Letter from the In-Laws, Redux; Or, Rodion Reflects

I had a rather momentous occasion in my spiritual life yesterday — one that I’ll likely go into on another occasion — that left me with some impetus for reflection. Specifically, I’m thinking about the letter that came from my mother-in-law the other day. The post I wrote about that letter was really quite reactive, and by the end of the day I had developed a somewhat different view on the whole matter. The occasion yesterday gave me further pause for reflection.

I guess my initial reaction to receiving that letter was that it was likely that my wife had directly provoked it in some way, for example complaining to her parents and asking them to write to me. On further reflection, that seems quite unlikely.

You see, I’ve had the chance to think not only about what my mother-in-law said, but also the way in which she said it. Her choice of words was quite peculiar: she repeatedly used the verb “to bother over,” as in “I wish you wouldn’t bother over my daughter.” The suggestion from that word is that her daughter was rather a nuisance, and the implication that lay just beneath the surface was that she absolutely did not agree with her daughter’s choices. Thinking more about my mother-in-law’s motives, it even seems quite plausible that this was a face-saving tactic for her: she finds her daughter at present to be quite intractable and impervious to reason, and possibly thinks that this situation will never end.

Well, she’s wrong about that — the ending part, that is. The imperviousness to reason and intractability, well, those seem pretty accurate. But it is just that intractability that will bring about that inevitable ending.

The tone of my mother-in-law’s letter, despite its somewhat harsh wording, was actually quite mild, and the intent of the letter actually thoughtful, perhaps even kind. It was as if she wanted to reach out to me and implore me not to waste my time on her daughter who seems to her increasingly beyond reach. I can sense that she feels more than a bit of exasperation at this situation, especially considering the shame and embarrassment it has brought upon their family. Japan, for all its modernity, is still a “face” culture, and things like this just don’t go over well, especially with my in-laws’ generation.

I did decide that the best response would be no response, and have stuck to that decision. There simply is no point in saying anything about any of this. I feel truly sorry for my in-laws and the pain and suffering this ordeal has caused them, and would do just about anything to ease that discomfort — except, of course, doing what they asked, as this would only make things worse long-term. The discomfort is temporary, and will ease once my wife’s affair crashes to the ground. There will, of course, be a lot of mending to do; some of it will be my job, but the lion’s share will be my wife’s responsibility. And as that responsibility dawns, as I believe it has been doing in her awareness, she withdraws further from that inevitable reality.

A couple of the things that keeps me hanging in there is the thought of those statistics compiled by Peggy Vaughn that indicate that the overwhelming majority of affairs run their course in 6 to 24 months, and the work of Jeff Murrah, that cites 15-24 months as a typical range for an end-point. Another thing that makes this all the more real — the fact that the affair will end, is the knowledge that an acquaintance recently ended an affair that seemed to have lasted about 18 months. This person apparently left the spouse and shacked up with the lover, and was very public about it, posting frequently on Facebook about it and, worse yet, involving the kids with the adulterous partner. I do not know if the marriage is on the way to reconciliation, but from what I could gather, it seemed as if the betrayed spouse was standing for the marriage.

And the most significant thing that is motivating me to stay the course right now is this momentous event that happened yesterday, but that will be the topic for another post.

Letter from the In-Laws; Or, Rodion Refutes

I got a letter from my mother-in-law the day before yesterday. However, since my mother-in-law lives overseas and speaks a language that I scarcely speak and can barely read, it was, to some extent, a bit futile to reach out in this way. And, to a great extent, it was a greatly misdirected, although perhaps well-intended, effort.

From what I could read, the letter sounded rather final, and it seemed like she was trying to cut ties. But, I really could not decipher it, so I hired someone to translate it for me. The translation came back last night. It revealed both advice and logic that were poor. I don’t mean to malign my mother-in-law, but really this was not an area for her in which to interfere.

Actually, she acknowledged this: it was the first thing she wrote. She recognized that she should refrain from commenting. Nevertheless, her letter commented on that situation for a page and a half.

