My apologies to my regular readers, no matter how few they may be, for having not posted for a few days. I’ve been very busy with work and other commitments. I’m just squeezing this post into the few minutes I have free this morning before getting a particularly busy Sunday underway.

I was doing some cooking on Friday morning when my wife came home. I’ve been taking to cooking for the entire weekend on one specific day (Thursday or Friday) when I have the chance, and have also been using this as an opportunity to give to my wife in the form of food memories. I have a couple of Japanese cookbooks, and am cooking my way through them. I know she loves this stuff, and told me on one occasion that my cooking reminded her of things her mother prepared for her when she was a child. So, I was in the midst of making some salmon nanbanzuke when she entered the house, quite predictably, at 11:00 a.m.

Seriously, her movements on weekends are so predictable that I can pretty much set things up in expectation of how they’re going to unfold. She’ll come by on Friday morning around 11:00 a.m. typically, and ask if she can “spend time with the dog.” This means she is going to spend the weekend at Camp You-Know-What. Then, I won’t hear a peep from her for the next 3-4 days. Finally, I’ll come home on Tuesday evening and find the dog back in the house. She is taking extended weekends that run through Tuesday morning, and this has been consistent for at least 6 weeks now, I guess.

So it came as no surprise to me when she came into the kitchen on Friday to ask me if she could spend time with the dog over the weekend. My response was generous and giving. I said she of course was welcome to do so. I did not hold back at all. I asked her where she would be taking the dog, and she said that it would be to her friends’ house two blocks from here. Now, there might be some truth to this: I do know that she has been getting picked up there on occasion in the recent past. But that simply isn’t her final destination, and I know it. That’s why I asked: she would need to lie to me, and I do need her to continue to lie, and lie, and lie some more. Every single lie brings her one step closer to ending that relationship.

Somehow I feel that end is drawing quite near. The external signs I’m seeing from her sometimes make me want to doubt this; take, for example, the discussion we had last week, where she really seemed to be digging her heels in. It’s the internal, invisible signs that make me feel that this endpoint is approaching. It’s very hard to quantify, since it’s sort of like just having  a hunch about something. A lot of it has to do with the shift in my attitude, and it could just be that that is what I’m perceiving. Nevertheless, that shift will have its effect in drawing that chapter of her life to a close and bringing her back home to start a new one with me.

What exactly is this shift? I’ve written about this recently, but there is an added dimension or two to it that I’ve noticed. The main aspect of this shift is that I feel like I’ve really let go, so much so that I am simply doing what I’m doing because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t really have any expectations any more, or if there are any they become fewer with each passing day. I’m not measuring my progress day by day and anticipating result x to occur on day y. Instead, I’m sort of going with the flow.

That flow has included a sort of energetic shift that I’m noticing within myself. As I was driving home from work yesterday, I just noticed that I find it more and more difficult to stay in the negative space of worry, dread, and other troubled thoughts and emotions that have plagued me on some level for at least five months now. My mind would go there, but then there would be some sort of positive energy that would push it out of that space. Actually, it was more like a magnetizing energy that would pull it out, back into the realm of positivity. It is hard to describe, but it is palpable. It has a texture and a movement to it, and that movement is forward. Maybe that’s why it feels like I’m being pushed, when in reality it’s more like I’m being drawn.

I do think that part of this has to do with my having taken a Red Tara empowerment last weekend. Red Tara, as I wrote before, is one of the emanations of Tara, who is seen in the Buddhist tradition to be the consort of the primordial buddha  Samantabadhra, and thus the mother of all buddhas. She has 21 emanations, each with different names, appearances, and aspects. Some are white, some are blue, some are golden or orange in color, and so on. One is green — Green Tara — and she is considered to be the main emanation of Tara, and the one that my lineage practices with. I have a friend who practices in a Nyingma lineage, one of the few in the area, and the emanation they practice with is Red Tara. Green Tara is active, possesses karma energy, which is all-accomplishing wisdom, and clears away obstructions. Red Tara is also active, but possesses padma energy, the energy of discriminating awareness, and this is energy that magnetizes. It draws favorable conditions to you, such that you may be a force of greater compassion and positivity in the world.

Last night, I went to a Red Tara tsok that this friend had invited me to. You’re not supposed to talk about these things — what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? — not because it’s secret, but rather because it helps you to hold the power of that experience close to you. Tsok is also known as “feast practice,” because it involves food that is eaten, and the offerings always include meat and alcohol. There will also be extensive liturgies and sometimes teachings that occur during tsok. This is public information that is common to pretty much all feast practice, by the way. The most important thing is that you need to have empowerment before you can do the tsok practice, and so doing tsok is sort of like activating the empowerment, if that makes sense. In other words, you have been bestowed with a blessing with the empowerment, kind of like a primordial credit card, and then you activate that card through tsok (and other things) so that you can use it. The empowerment charges your karmic bank account, as does the feast practice, as well as would any other virtuous activity, so it’s not like you have any debts to repay, but rather that you’re increasing your good karma balance, so to speak, so that you can make withdrawals for the benefit of others. And, when you make withdrawals, you actually are increasing that good karma balance. (I wish that normal bank accounts worked this way!) This is, of course, a gross oversimplification, but hopefully you get the idea.

