The Russian Wife Experience

I once had a neighbor many years ago who “bought” himself a wife. Actually, two — but not at the same time, of course. The first was a mail-order bride from the Philippines, which resulted in a marriage that lasted about fifteen years and produced two beautiful daughters. But, all good things come to an end and after all those years, his now-Americanized wife packed up and moved out.

“I think I’ll get myself a Russian wife this time,” the neighbor casually remarked when I saw him one day after their divorce. He said it in much the same way one might speak when ordering a pizza. A bit like “Yeah, I think I want anchovies on it.”

Maybe he lacked social skills. He was a bit of a geek, and overall, my thought is that for him “ordering a wife” online was simply the quickest, easiest way to complete a desired transaction.

By the way, he did, indeed, get a Russian lady for his second wife. That marriage produced a son and lasted for quite some time, although I believe she, too, eventually packed up and left. This was years ago, and I’ve long since lost track of the fellow.

He was on my mind, however, as I pondered what to do with Michael Sorensen, a young adult sim who is living alone for the first time. Michael, you see, comes from a highly dysfunctional family, and if you’ve followed along on my blog for a while, you probably know that when I create sims or age them up, I choose traits for them at random. So it was that when Michael aged up to young adult status, he had the misfortune to get the new “unflirty” trait. It seemed a good addition to his gloomy personality, and certainly seemed to fit right in with his background.

But, as I saw him sitting alone in his new house, I felt sorry for Michael. Everyone deserves a loving relationship, right? I love seeing my sims find that “someone special”, get married, and start families of their own.

Of course, I knew that Michael could never manage this without a little help. It was time for a bit of “player intervention.”

How could I find a wife for Michael and yet make it part of a somewhat “realistic” storyline? As that question ran through my mind, memories of my old neighbor surfaced. Yes, the perfect solution. Michael could “buy” himself a wife.

I suppose I could have easily chosen an Asian townie to play the role, but instead I opted to go with a Russian bride. I quickly went into CAS and prepared to design the perfect woman for Michael. When I clicked “Add Sim” to Michael’s household, I was very pleasantly surprised to find this young lady.

From the moment I saw her, I loved her. To me, she somehow looked exactly as I’d imagined a good “Russian wife” should.

Because she had a very special role to play in my game, I didn’t use my “random factor” to select her traits. I gave her the following:

  • Neat
  • Cheerful
  • Bookworm

Those seemed like good qualities for a wife. I also gave her a “Family Oriented” aspiration. She’s hoping to have a big, happy family.

Finally came the moment of truth. I clicked on Michael’s household and went in to play. I found Galina sitting at the kitchen table. My imagination kicked in, of course, and I could sense her nervousness as she waited to meet her prospective husband for the first time. (In CAS, I left their status as “roommates” to give them a chance to develop an actual relationship on their own.)

Things went quite well. Michael sat down and they began a very pleasant chat. They discussed their interests, they spent time getting to know one another, and they had a few deep conversations. All the wile the specter of Michael’s “unflirty” personality was hovering over the meeting. Did I dare attempt a flirtation?

Finally, I tried. Of course, the best Michael could manage was an “awkward” flirt. I had hoped Galina would be understanding, but it didn’t happen that way. Next, I tried having her flirt with Michael. That was not good. Within a matter of moments, they were well on their way to hating each other. How could I stop this disaster from happening?

Maybe I should set a more romantic mood, I decided. I quickly grabbed an incense burner and soon the sweet fragrance of romantic sandalwood was wafting through the air. It seemed to help a little, but not enough to turn the tide. Even though they were in a flirty atmosphere, I couldn’t get any romance blossoming between them.

I almost gave up. From this experience, my guess is that it’s impossible for an “unflirty” sim to ever find love and marital happiness. I thought of letting them go right on hating each other — their bars were filled with red — but force them into marriage through CAS. After all, arranged marriages don’t always begin with love and affection, right?

Had I done that, I doubt that Michael and Galina could ever have had children, and that was the whole point of the “Russian wife” experience. This was supposed to be an easy, painless way for socially inept Michael to start a family.