She advised me not to waste my one chance at life on her daughter. This choice of words is curious: she did literally say that bothering about her daughter would be a waste. She went on to cite cultural differences, different upbringings, and differing values as things that led us to drift apart. This is where faulty logic first appeared: she stated that it was through spending time together every day that gaps in our values developed, and that perhaps the connection had faded.

Well, the connection had faded, there’s no doubt about that: no marital crisis is likely to happen in a strongly connected relationship. But spending time together should not cause gaps to widen, but rather to lessen any gaps that exist. In fact, this was very much how our marriage started: those gaps disappeared because of the time we spent together. However, when the honeymoon phase of a new marriage ends and the realities of life  set in, it becomes imperative to maintain that relationship with specific actions. We, like most married people, did not know what these actions were, and so we did not take them. Thus, we grew apart. This was bound to happen regardless of how much time we spent together.

But, I digress. This assertion was followed by another statement of faulty logic: she said that we cannot live from love alone, but rather need to be economically independent. I find this baffling. There is no reliable correlation between these two situations, at least in the direction she asserts as vital. Marriages between economically independent individuals (however one might define that, and I’m not so sure how one could define it, or by what metrics) fall apart all the time. In fact, the pressures of both spouses working to maintain such a status very often causes marital disintegration. Conversely, however, a marriage that is filled with love can thrive in virtually any economic conditions. I know this for a fact: the initial years of our marriage were ones of financial hardship but extremely strong emotional connection, and thus true happiness and contentment.

She then took a spiritual tack by stating that God gives a man challenges so that he can abandon his selfishness. This was followed by sayings that do not exist in English, like “one cannot fix broken glass,” or “do not turn others away, but do not chase those who leave.”  This was followed by an admonition to abandon “selfishness and obsessiveness” and to “let it be.” (I don’t think she’s a Beatles fan, though.

The most bizarre turn of semantics was yet to come, though. She urged me not to bother myself with “little things,” and to take a step forward.

Now, let’s think about this for a moment. What this woman, my wife’s mother, was essentially telling me was this: Your marriage to my daughter is a trifle. Her commission of adultery is a tiny matter. The incursion of an adulterous pervert into our marriage, with the intention of destroying our union and tearing our families apart, is a “tiny matter.”

That, my friends, stikes me as linguistically quite perverse.

However, she did end on a kind note, thanking me for everything up to that point, and telling me she believed I could achieve whatever I set my heart to. She also urged me to take care of myself, and then bid me farewell.

I will be taking one of her statements to heart: I can indeed accomplish whatever I set my heart and mind to, and this includes (among other things) reconciliation.

I could have responded, but decided — and quite quickly — is that the best response would be no response. There is simply nothing I could say that would be helpful or productive, and moreover just about anything I might say could be misconstrued or all too easily misunderstood. I do not want that. I still respect and honor my wife’s parents no matter how they might think right now.

What my mother-in-law does not understand is that, were I to follow her advice, the end result would be disastrous for her own flesh and blood. In a relatively short time from now — and this could be anywhere from a few days to a few months, but certainly not a long time away — her daughter’s adulterous relationship with that perverted, middle-aged divorcé will come to an end, and it will not be pretty. It is not unlikely that he will throw my wife out.

If that does occur, she will likely have nowhere to go. The friends who encouraged her down that path will turn their backs on her in embarrassment and disbelief. She will have no money to establish herself as an (ahem) economically independent woman, because she cut ties with most of her clients with an absolutely reckless abandon a year ago. She gave up two jobs and numerous students. She held on to only one job, and has a couple of students she occasionally teaches, but this income amounts to, at most, a few hundred dollars each month.