So that’s where I’m at. The energy is shifting in my life in a very positive way. One can never predetermine the outcome of such shifts or the events they might trigger, but overall I’d say that things are looking up. I still might have a long row to hoe in front of me, but I do know that I can make it.

The silence ends; the game plan is revealed

It dawned on me this morning that my wife would be teaching a student at home this afternoon. I had a hankering for some croissants, so I headed out around 9:30 or so for our favorite artisanal bakery. Best croissants in town, hand down. They also have the best quiche you can find this side of the Atlantic (or Pacific, for that matter). Plus, they make unusual things, like kouign amann. I bought a couple of croissants, and an apple tart for my wife. I brought the dog along, as she needed to get out of the house, and they have dog cookies there, so she always gets a couple.

When I got home, I heard the piano through the door. I was kind of surprised. My hereto incommunicado wife had returned home. I told her that I’d brought her breakfast, and she could come out to join me. She came into the living room, and asked me what I had done with the extra boxes she had bought. I told her that I had put them out in the garage, which is detached from our house. I asked her why she was asking, and she said that she still needed to pack her things. I took the opportunity to remind her that this was her house, and she could just leave things here as long as she liked.

With this, she got a bit miffed. She asked me if I had read and understood her note that she left me last week. I told her I had read it several times, actually. She asked me if I had understood the message she was trying to give her, and to this I said that I actually didn’t really get what she was trying to get across. She wanted to know what I thought she was saying, and I told her, quite truthfully that it seemed to me that she was trying to do two things: a) express gratitude, and b) apologize. Beyond that, I couldn’t really get much else. Seriously, it seemed a bit waffling and confusing to me, so I couldn’t really get that much else out of it — I even needed to discuss this with my counselor. I didn’t tell her any of this latter stuff, though.

So then she started to unload. Not in a hostile way, but rather in a quite defensive one. She said that she was a bit upset that it had been two months since she moved out and I hadn’t “moved on.” I just listened. She was trying to tell me in that letter that she regretted her decisions, but felt they were absolutely necessary, irreversible, and that there was no hope for our relationship. She would not be coming back. And so on. I took the opportunity to remind her that I have not given up on our relationship at all. I told her that, no matter what had happened in the past, I still believed in us, and felt that hope was not lost at all.

This caused her to dig her heels in even more. Her body language hardened. She was sitting across the table from me, but she turned her body 45 degrees away. Then she crossed her arms. She was visibly tense. She maintained that she saw no future with me. Then she gave away her entire game plan. She said that she needed to send me a harsh message and pack up all her stuff and move out, because I just wasn’t getting it: she was done, and to her mind there was no hope.

Okay, okay, okay. Now, if you’ve never read this blog before and you’re a typical American, you might say, “What don’t you get, you dolt? She says she’s done, so why don’t you just move on, like she wants you to?” Well, because I believe in marriage, I believe that when we promise our lives to our spouses we don’t just do it until things get difficult. We promise that we will persevere even when and especially when things get difficult. Difficulties always arise, and sometimes they can persist for quite a time, as they did in our case. But difficulties are opportunities, they’re not game enders. Most married couples just don’t know how to handle them. They become divisive, rather than uniting. Plus, I’m dealing with infidelity, which is probably the most impermanent of marital crises. In most times, even if you do all the wrong things, if you just give it time to run its course, the affair will just die its own natural death. Then the wayward spouse comes back, is terribly remorseful, and wants another chance. That is, if you have done at least some of the right things.

Back to the conversation: Things turned logistical. She wanted to know how we’d manage the dog if she moved out. It’s a quasi-custody thing. I said that I didn’t know, I’d just want to see her as much as I could. She asked about our joint possessions, what she could or should take, and what she might leave behind. I said I hadn’t given that any thought. She said she’d leave the bed, some bookshelves, and some other things, but would pack up her clothes, books, and other things like that. She had already packed up a bunch of plates and silverware back in January. This struck me as quite petty back then, but I’ve gotten used to it in the interim. I brought the bulk of the practical stuff into the marriage anyway. At some point, I ended up standing up while she was asking me all this. The tension that had marked the beginning of the conversation had faded, and I just had the sense that I could just give her a hug, so I did. I went up and held her, I held her head to my chest, and she started to cry. I did too a little bit. I sang a silly little song that she had made up some years ago. She kept crying. It was clear to me that she was in tremendous pain. I told her that I knew she felt an enormous amount of pain. I also told her that I understood that this was her process, and that she felt like she had to do this. I told her that I really didn’t care what she took, and in a way I wouldn’t even care if she took all my money. None of that mattered to me. That was the expression of my heart: love is too precious to allow possessions or money to stand in the way. Yes, that is reckless, but then I know that she is not vindictive and could not take me to the cleaners. Her conscience, even though it has withstood a tremendous amount of immorality, deceit, and perfidy, simply could not withstand that.

