When Back is the Only Way Forward

Setting My Past on Fire 3:

I didn’t know what to expect. While I had been to Cleveland many times, I had never been to Shaker Heights, an idyllic affluent suburb just east of the city, oozing with history and dotted with beautiful homes with perfect lawns and sprawling parks, thick with towering oaks, maples and cottonwood trees. John D. Rockefeller himself had once called the area home before donating his family’s 700-acre estate to the city. But I wasn’t here for a history lesson. Not exactly. However, I felt like the first step in discovering a new future was a visit to my past.

I grew up in a small town not far away in northeastern Indiana, just five miles from the Ohio border, where I and my 10 siblings, (yes, my Father was Catholic) were engrained with the values of a Midwest work ethic, doing whatever it took to get ahead. My nephew, Jason, my oldest sister’s son, lives in Shaker Heights along with his wife and two young sons, whom I had never met. The last time I had seen Jason and his wife was more than 10 years before, at a funeral. He was ten years younger than I was and, as a cancer research scientist and professor at Case Western, he was already ten times more accomplished.

Visiting my family had been a rare thing since my late wife, Jennair, and I had married. And I can count on one hand the number of times my family had come to Indianapolis to visit us. That was more than okay with Jennair. She had never wanted a relationship with my family. In fact, she hadn’t seen nor spoken to any of my family for almost 10 years. Let’s just say there was a falling out. A long story for another time. But now, 15 months after the death of my wife, I had no excuse for not visiting and getting reacquainted with all my family, and I was looking forward to it.

I had tried to connect with my nephew the day before I hit the road in Philly. “Let’s get together,” I messaged his wife. “I’d love to see you guys.” But it wasn’t meant to be. While there are benefits to not planning a trip, there are also disadvantages. It turned out that my nephew and his family were out of town, on their way to Ocean City, Maryland for a summer beach trip. But I wasn’t about to let missing them curb my enthusiasm for my first stop.

Shaker Heights Ohio neighborhood
A quintessential, picture-perfect neighborhood in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

I checked into the quaint yellow English tudor with brown trim I had rented for the evening, just a few blocks from Jason’s home. I quickly threw on my running gear, determined to get in an evening run before the sun went down completely. After being on the road all day, I was eager to burn off my pent-up energy and took off at an unusually enthusiastic pace.

It was just after 6:30, and by the third or fourth block, the neighborhood came alive with activity as working moms and dads arrived home from work. Just up ahead, to my right, I saw a young mother, maybe 30, and her two little girls sitting in their front lawn in bright pink and orange lawn chairs, dressed in matching blue sundresses. As I passed by and offered a friendly wave, the youngest girl began to squeal impatiently.

“I want to walk now,” she bellowed.

“We have to wait ’til Daddy gets home,” the mother said lovingly in a conciliatory tone.

I couldn’t help but smile out loud. But that moment of pure joy didn’t last long. At the stop sign at the end of the block, I stopped in my tracks and bent over, grabbing my knees, trying to catch my breath. The beautiful houses. The perfect lawns. The precious girls. It was all too familiar. It was all too much, especially after the life I’d recently lost with the death—and crimes—of my wife. I braced myself for a full-blown panic attack.

As I strained to catch my breath, my mind became flooded with memories. It was 1999 and Jennair and I were sitting under a honey locust tree with our golden retriever, in the front lawn of our first home in Fishers, Indiana. Out of nowhere two young girls we had seen before at their home three doors down, apprehensively walked up the sidewalk toward us. The older one, probably sevenish, piped up confidently, “Hi, I’m Celia and this is my sister Ophelia,” she said.

“I have a cat,” four-year-old Ophelia announced, rather loudly. “Her name is Kate.”

Jennair and I looked at each other, smiling, trying to keep it together and not laugh.

“This is Mesa,” Jennair said, tussling the soft fur on Mesa’s white belly. “Would you like to pet her?”

Without saying a word, they both nodded and then eagerly stepped through the thick dewy grass in their bare feet. After an hour of small talk and giggles with the girls, Jennair and I locked eyes. We didn’t say a word, but we knew what the other was thinking. “Wouldn’t this be incredible?”