So, in desperation I headed back to CAS. I temporarily changed Michael’s nature from unflirty to romantic. Oh, what a difference! It didn’t take long for these two to get things going hot and heavy. Too hot, in fact. While they were kissing passionately the incense caught fire and burned up half the kitchen. Fortunately, Galina had sense enough to grab a fire extinguisher. Once the fire was out, they picked up where they left off and headed to the bedroom for a little woo-hoo.

I figured it was all right to “marry” the couple since they were getting along. I slipped back into CAS again, changed their relationship status to pronounce them husband and wife, and then…yeah, I changed Michael back to his usual unflirty self.

Before I left, I photographed the happy couple at home. They both love reading, so maybe they will be able to make their marriage work.

Michael and Galina at home sharing their love of books.

Now, what will happen when it’s time for them to begin a family? Will Michael be able to actually have a relationship? Or will I once again have to resort to drastic measures to overcome his inability to handle romantic flirtations? Will incense help? Or will that only lead to burning down their house? Will Galina have patience enough to put up with her gloomy husband?

Only time will tell, but for now, the Russian wife has proved to be quite an interesting experience, both for Michael and for me.


Making Choices

When we’re creating families and living out their lives through our games, it’s sometimes a difficult thing to see them unhappy. I know from reading the discussion boards at EA’s Forum that a lot of players go out of their way to make life easy for their sims.

I’m not one of them.

It’s possible to use cheats to improve a sim’s skills, get job promotions, and add hefty sums of simoleons to the family account. There are also “in-game” tricks — like taking a thoughtful shower for inspiration before a sim sits down to write a novel. Of course, as the all-knowing, all-seeing, everywhere-present creator of our own sim world, we can easily step in at any time to intervene when things aren’t going well. I’ll admit to occasionally slipping over to CAS to create a “potentially perfect” mate for a lonely sim, but beyond that, I try — as much as possible — to take a “hands off” approach. I want my sims to have their own lives, to make their own choices, and to accept the consequences of their own behavior. In keeping with that style of play, I mostly sit back, watch my sims, and follow their whims and aspirations as guides.

The result is that I often have unhappy sims. Some, in fact, are utterly miserable. Am I heartless? There are certainly times when I feel sorry for a sim in my game, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to jump right in and fix things for him or her. Instead, I’ll shake my head a bit and lament the poor choices and bad decisions that have caused so much misery.

One such miserable sim is Dalton Vaile. I briefly shared a bit of his story before when he and his girlfriend, Janis Melanson, went out on the first “dinner date” in my game. Now, for me, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Dalton is degenerate. As an artist, he’s lived a wild, reckless lifestyle, carousing long into the night with his other degenerate artist friends. Think Bohemian lifestyle…to the max.

At one such drunken soiree, he met Eva, a townie whose last name I don’t recall. Somehow I neglected to even note it in my records. I never liked Eva, you see. She had nothing to offer. When she got pregnant and claimed that Dalton was the father, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Dalton was not the marrying kind and neither was Eva. So, I stepped back and let them live their own lives.

At the time the baby was born, Dalton was living with Beatrice Oakes. She was an older woman who’d lost her husband, and she rented a room of her house out to help struggling students. She believed in Dalton and his art, felt sorry for him, and took him in. Of course, when she learned that Dalton had a newborn son, she persuaded him to at least see the child. He did, and with a bit of gentle persuasion from Beatrice, he decided to “do the right thing” and marry Eva. Maybe, in time, they’d come to love one another.

It was a miserable marriage from the start. Eva and little Coleman moved into Beatrice’s home, and for the most part, Eva took full advantage of having a built-in babysitter. Although she was unemployed and did nothing more than sit around, Eva left the care of her son almost entirely up to Beatrice.

More unhappy than ever, Dalton resumed his reckless ways. He flunked out of art school, spent most of the time in a stupor, and fought with Eva every moment they were together. Finally, he divorced her, kept custody of Coleman, and made a desperate attempt to get his life back together. Oh, this man was so miserable.

ColemanHe sunk lower and lower, and finally even the kind-hearted Beatrice could bear no more. She tossed the fellow out on his ear, and little Coleman along with him. Forced now to fend for himself, he rented an inexpensive little house, but couldn’t afford to furnish it beyond the bare necessities.

