What an adulterer does; or, the fog has not lifted

Not more than two hours after my last post my wife left me. Supposedly this would be the start of her separation from me, except that it isn’t. Here’s what happened:

I arrived home after running some errands, and found my wife in her office, sitting in front of her laptop. Her connection with that machine has become truly pathological in recent months. I walk in to say hello, and notice that she’s having a chat with a friend over Facebook. I also notice that there is a cell phone sitting next to the computer that is different than the cell phone she has been using for the past two years. This is the cell phone her lover gave her for their top-secret communications. I have seen this cell phone before, but she does not know that I know of it. I also notice that there is a stack of cards in the office, and I later verify that every single card and note I have given her is in this pile, along with other cards she got during the holidays from other people. This isn’t snooping — this stuff is right out in the open for anyone to see.

As for Facebook, we deactivated our accounts back in November, but then she got back online there in the past couple of weeks, supposedly on an experimental basis. I had also reactivated my account to see if I wanted anything to do with that site anymore, as it was the one that started to bring down our marriage, and have scarcely looked at since doing so. I logged on, and could find no sign of her anywhere, even though she was online. So, I created an extra account and found her — she has apparently blocked me. This is appears to be one of the adulterer’s defense mechanisms: try to shut yourself off from your spouse any way you can. Nevertheless, she holds on to other memorabilia from me. How quaint.

I make some tea and bring it to her, and she thanks me for it. Then, about 10 minutes later, she suddenly walks out into the living room and says, “I’m going to ****’s house for the weekend, and I’m taking the dog with me. I’ll be back on Monday.”  The person she names is a common friend and colleague, the person whose home she has planned to move into this month. I ask her what the heck she’s talking about, why she needs to leave so suddenly, and she says something to the effect that I should already know she’s leaving, and that I never want to listen to her. I tell her that I’m always happy to listen to her. She has already hardened herself emotionally for this, and now she really begins to steel herself. She puts the dog into a carrier, picks up a couple of bags, and walks out the door. I ask her if she news any help, and she declines. I simply say, “bye,” as she walks down the street, and get no response.

Honestly, at this point, I was a bit freaked out. But I had driven by this friend’s house a half an hour earlier, and there was visibly nobody home. Right about this time, the mailman came, and there was a package for my wife. So, I figured it would make a good excuse to drop by this friend’s house to deliver the package. I was getting ready to go to work, so I brought the package with me. The friend’s car was in the driveway, so I figured she’d be home. I rang the doorbell, and there was no response. Nobody was home at all.

So, what really happened? There is only one explanation. She went to be with her lover for the weekend. (I have evidence, but I’ll get to that later.) First of all, it would make no sense to say that you’re beginning your separation so precipitously, go over to the place you’re moving into, and not bring any boxes or anything. Second, why would anyone be in such a rush to leave, if they really were separating? There was no reasonable trigger to make her leave, none whatsoever.

The reason I know that she was with her lover is simple: she logged into our ISP webmail account from that location. I was logging in remotely to check some email, and noticed the most recent login to have come from the area he lives in. I pretty much expected this. Her actions are so totally transparent at this point in time as to almost be laughable.

This means that the fog has not yet lifted, my friends. Not that it’s not being lifted by external circumstances — it is — but rather the more that external reality intrudes, the more she tries to pull the blinders of that fog right back down. It’s actually really pathetic. She managed to make it exactly 4 days without seeing her lover this time. I believe she just availed herself of a simple opportunity, and poorly planned her rationale. I don’t even know if she told this friend of ours that she was being used as the subterfuge, but, since I’ll be seeing this woman tomorrow, I’ll find that out. What I do know is that since she has been home she has spoken to her family, and they absolutely disapprove of the affair. They are trying as hard as they can to convince her that it is the wrong course of action. This pressure will likely increase. But my wife is so determined to prove that she is right that she will just shove her fingers in her ears and scream at the top of her lungs to keep out the inevitable sound of reality.

This is why they tell you that the wayward spouse (or the obstinate spouse, for that matter) has no credibility. They just don’t.