We both wanted kids and that was always the plan back then. At least that’s what we told each other. But after a year, and then another, and soon ten, it was one excuse after the other from Jennair. Our careers. Money. Health concerns. And then it became something else. “We wouldn’t be good parents,” she’d say. “I’d always be the bad cop while you spoiled them, letting them get away with everything.” But it was more than that, I suspected. This was about the same time she began to peak in her career. Advancing or pivoting directions would mean more school, taking on more responsibility, applying for new opportunities. “What if I’m not good enough? Not smart enough? Don’t make enough money?” she’d ponder worriedly. Soon she became paralyzed with fear about the future, unable to make any decisions at all.

And so the hope of having kids got kicked down the road, and she stayed in the same job for eight years, until she was let go. By then in her forties, finding a new job proved much more difficult than she’d anticipated. As she tried to find new work and instead found silence or outright rejection, her self-confidence began a downward spiral, and she was soon listening to an echo chamber of her own self-defeating thoughts. “Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not young enough.”

I always told her, “Do what you love and the money will come.” But she wouldn’t listen. And now I wish I had done more. Now I know she needed professional help. She became more and more depressed and I did nothing, growing angry with her for not trying hard enough, growing weary of her depressing attitude where once she had been full of optimism and life. And as a result of my resentment, she became resentful, angry and intensely controlling of my life—as if it was the last thing she could control.

Almost 20 years later, now fighting my own depression more than a year after her suicide, I stood there, still gripping my knees, sweat dripping onto my shadow on the sidewalk. “What if I’m too old?” I thought. “What if I don’t get better? What if…” Just then I looked up as a car with a sharply dressed man in his thirties stopped and then pulled through the intersection. I turned to watch as he drove by with a smile on his face and then turned into the driveway where his wife and girls greeted him with uncontrolled excitement. My own smile returned to my face.

“No,” I said out loud and then stood up. I unpaused my running app, cranked up Nirvana, and ran through the intersection. At the end of the next block, I turned toward a park, running faster and faster on a gravel-covered path that followed the twists and turns of a picturesque brook. It was day one of my journey forward and I wasn’t about to let the ghosts of the past hold me back or slow me down. The path ahead was a long and winding one, but I was more determined than ever to see where it led.

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39 thoughts on “When Back is the Only Way Forward”

  1. Hi Mark,
    When I first saw your story on 20/20, I wanted to hate you. Like many others, I felt sympathy for Jennair. But upon learning about your site, curiosity got the best of me and after reading your blog posts, I find that I cannot hate you. In fact, I find you very likeable. What happened to Meredeth and Jennair is such a sad tragedy and I’m sorry for your losses. I think you are a fantastic writer and I think you should definitely continue on that path because you have so much to offer from your experiences and what you have learned. I look forward to your posts and your book when it comes out. Thank you for taking me along on your journey.

    1. My brother took his own life hours after leaving my house, I lost my only brother and my closest living family nember on my birthday the grief has no match to the guilt which suicide carries to every loved one that person who commits suicide has that loves that person. Mine runs much deeper as i was with him all day snd never seen it coming…

  2. I am sorry for all the tragedy but so appreciate you putting it all out there. The brutal truth without a sugar coating. Thank you Mark. Wishing you the best.

  3. I’m looking forward to reading the book! I’m so sorry for the tragedy. I just heard of this after seeing 20/20. I’ve struggled myself with memories of much better days myself, and I cannot imagine all that you have dealt with. But I believe writing is absolutely the best medicine. I think your book will touch many people and help them heal from tragedy as well!

  4. I wish you peace and hope that you do find happiness and are somehow able to move forward with your life and (hopefully) put this all behind you. None of us really chooses who we fall in love with, it just happens.. Take care of yourself.

  5. You have done great so far expressing yourself, explaining how your wife felt and what mental issues can lead people to as well as the signs. Such issues don’t just happen all at once, the signs and how they spiral into the final result makes the difference.
    I’m following your journey, waiting to read more about how you picked yourself up. Did you think you might have shown any signs of despair? How did you tackle them?
    We all have life changing stories, they are all the same, the difference only lies in the severity of their endings.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Tammy, there were many days of deep despair, and there still are. How I tackled them was letting it happen and feeling every bit of the pain without letting it overwhelm me. It’s taken 68 weeks of intense therapy to get where I am and there is still a long road ahead.

      1. Your journey is like so many others. Thank you so much for your open and honest response. It truly helps people like me and Jennair who suffer daily from PTSD. I can’t that what she did is okay, because it isn’t. But you, more than anyone, deals with that. No need for the what ifs and if onlys. You are making the tragedy a part of your existence (which it always will be) and trying to help many who could end up the sane way. That is true compassion after a tragedy that you live thru daily. I thank you for your blog and for being so open. Godspeed friend. You are loved.