For several years, he and Coleman struggled. As much as Dalton loved his son, he still couldn’t break free from his old habits, and the little boy spent a lot of time alone, staring at the walls, wondering just where his father might be.

I think the turning point came when Coleman asked for an art table. No way could Dalton afford to buy one, but he sold a few old paintings to scrape together a bit of cash, and even though it meant not paying the rent that month, he bought his son the table he wanted.

Seeing the joy on his son’s face changed Dalton, I think. He started spending more time with Coleman. He started painting again, too. Soon Coleman was making friends and becoming a little more outgoing. Dalton stopped throwing money away on parties, started being a more responsible parent, and even saved enough to fix up the house a bit so that Coleman’s friends could come to visit.

SelfieEventually he met Janis. It was at Magnolia Blossom Park. He was painting there one afternoon when a “Singles Club” came out for a gathering. He and Janis began chatting, exchanged phone numbers, and even took “selfies” together.

Afterward, he nearly missed out, though. He was hesitant to call Janis. Why would she want to go out with a loser like him?

Fortunately, he took the chance and called her.

The relationship has worked out well, and they’re both very happy. Dalton’s ex-wife, Eva, by the way, finally landed in jail for shoplifting, so she’s out of the picture — not that she ever came around that much.

Coleman and Janis get along well, and now, Janis is expecting. Will Dalton propose? I’m hoping he will, but it’s up to him. He’s made many bad choices and wrong decisions over the years, but I think he’s learned a lot about life now. For the first time ever, Dalton Vaile is a happy man. His son is happy, too.

I wish them well.


A Close Call

Edgar EvansFormer astronaut Edgar Evans is proud to say he now has 22 members of his fan club — all the neighborhood kids. They’re so cute. He loves visiting their little club and talking about his time in space.

Of course, he also enjoys having the current group of NSSA Cadets over to his place and fixing dinner for them. He makes a mess, but his wife, Sara, never complains.

The Evans family did have quite a scare recently, though. Edgar’s wife, Sara, has been spending a lot of time taking care of those exotic space plants the space agency has been studying. A woman working at the agency — Yasmin Grayson — nearly died because of those plants. It seems they’re the cause of an ailment the scientists have named boverde flu.

Boverde Flu Sara got violently ill, and Edgar was afraid he was going to lose her. Fortunately the doctors have now developed a cure for the disease.

Edgar is very insistent that his wife steer clear of those exotic space plants in the future.

And what’s going on with Kat and Jonathan? Why aren’t they having babies? Family is far more important than career, at least in Edgar’s opinion, and Sara is inclined to agree with him. But so far, no news about any little ones on the way.








Could It Be His Fault?

Depressed KatJonathan Evans is getting concerned. He and Kat have been married for a while, and although she’s trying to get pregnant, it’s not happening.

She’s moping around, feeling awful, and spending a lot of time in bed. Jonathan hates seeing his wife so depressed. Could it be his fault? It might serve him right, you know, for cheating on Kat.

But he’s not doing that anymore. He’s ready to have a family, or at least, he thinks he is. They’ll keep trying. What else can they do?

thNL9PCMR6He did give Kat a beautiful gift for their anniversary. He bought her a baby grand piano. It took all they had in savings, but it was worth it. He’s been writing music — a few modern jazz pieces for violin — so he’s making a few simoleons. He’ll have their savings built up again soon.

Kat’s been doing well with her music, too, so she’s got that to cheer her up. She’s one of the most requested performers for weddings and funerals, and while that might not seem like much to brag about, it brings in money. They’re doing all right.

But why can’t they have babies? Is something really wrong with one of them? Which one?






Enjoy the music of John Dowland today along with art by English painter Robert Peake the Elder.

I love listening to lute music. It always puts me in a quiet, but thoughtful mood. It’s perfect for background music while I’m writing, painting, or reading. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The Edgar Evans Fan Club

Edgar EvansPart of the fun of following Jonathan along on his life’s journey comes from knowing his family. His father, Edgar, was one of the first sims I created for this version of the game, and I’ve always been proud of him and his accomplishments. I’ve also been amused at his bungling attempts to master social media

Yes, Edgar has conquered the stars, but now that he’s been retired from space flight missions and is back on ground duty, he can’t quite get the hang of blogging and creating a following. He finally decided he should simply leave the writing to his talented wife, author Sara Evans.

