Adultery: Poor Math

The good folks over at Marriage Sherpa have posted another article that should be helpful to those of us dealing with adultery. It’s entitled “Affairs: Doing the Math: It Doesn’t Add Up” and is well worth a read.

Actually, the “math” here is a bit different than one of their previous articles on the topic. In that article, the position was taken that the wayward spouse takes an 80% risk for a 20% return; in this more recent article, it’s 90/10. Are affairs getting more serious? Hardly. One just cannot quantify the outright stupidity that occurs in adulterous relationships, so any figures are just metaphors. Adultery is 100% pointless, 100% of the time.

Anyway, do go give those articles a read if you get the chance.

Read article for donation information.

When You Get Pushback

This is the first in a series of educational posts geared toward those who are trying to reconcile their marriages.

Marriage reconciliation is a tricky business. You really cannot go it alone, because, coming out of the gate, virtually none of us has the experience or wisdom necessary to bring a troubled marriage back into safe harbor. In fact, most of the things we’d be likely to do — pleading, begging, arguing, appealing to reason or emotions, etc. — are not just counterproductive, but also harmful to the reconciliation effort.

Furthermore, those who do seek professional help typically go to one of the thousands of credentialed marriage counselors who offer their services in cities both big and small. Although there are some good counselors out there, the overall picture is pretty bleak: at least 70% of people who start marriage counseling report themselves as less happy a year later. What’s more shocking is that 50% of people who undertake traditional counseling report getting divorced within that one-year time frame. This is quite abysmal: one normally wouldn’t go to a doctor for a relatively routine yet somewhat serious complaint (e.g. bronchitis) and expect a cure rate of 30%, let alone a morbidity rate of 50%. That’s just plain unacceptable. I know of far too many people who have gone the traditional counseling route who end up resigning themselves to separation, divorce, and the subsequent agony. It’s all so needless.

Those of you who have been reading this blog regularly will know that I often refer to my own “reconciliation program;” those of you new to this website should know that I have a reconciliatory discipline that I follow that works and is proven to be at least 90% effective. Some of my readers know about this, because they are fellow practitioners of that same program, other’s don’t. I did write about this in one of my first blog posts: I’m a Marriage Fitness practitioner. I’m not a huckster, but I do stand behind things in which I believe. One of the few links you’ll see in my sidebar is to the Marriage Fitness website, because I think it’s important that people facing serious marital crises be able to find the help they need, and this program (run by Mort Fertel) is, in my opinion, simply the best one out there. It’s a program that brings about true personal transformation, and with that transformation comes a transformation of the energies of the marital relationship, and that in turn provides a very powerful momentum toward marriage reconciliation.

The principles are simple: implement the best possible relationship habits and skills, and simultaneously work diligently to change the aspects of yourself that led to your marital crisis. These two principles are pretty much all that one needs to know about reconciling a troubled marriage.

Well, actually there is one additional thing. Pushback. It’s one of those unpleasant side-effects of the reconciliation process. You do all the right things, you work on your “fixings” and employ those awesome relationship skills and what happens? Your spouse grows cold. Your spouse rejects you. He says spiteful things. She hangs up on your phone calls, or shuns them to voice mail. He rejects your gifts, or refuses to see you for weeks on end. It can be depressing, dispiriting, and discouraging. Just read through a sampling of posts on this blog, and you’ll find plenty of examples of pushback.

Yet it is also a sign of health. Much like the human organism manifests unpleasant symptoms in ridding itself of an illness, so too does a spouse manifest unpleasant symptoms when ridding his- or herself of egocentric behaviors whose only purpose is to destroy the marriage.

Pushback comes primarily from one place: pain. The obstinate spouse is riddled with pain. He feels he has suffered tremendously at the hands of the spouse who wants to reconcile. Yet that reconciling spouse is simply showing the obstinate spouse that she has chosen the moral position — a position in which promises are honored and from which one simply does not walk away just because things got difficult. The obstinate spouse finds this hard to understand, because from his perspective, there are no viable remedies short of exiting the marriage. This, of course, is not true. (Just click one of those links above if you need further proof.)

