Busy, busy, busy

It looks like it’s been about five days since my last post, so I figured I should at least put a little update here. It has been a very busy time for yours truly. Since Friday, I’ve started a new job and also done about 30 hours of volunteer work.

Wait, what? 30 hours of volunteer work?

That’s right. I got recruited by a colleague at the local dharma center to work a program that was running this past weekend. Ostensibly it was a “work study” position, in which one volunteers one’s time in exchange for a reduced entry fee, but since all entry fees are in essence voluntary donations with suggested amounts, this really wasn’t operative. I was asked to volunteer because they thought I’d be ideal for the work that needed to be done. “You’re intelligent, calm, and gracious,” was the explanation I was given. I think I can attest for the middle quality, but the other two are anyone’s guess.

I had agreed to work this program about a month ago. Then, last week, I was offered a new job, and had very little time to acquaint myself with a mountain of materials that I’d have to be up to speed with by today. Suddenly the volunteer work was a bit problematic, logistically speaking, but I couldn’t exactly back out, and wouldn’t have considered doing that anyway. I figured I’d just study the materials during my down time while volunteering.

The volunteering experience itself was fantastic. It was really a blessing to be able to serve an authentic teacher within the tradition, someone who is only a few years older than myself but massively accomplished. He was incredibly gracious and unassuming, and genuinely appreciative of the work that I and others were doing on his behalf. There is far too much that transpired during that weekend than than I have time to write about here, and in any event this blog is not about spiritual programs, but rather marriage reconciliation. Suffice it to say that, at the end of the program, I was able to receive the blessings of the lineage from the teacher, and the procession in which this occurred was a deeply moving event.

That was yesterday. I came home and had about 5 hours of work to do before retiring — and this after having volunteered for about 11 hours straight. Then I got a quick 6 hours of sleep or so and got up to get ready for my first day on the job. It was an interesting situation, actually. I’ve never had a job quite like this one: I was hired based on my credentials and experience, and entrusted with work that would normally not be given to a new employee. My first project is offsite, and one of the reasons I was given that project is because it is not all that far from where I live. It’s a full-time position, but with the structure and time schedule of a sort of part-time, freelance position, and this suits me quite well.

So what of the reconciliation process? Well, it is as slow going as ever. I have not seen her or heard from her since Thursday. According to her custom, she ignores my phone calls and lets them go straight to voice mail. I don’t let this bother me and continue to persevere. She should be back in town again on Wednesday and I should hopefully see her then. With this new job, a monkey wrench has been thrown into that process, as I likely will be busy for much if not most of that day. But I’m sure I’ll find a way to make it work.

Other than that, there isn’t really much new to report. I do think that things have really turned a corner for me recently, and that with this turning there may very well be a real change in my reconciliation prospects.

Things keep trending, part IV

Wednesdays are the days my wife arrives in town for her brief sojourn into the reality the rest of us inhabit 7 days per week. She only needs to be here for about two, then she packs back off to the fantasy land that is Camp What’s-It-There. I figured I’d get a running start on things, and as Wednesdays are normally days off for me, I had plenty of time on my hands.

I got up quite a bit earlier than usual, arising somewhere around 6:00 a.m. I thought I’d sleep in, but that just wasn’t in the cards. I figured I’d just get out of bed and take advantage of the morning. There is a new bakery that opened in town that is all the rage, and they have a very small capacity, meaning that they sell out very quickly when they’re open. I’ve been by twice: the first time their shelves were empty not 3 hours after opening, and the second time there was a line going around the corner before they opened. This morning they opened at 7:00 a.m. so I got there around 6:55 and found a rather short line. It seemed that my chances looked good. I got inside and ordered a few pastries. These really are pretty much the best croissants in town, I’d say. I got one for my wife, and took that as an opportunity to call her and leave a message. I said, “I’ve got something I need to give you today; call me.”

