When you’re watching an attempt to begin a reconciliation process up close, there are times when nothing seems to happen. Sure, there are days when things move forward, a little or even a lot, and there are days where things seem to move backwards as well. On those types of days at least you get the sense of some movement in some direction. Then there is the third category of days, which is when there appears to be no change whatsoever.
Today was such a day.
My wife came home fairly early, around 9:00 a.m. or so. Once again, she looked like hell. I swear to you, this woman must not be sleeping at all. She wasn’t particularly loquacious, and there were a couple of friendly exchanges, but mostly her talk revolved around various complaints: don’t try to get your socks out of cupboard while I’m going my hair (it’s the same space), “your” room (not “ours”) smells, and so on. Nevertheless, she’s okay coming back to this house, eating the food that I buy and cook, drinking the coffee that I make, using the electricity and internet I pay for, and so on. Not that I begrudge her any of this, but her attitude can start to get annoying. So, I just ignore the attitude, as I’d rather have her in the house a few hours per day than zero.
One question she had for me was about our upcoming counseling session this Friday. She asked me what kinds of questions she’d be asked. I told her I had no idea whatsoever, it would likely just be a conversation, but she could ask whatever questions she wanted to. She assured me that she had no questions whatsoever. We’ll see about that. Right now, my number one priority is making sure that she actually is there for the session and does not bail out of it in the last minute. Fortunately, there have been no triggers thus far that might do that. She has not brought up her plans to move in with the adulterer. In fact, she has not breathed a word about that person since November 3. I consider this a very successful act of stonewalling on my behalf: on the one occasion that she tried to mention him obliquely, just after Thanksgiving, I shut that conversation down. And on another occasion when she brought home gifts from him, I got them out of my sight, and told her that their presence made me feel disrespected. So it is perfectly clear to her that I do not approve and that she cannot come to me to talk about that situation.
As I’ve noted in other posts, the walls of secrecy surrounding my wife’s infidelity are leaky. Today, I saw something that unsettled me a bit: her marriage dissolution petition paperwork. Not that I hadn’t seen it before, as she’d had it on her desk for weeks at a time. But then it vanished. Today it was back, and tabbed with post-its and information penciled in.
Actually, I’m not quite sure why I’m unsettled by this. Actually, it’s par for the course, given her personality. As I’ve said before, my wife is an extremely strong-willed person. When she has a goal that she wants to accomplish, she’ll do everything in her power to ensure that it happens. I have watched her on more than one occasion suffer physical and emotional breakdowns in pursuit of unrealistic goals. This goal is different, because it involves two people: one whom she seeks to be with, and one whom she wants to leave. That’s what makes this dynamic different. Her other goals had deadlines, as does this one (which now appears to be March 1st or thereabouts), but there was never an external force that provided reinforcement, stimulation, and, well, biochemical dependency.
As we empirically know, the neurochemistry of the adulterer is very similar to that of the cocaine addict. Briefly, there are massive dopamine releases with every encounter with the adulterous partner, and a subsequent dopamine crash that provokes the need for a further dopamine fix in the form of another encounter. Since the adulterer is under the influence of dopamine addiction, so to speak, they simply do not think rationally. This external source of biochemical gratification has made this situation last much longer than any of her previous goal-oriented fixations. It has also caused her to up the ante, in the form of “separation,” filling out dissolution paperwork, lying to me and everyone else in the world, et cetera.
Here’s what’s going to happen. The neurochemical addiction is not sustainable. This leaves three possible conclusions:
- She ends up successful in her quest to shack up with her adulterer. The ping-pong effect of dopamine high followed by dopamine crash stops, since she has unlimited access to that “drug”. The goggles come off and she begins to see the adulterer for what he is: an unprincipled, immoral, unethical, and untrustworthy individual. She already knows him to be insensitive with his word choice, and unavailable insofar as prioritizing career over personal relationships. Furthermore, they have very little in common to share, especially when it comes to things that are really important to her. This is the benign route to the dissolution of that relationship.
- She begins to feel the pressure of her real life, in the form of pressure of disapproval from family, friends, and others. On top of that, there will be the pressure of her dissertation looming, and that will continue to build. She will soon begin to see that the affair drains her energy, and that she cannot simultaneously sustain enough energy to a) write a dissertation, b) sustain an affair, and c) attempt to logistically (and possibly legally) disentangle herself from me.
- Some external situation triggers the implosion of the affair, perhaps without warning. This could come in the form of a stern warning from her father, from her dissertation advisor (both of these are likely, and the latter could be quite potent), or from the adulterer’s spiritual mentor. The latter is worried about blowback to his shrine and martial arts studio, of which the adulterer is a long-term member, and could likely decide to protect his reputation and the reputation of his institutions in the form of an ultimatum: leave the affair or leave my institution(s). This scenario is also likely.
Actually, there is a fourth scenario, which is something I have not foreseen, including some combination of the above scenarios, or none of the above.
I’m done trying to guess. I’m just resigned to waiting and hoping for the best.