It’s just so bizarre

Sometimes it’s just difficult to read the situation. My wife has committed herself to move out of this house at some point; the original deadline, as mentioned elsewhere, was January 1st. That day came and went. The first week of 2012 is nearly over, and she is still in the house, sleeping in the living room, by her own choice. She hasn’t said anything about a firm move-out date, but I’ve overheard from her phone conversations that she plans on moving out on Monday, January 9th.

She was supposed to have boxes here this morning, to be dropped off by the friend whose house she would be staying at, but since I was at home, she called her friend to ask if she could drop them by this evening instead. They then planned to hunt down some more boxes from some nearby stores. I was originally supposed to come home fairly late, but a meeting at work got canceled, and I ended up arriving home about 10 minutes before she did. She clearly did not expect me to be here when she arrived, with several boxes and some other packing materials. I looked at her and said, “What’s up with the boxes?” relatively casually, a bit critically, and somewhat curiously. I got no answer.

I then cooked us some dinner, set the table, and we had a proper, sit-down meal. She seemed rather uncomfortable, and didn’t really want to look at me. I behaved normally, and did not feel uncomfortable, and projected what more or less was a calm, stable energy. After dinner, I made her some tea, as she had retired back into her office where she spends most of her time, doing little other than surfing the internet. She thanked me for the gesture. She decided to take her customary evening bath a bit early, so I went about preparing the living room, making her bed, turning on the aromatherapy diffuser, and leaving behind a Cucuina Italiana magazine. This is one of her favorite magazines, and I had gotten her a gift subscription a few years ago, which has since lapsed.

After her bath, she peeked into the bedroom to thank me for the magazine. I told her she could come in to say goodnight to her dog, who was sleeping under the night table on my side of the bed. She came in and did so, and then she thanked me again. I took her hand, told her I knew she’d like to read the magazine, and then I kissed her hand and held it. This was not a needy gesture, just a genuine gesture of affection. She let me do this, and did not reject it. Her face and body language were very soft and receptive, as I’ve seen on many occasions in the past. Then I let her go, so that she could go to bed.

Now, this is a woman who supposedly has a single-pointed determination to leave me, to divorce me, to move out of the house, and move in with her lover. Thanks to my efforts at reconciliation, she has shown me this kind of receptivity for at least a month now. She’s still holding to her insane objective, which among other things has destroyed much of her professional life, and threatens damage many other spheres as well. So, I ask you, is this the way a woman who is hell-bent on leaving her husband would behave?

She is a very conflicted person. She has very high pride, and has gone public with her plan to desert me to numerous people, so I think it might be very hard for her not to actually do it. But I know that, if she does, it will be an incredibly painful experience for her. She already suffers from massive guilt. The affair seems to be in some distress. She almost certainly does not relish the idea of camping out for the rest of the month at someone else’s house; at the same time, she feels very uncomfortable here, not because of my actions, but rather because my presence and my actions remind her of the things she has done, and that she continues to do, that she knows are wrong. It’s pretty much a lose-lose-lose situation: it hurts her to stay here, since she feels so guilty; it hurts her to leave, since she knows she’s abandoning me and that also makes her feel guilty, and also she has to leave her home and be a guest in someone else’s, and; it hurts her to know that she cannot move in with her lover anytime soon, and certainly not by the end of the month, when her stay at her friend’s house will end.

So, I’m not quite sure what to expect at the moment. She hasn’t packed a single thing, and I don’t expect her to do so until tomorrow, and probably not until after I’ve left for work. She is having difficulty steeling herself emotionally for this event. I do get the sense that she’s getting nearer and nearer the breaking point.

Spiritual bypassing

One of the more annoying aspects of my wife’s affair is that she is using her spiritual practice as a rational excuse for her behavior. She is connected to an Asian tradition from her homeland, and it would seem that she either misunderstands that tradition, or willfully is misappropriating it. This has already earned the opprobrium of someone connected to the shrine that represents that tradition in our area: the affair itself was not criticized, but rather its spiritual justification. This was also done in public via an internet forum. I believe this did have the effect of serving a wake-up call of sorts, introducing tension and unease into the relationship, requiring it to go further underground.

