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The Disappearing Husband

Recently, my husband and I attended a weekend event with speakers' presentations in several of the ballrooms and a hospitality suite on the top floor for eating, drinking, and mingling. We've both gone to these before and know lots of the other folks who show up. So why did my worrying mind go into overdrive when I noticed he'd vanished from the seat next to mine at one of the presentations?

He'd been right there for over an hour. Now he was gone. And he'd said nothing, given no signal of his departure. I could see him at the back of the room, heading for the exit. My first thoughts ran along the lines of I'm invisible, he can sit right next to me and forget I exist, I deserve an explanation, he should tell me before leaving, I've been wronged. Really. Even after years of Assuming Love. There's a little switch in my brain that lets loose wild demons when anything smacks of abandonment.

But I quickly switched from Assume Abandonment to Assume Love. What would lead a good, loving husband to silently slip away from his wife during such a presentation? A bathroom break came to mind first. After all these years, I know that my husband will never, ever reveal that he's headed there. Then it occurred to me that he might be bored by the presenter but way too well-mannered to add insult to injury by talking before he walked out. He might even have noticed that I was quite interested -- and among friends -- and decided not to disturb me.

Once those thoughts had brought me back to a calmer state, I enjoyed the rest of the talk and caught up with my husband, who was, indeed, trying to be polite to me and to the speaker by leaving silently. We were back in the hospitality suite, where I could appreciate just how funny and sociable this terrific man is. If I'd come back feeling mistreated by his silent departure, I might have missed that.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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