  6. Im not entirely certain I understand what you are attempting with these posts. I was under the impression this was about helping others understand and/or recognize the signs of depression which often lead to suicide. What I am seeing though is what appears to be an attempt to market yourself by using the method of finger pointing at Jenniar. You use the line, ” And as a result of my resentment, she became resentful, angry and intensely controlling of my life—as if it was the last thing she could control.” Mark, there is no as if, it was the only thing she could control. You recognized that fact. You have admitted time and again, you allowed her to behave the way she was to avoid confrontation. Look Ive been where you are and Im going to be straight. You can lay blame all over town, point fingers, talk about how wonderfully misunderstood you are, how difficult your life was with your wife. your soul mate love for another but until you accept one simple fact, you acted on your own accord and broke an all ready broken woman. All this burn my past is nothing more than a smoke screen to hide from your actions. If you really want to burn it, toss on some fuel and light that bitch up. . Its time you got down and dirty with Mark. Not your past with anyone else. Yourself. Lets face facts. Your wife was sick, you knew it, you did nothing. You allowed her to sit in the corner unmended. You whine, sorry its the truth in your interview of how ‘I didnt know what was happening’, it just happened. Bullshit. After you face the Mark that allowed his wife to sit without treatment so he could avoid a fight and kick that fucker to the curb for hurting your Jenniar, you need to face the false faced Im so naive Mark and admit to the next thing. You knew exactly what was going on, where it was leading and what it would do her. Youre an adult. You know attraction. You know what comes from it. You are full control of where your body goes, what it does. You knew, you were headed to whoreville on the back of Jenniars mental illness and YOU went anyway. It was YOUR choice. She didnt drive you there. The love you had for Meri didnt make you. YOU did it of your accord. Face that man Mark. You cannot heal, you cannot help others heal until you and you alone admit to your part. Please stop down playing your role.

    1. Thank you for your candor, Stacy.

      A blog series about a list of signs of depression and suicide to look for isn’t my intent. If that is what you are looking for, there are plenty out there to choose from. This particular series of blog posts is about my two week journey across this country after deciding I couldn’t live in the Philly area anymore, because of so many painful memories. Along the way, I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and flashbacks, which I have documented and I am now sharing. I couldn’t control the narrative of those thoughts, so I am relaying them just as they happened organically, in chronological order. The “signs” of depression and suicide are in these stories. Look closely.

      My intent is not to point a finger at Jennair, but to shed light on her history, our history and the many early signs of mental health issues I am only now recognizing and coming to terms with by talking with her childhood friends, former colleagues and mental health professionals. I share those revelations in the book and I will continue to share them in the blog posts over the weeks and months to follow. In this particular post, Jennair’s early feelings of inadequacy about her career and about having children 20 years ago played a huge part in her happiness, our marriage what ultimately happened in 2018.

      I am glad that you and so many others are sympathetic to Jennair. As am I. She was obviously very ill. And contrary to your suggestion, in the last four months of our marriage, SHE WAS receiving treatment from two separate psychologists and a clinical psychiatrist. Prior to that, and throughout our marriage, she refused to seek help. I have great regret for not being more insistent, but you can’t make someone get help if they don’t want to.

      Let me be very clear, I hurt Jennair profoundly, and I will forever wish I could go back and make different decisions. Yes, that was MY CHOICE. And I AM facing THAT MAN every minute of every day. But Jennair didn’t kill Meredith and then herself because of infidelity. She did so because of a long history of problems and a future she could not bear to live alone.

      Thank you again for your words of criticism. I hope you continue to stay engaged as I share my journey, my memories and the lessons I learned along the way.

  7. So looking forward to the book, Mark! Your journey is an important one. Not just for you, but for all those that could benefit from taking the walk with you. The take-away here is truly extraordinary. Wishing you wellness and light along the way…

  8. Hello. I am writing because of something you said in the recent 20/20 episode. You were speaking about being married to Jennair for such a long time and wondering, “Is this all there is?” It brought back memories of my ex-husband saying THE EXACT SAME THING to me after 27 years of marriage. He left me for a coworker shortly thereafter. Fortunately, no one died as a result of this affair, but 15 years later, I am still struggling with who I am by myself and what I am supposed to be doing.
    Lengthy relationships do tend to become predictable and maybe even a little boring at times. We would all do better to realize that predictability isn’t necessarily a bad thing. : )
    Best wishes on your book and the rest of your life.