So, dearest mother-in-law, I regret that I cannot take your advice. I do not want to see your daughter homeless, on the streets and all alone. It will be a brutal enough awakening for her when the affair ends and the fog lifts, and she is then faced with the ugly reality of what she has done and the damage she has wreaked in her (ahem) selfishness and obsessive clinging to a deeply immoral, dead-end relationship. I could walk away, as you suggest, and allow her to hit the hard pavement of reality in a short time from now. But personally, I’d prefer to cushion that fall.

Anyway, I have more to say about the tone of this letter, which was far more conciliatory, and in many ways more revealing than what I’ve written here. This post was more about working through the logic and my own ego-clinging, I think. My next post on this will have more to do with compassion.

At least that’s my hope.

Cracks in the Wall of Stone

I don’t know what it is about Fridays. Really, I just don’t know. I’m looking at the past several times that my wife has contacted me, and all but one occasion has fallen on a Friday. These are occasions when she reaches out for some reason, putting a crack in that horrible, stone wall of silence that she has built in the middle of our relationship over the past several months.

This last Friday, I got an unsolicited email from her. She wanted to complain about her checking account balance having gone overdrawn, and simultaneously wanted to blame me for it and to be apologetic about not having any money to make a tax payment that we had due.

In truth, her overdraft was a result of one thing: insufficient funds in her account. I have not been monitoring her account much at all, but I did notice a couple of weeks ago that a sizeable deposit had been made, one that was at least three times larger than any plausible deposit she would have made. I contacted her when I saw this, as there was also a withdrawal from her account that I needed to keep her apprised of. Moreover, I wanted to ask if that large sum of money was in fact hers; if not, I wanted to advise her not to touch it. I also needed to advise her about the tax payment: she offered to fork over her share, and just expected me to handle it, so I wanted to get her permission, or at least to advise her of what I was going to do. I did feel obliged to have her contribute financially on this, as I am very loath at this point to do anything that might further encourage her separation. (That is, if she goes broke because of this separation, that’s okay with me.)

Alas, there was no communication whatsoever. I took the payment for taxes from her account, and then just kept an eye on things.

About a week later, I noticed that she had gone overdrawn. The large deposit was apparently an accounting error, and the bank had adjusted the balance accordingly. However, since she had insufficient funds to cover the tax payment, her account went overdrawn. I saw that, a day later, funds from our joint account were transferred to cover her overdraft.

Thus the topic of her email to me. First, she wanted to complain about the business withdrawal — this was regarding a topic that I’m handling and have told her that I simply will not discuss with her anymore. She seemed, or at least feigned impatience with this situation. Then, her second sentence informed me that  she had asked the bank to transfer money into her account to cover the overdraft. Here’s where it was interesting: she ended that sentence with an elipsis (…), as if to imply some measure of regret.

You know, a lot of people who are trying to reconcile their marriages have a real problem with pushback. Personally, I don’t mind pushback: I see it as a sign of progress most of the time. It’s much harder to get stonewalled, I think. I’ve been stonewalled since the beginning of November, and have been experiencing various degrees of stonewalling since August.

Something must have changed in the dynamic of my wife’s affair in August, as it is hard to explain her sudden turn sour in any other way. And despite a couple of brief spells of warming, there must have been other changes in that dynamic in November, as things went ever farther south then. But, just a month later, at the end of November, she did email me, quite unexpectedly, with expressions of remorse and apology. Again, I can’t help but think that something must have changed in that adulterous dynamic yet again. I saw her at a concert — with the adulterer in tow (who bravely turned tail and fled) — just three days later. Things have gotten much colder since, and once again, I cannot help but think that that horribly immoral dynamic must have further deteriorated.

It’s very hard to read things from a distance and with little to no information, but it seems to me that the adulterer must be some kind of control freak. In fact, I’m willing to lay dollars to donuts that, when this horrible farce is finally laid to rest, I’ll learn from my wife that he was, in fact, horribly controlling, and that this will be one of the final nails in the coffin for their “relationship.”

