Close Encounters of the Philanderous Kind

Once again, Wednesday arrives, and with it, so does my wife. She floats into town once a week, every Wednesday, does a bit of work, spends the night at a colleague’s place, and then leaves sometime (I think) the following afternoon. I use these opportunities to chip away at the stone wall she has erected these past five months, a wall that has included her shunning virtually any contact with me for over three months now. To think about that latter detail is, for me at least, to reflect on how insane this whole situation is.

Here’s how I chip away at that wall: I bring a small, thoughtful gift. The colleague tipped me off a couple of months ago, saying she leaves for work at 8:30, and that my wife arrives around 9:00. I usually drop the gift for her around 8:45 so it is the first thing she sees when she arrives.

Now, I realize there may be some people who will be reading this blog for the first time, and who might find this idea odd. Well, I am looking out the window at a full moon as I’m writing this. However, my wife has — recently even — expressed to me that she appreciates these gestures. But, she is trapped behind the twin walls of her ego and pride, and at this point likely does not know how to get herself out of that morass. So, my gift today was a home-cooked meal, and a hand made mala (rosary beads). These are sure to go straight to her heart.

At any rate, I had a bit of a late start, and didn’t leave the house until 8:45 this morning. I arrived at the colleague’s house just shy of 9:00. The colleague had, for some reason, put a chair out on her porch, so I left the gift there, in a nice, visible place. I then left to make my next stop on my morning errands: the bank, which was a couple of blocks away. After that, I had to do a bit of grocery shopping.

Okay, okay, I know this sounds rather mundane, but there is a point here. To get to the grocery store, I had to loop back around past the street where the colleague lives. I did not need to drive past her house, but I had to drive past the street on which it is located. There aren’t a whole lot of ways in and out of this particular neighborhood, and so I guess it should not have been much a surprise when, lo and behold, I see the adulterer coming down the hill in his truck with my wife in the passenger seat. Now, they were maybe 40 feet away from me as I turned up the arterial street (they were coming down what in effect is a side street), but I could not help but think it must be them.

Being the ever curious type, I turned up another side street and turned around, looping back to where I had just come from. Indeed, it was the adulterer’s truck, parked just across the street from the colleague’s house. Now, this was a good couple hundred feet down the road. I turned down a nearby street that would allow me to loop back to my original route, and, well I’ll be darned — there was the adulterer, in his truck, right there in front of me, preparing to make a right turn onto the street I was on. I ended up at a red light just in front of him.

Now, as past history suggests, this man is an outright coward. Basically, once he realized it was me — and believe me, he knew it was: he knows what my car looks like, and it is a car that is pretty hard to miss — he high-tailed it out of there. Heh. I’ve seen this particular behavior a couple of times before.

What’s the upshot of all this? I don’t know. It’s too early to tell. I’m nearly 100% certain that the adulterer knew it was me, and even if he wasn’t totally certain it was me, seeing my car would have reminded him of everything he has done for the past 17 months. He is a moral criminal who has managed to hide from his conscience, mainly because of the relative isolation the town he lives in and the virtual non-overlap of social circles with me. While he has gone quite public with the affair, as has my wife (and this is normal, of course), I am sure that he realizes that, even though he might come into this fairly large city, there really isn’t any place that is “safe,” so to speak. That is, there isn’t any part of this city in which it would be totally unlikely to bump into me.

That, my friends, is the risk of his moral crime. It only takes a chance run-in like the one today to send a rush of feelings — anxiety, guilt, anger, fear, you name it — coursing through his limbic system. Maybe it will be a wake-up call for him. Maybe it will take something more. I don’t know. Somehow, though, there was something almost palpable about his expression as he saw my car approaching that I just cannot explain. Perhaps it’s just me or my overactive imagination, but there was really something palpable about that experience.