    1. Mary, first of all, please know that dialogue you heard on the finished 20/20 episode was based on 15 hours of interviews I provided that was condensed into an hour-long program with commercials. What you ultimately heard, and the specific point to which you are referring was actually said in the context of a much larger point. “Is this all there is?” isn’t  question of predictability, but after years of unhappiness, pain and an unrelenting need for control, I hadn’t realized how unhappy I was and how much I enabled that behavior until I met someone else who showed me how different life and love could be.

      I think predictability in a relationship can be very comforting and necessary to build trust and a sense of stability. I am very sorry for the pain you have suffered.

  9. I feel like there was a reason I saw 20/20 last week as your story has wild similarities to mine. For reference, I’m now 50 & have never married. I’ve had married men approach me and I would say, “go to counseling/figure it out. Why would you cheat?” I felt like I saved at least two marriages. Those were my smug days.

    Well, in April of this year, an old friend reached out to me on FB Messenger and we started talking innocently. He told me he had been married for almost 20 years and had to teenage boys. He too had never cheated on anyone, but he caught his father cheating on his mother and confronted his Dad. His Dad left and didn’t have contact with him or his other siblings for years after he left his Mom for the other woman.
    Quickly our conversation turned to his unhappiness in his marriage saying, “It’s not horrible, but we married because she was pregnant and I’m just going through the motions. Talking to this person completely changed my view of cheating – not that is right or good at all, because I still think you should be honest and leave before anything happens. BUT I’ve learned things are not so black & white as I so smugly always argued.
    When I watched 20/20 everything you said about when you and Meredith met resonated with me and this guy as you described everything exactly the way we felt – I’ve met my match, the love of my life, on and on. It was such a shock to me, I couldn’t believe what I was feeling and this is someone I hadn’t talked to in over 30 years. It was (still somewhat is) a magnet that I couldn’t resist – I wanted to talk to him all the time and “missed” him even though I hadn’t seen him. I can’t explain it – even to myself.

    We made the decision NOT to meet up, NOT to do anything until he is formally separated – which could take up to a year and a half from now (two years from when we first re-connected). I’m not saying I’m an angel — I still believe he and I have “cheated” by keeping this connection a secret from his spouse, by expressing our emotions and honestly by nurturing the emotional connection we have. We both want to end up together but somehow do it without destroying everything and everyone in our path.

    Knowing what you know now, would you still have asked for a divorce? If so, how would you have approached Jennair about the divorce? Would you have not stepped over the line with Meredith? Sending peace your way.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. Looking back I wish that Meredith and I had could have shown the same restraint and path that you chose. And in many ways we did. We were both surprised by the pull between us that far exceeded anything physical. Like you, we both recognized the potential pain that we might cause and out of respect we attempted to end our relationship or at least give it time to understand what it was and where it was going. But our emotional attachment and feelings for one another were impossible to hide and eventually I let Jennair know that we were very much in love.

      After 24 years of marriage, including years of happiness and good times, Jennair and I also suffered through years of troubles and heartache. Although we loved each other, in many ways, we had become roommates who tolerated, but quietly resented one another’s shortcomings.

      Getting to know Meredith revealed a side of myself that I had long forgotten, a revelation that gave me the strength and clarity to see that I wanted more. I needed more, whether that was with Meredith or simply being alone.

      As I explain in my memoir, Irreparable, nobody, not I, nor her family, two psychologists or a clinical psychiatrist predicted Jennair’s downward spiral and premeditated violent reaction.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

        What you describe in your relationship with Jennair is VERY similar to what “John” had been experiencing for years now. He told me that while he wasn’t miserable, he always felt something was missing. He has stayed for his boys and for the betterment of all, but not for him. He planned to get the boys to college and then he would start a new life, without his wife.

        Then when we reconnected, he could not hold back what he was feeling — he said he had NEVER felt this way about ANYONE, even his wife. I challenged him on all of his feelings — is it infatuation? Is it just physical? Is it nostalgia? Is it something new? Is it boredom? I wouldn’t relent, as I didn’t want him to regret one minute of talking with me.

        And I didn’t want to be any part in his decision to divorce. He reiterated that he had always planned to get divorced once the boys graduated high school. Again, he didn’t want to repeat what his Dad did – leave him & his siblings his senior year of high school and certainly not for “another woman.”