Bad advice, virtuous action

One thing you can count on, should you find yourself in a marital crisis, is that there will be no shortage of advice offered to you. This will come from family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, and so on. Such advice will likely be well intentioned. Most of that advice, however, will be bad. Some of it will be very bad. You’ ll hear things like, “dump your wife”, “get a lawyer”, “file for divorce”, “kick her out of the house”, “once a cheater, always a cheater”, and so on. It feels good to vent to friends, to have them commiserate with you, and you think they understand you. The problem is that most of them have not been through what you’re going through, and the chances are likely that those who have had marital crises handled these badly, and are themselves divorced. This is one reason why it’s a good idea to keep quiet about your situation; if you need advice, find a professional with a track record of success. Don’t just go to any counselor, ask them what their track record for reconciliation has been.

One other thing you can pretty much count on is that your spouse will also be getting advice from friends, family, co-workers, and so on. This advice will be at least as bad, if not worse than anything you’d hear from the well intentioned people in your life. The reason is simple: your spouse has an immoral agenda to justify, and will freely a slander you to others. You are already the villain in their story, and you will be portrayed in that way to anyone who might ask.

In my case, I made the mistake of talking to three people: my sister, and my parents. My sister was the most vocal in encouraging me to separate from my wife. Once I began my current counseling program, I stopped talking about my situation. They do respect my need to do this, and on occasion I will speak in generalities, but offer no specifics. Early in the process, I explained to my wife why I was keeping quiet, and how important I thought it was to protect her privacy, and she agreed to protect mine. She was about to go out with a girlfriend, one whom she is planning on moving in with next week, and she promised not to say anything. That promise lasted less than an hour. I found out, and she did tell me later, as a matter of fact, that she did speak with this woman about our situation. Not only that, but she spoke to her and her husband. She mentioned the affair and even the lover by name. Somehow they were not totally disgusted by this, and assented to let her stay with them for the month. In addition, the wife is training to be a paralegal, and apparently expressed interest in helping my wife to fill out the divorce paperwork. Talk about a messy situation. At this point, she has blabbed to well over a dozen people, including her family. They all know about the lover. They all have heard the story where I’m the bad guy, and she has been horribly and repeatedly wronged. And of course, these people largely sympathize. She has gotten repeated advice from an old friend who is divorced, and this person encouraged her to continue the affair and to seek divorce. Every time my wife feels her situation to get dire, she turns to this friend with whatever freak-out she’s experiencing. This friend gives her encouragement to continue further down the path of sorrow, pain, and immorality. It’s almost as if they have become accomplices, and neither can admit defeat.

My experience with the well meaning advice I’d been given is that it was largely disempowering, and required me to give up and accept that I had no say in the matter. The advice my wife is getting is similar, except that people are trying to empower her to continue behaving immorally and make bad decisions. My response to all of this has been to choose the path of virtuous activity. I have guiding moral principles, e.g. that it is not goods to lie, deceive, or betray people, and I live in accordance with those principles. Although it may seem counterintuitive, behaving in this way is actually empowering. You begin to find that you have the energy, the power, the determination, and the patience to weather the storm. You begin to see that you can take the longer view, and that, if you continue your actions, eventually the storm will blow over and the crisis will resolve in your favor. I continue to manifest acts of unconditional love no matter what happens. Right now this is having the effect of making it difficult for my wife to face her choice of moving out. I don’t know if she actually can face it at this point, but I suspect she’s going to try to do it anyway. When my virtuous actions do not cease, it will make any decision she has taken all the more difficult to suffer. She is swimming in an ocean of guilt, her pain is immeasurable, and she’s looking for relief in all the wrong places. Everything she might ever want, all the opportunities for hearings, growth, love, and fulfillment are right in front of her, in her very house, and in the very form of me and our marriage.

The problem is that we (that is, me and the marriage) have been scapegoated. We are the cause of all her problems. She is faultless. I was the one that needed to change. I was the one who was unable or unwilling to change, no matter how much she nagged, complained, or threatened. (It’s actually because of the nagging, the threats, and the complaints that I never could see any change in myself to be possible, but that’s another story.) She never needed to change anything about herself. So, her only recourse in her mind is to “move on”, by leaving me and shacking up with a middle-aged, divorced, serial adulterer. You can see how that’s going to work out. The reality, however, is that I’m the one who has moved on, who has made positive changes, and who actually is a better person than when this whole crisis erupted. And I didn’t need to go anywhere, to seek divorce or separation, to start an affair, or anything else. This is the way you change your life for the better, by confronting your issues head on, instead of running away from them into a fairy tale. One day, and hopefully fairly soon, my wife will realize that I have moved on, her fairy tale is just a fantasy, and that I have been providing all along a safe place for her to return to.

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