practice midday and our daughter to her theatre group in the afternoon. The early evening he takes me for the weekly shop at an out of town supermarket. On Sundays my parents and my sibling’s families all get together for Sunday lunch. We alternate every week between my house and my eldest sister’s home. This has been a strong family tradition for many years and we regularly have 12 people dining. So Sundays provide little opportunity for us to discuss anything. I appreciate it would be inappropriate to discuss Johns shortcomings in front of my family.

I have however discussed Johns behavior at length with the three friends I know from when I drop my youngest at school every morning. After depositing our respective children at the school gates we all return to my house for coffee and a good gossip, which Gail refers to as our encounter group. Gail is 30 a single mother who lives on the local council estate; Julie is also single, in her early 40s and is Gail’s next door neighbor. Jiravee 35 also lives on the estate with her husband Bill. Jiravee is originally from Thailand and has been married to Bill for about 5 years. Bill works for the council as a bricklayer and they apparently met during a holiday in Pattaya. My husband John knows Bill through work and has a high opinion of him. My husband however, has very little time for my three friends. He refers to Gail as a lazy fat arsed scrubber, Julie as a Dutch boy’s finger (whatever that is) and Jiravee as a money grabbing little tart, much to my annoyance. I see this disrespect to my friends as a further example of his insensitivity to my feelings.

I will concede Gail often brings her children to the school still wearing her house slippers and sometimes has her nightdress on under her anorak. I will also concede Julie presents an intimidating figure with tightly cropped hair, dungarees and heavy work boots. I have been puzzled why she always accompanies Gail to the school even though she does not have any children herself. I will also acknowledge that Jiravee does at times seem overly preoccupied (if not obsessed) with money. But they are my friends and they do offer me the emotional support I desperately need.

My dissatisfaction was precipitated about 18 months ago by a chance encounter in the supermarket with Gerald, a man I went to school with. I hadn’t seen him for over 30 years but he said he immediately recognized me as I hadn’t changed at all and still looked very good. I suddenly felt maybe I wasn’t the fat frumpy middle aged woman I see in my wardrobe mirror.

I told my friends about my meeting with Gerald and his compliments. They listened and Gail agreed I was a fine looking woman that was unappreciated by my unfeeling husband and I should have an affair with this Gerald to teach him a lesson. I must declare Gerald has a rather unpleasant skin complaint and the thick lenses in his spectacles make him look like a WW2 Japanese Admiral. In fact, the thought of any physical intimacy with Gerald is quite repulsive. He still lives with his mother and attends Star trek conventions where he speaks fluent Klingon. He is quite unsuitable as affair material, although I did not disclose this to my friends.

Julie declared I was a classic victim of fascist male oppression and I should exert my feminine individuality by completely withholding my sexual favours to my husband. I felt too embarrassed to admit that I already had.

Jiravee seemed unsure about her friends’ proposals but suggested I should extract as much money from my husband as I could. She went on to explain how she constantly siphons off money from the household budget for her own funds. For example she tells her husband she shops at Tesco’s but actually shops at budget supermarkets. By being frugal with all household expenditure she apparently saves enough money to send home £400 every month to her family in the impoverished North East of Thailand. I hate to admit it but my own current allowance from John considerably exceeds this.

In a further moment of indiscretion Jiravee admitted she also sends £100 a month to her Thai husband in Bangkok whose existence remains unknown to her English husband. I was shocked but have remained silent in the cause of sisterhood solidarity.

Never the less the seed had been sown and the idea of me having an extra marital affair struck me as suitable way of expressing a spirit of independence.

I established that the modern-day avenue for the clandestine meeting of suitable men is internet dating sites. I signed up for one of the larger sites and spent a few days composing what I considered an alluring profile. In the first week I received numerous hits but they were mainly from disgusting old men making lewd suggestions and requesting things like “Ugandan examinations” and “soapy tit wanks”. Not quite the romantic and poetic words of endearment I was anticipating.

I subsequently reviewed my profile and made a long and detailed list of my expectations from a prospective suitor. I specified a professional wealthy gentleman at least 6’2” tall, slim muscular and aged between 30 and 45. My requirements were not excessively demanding; all I expect was to be treated in the manner I feel I deserved to be treated. When I posted up my revised profile the lewd interest diminished but for some unknown reason, when I included a recent photo all interest in my profile completely disappeared for a while. I quickly changed the photo with an earlier model.

For many months the results of my endeavors were quite disappointing although I did receive a few messages none of the men got anywhere near meeting my requirements. They were either, too old, too short or just not attractive enough. I did have contact with one handsome young man who was interested in cooking. In fact he seemed almost obsessive about culinary matters and constantly asked I come to his house where he promised he and his friend would introduce me to the delights of “spit roasting”. Unfortunately being an occasional vegetarian I had to decline his invitation.

It was a few months before I finally agreed to meet one young man on a date. I must admit it was not an unmitigated success. We met in a quiet country pub out of the way. He was 40, well dressed in smart casual style, and quite an attractive guy although he was beginning to show signs of male pattern baldness. On seeing me he went very quiet and his face grew quite pale. Perhaps he was a little overwhelmed by the occasion. He purchased our drinks and we took seats in a secluded corner of the bar. He remained very quiet as I attempted to make small talk. After about 15 minutes he finally remarked “ You don’t look at all like your photo on the dating site”. Now I will admit the photo I posted was maybe a couple of years old (ok it was nearly 10 years old). I tried to make light of this and suggested that now we were here we should make the most of our assignation. I further suggested he could break the ice by mentioning something nice about me or paying me a polite compliment. He went silent for a moment clearly in careful contemplation then observed “I have noticed you don’t sweat much for a fat wench!” I threw my drink over him and departed with as much dignity as I could muster.