She called. She told me she was staying at the older colleagues house again, and that a piano tuner had come to service the piano there. She would be packing off to a nearby coffee shop, and so I packed the dog in the car and went to meet her there. I gave her a kiss as I arrived, and she asked me what I needed to give her. So I plopped the croissant down in front of her, and told her the story of the place. She immediately looked up the bakery on her computer. She’s a food nerd like me, and so she really goes for these things. She really liked the pain au chocolat that I had gotten her. She also thanked me for a bossa nova song I had sent her as a gift over iTunes. Then the conversation turned toward work and the new job I’ll be starting. I told her all about it, and how quickly things had happened. She seemed very happy to hear all of this news from me.

Then we started to discuss more practical things, like what we’d do for the next couple of hours. I guess I’ve reached the point with her where she is receptive and willing to spend time with me. And not just short periods of time, but stretches of several hours on end. This is real progress, considering where I was at just a few months ago. She told me she wanted to go to Chinatown to pick up some calligraphy supplies, and suggested we have lunch there. That’s where we headed. She got her supplies, and we looked for someplace to eat, deciding on a new noodle house that neither of us had tried. Good idea: it was very good. Then we moved on to get some coffee, heading to another part of town. I suggested we stop by a gelato shop first, to see if they had an avacado sorbet I’d tried a couple of weeks earlier. They did not, so we settled for a couple of other flavors, and parked ourselves on a park bench. While we were sitting there, my wife noticed her dog itching her ears a bit, and so she started looking more closely and found a flea — and tons of flea dirt. It was bad, really bad. She freaked out. She said, “this is really bad, honey.” That’s right: she called me “honey.” Wow, talk about a Freudian slip. This was huge, and a good sign at that.

The truth be told, the dog really needed a bath, and I hadn’t had time to give her one. But then again, the last time the dog had had a bath was when I’d given her one a couple of months ago. My wife has tons of time on her hands and hadn’t even lifted a finger to trim the dog’s toenails. She wanted to seem miffed with me over this, but I think the experience was very instructive: she is equally responsible, and knows that she hasn’t bathed the dog for many, many months. I was very careful not to be judgmental of her, since that wouldn’t help things, and her irritation blew over pretty fast.

We then went to a nearby café for coffee and sat outside, enjoying the weather. We had a really pleasant, relaxing time. She was at times a bit distant, and I imagine there’s a bifurcation in her mind: on the one side, there’s the story she’s been telling herself for the past 8 months, and on the other side, there’s the reality of me, her husband. I’m clearly gaining ground and rewriting her story. It’s just a question of time as to how much longer she’ll try to hold on to that story before it blows away in the wind.

After coffee, I drove her over to her student’s house so she could teach a lesson. She fell asleep in the car, and got a real-life wake-up call: the window was down, and she woke up to realize that a bumble bee had landed on her arm and was just resting there. She freaked out and blew it out the window. We both had a pretty good chuckle over that. I dropped her off at her student’s house, and she said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” It’s her turn to keep the dog this next week, so I’m dropping her off on my way to work.

The significant things were as follows: First, she continues to warm up to me, little by little. These things are delicate, and I’m not pushing at all. I only get to see her once a week (or maybe twice this week) but each time it seems like I get a little more time than the week before. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company, so that’s a big plus. Second, there was no relationship talk whatsoever, and no talk about logistics, financials, or anything like that. I think this is a very good sign. She is not pushing to separate her finances, get off the cell phone bill, keep the dog to herself, and so on. I sense that she’s hedging her bets, which is a good plan, since the affair is likely to end pretty soon, anyway. Third, she called me “honey.” I mean, come on, this is huge! An obstinate spouse isn’t supposed to do that, but — oops! — sometimes they do. Remember she is still in a “relationship” with this adulterer, and I’m certain he would not want her to spend any time with me at all. I’m also pretty certain that she does not tell him about any of our encounters, that would just be bad juju for the affair. But, hey, I’m her husband, so having legitimate contact with my own wife gives me no reason to be concerned as to what other people might think.

So there we are, 254 days into this crisis. The trajectory is clearly trending in the right direction. I’m certain that, if I had more regular access, the affair would drop away very quickly. Things work more slowly when there is a separation, but still things march inexorably toward reconciliation.

Busy week

Sheesh, it’s been a busy week, and it’s only Tuesday. Actually, I think it feels like it’s been a busy week, since I’ve been inundated with stuff to do since last Thursday. In that regard, today kind of feels like Friday, and so it’s appropriate that I have a free day tomorrow.