Why do I say this? Simple: our dog is at home, snoozing away in the bedroom right now. Remember, my wife told me that the only thing she wanted from me was the dog — she didn’t want my money, my possessions, or anything else, just the dog. The dog meant more to her than anything else in this world — except, as it now seems, the affair. Since November, that dog has not been welcome up there at Camp Chickenshit (yup, I went ahead and said it, but it goes along with the “Brave Sir Robin” motif quoted above — see that link, if you haven’t already). Why that is is anyone’s guess, although if I had to take a stab at it, I’d say the following: Our dog is territorial, although not overly so, and I have seen her pee on the floor to mark territory in other people’s homes — including those of my immediate family. She peed right outside the door of the room I was staying in at my folks’ house over Christmas, for example, as if to mark that territory as her domain — which, of course, gets shared with the major domo, i.e. me. I’d imagine she did this at the adulterer’s house, and more than once – and in full view of the adulterer as well. I can also imagine that, due to neglect and lack of attention, she defacated in the house on numerous occasions. Add these likely actions to the fact that her retrieval of the dog obligates her to see me, and suddenly we begin to arrive at a plausible conclusion: the dog represents me, symbolically and practically, and the adulterer just does not want that anywhere in his presence. It’s just too threatening.

So what gives me hope? I mean, after all, it’s been over a year. Conventional wisdom would say that I should just move on, right?

In part, it’s the work of the late Peggy Vaughn that drives me right now. I had been advised by Mort Fertel, the founder of the marital reconciliation program I’m using, that the average affair lasts “anywhere from a few months to a year,” but you know, Mort never specified exactly what that means. Is it a few months to a year from the time the affair is typically discovered, or is he talking about the total duration of the affair? I don’t want to sound like I’m badmouthing Mort, because I do think his program is brilliant, but really the former explanation seems to me to be more plausible than the latter. I mean, a lot of people do not learn about their spouses’ affairs until they have been well underway for a while.

Not me. I learned about my wife’s affair the day after it went physical. This is where Peggy Vaughn’s research comes in: her statistics indicate that affairs run their course in anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, with very few outlasting that latter figure. Moreover, it seems that the average time of implosion (although this comes from another source) is about 15-18 months. My wife’s affair is pretty close to 15 months old now, so that means it’s in the red zone for collapse.

This is what keeps me going: the knowledge that it could all be over any day now. February 1st marks the 15-month mark of that horrid affair going physical; May 1st would mark the 18-month point. It’s almost a certainty that things are unstable by now, and that the fairy tale is finally starting to look like a “normal” relationship, i.e. with all the stresses, aggravations, arguments, and disagreements that healthy relationships would have — except for the fact that this is no healthy relationship. It is a farce, and a sick one at that, and thus cannot withstand those vagaries in the way a healthy relationship can.

There’s a lot to do while one awaits this inevitable demise, and that’s a topic for another post. For now, I’ll sign off and wish you all a good night, and a productive week ahead.

Someone Else Reaches Out

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you might remember that I already have a post called “Someone Reaches Out.” I wrote this six months ago tomorrow, and the context was that an elderly colleague of mine had reached out to tell of his concerns for my situation.

Yesterday, I was working with that colleague when another, much younger collague arrived on the scene, and rather unexpectedly. This colleague is an old friend of my wife and me, and in fact is someone that my wife has likely known for longer than she has known me. I believe she met this colleague (who is also Japanese) soon after arriving in this city just over ten years ago. Everyone was happy to see this colleague, as she used to work regularly with us on weekends, and was well liked and respected. This colleague kept a strong relationship with my wife and me when we moved away from the city some years ago for my work, and this colleague even came to visit us at our home that was over 100 miles away. So this colleague is, in fact, and old friend.

Somehow, I did not feel the least bit awkward seeing her. It’s an energetic thing, you know: sometimes you can get a sense when someone feels nervous or uneasy in your presence, and this has a straining effect upon that interaction. I have had this sense many times with that other colleague I work with on Saturdays — the one who has enabled and covered for my wife’s affair, and who gave my wife a place to stay for three months early on in our crisis situation.

