Interesting things are afoot

This was a pretty eventful day. This morning, my wife asked me if I could help her with her doctoral dissertation. I offered this help last week, and she only decided to take me up on it today. I had to cancel all my students today, as there was a snowstorm blowing in, so I suggested we meet this afternoon.

We did meet, she gave me all of her ideas and research results, and I helped her formulate a workable plan.  I also gave her some strategies for completion. She then went off and worked on it for about 5 hours. This is the smartest thing she has done in over three months. I think she finally realizes that she actually has to do this, and if she does not start now it will be game over in about 4 months’ time. This will have ramifications for the affair. If she is going to change her priorities, the affair will get back-burnered at best; it might even implode, near term.

The other momentous thing today was the meeting I had with my counselor. No, I don’t try to manage this situation on my own, that really isn’t possible. My counselor and I meet via phone, since he’s in another city. (The whole face-to-face situation is overrated for most intents and purposes, I think.) He felt that my wife’s “separation”, i.e. spending the day here but sleeping at her friend’s house, was odd; it sounded to him as though she is deeply confused, and in considerable crisis as a result of her poor decisions. I told him that I felt that I’d developed so much goodwill that, if there were no affair, we’d be reconciling right now, and he agreed. Furthermore, I suggested to him that it actually might be a good thing if she were able to spend more time with her lover, as that would bring them that much closer to implosion. He agreed, and said, “the belief that their affair is one argument away from ending is a good one to have.” That’s a powerful statement right there. He also said that the distance factor (he lives 40 miles away from here) is also important: he said that it is not unusual for a man in such a situation to take advantage of that distance to have two or even three simultaneous relationships. I don’t know that to be the case with this man, but it clearly isn’t impossible.

I then asked him what to expect and what I should do when the affair blows up. He said that the situation differs between men and women: men often are more about the conquest, and so the affair wraps up quickly for them, whereas women are more likely to create a vision of the future with the lover, and it becomes more of a process. My wife has basically staked her future on this affair, so that would be consistent with what I know so far. He said that, in his experience, there are three phases that unfold once the affair blows up:

  1. Anger. He called this “shotgun” anger, i.e. anger at everyone and everything. The primary target would be the lover, but it would also be levied at any other nearby target. Chief among them would be me, but it’s also likely that her family could be affected by this.
  2. Broken heart. She might say something like, “I can’t believe the man I fell in love with has rejected me.” Now is not the time to stonewall. That is, while I have thus far not allowed my wife to speak of the affair, once the affair ends, it becomes appropriate to allow her to speak of it. One should never condone the behavior, as it is highly inappropriate, but talk about the feelings and emotions is appropriate.
  3. Embarrassment. She might dig her heels in for a time, saying things like, “you made me do this,” “why did it take me doing this to get you to change,” and so on.

Reconciliation is tricky business, folks. Even if you do everything right, you can still derail the process if you do the wrong things once the affair is over. I’m hoping for a big blow-up in the affair pretty soon, so stay tuned.