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After disclosing the costliest indiscretion of his philandering behavior, Melvin saw that Bette truly understood how deeply he’d hurt her mother and why he couldn’t fight to keep her from leaving. She berated his carelessness for having unprotected sex but didn’t judge him for falling prey to his own weakness. They found commonality in that neither set out to hurt the women they loved, but their actions were every bit as destructive to the sanctity of their commitments.
Cheating was a symptom of their inability to cope with stress and the pressures of family conflicts. Finding themselves in situations where they were seduced played into their need for temporary escape from their troubles. Bette’s was an affair; Melvin’s was a one-night stand but both sexual infidelities risked everything that meant anything to their spouses.
Knowing that Melvin abhorred weakness and how much of his identity was tied to virility becoming infertile had to result in a lot of emotional baggage that he had not dealt with. Bette was mostly playing armchair psychology but thought perhaps this gave her some insight into why Melvin had reacted so vehemently against her and Tina’s news that they were expecting a baby as a couple. Imagine the feelings of inadequacies hearing that your daughter has impregnated her wife, although biologically impossible when he couldn’t. Adding insult to injury they used an African American male as the sperm donor so the baby would share his heritage. Lastly, they were having a boy who would partially carry his name. If he’d had a son with Maxine, the Porter name wouldn’t die with his generation.
Everything considered resentment and what he perceived as punishment likely played a role in why he lashed out as he did. This long-overdue talk with her father gave Bette what she needed to arm herself from making the same mistakes in her marriage. She knew that whatever obstacles she and Tina would face in the future, she would never again break her promise of monogamy. She would talk to Tina about renewing their vows to express not only intent but the promise and this time in front of her father so he could bear witness that their union is sanctified.
The following morning Melvin woke up with a heavy heart. Both his wives had forgiven him for cheating, but it was his sins as a father that he had to contend with now.