This friend (yes, I have promoted her from “colleague” to “friend” for the rest of this post) chatted with a number of other people, and then came to the table where I was sitting with others, having my lunch. I inviter her to sit with us, and we all talked. Again, there was no awkwardness whatsoever. Talk turned to a benefit concert that she and a mutual friend would be giving later that evening. This is the same concert I mentioned in my last post, incidentally — a concert at which I thought my wife would be likely to attend.

After a bit, this friend got up to leave, as she had a rehearsal to attend for the concert last night. She said to me, “can you walk with me?” and I knew this meant that she wanted to talk. So, I put on my jacket (it has been pretty cold up here of late) and we headed out.

We got to the lobby, and she immediately told me how sorry she was about the situation between my wife and myself. She was visibly affected by all this and was nearly in tears. She said it was so sad to her, because she has so many good memories, and they are memories of her with me and my wife together. It is very hard for her to make this adjustment. She told me that she had not spoken to my wife much at all since she walked out on me — maybe two or three times in the past year; she said they had skyped once, and my wife apparently was very certain about her decision. This likely happened close to a year ago.

There wasn’t a whole lot that I could say, and I explained to her that this was out of the interest of protecting my wife’s privacy. I let her know that I was committed to my marriage (I still wear my wedding band) and that I believed this situation would be temporary. She told me that she would not be seeing my wife while she was in town. Bear in mind that this woman has been a good friend of my wife for about a decade now, and arrived from out of state (and quite a distance at that), and my wife apparently did not want to see her, or perhaps vice versa; perhaps it was mutual. I let her know that I would likely be dropping by the concert, as it was for a good cause; then, we said goodbye.

Thus it was that it began to seem that my wife might not be showing up at this concert after all. I had misjudged the situation entirely, but then again, I did not know that there were some sour grapes in the mix, so to speak. This is the first inkling I’ve had in an entire year that my wife has poisoned some friendships — and perhaps quite a lot of them — with her choices. I do know that my wife curiously shifted some of her friendships around, maintaining the rare one or two that accepted or even encouraged her affair, and that she had promoted one acquaintance to “close” friend (the woman above at whose house she lived for a few months) once it became clear that that woman encouraged her affair as well.

This revelation adds a completely new dynamic to things. There are consequences to actions, and my wife is doubtless feeling them. In normal times, she’d jump at the opportunity to see this friend; now, she has to avoid contact, not just with her, but likely with a number of other people as well. And all for what? A fairy tale relationship that will soon implode.

I did go to that concert last night, and my wife did not show up. I was not surprised, although I was disappointed. The concert itself was quite a moving experience, but that is a topic for another post, or even for another blog.

For now, I remain in that holding pattern, waiting for the affair to end.

Another Day, Another Dollar

Once again, the mid-week has come and gone. It is on these days, Wednesdays and Thursdays, that my wife is in town. I knew from reliable information, given to me by the colleague with whom she overnights on Wednesdays, that she would be back in town this week. So, I reached out as per usual. I had a small gift for her, left over from Christmas, that I wanted to drop off. I emailed the colleague about stopping by to drop it off, and heard nothing back. This was odd. So, I did not go. Instead, I came straight home after work.

I was checking email and other sundries, including our bank accounts for the weekly budget, when I noticed something odd: there was suddenly a whole lot more money in my wife’s account. She has been keeping a very low balance for months and months, largely because she has almost no work, and thus no income, and also because she has an account at another bank that she keeps secret from me. I do know of the existence of this account, so it’s not entirely secret, but I have no access to it, even though I am her husband. So it was quite a surprise when a deposit in the four-digit range showed up suddenly. It was not a round figure, either: there were cents after that dollar amount. And that dollar amount was at least three times higher than the largest deposit she has made in a long, long time. This was confusing: where did that money come from? And why would she put it in her account at our bank, right where I can see it? Obviously she must trust me, because I’m not touching those funds, but it just seems odd — very odd. There are many possible explanations, and I am entertaining none of them.

