Things always get worse before they get better

Sometimes things go from bad to worse. After receiving a tiny bit of positive news this morning, I get a very bad piece of news this afternoon. The piece of good news came directly to me, the bad news made its way through the grapevine.

First, the good news. My parents emailed me this morning to tell me that they had received a gift from my in-laws. They had sent their customary Christmas/New Year’s gift last month, and received a gift in return. From the looks of the photo my parents sent me, it is a very nice gift, and they also took the time to handwrite (and translate) a letter for my parents. This is a good thing, potentially at least. I’m hoping this signifies that my in-laws feel some sort of connection with, and possibility to my parents.

A couple of hours later, the bad news arrived through the grapevine in the form of an email heads-up about a developing situation. Apparently my wife’s lover has assented to let her move in, and this is to happen in the next 2-3 weeks. This is very bad news. I am beginning to wonder a bit whether my stonewalling over the landlord’s phone number had anything to do with this development. It certainly is possible. The email said that the lover decided yesterday that her moving in would be okay, and that my wife was looking to hire movers to take her stuff out of here to some other location, so that her lover wouldn’t have to come by the house or see me when he comes to pick things up with his truck. I also believe, from information that came to me in a similar way in the recent past, that the lover’s daughter and son-in-law are in town, and that would mean that they now have met my wife — and I stress that this is my wife, as she is, in fact, a married woman — but have likely been given some manner of lies about the true nature of her marital status. All of this is terrible news, and a major obstacle in the way of reconciliation. I noticed that my wife apparently left with our marriage certificate; I have no idea why she might need this, but it does lead me to believe that she may try to file for divorce against me some time in the near future.

For me, this situation is incredibly frustrating. I have done just about everything right over the past 3-1/2 months, and made enormous strides toward building goodwill that will help us to reconcile. I have even been working on myself, and there have been changes that my wife has noticed. Unfortunately, there are two things that I simply have no control over. First, there is the affair. Everything my wife is doing in the way of destroying her life and our marriage flows from the affair. She is so deep in the affair fog at this point that she simply cannot think rationally. She has probably rationalized to herself that moving in with her lover will give her the space to work on her dissertation. While that may be true in some limited sense, her living with him is not a necessary condition of working on her dissertation. I would imagine that, in her mind, it is a prerequisite for any further work on it, though. Second, there is my wife’s willful nature. She has always been a willful person, and while her goal-orientedness and determination have at times been a positive force in our lives, they have also been a serious problem for her as well. I have watched her numerous times work herself into emotional, mental, and physical crises because she had some objective that needed to be obtained, always with a deadline, and she never would give up if the objective was unreasonable. In fact, our current marital crisis started with one such situation: she took on three concerts, two of which required learning massive amounts of music, and she only had one month to prepare. It was a totally unrealistic task. The affair began at the beginning of this process.

This latter trait is fundamentally the cause for her current behavior. She convinced herself within the first week of the affair that she was going to spend the rest of her life with the adulterer. This resulted in her conjuring up all sorts of ideas of a future life with him, living out in the boondocks, gardening, doing spiritual “practice” with him (it does not seem their practice is authentic at this point, but rather a rationalization for their immorality) and so on. As I’ve written elsewhere, this “new life” was to start on January 1st.

But it didn’t.

Then it was going to start on February 1st.

But it didn’t

Now, it’s apparently going to start sometime around March 1st.

I guess we’ll see about that. A lot can happen in 2-3 weeks. For starters, she will be 2-3 weeks closer to the end of her academic career. And I do mean the end of it, too. To my knowledge, she has done virtually no work on her dissertation since she put in a 5-hour stint after we first met to talk it over last month. There is, of course, every excuse in the book for this, including the fact that she needs her own “space.” By my estimation, she now has about 12 weeks to write the entire dissertation and get it edited. This is a tall order even for a person for whom English is their first language; for my wife, who will be writing this dissertation in a second language, it’s a near impossibility. Her smartest move would be to stay here and work with me. But her willfulness and high pride simply will not allow reality to interfere with the fairy tale that is her “new life.” I advised her a couple of weeks ago that she would need to write one chapter per week, and so far she has written zero chapters in over two weeks. More correctly, she has written zero pages. This does not bode well at all for that project.

So what happens now? I have no idea. I have a very delicate line to walk this week. She has agreed to have a counseling session with me, and I’m scheduling that tomorrow morning. I also expect her to want to talk to me about her new living plans, and I simply cannot and will not allow her to breathe a word about the adulterer. She knows this, too, but I do suspect she is going to try to come clean to me. My dilemma is that, if I cut her off as I should, she could bail out of the counseling session. What I will likely try to do is to stall any relationship talk whatsoever until we have the counseling session, and let things come out then.

