On the morning after the Patriots loss an hour or so before I will talk with my kids about loving humanity, even when humans can be horrible I am thinking about forgiveness.

This might not be the best venue for this, because so many of you don’t know them, but I want to tell you about some friends of mine.

They are a late 30s married couple who have navigated some challenging times together. For years she was the primary earner, working as a lawyer while he stayed home with their daughter. This had the easily imaginable bumps for both of them but they came through it. Of all the husbands I have gotten to know he is the one that has most reminded me of Steve. KInd, good with kids, a little quiet.

After several years of trying they learned that she would likely not become pregnant again and the made the tough and generous decision to adopt an older child. He had significant social adjustments to make, and had some learning difficulties so the wife decided to leave her job and stay home while her husband rejoined the workforce.

It was tough, she felt lonely and often unsupported by her husband who was eager to get back to work and had a frighteningly beautiful boss that my friend tried not to freak out over. She was struggling with their son and her husband took the- it will work itself out position. Which it didn’t. When things got miserably bad she visited him at work he was incredibly dismissive in front of his beautiful and intimidating boss. She used to be the beautiful and intimidating boss, now she was the wife who was ushered out of the office, being made to feel ashamed that her worries about their son were unfounded.

In the meantime she had been stuck on a crappy school committee.  I saw her at lots of meetings becoming friends with one of the dads in her school who had gotten laid off. They bonded over having the job of lunch packer. They obviously had a good time together. As someone who has always had male friends I didn’t worry too much about it.

When her husband told her to shut down her relationship with this other guy she tried to talk about it, but her husband was shut down. There was no back and forth between them about this, as there hadn’t been about anything for 6 months or more. Nonetheless she decided to put her husbands irrational feelings above her own and went to this (newly single) guys house to tell him it was over.

When she did he kissed her. She pulled away and told him this wasn’t going to happen. After a half a second of kissing him back. Was this a mistake? YES. She knew it and felt horrible. So so horrible.

There was a school performance and the other man was there. Drunk. I watched her try to get away from him. Her husband intervened and PUNCHED the guy. This is her husband that hadn’t spoken a full sentence to her in weeks.

So she leaves crying and her husband, instead of talking begins yelling at her, accusing her of having an affair. She denies it. And taking into account his mental state decides not to tell him about the kiss.

At school drop off all of the fancy lululemon moms whisper about her and she tells them there is no gossip here, but she doesn’t quite believe it herself.

She is so alone. She doesn’t have many female friends, maybe not any because she has a big meddlesome family who takes up all of her free time. Her guy friend is part of the problem. She talks to her sister who is perpetually single and is reassuring.

She goes home, and in tears, tells her husband about the kiss. Explains that she ended the entire relationship which was never more than a flirtation at most, more like a friendship. Her husband leaves her. Decides to move out.

I am so pissed off at him. He has shut her out for so long, she had a small transgression which she navigated as well as possible, and he just leaves.

I learned that he was moving out on Tuesday, and I woke Steve to tell him about it. I realize I am angry at Steve because this other husband reminds me of him. I am almost yelling as I tell him that the marriage is ending and I blame the husband.

Steve is confused, bleary eyed, and propped up on his elbow. “We are talking about a TV show, right?”

Right. Yes, this is Joel and Julia from Parenthood, but they are my friends and I am pissed. He didn’t behave the way Steve/Joel should have. This Steve seems not so angry about the kiss. He murmers a few comforting words and go back to sleep.

I stew on. And wonder where forgiveness has gone.




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Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

10 thoughts on “Forgiveness”

    1. Yup. I’m with you Anna! It’s difficult to believe Joel changed that much just because of his job! Drama, drama, drama! They’re my friends too! Small world.

    1. I wish the facebook comments pulled here, because someone on facebook talked about disliking Julia. Then someone rebutted that Joel wouldn’t even go into therapy because the “problem was her.” Case closed.

  1. Anyone who says the whole problem in a relationship the other person has the problem. Wait – does that sentence make sense? Anyways, Joel is being a huge jerk. And how could he not try for his kids.

    Remember ER when Anthony Edwards died. I sobbed for hours. My husband tried to console me by telling me it was just a show. Thanks for stating the obvious. The thing about these shows is exactly what you said, we can relate to them and often have people in our lives that remind us of these characters. (Well, except for Breaking Bad. I don’t know anyone who cooks meth)

  2. I’m pissed too!!!! Joel is being uncharacteristically douchey. I suspect he’s overreacting because *he* was the one having an affair. I could write these things.

  3. As I read this I kept thinking, “I know these people, how do I know these people??” Trying to figure out who they were, I was shocked that these people I “knew” were suddenly getting a divorce! I have missed Parenting for a couple of weeks, so it was a bit of a spoiler, but not surprising. Well done!!

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