This morning I still had the gifts, and I thought about dropping them by today. I had a number of errands to run in the morning, and just as I was finishing up those errands and about to come home, I got in the car, and … nothing. Just, “click,” as the starter tried to engage, but nothing more. As some of you might know, the battery in my car is quite new, having just been replaced, along with the cables, a few months ago. So my first thoughts were that the starter had gone bad.

I called AAA and had one of their battery trucks come out to have a look, and indeed it seemed to be the starter. I then went home to price this out, and found a local mechanic who could do it, so I called AAA again and got a tow truck to bring the car in.

The mechanic got to work, and, since I was due for new front brakes, I asked him to price those out and just take care of the whole deal. That fell pretty much within budget, but at the high end of what I’d allow. So, I sat in the lobby as they worked, and after about an hour, I heard the mechanic turn the key to test the new starter and… “click.”

Nothing.

He came out and told me he’d need to keep it a bit longer to figure out what was going on. So, I went home.

By this time, I’m playing phone tag with various clients I’ve had to reschedule, when the mechanic calls me back. It turned out that the after-market amplifier that was installed (we bought the car used, and the amplifier was in it already) was hooked up to the electrical system with sub-standard cable. Over time, this had the effect of prematurely draining the battery (likely leading to the corrosion that killed off my last battery cables), and to wearing down the starter faster as well. The mechanic then told me I needed oil, which I knew already — I had stopped by the auto parts store to buy oil this morning, since it was running low, and it was right after that, at my next stop, that the starter died — so I had him go ahead and change the oil as well. I was shocked that he quoted me a figure for synthetic oil that was a fraction of what these oil-change joints charge. Guess I’ll be staying away from Jiffy Lube, et al., from here on out.

So, the bill ended up being about $135 more than anticipated. If I had a normal marriage right now, there would be no issue: we’d just appropriate that money from this deposit my wife just made.

But, we don’t have a normal marriage right now, and I’ll be absorbing the whole dang thing. (My auto-repair fund is still open for donations via the “donate” link, FYI. <wink, wink>) I’ll get the car back tomorrow morning.

The good news is that I will have the car up and running in time for a concert on Saturday. I guess I have not written about this yet, but it is a benefit concert that is being put on by a couple of my wife’s friends, one of whom now lives out of state and will be traveling here just for the performance. I have known many of the people involved for quite a long time, and it is for a good cause, so I had planned on going. The big bonus is that it is also highly likely that my wife will be there, with the adulterer in tow. This makes for one of those golden yet rare opportunities to insert myself into that dynamic of relationship dynamite, functioning like the blasting cap that could blow that adulterous farce sky high. Plus, Saturday is a work day for me, and I have a lot of ground to cover, so I need the vehicle to get it all done.

The other bonus is that I have found a trustworthy (and affordable) mechanic. Those sure are hard to come by these days. Almost as hard as face time with the wife.

Boredom, Emptiness, Contact

Yesterday, something curious happened: my wife contacted me, totally out of the blue. It was the first contact she has initiated with me in over a month. As with the last time she contacted me, this contact was also by email. It started in a similar vein, too, thanking me for my messages and such.

Then, she told me that she had heard from her brother, who had related that her parents had received Christmas cards from both me and my sister. (I had no idea my sister had sent them one; she has been doing this for years, so I guess she felt like she should just continue to do so.) She said that her parents felt uncomfortable or perhaps pressured, because they know of our situation. And so, she asked me not to do this anymore.

Do what, exactly? Stop sending Christmas cards? I have contacter her parents exactly twice since this whole mess started about 14 months ago, and on both occasions I have been very careful to be respectful, and to not give them any pressure whatsoever. This Christmas card said nothing more than “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” and carried my signature. There’s certainly no pressure involved in that. I have no idea what my sister’s card said (although I do know what it looked like, because I got one, too), however I can’t imagine it said much more than did the card I sent.