But truly, Jonathan does have a following — in the form of a fan club begun by kids in the neighborhood. The little fan club is up to sixteen members now. Yes, that’s more than Get Together allows for a single “club meeting”, but in Edgar’s world, once a member, always a member. For story purposes, his fan club continues to grow.

Now, this is what I most admire about Edgar. He is quite literally “down to earth”, and he cares very much about his six-, seven- and eight-year-old fans. A lot of busy, important men would likely find it a bother or think it a waste of time to meet with these children. Not Edgar. He enjoys getting together with his little fan club.

He gives them inspiring talks, shows them — even lets them touch — curios he’s collected from his space missions, and answers their questions about the astronaut program. Edgar likes to think that what he’s doing today might be the reason why a child chooses to pursue a career in space exploration or rocket science tomorrow.

We need more people like Edgar Evans, I think, and I’m not just talking about Sims 4. We need people like this in our real world, people who care about youth, people who are passionate about serving their community.

I guess I consider myself another member of The Edgar Evans Fan Club. I’m definitely one of his biggest admirers, and I’m grateful for the inspiration he gives me.

Big Blue DividerDo YOU have a sim in your game that you admire?

I’d love to hear about your upstanding sim citizens.

Please leave a comment on this post.

You and your sim might win the first “Edgar Evans Award” for

service to the community.


I’ll be presenting the award one week from today.


Looking at Lothario

One of the reasons I don’t usually play pre-made sims is because of their too obvious names. The Caliente sisters — caliente meaning “hot” in Spanish — are intended to be, well, yeah, two hot single girls, and Michael Bachelor is — surprise, surprise — a bachelor. And then, there’s Don Lothario, seducer of women.

A quick bit of history here. Lothario was the main character in The Fair Penitent, a tragedy written by Nicholas Rowe in 1703 — which was in itself an adaptation of an earlier work, The Fatal Dowry, first published in 1632. When writing his stage play, Rowe simplified the plot line somewhat and also changed the names of the characters, thus Novall Junior became Lothario.

His role in the play was that of a notorious seducer. He is charming and handsome, but also haughty and unfeeling. In The Fair Penitent, he seduces Calista, an unfaithful wife.  Following the publication of the play, the character of Lothario became a standard figure in works for the English theatre and literature. The character of Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa (1848) was modeled on him, and as the stereotypical “Lothario” appeared more and more often, his name became synonymous with seduction and with unscrupulous rakes who prey upon innocent young women.

Dirty DonIn Sims 2, we find Don Lothario living in Pleasantview. He is, indeed, a womanizer.  Don is involved with both Nina and Dina Caliente, despite the fact that he’s engaged to Cassandra Goth. He’s also having a bit of fun with pretty maid, Kaylynn Langerak.

I never followed the story of Bella Goth and her disappearance, but rumor has it that she went to Don Lothario’s house to welcome him to Pleasantview and was never seen again.

Despite my dislike of pre-mades, this lothario made his way into my Sims 2 game. For a time, having a “love ’em and leave ’em” character chasing after every woman he met was amusing, but I stopped laughing when he went after innocent young Kristin Allbright.

Don brought Kristin home from work with him that day — no doubt on the pretext of helping her with her job skills — and I was aghast. I’d created Kristin only a few days before, and she was undoubtedly the most naïve young girl in my game. So sweet. So caring. So trusting.

I knew Kristin would be an easy target for a man like Don Lothario, and I sat in front of computer crying out to the poor girl, desperately wanting to warn her about the sort of man Don really was.

“No, go home! Don’t fall for his tricks!”

To my amazement, Kirstin was smarter than I’d ever guessed. Too smart even for the unscrupulous Don Lothario. Although she chatted with him quite pleasantly for a time, as soon as he tried “putting on the moves”, she got up and announced it was time for her to go.

For weeks, Don chased after Kristin, but she wasn’t buying it. He courted her with flowers and other gifts, and while she would go out with him on dates, she’d never go home with him afterward. Maybe a quick kiss now and then, but definitely no woo-hoo!