So, by the end of our conversation things had turned from surly and defensive to open and tender. I don’t feel the need to protect my heart, so I have no problems opening up. We ended up having lunch together, then I went to work. I reminded her that she could count on me to give her a ride home from her rehearsal should she need one. She assured me that would not be necessary. She asked me to drive safely as I left, and there was a look of kindness and tenderness about her. This simply was not the expression of a person hell-bent on destroying her marriage.

I came home with a tinge of dread in my heart, half expecting to find half-packed boxes everywhere. I entered the house and found nothing of the sort. There was no evidence of any packing whatsoever. There was evidence of two things: first, that she had taken a nap on the couch, and second, that she had used some rubber stamps that I’d bought her last week. I then went into the kitchen and saw that she had eaten some of the fish soup I had made over the weekend. She had also made some rice, since she had eaten the last of it. I had my dinner pretty late, and watched the news. Then she texted me to ask me if I could pick her up from her rehearsal, as her friends were out tonight and couldn’t pick her up. My response was, “Of course. You can always count on me.” I was there to pick her up. She thanked me, and said I “saved her life.”

I’m in this for the long haul, folks. She is obstinate. But unlike a lot of obstinate spouses out there, she seems to be only half-heartedly obstinate. Even with everything she has said, it’s still like there is one foot in the door while the other one is out. She does not seem to truly have the courage to do all of the things she professes to be wanting to do. Her parents do not support this journey. This came out in the things she told me. She hasn’t encountered any critical friends, or perhaps is avoiding them. When these surface, things will get more difficult. But there will likely be some other wake-up call. I have no idea what that will be or where it will come from, but as sure as I’m sitting here, some wake-up call will eventually arise.


I’m getting the silent treatment, or at least that’s what I think it is. I haven’t seen my wife since last Thursday, and I haven’t heard a peep from her since Saturday. I have tried to engage her: I call, but it goes straight to voice mail, so I leave a cheerful little messages. I occasionally get texts from her, and the last exchange we had was on Saturday. It was all very positive and cheerful. Since then I’ve heard nothing. Nada, zilch, bubkis.

I’ve been thinking something was up, especially since she gave me that letter last week. So, I had a session with my counselor yesterday to talk this over and try to decipher what the heck is going on with this woman. As I’ve likely mentioned before, my counselor is a very skilled individual, and more of a marriage coach than a counselor. His approach is fundamentally pro-marriage, and he comes at pretty much every session, even those with obstinate spouses, from the standpoint of assuming that, since you are married, you are going to stay that way. I took the liberty of typing up a copy of my wife’s letter and sending it to him, and he did have a chance to read it over. His assessment was that she is in a deep state of crisis right now. All of the happiness she has been seeking through this path of destruction is eluding her, and will continue to elude her. This certainly makes sense from the standpoint of karma: while it’s not exactly a case of you get back what you give, it is very much the case that negative actions are rewarded by negative outcomes, and positive actions, while carrying no guarantee of having positive outcomes, are at least far more likely to see good things come to fruition.

He felt that the tone of her letter was warm, and that she was trying to accomplish several things. First, there were the expressions of gratitude to me and my family. Then, there were the apologies; these he explained as of the variety of “I’m sorry for my actions, but I’m going to continue to do them.” Finally, there were the celebrations of our past, outlining many of the positives she says she holds dear to her heart. On top of all of this, there was a sense of finality about her writing and choice of words, but he said that I shouldn’t take that seriously. I had the same reaction in reading it as well, and it was as though her expressions of finality were merely half-hearted.

Certainly I’m getting conflicting signals. Her behavior has been cordial, for the most part, but she has almost totally withdrawn from me. She has given me gifts and done nice things that were totally unsolicited, and some of these have happened in the past few days. Yet at the same time, she has really turned a cold shoulder over the past few days. Something is definitely up. I felt this way last week before discovering her note to me, and I still feel this way. I don’t know what it is. I cannot put my finger on it, really. I have the sense, in a way, that her situation is starting to finally spiral out of control. I’ve said this before, but there is something about this situation that strikes me, energetically at least, as unprecedented. It’s like there is this despair that underlies everything about her, and she is grasping helplessly at whatever tiny strands of happiness she thinks are out there. Unfortunately, none of those strands is substantial enough to provide her with what she’s seeking.

