This man describes what he calls his "fall from grace:"
If you had said to me then that in a year's time I would be departing our impressive London home for a bedsit nearby, my marriage in ruins, I would have stared at you in disbelief. And now here I am, aged 44, out on my tod on Sunday February 14 2010, banished from my home, wifeless, making bleary-eyed contact with a dad tending to his two year-old at the next table while his partner bottle-feeds her infant brother. I feel a mixture of sadness, envy, embarrassment and utter remorse. It is all my fault.
My happiness that St Valentine's Day last year camouflaged a problem. I had begun an affair with another woman. It began as innocent flirting in the school playground, which evolved into popping around to her place for morning coffee.
He agrees that he was guilty of lust, but the analysis of what women's success in the workplace is very interesting.
There is a cultural revolution going on here. A generation of women have emerged who are not only brilliant at work but also run their homes in the same utterly efficient way that they run their businesses. The staff (husband/nanny) are given tasks they are expected to perform and their execution is constantly assessed. Men haven't adjusted to this change. They are not used to being monitored in the home, which was once a place where they could do what they wanted. They are in a sort of cultural limbo where they have relinquished one role (being the sole provider) but haven't properly replaced it with anything else. Work defines us. When men were dominant at work and at home, women found themselves having to kowtow to them and their self-esteem was slowly eroded. In many families the boot is now on the other foot.
He almost allows this to be an excuse for his bad behaviour (there is none) but he steps away from that conclusion. It did give a glimpse into a man's mind about shared parental responsibilities, but showed more than anything how little graciousness and good will there was about each little action for others.
While he admits to his wife's utter humiliation by his affair, he misses completely (or ignores) what it does to his children beyond complicating their child care.
Rearing children is a bit like a round of golf. Lots of irritation and scuffling about in the rough, all the mess, constant disruption and the tantrums. But one drive down the middle – a cherubic face, a funny observation in the dentist's waiting room, a tickling session at bedtime – make it all compelling. It's far deeper and more fulfilling than the brief thrill from illicit passion. I knew that before. Now I really feel it.
He said it wasn't worth it, and perhaps it will stand as a cautionary tale. I imagine he'll be sowing this whirlwind for the rest of his life -- as will the poor children.