        Well, in the end, we both said things like you said in your email — it was way beyond physical, there was a strong emotional, almost spiritual bond that we both could not deny.

        When I saw your story, it scared me. It scared me because it definitely could have been me & John.

        We had planned on meeting up IN PERSON the very first week we started talking. And John told me he loved me less than a month into us reconnecting. And I felt the same but couldn’t understand how that was even possible — we hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years — and we’d only been talking for a short time.

        The reason we didn’t end up meeting up is because we both were so concerned with the aftermath to his kids & spouse (because we both experienced our parents cheating when we were kids) that we decided on a compromise. And that compromise was to wait to meet up/start dating until he’s formally separated (at minimum that’s 18 months from now – could be as much as 24 months).

        And in the meantime, we just touch base about once a month. There’s still an overstepping of boundaries because we talk & express our emotions…so I struggle with keeping a connection with him & yet the guilt tied to it.

        Thank you for sharing your story, I believe there are many people that will benefit from hearing it & what you’ve learned from it.

  10. I watched the episode of 20/20 last night and I can’t help but be intrigued by the story, tragic as it may be. It brought me to your blog, and I’ve read every post you’ve made since the very beginning. I can’t wait to read your book, either. However, I do want to say that I’m not 100% sure how to take you. I have lots of unanswered questions.
    Why didn’t you just divorce Jennair before you started seeing Meredith? How could you love Jennair – after all she did to you – and Meredith at the same time? Why didn’t you force Jennair to seek help a long time ago? Why didn’t you admit to your affair when Jennair called you out?
    Why did you allow yourself to live with Jennair while you were getting divorced? Why didn’t you call it quits after Jennair found out about your infidelity – even if just for a short time?

    I could probably answer most of these questions myself.
    You didn’t divorce Jennair because you were scared of losing her, even though you were in love with someone new.
    You loved the idea of the relationship you COULD have with Jennair – that’s how you could “love” her, as well as Meredith.
    You didn’t force her to seek help because you didn’t realize the extent of her mental health issues.
    You didn’t admit to your affair because you knew Jennair would snap…which she did.
    Again…you let yourself live with Jennair despite the divorce because you were scared of her.
    And the reason you didn’t break up with Meredith after Jennair found out was because you were in love with the idea of love.
    I’m beginning to wonder if you were ever even really in love with Meredith, or if it was just a way to get away from your relationship with your wife. I understand that being in a controlling relationship can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do, and so that would make sense in this situation.
    You were in love with the idea of being with someone who would treat you right, who would like you for who you were. Who would do things for you, and try to make you happy.
    I’m not saying for certain that you didn’t love Meredith, but it does make me wonder if it was more of that than it was true love.
    I do think that you are a decent man who made mistakes that he can’t take back now. I appreciate that you are willing to take the time to make these posts about mental illness, etc. I hope that your book does a good job at bringing all that to light.

    1. Thank you for your interest and your comment. While it’s understandable to want to fill in the cracks with your own theories, the book Irreparable will provide answers to these questions and more once it is published.

  11. Just like an alcoholic, you can not force help on someone. By the same token, a person can’t be forced to stay in a marriage simply because they have invested a considerable amount of years, especially when their heart wants to take another path. So many people on this blog are expressing positive thoughts for you and that certainly helps the healing process. I liked it when you said “do what you like and the money will come”. Clearly you love to write and the reader’s interest is certainly held. This is what you love and is a great path for you. Be well.

  12. Hi Mark –
    Reading some of these comments and, frankly, I’m surprised at how critical and judgy people are. Yeah, you made mistakes, you had an affair (like so so many people do), but you did not pick up a gun and murder someone and yourself. Life isn’t clean and we can’t always wrap things up in a neat little package with a bow before moving on. You fell in love unexpectedly, realized what was missing in your life, and were doing your best to get out of one situation and move forward. The timing wasn’t ideal, but it happens. A lot. Continue to heal, forgive yourself. I’m so sorry for your losses and I look forward to reading your book. It’s not too late to have all of those you want in life.

  13. I have a lot I could say to you but you aren’t worth the time or energy. First of all you make Jennair out to be some mental crazy person , maybe you should look in the mirror & realize you were her problem.. She was nothing but a dedicated wife to you, beautiful inside&out, & older yes but much prettier & a much better person than the one you left her for! You seem to me to be a complete narcissist as I watch you speak with no remorse for what YOU caused & your actions have destroyed so many people! You are selfish.