Things got busy last Wednesday, when I got a response to a resumé I’d mailed out a couple of weeks before. It was for a job that I felt I’d be a very good match for, and I felt rather surprised (and dismayed) that a bit of time had transpired and I’d heard nothing. The email asked if we could set up a phone interview for the following morning, and I agreed. No time was specified, but it seemed like it would probably be mid-morning.

Morning came and went and nothing happened. I was on my way into the office when I got the phone call, and said that I was in the car and suggested perhaps talking later. We agreed on a rather unconventional time of 9:00 p.m. The phone call came a half hour late, and we chatted for a bit. I was invited for an interview the following day. I was on time, but the interview started, again, a half hour late. It went very well, and lasted about an hour and a half. I pretty much was sure I’d be offered the job; I was called back that evening with pretty much an offer in hand. There were still some formalities to work out: scheduling, and a background check (due to the nature of the work), but otherwise everything seemed to be headed in the right direction. I also had to do an assessment yesterday, which I did, and after that assessment I was basically offered the job — again, pending the background and reference checks, which had not yet been done. I guess they were done this morning and that things were A-okay, since I signed the paperwork this evening. I’ve got a mountain of paperwork to read before I start on Monday.

This is a significant development for me. One of my wife’s chief complaints about me is that I never really tried hard enough to replace the income I’d lost when I was forced to leave a full-time job a few years ago; instead, I’d cobbled together an income from various freelance and part-time sources. The truth be told, she was doing the same thing. This job takes care of all that, and allows me a pretty good deal of flexibility to boot. When I signed that paperwork tonight, I more or less rewrote the last chapter of the story she has been telling herself for these many months. There really isn’t a whole lot of fixing I need to do at this point, and certainly nothing that couldn’t be more efficiently taken care of without her participation. So, in a way, it’s kind of like I’ve gone ahead and upheld my end of the deal, and so now I’m waiting for her to recognize that and to come back to uphold her end as well.

Of course, this will mean that she has to end the affair. There’s not a lot of reason for her not to do it anymore, other than her previously (and perhaps current) pathological need to maintain her agenda and its attendant narrative.

Well, anyway, she’ll be in town tomorrow and the day after, so I should be able to see her in the fairly near future. We’ll see what happens, I guess.

Private matter, not broached

I used to be an inveterate “Facebooker”. I spent hours on that website, finding old friends, adding new ones, posting all sorts of frivolous updates, and so forth. My wife used to chide me about it, saying I was wasting my time. The truth be told, it actually was a kind of wedge that did start to grow between us. I’d spend time online, and would disconnect from her. The truth also be told, she’d do the same: she’d spend time doing online shopping, sometimes for hours on end, and that would also bring her to disconnect from me. At times, I suppose it was sort of like two disconnected people just sharing the same space.

After our marital crisis erupted, I pretty much stopped using Facebook. I just had no reason to go there. It struck me as so inauthentic, a totally phony means of communicating with “friends” who, in many cases, were people whom I’d either never met, or hadn’t seen for many years and was not likely to see for many more. Maybe it was fitting, in a way, that Facebook also was the platform from which my wife’s affair was launched. In the months following our crisis, she has, as far as I can tell, become a fairly inveterate Facebooker. I just presume this to be true; I cannot see any of her posts, as I’ve been blocked.

I typically don’t visit Facebook much unless I get a message from someone and need to respond. I’d prefer that they just call or send me an email, but sometimes people just feel it easier to send a message via that website, I guess. So it was that yesterday an old friend contacted me by Facebook message to tell me he’d be in town over the weekend. He also apologized for possible crossing a line, but he said he wanted to say that he was sorry to hear about what happened between me and my wife. He’d been through a similar situation a few years ago, and he offered to talk about it, if I wanted. I initially wrote out a fairly lengthy reply, and then erased it all and just sent a short message saying that no harm was done and we could perhaps chat while he was here.