Pushback can be difficult for the reconciling spouse to bear. This is because the reconciling spouse typically has as much egocentric territory to defend as the obstinate spouse. This is the human psychical equivalent of two islands bashing against each other, refusing to cede any ground while also refusing to recognize that they’re both made of the same stuff: ego. It’s only when one loosens the grip of ego and begins to see suffering the obstinate spouse endures because of his desperate ego-clinging that the whole situation starts to become more workable. In short, if one can loosen that grip, then one begins to develop compassion, and that will change the tide toward reconciliation.

Even so, that doesn’t mean that dealing with pushback is easy. I’ve seen plenty of it over the past 8 odd months, and I know many others have seen worse pushback than have I. What do I do about it? Ignore it. That’s pretty much all you can do. Ignore it and soldier on. In fact, I have a slogan:

When you get pushback, then push back harder!

That doesn’t mean you have license to be rude, nasty, inconsiderate, or in any way to return the behavior the obstinate spouse is showing you. Quite the contrary. It means that you push back with unconditional love, with understanding, and with genuine concern. This is how you reconcile your marriage. Every day you relentlessly push in the direction of reconciliation, setting the agenda by showering your obstinate spouse with unconditional love. It pretty much always works. But you do need a method, and that’s why programs like Marriage Fitness are so effective: they’re organized to give you those tools, and and a plan of implementation in which to use them.

But hey, you don’t need to believe me. If you’re skeptical at all — and you should be — go over and check out the Marriage Fitness forum. Unlike the many other forums I visited on my initial searches for guidance and wisdom, this forum is not filled with angry, vindictive spouses looking for divorce. Quite the contrary: it’s one of the most positive and supportive places I’ve ever found for people experiencing marital crises. And, there are plenty of experienced practitioners there who would likely be happy to fill you in. Who knows, you might even find me there.

Just remember: pushback is a symptom, and it’s usually a symptom of health. 

Read article for donation information.

Coping with adultery

I write this post with the knowledge that there are many people in similar circumstances to mine. I also know that there are many people in far worse marital situations. Still, I hope this post will be helpful.

My wife has been having an affair for nearly 9 months now. The affair started on October 10 and rapidly escalated into a full-blown emotional affair over the next 2-3 days. She took it physical about 3 weeks later, on November 1. Since that time, I’ve been struggling with a wife who is addicted to that most potent of drugs: the affair fog.

It’s painful dealing with the affair fog. The person that you’ve known and loved for so many years is transformed into an incoherent pile of contradictions. The once moral, trustworthy, and upstanding person you once respected is transformed into an immoral, deceitful, and scandalous individual. The wife who promised to spend the rest of her life with you suddenly decides to move out, and even goes so far as to move in with her adulterous “partner.” It is all so bizarre, so utterly bizarre.

At some point, clarity arrives. You begin to be able to see through the fog, to see under it, above it, and around it. You begin to see that the fog is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It’s a complete sham — a house of cards that threatens to blow down at any moment. You can see how utterly pointless and even stupid the adulterous relationship is, how it has no enduring power, and how it is fated to crumble under the weight of its own immorality. You can sense just how juvenile the adulterous partners are, running around like high school kids in the throes of infatuation, for that’s all they really have, anyway: infatuation. When clarity arrives, things start to become more bearable. You get the sense that, so long as you can endure things a little longer, they will turn for the better.

Today is Wednesday, July 4, 2012. Wednesdays are normally the days on which the adulterer brings her to town. He drives her in in his white pick-up truck (yes, I’ve seen it) and drops her off at one of two different locations that she might spend the night. Then she calls me to arrange either for drop off or pick up of our dog, as this is also the time frame for “custody” exchange. Then, she teaches a student in the afternoon, perhaps has a rehearsal in the evening (not these days, as the group is on hiatus for the summer), and dozes off in either the dingy basement of an older colleague or the tiny guest room of a slightly decrepit house of an acquaintance who is currently trying to get herself divorced from her estranged husband. On Thursdays she’ll have the morning free, and teach a couple of students in the afternoon prior to being picked up by the adulterer in his white pick-up truck, to be hauled back for another 5 days at Camp You-Know-What. Usually I will get to see my wife on either Wednesday or Thursday, and on rare occasion, both.

