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Carried Away


Glurge:   About-to-be-divorced wife asks her husband to carry her to the door every day for a month.

LEGEND

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2010]

MARRIAGE

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I've got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.

Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly.

She didn't seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn't talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn't love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company.

[Click here to expand text].
 

Origins:   Many marriages that begin full of interconnection between bride and groom do over the course of years devolve into the humdrum of routine. Couples can and do grow apart as work schedules, family commitments, and financial concerns conspire to transform what were loving and involved relationships between two intimates into what at times seems little more than business arrangements between almost-strangers. The magic that had brought the two together slowly dissipates if care is not taken to maintain the underlying intimacy and friendship that is the bond of a successful marriage. It is to that loss that this story about a remorseful husband speaks.

This tale of an errant husband who learns too late the value of his marriage has been circulating on the Internet since at least May 2004.
We first spotted it as a newsgroup post originating from Malaysia, but even then its authorship was unknown. (The person who posted it said the item had been received in e-mail.) It has since rolled through a number of Asian online forums and newsgroups, only gradually escaping those confines to reach a larger international audience. (Now you know why the wife threw down her chopsticks.)

Its earliest incarnation was far longer, beginning with the husband's ruminations about carrying his wife on their wedding day, a description of how their marriage slowly slipped into the commonplace as the years passed, and the invigorating effect the new woman's interest had on him. In that earlier version, the other woman's name was Dew (not Jane), the cheating husband was He Ning, and the tale ended on the happy note of the husband's determination to reconcile with his wife, as expressed by the message he inscribes on the card that accompanied the flowers he ordered for her:
When I passed the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet for my wife which was her favorite. The salesgirl asked me to write the greeting words on the card. I smiled and wrote, I'll carry you out every morning until we are old.
The original ending was upbeat about the married couple's anticipated shared future: the husband had told the other woman he would not be divorcing his wife for her, and a floral peace offering promising eternal fidelity had been dispatched to his wife. One was left to conclude the couple reconciled, with the husband's heart once again full and willing. However, versions that began circulating in April 2007 changed all that with the addition of one line that was not in the original:
That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead.
That one line altered the tale from one of a marital crisis successfully weathered into a harsh lesson learned about "too little, too late." Readers were left to imagine the husband's boundless remorse as he faced all the days that lay ahead, now fully aware of what he'd unthinkingly pushed away, again come to value, and then lost for all time.

By May 2009, the "arrived home to find the wife dead" ending had been expanded to include the cause of death and to introduce yet another element of the wife's uncomplaining self-sacrifice: that she had deliberately concealed her impending demise and cooked up the whole "carry her to the door every day for a month" scheme as a means of keeping the marriage going until she kicked the bucket, thereby sparing the couple's son from the knowledge that his parents were divorcing:
My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push thru with the divorce — at least, in the eyes of our son — I'm a loving husband....
That expansion rendered the wife even more of an uncomplaining saint than she'd previously been, a device that worked to throw the straying (and now remorseful) husband into an even worse light.

Is any of this a true story? With the authorship of the piece unknown we cannot authoritatively label the tale false, but we suspect that wives in the final throes of cancer who are confronted with adulterous husbands intent upon divorce likely don't get their spouses to agree to cart them around the house for a month, with the intent of dying on them before that time is up.

Barbara "dead wait" Mikkelson

Last updated:   29 January 2015

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