I have been doing a fair bit of travel recently, and it's always interesting to me how much people open up on airplanes and share intimate details that they probably wouldn't otherwise share with a stranger.
I recently sat next to a woman. We shared the normal pleasantries ... "where is home for you? ... is this a business or pleasure trip" ... what do you do for a living?" When I shared that I recently wrote a book based on my own experience with divorce called, "The High Road Has Less Traffic: Honest Advice on the Path Through Love and Divorce" she immediately began to share her own story with divorce. That's not unusual. In fact, I know a lot about a lot of different divorces and there are a lot out there! I think it's kind of like when women meet someone who is pregnant and suddenly they find themselves sharing every detail of their own pregnancy.
This woman proceeded to tell me that she loved the title of my book, and told me that she too had chosen to take the high road in her own divorce. She shared with me how she discovered that her husband had been having an affair with one of her good friends, how it had devastated her and her children, and how she has resolved that she would handle things positively in spite of the bitterness that she felt.
I was with her! It all sounded great! I was proud of this woman.
Then she told me that she had recently begun dating again and found herself "totally falling in love" with this new guy. I was excited for her, and as is normal for strangers on an airplane, I started asking all sorts of details. How did they meet? How long had they been dating? Was he divorced too?
Imagine my utter shock and dismay when I found out that he was still married! Yes, married! She said he told her that he really wanted to divorce his wife. He told her their marriage was really over. He told her he loved her. I continued being the nosy passenger in the seat next to her and discovered that not only was he still married, he hadn't even been to see a divorce attorney yet. As far as his wife knew, they were still 100 percent married, and when I asked if she had any idea that he had a lover, the answer, of course, was no. They were 'sneaking' around spending weekends away and making clandestine phone calls when they could.
What was I to do now?! The pilot announced that we were preparing to land. There is a fine line between lecturing so that people immediately shut down, and providing some advice and counsel such that you provide some food for thought that the person may initially be opposed to, but that will continue to pop back into their minds and be considered even after the conversation has ended. (The difference between those two things is a fine art I am working to perfect as the mother to a teen daughter!)
I responded with what I hope was the right blend of a slap in the face (What in the world are you thinking? Your ex-husband cheated on you, and now you are the 'other woman') with a dose of reality (Do you know how many women around the world are waiting and waiting for their lovers to finally divorce their wives and wake up years later still waiting and waiting?) and a splash of guilt (You just told me you took the high road in your own divorce, and now you are doing the same thing and contributing to the demise of another marriage? This is what you are role modeling for your own kids?).
I'll never know if my 'blend' was the right one and if my message impacted the women in seat 22B in any way. I hope that she found the courage to get out of that situation, to step away from being the 'other woman,' and to move on with her new life in a way that would do her proud and allow her to look in the mirror every day with her head held high.
It's amazing what you learn on airplanes!