Kirstin became an obsession for him. He broke off his engagement with Cassandra and gave up his relationships with all other women. He wanted Kirstin, and he was determined to get her no matter what the cost.

In the end, Don Lothario’s story had quite a happy ending in my game. He truly feel “head over heels” in love with sweet young Kirstin, and once they married, he changed his ways completely — thanks to the game reward that allowed aspiration changes. No longer a womanizer, he became a faithful husband and, in time, a devoted father to their children. His story has become one of my favorites, proving that people can change and serving as a reminder, too, that high moral standards do have a place in our world today.

Don has also appeared in Sims 3, and is included with Sims 4, but I quickly deleted him from the current game. I wouldn’t enjoy playing his character now. In my mind, he’s always going to remain the happy husband and father from Pleasantview who met his match in a sweet, innocent young girl.


What Kind of Sim Are You?

result_16_excited_aristocratWell, not sure I agree with my results completely, but the latest fun quiz from EA tells me that I’m an “Excited Aristocrat” when it comes to simming. In other words, I’m a happy snob. Me? Really? That’s not exactly how I see myself, but it was a fun quiz all the same.

If you’ve missed the quiz, you can find it here: What Kind of Sim Are You?

For the record, I do have a few “happy snobs” in my game. Benjamin Caldwell and his family come to mind. Most of my sims, though, are ordinary, hard-working folks whose lives center around their growing families.

Mostly I have a lot of creative sims.  My sims love to cook, write, paint, and make music. What a coincidence! So do I.

It’s fun to see what we have in common with our sims, how our game play reflects our own lifestyles, and the ways in which our game differs from who we are in real life.

Do your sims reflect your personal interests? Do they share your career and your interests? Have they developed similar skills? Do your sims have traits similar to yours? Or do you create sims who are the total opposite of who you are?

Fun questions to think about, and I’d love to hear your answers. And do take the quiz. Even if you don’t agree with the results, it’s fun to read.

result_06_playful_creative.pngUPDATE: I went back and took the quiz a second time, gave it a little more thought, and changed a few answers. Now I’ve come up with “Playful Creative”. That sounds more like who I really am. 🙂






In-Game Goals

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about goal-setting in my own life. Naturally, that’s led me to think about the goals that have become part of Sims 4. While I understand that the importance of setting objectives for ourselves, I’m not a goal-oriented person. In fact, I think goals can sometimes do more harm than good.

Most of all, I’m not goal-oriented in my approach to playing my sims. To me, in-game goals or “achievements” go against all The Sims was originally created to be. Times change, and games evolve. You don’t have to point that out to me. I know Sims 4 has to be different from its predecessors because the world itself is different. The players are different, too.

When the original game first came out in 2000, it was unlike any other PC game on the market. Players were a bit confused at first because The Sims was a game you couldn’t win. But there’s a corollary to that. It’s also a game you can’t lose. There’s a beautiful sense of freedom in that. Take away concerns about winning and losing, and you’re left with a lot of fun. You can do whatever you want — within the confines of the game engine — and if something goes wrong, you just exit without saving and do something different next time.

The discussion of “in-game” goals comes up at the Forum from time to time, and many players are quick to point out that there are goals in the original game. Yes. And no.

First, let’s be clear on what we’re discussing. There are actually three different types of goals to consider. There are goals our sims are striving to achieve — reaching the top of a career, stashing away thousands of simoleons — and these goals are built-in to the structure of the game. Every sim must have a life “aspiration”.  Of course, whether or not the sim actively pursues or achieves an aspiration is up to the player.

Another way our sims pursue goals is through stories we create as we play. Goals are an important element in story-telling, and, as an example, we might give a sim the goal of finding a spouse and having a family. The game doesn’t reward us for achieving these story-driven goals, unless, of course, they happen to coincide with a life aspiration.

The third type of goal is called an “achievement”. These are also built-in to the game, and you can find a complete list of them at The Sims VIP:

The Sims 4 Achievements


Although these achievements may masquerade as “sim goals”, they’re really not. They’re player-driven. The in-game achievements are the developer’s attempt to appeal to a new generation of gamers, players who want a score-keeping system, or another way to measure their progress.