Not this week. Wednesday falls on a national holiday. I’ve heard nothing from my wife, and I take this to mean that she has opted not to come into town at all this week. She is likely at some festivities somewhere with the adulterer. One thing is for certain: she has chosen to abandon her dog for the week. This is supposed to be her week of “custody,” starting today. But, she never showed up. She never called. She never emailed or texted to tell me what’s going on. I can only assume that she is giving up her week with the dog, just so she can have an extra day or two with the adulterer.

I don’t mind keeping the dog for another week — I gave her a much needed flea bath — but I do mind the lack of opportunity to see my wife this week. I normally can get in a weekly “date night,” and these are really quite critical in the process of trying to begin the reconciliation of my marriage. I also get the opportunity to give her a little gift of some kind. That will all have to wait until next week, I guess.

So what of the affair fog? Well, at some point, things start to line up that begin to burn the fog away. As I mentioned in my last post, it appears that both my wife and the adulterer have encountered some turbulence that is perhaps leading to unexpected consequences. As the fog begins to burn away, the wayward spouse begins to be confronted head on by the seriousness of their poor choices. This, it seems causes a reaction: the wayward spouse tries to keep the fog in place. They do whatever they can to keep their story in place. But it’s futile. Any attempts to keep the fog from burning off are simply going to be made in vain. Once the fog starts to dispel, there’s no turning back.

I have no idea where things are headed right now. I’ll likely have to just wait another week to get a read on things. It’s slow business, this reconciliation stuff, but it sure beats the heck out of the alternatives.

Things keep trending, with a twist

Again, it’s been quite a while since my last post. I’ve been very busy, and this is the first day I’ve had in a while to just decompress a bit.

I did in fact see my wife this past Wednesday. It was a really good “date” experience, moreso than any others in recent memory. She called me in the morning and told me she was going downtown to hang out at the market since it was a beautiful, sunny day. I was actually headed off to work when she called, so we arranged to meet once I was done with work for the morning.

After I had wrapped up my morning stint, I dropped some materials off at home and headed downtown to meet her. I called to let her know I was in range, but got no response. I did finally get a voice mail from her (the signal apparently had dropped) telling me where she was, and I got a parking space nearby. I found her in a coffee shop, checking her email, and went up to give her a kiss on the forehead. She did not pull away or reject this gesture at all.

We decided to head into the market so that I could look for this new artisanal pasta place that had opened recently. I didn’t know exactly where it was, so we just started looking around. I was a bit hungry, and she gave me a piroshky she had bought. (Yes, I do know this is the plural form! I should have said “pirozhok.”) She apparently had bought two, and gave the extra one for me. I don’t know if that was her original plan or not, but heck, I’d take it.

After searching around the market for a while, I decided to ask someone who might now. I stopped by an artisanal cheese stall, and the guy said he’d heard of the place but didn’t know where it was. He suggested asking at the info booth. So, we fought the tourists off (the market is a huge tourist draw) and asked the woman manning that booth; she had also heard of it but didn’t know where it was either. But, she did have a computer, and so she looked it up for us, and gave us an idea of where we could find it. So, off we went.

It turned out that this place is inside a gelato shop, of all locations. It’s also a couple doors up from one of the great cocktail bars in town. One could easily walk right past it without noticing; there was just one sandwich-board sign outside announcing its presence. We went inside. I was hoping to find some pasta to take away and cook at home, but they didn’t have anything like that. Instead, it was all for in-house consumption. We noticed a guy eating some pappardelle (this is a great cut of pasta, by the way, if you’ve never tried it) and suddenly my wife tells me that she wants to try it — even though she had already had lunch. She wanted to try the pappardelle, but I convinced her to share a plate of the maccheroni with my. My reasoning being that, while anyone can cut pappardelle with a knife (the noodles are quite broad), you need some sort of extruder for maccheroni, and this, coupled with their ability to cook them, would tell me a lot about their pasta. Plus, the sauce was made from a braise of pork shoulder, so it would be hard to go wrong. We put in an order and had a seat at a cozy, corner table.

The order came out: a nice bowl of fairly thick maccheroni, a bit ridged, with a very narrow hole down the middle. This would make the cooking a bit tricky, but it was perfectly al dente. The sauce was excellent as well. My wife was pretty much over the moon about this. We ate, and I told her all about my new job, as well as about the program I’d volunteered for over the weekend. It was a very good date.