I think there are two things that potentially can work in my favor going forward. First is the impending dissertation deadline. As that nears, she will become more and more stressed out. She will not have regular access to me, and frankly I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the whole adultery situation if she does move in with him, as I’d have to acknowledge it in some form. Second is the role her parents might play. They have listened to her and “understood” her, according to her own reports, yet at the same time, she has said that she needs to act independent of their judgment, and I take this to mean that they have expressed disapproval of her actions. I would imagine that, once they learn of this new development, they will become very concerned indeed. I expect her father and mother to reach out to various spiritual advisors and fortune tellers to get an idea as to what to do. Her father received advice from one such person back in December, and this person told him that my wife’s lover was “absolutely unacceptable,” and that, if she continued on her present course of action, her situation would totally collapse. The fact that my in-laws have given my parents a gift will likely only complicate things for them. I imagine that, in addition to their concern, they also have feelings of shame, guilt, and humiliation. They have not reached out to me, and while I consider it unlikely, I wouldn’t consider the possibility of my brother-in-law reaching out to me to be too far-fetched.

At this point, it’s just anyone’s guess as to what might happen. On the one hand, I sort of want her to go live with this adulterous cretin, so that she can find out first hand just how awful he is, how massive his character flaws are, and how impossible that relationship is going to be. On the other had, I don’t want her to go live with him, because it will mean the further destruction of her life, and with it mine as well. I would expect her to actually file for divorce if she did go live with him, and he would probably encourage her to do so.

My one hope is that something or someone gets in the way of all of this in the very near future. That someone could be my father-in-law, my counselor, or some unexpected third person who casts enough doubt in my wife’s mind that she begins to reconsider her actions. That something could be a disagreement or series of disagreements, emerging personality incompatibilities, or even a full-blown argument. I have certainly been hoping for the latter, as a full-blown argument with my wife would almost certainly be a deal-ender.

My one request to you, dear reader, is that, if you are a spiritual person, you please, please, please pray for me. Please pray for the welfare of my wife and that she may be restored to some modicum of sanity sometime soon. Pray for the health and preservation of my marriage. And while you’re at it, please, please, please, please also pray for all the people in the world who find themselves currently in the throes of marital problems big and small.

I am reminded again and again that in these attempts at reconciling marital crises things always get worse before they get better. I have heard many stories that bear this out to be true. Things certainly have gotten worse over the past 5 weeks, and will likely deteriorate further before there is a turnaround.

Rough week, rough weekend

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.

Arrow, Water, Fire

Today is an inauspicious day. I have a Tibetan calendar in my kitchen that tells me this. Actually, it’s a western calendar overlaid with information from the Tibetan lunar calendar, including astrological information that is important in determining practice dates and so on. In Tibetan astrology, each day has a particular combination of elements (earth, water, fire, and wind) as well as a conjunction, which, without getting to complicated, refers to the location of the moon. It’s possible to have auspicious dates with inauspicious conjunctions and vice versa, and it’s also possible to have both be either auspicious or inauspicious. Today falls into the last category.

The element combination for today is fire-water; according to the calendar, “[t]his element combination is extremely unfavorable. Fire and water is the combination prefiguring death, any death, and any activity on this day will face significant obstacles that may weaken one’s vitality.” Yikes.

What about the conjunction? Arrow is “[u]nfavorable. Mentally, it indicates too much thought, which results in suffering. Physically, it indicates loss of senses or limbs.” Double yikes.

So, I guess it’s not a surprise that I’ve felt a bit off today. Not only that, I’m regularly posting on the discussion board of the community that is doing the same marriage reconciliation program that I am, and those boards have been particularly active today. It’s been kind of like Downersville in a way. It’s a really good thing that the discussion board exists, as it gives people like myself a place to vent and commiserate without having to take it out unproductively, like, for instance, on our spouses. Tomorrow and Friday look better, though.

The morning started normally enough: I woke up shortly before 6:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep. This has been typical for nearly 4 months now. There’s just too much on my mind, and if I do wake up, it all kicks in and starts spinning. I tried to sleep a bit more, but didn’t manage, so I just got out of bed and got the day started. I don’t really have weekends, but rather my days off are Wednesday and Sunday. I consulted my calendar and just decided that I really would take the day off and not do anything important.

My wife showed up just before 9:00 this morning. She took a bath, drank some tea I had made, and ate a couple of chocolates I had left her. She then did the laundry, which is something she has started doing again recently. She has neglected the housework for almost 4 months now, so that’s a welcome change. She commented on how clean the house was, and I told her I had cleaned the entire place on Sunday.

We had lunch together. I just made something simple. But, according to the principles of my program, I’m supposed to have one “date night” per week. That’s my date night for this week, I guess. We had a pleasant enough conversation, joked around a bit, and nothing too serious came up. I told her that I had a surprise place I wanted to take her next week, and she said, “is it ambush counseling?” I laughed. We are going to have a counseling session next week, but it has been mutually agreed upon in advance. I just told her it wasn’t far, and we’d just be there 20 minutes or so. She said, “Only 20 minutes?” I told her we could, of course stay longer.