    1. Ms. Spence,
      I am astounded and saddened by your willingness to so publicly display your ignorance, to think that you somehow know my wife better from watching 40 minutes of an edited television show than I do after 28 years of loving her and knowing her better than anyone could. She was not crazy, nor would I ever use such an ugly and inflammatory word, as you have. And yes, Jennair was a dedicated wife who was beautiful inside and out. But I and others who knew her best recognize that she suffered from depression and a personality disorder that caused her to constantly seek control and isolate herself from family and friends throughout her life. She was also diagnosed with PTSD by a clinical psychiatrist, for which she was receiving treatment and taking medication.

      Despite your uninformed opinion of the facts, my wife was, in fact, mentally ill, as evidenced by a 12-page manifesto and a video confession detailing her plans. If you believe that perpetrating such a premeditated violent act is a rational and acceptable reaction to being hurt by a loved one, then your opinion is not only ignorant, it is dangerous.

      And despite your assumptions that I have no remorse for hurting her, you will never begin to understand the depths of my pain and regret.

    2. While I feel bad for all who went through this Jennair was also a victim. From what I read both husband and wife chose to move to a new city. She stayed back to complete the move since she didn’t have a job. Apparently there were no plans to divorce, and if she was having mental issues the last thing one would want to do is have an affair with a woman who is also married. Once she found out about the affair there was the option to stop inflicting the emotional abuse upon her. Meredith obviously saw the warning shots coming across the bow from Mark’s wife. Did she stop, and stop interfering with a long term married couple? Did Mark come to his senses? Instead of continuing the mental abuse, and gas lighting continue counseling and help Jennair with her job search. Be supportive and then if all else fails or a compromise can’t be found – then divorce. Both needed to get their heads on straight, and put their finances in order before even considering a new relationship. Also with a large age difference and Meredith telling a man everything he wanted to hear this was a “lust relationship”. Not love. They didn’t know each other, pay bills together, or go through the highs and lows that every long term couple goes through. Mark or Meredith would have soon learned, wanting and having are two different things. I feel bad for Mark because this was all avoidable at various junctions. Talking about psychological problems.. cheating is also considered domestic abuse. They justify the behavior, deny it, or otherwise refuse to take responsibility. Jennair obviously wasn’t the only one with issues, and solely blaming her for the domino effect of poor judgement isn’t becoming imo. Nor divulging personal or medical information.

  14. I don’t understand the support for someone who murdered another person. Depression or not, adultery or not, there is no excuse or justification to take someone else’s life. This man is responsible for his affair. He is not responsible for the infinitely worst crime of cold-blooded murder. Some of the comments here seem completely insane to me. Flip things around and look at the facts… this man was, for years, with someone who was capable of murder. Perhaps, a person who is capable of such an act has other qualities that drive a person away, drive a person into someone else’s arms. Perhaps the real discussion here should not be about mental illness or depression, but about how abusive and violent individuals use mental illness to mask who they truly are… until it’s too late.

  15. There was a similar case up in Canada involving a doctor by the name of Guy Turcotte who killed his children after finding out his wife was having an affair. Is that man absolved of his crime because it was a response to adultery and he was perhaps in a compromised mental state? No. He committed the crime because he was most-likely an abusive monster at his core. How is this case different?

  16. Keep doing what you’re doing.
    “…if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom…”
    ― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

    1. Thank you JoAnn. Jennair and I raised and rescued 4 golden retrievers during our time together. Mesa, our first that we raised from a pup died at the age of 14 back in 2011. Sadie, our 9 year old succumbed to cancer 6 months later. Abbie, our second rescue from Atlanta, died at age 11 from cancer, as did our only boy, Huck at age 13, in January of 2019. All their ashes were scattered at Jennair’s grave site this past summer; so they could be with her for eternity.

  17. Mark,
    Is sex a major consideration in your decision to leave Jennair in favour of a more younger woman.
    Is your mistress fully aware that you are married at the time the affair started?
    What are the steps you’ve taken to save your marriage?


    1. Thanks for candor if your question. Neither sex nor age had anything to do with my decision. And Jennair and I had been seeing a marriage therapist for weeks.