And then there’s me. I’m here, totally stable, and not going away. That’s got to bug her to no end. My life is heading in the right direction. I’ve worked on myself these past five months such that the complaints she had about me are mostly gone. The reasons for her wanting to exit her relationship with me are getting flimsier and flimsier. Basically, there is no basis to her arguments anymore, and I sense that she knows it. This would only make the process of her justifying her own behavior and situation that much more difficult.

So I guess that’s where she stands right now. Her life as she’s tried to construct it is an utter sham, and I think she knows it. She has lied to so many people for such a long time that I suspect it is finally starting to come unhinged. She has also surrounded herself with a small core of people who seem to support her agenda, and facing the reality of having to admit to them that her “new” life is a sham must be quite humiliating. But that is exactly what must and will happen. It will also take a great act of humility for her to want to return to this house and this relationship, but that is also necessary for her to heal.

Where do I stand right now? Actually in a pretty good place. Things are looking fairly good professionally. Emotionally I am pretty stable, and not plagued by endless worry, sleepless nights, and lack of appetite. I still get anxious, I do get lonely sometimes, and I even am occasionally despondent, but overall things are pretty good for me right now.

Let me just briefly return to the idea of karma, though. On Sunday, I received an email from a friend who practices in a different Tibetan Buddhist lineage. She invited me to an open house at their center, so I decided to go. It’s a tiny place that inhabits basically a small office/shop space in a strip mall. Weird place for a spiritual center, I know, but they’re making it work. She told me that they would be having a Red Tara empowerment that night, and that I’d be welcome to attend if I so desired. In Vajrayana Buddhism, empowerments are very important: it is seen that there are certain practices, or sometimes certain aspects of some practices, that one cannot do without the proper introduction. This is given in the form of a ritual ceremony that bestows the blessings of the lineage, and clears away the karmic obstacles to whatever practice is being empowered. In her lineage, Red Tara is central; in mine, it’s Green Tara.

I know, I know… you’re saying “Tara what?” Tara is seen as the female buddha of compassion that manifests in different forms, 21 to be precise. She is also known, on the absolute level as Samantabhadri, the consort of Samantabhadra, the primordial buddha, and thus she is seen as the mother of all of the buddhas and hence the mother of all enlightened activity. (Remember, the idea of buddhas is just that: a formal idea. It represents something that is beyond ideation, but presents a gateway for reaching the experience of that which it represents.) Green Tara is seen as the main emanation of Tara, the ninth in the series of 21 emanations, and is considered to be the protector from all fears. The color green symbolizes karma energy, which manifests as all-accomplishing wisdom. Red Tara represents padma energy, which is magnetizing, and manifests as the wisdom of discriminating awareness. Green Tara has been a regular practice for me for nearly a year, and is seen to remove obstacles in one’s life, particularly obstacles to compassionate activity. Red Tara is new to me, but I find it interesting that this practice would become available to me exactly at the time in my life when I might need magnetizing energy to manifest the most. That’s karma.

Since that evening, I’ve decided to refrain from any sort of negativity that might impact my reconciliation efforts. I realized that there still were things I was doing, even at the subtle level, that were acting sort of as a wedge between myself and the process of reconciliation. This even included holding on to emails and computer files that I initially thought I might need as evidence at some point. Those are gone now.

I still think something’s up. I still don’t know what it is. But I do know that I have patience and can wait this out.


What can I say? It’s been a strange couple of days. I received a four-page letter from my wife two days ago, then don’t see her at all yesterday. I didn’t see her at all today, either, but there has been a lot of contact between us. This is really a bit unusual.

First off, I’m not a big fan of text messaging. I don’t do it much, and will normally only do so if there is a logistical reason. If I want to reach my wife, I’ll call. I figure it’s a good thing that she hears my voice, anyway. Often if I do call with something important, she texts me back. My response is often to call back in reply, and sometimes I actually do get her on the line, rather than having my call go straight to voice mail.

Today, when I left for work, I figured there would be a better-than-average chance that she’d come home. After all, I wouldn’t be there, and she could hang out with the dog, practice, relax, etc. Since I suspected she might return, I left a note to thank her for her letter, additionally wishing her well on her performance tonight, and also left a little gift with it — just a couple of rubber stamps with pictures of butterflies and such. She loves this kind of thing. I thought that, in light of her statement in her letter that she felt she had been giving me false hope, I should just show her that my behavior isn’t changing.

Right around mid-day I thought I’d text her. Why? Two reasons. First, it was logistical, and second, I was pretty certain she’d read it and respond. Oh, and there’s a third thing: it would be a way to make a connection, even if it were a bit impersonal. I texted her to ask her to drop by the house if she had a chance, so that she could check up on the dog, maybe let her out, and just to keep her company. I got a text back a few minutes later telling me that she was already at home and was hanging out with the dog. I followed that up with a couple of frivolous comments, and then told her there were some treats that were given to me as samples at the pet store, and she could give the dog a few. This was all good. A bit later on, I texted her to tell her that I had cooked some rice before I’d left, she could find some Japanese curry in the fridge, and that she should help herself. She texted back a bit later to thank me for it, and to say it was tasty. That was about it, for then, anyway.

