Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wanna put the book in the freezer?

Friday afternoon Hans and I went to Half-Price Books, one of our favorite things to do on a lazy evening. I picked up a book called Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. I was excited to find it - I have read several of her other books and loved them. I didn't even read the back to see what it was about, I just figured I liked the author so I'd like the book.

Less than a hundred pages into the book, I started getting this gross, sick feeling in my stomach. The book did not make me feel good. I kept reading hoping it would get better, and it didn't. In fact, I read the entire book Friday night (into Saturday morning) and had to wake Hans up when I finished because I was crying.

The book is told from the point of view of a woman named Tessa. She's a professor turned stay-at-home mom who battles witchy upper-class housewives, soccer games, dinners, house cleaning, and two young children while her husband, the surgeon, is constantly rushing off to save lives and help others. She's unhappy and feels alone.

One night (their anniversary), her husband is called in to help a little boy who fell into a fire at a friend's house. He's badly burned and needs several operations over the course of several months. The doctor grows closer to the boy and in the process, the boy's single mother.

See where this is going? Doesn't take a rocket scientist. He seems like a good guy, an honest, loving family man. So I kept reading hoping he wouldn't do it. But he does.

And the rest of the book is about Tessa finding out and trying to figure out what to do. She doesn't want to be with him anymore because she doesn't trust him and feels like from her experience (her father and brother are both cheaters, too) that men who cheat will do it again, no matter how sorry they say they are. At the same time, she doesn't want to ruin her kids' lives the way her parents' divorce ruined hers.

All cheating makes my stomach hurt. It seems like everyone cheats now. I mean, isn't that the big trend of the year? Tiger Woods, David Boreanez, David Letterman, Larry King, Jesse James.

And over the years, I have been shocked by some of men I knew (family friends, friend's parents, etc) who cheated on their wives. It wasn't the ones you might expect - though you never want to expect that of someone - but rather the ones who seemed like the most loving, honest guys.

But this book took it to a new level. It follows Tessa as she examines and ultimately starts to blame herself. Their sex life wasn't good enough. She was distant and unsupportive. She was too materialistic and caught up in the day-to-day dramas of getting into the right pre-school and feuding housewives.

The surgeon (Nick) eventually blows up at Tessa, telling her it was her fault. She changed, not him. She wasn't the ambitious, driven, independent woman that he fell in love with. She has become just like all the other women in their vapid, rich neighborhood. The woman he had the affair with reminded him of how his wife used to be.

Woah, woah, woah. Why is this her fault? She changed, so it's ok for him to cheat? When does he talk to her and tell her about his concerns for their marriage or how he feels like she's changing and pulling away from him? When does he suggest counseling? Heck, when does he even attempt to keep himself on the side of right by staying away from the other woman? Did I miss those pages? No? That's right, he puts himself in compromising positions by showing up at the woman's house in the middle of the night to "check on the boy." He didn't want to cheat on his wife, "it just happened." Maybe it wouldn't have "just happened" if you didn't spend so much time alone with her, at her house. Jerk.

When the book finishes, Tessa is taking Nick back, accepting that she's partly responsible for his cheating and accepting that most men cheat. It made me sick. When did we get to the point that cheating is expected? Really?! So vows are just... guidelines? Why don't we expect that people keep their promises, to be faithful and true? That's what I expect of people.

I am thankful for the good examples I have in my life of people who are faithful and true. My own dad has always been a loving, devoted, loyal husband and I am grateful that he has put my mother first for the last 27 years. My in-laws, too, have been a strong and loving couple for over 20 years. It's good to know that it can happen, that people can stay together, and in love, for all that time. I think a common element in the strong relationships I know is that they are grounded in faith. The commitment isn't just between the two of them, but with our Heavenly Father, too. They are not immune from rocky times or temptations, but He's there to help them through, if they will remember Him and ask Him.

I'm disappointed by this book and hope that it does not represent the reality of our world.


  1. There are two levels to this story.

    1. Everyone does deserve a second chance, as long as the behavior is a one-time issue. In my opinion. Could I personally get over a cheater when I'm married to them? Gosh, I don't know, nor do I ever want to think about that.

    2. Cheating, sadly, is often both people's fault. Does that excuse the behavior? Certainly not. However, it does often explain it. People feel neglected, people feel alone, people feel misunderstood, so they act out improperly.

    With those two things being said, I do not think it's appropriate to cheat on someone at all. My parents love each other dearly, through sickness and health, good and bad, etc. etc. It's hard for me to understand the mind of a cheater completely.

    Of course, this all comes without reading the book myself! :) Do not let it get you sick. Men will be men and women will be women. We are all human, we all make mistakes and sadly, we often hurt the people that we love the most. It's a vicious cycle. All that we can do is try to not make mistakes often/repeatedly because it is unrealistic to think we are going to lead blameless lives.

    Phew! That was long!

  2. I totally agree with you.

    Cheaters deserve forgiveness, as well. Heavenly Father says you have to. He didn't say you had to stay and He didn't say the second chance had to be with the person they cheated on, but .. someone out there ought to give them a second chance. It just wouldn't be me. Oh heck no.

    I just read a book called, "Slut!" It's about girls growing up as the "slut" of their school and the damage that name calling did to them emotionally and sometimes physically. It points out that in our society guys are expected to have a crazy sex drive, where as any girl who says she likes to have sex is labeled a slut and shunned. It points out a LOT of unequalities in men and women sexually.. I can see why that stupid story would make Teresa act like it was somehow HER fault and MEN are just that way... but, it's wrong. Those points of views are sick and wrong and drive me nuts. The whole time I was reading that book (good read, a little outdated but good read) I was so grateful that in our church we are taught different. WE are taught why we should be chaste, and that men are more responsible than girls because they hold the priesthood. Girls are taught not to make it hard on the boys TO be good, but that ultimately boys are in charge of bridling their passions. Anyway... cheaters never prosper and I wish that girl would have left him and taken the house, the cars and all his money. Left him out to dry...