I’m reaching the phase in my reconciliation efforts where I really have to change gears, regroup, and rethink the way that I’m going about things. To explain this, I probably should give a thumbnail sketch of what my attempt at reconciliation has looked like thus far.
My marital situation pretty much blew up in my face on October 14 of last year, when my wife suddenly launched into a tirade against me, calling me lazy, saying I’d never change, telling me she wanted out of the marriage, and demanding that I leave. Unbeknownst to me, five days earlier she had started an emotional affair over the internet with a person we had a passing familiarity with. I was immediately thrust into complete and utter turmoil, and had absolutely no idea what to do. It took me about 2 weeks of research to find some useful sources of information on marriage reconciliation, and I finally signed up for a program on November 2.
On that same day, November 2, I discovered my wife’s affair and confronted her with it. This was an incredibly stupid thing to have done, and I demanded she leave the house immediately and told her I’d be divorcing her as well. I was not rational, I felt utterly betrayed, and was filled with anger and immeasurable pain. I felt justified in everything I did. This is absolute craziness, as my once love-filled relationship was nothing other than a hatred-filled interaction of two people who despised one another. This is what marriages can become. I considered calling in to cancel my order of marriage reconciliation course materials, but somehow I let the order stand, had a telephone conference two days later that shed some light on my situation, and decided to give reconciliation a chance: 30 days, then I could get my money back if things didn’t seem to be working.
The first thing I noticed in those 30 days is that my attitude began to change. I felt more confident and had a direction. I began to change the marital environment slowly. I wasn’t really working on myself, as I was too distraught and unmoored to feel that I could really do that, but at least I could get some sort of positive momentum going between my wife and myself.
Over those first two months that I began to attempt reconciliation, November and December, I built a tremendous amount of goodwill with my spouse, to the extent that we were not just friendly with one another, but that she gave me a lovely Christmas gift, and gratefully accepted both a birthday gift from me as well as my Christmas gifts to her.
Then New Year’s rolled around and all that changed. You see, she had set this deadline for her life to change, and that was to happen on January 1, 2012. This was the magical date on which she’d begin her “new life”. Her original plan was to be divorced from me, moved out, and moved in with her lover, and that was all to have been completed by that point. But there was a hitch: her lover was apparently uncomfortable with the idea of her moving in so soon, so she had to “move in” with friends a couple of blocks away.
And so she did. There was really nothing other than psychological necessity fueling this choice as far as I could tell. She simply had to prove to herself that her “new life” was a reality and not some sort of half-baked fairy tale resting on a ground of perfidy and lies. This newfangled separation was little more than two blocks’ worth of physical distance; she’d sleep there and spend the day at home. This ostensibly freed her to be more available for her lover, as he she could phone him without me overhearing, arrange liaisons, etc. without having to worry about me finding out.
I continued my attempts at reconciliation, but things began to progress a bit more slowly since she wasn’t around as much. On top of this, she was growing cold to me and making a determined effort to get me to just go away. But I wasn’t going to go away. Somehow, I had the sense that the affair was in serious distress and that it might just implode before the end of January. Actually, I had laid high hopes on this happening.
But it didn’t. In fact, before the end of January, I had realized that not only had the affair not crumbled, but it looked like it had enough energy left in it to keep it going for a while longer, even for months, perhaps. This should have been dispiriting, but what it did for me was to actually encourage me to step back from my reconciliation efforts and look at myself and what I needed to do to take care of myself. It occurred to me that I had spent so much time trying to build goodwill with her that I had neglected fixing myself, and this lack of fixing was going to be detrimental to both the affair ending in a timely fashion and our eventual reconciliation.
I do believe it is true that a betrayed spouse can have a definite influence on how and when an affair ends, but it cannot occur in a direct manner. The advice I had been given was to become the best husband I could be, the kind of husband any woman would die to be married to, and if I could do that, she’d come back to me, guaranteed. That’s the missing component. It’s a tall order to remake yourself in this way, because it means that you really critically have to look at yourself and go way out of your comfort zone, changing or eliminating bad habits, and installing positive ones in their place. It’s hard, but very, very necessary.
Now that I’m 11 paragraphs deep into this essay, maybe I should finally get to the title of this post. It was a rough week. My wife was gone for 4 days to Camp Chickenshit, and when she did come back I saw very little of her. This was very hard for me, because I do miss her presence very much. The two occasions that we did have a bit of time together were okay; one I could even call a “date night,” even though it happened at home and during the middle of the day: I made her lunch, and we shared some time together. But then she wanted to talk. She wanted to remind me that she was moving out. She wanted to remind me that this is for real, and her intention is to separate from me. In fact, during the second conversation, on Thursday, she began to complain about all the things I’d been doing: leaving occasional voice mails, giving little gifts, and so on; my reaction was more or less, “let me get this right: you’re telling me you don’t like it when someone is being nice to you?” Not that those were my exact words, but that was the message. And her attitude was more or less that she would rather have a complete stranger be nice to her than she would have her husband of 7 years do a single thoughtful thing for her.
Then she packed off again yesterday (Friday) for another weekend at Camp Chickenshit. She didn’t say anything about her plans, but I knew it was coming. That’s her “dating” schedule. (“A married woman dating? Really?” I know you may be asking yourself that question, but in her mind it’s already over, so she can do what she wants.) She told me that morning that she had found an apartment to rent and was filling out a rental application and wanted some information: the landlord’s phone number, our previous address, etc. I stonewalled. She objected. I said, “you’re asking me to help you move out, and I don’t want to condone that behavior.” She then accused me of trying to control her, hold on to her, and so on. I said that she has freedom of choice, including the decision to move out, but that if she chose to do so it was her responsibility to have that information and I should not feel obliged to cooperate with things I find offensive or counterproductive. In retrospect, this may have been a bit of a hard line, but she ended up just primping herself for the adulterer and I went to work before the request for that information could come up again. I did notice that she took our marriage license along with her for some reason. I have no idea why that would be necessary for a rental application; it isn’t necessary for a divorce petition either, so I suspect that she is going to use it in some sort of spiritual purification ritual or other that she’ll be doing this weekend. (It is an important weekend within the tradition she professes to uphold.) I also noticed that she had taken $600 from her stash of emergency cash (literally this is for emergency situations like natural disasters). I doubt this would be for divorce filing fees, which are much lower, but that’s possible; I rather think she is going to use this toward a rental deposit if her rental application is approved. That’s just speculation, of course.
Also, she took the dog with her, and didn’t tell me in advance. I saw this coming, but it left me an opening to call her with concern about the dog’s whereabouts. She later texted me to apologize: she was in a rush and didn’t leave a note. That’s kind of ridiculous, though; she likely didn’t want to talk to me about it because I might have shown her or expressed some sort of hurt.
So, it’s another rough weekend at home alone, another in the long string of weekends alone without my wife as she continues her journey of perfidy to its predictable, destructive end. The only thing I can do at this point, aside from working on my own fixings, is to wait, and to implement the positive relationship habits I have been doing for the past three months whenever the opportunity should arise. I do have some nice surprises in store for her when she comes home, but at the same time she’ll likely have some unpleasant ones in store for me as well.