I got home not entirely sure what to expect, except that I knew she wouldn’t be here because of her performance tonight. I went into her office to check the answering machine, and found that she had read my note, had carefully rearranged the gifts onto it, and had additionally (and I’m not sure why) placed her wedding rings atop the note as well. She hasn’t worn those in over four months now, so I don’t know if there is any significance to this act or not. I then saw that she had been looking at the book I got her for Valentine’s Day, and it was now open to a different page. I then went into the bedroom and found a stack of laundry, neatly folded on the bed. I had a load of laundry I was waiting to do until I had some time tomorrow, and I could have put it off longer, as there really wasn’t much to do. She did it for me. She also had replaced the bath towels in the bathroom and had used the bath towel I had left for her. This means, of course, that she showered here for the first time in at least a couple of weeks, I believe. She had also washed the dishes that she had used for her lunch.

All of this is significant. As I wrote earlier this week, I suspect that she misses this house, and misses her life, as she is currently adrift in the worst possible way. She’s still too prideful to admit any of this, but it is clear that she took the first opportunity she could to come home when my presence would not be felt, physically anyway. I suspect that she comes home on occasion when I’m gone, but does not leave a trace. But it’s not just the coming home. It’s also the unsolicited givings: the letter, the folded laundry, the cleaned dishes, and so on. There have additionally been gifts given that were not provoked by anything in particular. I had been advised that, over time, if you really change your behavior toward your spouse, they will eventually change their behavior toward you, even though their feelings haven’t yet caught up. This is partly a way of assuaging their conscience, but it is significant in that changes in actions lead to changes in feelings. In other words, if she keeps manifesting these kinds of behaviors toward me, I can expect to eventually see her feelings change for the better as well.

So, I texted her again — although I had called her beforehand with a totally frivolous message just so she’d hear my voice — and my text thanked her for having done the laundry. She texted back a bit later to say the concert went well and to say that she hoped I’d had a good day.

Right now, I’ll take what I can get. I’ve been a bit confused by her behavior, but I suspect it could be the start of the thaw. That’s my hope, at least. She took the distance, according to her, for the sake of “clarity,” and supposedly that led her to be even more certain of her direction. Were that really true, she just would have disappeared off the map by now, and would find there to be no real reason to engage me. She still engages me, though, so that likely is a sign of internal conflict regarding her feelings for me and her life that she has had with me. I imagine that she is beginning to question whether it really is worth throwing away 7 years of marriage for the sake of a totally unproven relationship with a twice-divorced serial adulterer whom she has not even known half a year. Despite what she may think, her experience and knowledge of me, are her perceptions of me as a more stable, better person are going to be more powerful in the long run and, I suspect, in the near term as well.

I’ve been running this race for five months now. I’m not ready to stop yet, and I won’t stop so long as the finish line is out there, somewhere. I suspect I’m getting near.

Faux apologies

Most people don’t know how to apologize. I admit that I never did until about 3 months ago. I learned how to do it as a part of trying to learn how to reconcile my marriage. See if this sounds familiar: you do something that hurts someone’s feelings, then you apologize by saying “I’m sorry.” They’re still mad at you, and you don’t get it. After all, you said you were sorry, right?

Well, that just doesn’t cut it. A good apology thinks through the feelings the offended person has experienced, and then articulates them from a first-person point of view. A well thought out apology will seem as though you have actually lived through the pain the other person experienced as a result of your actions because, well, you will have done that if you really had thought it through. I did give my wife one such apology back in December, and it was a very emotional experience for the both of us.

This is all a long-winded introduction to the events visited upon me today.

My wife came home mid-morning. I was out running some errands, and, when I arrived back home, I could hear the dog barking, so I knew she had come back. I didn’t quite expect to find her in the house, but there she was. Her jacket was on the couch, and she was in her office. She greeted me cordially enough. She looked haggard and puffy-eyed, and it seemed to me as though she had been crying. I asked her if she was okay, and she assured me she was fine.

I had taken care to stock the kitchen with stuff she likes while she was gone: green bananas (she hates them when they’re ripe), Japanese bread, some stinky double-cream French cheese, prosciutto, potato chips, and so on. She had already eaten one of the bananas, and was toasting a piece of the bread, which she then topped with some fig spread, that stinky cheese, and prosciutto. I made us some coffee, and we chatted a bit. I told her I had a proposition for her finishing her dissertation: I’d help her to form a “container” for that activity, by helping her to create the right habits to bring it to fruition. This would include me mentoring her through the process, and part of that would include her going to the university library every day to work for a period of time. I’d give her daily assignments, would edit her work, we could plan beforehand and discuss afterwards. She thought this was a good idea, but she’d need to think about it. She said she couldn’t commit to seeing me every day. I told her this wasn’t about her seeing me, but rather about her finishing her dissertation, and that basically was true. (Okay, I confess: a side product of this would be that we would spend time together.) The point I was trying to make to her was the she needed to form the proper habits, and that this takes consistency and dedication. No days off. She just has to do something every day for at least 21 days. If we were to start on Monday, that would take us to the end of the month, and I assured her that she would not only see progress, but she’d see positive changes in her life as well. Still, she needed to think about it.