I’ve written many times about “how this might be the end (of the affair),” or  that “maybe the fog is lifting.” I haven’t been right on any of those occasions, but then again, the affair wasn’t 17 months old at those points in time, either. 17 months is the geriatric zone for extramarital affairs. They are already over the hill and headed toward decrepitude. Like aging, the process cannot be reversed, and the affair continues to march inexorably toward its own demise.

Maybe I’m right this time. Maybe there was something to that close encounter. Maybe this will spell the end of that sordid chapter. Maybe, just maybe.

So for now, let me just close with one request: Please pray for us. Please keep us in your thoughts and aspirations, if you can and you feel so inclined. Pray that my wife’s heart turns back toward me and that her mind becomes clear. Pray that the adulterer has his final awakening and realizes the magnitude of his error. There are many, many lives that have been adversely affected by his debauchery. Pray that their realizations of their transgressions is complete, and that they decide to walk a more virtuous path from now on.

Just pray. I know I sure will.

Another Milestone

It was a year ago today that my wife moved out of our house. She hired a mover, whom she paid a couple hundred bucks, to move her stuff a couple of blocks from here in to a friend’s garage. She did not tell me this, but that’s what I learned later. Sometime after that, the stuff got schlepped up to Camp You-Know-Where, ostensibly in the back of the adulterer’s pickup truck.

I’m not sure really how to mark a milestone like this. My wife has had 365 days of not living here to figure things out. I don’t know if she has done that, yet. But it is clear to me that her heart and mind seem to be in a different place very recently than where they were at just a month ago. Know-betters, listen up: when you say an obstinate spouse is “done,” and “can never change,” you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Nobody is ever “done,” and the only thing for certain in human existence is change. I won’t go into the philosophical aspects of this, but even on its face the idea that a person cannot change is both ludicrous and inconsistent with both logic and fact.

So it was that I came home from work this afternoon with a mission: to make a video for my wife. I sat myself down by the shrine in our bedroom, and taped 5 versions of the same thing; in the end, I went with the first complete version, as it was the most genuine in its emotion and spontaneity. In this video, I described the idea and process of journey, relating to her the fact that we both began a journey a year ago today; hers was one of choice, mine was not. I have learned many things during that journey, and have experienced a year of true transformation and self-betterment. I don’t know what her year was like, and I related this confusion to her; I suspect it has been nothing at all like my year, and that any personal growth that could have happened has been stunted all that time.

I related to her that journeys, while perhaps embarked upon with a good deal of excitement and sometimes a bit of fear, seldom turn out as we might have imagined. They might be better, or worse, but in general they’re just different: our imagination, it seems, provides very different images than what reality provides.

For this reason, I closed my video with an offer. I told her that the door to our house is still open. Should she feel tired or weary from her journey, or just want to be here for any reason at all, she can just come back.

She will not be judged. She will just be welcomed.

My Moment of Geek

Not a whole lot to report this week; alas, still getting stonewalled. Hopefully this is the last gasp of the resistance.

Since there isn’t much to report, I’ll be brief.

I have already prepared a gift for my wife for next week. She did already thank me for the bracelet, and I recall a few years back hearing from my sister that my wife had told her that I “never give [her] jewelry,” so I made some more.

Well, sort of. I made a full Buddhist mala (prayer beads), with 108 redwood beads and poppy jasper spacers after each 27th bead, much in the Tibetan manner. The guru bead is also jasper, and it is strung on red cord with a red tassel. I say this is not really jewelry, because that’s not what it’s intended for; however, people do wear these as necklaces, or even as loose bracelets when looped around the forearm 4-5 times. That’s what I’ll encourage her to do, with the aspiration, of course, that she actually does use it for its normally intended purpose. It’s a pretty nice-looking piece of work, I think.

