It’s Labor Day weekend, and that means that September has arrived, and with it, so has the beginning of month 11. If you’re reading this post and finding yourself at the beginning of a marital crisis, please do not get discouraged. Marital crises are very difficult situations, and few of them change very quickly. It typically takes a period of many months to turn things around, as the obstinate spouse has to go through a process of withdrawal, deliberate rejection, and eventual discovery before returning to work on the marriage. While this is happening, the faithful spouse has to do two things: to learn and implement excellent relationship skills, and to begin working on him- or herself, fixing the behaviors and habits that contributed to the marital crisis.
That’s right: I’ve been trying to reconcile my marriage for ten months now. On November 2, I committed myself to trying to reconcile our marriage. I had found a book by a guy named Mort Fertel called Marriage Fitness, after browsing many titles online, reading Amazon interviews, and so on. This book seemed to be the most highly rated. In late October, I found a copy at a nearby bookstore and devoured it. I presented it to my wife a few days before the end of that month, and she told me she wasn’t interested. I had no idea that she was having an affair.
After reading through the book, I realized that maybe I needed something a bit more potent. Honestly, the book itself isn’t really geared for healing distressed marriages; instead, it’s designed to improve the quality of marriages that have gone a bit stale. So, if you’re reading this and you don’t have a marital crisis, but you think your marriage could definitely stand some improvement, then that book is definitely a good one to have. It’s kind of a user’s guide for marriage — the kind that you never got when you took your wedding vows. In fact, I’ve got a colleague who is getting married in a few days, and I’m thinking about giving her a copy. I know she is at least as naive, if not more so, than I was when I got married 7-1/2 years ago.
If your marriage is in serious trouble, though — if there is threat of divorce, or if there’s separation, affairs, or other serious problems — that book alone won’t do it. I went onto Mort’s website, signed up for his free emails, took some of the online marriage assessments he offers, and did a lot of thinking. I saw that he offered a Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp, which seemed like it would be the right solution to our situation. So, after much hesitation and a lot of dilly-dallying, I went ahead and signed up on November 2. Honestly, I was a bit put off by the price tag — it wasn’t cheap — but there was a payment program through which I could split it into three payments, and that made it a whole lot more affordable. In retrospect, it was the best money I had ever spent.
Not more than a few hours after I signed up for the boot camp, I discovered my wife’s affair. I was going to cancel my order for the boot camp, and planned to kick my wife out of the house and file for divorce. I won’t rehash the details; you can read about them here. Fortunately for me, Mort’s office was closed, so I couldn’t cancel the order. Two days later, I had my first “teleseminar” with him — you dial in for an audio lecture — and so I figured I’d give it a shot. I kept the materials in pristine condition when they arrived, because he offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and I thought I’d need it. I was wrong about that. The message of that first teleseminar instilled so much hope in me that I decided to give it a go. And here I am, 10 months later.
I thought it might be helpful to others to track the trajectory of my reconciliation efforts, so that you could see first-hand what it’s like to attempt a reconciliation with an obstinate spouse who is having an affair. So here goes:
- October 2011: My wife unleashed our crisis on October 14, telling me that she wanted out of our marriage. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had begun and emotional affair on October 10 which would go physical on Halloween. I was hopeless and ungrounded for the final three weeks of this month. I did find Mort’s book, and began to think hard about how to get my marriage back together.
- November 2011: I discovered my wife’s affair and went into a serious tailspin. I also started working Marriage Fitness and began to see things change. The first couple of weeks involved pushback from my wife, but things did begin to improve between the two of us.
- December 2011: Things largely continued to improve, although there was tension and occasional strife. Thanks to Mort’s program, which I was working as a so-called “lone ranger,” I built a tremendous amount of goodwill between my wife and myself, so much so that, had there been no affair, I’m pretty confident we would have begun to reconcile our marriage. But, the affair was a pretty potent drug, and so that continued to lead things on her end.
- January 2012: After spending several days with the adulterer, my wife came home in a bluster and told me she’d start packing and would be moving out. I freaked. She did begin the process of separation, and started to sleep at a friend’s house a couple of blocks from here. She spent most of her days at home, however, and so I was able to build further goodwill. I later learned that she nearly ended the affair mid-month, as we were having heavy snow, and she was not seeing the adulterer at all. She actually nearly made a sane choice to end the affair and begin working on her dissertation.