This friend is on his second marriage. His first marriage was to a foreign national to whom he was married for probably close to ten years. He moved to this city with her, as she had gotten employment with the university, and he was able to land a job there as well. They lived in a small apartment in a funky part of town. Then she began attending yoga classes and found her true calling as a yoga instructor. She was hired by a yoga studio about 30 miles away, and moved into her own apartment there. They began to drift apart. Eventually it became clear that their marriage was likely not viable, and he got her permission to begin seeing someone else. I’ll never forget when he broke that news; I found it rather uncomfortable. I think both my wife and I felt a bit uncomfortable meeting this new woman as well. I mean, technically he was committing adultery because he was still married, but he did have his wife’s blessing to do so. He eventually did secure a divorce from his first wife and marry the new woman, with whom he is still married and they currently have a toddler.

I went to see this friend today. He was having an informal get together at a friend’s house, so I stopped by. I was only there for an hour or so, and there was no relationship talk at all. I could sense he wanted to chat about it, but there were too many people there and it was not the right environment. I had readied myself with things to say: that it’s inappropriate for me to discuss my marriage since it’s a private matter, and that I regretted he’d been informed of anything at all. I even had a response for the possibility that he’d been told that there was adultery going on. None of that was expressed. As I left, it was clear that he still wanted to chat, so I told him I’d call in the next few days.

Basically, I am just curious to know what he knows and how he knows it. Not that it really makes any difference. I suspect my wife told him about our situation, as she knows him as well and considers him to be a friend. This being the case, it would only mean that she’s still trying to hold to her story. I would simply like to have the opportunity to tell him that private matters like this simply should not be fair game for anyone outside the marriage to discuss, and that’s about it. This is the first time that anyone from my circle of acquaintances has approached me to say anything at all in 8 months’ time. I’m not unsettled by this, and I’m certainly not going to talk to my wife about it. That would be pointless.

Somehow, though, I just feel the energies shifting around my situation. I interviewed for a new job yesterday, and they seemed very interested. If I were to start work there, then my wife’s last complaint about me — the lack of stable income, owing to my line of work — would basically become a thing of the past. There wouldn’t be too many reasons to keep her from coming home.

These continue to be pivotal times. I’m taking it one day at a time, more than that I cannot do.

Discipline

I want to start this post with a metaphor, by way of an anecdote. The other day I was driving home late in the evening. I had gone out to a bookstore after work, and so it was probably close to 9:00 p.m. by the time I was returning home. There is a mosque in the part of the city that I live in, and I happened to drive past it just before the nightfall prayers. What I saw there I’ve seen in the past, but this time it really touched and inspired me. I saw the faithful coming by foot from all directions to enter the mosque in time for the service. It wasn’t like a huge stream of humanity, but rather maybe a dozen people or so that I saw scattered at various points, all walking to that same destination with the same objective. The faithful do this every day as they are able, and I believe that some of them make this journey several times a day if they can. This is the discipline of a genuine spiritual practice, and it is something for which I hold deep respect.

As some of you have already gathered from reading my posts, I am a practicing Buddhist. As such, I don’t believe in God per se, yet at the same time I find it inappropriate to judge or criticize anyone else’s beliefs. There are at least as many spiritual paths as there are people on this earth, and they all can work if done with genuine intention. In the Buddhist tradition, we often speak of the six paramitas, or “perfections”. The second of these perfections is ??la, the Sanskrit term for discipline. There are many ways of looking at and explaining what this means, but in brief it asserts the importance of having the right lifestyle: enough time for spiritual practice and study, behaving in compassionate and non-harmful ways, and so on. I would say that the greatest challenge I’ve had in walking my spiritual path since my marriage crisis erupted 8 months ago has been holding myself to this discipline. At times, life just got too intense for me to stick to it.

One thing I have been able to stick to is my regimen of actions and behaviors that are part of my reconciliation agenda. This involves the many things I’ve been doing, the ways in which I’ve reached out consistently and repeatedly to my wife, and so on. I am required to do this no matter how I might feel and no matter how she might treat me. It is an exercise in compassion and loving kindness, so I suppose in a way it actually has become part of my spiritual practice as well.

