Max’s life turned upside down when he received an unexpected call from a friend one night. He wasn’t ready to learn that his boss and wife had met while he was at work. “I saw her hug your boss,” Max’s friend recalled.
“Money, money, money!” Max shrugged his shoulders while yelling at his wife, Linda. “That’s all you care about!”
“No, Max,” Linda looked into his eyes. “I want you to work so you can live a better life. Not because I need your money.”
“Oh, please!” Max sneered. “I know you’re constantly pushing me to make more money so you can have a lavish lifestyle. You don’t care about me!”
Whenever Linda would remind Max about his responsibilities, he would gaslight her, accusing her of being greedy for his earnings. After all, it’s hard to accept one’s own shortcomings. It was so much easier to just switch topics and accuse his wife instead.
“I don’t care about you? That’s convenient.” Linda frowned. “The question is whether you care about me, our lives, or at least our house, for goodness sake!
“I’ve asked you a million times to fix the leaking pipe in the bathroom, but you don’t bother moving from your couch. I asked you to fix the door lock last week, but you don’t seem to care. Are you ever going to change, Max?”
“I told you I would fix it later,” Max rolled his eyes, turning his face towards the TV. “Now stop pestering me!”
Like every time, Max ended the conversation by agreeing to fix things around the house, but Linda was sure he wouldn’t move a muscle. She felt frustrated every time Max quarreled with her, making her regret marrying him in the first place.
“Honey, I’m sorry, but I can’t come home early,” he lied.
Max went to work as usual the following day and sat at his workstation. He had been working as a call center agent for years and didn’t have the zeal to reach for greater heights. He didn’t yearn for a promotion or a raise at work because his life was too comfortable to risk for ambition.
That morning, his boss, Andrew, asked his employees about their lives. Andrew was a kind man in his early forties who owned the call center. Before buying the company, he worked a regular job for years. He understood how problems at home could hinder one’s performance at work. For this reason, he talked to his employees once a month to learn about their personal lives.
“My wife always pushes me to do better at work and earn more money!” Max complained to Andrew. “Why can’t she just accept me for who I am and stop expecting me to change? I feel so annoyed by her constant bickering!”
“Well, you could look at your situation from a different perspective, Max,” Andrew replied calmly. “Your wife wants you to do better because she sees your potential. She is the woman who fell in love with you and married you, after all!”
“You don’t know her,” Max shook his head in disappointment. “She’s greedy for money.”
“I see how your wife’s concerns have caused you stress. But even aside from it, I’m curious: Why didn’t you ever ask me for a raise, Max?” Andrew inquired.
“I never thought about that,” Max lied.
“Or perhaps you are too comfortable with the limited way you’re living?” Andrew asked as he stood up from Max’s desk. “Anyway, I will see you around, Max. Please don’t hesitate to come to my office if you need anything.”
“Thank you, Andrew,” Max smiled.
The truth was that Max was too lazy to change his life. He didn’t want to make an effort to get a raise at work or look after his house as his wife wanted. He was content with having no mental or professional growth in his life, unaware that his careless attitude would soon turn his life upside down.
A month later…
“I’ve taken the day off today,” Linda told her husband at the breakfast table. “I’ll clean the house, and I need you to come home early to fix the leaking pipe and a few other things.”
“Okay,” Max said while his eyes were still glued to his phone. “I will try to return home early.”
Soon after finishing his breakfast, Max left home for work. Once he reached his office, he began thinking of an excuse to avoid going home early.
“What should I tell her?” he wondered as he pressed the power button on his laptop.
Just then, he saw Andrew walk through the entrance, and an idea struck him. “He’s going to help me stay at work today!” Max thought.
A few minutes later, Max entered Andrew’s cabin and told him he had something important to discuss.
“I want to improve my performance at work,” Max lied. “So I was wondering if I could work a few extra hours tonight besides my regular shift?”
“Are you sure you can work for so many hours in a row?” Andrew raised his eyebrows. “I would be more than happy to let you work overtime, Max!”
“Yes, Andrew,” Max replied sternly. “I’m ready to put in the time.”
“Well, that’s great!” Andrew smiled. “I love your newfound enthusiasm. Keep it up!”
“Thank you!” Max said before leaving Andrew’s office. He went back to his desk and called Linda.
“Honey, I’m sorry, but I can’t come home early,” he lied. “Andrew asked me to stay back tonight because he has to go home to look after his mother.”
“What happened to her?” Linda asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. She’s unwell,” Max lied again. “I told him I had to return home early, but he didn’t allow me. I’m so sorry, Linda.”
“It’s okay,” Linda replied hesitantly. “I’ll see you later then. Take care.”
“Yes!” Max raised his fist in victory and smiled, unaware he would soon regret it.
Max stayed in the office the entire night after most of his colleagues went home. He sat at his desk, working a little, but mostly whiling away time. He couldn’t care less about how his wife would manage to clean the house alone.
Max struggled to keep his eyes open after being at his desk for sixteen hours. He had almost fallen asleep when he suddenly felt his phone buzz on the table. He raised his head and squinted his eyes at the phone screen.
“Hello,” Max answered the call in a groggy voice.
“Hey, Max!” one of his friends exclaimed on the other end. “Where are you, man?”
“I’m at work. Why?” Max asked, trying to rub his eyes open.
“I guessed you weren’t at home when I saw Linda hug that man,” Max’s friend replied.
