BY LORI SMALLS
WHEN SUE BIRDSEYE’S HUSBAND asked her for a divorce, she didn’t see it coming. It was a beautiful day – the birds were chirping, the sun was beaming, and her five kids were hanging out in the living room with their friends. “I was completely blindsided. I was married for 18 years with five kids (three biological, and two adopted). Even today, I’m a bit shocked by the story,” Sue shares.
“My husband left one Saturday morning to get the dry cleaning, which was about a 1⁄2 mile from our home. But he was gone for about 2 1⁄2 hours. So when he returned, I casually remarked, Where have you been? You’ve been gone so long. And he said, ‘I think I’m going to leave.’ I was completely shocked. Maybe I was naïve, but I didn’t see it coming. I burst into tears. I asked if he was involved with someone else. He lied, and said that he just didn’t want to be with me anymore. He was so cold. While tears streamed down my face, he looked at me like I meant nothing to him.”
Although some women would have thrown plates, hurled accusations, and possibly slashed their husband’s tires, Sue decided to fight for her marriage. “I refused to allow my love for him to turn to hate,” Sue reflects. “I didn’t want a divorce, and I decided to do anything and everything to get him to stay. But the more I fought for our marriage, the more he pushed further and further away. My insistence just made him more uncomfortable.”
Sue’s husband (a high profile local politician) later revealed that he was having an affair with a co-worker, and he loved her. The following sequence of events could have been scripted for a soap opera. Sue’s husband was fired from his job for his sexual involvement with a colleague. And Sue’s private turmoil became a public spectacle. “It must have been the slowest week for Washington, D.C. and Virginia newspapers. People magazine even called and asked to interview me. It was nuts!,” Sue remembers. “But, at that time, there were so many politicians dropping like flies. I kept the newspapers, radio, and television away from my children. I didn’t turn anything on. And, at first, I didn’t tell my kids. I kept believing that my husband and I would be reconciled.”