There are many things that test one’s discipline in the reconciliation process. I had one such test this morning. I woke up and decided to have a look at my long-neglected Facebook page. I seldom go there anymore, because I just find it to be such an inauthentic form of communicating and connecting with others; typically I’ll visit the site if I am contacted by someone for some reason. I used to be an inveterate Facebook addict, and I’d say it was one of the things that helped my marriage to erode. In fact, the laptops that my wife and I possess did invade our marriage and became tools to violate its sanctity.

So, if there weren’t enough to put me off of Facebook for a while, there was more there for me this morning. Right after I logged in, I saw a picture at the top of my newsfeed of the “girls’ night out” that my wife had last night with her colleagues. The woman that my wife had stayed with a couple of months ago posted this picture. There were the four women in attendance standing in the host’s kitchen, and the aforementioned woman’s husband standing there with them, looking like a complete goofball, wearing a wig so that he might look like a woman. My wife was wearing a striped orange summer dress that I’d never seen before, and was holding a Cosmopolitan of the same color. My wife doesn’t drink, so she probably had little more than a couple of sips.

The photo didn’t really bother me as much as did the comments underneath. Most of them were inoffensive, but right down near the bottom was a comment from the adulterer himself. He is a “friend” of this woman and her husband, and this couple actively aided and abetted acts of adultery, treating my wife’s affair as though it were somehow normal, and giving her safe harbor by allowing her to live with them for three months. The adulterer’s comment said something to the effect of “I love the way your drink matches your dress, honey… Lol” [sic]

Now, I really do despise the abbreviation “LOL” and never use it myself — except if I’m quoting someone, as I’ve done here. I find it juvenile and inauthentic. I put it in the same container as expressions like “my bad”: they just rub me the wrong way. But what rubbed me even more was the comment itself. This immoral fraud calling my wife — my wife — “honey,” as though he had some sort of normal relationship with her that he could just be public about.

That’s adultery in a nutshell, folks. Launch a completely immoral relationship with no future prospects whatsoever, and then attempt to make it legitimate by taking it public. Now I don’t know if the adulterer knows that I can see his coments, and frankly I don’t really care. My initial reaction was to watch my blood boil a bit, and then to think about reporting the picture as offensive. Of course, there was no harassment involved, so that wouldn’t fly, and it would just probably cause a backlash against me. Then I thought that maybe I should ask this woman to take the photo down, as I found it offensive. But I don’t find the photo offensive, just the adutlerer’s comment.

Then I thought about this woman’s intentions. Clearly from her standpoint she is neither aiding nor abetting adultery. In fact, she doesn’t see my wife’s infidelity as an act of adultery, but rather looks at it like a “new relationship” that needs nurturing. Now why is that? Well, this woman lost her sister to cancer about 10 years ago, and I believe that she misses that sort of sibling closeness, the kind that can develop into a close friendship in adulthood. She does not have that anymore, and I believe that my wife is sort of a surrogate sister figure to her now. This woman has also been through many traumas, and I believe that she feels she can be helpful to my wife in guiding her through this “transition” in her life. No matter that this transition moves away from morality and into grossly immoral territory, it is just a Very Important Juncture in my wife’s life that she could be instrumental in aiding. I’m certain that she’s heard all sorts fo slanderous things about me that help her to justify in her mind the actions she has taken on behalf of my wife over the past many months.

So here’s what I did about this situation: Nothing. I just ignored it. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from my engaging or confronting this situation in any way. I just thought to myself, “that’s just a picture, and those are just words.” I’ve chosen the moral high ground, and that position speaks for itself. I don’t have to do anything more than wear my wedding ring and continue with my long-established behaviors. And if someone should say something to me about my marital situations, expressing sympathy or concern, I just simply tell them that it’s private and  not an appropriate topic of conversation. It only takes a half dozen or so words to convey that message, and such brevity can be very powerful.