What’s happening is that it’s almost becoming a “right” versus “wrong” approach to the game. Players are now subject to comparisons, and there’s a bit of smugness and superiority among those “achievers” who truly think that’s what the game is all about.

Do I sound bitter? Maybe so. I don’t think accomplishing a list of meaningless objectives makes anyone a better player. The point of the game — at least in the beginning — is that players can approach the game however they want.

Of course, those “achievers” — who haunt the board first bragging of their accomplishments and then asking what they’re supposed to do next — always tell me that I don’t have to achieve anything. That’s true. The achievements are simply there, and occasionally, without even trying, I do complete one. I’ve received the “Bowdacious” achievement, for instance, when Jonathan Evans reached the top level of violin skill. That was part of his storyline, part of his own goal-setting. He achieved it because I was playing out his story, not because I wanted to check off an item on a sort of in-game “bucket list”.

No, I don’t have to play to “achieve” anything on the list. That’s not the point. My question is why we need such a list. First and foremost, The Sims is a life-simulation game. We don’t get points in real life, do we? We’re not really keeping score, are we? Happiness in life comes from many things. Ultimately, we determine for ourselves what makes us happy. To me, the whole idea of having achievements in the game takes away from what simming is all about. It encourages players to focus on meaningful activities, to strive toward goals simply for the sake of checking another item off a list.

Goals do have a place, even in our game, but goals should have meaning. That’s how I feel about it.

Big Blue DividerWhat’s your opinion?

Are you a goal-oriented simmer?

Are you an “achiever”?




The Great Guilt Trip

When Sims 2 came out, the first sim I created for the game was a young woman named Amelia. I had a plan, you know. I was going to create a male and female — all young adults — for each letter of the alphabet. Next, I created Andrew. The idea, of course, was that each “matching set” would become a couple.

I put Amelia in a nice little starter house, and I moved Andrew in next door. Even though I chose careers at random, it turned out that Amelia and Andrew were both pursuing medical careers, so they quickly began carpooling to work each day. Soon they were taking time to chat a bit after work each day, and before long Andrew’s “wants” were all about the girl next door. He wanted to chat with Amelia. He wanted to call Amelia. He wanted to flirt with Amelia. All was going according to plan.

As they spent more and more time together, they naturally grew closer. They had dinner together each evening, watched television, put on music and danced, or just sat and talked long into the night. Finally Andrew decided it was time to propose. Amelia accepted, of course, and the newlyweds moved in together.

It wasn’t long before Andrew wanted a child. Amelia wasn’t quite sure she was ready for motherhood, but soon the stork was on the way. Their son, Zachary, arrived nine months later, and that’s when the problems began.

Amelia had taken time off from nursing school, and since Andrew was doing well, he convinced her she should quit school and be a stay-at-home mom. She agreed, but she wasn’t happy. Amelia, you see, had always been very ambitious, very driven to have a meaningful career and make a difference in the world. She soon became very depressed.

Of course, she wanted to be a very good mother, so she devoted all her time to Zachary, shutting her husband out. Andrew did his best to keep Amelia happy, but each day the distance between them seemed to grow.

Now, all the while I was watching Andrew and Amelia live out their lives, I was playing other sims, as well. I’d created Belinda and Brett, Chelsea and Collin, Darla and Dave, and Erika and Evan. My original plan of “matching up” couples wasn’t happening quite as I’d intended, but that was all right. I was having fun following the lives and loves of these young adults as they made their way in the world.

And so it was that one bright, sunny Saturday morning, Brett and Collin came strolling by while Andrew was doing a bit of yardwork. “Hey, Andrew, why don’t you come over to my place?” Brett asked. The three young men were good friends — a bit like the “Three Musketeers” — always getting together to hang out and do “guy things”.

Andrew knew Amelia wouldn’t miss him — they barely even spoke much anymore — so he went off to spend a little time with his buddies. All was well…until Collin’s girlfriend, Erika, showed up.

Now, thanks to the Nightlife expansion pack, we had an “attraction” system in the game, and was it ever powerful! When Erika walked into the room, Andrew took one look at her, and wham! There was a “4-bolt” attraction between them, and an attraction that strong could not be ignored.