But that’s not really my moment of geek. No, that came when I was looking for web information on tying end knots, e.g. the Chinese endless knot, which I’d learned a couple of weeks ago. This is what I found. Go ahead, click through — it’s not going to try to sell you anything. It’s a website on tying all sorts of decorative knots. The page I linked to is for a Celtic heart knot. I’ve made a couple of these, and they are really beautiful. I also learned how to make a cloud knot; I’m going to use a small piece of knotting cord with this knot on the outside of the box in which I’m giving my wife the mala; inside, the mala will be wrapped in a handkerchief from one of her favorite stores (ahem — she left it here last year) and secured with another piece of knotting cord with the heart knot on it.

If that doesn’t touch her heart, I don’t know what will.

The Stone Wall Cracks, Again

Ninety-three days is a long time.

It had been 93 days since I had seen my wife. It had been 93 days since I had heard her voice. That ninety-three days ended yesterday. I helped bring it to an end.

December 12, 2012 was the last time I had seen my wife, and she was very cold to me. This was came ten days after I had seen her with the adulterer, and I’m pretty certain that experience did not go over well with him. So, it was I suppose no surprise that I would have gotten some drawback from her in the aftermath of that event. I just didn’t expect it to last so long.

I had a few dribs and drabs of communication with her. One exchange came in January, while the adulterer was away for a day or so, and his absence led to a flurry of emails between myself and my wife. The other exchanges I can pretty much count on one hand: She contacted me again in January to complain about my sending her parents a Christmas card; this was soon followed by a letter from my mother-in-law asking me to give up on her daughter. Two more emails came in February; the first carried a request to work on our taxes and a threat to close down all her bank accounts once the taxes were complete. The second came about two weeks later; this time she had changed her mind about taxes, and was deciding to file separately. Again, this carried a threat: she needed my Social Security Number, and said that, if I did not provide it, she’d let the IRS know. She also more or less demanded that I stop leaving things for her at her colleague’s house when she is in town.

I have met quite a few skeptics of Marriage Fitness and even a few nay-sayers about its methods for connecting with an obstinate spouse. I have heard people call it “pursuit,” “stalking,” “pathetic behavior,” and so forth, and have had people advise that “you should just let go,” “walk away and she’ll come back,” or even “file for divorce to wake her up.” I have even received unsolicited emails through this website, either from well-meaning individuals, or from those who felt they just simply knew better, and had thought about writing posts to refute some of these claims, but never got around to it. So here, in part is that post.

In that last email I received from my wife in February, she did in fact say that she felt “stalked” and that I was “obsessed.” Now, let’s think about that for a minute: it makes no sense for a man to “stalk” his spouse, nor does it make much sense to call expressions of caring and love “obsession.” But, to the twisted mind of an obstinate spouse — especially one who is having an affair — anything that does not mesh with their agenda can be construed negatively. This is important to understand. The obstinate spouse wants one thing, and one thing only: compliance. When you don’t give it to them, the begin to resort to whatever tactics they think might be effective in getting their way, and this includes things like the terms my wife wrote to me in that email.

My response to that email was just to ask her to call  me, which she predictably did not. I also did not bend to her requests to stop. This would have been consistent, of course, with the unsolicited advice of the well-meanings and know-betters out there, but it also would have been disastrous. Instead, I exercised a bit of sensitivity, and simply dropped off some mail that had arrived for my wife the following week when she was in town. I emailed the colleague to let her know, and this small packet was duly passed along. I also included a small gift in that packet. This detail is highly significant, and I would encourage the potential “well-meanings” and “know-betters” out there (along with all the otherwise curious folks) to read on. 

Last month, I decided to repair a mala that I had, which had broken some months previous. It was quite expensive, and the repair costs were anywhere from $30 to $150. I dropped by a local bead store to find a bead that had gone missing from that mala, and one of the workers there advised me that it was very easy to fix myself, and showed me how to do it. I bought some cheap beads with which to practice, and then made a mala. In fact, I ended up making two of them, since I wanted to practice some other techniques, like making tassels and such. I found it to be an excellent mindfulness practice, and it’s one I shall continue.