We then decided to go check out a ginger beer shop I’d discovered. It was a couple of miles away, so we hopped in the car and headed there. As it turned out, the shop was not a retail storefront, but rather the location where they produce the ginger beer (basically ginger ale), whereas the product is sold at a few limited locations around town. It was now getting a bit close to the time that she would need to start teaching, so we headed over to the house she was staying at to pick up the dog. (Ugh — she was staying in the utterly dismal basement of that house!) I dropped her off at a coffee shop, and then headed back to that house to leave a surprise gift for her: a cookbook called Aroma, which is all about using essential oils in cooking. My wife loves essential oils and aromatherapy, and I’ve had this book around for some time, waiting for the prime opportunity to give it. This was it. I left it on the doorstep and went home.

She texted me later to thank me for the book. I had told her that I’d gotten a piece of mail for her that looked to be pretty urgent, and I had intended to drop it off with a friend she’d be hanging out with the following day. I did end up dropping off the mail, along with a card that I’d gotten for her in which I stuffed a photo I’d taken a couple of years ago of her with her dog.

So that was the “active” part of the week, where it came to reconciliation matters. Now for the “passive” discoveries.

The day after she left town, I logged on to Facebook for some reason, and instantly saw some pictures from the shrine — you know (if you’ve been reading this blog for a while), the shrine that my wife feels represents her “spiritual path.” The shrine that precipitated the affair, owing to the fact that the adulterer is a senior member of that shrine. The shrine that drew her to move in with the adulterer, since he lives a mile or so from it, and there is really no other draw in that little podunk town. The shrine which is the only of its kind in North America, and one of the few of its kind outside Japan. That shrine. The priest of the shrine is on my “friend” list, and whenever there is an event or ceremony at the shrine, he posts pictures.

So there were pictures, this time of a ceremony that had taken place over the weekend. I didn’t even know it was happening, but that ceremony is one of the 3 or 4 major events that occurs there during the year. My wife and I had been to that same ceremony both last year and the year before. It’s a big deal, and they apparently had been expecting a large number of people. Whenever the shrine would have an event like this in the past, one could count on the adulterer being there. Since he is such a senior member of the shrine, and a confidant of the priest, he would typically be there to help with logistics, and often to assist with the flow of the ceremony. One could pretty much count on his presence no matter what.

This time, however, he was not there. Nor was my wife. About the latter, I was not surprised. The shrine posts pictures of all its events on its website, and I had not seen any evidence of her having been there in months. In fact, I have no knowledge of her having been at the shrine since New Year’s Day. The fact that neither of them was at this event, however, was anomalous. So, that got me a bit curious. I logged into my alternate Facebook account — the one that just lies dormant most of the time but is not blocked by my wife — and looked at the shrine’s page. I also looked at the priest’s page as well; both it and the shrine’s page are publicly visible. I made a couple of interesting discoveries. First, both my wife and the adulterer appeared to have stopped “liking” or commenting on anything posted on either page. This cessation seems to have happened in sometime in the past two weeks. Second, my wife appeared to have “defriended” the priest, as he is no longer on her “friend” list. This latter is very telling. My wife defriended and blocked me, as well as my mother, sister, and sister’s sister-in-law soon after her affair became public knowledge. It seemed to have been a response to the need to protect herself from scandal.

So what’s the scandal now? That’s a good question. I cannot see any reason for her to have taken this action if there were not some sort of pressure brewing. I suspect that the two of them are experiencing pressure from the shrine to either end their affair, or to shove it further underground. That institution almost certainly wants no blowback, and I do know that some months ago the priest’s wife had publicly been very vocal about her disapproval of the affair. I imagine that she again has been asserting some pressure, and that now my wife and the adulterer are beginning to feel the heat.

It will be interesting to see how this develops. The response could temporarily be that the adulterer cuts his ties with the shrine and its priest, even though he has been a student of the latter for well over 15 years. None of this makes sense, though. I cannot imagine why anyone would sever those kinds of ties for the sake of a married woman one has known for less than nine months. I also cannot imagine why my wife would voluntarily give up one of her chief rationales for conducting her affair. It just makes no sense.

I know I’ve said it over and over: the affair’s going to end, and it will end soon. Something about this latest turn of events makes me think that there just might be enough real-world pressure to blow down that house of cards once and for all.