Yes, I could confront that situation, open a can of worms, and humiliate people. I could actually precipitate the end of that affair much more quickly by doing this as well. But my objective is not to end the affair, it’s to reconcile my marriage. I think this is where some so-called marriage “experts” get it wrong by advising the betrayed spouse to expose the affair. You might be effective at ending the affair, but you might also destroy your potential for reconciling your marriage as well. Believe me, I’ve heard the arguments for this approach: it’s not about trust (because your spouse won’t trust you afterward, and besides, they’ve already violated your trust) it’s about honesty. The problem with that idea is that you cannot force someone else to be honest. If they want to be dishonest and deceitful, that is their choice. It doesn’t mean that you have to roll over and take it — you can object to things you find offensive — but I do think it means that you should recognize that you cannot change someone else’s behavior. When people post these kinds of photos and write incriminating comments, that is their opportunity to embarrass and humiliate themselves. If they choose to do that, that is their prerogative, and I say let them do that. There are actually far more opportunities for the affair to end as a result. When one puts that kind of negativity out there into the world, there is a corresponding back-pressure that eventually results, and this can manifest in all sorts of unforeseen ways.

Okay, so there is one thing that I did do. I consulted the I Ching. Yes, I know, this is probably pathological at this point, but I have found it to be really revelatory on virtually every occasion. I wanted to know what to make of this photo, and the answer I got was this:

Hexagram 29: Darkness. Darkness after darkness, danger after danger. There is difficulty going forward or backward. The situation is similar to having fallen into a black well. One needs to cease struggling in order to move forward.

This is where my wife is at. She is struggling. She has fallen into a deep, black well, and cannot get out. My role is very clear. I have to stay the course, and provide her with nourishing. She needs replenishment, not humiliation.

Thus my decision to ignore the whole situation. In a nutshell, and in a very practical way, that’s discipline.

Things keep trending some more

She came home today, even if only for a short while. In a way, it was kind of unbelievable. She has been avoiding this house for the past two and a half months, and has been careful to refer to it on almost every occasion as “your house,” as though it’s not hers to live in anymore. But there she was, in our house, and not just for a couple of minutes, either.

Let me back up a bit. Normally on Wednesdays she comes into town. The adulterer gives her a ride. She would usually teach a lesson in the afternoon and then have a rehearsal that night. Then she’d spend the night at a friend’s place, and teach a lesson the following afternoon. After that, the adulterer would pick her up and they’d go back to his place in Podunksville. Those Wednesday evening rehearsals are over for now, and won’t resume until the fall. But, since she needs to earn a bit of dosh, she is kind of obligated to come back to teach a bit. Mind you, these are students she had fully intended to ditch, but has kept them on because the reality of life has intruded.

Normally, I’d get a phone call from her on Wednesday morning, asking me to pick up the dog, or to make some sort of logistical arrangement dealing with the dog. She did not call this morning. So I called her. It was already nearly noon. My message was brief, and ended with “call me.” About a half an hour later she did call, and told me that she was at her friends house a couple of blocks away. These are the same friends with whom she “lived” for 3 months — the friends who encouraged and supported her acts of adultery as though they were somehow normal and not wrong or immoral. She wanted to drop the dog off, and I said she’d be welcome to do that whenever. She said she’d be over in a few minutes.

A few minutes later she did come strolling across the lawn with the dog in tow. I invited her in, and she came in without any resistance to that idea whatsoever. One of the first things she did as she entered the house was to sniff the air: I had just reheated some Japanese curry I’d made the day before, and she liked the smell. I offered her some for lunch (I’d already eaten) and she said she’d just have a small portion. I also made some coffee. She took both, but finished neither, and that was okay.

We chatted for a bit. She told me she had a girls night out tonight with some colleagues, including the friend she was visiting with this morning. She said she was going to bake some lemon bars to take along, as it was a movie night in the home of one of the women, and she said she’d  need some butter. I offered her what I had, but it was not enough. She clearly came to me for help with this. I offered to take her out to buy some, and she agreed. However, we were both pretty tired — she looked very tired — and so I suggested that I needed a nap. She said she did, too. Holy crap! My wife is thinking about taking a nap in her own house! Stop the presses! That’s exactly what she did. She took a nap on the couch — I brought her a blanket, and she let me tuck her in. She did not reject any of this. She had rethought her ideas about cooking, and wanted to visit a bakery to get some things instead, so I suggested a half hour nap and then we’d head out.

