Attitude determines altitude

I returned home from work half expecting to find my wife ensconced in her office, surfing the net as she has done for the past 3 months. Even despite her “separation” from me, she still has been spending much of each day doing precisely this.

As I drove up to the house, I noticed the lights were very dim, and that there were no lights on in her office. When I entered the house, the place was a mess. Not a total mess, but just messy, as though it were left in haste. There was a food bowl left by the sink, shoes and slippers haphazardly lying around her desk, a bunch of papers strewn on the table, and some half-opened mail. I suspected that she had gotten a last-minute text from the adulterer telling her that he was knocking off early for the weekend, and could swing by to pick her up and take her back to his love shack. While this is possible, there are some logistical things going on this weekend that make that unlikely. My wife has intended to get her stuff packed up and into storage in a friend’s basement by Sunday. This means she’ll have to spend all day packing tomorrow if she wants to have any hope of that happening. She has been frittering her time away doing other things. She also has a job on Sunday morning that she could not wheedle her way out of. So, no free weekend out at chickenshit ranch this time, I suspect.

At any rate, I had two students to teach at home tonight, and about a half an hour until the first one arrived. I took all of her boxes, packed or half empty, and put them in the laundry room. I needed the space for teaching, and didn’t want my students to feel oppressed by that clutter. Then, I collapsed her empty boxes back down (they weren’t taped) and stuck them in the closet. She’ll likely be upset about that, but I’m not too worried. I live here too, and she does need to at least try to be respectful. It’s not as if I’m trying to irritate her — she’s doing fine on that all by herself, and she’ll be irritated regardless of whether I did this or not — but that she does need to understand that I still do live here and have obligations beyond allowing her to keep half-packed boxes scattered about.

I taught my students and then treated myself to dinner. There are a ton of Korean restaurants in our neck of the woods, so I went to a local favorite of ours and had a proper meal. Now, I lost 19 pounds over the first two months of this crisis. I was so stressed out that I could hardly eat. I take this as a good sign that my appetite has finally started to return.

Something interesting happened while I was at the restaurant, though: I felt really, really happy. This has been a trend that has been developing for the past week or two. I’ve just started to become more at peace with this process and have begun to recognize that I’ll be alright no matter what. I think I’ve also started to let go as well. This does not mean that I don’t want to save my marriage. Quite the contrary: I am totally committed to it and absolutely determined to reconcile. It’s just that, at this point, it appears that my wife actually needs to prove to herself that she can disengage from me. She spent most of the last month complaining that I was forcing her to do this or that, or to see things in certain ways. That is not true at all: I told her on many occasions that I did not agree with her agenda, but could not stop her from taking action. The crux of the matter is that she wanted my approval to execute her agenda (adultery, separation, divorce, etc.) and I simply would not give it. The other person she wanted to get approval from was her father, and he also did not give it.

Since she’s already 13 days behind schedule on beginning her “new life,” I think she has begun to feel compelled to take some sort of action, so that she can feel like she’s actually in control of her life. This is currently manifesting in her sleeping at a friend’s house and packing her boxes (sometimes) during the day, that is, when she’s not surfing the net. And it may in fact culminate in her actually getting movers here to take those boxes to this other friend’s basement.

What’s really happened to me since the start of this year is that my perspective has changed. I’ve had to stop being the doting husband, so to speak, and start becoming the caring parent. She’s entered the rebellious adolescent phase of this affair, and wants to prove her autonomy, which she does not really have. She really needs to prove that she’s right, that her path is just, and that everyone who doubts her or criticizes the morality of her behavior is, in fact, wrong. A caring parent knows that he cannot really stop a truly rebellious teen. Instead, you have to stand back and let them make their own mistakes and learn from them. That’s pretty much the position I was put into 10 days ago. I’ve just got to let go, while still maintaining the gentle heat of unconditional love that manifests mostly as acts of thoughtfulness and kindness. I’ve got to be willing to let her walk out the door without her telling me where she’s going. I’ve got to be willing to let her go have more face time with the adulterer at Camp Chickenshit. I’ve got to let her experience this whole situation in all its sordid glory, so that the house of cards that it is can finally collapse.

I don’t really have much control over the process anymore. I can be influential, but she’s the one whose situation is finally starting to spiral out of control. I’m not sure how things will turn out from here, but one side of me feels as if this whole situation is going to explode pretty soon. It’s just impossible to tell.

What I can tell is that, with my change in perspective, a change in me has occurred too. I’m a stronger person. I’m a happier person. I’m a much more motivated and self-confident person. I now recognize that I am really in the position to start making the positive changes in my life that need to be made. I don’t need her to help me do this; in fact, this crisis has been a distraction that has really derailed this process. Now I know that I can keep my head above the clouds, see the destination clearly, and keep moving in that direction with calm assuredness until I reach that destination.

