Friends that get involved

Seriously, people, you don’t want friends to get involved. You don’t want family to get involved. You don’t want coworkers to get involved. You don’t want anyone to get involved in your marital situation, with the exception of a trained professional. Nobody else really can help.

As I’ve mentioned before, a colleague and mutual friend of my wife and myself inserted herself into our marital situation by giving my wife a place to stay for the next month. She has even helped my wife go out and find boxes to help with her packing. Of course, I personally find this type of behavior inappropriate: I don’t need anyone else to help make my marital crisis more of a crisis than it already is. Not that I blame this person, though. My wife confided in her, and she felt obliged to help. I can understand that. It’s an expression of our basic humanity to want to help others.

The problem is that we do need to understand when the skillful means of action is to provide assistance, and when the proper means is to take a respectful distance. If anyone ever wants to involve you in their marital crisis, the only truly helpful and ethical thing you can do is to tell them you sympathize, but that you feel it would be inappropriate to get involved. You should then refer them to a professional, if you know one.

This blog post was precipitated by the aforementioned friend. I was just at her house. I had called last night to see if I could drop off a package for my wife, since she was supposedly spending the night there. I never got a call back, but received a text this morning apologizing for not getting back to me. I was already on my way to work, and knew I’d see her soon, so we just were going to chat when there was a spare moment. That did not happen until the end of the work day; she seemed rather guilty and wanted to apologize to me for my situation and so on; I briefly let her know that I had a package to drop off, and arranged to drop by later to leave it and said we could talk then.

When I arrived at their house, I asked if my wife was there. They looked around — the husband came to the door, too — and said she was not there, but that she was with her “friends.” I told them that I’d been told that she was going to spend the weekend there, and that’s why I was stopping by to drop off the package. The wife said that she had been there briefly, and then went out with her friends. Who knows if this was true. I suspect that they were given a story to provide her some cover. They know about her lover, and they know him by name. This is brilliant. They now are in the position of having to lie to me about him, too.

They began to apologize to me about the difficulty of my situation, and I just told them that I was sorry if I might seem curt, but I just simply don’t talk about my marriage with anyone, as it’s a private situation, and private should stay private. They said they understood. They assured me that they didn’t want to get involved — impossible if you’re giving my wife a place to stay! — and I was clear that I did not fault them for anything that they were doing, and that I commended them for feeling compelled to help a fellow human. I did tell them that there was basically no reason for my wife to need to leave home, they understood, and I told them that she was always welcome in our house. They said they understood that, too. They told me that my wife said she needs “space.” Well, space is the worst thing that you can give anyone in a marriage crisis: they’ll just use that space to disconnect from you and to connect with someone else. I simply told them that the situation would resolve all by itself if nobody did anything. I further apologized to them that they had been involved, assured them that I would never have wanted them to have gotten involved, or to feel that they have to take sides. I also told them that I am totally committed to my marriage, I take my vows and commitments seriously, and would not abandon my wife under any circumstances. This was not coming from a position of dependency, but rather one of responsibility.

Anyway, I left it in a good place, or at least as good a place as is feasible in these circumstances. I do think that they feel some guilt and responsibility now, and it’s possible that they may not feel comfortable with my wife’s presence in their midst going forward. I did half-jokingly tell them that, if they wanted to kick her out, there would be a warm and loving house for her to return to.

So, that was it. The ball is in their court, at least insofar as how they’re going to feel about having an active adulteress in their midst. Not only that, they have full knowledge that they are interfering with a sincere attempt to reconcile, and aiding and abetting adultery in the process. That’s likely to wear on their consciences. I have no idea how this will play out, but I suspect I’ll eventually hear things, as I inevitably seem to do. Stay posted…

Spending the weekend alone

The weekend is here, and for us this is normally a busy time. My wife and I both do quite a bit of freelance teaching work, and our busiest day normally is Saturday. Her second busiest day is Sunday, but I’m mostly free that day. My wife never learned how to drive, so I typically spend a lot of time ferrying her around from one appointment to the next.

One of her biggest beefs to her friends throughout this whole crisis is that she “wants her weekends back.” She says that she is tired of working weekends, and that it’s been like this for the whole time we’ve been married. This is not an accurate representation of reality. She had already been working weekend jobs, and I helped her get another one, as well as to set up additional clients to teach, after we got married. The larger question, though, would be what she was doing during the week. For most of the past 7 years, the answer would be little to nothing.

