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Public Vows: Crowing About the Affair that Started a Second Marriage

Wedding cake topper

Is it appropriate to publicly boast about your love if it was borne out of an affair?

The Vows column in yesterday’s New York Times Styles section started off benignly enough:

“What happens when love comes at the wrong time?” it asked.

The answer is the story that led Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla to exchange marital vows recently in a clerk’s office. It wasn’t a splashy or spectacular wedding, but then again, they had enough drama leading up to their “I do’s” that perhaps a low-key affair seemed more appropriate. And appropriate is an interesting choice of words for a couple that left their spouses for each other, and then decided to let The New York Times write about it.

Carol Anne and her first husband, and John and his first wife were all initially friends with each other when they developed feelings for each other, which each say they tried to deny, but ultimately decided they were “brave enough to hold hands and jump” into leaving their families behind and blending a new one together.

Who’s to say or judge what’s right or wrong in someone else’s life, and when and if there’s ever a right time or reason to break up a family. But at what point do you decide — particularly when you both have children and, presumably, heartbroken former spouses — that letting the most celebrated newspaper in the country spotlight your illicit love is a good choice for any of the involved parties?

Is it possible that a friend or publicist thought this could help repair their public personas, particularly since the story of their relationship had been become “fodder for neighborhood gossip”? They’re both no strangers to the spotlight — she’s a former reporter for New York’s NBC affiliate and he’s about to become the CEO of a Japanese advertising agency — and maybe they thought that by getting ahead of the story, by announcing what they argue is the legitimacy of their love, they could repair some of the damage to their reputations, and maybe even help their kids get over the pain and loss of their broken families. Some might argue that the Vows column was an obnoxious and loud means to an end, but then again, some might argue simply leaving your spouse for someone else is, too.

Is there ever a good time to go so public with the story of leaving your family? Like Brad Pitt (according to ex-wife Jennifer Aniston), could one or both of them be missing a sensitivity chip? Was their kids Googling their story not ever a concern? Were the feelings of their former spouses (and again, by extension, their kids) not taken into consideration?

By all means, celebrate your love, and even in The New York Times Styles section if you really see a need, but maybe for your next wedding (you know, in case the whole soul mate thing doesn’t work out the second time around) you might opt to have it run with the regular announcements instead of as the big, splashy featured one.

Do you think it was appropriate for them to allow their relationship to be featured so prominently, or was it insensitive?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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