- When Gayla Oliver learns that her husband, Brian, has had
an affair, she points out that when the gossip mills start
churning in the wake of marital infidelity, someone always
says, “Well, she must have known. Down deep, she had to
have at least suspected.” Do you agree with that statement?
Do you believe people with cheating spouses actually know
what is going on at some level but choose to look the other
way? Or do you think, as Gayla does, this is something that
people say to make themselves feel more secure in their own
relationships? Or does the truth lie somewhere in between?
- Gayla learns about Brian’s affair and unhappiness in their
marriage when she stumbles upon a memo he wrote to her
but failed to send. Why do you think he did that? If he
changed his mind about divorce and never intended for her
to see the memo, why do you think he never deleted it? And
why, if he was so unhappy, didn’t he simply speak to her
about their problems? Was the memo his way of sorting out
his thoughts and desires? Or avoiding them?
- Ivy Peterman is distressed when she learns that, according to
the law, her abusive ex-husband, Hodge, who is soon to be
released from prison, has a right to be reunited with his children.
What do you think of these types of laws? Should parents
with records of abuse be allowed contact with their
children? Never? Sometimes? Only in certain circumstances?
In these instances, should children have a right to
refuse to see their parents? If so, at what age and under what
- In spite of an understandable wariness about entering into a
new relationship, Ivy, after spending so many years alone,
decides to give speed dating a try. If you’ve been married or
in an exclusive relationship for a very long time, how do you
think you’d feel about dating again? Do you think the process
of meeting new romantic partners is something that would be
fun? Anxiety producing? Something that you’d never do in a
million years? If you’re on the dating scene now or have
been in the past couple of years, what do you think is the
best way to meet new people? And for everyone, can you recall
the best date you’ve ever been on? The worst?
- Looking for a way to explain her sudden appearance in New
Bern without giving away too much about her personal life,
Gayla tells Tessa and the other women of the Cobbled Court
Quilt Circle that she is taking a “sabbatical” and using the
time to try things she’s always wanted to do but has never
found the time for. What about you? If you could take a sabbatical
from everyday life, what things would you want to
try? Would you take up a new hobby or sport? Take an exotic
vacation? Go back to school?
- Think about the list you created in response to the previous
question. Obviously, there may be financial, vocational, or
lifestyle factors that would keep you from taking up some of
those activities now, but can you also identify items on the
list that you could try now or in the near future? What obstacles
are standing in your way? Can you think of ways to
overcome those obstacles? Are you ready to do so?
- In the story, Gayla has to wrestle with a very fundamental
question: Is it possible for a marriage to survive in the aftermath
of infidelity? Gayla’s friend Lanie says no, asserting
that a man who cheats once will cheat again. Brian, Gayla’s
husband, says yes, believing that they can work through
their problems and give the marriage a second chance. Gayla
isn’t so sure. What do you think? In cases of infidelity, is divorce
the best or only option? Why? Or do you believe that
couples should stay together no matter what, even if one of
them has been unfaithful? Or do you believe that, when
somebody cheats, the couple should stay together only under
certain conditions? What are they?
- Overwhelmed by emotions she seems unable to control,
Gayla stumbles upon an unusual but effective method for
dealing with her anger—smashing dishes against a stone
wall. What do you do when you’re angry or frustrated? How
is that working for you? Do you think there could be a more
constructive way of handling your emotions?
- Gayla and Brian originally bought the cottage in New Bern
because they hoped it would give them a means of staying
connected as a couple during a challenging season in their
careers. While it didn’t work out the way they’d hoped, at
least not at first, it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. What about
you? Do you and your spouse or partner have a special place
you like to go together? Someplace that helps you clear your
heads and reconnect romantically?
- When Brian suggests dating as a means of healing their broken
relationship, Gayla is skeptical but grudgingly decides
to go along with his plan, quickly realizing that she doesn’t
know her husband as well as she thought she did. If you’ve
been married or in a relationship for a long time, what suggestions
do you have for keeping the interest and romance
alive for the long haul?
- Gayla knows that if she hopes to repair her broken marriage,
she has to find a way to forgive Brian, but it isn’t easy. When
someone we love hurts us deeply, it can be very hard to move
past the hurt and truly forgive. Some people, like Lanie,
would say it’s impossible, even foolish, and that people who
do so are just setting themselves up to be hurt again. On the
other hand, Philippa believes forgiving is the only way to
free ourselves from the worry and anxiety of past hurts,
telling Gayla that, “every debt we choose to hold on to actually has a hold on us.” What do you think? Do you agree
with Lanie? Or with Philippa? This may not be an answer
you wish to share with the group, but did reading the story
remind you of any half-healed hurts in your own life? Is
there someone you need to forgive? What difference would
it make in your life if you were able to do that? Or perhaps
you’ve realized that there is someone of whom you need to
ask forgiveness. Are you ready to do so?