After a half an hour, I went out into the living room, and she wanted to sleep some more. Oh, this is so typical. So I gave her another half hour and then we set off. We headed out to a bakery that she likes a lot, but they were closed for a lunch break. We had about 10 minutes until they reopened, so we went to a neighboring card shop so she could get her father a card for Fathers Day. What she did not know is that I had been at that very same shop a few hours earlier, buying a small gift for her — a little zippered bag with a retro flower and bird motif, big enough to hold pens and pencils, or maybe to be used for small toiletries and such. You’ve probably seen bags of this size. They’d fit neatly into a purse. Basically I needed a gift box to put a few small items into, and this was the nearest thing they had. Anyway, my wife bought a few candles and a card, and then we went to the bakery next door.

The bakery was pretty much sold out. Yikes. So, we had to go to a nearby grocery store to get some goodies she could take along. Then we began to head back toward her student’s house. On the way there, she asked if we could stop by a music shop so she could buy some sheet music, and I agreed. We had made such trips many times in the past, and I’d always waited in the car for her. We pulled into the parking lot, and I said I’d wait in the car. She was surprised. “What? You’re not coming in?” she said. What’s a guy to do? I went in with her. She bought a song book or two. I thought she was getting things for her student, but she said these were for her. Hmmm…

We then set out for the student’s house, and she told me en route that her brother had received a gift from me. It was the mug I had sent him a couple of weeks ago. He thanked me for it. This was the exact same mug I had made for her, but which she had never acknowledged receiving. Funny, isn’t it? As we were arriving at the student’s house, she was relieved to see that the student’s father was not there. He is in the midst of a very messy separation with his wife that will almost certainly end in divorce. Neither of them have the slightest idea about how to reconcile their problems, so that’s likely where they’ll end up. I’ve written about this before: the wife is trying to ready paperwork by herself. The husband apparently is doing some work on the house (he’s in the construction business) and the place was a mess. I got out of the car to help her with her things, and sneaked my gift into her bag: the little zipper bag, which also contained a couple of little chocolates, a rubber stamp (bird in a cage; kind of a nostalgic thing for her, based on one of her little decorative possessions), and a card in which I’d made an impression of the stamp and written a little inscription. She noticed this in the shopping bag, and asked me what it was. I told her it was a little bag I picked up for her that she could use for pencils and things. She said, “it’s cute,” and then went into the students house. Again, she looked back at the car as I was leaving.

“It’s cute.” See, I know her taste, and I know what she likes. I knew this would be perfect little thing to give. I also knew that she’d be likely to open it some time later today or even tonight, when she’s with her friends. That would make for an interesting scenario to explain. I’m pretty certain she would be wanting to tell them all about her horrible marital quandary, her “new relationship” (which is neither new, nor an authentic relationship) and there would be this gift from me. She did tell me that she’d be spending tomorrow with this aforementioned friend who lives a couple of blocks away, and I assume she’s spending the night there, too. I got a tentative, non-commital partial agreement to have lunch, maybe, tomorrow. We’ll see about that.

Now here’s the interesting thing. Dogs don’t lie. I’ve seen our dog come back from a week’s stay at the adulterer’s place before, and normally she seems very relieved to be back at home and often goes into the bedroom to sleep very soundly. This time was kind of anomalous, though. She slept for hours, like a log. When I got home from dropping my wife off, the dog was on the couch and only woke up when I opened the door. This is very unusual. Normally she’d be awake with the sound of a car approaching. She looked very groggy. She has slept very, very soundly all day. It was as if the past week had been very stressful for her, and that she was just very grateful to be at home in a place where she can totally relax and sleep off all that stress.

Not that I can really read much into a dog’s behavior, but I sense that things are really not okay up there at Camp Chickenshit. (Yes, I know, I used that term for the first time in months, but I think I primed it by using the word “crap” earlier in this post.) I suspect that she is spending time with this friend tomorrow, as well as with the colleagues tonight, to attempt to patch holes on the sinking life raft that is her adulterous relationship. I also suspect she may be testing the waters at home a bit, seeing how she feels about being back in the house, doing things like, well, taking a nap. This is actually very telling to me. I simply cannot see why a woman with her stated agenda would do any of this. Other obstinate spouses are more, well, obstinate.

