“Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (and Other Affairs) by Wendy Plump

“Cross my heart and hope to die!”

You meant business when you said that on playground or school yard. It was a serious promise, solemnly made and not to be trifled with – although you surely never expected to perish if the inevitable happened and the avowal fell apart.

Promises, as they say, are made to be broken, although some aren’t as easy to escape as they were in grade school. In the new book “Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (and Other Affairs) by Wendy Plump, you’ll read about them.

In retrospect, Wendy Plump shouldn’t have been surprised to learn about her husband Bill’s affair. He’d had at least two affairs before (although he did have an affinity for strippers). For that matter, she, too, had three affairs in the past.

Her infidelities happened long before they had children. Back then, she thought the “gravity and laws of [new] marriage… would be enough to prevent me from desiring anyone else.” But it wasn’t enough. She wanted from others what she didn’t get from her husband; namely, some outward sign of affection.

She remembers the aftermath of the first affair; the confession that left Bill silently devastated, and she remembers thinking “I did that.” Then she did it again while on vacation, and again with someone else.

The curious thing was that she never wanted her marriage to end. She figured she and Bill had enough strength to fight for their family. Through the years, she asked for forgiveness, he granted it, and vice versa. “I had done all that…” said Plump. “And now Bill had done it back. What a pair we were.”

Until she learned that the woman he’d had his second affair with was the mother of his baby son. And Bill’s new family lived less than a mile away from his family with Plump. And he and The Other Woman had been together for over a decade.

Plump tried to make Bill stay. She tried to work things out, being amicable while family and friends “circled the wagons”… until a terrifying emergency presented “the absolute moment when I knew my marriage was over.”

At first blush, it’s easy to tsk-tsk and shake your head at author Wendy Plump, who admits to seeing irony everywhere in the situations about which she writes. She was the first to have an affair. She’d had three, back-to-back.

Even her hairdresser once asked her why she was so upset at Bill’s infidelity when Plump had done it first.

“Vow” tries to make sense of that question which readers will clamor to know, but it’s not easy to get an answer. This book drips with rawness and fairly screams with pain on both sides of an affair. It’s truthful, helpful in its subtle advice, and it’s squirmy because, well, who doesn’t know somebody who’s been through this?

And if that’s you, then give this book a try. “Vow” may give you a touch of camaraderie mixed with a tinge of outrage, and it might help make sense.

Promise. Cross my heart.