“Separation,” day 5

Day 5 of this so-called separation began early. My wife had a hair appointment at a salon about 10 miles from our house. In the past, I’d gladly take her there and pick her up. I’d still do that, except for the fact that she wants to be “independent” now. Since she doesn’t know how to drive, this meant that she had to take a 2-hour bus trip, involving 2 transfers. That’s 4 hours, round trip. Not that I didn’t offer to take her there — I did — she is just so willful that she had to refuse the offer and tough it out on her own.

She hasn’t been so tough about the actual separation, though. These days, she’s basically hanging out at home all day, and then sleeping over at her friends’ house. She’s also doing a bit of packing, but it seems to be going pretty slowly, almost as if it’s more for show than anything else. I do believe that she wants to pack and get things into storage, but her need to do this is purely psychological, not logistical, since she does not have any place to move to, not until March at the earliest, if that even were to happen.

Back to the morning: I got up around 6, as she was already up and about, and the dog had been awakened by the noise and was walking around in circles. Once she jumped in the shower, I took the opportunity to press some juice: apple-beet-carrot. I know she really likes beets. They’re not my favorite, but the juice you get from them is pretty good, and highly nutritious. I don’t think she realized I had made it, as I saw her just briefly after she got out of the shower. I left it for her on the table, and went back to bed. I discovered later that she had drunk it.

I spent the morning doing all the things she has been neglecting the past couple of months. I washed all the dirty dishes she had left lying around. I gave the dog a bath. This was seriously overdue: she took the dog to her lover’s place last weekend, and the dog came back smelling like a barnyard, and had chicken shit caked on her neck. I mentioned this to my wife, and she shrugged it off. I do know this man has chickens.

I also know that this man is chickenshit. He’s a moral coward, among other things. Among the things I’ve learned about him since the beginning of this crisis include the fact that her has been married twice, and has committed adultery with at least one married woman in the past. He comes from a broken home, his mother divorced while he was young, and he repeated that action twice. His first wife cheated on him while he was in the military and then divorced him. This would raise the question as to why he would inflict that kind of pain on anyone else, as he was apparently seriously damaged by it. His second marriage lasted only 6 months. This is stuff I’ve been told, folks. What are the chances he’d succeed in a third marriage? 20% at best. But, if he were considering a life with my wife, and that’s what my wife had said in the past she wanted, the chance rapidly diminish to a fraction of a percent, since the relationship has begun with perfidy, deception, and lies (i.e. adultery).

In addition, I know that my wife is worried about the fact that this man is very defensive, does not like to be told what to do (this would be a serious problem for anyone involved with my wife!), is very blunt in his speech, and has a lot of female friends. I’ve heard all of this directly or indirectly over the past few months. Basically, this relationship has “failure” written all over it. But then, all adulterous affairs do.

So, I’m biding my time, working on what I need to fix about myself, and patiently watching the pressure build in this affair. At some point, it will just explode. I’m not a psychic, but I give it 2 more months, tops. I think the next 9 weeks of couch surfing that my wife plans to do will rapidly wear her down. She will likely have a fight with this man if he withdraws or attempts to stall any more than he already has. That’s what I’m waiting for: for this man to have a real altercation with my wife. That’ll put the brakes on the whole thing.

I read an interesting article the other day that laid out the four typical stages an affair goes through. The first stage is the introduction and initial attraction, which usually starts innocently enough. I wouldn’t say that it was so innocent in my wife’s case, and it was also quite precipitous. The second stage is where the emotional and physical entanglement occurs. The third stage is where the destabilization of the affair happens. Oddly enough, this is normally a process of stabilization for the affair partners: they are meeting resistance and the intrusion of reality, but are trying very hard to maintain the affair so they can get their dopamine fixes in. At some point this all gets to be too much, and they enter into stage four, which is where disclosure and dissolution of the affair occurs.

In my wife’s case, I introduced stage 4 as stage 2 was developing, in fact. I confronted her with my knowledge of the affair. This didn’t lead to stage 4, though, as they had not yet entered the destabilization phase. Instead, it actively shoved the affair underground, and put them into stage 3 (destabilization) with a fury. That would explain my wife’s retrenchment, her desire to come clean to others, etc. If no proper remedies are applied, stage 3 can drag on for quite a while.

Sometimes.

I’ve been applying appropriate remedies for 10 weeks now, and they have been having an effect. Basically, the almost effective remedy is to rewrite the story that the wayward spouse has used to justify the affair: that the marriage is hopelessly broken, that the betrayed spouse is disconnected, a jerk, and so on. They need you to be all those things, to be the villain, or else they can neither rationalize their actions nor assuage their guilt. As that story gets rewritten, you start to experience pushback. It could be mild, or it could be harsh. As mentioned in an earlier post, my wife has become quite cold over the past week, and this is almost certainly the product of watching her hopes and aspirations vis à vis the affair start to disintegrate. I expect further coldness as the pressure builds. But, you know what happens when a cold front and a warm front collide: you get a storm, maybe even a big one — thunder, lightning, even tornadoes. But the storm always ends, and then there is the calm thereafter. There could be damage, too, but that will all likely be manageable.

Until that calm arrives, I just wait, apply gentle warmth, and prepare to weather the storm that is probably on the horizon.

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