The connection was immediate, but platonic. In fact, as they became friends so did their spouses. There were dinners, Christmas parties and even family vacations together.Before sleeping together, they told their spouses, and Partilla considered himself to be doing the "terrible thing as honorably as I could." Partilla then, as the NYT phrased it "moved out of his home, reluctantly leaving his three children." Then he came back, then left, back and forth, feeling lots of "pain."
So [Carol Anne] Riddell was surprised to find herself eagerly looking for [John] Partilla at school events — and missing him when he wasn’t there. “I didn’t admit to anyone how I felt,” she said. “To even think about it was disruptive and disloyal.”
Ms. Riddell said she remembered crying in the shower, asking: “Why am I being punished? Why did someone throw him in my path when I can’t have him?”
In May 2008, Mr. Partilla invited her for a drink at O’Connell’s, a neighborhood bar. She said she knew something was up, because they had never met on their own before.
“I’ve fallen in love with you,” he recalled saying to her. She jumped up, knocking a glass of beer into his lap, and rushed out of the bar. Five minutes later, he said, she returned and told him, “I feel exactly the same way.”
The pain he had predicted pervaded both of their lives as they faced distraught children and devastated spouses, while the grapevine buzzed and neighbors ostracized them.Riddell "came to realize" that her predicament "wasn’t a punishment, it was a gift." And in this framing of the tale, the heroine needed to "earn" the gift. How? By being "brave enough to hold hands and jump."
“He said, ‘Remind me every day that the kids will be O.K.,’ ” Ms. Riddell recalled. “I would say the kids are going to be great, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives making it so.”
There are 139 comments over at the NYT, many of them very critical of the Times:
Why does the Times glorify home-wrecking? Is it a sign of our times that personal responsibility to one's spouse and children takes a back seat to selfish, self-centered love....They not only broke up their own families. They broke up the big friendship that had interwoven the 2 families. The left-behind spouses not only trusted their own partner, they also believed that, together with that partner, they enjoyed a great friendship with a wonderful couple and their kids. All those memories of social times spent together are now to be understood in a new way.
The notions of "Vows" has a deliciously ironic depth of meaning here - the ones they made, but the ones they felt less compelled to honor. I doubt very much there's not more than what is related here - What a rationalization as to why it's OK to "befriend" another family then break up two in one shot. "It was just love!" Methinks it's the selfishness that's big and noisy!
Forbes has a story about the controversy:
In addition to strong condemnation from numerous bloggers and many of the paper’s own commenters, the article, as a first of sorts for the Times, invited a number of questions. Why were the ex-spouses of the newlyweds not mentioned by name in the story? Did the reporter call them for comment, as basic journalistic practice would dictate? Why did the Times open up the comment board when most Vows stories are off-limits? And above all, what were the couple thinking in telling their story in a space normally reserved for feel-good, soft-focus meet-cute tales?The things people will say... to your face.
“We did this because we just wanted one honest account of how this happened for our sakes and for our kids’ sakes,” Riddell told me. “We are really proud of our family and proud of the way we’ve handled this situation over the past year. There was nothing in the story we were ashamed of.”
Riddell says the backlash is “sort of surprising to me. I think people are focusing a lot on the negative, but there was a lot of positive.” But, she notes, “we’ve had a lot of people say to us how brave we are to do this, how commendable it was that we were as honest as we were.”
So did the story’s author, Devan Sipher, seek comment from the exes?... [A] Times spokeswoman says, “We do not comment on the process of editing and reporting including who was and was not contacted for interviews related to a specific story. The Vows/Wedding column adheres to the standards of the Times.” The paper’s Weddings/Celebrations editor, Robert Woletz, did not return a message; nor did the exes, who, like their former spouses, both have high-level jobs in the media industry. (In both cases, the first marriage was also written up in the Times.)That's all very complex. But I'm happy with the notion that the Times writes up marriage stories because they raise interesting issues. Happy families are all alike. Who wants to read about them?