Few things surprise me; however, recently a colleague confided in me about her divorce and it threw me for a loop. I'm not really good friends with this co-worker, and I don't see her often. Suddenly, in the midst of us discussing a big project, she mentions that she's going through a divorce. Since I wasn't even sure she was married, that was a surprise. I think she needed to talk to someone, and I had time and was willing to listen, even though, really, it's very unprofessional to dish on your personal life with people you only really know in your professional life.
What stood out to me the most is that her first comment when talking about the woman who "stole" her husband was that she wasn't pretty. "She looks bad," was the comment my colleague used. And I couldn't get it out of my head. The reason for this is that, as a romance/erotica writer, my job is to build a relationship between to people based on true love--a love that is something that everyone can aspire to--not some superficial attraction that wanes after several years. I spend much of my time trying to comprehend what makes a relationship last or what helps maintain a relationship, and at the end of the day, being pretty doesn't rate very high.
I remember an instance where a good friend of mine found himself in a situation where his parents where divorcing. It was hard for everyone to grasp the extent of his father's affair with the other woman, but it was especially difficult because the "other woman" was not necessarily prettier or younger or skinnier than his mother. It was incredibly difficult for anyone in his family to comprehend how his father could leave his mother for someone "less," and that made the dissolution of his family dynamic all the more difficult.
And that's what I want to rail about. The first thing anyone thinks of when we hear that someone is moving on to someone new is the differential in the score each person achieves on the "beauty" scale. Immediately, we default to the reason the relationship ended was because the person cheating went on to someone "better" in the looks department. Seriously? We're still hung up on looks like a sixth grader? Sure, some people are shallow muddle puddles of human beings and move from partner to partner without any emotional connection. However, people who get 20 years into marriage and suddenly want someone younger are typically not looking for someone younger; they're looking for something that their current life or relationship lacks.
This is wanted to tell my colleague, but it seemed to make her feel good that her husband had been lured by an ugly siren because nothing else made sense. I was supportive and didn't point out that love takes many forms, and we don't understand all of them, I just listened. I may not agree with what my colleague's spouse did, but I still believe that my co-worker will find someone who truly values her for herself and not some superficial characteristic such as looks. There's so much more to us than our physical appearance, and I hope that readers of this blog post know how beautiful they are.