It’s a childish game these obstinate spouses like to play. They pretend not to hear you. They pretend not to feel your presence. They pretend not to acknowledge your existence. They pretend that they can just simply walk away, cut you out of their lives, and then “move on” to some sort of otherwise unattainable happiness.
On a normal day, I’ll call my wife about three times. I don’t really have anything significant to say, and certainly nothing that would be logistica. This is just normal communication that would happen in a healthy relationship, in which both partners remain in regular contact with each other, just because they like to be connected. So what happens when one spouse tries to disconnect?
Well, the abandoned spouse is left out in the cold. This can be hard, and many such abandoned spouses rightly feel neglected and cut off. They feel hurt and become angry or maybe depressed. They may begin to doubt their whole relationship with their spouses and wonder if they truly want them back.
That’s not me. I’ve been working on reconciling my marriage for 7 months now, and a big part of my reconciliation plan has been reaching out to my wife via these short, frivolous phone calls. I’d say 95% of them have gone straight to voice mail. This means that, for the better part of four months, my wife has tried to ignore just about every single phone call I’ve made to her. I’m sure she thinks that, if she ignores me for long enough, I’ll just stop. But that’s not going to happen.
Okay, now there might be some new visitors to this blog would would question this tactic, and maybe even consider it to be a form of stalking. To that I would ask, “how is behaving like a normal married person in any way similar to stalking?” Conventional wisdom, of course, would have it that we just accept the cold shoulder and suffer that fate, or better yet, walk away entirely. But conventional wisdom has also produced a lot of divorces. Tons of them. Moreover, there are some professionals who speak of a “relationship 180” that involves cutting off contact to the obstinate spouse. I can’t see that helping things too much, but I guess the idea is that the obstinate spouse will suddenly feel neglected and will rethink their choices. That might work with some obstinate spouses, but the ones who really think they want out probably could care less if you’re doing that kind of 180.
So here’s why I reach out to my spouse: because she’s my wife. That’s right, because she’s my wife. I don’t need a better reason than that. I don’t really care what sort of foolish agenda she has, or what sort of behaviors she is trying futilely to legitimize. None of that is my concern. All of that is temporary. What is more enduring are the marriage vows I made to her 7 years ago, and the level of commitment they required of me then as well as now. I just don’t think that a person of integrity has any room to simply give up on that just because things get hard.
My wife is a city girl at heart, but she has taken to shacking up with an adulterer in a tiny little podunk town out in the middle of nowhere, population ca. 2000. There’s not much to do for her out there, aside from play make-believe housewife and farmer. (There are chickens there, as well as a cowardly adulterer, hence my erstwhile name for that place of “Camp Chickenshit”.) When I call, or perhaps occasionally send a picture text or email, I often relate things that are going on in the city. I know she misses this city. She only gets to see it one or two days a week, and hardly sees it at all when she is in town.
So it was that tonight I decided on a lark to go out to one of our favorite spots, an artisnal gelateria run by some transplanted Italians. It’s pretty much the best gelato in town, and definitely the real deal. I took my wife there a couple of weeks ago, and it was the first time she’d been there in over eight months. (She just cannot go to places in town with the adulterer, for fear that people — or worse yet me — will see her with him.) Something urged me to go tonight, so I drove over there.
It was pretty busy. There was a line going out the door. I had been thinking about getting a pint of gelato to take home, but rather opted for a cone to go. They always seem to have some new flavor they’re trying out, and tonight it was avacado sorbet. I kid you not. Avacado sorbet. Now, I’ve had some crazy flavors in the past: cucumber mint sorbet, tomato basil sorbet, and red beet sorbet to name just a few, but never avacado sorbet. But it kind of makes sense: avacados have a high enough fat content to make a sorbet seem more like an actual gelato. And what better to pair that flavor with than the one right next to it in the display, banana sorbet. I swear to you, the combination worked. I took a picture of the display, with the label “avacado sorbet” in front of that flavor, and sent it to my wife. “See what you’re missing, sweetheart?” was the unwritten subtext, of course.
It is a childish game these obstinate spouses feel they need to play. They can pretend otherwise, but they really do hear you. They can pretend otherwise, but they really do feel your presence. They can pretend otherwise, but their willfull actso of ignoring by definition acknowledge your existence. They can pretend that simply walking away will lead them to some sort of happiness. But no matter where they go, there they are, and so are all of their problems they are trying to walk away from.
And here I am, just waiting for her wake-up call to arrive, bringing that empty fairy tale to an end. I think it’s coming soon folks, I really do.