Still, she was behaving a bit weirdly. She told me she needed to take a nap, so I let her do that while I was cooking lunch. She eventually emerged, and seemed rather teary-eyed. Somehow I felt that something was up, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. She needed to take the bus to a gig, and I offered to give her a ride, at least to the bus transit center. She agreed. I noticed before we left that there was a card on her desk, and I kind of wondered what that was all about. We left, and stopped off at a cafe near the transit center where she would wait for the bus to arrive. I bought her a coffee. Things seemed okay.

Fast forward to my drive home from work. My mind started racing, running wild. I began to think about that envelope on her desk, what it might contain. Was it a letter from the adulterer? Was it an admission from her about their affair still going on? Could it be something else? I just felt the worst was on its way. I have a wrist mala that I wear because I find my drive time occasionally useful for reciting mantras and such. So I put that mala in my hand and started reciting mantras. I probably did a couple of hundred by the time I got home.

There was nothing on the dining room table. This is normally where she’d leave notes. The dog was home, so that was a good sign. I went into her office — the answering machine is there, so I pretty much have to go in to check it — and saw the envelope on her desk was addressed to me. Inside there was a card with a four-page letter. It wasn’t really much more than a litany of ineffectual apologies (see the opening paragraphs) and rationalizations. I got the sense from the letter, which she had clearly put a lot of effort into, that she is really digging her heels right now. One of the things she expressed was that she felt like she had given me a false sense of hope that we might reconcile, and that I might be successful if I just waited things out.

This is par for the course, to my understanding. The obstinate spouse is going to do whatever they can to trip you up, to get you to give up, to get you to just go away and leave them alone. Clearly nothing she had done to this point had been successful in getting me to be a jerk, which is also a golden behavior for the obstinate spouse to see. So basically she needed to express to me her belief that there is absolutely no hope for reconciliation. But she did it in a thoroughly bizarre and incoherent way: she spent entire paragraphs expressing gratitude to me and my family. She also wrote statements asserting that, as a result of her following this new path — a path that she realized I would find hard to understand — our relationship would somehow be transformed into something much better and more peaceful. She even went so far as to say that I am her truest friend.

I honestly took this a bit hard at first, and was kind of freaked out. My first thoughts were that this was a prelude to finding out that maybe she had filed against me or something. That might be possible, but I haven’t seen any evidence of such from our bank accounts, unless she has used some of her purloined emergency cash for this purpose. (Somehow I doubt it, though.) But then the feelings passed, and I realized that all I need to do is just to stay the course. She is doing her utmost to try to just get me to give up. She did not have the guts to talk to me, probably because I’d just stand my ground and stick up for our marriage. I do believe that other people put her up to this. Those people likely include the “energy worker,” the adulterer, and the friends she is currently staying with.

You know, it’s weird: we call them obstinate spouses because they won’t budge from their positions that would have them destroying the marriage. But those of us who are sticking up for the marriage are equally obstinate in a way. We are convinced that staying married is the right thing to do, especially when there hasn’t been an sincere and thorough effort to work through problems and to arrive at some sort of beginnings of reconciliation.

Call it sticking up for love. That can’t be all wrong. Love is nobody’s fool.

Careless, careless, careless

Careless? Not me, but my wife. I’m generally a pretty careful person. I’m also not one to mess around and do immoral things (like, say, commit adultery) so I don’t typically have to worry about covering my tracks. Not so for her.

I went online today to check our bank balances, and found that hers had dwindled some more. Clicking through to the details, I could see that she was with the adulterer. I mean, why else would there be a charge at a shop in his hometown, which is a dinky little village some 40 miles from here? Does she not think I might see this stuff?

In a way, it’s sort of like adulterers want to get caught. I sometimes think that she is doing things in a half-careful way so that I’ll discover the evidentiary trail and confront her with it. I’ve no need to do that. I already confronted her with an evidentiary trail 4 months ago, and truly regret that decision. If I hadn’t done that and instead had gone headlong into reconciliation mode, things might have turned around by now. My rash decision to confront her with the evidence of her infidelity just drove the affair underground and made it more tenacious — for a time, anyway.