  18. I remember when this happened as I don’t live too far away. That being sad, I was never clear what exactly transpired or why and soon enough the story stopped circulating in the news. I was afraid when I first heard what happened back in 2018 and I’m afraid again being reminded of what some are capable of. My situation is much like yours. I am the other woman. My partner first started an affair with me without leaving his spouse. He told me his wife wanted a divorce and they were entering the process. Because of this I allowed myself to fall. We maintained a text relationship for 2 years until I realized things were better and no, she was not currently planning to divorce. Stunned I extracted myself from the situation only briefly. It turned into a situation where this man could not let go of me, refused to let go so much that I was borderline getting a restraining order but I did not want to damage his job. He spent years pursuing me. If he wanted a relationship with someone else he needed to leave his spouse. This whole lying and cheating is just wrong. If you truly have grown apart and want a divorce for any reason then leave! Don’t play such head games which is sadly what he did. It was a vicious cycle of him sucking me in believing he wants appropriately changing his life if he wants a relationship but then would renege on his commitments. Personally, I truly felt it best he stay with his family. I’ve never seen a situation where wife and kids had such control over another human. There were threats and interventions and more threats. I’ve never seen human beings who felt that they could not exist in life if this man was not either their husband or married to their mother. The children were even young adults but made no difference. It was like they were 8 years old and nobody had ever divorced in their world. Mostly he was some sort of paycheck who supported all of them entirely. Neither the wife nor the children worked. They all lived off of him. It was a death grip like I’ve never seen. I desperately wanted to be left alone. This went on for years. Ultimately, he convinced me he 100% wanted to change his life and he actively took the steps to do so, filing for divorce, moving out a few months later. Seeing the commitment I gave him another chance. His family 100% thinks I forced him to do this that he had no control and in reality it was him forcing the situation. Maybe it is too painful for the wife and children to accept he is a person, that god did not put him on this earth to be a paycheck and chauffeur. If they truly cared about him they would understand he was in an unhappy loveless marriage and he decided he wanted more out of his life. He 100% went about it extremely inappropriately but no matter what I said he insisted on living life his way. Long story short, we are 6 years down the road and his ex wife has not moved beyond day 1. She stalks me all the time. When she identified we took our relationship to the next level she went of the deep end and came to my house for months doing physical damage, tormenting me in the early morning hours to scare me. I’m also fairly positive on one occasion the intent may have been to kill me or hurt me but probably eliminate me. She thinks if I’m gone he will go back to her so I have lived at high alert for MANY years and I’m fearful of what will happen again when we take the next step. I fully expect the same behavior all over again. I have always known if she could find a way to have me eliminated she would in a heartbeat. This whole concept must be so foreign to people but for me it is real and when I saw in 2018 what happened to you and being reminded about this again seeing you on TV I’m reminded all over again how dangerous my situation is. I simply don’t know how to 100% make sure she does not succeed. She could run me down in a parking lot, hire a hit man, burn my house down, the list is endless. I’ve never understood why she is this way. Why can’t she move forward, away from the pain, but I heard it on Dr. Oz, this person does the opposite, they latch onto the pain and become obsessed. She has done many things like stage cameras on my property to see the goings on. I’m sure their are things that happened I have no idea about as far as stalking but I can say, because she does not work, it is a full time job for her. We all live minutes away from Radnor so I’m sure this story has been refreshed again in her mind now that you are doing the TV circuit. So, I’m curious to learn all the things your wife had done to continue to evaluate the similarities of our situations. I just wish these people understood it was their fathers choice, her husbands choice, he wanted out. I did not threaten, blackmail or anything else they think I’ve done. Maybe that is how they control people in their life but that is not anything I would ever do. If someone does not want to be married to someone that is 100% their choice. God did not put them here to be a nothing. They are a person, with thoughts and feelings. And kids, listen, your father did not divorce you. He divorced your mother. He is still your father and interested in being that person for the rest of your life. Things change and our lives can not be a Disney fantasy all the time. Sometimes unhappy things happen and it seems some recent generations may have difficulty accepting that they can’t get what they want all the time. I would say your situation probably would have been 10 times worse had you had kids involved but obviously not sure what 10 times worse would look like given what has already happened.