About 6 months after we married, we moved to a small rural town where I had gotten a job. She was supposed to be finishing her doctoral degree, so I just told her that she could take the opportunity to finish that up and not have any work commitments during the week. She took that opportunity to do… nothing. Well, not exactly nothing: she cleaned the house, decorated, gardened, and generally had a good time. But she wasn’t working on her dissertation, nor was she making any money. I suggested she try to get some students, but that was a real struggle in such a small town, so she pretty much had to work on weekends to bring in some extra cash. I didn’t need to work weekends, but she had a studio of students she wanted to maintain, so every weekend we’d make the 100-mile drive so that we could do that. We’d often have to stay over with friends, too. There is a sizable mountain pass on that drive, and sometimes it would snow so heavily it would close, or just be too dangerous to try to cross.

This pattern continued even after we returned back to the city we currently live in. She basically was busiest on weekends, working maybe about 10 hours or so; during the week her work load was very light, amounting to maybe another 10 hours, tops. Somehow, this burden was just too much for her. She has never actually held a full-time job, so she doesn’t have any concept of what that might entail, but to her, her work load was just too much. She grew increasingly resentful of the fact that I could not materially provide for everything we needed, and that she had to contribute to our living situation. In her home country, the single-income family is still the norm, and in fact the entire system is set up to enable that, from corporate structures right on down to the tax and welfare systems. But, you have to work with the society you’ve got, not the one you’d like to have.

As a part of her whole mid-life crisis and adultery situation, she began actively separating from almost all of the clients she had been teaching. She shut down all of her weekend work, which is a bit tricky, since there is still at least one job for which she hasn’t found a replacement. She still has some of her weekday work, though, and for the couple of things during the week that she wants to quit, she only half-quit, finding people to substitute for her, rather than just quitting the jobs outright. Basically, she’s hedging her bets. If she truly got her way, she’d be living 40 miles away from here in a tiny little town with little to no work opportunities. And, still not knowing to drive, and dealing with a lover who would be 40 miles away, working every day in our city (he’s a gardener, and all his clients are here) she’d be truly isolated. He basically wants a housekeeper, and he’s told her this; supposedly she’s okay with that, since she could find a bit of work (or maybe work with him a couple of days) and then have her weekends free. That won’t work out, I’m sure. But then again, the affair won’t work out, either.

So, this is the first “work” weekend in 7 years that we haven’t spent together. Actually, it lightens my load considerably, as I don’t have to drive her all over the place on Sundays. But frankly, I don’t really mind doing that so much, it’s just become routine. People will ask about her, and I will defer comment. The friend she is planning to move in with (and whom supposedly she’s spending the weekend with) is a colleague with whom I work today. She will have an awkward encounter with me as well. I still have the package for my wife that I’m going to give her, and the message will begin something like this, “My wife is staying with you this weekend, right?” Then, I’ll take it from there, based on her reaction. If she says “yes,” I’ll know she’s gotten the heads up from my wife and is taking part in the lies. If she says “no,” or sounds surprised, then I’ll have an opening to inform her that she is being used in the network of lies needed to sustain the affair. Either way, the friend will be in a very uncomfortable position. Aiding and abetting an adulteress is really not a happy task, after all, and there are two of them who have volunteered to do it.

One final comment here, which touches on my post about spiritual bypassing: My wife has spent considerable energy using not only her spiritual practice, such as it is, to justify her actions, but she has also regularly consulted rune stones, tarot cards, astrological forecasts, and other things for additional justification. She really knows just about nothing about the first two, and uses various online sources for pretty much all of these things. In my spiritual practice (which essentially progresses from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition) there is a centuries-old practice of astrological divination to determine auspicious and inauspicious dates for various types of practice, ceremonies, and mundane activities. These latter could be things like starting businesses, getting your hair cut, buying land, and so forth. Yesterday, the day that she left, was an “unfavorable day”, considered to be inauspicious because earth and fire elements are in combination. It is said that this combination can cause suffering, disputes, and even risk of burns. It’s not a good day for starting activities, like, say, a weekend romp with your lover. Her last departure was also on an  inauspicious day; in fact it was on the most inauspicious day of the year. Somehow she seems to have a sense for picking the worst days to do these things. I’d go so far as to suspect that, if she manages to get herself moved out, it will be on this coming Wednesday, which is one of the most inauspicious days of the month.

Do I buy into all of this astrological divination? I don’t know. I do trust that there are people much more knowledgeable than me who actually have figured all this stuff out. I’ll just have to watch to see if things pan out the way that the divinations suggest.