Steeling myself for the walkaway

She’s going to leave tomorrow, folks. Of that, I’m sure. She has a plan, she has boxes, and she has a timeline. I’m not going to stop her, either. I will be home. It will be ugly. It will probably be more painful for her than it will be for me, and that is exactly how it should be. I am not the one who has betrayed anyone. I am not the person who is abandoning anyone. I am not the person who is behaving like a selfish five-year-old.

Actually, the analogy of the five-year-old is particularly apt: a child can put his fingers in his ears, drop to the floor, start kicking and screaming, and drown the world out to get his way. An adult, on the other hand, needs to have an affair, and/or threaten separation if not divorce to get her way. The basic psychology is the same: it’s ME! ME! ME!

I feel particularly lucky that in my spiritual training I was required to spend 8 months studying compassion Yes, there is an entire philosophy that surrounds this topic, and the literature and practices are quite extensive. I am also lucky that I have done and continue to do compassion practices. I think that this is where a lot of people get stuck. They feel so horrible that they cannot see their partner’s behavior for what it is: confusion. There isn’t a single person who would betray their spouse, or that would threaten to leave their spouse that is not deeply confused.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, wish me luck. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, too. I know this is a temporary situation, and that it will pass, but as long as the affair is going on, nothing substantially will change.

Perfidy

It’s a good word, perfidy, and not used often enough. There are lots of other good words: loquacious, perspicacity, moribund, jejune — words we learn in high school, or maybe in college, but then leave them by the wayside as we enter our adult lives of work, relationships, and pastimes.

Perfidy pretty much defines my life right now. The word basically means deceitfulness or untrustworthiness. I have a spouse who is deceitful and untrustworthy. Moreover, she has friends who appear to be deceitful and untrustworthy. This would include the friends I visited last night, of whom I wrote in the previous post. They are running cover for a wayward spouse run amok and don’t seem to think that there is a problem with that. They know where she is, they sympathize with her, or so it would seem, and they actually want to support her agenda, which, should I need to repeat, basically is nothing other than the destruction of her entire adult life.

I’m so disappointed in these friends. They tell me that they don’t want to take sides, but by default they already have. You cannot give a wayward spouse temporary lodging and claim neutrality. The fact that you are willing to do so, and that you are inserting yourself into a situation without having considered or consulting the betrayed spouse makes you, again by default, an agent of the wayward spouse.

This is all so unnecessary. There are so many people that have been dragged into this situation. There are so many lies that have been told to these people. There is so much vanity and so much useless pride that is attempting to be maintained. There is so much effort being expended in trying to keep a house of cards from being blown down.

Maybe it would be useful to review the facts, or at least the morality of the facts. My wife is an adulteress. I never in my entire life thought I would deal with something like that, but there it is. She entered her adulterous path on October 9, and never looked back. That path led her quickly to decide that she needed to separate from me and spend the rest of her life with an adulterous lecher who has not only been divorced, but who also has committed adultery in the past. As a result of this entanglement, she began to hatch the idea that not only would separation be a good idea, but also she’d need to divorce me. She wanted a “clean break,” and for that she needed my agreement. It would be a simple, painless, and friendly dissolution of a 7-year marriage. Then she’d be free to leave this house at the end of 2011, and with the dawning of the new year all of her sins would be wiped away, her bad karma would all be resolved, all of her negative emotions and bad memories would magically disappear, and she’d enter into a “new life” with this wondrous new “soul mate.”

Poof.

It’s all magical thinking. There is no “new life.” There is only this life. There is no magical date that purifies karma for a specific person or wipes the slate of sin clean. There is no day on which your memory gets erased (see: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) and you can live free of guilt. Those things don’t exist. What does exist is your life as it is, and the reality the you at some point will have to relate to that life. If not now, then later, but sooner or later you’ll have to relate to it. Don’t like paying bills? Wait until you get collection calls. Don’t like writing your dissertation? (Hello, wife!) Wait until your last academic quarter approaches and you see finishing is an impossibility. Don’t like the problems in your marriage? Run away into a fantasy world of adultery, until you see the adulterer for what he is: a morally retarded, ethically compromised, and deeply flawed human being.

Poof.

The house of cards blows down. In the end, it doesn’t take much. It just takes a does of reality from someone or somewhere. These doses of reality have been there all along, but they have been ignored. The fog of the affair was strong enough to keep them away, or at least to make them seem less threatening. But sooner or later something happens: the father calls with another admonition, the dissertation advisor emails wanting details of progress, the money starts to run out, or some other unforeseen event occurs. When this happens, reality manages to intrude just a little too much, and the lover’s true colors begin to be seen. Disagreements occur. Arguments ensue. (These would happen even in a healthy relationship.) Accusations fly. Tempers flare. The affair comes grinding to a halt. And there is the adulteress, sitting alone in the corner, her pride decimated, looking over the shattered remnants of her life.

In a worst-case scenario, her husband has heeded her admonitions and already “moved on.” Maybe he’s found some better place to live or some other person to be with. Maybe he actually has filed for divorce, or was served and actually assented and let it go through. The adulteress, now alone, looks upon the shards of her life and wonders how she could ever rebuild.

In a best-case scenario, her husband saw this implosion coming weeks if not months in advance, believed in the marriage, and chose to be patient and to wait it out. Once the adulteress has seen her entire world implode, her husband is still there, and has provided a safe harbor for her to return to. The only question is whether she’ll have the humility to return.