So, the upshot is that things seem to be trending positively. I don’t know when they will ultimately turn around, or if that turn around will be fast or slow. But I do sense that things are getting there, bit by bit. Safe harbor is not that far away at this point, and I intend to bring us there as swiftly as possible.

Month Eight

Today marks another dark anniversary, a milestone from the sordid underbelly of relationships. It was eight months ago today, on October 10, 2011, that my wife launched her extramarital affair. It likely had its origins earlier, as she had seen and known about this man for some time, about two years, actually, but she had never really had any contact with him until September 2011, when they became Facebook “friends.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, actually, when they “friended” each other. He began “liking” her various pictures and posts, but there was no contact or communication, as far as I was aware. But it was on October 10 that the affair launched.

He contacted her. They had seen each other the previous day, albeit at a bit of a distance, at a shrine ceremony we were attending. She excused herself from me after the ceremony ended and went looking for him. She did not find him. He reached out to her via Facebook the following day, October 10. It escalated quickly: from initial pleasantries to “I love you,” all in the space of less than 5 days. It was actually quite insane. I learned about all of this a few weeks later.

I don’t think I really need to trace the trajectory of what has happened over these past eight months. That’s all pretty well documented here. She went from relatively unhappy wife to crazed adulteress literally overnight. She will go back from crazed adulteress to unhappy wife in need of healing pretty much overnight as well, I suspect. She has called her becoming an adulteress a “life transformation,” as though it were something positive of which one should be proud. There will be a reverse transformation, of course, and I do think that will happen very soon.

There is no proof that I can cite. Instead, I just have energy that I can sense. The month of May was a weird one. It began with her energy on a very low and dark note, and indeed she threatened to file early in that month and even went to the courthouse to have her paperwork looked over. Then, over the following three weeks, her energy and attitude toward me seemed steadily to improve. It reached what seemed to me to be a high point on the day that we belatedly celebrated my birthday. it was almost like old times with her, and we had a great time.

Then, over the past two weeks, there has seemed to be a contraction. This last time I saw her, her energy was really pretty dark again. She seemed unhappy and rather uncomfortable being around me. I guess I can understand this: she has actualized at least 90% of her agenda, and that happiness she was sure she’d find once she had accomplished her objectives seems to still be elusive. I mean, she’s pretty much done it all: she has moved out, she has attempted to cut off contact, she has moved in with the adulterer, and  she has gotten a piano. The only thing she hasn’t done yet is to try to legally destroy our marriage. I think she realizes at this point that this would be a lengthy process, and that she wouldn’t be “free” for well over ayear. Her affair will have long become a footnote to history by that time. But, having accomplished most of her “life-transformation” goals, why wouldn’t she be happy?

Simple. It is hard to be a quitter, a liar, and a cheat. She has custody of our dog this week, and this alone reminds her of all this, because I am the person that gave her that most treasured of gifts six years ago. She spends every day with the reality that she is living a lie, trying to invert the moral wisdom of millions of people, dozens of spiritual traditions, and numerous centuries. One woman’s ego and its attendant rationalizations trumps all.

Except it doesn’t. Reality intrudes in big ways and small. Right now, she’s just a hair’s breadth away from that affair ending for good. All it will take is a good argument. She is prone to blow-ups and melt-downs when she’s stressed out, and I’m sure she’s beyond stressed out at this point. He’ll tire of seeing these happen. It won’t be a fairy-tale relationship anymore. It will be very human. The bloom will be off the rose. Most likely it already is.

Twelve days ago, I had a gift shipped to her brother to congratulate him on completing a course of studies and obtaining a professional license. I even asked my wife it it would be okay to send a gift, and she thought it woudl be a good idea. It should arrive any day, if it hasn’t already, and it will likely cause a stir. The bonds that keep families together are much stronger than the sickly tendrils of infidelity.

I remain very hopeful. But at the same time, I also remain realistic, knowing that these things both can take time, and that an obstinate spouse can still throw some unexpected curve balls at you in their last-ditch attempts to avoid the inevitable. Nevertheless, in time all this shall pass and I am confident that I’ll prevail.