Letter to the In-Laws

It’s an interesting thing, in a way, watching an obstinate spouse struggle with the ramifications of the decisions they have made. The consequences of their actions are often unpleasant, cause much tension and anxiety, and bring grief, guilt, anger, and sadness. Honestly, and I kind of hate to say this, I’d much rather be a betrayed spouse who is committed to the marriage, rather than an obstinate spouse who only desires the destruction of the marriage.

The truth be told, it does seem that the moral universe really does not support the agenda of the obstinate spouse. There usually seems to be some sort of corrective or other reckoning that eventually puts that spouse back in line. It’s almost as if the universe has a set of unseen forces, almost like lines in a three-dimensional grid (well, four, really, if you consider time to play a role as well) along which all actions must be aligned; a spouse who decides to violate the commitment to the marriage suddenly moves out of alignment with that grid, and that’s when the pressure starts. They try to keep themselves out of alignment, and will go so far as to assert that cultural norms and mores are too conventional, and just simply do not apply to a person as “evolved” as him- or herself.

Therein lies the rub: there is nothing evolved whatsoever about betraying your spouse and desiring to leave your marriage. Such actions rest upon violation after violation of those moral codes and cultural norms that supposedly don’t apply: suddenly, it’s not wrong to lie to people, it’s not wrong to break promises, it’s not wrong to betray trust, and it’s not wrong to selfishly abandon others in the pursuit of “happiness.” But such “happiness” comes at a price.

I’ve watched my wife struggle with her choice to commit adultery for just over a year now. Her process has hardly been linear, but it definitely has a trajectory. (I’ll get to that trajectory in a bit.) The pushback was most severe at the beginning, when she discovered that her emotional affair was suddenly giving her, in a very superficial way, some of the things she felt she was missing in our marriage. It only took five days of her soon-to-be mister’s internet fawning to convince her that the grass was greener on his side of the fence. I put a pot down in the wrong place in the kitchen, and she blew up at me. All hell broke loose, and the next three weeks were awful. They became more awful still when she took the affair physical and I discovered this fact. (Seriously, she’s such a bad liar that I don’t know how she could ever have thought I wouldn’t find out.) Then I found Marriage Fitness and began applying its principles and got a couple weeks of pushback, but over the next two months or so, things improved, and improved quite markedly.

Then the new year arrived, and with it her supposed motion through a magical portal that would absolve her of all her sin. She was to have been done with me totally and moved in with him. It did not work out like that. He clearly wasn’t ready for her, and she was moving a million miles an hour in an impulse to make her fantasy a reality. She half-moved out, staying with friends at night, but spending her days at home. Things were often tense as I did my best to reach out to her and build goodwill. We had a counseling session in February and things got worse. She stopped coming by the house entirely. At the end of March, she actually did move out. But the thing is, during this time, the pushback was occasional, and relatively benign.

I didn’t get a whole lot of pushback through April, as she just wasn’t around much, and I was adjusting to the rhythm of her being away 6 days a week, at the now-infamous Camp Chickenshit. But that pushback did come on like gangbusters in early May, and it turned out that she was trying to ready herself to file marriage dissolution papers. This never happened, though; I take it she was not ready on many different levels. Things improved over the next three months.

Then the pushback began again in August, and she disappeared for five weeks. When she resurfaced, it was as if nothing had happened — for about two weeks. Then she vanished again for about three weeks, during which time, I subsequently learned, she went on a trip with the adulterer. She resurfaced again; the first week was fine, and in fact she was quite tender toward me, but the next week she unloaded the worst pushback I’ve seen in about a year. Something must have shifted in her life, and shifted quite dramatically at that.

As a strange sort of coincidence, she received what might end up being a true wake-up call on the very day she lashed out at me. Last Wednesday, her grandfather passed away. He was very much the black sheep of the family, but she had a rather special relationship with him that nobody else in her family had, as she was the only person to have ever stood up to him and earn his respect by showing no fear of his actions or behaviors. She learned about this sometime after I saw her, as far as I can tell. I don’t know if she spoke with her parents or if the news came via email; I suspect the latter. She does seem to be somewhat of an outcast from her family at this point.

I was quite affected by her grandfather’s passing, even though I did not know him well and had only met him a few times. I felt that I needed to reach out to her parents, but I do not speak their language and I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable, as they are clearly humiliated by her behavior.

So I wrote them a letter.

I’m not competent in Japanese, so I hired someone to translate it for me. I went to the store and bought a calligraphy pen — a felt-tipped brush-style calligraphy pen — and practiced all the kanji, as well as the katakana (native alphabet) characters with which I was not proficient. I literally spent hours practicing this single page of text, which contained only a few hundred characters at most.

Then I got a card. Actually, I had one made. I found a picture of my wife with her grandfather that I had taken on our first trip there together. It is one of the few pictures we have in which he is smiling, and he looks genuinely happy to be with her. It was actually taken on the morning we were leaving to come home, right as we were about to head out for the airport. I also had a print made from another picture from that same morning that showed more of the family.

I subsequently went to buy some quality paper for writing, and settled on some vellum that I could see through, as this would make aligning and sizing the characters much easier. I bought a couple of pieces of high-quality paper to place behind the vellum to make the writing visible, and also bought a matching envelope. Then I went home and practiced some more, and then had a good night’s rest.

Yesterday morning, I wrote that letter and put it in the post. They will receive it in a few days. There will probably be a reaction.

Tomorrow, I should see my wife again, and I’ll have a sense for where she’s at emotionally. I think she has probably been all over the map this past week, so I just don’t know what to expect. There’s a better-than-average chance that she will attempt to blow me off again. She is certainly under a lot of stress: she is supposedly going on a trip overseas with the adulterer in about a week, and this probably has her very tense over all the lies and obfuscations she will have to deliver to me and to others.

When I see her, I will give her a copy of that letter. Transparency is the best policy. I want there to be no secrets over this. It’s just far too important. It’s bigger than the two of us, bigger by far.

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