I have listened to your advice. Yesterday I confronted Charlie.
I figured we needed a quiet evening when we could sit down together, but there was always something that kept me late at work. It’s tax season, so Charlie, too, is putting in long hours. I worked Saturday, then we went to a performance at our daughter’s school. Charlie worked Sunday.
Since I was leaving Monday morning on a business trip, I promised myself we’d talk Sunday night. But he didn’t come home, and he didn’t come home, and he didn’t come home, and I couldn’t reach him. Finally I went to bed at midnight. The alarm woke me at 5 am, and also woke Charlie, who must have come to bed while I slept. Here’s our conversation, as best as my blurry mind can recall it:
Me (trying to keep the reproach from my voice): “I couldn’t reach you last night.”
Charlie: “I know. I’m sorry. I went over to work on the books at Crenshaw & Co., then my cell died.”
Me: “That’s what you’ve been up doing these past nights?”
Charlie (sighing): “Yeah it’s a mess. They have an appointment with the IRS Thursday. If I don’t make some kind of sense out of it in the next couple of days they’re screwed… And I seem to have developed a little internet addiction.”
Me (heart pounding): “How do you mean?”
Charlie: “Just surfing around, this and that. Poker. Chats. You know.”
Charlie: “Oh, you know, CPA forums, Veterans groups. This and that.”
Me (Glancing at the clock because my taxi to the airport was coming in half an hour): “Anyone in particular?”
Charlie (Gazing at the ceiling): “No. I mean there’s a guy I found from college. Bill Budson. But otherwise, no. Why?”
Me: “You said an addiction. That sounds serious.”
Charlie: “Not like an addiction addiction. I just lose track of time.”
Me: “Are you sure you’re not…”
Me: “Seeing someone.”
Charlie: “Darling, what are you talking about?”
Me: “So you’re not having any kind of, you know, affair or anything.”
Charlie: “Of course not! Where on earth did you get that impression?”
Me: “Just, I don’t know, so many late nights. But I guess it’s just the Crenshaw deadline.”
Charlie: “That’s all. What time’s your plane?”
And the next thing I knew, I was dressing, cramming down a bowl of Cheerios, trying to convince myself the question was settled. But somehow I feel like it’s not.
Some people have suggested marriage counseling, but everything else has been fine between me and Charlie. And it would take a while to find someone we both felt comfortable talking to.
In the meantime, what do I do next?