My older fiancé, Patrick, had three kids, and out of all of them, it was Michael I saw the most. Because he worked so closely with his father at the family business and lived downtown, his dad frequently wanted to socialize with him after work, usually at a sports bar. Patrick always wanted me there, too, so I frequently joined them. His son was no longer rude to me, like he was the first time we met. He tolerated me, and out of respect for his father, he treated me like a lady.
We would hang out with him for an hour or two and then leave him to be with his friends. One late afternoon, while we were all gathered at the bar with televisions blaring all around us, Michael made a reference to his sister’s wedding. I hadn’t heard a word about it and was shocked. I couldn’t even fake indifference because, naturally, I was very curious, especially because Patrick was apparently keeping it a secret from me.
Trying to be casual, I said, “Oh, is Isabel getting married?” Patrick looked guilty and so did his son, probably for letting the news slip out when he wasn’t supposed to. I looked at Patrick in the eye and asked when the wedding was.
“Oh, not for several months,” replied Patrick. There was a long, uncomfortable silence before I then asked if it was a small, private wedding or a large wedding.
It turned out that it was going to be a very large wedding. You could have cut the tension in the air, and I was clearly getting upset. I had come to trust Patrick and he had always acted as if it were important to him that I eventually became accepted by his family. We both knew that took time and trust, but I felt like some big, dark secret was being kept from me.
We finished our drinks and ended the conversation with superficial talk. I wasn’t going to probe any further about Isabel’s wedding in front of Patrick’s son. Patrick and I left the bar and drove north along the lake for a light dinner at a cozy Italian trattoria. I could tell he was nervous and he kept chatting about all kinds of things—everything but the wedding.
We sat at a small table and placed our order. I then looked at him and said, “When were you going to tell me about Isabel’s wedding?”
He stuttered on and on about how Isabel and her mother were doing all the planning and he really hadn’t been all that involved. I knew that simply couldn’t be true. He was the father of the bride and was most likely paying for this wedding; that much I knew for sure. I asked him why he was hiding something that big from me and if he understood how hurt I was.
He briefly apologized, but it was clear that he didn’t want to discuss it. So, I finally just blurted out the million dollar question. “Are you planning on taking me to the wedding?” I asked.
My world fell apart when he cast his eyes down and clearly said, “No.” And that was the end of the conversation. It was in that moment that I realized that if you’re a younger woman marrying an older man who had a family before you, there are some parts of his life that he’ll never let you in on, no matter how much he promises you otherwise.