I’m truly beginning to think that she is entering the final stages of that affair. Its sheen is likely starting to wear off as the reality of life and all of its commitments and obligations begin to press down on it. That’s the problem with adultery: it seems so special, so unique, and so enchanting — at first. And then the affair begins to reveal itself to be a relationship like any other, beset with all of the personality problems and real-world exigencies that normal relationships have to cope with. Well, actually it isn’t a relationship like any other, because other relationships typically don’t get launched from a bed of lies and deceit, so in that sense an affair is destined to meet a premature demise. She has already told me that she cannot focus on her dissertation, and this is the single most important  and pressing thing in her life at the moment. She has had panic attacks because of it. She likely does not sleep through the night, either. She seems unsettled and stressed out all the time. She strikes me as very uncomfortable and unhappy, yet I am very comfortable, mostly happy, and totally settled and mainly peaceful these days. I get to live in my own house, sleep in my own bed, eat food out of my own fridge that I cook on my own stove, while she gets none of the above, all by her own choice. She has no place to call home and no fixed place to lay her head at night.

But wait, I was talking about carelessness. Well, here are some other signs of adultery-related carelessness:

  • She made several phone calls and texts to an acquaintance who provided her with boxes for packing. I see the cell phone bills, and I could also see the name of this individual’s wife on the boxes.
  • She left a tiny handbag on the floor the other day, and this contained the number for the cell phone the adulterer had bought her.
  • She has left the adultery-link cell phone in open view on more than one occasion.
  • Aside from the bank charge made today, there was a similar one last weekend as well. The bank does provide addresses, so I don’t know how she thinks I wouldn’t notice.
  • She has a small note on her desk with the adulterer’s address. His name is not on it, but his address (from which he runs a business) is publicly listed, and so it’s obvious to whom the address refers.
  • She has posted pictures of her Valentine’s gifts from the adulterer on her Facebook page. I’m blocked, so I cannot see the comments, but I just wonder what others might think of this.
  • There are deep, muddy tire tracks at the end of the street from the adulterer’s truck. It is easy to see how fresh these are, and therefore to know when he’s stopped by there to pick her up or drop her off.
  • I have caught her, red-handed, getting out of his truck on two separate occasions, and both times this was completely coincidental: I just happened to be driving by his pick-up/drop-off point on my way to running errands or other things.
  • I was his truck in the driveway of her friends’ house; this was just a few minutes after I saw what I thought was his truck driving down our street. I again happened to be driving by on my way back from errands.

Again, it’s almost like they want to get caught. I don’t know, would that make them feel better? When I was at the meditation class last night, one of the teachers said that he had worked in a prison outreach program, and one of the convicts told him, “none of us ended up here because we wanted to be unhappy.” This is a very telling comment. We do the things we want to do because we want to be happy. This is equally true of people who do patently stupid things, like rob banks, embezzle funds, or commit adultery. They all just want to be happy, but do not realize that their means to achieve happiness are totally unskillful and completely lacking in virtue.

This just leaves me in the place of waiting, waiting, and waiting. I’m waiting for the inevitable and inexorable demise of that sordid relationship. As sure as I’m sitting here and typing these words, that relationship will end. Neither of them know this, although at least one of them (the adulterer himself) should know better, for he has been there before and seen first-hand how futile adultery is. It also appears that my wife’s “friends” (i.e. the people she is staying with) don’t know that this relationship is ticking away to its final implosion. I can only attribute their complicity to a lack of morality, willful ignorance, or naiveté. While a bit of each might be at play, I suspect it has more to do with the latter than anything else.

Until that demise occurs, and it could be literally any day now, I just wait, and wait, and wait…

Some things cannot be measured

It’s true, there just isn’t a yardstick for certain things. The blueness of the sky, the spectacular clarity of the snow-capped mountains on a very clear day, and the brilliant clearness of the water that reflects those mountains, for example. There is just a quality about those experiences that can be somewhat inscrutable.

I had some experiences today that were similarly hard to characterize, both in their timing and in their content. First, my wife decided to turn up around noon today. This was not an unannounced arrival, as she had texted me last night to tell me she’d be coming by. I had gone out earlier that morning to run some errands (all my clients were afternoon/early evening today) and, among other things, had picked up some flowers to replace some that were kind of flagging. I was in the midst of cooking lunch when she arrived.

I invited her to join me, and she assented. We chatted a bit, but she seemed somewhat preoccupied. After lunch, she went out into the backyard to look at our garden. She hasn’t done this in ages, months, maybe. The garden is really her baby: she did a tremendous amount of work on it during the first two years we lived in this house, and took enormous pride in its design and spent hours toiling in the soil, rain or shine, to make it happen. I went out to join her, and we looked at some of the plants that had unexpectedly over-wintered, as well as some of the bulbs that were beginning to push up through the soil. This was all the more poignant to see, in a way, since we had a light dusting of snow this morning that had only just melted away. I got the feeling from watching her that she really misses this house, this garden, and this life. I’m not sure why, and I can’t exactly put my finger on it. It was more of a matter of tone: the way she looked, her deportment in walking out into the yard, and so forth. She has on numerous occasions in the past said that she really likes this house, and thinks it’s the most cozy one we’ve ever lived in, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she indeed was missing it right now.

