Is the fog starting to lift?

That’s the question everyone wants to know. I recall asking my counselor how long it takes for the fog to lift. He said that it’s different for everybody.¬†(I do get occasional counseling: it’s difficult to reconcile a marriage without support.)¬†According to him, for men, it often lifts fairly quickly, and for women, it tends to be more of a gradual process. The general timeline would be anywhere from a few months to a year. You can’t so much speed up the lifting of the fog as you can spoil the affair by being the best version of yourself, and by manifesting unconditional love at every turn.

I have some sneaking suspicions that my wife’s affair fog might slowly be starting to lift. First of all, I hear things. Since she has gone public to so many people about her affair in a futile attempt to make it seem like a normal relationship, word does get back to me. Also, we live in a fairly small house, so if there is a phone call in another room, I’ll tend to overhear without trying, even if the door is closed. So what have I heard?

First, that there is frustration that her original timeline was never met. She planned on divorcing me, moving out and starting a new life with her lover by the beginning of this year. We’re 4 days deep into 2012, and she’s still at home. Not only that, but her secondary plan to move in with friends to provide a transitional period hasn’t taken yet, and might not do so until next week. Second, her family disapproves of what she’s doing and continues to express this. They’re generally getting relatively unsound marriage advice, except for the fact that everyone they speak to disapproves of the affair. Third, the grapevine tells me that the lover is starting to show his true colors: there are communication problems, and he is defensive. He puts his career before his personal relationships. He can’t deal with having her move in anytime soon. There’s just pressure everywhere.

This is predictable, folks. Of course there is pressure. Society does not support adultery. What also is predictable is my wife’s reaction, which is to become despondent, to look fatigued and stressed out, and to cling hopelessly to the shards of a fairy-tale dream gone wrong. Adulterers live in a state of continual self-deception, and that self-deception tends to get more acute as the rationalizations and narratives become less capable of holding water.

The saddest part of it all, though, is how needless it all is. When my wife and I last had a long chat a few days ago, just before she ditched me on our anniversary, I told her that I could see right through her situation. I could tell she was in immense pain, and was suffering greatly. I also told her that, by this point, her pain had virtually nothing to do with me or my actions, but rather was almost completely self-produced. Her pain is nothing other than guilt, and that’s just the reaction of the conscience to the knowledge that one’s actions are, in fact, wrong. She even told me that she felt guilty.

I did not comment upon this, but my general idea about guilt in this kind of situation is pretty simple: Guilt is good. Guilt is healthy. Guilt provides the path to healing. Guilt shows you what actions to stop. My advice to the adulterer would be, “Please feel guilty. It’s good for you. It’s a sign of moral health.” To the betrayed spouse, I would say, “Don’t stop any actions that you suspect make your spouse feel guilty. You cannot control their feelings of guilt. Your spouse’s conscience is your greatest ally.” This does not mean that you should deliberately lay guilt trips on your spouse or anything like that; that would be counterproductive. But it does mean that one needs to recognize that proper, moral actions are likely to induce feelings of guilt in the wayward spouse.

In any case, the one thing we can be assured of is that the fog eventually will lift.

Expressions of gratitude

As part of my reconciliation program, I received the assignment to write a thank you letter to express my gratitude for things my wife had done for me during the course of our marriage. I had the sense that my delivery of this letter would be well timed: I had written it the night before she came home, made a list of at least a dozen things she had done for me, and explained the emotions that those acts had engendered in me, as well as in other people that had been impacted. Remember that, in our last conversation before she left, she tried to redefine our whole relationship by asserting she’d never had true love with me. This is par for the course for a wayward spouse: they have to do it to clear their conscience. My letter cut right through that nonsense by explaining the feelings of love that I’d felt through her actions.

I had originally intended to give her this letter before going to work, but forgot, and so I left it on her pillow last night. This morning she thanked me for the message – twice. Now, I honestly have no idea of what the impact of this letter is likely to be. It’s likely just another gentle flame that will continue to melt away the ice around her heart by rewriting the story she has been creating for herself over the past few months.

It’s clear to me that she is still enveloped by the so-called affair fog, which is just the infatuation process that eventually wears off, spelling the end of the illicit relationship. But, so long as that infatuation is there, it’s a force to be reckoned with. A recent study done at Johns Hopkins University showed that the biochemical response in the brain of an adulterer is nearly identical to that of the cocaine addict. It’s an addictive behavior, plain and simple. However, the brain just simply cannot keep producing dopamines in this amount forever, and as their levels declines, the fog recedes and the affair begins to fall apart. The defects of the affair partner become apparent, and, as they say, lust becomes disgust. This pretty much always happens. That’s what I’m waiting for. I don’t know ho long it will take, but I do know that their time is limited. Her family disapproves, her friends are uncomfortable with it, and society at large condemns her behavior. The chips are always stacked against the adulterer, no matter what they say.

Anyway, time will tell. She has a number of documents on her desk that suggest to me that she is looking for “auspicious” dates to move out. These do not exist: there Is no amount of appeal to augurs of auspiciousness that could turn immoral behavior into acts of morality. That just isn’t possible. Furthermore, there were also papers that waffled on about the virtues of selfishness: how appropriate it is to look out only for your narrow self interest, how there is no sense in trying to placate others if you are sure off your choices, and even how hardening oneself against outside criticism and even hurting others can help them to “move on”. This is craziness. There is a lot of bad information out there, and a much of this kind of stuff is written by people who themselves are plagued with self-deception.

One thing to me seems certain: in the not too distant future, she will look back upon her present actions with disbelief, wondering what kind of person she had become. That is also par for the course. The fairy tale shatters, and all they are left with is the shards of their life, which they have worked overtime to destroy. If they are lucky, there will be a committed spouse who remains to help clean up the debris, bandage the wounds, and help the wayward spouse to reconcile and move forward.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.