I must admit I am now rather into this writing thing and having recounted that painful episode it does not feel quite as awful as it did at the time. But much as I am enjoying the creative process I recognize I must bring you to the crux of my story.

My attempts at initiating an affair had absorbed my full interest and I had paid little attention to my husband. I recall him telling me something about a new woman who had started work at his office a few months previously but gave it no thought. Even when a few weeks later he began singing her praises and talked about the good work she was doing I failed to recognize the signals. I had never entertained any fear of him straying, John was just not the type and anyway I knew he was totally devoted to me.

Then last month completely out of the blue John came home from work early. He appeared agitated and told me he had come to collect something but had not expected me to be in. I remarked huffily it may be a good time to talk about a few things I am not happy about and tell you what I want you to do about them. I was just about to expand on my theme when John preempted me. He held up his hand and in a quiet but authoritative voice informed me

It may also be a good time to tell you I have met someone new. I am having an affair and have been for almost a month”.

I was so shocked that for once I listened quietly as he continued.

Her name is Duang she is 29 and recently graduated from university. She was born in Hong Kong of a Vietnamese mother and a Chinese father and moved to England ten years ago to study English and business studies. She began working in our office as a graduate trainee about three months ago. We have worked closely on a few projects and gradually got to know each other. I have been totally ignored by you for several years, Dang was extremely lonely in a strange town and I provided human contact and friendship. Things sort of developed from there. She is gentle, loving and attentive. In fact I have received more consideration, affection and sex from her in 26 days than I have had with you in 26 years”

I was just about to scream at him when he presented his ultimatum.

And before you begin your usual histrionics and start screaming your demands, here is how it is going to be…there will be no dramatic upheaval. I am not leaving you and I am not moving out of this house. We will not get divorced and to the outside world everything will appear unchanged. Although in reality there will be considerable amendments to our lives. I have set Duang up in a studio apartment in the next town as my “little wife” in the oriental tradition. I will stay with her most weekdays and Sundays. On Saturdays I will continue to see the kids and carry on ferrying them around in their social routines. They will hardly notice the modifications to our lifestyle. I will not however continue to be a beast of burden to you and I will definitely not be attending your traditional family dinners on Sundays anymore.

I will continue to pay the mortgage on the house and all the utility bills. I will give you an allowance to feed and cloth the children. If you want additional money to squander on your idiotic lifestyle, you will have to do what your friend Jiravee does or earn it on your back like your friend Gail. You could even do it with your tongue as Julie does if you preferred. Failing that you could even get off your fat arse and get a job!”

With that final rebuke he calmly walked out of the house.

The thing that has most infuriated me was that I have been trying to initiate an affair for over a year with absolutely no success. I had expended a serious amount of effort and still hadn’t been poked. John had not the slightest interest in extra marital activity, had put no effort into it yet a mistress just fell into his lap. I have always been the one with the interesting lifestyle and vivacious personality and John has always been the boring one. Life seems very unfair at times.

The last few weeks have been strange. True to his word John has not moved out and continues as if nothing as happened. He stays at his oriental love nest most weekday evenings and performs his fatherly duties on Saturdays as promised. If I am honest the children do not appear to have noticed or been even slightly affected by the new arrangement. His absence from my family’s Sunday dining regime seems to have gone unremarked. If truth be told my family are so engrossed in their own self interests they probably haven’t noticed his absence. It is currently the school holidays so with the children away from school I have not seen my friends Gail Julie and Jiravee. I am not looking forward to seeing them I can tell you. I remain undecided whether to tell them anything about my current situation. To be honest I am only now beginning to question the quality of their advice and have a few nagging doubts about their friendship.

My husband has stated that if I do insist on a divorce he will not let me continue to live in the house. He will insist on its sale and the proceeds be shared. He also informed me of our true financial situation. It would appear John had to remortgage the house a few years ago in light of my profligate spending. There was now very little equity on the property and even if I got it all it would not pay the deposit on a one bedroom apartment. I could actually end up homeless.

In conclusion I find myself in somewhat of a predicament and with my options limited.

Do I accept the status quo that my husband has offered and turn a blind eye to the arrangements with his little oriental concubine?

Or do I maintain my dignity, sue for divorce and face the unknown with few assets other than my natural allure and the support of my three friends?

Yours Janice

xxxx

Dear Janice

I have read your remarkable story which I did find as intriguing as Mr Devin Carew predicted. I was impressed with both your eloquence and honesty. Your story was well written and gives an alarmingly vivid insight into your psyche. I suspect in its composition you underwent a process of enlightenment and have identified much that you could learn from this experience.

I do not feel qualified to comment further or to impart advice. I have however taken the liberty of forwarding your letter to a forum of eminent and learned gentleman considered to be the world authority in the science of human behavior and experts in dysfunctional conduct. I am certain they will provide appropriate comments on your predicament. I will pass them on to you as I receive them.

One query I can answer regards your husband’s description of your friend Julie as a “Dutch boy’s finger”. I believe it is an allusion to the folk story from the Netherlands where in order to save the town from flooding; a boy puts his finger in a Dyke.

Regards Phet

Stickman's thoughts:

I admit that I smiled :)