So what does this pressure mean? Who knows. It could be nothing. Or it could be that her parents were expressing continued discomfort with her and her chosen course of actions. Or it could be something else. What’s clear to me is that, if they do feel discomfort, it’s not because of my sending that card, but rather what the receipt of that card reminds them of: what their daughter has become.

My response to my wife’s request was, well, nothing. Instead, I told her that I had something I needed to talk to her about, and asked her to call me. This led to a back-and-forth exchange in which she insisted on knowing what I wanted to talk about before she’d call. I was not trying to be coy, but told her that I would rather not discuss it by email. Still, she tried to hold me off, saying she would not call unless I gave her this information. I somehow knew that this was all smoke and mirrors.

I had to work a half day, and so I was more or less out of touch with her most of that time. I did get an email or two in which she additionally asked me to stop sending emails to her (now, formerly) primary email account, and to use her (formerly) über secret email account instead. Why the insistence upon this change? Simple: the former account uses her married surname (mine); the latter account uses her maiden name. I decided to choose my battles wisely and just to give in on this one.

When I got home from work, the back-and-forth continued a bit longer. I still did not give in on the original topic I wanted to discuss, and she was really adamant about wanting to know. So, I told her that I simply now wanted to talk about her emails to me that day. You now what response she gave me? Heh – she said that she didn’t have her cell phone with her.

What??? In fact, my response to this started thusly: ?????

It was all smoke and mirrors after all. I told her that she could just give me a phone number and I’d call.

Crickets. Nada. Zilch.

So why bother to contact me, then? Well, you see, the adulterer was out of town. I found this out via his very public Facebook postings that indicated that he was leaving town to give a Very Important All-Day Seminar. This Very Important All-Day Seminar was located 500 miles away: a quick, 45-minute flight, or a dreary, seven-hour journey by car. I neither know nor care how he got there, but I do know that he did not take my wife — and this from the same man who whisked her overseas for a few days just two short months ago. Why become a cheapskate all of a sudden?

Since the adulterer was very public about this 500-mile trip, he did get around to posting pictures today of this Very Important All-Day Seminar. This Very Important All-Day Seminar attracted a total of five people: the adulterer himself, the person who invited him to give this Very Important All-Day Seminar, and then three other people. That is Very Important, indeed.

(I think you may be detecting a bit of sarcasm, or perhaps derision, dear reader, although I like to think of it as facetiousness.)

What’s important here is that my wife has now established a pattern: when the adulterer is away, she contacts me. That’s how it happens. He went overseas without her in May, and we had another back-and-forth, albeit a much more pleasant one, back then. Her previous communication with me occurred while he was gone as well, although he probably was only gone for the day. It’s interesting to reflect on what this might mean: that life ain’t so grand up there in Camp C-S (if you know what I mean), and that, when the distraction of having the adulterer around is gone, she probably feels lonely and empty. I do know this from what others have related: even when a wayward spouse is with the affair partner, they still very often have this sense of internal emptiness, and that only magnifies when the affair partner is not there.

It does seem there are signs (and I don’t really want to get into those right now) that she really isn’t happy with the state of affairs up there at Camp C-S these days, and that her efforts to stonewall me have been a futile attempt to rectify matters by blaming the relational malfunctions on the presence of the spouse, virtual or otherwise. Blame it on whatever you want, there’s nothing that can make an adulterous relationship work out, since such relationships are poisoned from day one.

Thus it seems that I’ve just got to be patient a little bit longer while this farce winds down and collapses like the house of cards that it is. If you’ve read many of my posts, you probably have the sense that I am a very patient person.

Happy New Year

Another new year has dawned and with it, another year of possibilities. A year ago tomorrow I started this blog, partly, as I wrote then, “as a service to the multitude of people in the world whose marriages have been defiled by infidelity.” My hopes then, as now, is that my documentation of my own process might be of help to others who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in similar situations to mine.