- February 2012: We had a joint session with my Marriage Fitness coach. I wrote about this before; these coaches are really awesome, and are so much more skillful than the typical marriage counselor. There were many insights, and my coach was able to not only cast doubt on my wife’s choices, but also to plant a number of seeds of hope about the future of our marriage. I think this affected her, as she then began to withdraw from me and avoid coming home. Things seemed to deteriorate for some time thereafter.
- March 2012: This was an odd month, marked mainly by my wife finally moving out at its end. I do believe that the adulterer pushed her to do this. She had claimed a week or two before moving out that she would be moving into an apartment; this never occurred. Instead, she moved in with the adulterer. She also told me that she wouldn’t tell me where she was moving to initially, but would eventually let me know. So far this has never happened: I still don’t “officially” know that she lives with the adulterer, but there is ample public evidence to verify that fact at this point.
- April 2012: This month marked the beginning of my wife cohabitating with the adulterer. Things were rather tense between us for most of the month, although I did see her on a weekly basis. Clearly, something was up, as she requested a “custody” situation for our dog that would allow her to have the dog on alternate weeks.
- May 2012: This month began with an altercation, after which she got out of our car in a huff and went to the courthouse. She had filled out contested dissolution paperwork, and had one of their paralegals check it out. I know this happened, because I saw the paperwork the following week. She didn’t file anything, though, as she clearly wasn’t ready. Despite this early setback, things steadily improved over the month, to the extent that we had a wonderful date a few days after my birthday, on which she took me out for lunch and spent quite a lot of time with me. The adulterer went overseas without her, and her thoughts were clearly turning toward me in his absence.
- June 2012: Yet another month of improvement. Even though I was only seeing her once a week, our communication was quite positive and things were trending in the right direction.
- July 2012: Pretty much more of the same. During this month, we had our longest “date” thus far — she spent 7-1/2 hours with me. The connection I was building with her was unmistakable. Nevertheless, she was beginning to go very public with the affair, starting a new blog in which she extolled the wonders of her “new life.”
- August 2012: The first week of the month was fine. We had a very brief date, but I was able to refer to her as my wife in front of complete strangers, and she did not object. Then, the next week everything changed. She suddenly gave me all sorts of pushback and began to withdraw from me. The last time I saw her was on August 1, and the last time I spoke with her was when this pushback happened on August 8. Since then, all I’ve had was the occasional email or text message. This is really an extraordinary phase. I learned that she began to make movement toward filing again, but since then appears to have taken no action. I also learned that she has two trips planned with the adulterer. She also continued to ramp up her taking the affair public by posting very openly on the adulterer’s professional Facebook page.
- September 2012: This is month 11. I never believed that it would have taken me this long to turn my marriage around. I’m still working on it, but things have become more challenging. My wife is trying very hard to cut me off. She does not answer the phone when I call anymore. She used to at least answer on Wednesdays when she was in town, but she doesn’t even do this now. She keeps her cell phone turned off most of the time, and the result is that her voice mail box fills up. I have had to resort to sending her voice messages by email. It is very, very frustrating.
If you’re suffering a marital crisis and still reading, please do not get discouraged! One of Mort’s first dictums is that, in the world of relationships, “slow is fast, and fast is slow.” You simply cannot rush the process of reconciliation. It can be very tiring, frustrating, and discouraging. You need to be committed to the process, and you must have hope and determination. If you lack any of these, the chances of your getting derailed along the way are much higher.
But what are your options? You could take the easy way out, as most people do, and just simply allow the marriage to fail. You could allow your marriage to be destroyed by that most horrible of institutions, the divorce. You could try again with someone new, only to find that the process repeats itself: a few years later, you’ll be back in another marital crisis, none the wiser, and will be facing divorce number two. And if you are foolish enough to get married again after that, the chances of divorce number three are even higher — typically about 85%. So, you can walk away, and allow that relationship to dissolve, or…
You can stick it out, and eventually you and your marriage will evolve. But (as it is said in the tele-boot camp) even if you somehow don’t manage to reconcile (there’s maybe a 10% chance that this might happen), you will end up a truly transformed individual who will be in a much better place in life overall. The choice is yours.
I know that I’ve made the right choice. I know that I’ve done everything I can, and am continuing to do everything possible. I am simply waiting for the affair to end, and its demise has got to be near at this point. When it does end, then the process of reconciliation truly can begin.Read article for donation information.