“LINDA WHAT???” Max’s eyes widened while his heart raced.
“That guy…Andrew,” Max’s friend said. “He’s your boss, right? I saw him leave your house a few hours ago. And I’m sorry, but I saw her hug him before he left. I thought I should let you know, buddy.”
Max felt a sharp pang of anger run through his body after hearing his friend’s words. “How could she cheat on me?” he scratched his head while glaring at his laptop screen. “This is ridiculous!”
It was almost the end of the night shift when he learned about Andrew visiting his wife. He could have gone home then, but he stayed in the office until his boss arrived.
The call center was divided into two buildings: one for the managerial staff and the other for Andrew and his coworkers. Once Andrew was sure his boss had entered the other building, he rushed outside and kicked the glass door, shattering it into pieces.
“How dare you!” Max yelled at his boss. “I never thought you’d stoop so low! I can’t believe you seduced my wife behind my back!”
“What?” Andrew looked at Max in shock.
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know anything!” Max continued shouting at his boss. “You spent the night with my wife when I was at work!”
“It’s not what you think, Max,” Andrew replied. “Please take a seat.”
Once Max calmed down, Andrew told him he had gone there because Linda had called him.
“She called me last night and requested that I allow you to go home,” Andrew recalled. “She told me you had promised to return home early, but you blamed me for not letting you go.”
Max lowered his gaze and didn’t respond, allowing Andrew to continue speaking.
“Honestly, I was shocked,” Andrew said. “How can you lie to your wife so blatantly, Max? Are you that lazy and selfish?”
“I… I…” Max stammered. “I don’t know.”
“I didn’t tell her you had lied to her,” Andrew said. “I offered to pay for handymen who could visit your house and fix everything, but Linda refused. Her self-respect stopped her from taking my money, but I still wanted to help her. She didn’t resist when I offered to visit your house and fix everything. I didn’t go there to seduce your wife, Max.”
The two men talked some more, and it looked like Max was starting to finally see his own faults.
“I’m sorry for doubting your intentions,” Max tried to apologize. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that. I’m so sorry, Andrew.”
“How dare you!” Linda shouted.
“It’s okay, Max,” Andrew replied. “I’m glad you learned your lesson.”
“I did,” Max lied and left the office.
Later that night, Max yelled at Linda when she returned home. He accused her of cheating on him with his boss.
“I know why you called him here!” Max shouted. “You don’t like me anymore and think Andrew is better than me. You know he earns more money than me, and that’s one thing about him that attracts you the most.”
“Are you out of your mind, Max?” Linda yelled. “How can you accuse me of cheating on you? He offered to fix the leaking pipe and the door lock, so I let him. What’s wrong with you?”
“Oh, please!” Max rolled his eyes.
The couple kept arguing until Max lost his temper and almost raised his hand.
“Don’t you dare!” Linda shouted.
Watching her husband lose control was the last straw for her. She immediately packed her clothes and left the house, clueless about where she would spend the night.
Linda walked a few blocks from her house to a motel where she decided to stay. She checked in and left her bags in the room to visit the nearby store.
Standing in the last aisle of the grocery store, Linda sobbed while thinking about Max’s behavior. She had never expected him to doubt his loyalty, and her heart broke into a million pieces when he did.
While Linda was crying in a corner, she felt a familiar manly voice call her name. She immediately turned around and was shocked to see Andrew standing behind her.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, wiping her tears.
“I bought these flowers thinking I would give them to Max and he’d gift them to you. I even made a dinner reservation for you two so you could catch a break. I thought he wanted me to help him improve his relationship with you,” Andrew said. “I guess he doesn’t want that now.”
Then, Andrew gave Linda the flowers and asked if she wanted to go to that fancy dinner anyway. “It will help you distract your mind,” he said.
“Sure,” Linda agreed and followed Andrew.
A few weeks later, Linda finally took a stand. She divorced Max because she knew he would never change. The couple parted ways, unaware that Linda was pregnant.
Soon after their divorce, Andrew grew close to Linda and revealed his new feelings for her. “I’m in love with you. I care about you, and I promise I wouldn’t hurt you like Max,” he said.
After thinking for a few days, Linda finally reciprocated his feelings with her own. When she thought everything was sorted, fate surprised her with a positive pregnancy test.
Linda was shocked to learn that she was pregnant with Max’s baby, but she didn’t know how Andrew would react. To her surprise, he told her to keep the baby and allowed Max to visit them after the child’s birth.
Andrew had foreseen how Max would change after his child’s birth. Once Max held his baby in his arms, he realized how important it was for him to act responsibly. Becoming a father made him change his lifestyle and aim for the best in his professional life.
A few years later, Max was working a better job and wasn’t the lazy person he used to be. He also married a woman and had a kid, but he could never forget the lesson Andrew and Linda had taught him.
“Thank you for making me realize my mistake,” Max told Andrew and Linda. “I understood one thing―if you are not there for your loved one, someone else will replace you. I regret being a bad husband to Linda, but I am happy she found someone who treats her right.”
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t take your loved ones for granted. Andrew never paid attention to his wife or valued her words all his life. Instead, he argued with her and gave her no respect. He realized his mistake once he saw his child, but it was too late.
Never allow your partner to disrespect you. Linda tolerated everything her husband did until she saw him lose his temper. Watching him lift his hand to hit her was something she couldn’t bear.
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Click here to read another story about a girl who saw her father sneaking out of the house every night and told her mother about it.