Life & Love Are Messy, Deal With It

Can we really be happy for a couple who left their spouses and broke up two families in order to be together?

That is the question last week's "Vows" feature in The New York Times asked us to answer. Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla met while both were still married to others. They fell in love. And last week, that love was the feature of the weekly column the Style Section runs every Sunday. People across the country were outraged.

The comments section erupted:

It is a messy and at the same time unnecessary, pompous, selfish story that is ironically in the "vows" section of the Times.


Yes, this couple is selfish. It's as simple as that. My father once told me that it is best not to get to close to another couple as it can often leads to something. Many people know this already.

Wow... go ahead and put their announcement in the paper but to feature them? irresponsible to the respective spouses involved. I have NO idea why they were featured. I don't see what's so brave about their actions at all.

To be sure, it was an odd decision to publicly declare their love when it happened in a way that likely devastated two families. And because there were children involved, it was probably a bad choice to have it featured.

Still, this is love. Like it or not, love is messy and it isn't always a pretty picture you tie up with a bow and call it a day. Life isn't a Hallmark card or a Precious Moments doll and, quite frankly, that is what makes it delicious. Would you really want a love life that's more cheesy cliche than reality?

Their decision to publicly declare their love in the paper of record is highly questionable given the number of people likely hurt by their love -- ex-spouses, children, and ex-in-laws -- but the Times' decision to feature it makes sense. If they want to show modern love with all its truths and pains and foibles, then this is it.

There is not a love affair out there where someone somewhere didn't get hurt on some level. People fall in love when they're in relationships and sometimes even married. We have to work hard to keep our marriages strong and not allow them to be vulnerable to penetration. Like it or not, that takes two people.

Stepping outside of our comfort zones and longing for something more when we're unhappy isn't only normal, it's what makes us human. It takes a certain level of bravery to endure the judgement and scorn that will most certainly follow.

Ever heard the expression "all's fair in love and war"? It is a cliche for a reason.

Was it right to flaunt their romance? (Especially given how unhappy the children look in the photo The New York Times featured... ) Maybe not. But it was real. It was messy. It was life. We need to get over our judgements and accept that some people make choices we might not make and it isn't our place to tell them they're wrong, wish them ill, or publicly mock and scorn them.

What do you think of the decision to feature their story?


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