We usually feel regret when it becomes obvious to us that we have said or done something that wronged or harmed another. Regret is usually accompanied by a feeling of sadness or sense of loss but in my opinion true regret initiates a plan of action to set things right.
There was a man named David who thought his wife, Susan, was having an affair with his best friend, John. Day and night it tormented him to think that she was intimate and passionate with another man but particularly with his comrade and confidant, the one man who knew his weaknesses and strengths better than any of his other friends. David and John had competed in just about every area of their lives from picking the winning team to who had won the most games of pool; from who could frame a house the fastest to who did the best job in the construction work they did; from who could get the girl to who was the waitress’s favorite. John was privy to his secrets as well as his pick-up lines. The thought that his friend might have won over Susan made David feel crazy. To him it was the worst form of betrayal.
He imagined that his wife lay in bed with John while they both made fun of him, that he was a big joke and a fool. The jealousy and frustration, fueled by inferiority grew and grew until it began to show in everything he did. At work David was short tempered and abrasive. He no longer went to the local pub after work to have a couple of beers with the guys, instead he went straight home because he felt he could not trust his wife any longer. It bothered him every time she was out of his sight. David had always been a heavy drinker, but he had always followed his self-made rules, waiting until at least 3:30 PM to imbibe. Now he began to drink shortly after lunch on the job and early morning on the weekends at home.
David brooded and stewed, imagining the worst, and in his anger he took pot shots and brutal snips at his wife. He was so overcome with these emotions that he no longer noticed the very things he had loved about Susan, the wonderful meals she cooked, the cleanliness of their home, or that she maintained her looks with care. More often than not, he drank so much that the flavor of the roast or fish and the flowers on the table were completely lost on him. When he did notice that she looked nice, he convinced himself that she was doing it for someone else.
Things got so bad that David lost his job; that was fine with him because he wanted to be at home where he could keep an eye on Susan. He no longer trusted her.
None of David’s recent behavior was lost on Susan and she often asked her husband what was wrong. He always told her that nothing was wrong but he no longer resembled the man she had married. Eventually David did accuse Susan of having an affair and refused to believe her when she told him that she had always been faithful to their marriage and the accusation was ridiculous. When she would not admit it, he went to John and baited him with questions hoping to trick him into some kind of confession. John told him he was crazy to suspect him or Susan of having an affair. But David would not listen and brought it up every time they were together, eventually John stopped coming around and became scarce.
All of this got so bad that eventually, Susan and David separated. He began to sneak around Susan’s apartment at night and imagined that the television was her voice sharing secrets with John. After some time, David came to Susan with regret for his allegations and Susan forgave him. They spent the night together, both so happy to have this thing resolved, but the very next morning David again accused her of having an affair with John. In disbelief Susan realized this was a cycle that she would have to live with if David remained in her life. It made her angry that in resolution they had made up, but in the break of daylight he again accused her of the worst.
They divorced. David regretted losing his wife. He was terribly sorry that he had lost his best friend of many years. But his pride would not allow him and he could not force himself to take action to right the wrong that changed three people’s lives forever.