Honestly, when I started this blog, I was kind of naïve. I thought the affair would be long gone by the end of 2012. In fact, I named my first post “2012: The Year of Reconciliation.” And in fact, it was: I know of at least half a dozen reconciliations that have occurred in the past year among the rather small community of individuals with whom I have communicated. My marriage hasn’t yet been one of those reconciliations, and this is doubtless due to a variety of causes and conditions.

One issue, of course, is the affair itself. When I started working the Marriage Fitness program I learned that, according to the experience of its founder, Mort Fertel, most affairs last “anywhere from a few months to a year.” He did not say whether this was the entire length of the affair, or its duration post-discovery. So, I began to get a bit antsy when that year came and went and the affair still persisted. (There have been signs of problems, but still the fog seems to be lingering at this point.) I remember reading on Jeff Murrah’s blog that some statistics suggest that the wayward spouse returns to the marriage 70-75% of the time within 15-18 months, even if you do nothing. And then there’s the rather extensive work of the late Peggy Vaughn, who, though admitting such statistics are often unreliable, stated that her empirical experience indicated most affairs running their course within 6 months to 2 years.

Another issue is the degree of seclusion my wife has managed to finagle with her affair. The adulterer lives 40 miles away in a tiny little town, and I have no legitimate reason to go to that town. Her movements have been predictable since she actually did separate some months ago: she comes into town on Wednesday mornings, does a bit of work, spends the night at a colleague’s house, works a bit more the following day, and then packs back off to the adulterer’s place on Thursday afternoon. For much of that time, I have had regular contact, but then she began stonewalling me around the beginning of August. The professional counsel I have sought suggests that this is likely due to instability in the affair and pressure from the adulterous partner to keep me away. The stonewalling has become more severe in the past two months, and if anything this suggests an even deeper disconnect from reality on my wife’s part. All of this notwithstanding, I do think that, were it possible for me to insert myself into that dynamic more regularly, the affair would be ending much sooner.

One factor that I continue to deal with — and the holidays have made this very clear to me — is the apparent belief that others know your situation better than you do yourself. Not only that, others often seem to profess expertise in marital crises, even though their experience typically only extends to one marriage — their own. I’ve had family pipe in over the holidays about what they think, offering unsolicited opinions about what I should do, and I am typically very reticent to engage any such conversation. I’ve also had other interactions both virtual and in person in which unsolicited advice was given. I sometimes feel like just putting it out there — I don’t need your advice! — because I am working with seasoned professionals who have guided hundreds upon hundreds of marriages to reconciliation. Or, maybe another way to express this thought is that there are many ways to deal with marital problems, and a number of good programs out there, and one needs just to find the method that best fits one’s character, morality, and beliefs. I do believe I’ve found a good match.

There is one thing I certainly have learned over the past year, and that is that a reconciliation attempt is anything but a linear process. There are periods of positive building, and periods of decline. There are periods in which nothing seems to happen, and there are periods of rapid change. In fact, it is these rapid changes that keep me going — even the bad ones. I have seen my situation turn on a dime both for the worse and for the better (although the turns for the worse are much easier to sense) and this just reminds me of the one thing that all of my well-intentioned advice-givers seem to have neglected: the human mind is changeable. A person might change his or her mind and decide to leave a marriage, have an affair, or do some other awful, relationship-poisoning activity, but that person can just as easily change his or her mind back again. Now I know the nay-sayers will say there are no guarantees, but then again, there are no guarantees in life anyway.

So here we are, heading into a new year. As I look back on where I was a year ago today, I find myself in a much better place, and feel myself to be a much transformed person. It is this personal transformation that is worth more to me than anything else. That transformation for the better is what is going to heal my marriage more than anything else. When my wife’s affair finally goes kablooey in the coming days (however many there might be), she will look back to our marriage and see a whole new me.

Best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013, and may this year be full of joys and achievements that surpass your wildest expectations.