Your best takes: The family I hid from my wife

Readers debate (and even occasionally defend) PJ McDowell's double life

By Salon Staff

Published April 12, 2011 6:22PM (EDT)

P.J. McDowell was married with three children when he met the love of his life. "The family I hid from my wife," McDowell's attempt to detail the fallout from his double-booked life, drew quite a bit of fire from our readers. McDowell did have his defenders in the 190 (and counting) letters, but the majority didn't find sympathy with the writer. In fact, the conversation was so lively, that rather than just choosing one letter to highlight, we decided to do a roundup.

Tejano, a reader, was also in a unhappy marriage when he fell in love with another woman. The difference between McDowell and himself is that Tejano decided to man up: "I sucked up all the misery and pain, the financial shit storm which is divorce, and married 'Suzanne.'" See the full text of his letter below:

you got greedy

i was in a shitty marriage for a decade. we'd been together since high school, and married because "it was time." the thing is, our relationship never evolved. we were stuck in treating each other the way we had since our teen years. we separated twice and had a very rocky relationship. then, i met my true love. and i knew i had to make a choice. so i left my first marriage, divorced, sucked up all the misery and pain, the financial shit storm which is divorce (took me five years to get back on my feet), and married "suzanne." we've been married six years now, and our relationship is everything i needed. my life is exponentially more enriching, peaceful, and i've found a life-long companion with whom i can share anything and everything. so i understand your desire to find the same thing. a bad marriage sucks, and it's way worse than being single. but truly, there's no excuse for leading a double life. it wears you down and it isn't fair to either your current partner or the new one. no wonder your "dream" partner finally got fed up. you screwed up.

As a "fellow male," rscott3141 saw through McDowell's conceit. You "didn't 'fall in love'" rscott3141 writes. "You met a hot babe." He writes:

What a dumba**!

From a fellow male . . .

There are so many levels of vanity revealed in this essay it just turns my stomach.

The greatest conceit is that you, a human male, would be able to pull off what no human male has ever successfully pulled off: maintaining two relationships over time. Many, many millennium of evidence that this is just not possible.

Second, that you did it for love. While you deride (probably rightly so) American culture for being shallow and vapid, you yourself pull out the lamest rationalization for justifying your actions . . . "We were in love."

Sheesh. I'm willing to bet that you had many stimulating conversations with lots of other people during your life that you didn't "fall in love" with.

Time to be a real man. Admit the truth. Stop hiding behind some lame a** rationalization.

You met a hot babe. You hadn't had sex in years. She was receptive and you did the deed many times. And then, to justify your infidelity, you place responsibility in the lap of "love." That is just so cliched it makes me gag.

rattigan glumphobo, however, sympathizes with McDowell. He writes, "the dude didn't get any tail for 20 years. That will seriously mess up a man's brain."


I know you all think he is a narcissistic, selfish, sociopathic, deluded douchebag, and you could be right.

But the dude didn't get any tail for 20 years. That will seriously mess up a man's brain.

It did to me.

"I couldn't stop laughing out loud" writes reader Kelly Q. McDowell "is describing his cruel, selfish, stupid behavior" and "repeatedly insults American women like we're the problem." Her letter below:

American Women

The amazing thing about this essay is while he is describing his cruel, selfish, stupid behavior that hurt two women and his kids, he repeatedly insults American women like we're the problem.

Yeah, his mistress and her friends thought he was the bad guy because they were misguided American women who watched too much American television.

It's always amusing when British people insult Americans as though their country and policy and culture are completely different, but this -- I couldn't stop laughing out loud.

To read the rest of the letters, click here.

Salon Staff

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