Andrew and Erika started flirting shamelessly. Never mind that her boyfriend was right there! She quickly informed Collin that he didn’t own her and that she could do whatever she pleased. Collin walked out, Brett tried to smooth things over, and all the while Erika and Andrew kept flirting. They couldn’t help themselves. That’s how powerful their attraction for one another was.

Back in the 1970’s there was a song by England Dan and John Ford Coley called “It’s Sad to Belong to Someone Else When the Right One Comes Along”. Here’s how it begins:

Met you on a springtime day
You were mindin’ your life
And I was mindin mine, too

Lady, when you looked my way
I had a strange sensation
And, darlin’ that’s when I knew…

That it’s sad to belong to someone else
When the right one comes along…

I felt Andrew’s pain. I realized what had happened to him was a common experience. He’d done all the “right” things in life, following the expected pattern. School. Dating. Marriage. Family. Amelia had been the first young woman he’d ever had a serious relationship with. Of course he’d thought it was “true love”. It was only when he met Erika that he realized what love was really all about.

I hated to see it happen, but nothing can stand in the way of a 4-bolt attraction, and soon Andrew and Erika were embroiled in a heated affair. Night after night, Andrew would slip out of the house — he was an intern “on call” at this time — and he’d head to Erika’s place. Amelia never questioned him, but he did feel a little pang of guilt each time he lied to her.

But not enough to break off his relationship with Erika. He couldn’t stay away from her. She was always on his mind, and he couldn’t wait to see her.

One night, when Andrew was at Erika’s place and the two were engaged in some serious woo-hoo, I was horrified to see Amelia strolling past the house. Oh, my goodness! She’d followed her husband. She knew of his affair. And I knew that Andrew knew she knew.

What an awful mess! I hated to see anyone hurt, but how else could it turn out? I quietly returned Andrew home that night and exited the game. I just wasn’t ready to deal with the inevitable confrontation that would soon come about.

For several days, I avoided playing Andrew and Amelia’s household. I didn’t want to face Amelia’s wrath. I felt so awful for her. How angry would she be? Would she immediately throw her husband out? Would their marriage be over? And what would happen to little Zachary?

Finally, I could put it off no longer. Holding my breath and dreading what was about to happen, I loaded Andrew and Amelia’s house. I was shocked when Amelia quietly got up and chatted with Andrew. She came up with a “want” to fix his favorite food, and the two of them had a pleasant breakfast.

What was going on? Why was she being so nice to him?

Later, after Andrew had gone to work, Amelia called a nanny to come watch Zachary while she went shopping. She headed to Cold Issue — I loved that store — and bought a few new things for Zachary, and a few new things for Andrew, too.

She returned home, cleaned the house, fixed a special meal and put on a bit of soothing music. By now, I was beginning to see her strategy. She had no intention whatsoever of confronting her wayward husband. She knew what he was up to, and he knew that she knew. Of course, she knew that he knew that she knew, too, and instead of making matters worse with a huge fight, Amelia cleverly let Andrew torment himself with guilt. The poor guy was a mess! He’d expected argument. He’d expected tears. He’d expected to be tossed out on his ear.

Instead, he got his favorite foods, new shirts in his favorite color, an immaculate house, and a smiling wife. Yes, indeed, she’d set him off on a great guilt trip that ultimately brought about the end of his illicit affair. He saw Erika one more time after that. She’d just installed a romantic new hot tub and wanted Andrew to share it with her. He did, but then he thought about Amelia. It wasn’t worth it, he realized. He got out of the hot tub, said good-bye, and hurried home.

That 4-bolt attraction remained between Andrew and Erika, and there was always a touch of sadness in his life. Truly it is sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along, but as the years went on, his affection for Amelia deepened and became the enduring sort of love from which strong marriages are made.

It would never have happened though without Amelia’s quiet understanding of how to best handle the situation. From that day forward, I saw her in a new light. I’ve always admired her for her wisdom and patience. I doubt that many women could have dealt with the situation as calmly as she did, but in the end, she did what she set out to do and saved her marriage.