Ever considered having an affair?
Today’s story will be of special interest to anyone – especially in a long term marriage – who has thought about having an affair. While the names have been changed, the events and location have not, and we begin with a question for wives:
How often does your husband say? “I love you. You are so pretty. Your hair looks great! Dinner was wonderful! I just appreciate all the things you do for us, for our family.”
Do you even hear similar comments? Are these the words – loving, appreciative words - you long for, especially when you hear the husband of close friend say similar things to his wife?
A phone call from Seoul, Korea
“Mr. Beaver, my name is Kim, calling you from Seoul, Korea,” It was 4 p.m. here in California, 8 a.m. in Seoul.
In the late 1960s, I spent one amazing summer in Seoul as a foreign correspondent, falling in love with a country and its people. Koreans are tough, resilient, industrious and kind. In my eyes, Korean women are among the world’s most beautiful, and as you will see, in my reader’s opinion, deprived of hearing validating comments from their husbands.
“For years I have been using the online version of your newspaper column in the university English language classes I teach,” Kim explained.
“You care about people. I feel as if I know you and can reveal something that has haunted me for years. This can be a warning for married women looking for love outside of their marriage, for that’s what I wanted, not thinking of the possible consequences that life had in store for me.
“His name is Dan, a Texan who understands women. His wife is also Korean, and even though they have been married over 30 years, it is clear that he’s just crazy about her. They hold hands, and when we get together and she’s just had a haircut, Dan will say things like, 'Doesn’t she look great with that new haircut! I am one lucky guy.'"
“Mr. Beaver, we are also married about 30 years and my husband – his name is Young - has never said anything like that, in private or public. I never hear nice things about myself, and yet I know that he loves me. Most Korean men are like that, and when we see how Americans and Europeans are so considerate of their wives – opening car doors, for example - and how they are complimented, we are envious.
“When Dan talks to me or to his wife’s girlfriends when we get together at their house, it’s just a wonderful experience being with someone who listens to you – who listens with sincere eye contact – wanting to know how you are, how you really are.
“He always gives everyone a hug and that European little kiss on each check, and it’s not a come on. Dan makes everyone so comfortable and eager to share our deepest feelings. With him, the world isn’t there, it is just the two of us talking about anything, and it just feels so wonderful,” Kim said, adding, “My husband never talks with me like that.”
One fateful Thanksgiving 15 years ago
Thanksgiving. A time for family, close friends, Kim and Dan clearing the table of dishes, to the kitchen where Kim whispered “Dan, every time I see you I want more than a hug and little kiss on the cheek. I need to see you more, differently. Can we?”
And Dan, what did he say? How did he reply? How could this man who understands not only women but Korean women, and the concept of face saving, how could he reply?
“Dan said, ‘I am so flattered.”
Kim paused. “That was 15 years ago, Mr. Beaver, almost like yesterday. Suddenly, with every step I took leaving my best friend’s home, I was overcome with guilt! I had just asked her husband to have an affair and I think he said yes. What should I do? How would I react the next time I saw him? Would he call? I wanted desperately to take those words back!” Kim told me, 6,000 miles away, sobbing.
Six months later
“Our regular social life continued, friends getting together, Dan no different than before, me trying to forget, but I couldn’t. He never called. I never called him. Nothing ever happened, and then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Upon hearing the diagnosis, my husband broke down that night and cried, saying over and over again, “My sweet Kim, I love you so, Please don’t leave me!”
“Mr. Beaver, I will live with this guilt to the day I die. Please, tell your readers my story. It just isn’t worth it.”