So, what is “spiritual bypassing”? This morning, I saw a quote from Reggie Ray, a scholar and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, that was posted in a most timely way insofar as my circumstances are concerned:

?”Particularly in our culture, there’s been a lot of discussion of what’s called spiritual bypassing, which is using spiritual practices as a way to not relate to this world. Now, ‘Not relate to it’ doesn’t mean that we’re not in the world and we’re not working, because we might be.

‘Not relating’ means that we don’t take it as the path – not really. For us, the path is actually getting away from it into this other ‘big’ space. And you could be sitting in a meeting and it’s very painful and you just put your mind into the big Mahamudra space and you kind of ignore what’s going on – That means, ‘not relating’. Or, you’re in a relationship that’s very dysfunctional and you’re not actually taking seriously the need to do something about it because you do your meditation in the morning and it’s very comforting, it’s very soothing and it’s very freeing, and you’re not relating. You’re not taking the relative reality as something sacred.”

How does this manifest in my case? My wife has a small altar at which she offers daily prayers; this is not unusual in her culture. Her prayers these days, I believe, revolve around supplications to encourage the affair as the expression of some sort of divine will. There is further talk and communication (not with me, of course) of the divine provenance of the affair: they were connected in a previous life, they have heard or received communication from the unseen world that encourages and validates the affair, their guardian spirits are in fact married to one another, and so on. I even heard her mention on the phone the names of these guardian spirits, and that a friend could “see” from a picture that the lover was under the protection of the consort (to unfortunately misappropriate that term, I think) of her guardian spirit.

All of this extensive rationalization is to be expected. The affair partners enter a mode of intellectual overdrive to justify behavior that they know is wrong. They do research, talk to people, find Internet “experts” of dubious credibility, and then selectively appropriate little nuggets of information that would seem to support their agenda. After all, if someone else says something that would seem to support what they’re doing, then their behavior can’t be wrong, right?

The problem, however, is that they do know that what they’re doing is wrong. Rationalizations are a temporary fix for an unwinnable situation. At some point, reality begins to intrude, and the situation blows up.

Using the spiritual domain as a rationalization can cut both ways. Her parents are relatively spiritual people. They don’t have an actual spiritual practice per se, but they do believe in such things and will consult the advice of spiritual mediums, fortunes tellers, and so forth. To my knowledge, at least two such people have been consulted thus far, and that would be consistent for how they’ve conducted themselves in their past regarding important events. I certainly don’t fault them for that at all. In fact, in some ways I find it admirable. The counsel they have covered thus far might be at times dubious in terms of marital advice, but it has been unequivocal in condemning the affair. Largely because of this, I don’t see the pressure from the parents waning at any point. They give credence to this type of advice, and will likely continue to push until the affair is ended.

In the meantime, my wife seems to be determined to dig her heels in and fight back. She cannot win this battle, and she probably knows it, but her pride is so high that she simply will not admit defeat until her situation totally explodes and she’s left only with the shards.

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Then again…

Late breaking news. My wife’s friend, the person whom she has been planning on moving in with for the month to facilitate a separation with me and a path toward living with her lover, is stopping by tomorrow morning to drop off boxes. Unbeknownst to me, my wife had ordered some boxes and packing materials online, so I guess she’s going to try to commit herself to the path of craziness. She is already guilt-ridden as it is, and my presence during her packing fiasco will probably compound that. Not only that, I will be home when this friend drops by, and that will probably make the situation for both of them very awkward.

Cheating spouses are crazy. The do not have rational thought processes. They can seem totally normal, and at the same time maintain a fairy tale (i.e. the affair) and various narratives that make you out to be the villain, and which justify their unjustifiable behavior. Adultery is a form of temporary insanity. I’m pretty certain of this. Every case of adultery I have ever heard of includes a wayward spouse that will not listen to reason from anyone; fast forward a few months when the affair has ended, and that same person sits there and says, “What on earth was I thinking? What kind of person did I become?” Oh, how I eagerly await that day.

UPDATE: She had second thoughts about the timing of this, and called her friend to see if she instead could drop by this evening when I won’t be home. Yes, this is cowardly behavior, but then adulterers are moral cowards. That’s just how it works with them.

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