We came back inside, and I began to make some coffee. She asked if she could “spend some time” with the dog for two days, and I said that would be fine. This phrase, “spend some time,” to me is code for her going on another adulterous jaunt; I began to realize that I had even very recently had selfish impulses when she’d make these requests, and would only assent begrudgingly. This time was different. I just let go.

She then went into her office and played the piano. I nearly teared up, as I began to realize how much I missed hearing her play. The sound of her playing has been a constant fixture in my life for years, and since her departure it’s been largely gone. I was going to put her coffee into an insulated travel cup, but she then told me that she had some time and would drink it here. I brought the coffee into her office, and we sat and chatted a bit. She asked me if I was doing okay financially, and I gave her a very sudden and confident “yes,” along with a big smile. She seemed a bit shocked. Business has picked up for me over the past two months, and I find myself doing pretty well without her financial contribution. She told me that she was concerned, and that I could ask her for help if I needed it. Not that I’m going to do that right now, as I’m far better off financially than she is, but it was a sign to me that she feels both guilt and some responsibility for her actions.

After a few minutes, she came out to the living room with me. I had prepared a little travel bag for the dog, with a bowl and treats and all that, and was ready to give it to her. She sat down on the couch and asked me if I had anything I wanted to talk about. In the past, this would mean that she was feeling conflicted and wanted to talk, and perhaps it still did. I just confidently and truthfully said “no” once again, and she again seemed taken aback. I just told her that I felt like I was in a pretty good place emotionally, very stable, and not really needing to talk through things. She, however, was clearly uneasy. I asked her about her dissertation, not to nag, but rather because there was an opening and I just wanted her to know that I am still willing to help. She admitted that she hadn’t done any work at all, and was finding it pretty much impossible to focus. She said that she was probably going to ask for an extension, but I cautioned her that she might not get one, and she needed to take care of any such requests right away if that was what she wanted to do. I also told her that I was always there to help. She confessed that she had been having panic attacks, and that the most recent one was about two weeks ago, being triggered by thoughts of her dissertation. The woman in whose house she is staying is an individual who has many repressed emotional traumas, and who has suffered plenty of panic attacks of her own over the years. She told my wife that the symptoms she had were exactly those of a panic attack, and my wife told her that these were precisely the same symptoms she’d had nearly 10 years ago, before we were married, while she was still involved in a very unbalanced relationship that ended badly. It’s interesting that those panic attacks should return now. Not that I haven’t seen a few over the years with her, but pretty much all of these had been due to some sort of external stimuli, e.g. impending deadlines and such. I don’t think it’s odd that the panic attacks have recurred, but I do think it’s a bit odd that she hasn’t figured out that they are returning because of the choices she has made and continues to make. We chatted a bit longer, and then she left.

After work, I headed over to the center where I do my spiritual practice. They have a new class that just started on the Four Immeasurables, and this hardly could have been more timely. The entire topic of the class is 100% relevant to my life as it is right now. One of the investigations we did involved bringing to mind someone to whom we have aversion. That was easy: the adulterer came right up. We were instructed to watch the emotions that arose in thinking about that person, and I was rather astonished to see that, right beneath the aversion was a sense of tenderness and sorrow. Then, we were invited to bring to mind someone to whom we feel attachment, and for this my wife came to mind instantly. The underlying emotions there were also those of tenderness and sorrow. The basic reason for this sorrow came from the understanding that both of these people were doing what they have been doing for nearly five months now out of the desire to be happy, even though the things they are doing are truly unskillful, unproductive, hurtful, and will have no positive outcome. It’s a pretty major realization to find that you can have compassion for someone who has been trying to destroy your marriage because, deep down inside, that person just wants the same thing as do you: happiness.

But, we cannot have happiness by trying to destroy someone else’s happiness, and that is where the power of the Four Immeasurables comes into play: the first immeasurable is loving-kindness, and is often expressed through the slogan, “may all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.” This is a very powerful aspiration. Rather than trying to achieve happiness at someone else’s expense, you are wishing for them to attain happiness in their lives somehow, and making that a greater priority than your own happiness. This might sound like one would then be condoning things like adultery, but that is not at all the case. The aspiration is that the other person find true happiness, and that cannot occur in situations plagued by destructive behaviors. Or, in other words, one hopes that those who are unhappy relinquish the causes of their unhappiness and turn to virtuous actions through which they may find happiness.

Today was kind of a shifting point for me. Somehow I feel as though my outlook has changed and that I truly can persevere. I have the strength, the resolve, and the stability to make it. And I know that, some day in the very near future, my wife will look at me and see that, and decide that that is a much better place to be happy than where she has been looking these past five months.