I didn’t let on as to what this place is, though, she’ll find that out when we go there. It’s a root beer store. They sell pretty much nothing but root beer. The one near us (there are 2) also sells ice cream, and they make floats. My wife likes root beer a lot — it’s really the only soft drink she’ll touch — and she loves root beer floats. So this will be a nice surprise.

After lunch she told me that she needed to go back to her friends’ place. This wasn’t a surprise, as she’d left her computer there. Supposedly she is working on her dissertation these days, although I don’t see any evidence of it. I did offer to meet with her for another working session on it, but she was unsure as to what day might be good. She seemed to want to chat a bit, so I listened to her, and she began to tell me about an apartment she went to look at yesterday. “Gross,” she said. And it wasn’t cheap, either. Hopefully she’ll see that single life ain’t so great at her age. She did bring up her intention to move out (it’s been a month now, and she still hasn’t moved out). I looked at her and simply said, “You know, you don’t have to move out. This is your house, too.” That went straight to her heart, and to her conscience as well. She brought up the counseling session we’ll be having, and said that it’s okay with her as long as it’s about “healing,” but not about “fixing,” since, according to her, she’s done, and won’t be fixing anything. This story changes weekly, though. So, I just looked at her and said, “everyone has fixing that they need to do on themselves.” Point made. I hope.

This basically means she hasn’t made any progress. I knew she had gotten a couple of checks in the mail, so I offered to drop her off at her friends’ place on my way to the bank, where I’d deposit her checks. On the way out, I gave her a little root beer candy that one of my clients gave me. He had been to the root beer store last week and gave me a bunch of little goodies like that. My wife’s first reaction was, “gross!” It’s candy, and supposedly she shouldn’t be eating them, since she’s under the spell of her lover, who seems to have convinced her that processed and refined foods are evil. (Yes, they are unhealthy, but I do know that she likes all sorts of processed and refined foods.) I told her it was a root beer candy, and she unwrapped it, saw that it looked like a little root beer keg, and then ate it. She thought it was great. What can I say? That’s a good seed to plant in her mind which will be reinforced when we do finally go up the store.

At any rate, I do get to see her one more time today, as I’m taking her to a rehearsal tonight. She’ll then probably continue the pattern of coming home during the day tomorrow and Friday, and then some time on Friday afternoon she’ll pack off for another weekend at Camp Chickenshit. I have a book that I bought for her last week that I’m going to plant in her bag if I get the chance. It’s a book on the use of essential oils in cooking; it was on the bargain rack so it was only a few bucks, but it’s something she absolutely will enjoy. She loves essential oils and aromatherapy, and once or twice a year blows a couple hundred bucks buying oils from a supplier in France.

Now, if I can pull this off and secret this book into one of her bags, and if she doesn’t notice it until she’s underway, then I’ll have pulled off a big double-whammy: not only does she love essential oils, but I also know that she takes them to her lover’s place and does who-knows-what with them there. So that book would be both a reminder of me as well as a brake on their relationship, and that’s exactly what I want. I want him to feel my presence right there, breathing down his neck, making him feel impotent and embarrassed, and shamed that someone knows his “girlfriend” (or however he refers to her) better than does he.

Of course, since I’m always being lied to about what goes on on weekends I can get away with this. As far as I know, she’s just over at her friends’ house a couple of blocks from here, so what’s the problem with leaving a book or small gift for her?

This is one of the ways you can defuse an affair. First, you have to make sure that your spouse lies to you about it over and over again. You do that by not allowing them to talk to you about it, ever. They just cannot try to convince you that it’s a normal relationship. Next, you employ excellent relationship habits to build goodwill. Then, you give. Sneak a few gives in as surprises here and there, things they discover at home or while they’re going somewhere. These are reminders that you’re thinking of them, and if you do it right these acts also show that you know your spouse. And, if you know that your spouse will be going off with his/her lover at some point, try to sneak something or other into their bag, so that they can find it later. You’ve got to build up to it, though. 

I’ve been lucky thus far in that I haven’t had any adverse reactions to any of these kinds of surprises. Usually she thanks me for them later. On maybe one or two occasions she never mentioned the surprise, or did so much later. Right now I can benefit from the fact that she’s under the advice of an “energy worker” who has told her that “healing” my emotions is necessary, and that she needs to express gratitude to me regularly. So I’ve got a bit more wiggle room than normal in this regard.

Hopefully I can pull it off. Friday is an auspicious day: the element combination is “earth-earth,” which is the most auspicious combination, favoring the accomplishment of your wishes, and the conjunction is “friend,” which signifies meeting with friends.