    1. Anonymous:
      Interesting how you characterize this man’s family. Remember you know nothing about his marriage or his kids, only what a liar and cheater told you. He also told you in the beginning the divorce was in the works, lol. He can be easily controlled, but somehow stalked you to the point you almost had to get a restraining order…right. And he claims he only married his wife because she was pregnant. Did it escape you they have 2 kids? I’d say it was pretty much planned. Oh and her staying home is considered a equal job by the court… as in raising kids is a big job. And whoever brings a paycheck into the home it’s called marital property. I’m afraid he jumped from one fire to the next. Also, I will guarantee he is texting his wife, and giving her hope in case it doesn’t work out with you at some point. Why she is very much in the picture. Yes keep believing this liar. Your own words deceive you. Going by his poor character he will most likely go back to his family if something happens. After 6 years keep waiting for “that next step”…it’s not going to happen fyi. If you were half way decent you would have told him from day one to only contact you after he’s divorced and single. Now you have the wrath of his wife and kids. And probably his extended family. While I don’t agree with the wife not moving on you are very much instrumental in the misery that seems to continue. After all you were the co-cheater. Maybe he’s legally divorced but is very much married to his family. Yes when you leave a spouse you also leave the kids. It affects them in a very harmful way especially how you, and their horrible dad treated them. Go on steptalk.org if you want to see the future with this loser. You’re in for a lot of misery long after the grand-kids arrive. If you had any self worth you’d dump him, and work on yourself. The sad thing is once you distanced yourself from him you never should have let him back in your life. I’d get out of your current situation before it escalates further.

      1. Cara:
        Thanks for your thoughts. Always good to hear different opinions. Frustratingly I did tell him from very early on when I realized he was not divorcing to PLEASE only contact me when he is divorced should he actually get divorced. I probably said it hundreds of times and begged him to leave me alone. Unfortunately we cannot control others. Also, you might have thought I was a different comment. My partner has 3 children 2 boys and the youngest a girl and he did not marry because she was pregnant although they did have their first son 1.5 years after they got married so you might be thinking of a different relationship.

  19. Mark,
    I’m going to start my comment with a cliche “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda” Sorry, but I believe you would be more effective if you just flat out owned up to what you did wrong and then try to make amends to all you have hurt. Life isn’t perfect and after thought is easy to see. I know this to be true. I’m sure many will take offense to the way you’re portraying your wife of 24yrs. I do sympathize with you that she did a horrific act of violence towards Merriidth. I hope that you are given the opportunity to maybe help others who are not happly married end it in a way that doesn’t alienate and devastate to the point where people are killed. Good luck and hope you find peace 🙏

  20. I just saw this story a few days ago and the sadness of it is overwhelming. You’re getting a lot of hate, but no one is worthy of judging. I can almost feel your pain at losing Meredith, and anger towards your wife for her actions. You can’t admit to this, but I believe it’s how you feel because it’s exactly how I would feel. I would have probably done the same thing as you if a beautiful, young, accomplished woman rekindled my fire for life. Anyway I wish I could bring them back so it could be resolved differently. I wish you the best in dealing with this forever pain.

  21. If you wanted kids, then that should have been negotiated before you got married. If she didn’t want then after you got married, then why didn’t you divorce her because of it. Instead, you muddled through decades, mildly unhappy and unfulfilled, without taking action to fix it. It seems you are passive and a coward, and that is part of the reason why the tragedy happened.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jasmine. My wife putting off having children and then eventually deciding not to have them wasn’t something worth ending the marriage over at the time. But you’re right, I was passive and cowardly not to do something and take a stand on so many other things earlier. I often protested, but then backed down, avoiding the conflict. I am ashamed and regret not proactively doing more to take the lead in shaping our marriage. I own that. And I have to live with that.

  22. Mark, while your story is one of “love” married love, clandestine love, and the horrible tragic things that can happen when one isn’t property engaged, it is also about sex, infatuation, and illusory fantasy love. You were caught up in the dream of Meredith who was also willing and going through her own divorce. Little if anything is said about that or what her ex-Luke had to say. The point I’m making is that “love’, true, deep love is many things, if not often entirely inconvenient. It often requires someone to set aside their personal desires and dreams, perhaps for a time in favor of the commitment to others. It requires self-control and discipline, which you seem not to have. Yes, Jennair couldn’t envision life without you, despite your marital issues. Yes, she needed help badly, mostly from you. You just coulkdn’t let go of your “dream Meredith” long enough to see the issues through with Jennair. More than likely, you would have divorced, amicably or not. Maybe Meredith would have been available then; maybe not. You just couldn’t let go of your own ego desires to be there for Jennair, until she got the help she needed,. Love, true love, is very inconvenient.

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