I not only ended up with two completed malas, but I also had a bunch of extra beads. So, I made a few bracelets, stringing them on red beading cord, finishing them with adjustable knots. I gave one of these — a lapis lazuli bracelet — to my wife with that packet of mail. I did not receive any pushback at all. Well, actually I received no feedback whatsoever.

I finally felt skillful enough to repair my broken mala, and did so a couple of weeks ago. Again, I had some left-over beads — higher-quality lapis lazuli beads this time — and made my wife a hand mala (i.e. a quarter mala with 27 beads), finishing it with a white tassel. I left this for her as a gift that week. Again, no response whatsoever — until yesterday, that is.

I finally got my wife on the phone yesterday. I had contacted her via email at the beginning of the week to say that we needed to talk, but got no response. So, I contacted her again mid-week, forwarding my earlier email as a reminder, and she did then respond. She claimed to be “busy” the following day (Thursday), but could call me on Friday. We set a time, and she did, in fact, call.

We spoke for nearly an hour. It was as if the past five months had not happened. The connection I have had with my wife is alive and well, and all the goodwill I have bestowed upon our relationship is still there. She told me things were “great,” and that she was “happy,” but the tone of her voice clearly indicated this not to be the case. It’s hard to describe, but her voice sounded cramped and constricted when she said these things; a person who really feels this way is open and spacious when they talk about them.

Now, I did get a bit of pushback, but if you can imagine what pro-forma pushback would be like, that would be it: she told me she wanted to file her taxes separately, and to deal with some financial issues, but really it was weak sauce. I informed her that we live in a community property state, and that we would each have to file coordinated statements of income with our tax returns, and that this would mean that she would be liable for taxes on my income. She did not believe this, and I reinforced the point by letting her know that, by filing separately, she would lose most of the benefits of filing jointly. She said she wanted to do more research about this, so I let it go. This discussion is also significant, but for a different reason: a wayward spouse does everything he or she can do to live in the fantasy bubble of the affair; having discussions about real-world issues, such as taxes, brings them out of that bubble and helps them to awaken, if only just a bit.

We then went on just to chat. I told her about the work I’d been doing around the house. She said the landscaping I had done in the back yard looked great (I gave her a couple of pictures with the last batch of stuff I left for her this week). I told her I would appreciate her advice, and particularly her feng shui counsel. We talked about our dog, and quite surprisingly she made no effort to assert any desire to take her away. It’s as if she has left the dog here as a “placeholder,” so that she’ll have a reason to come back in due course.

That “due course” could happen a lot sooner that I had imagined. Honestly, I had been feeling quite frustrated with this wall of silence, and had even begun to feel that perhaps my efforts were just being poured down some invisible drain. I suspect the nay-sayers and know-betters out there would assert that this was exactly the case.

Well, all of you nay-saying know-betters, listen up: you’re wrong, each and every one of you.

About twenty minutes into our conversation, right as things shifted to the personal, my wife said, “thank you for the bracelet.” She said she thought it was very beautiful, and particularly liked the choice of colors — a vibrant red and a dark blue. She said that she had put it on the wall, so that she could look at it. Not at Camp You-Know-What, of course, but rather in the basement apartment at the colleague’s house. She also thanked me for the hand mala and said she was keeping it in her purse. These are not the actions of an obstinate spouse who is 100% committed to her agenda of marital destruction. No, these are the acts of an wayward spouse who is beginning to awaken from her fog, bit by bit.

Clearly, the nay-saying know-betters would have me believe that my efforts were futile, that it all was just dumping precious time and energy down some invisible drain. That it all is, in fact, “stalker-ish, obsessive” behavior, or something along those lines. So how would they explain these expressions of gratitude? How would they explain the fact that, at the end of our conversation, my wife  said  “let’s talk again,” leaving the door open, so to speak? How would they explain any of this? I mean, if they’re right, none of the things I have been doing for the past year plus should have worked.

Well, I can explain it. I know my wife; they do not. I know her tastes and fancies. I know what tickles her soul. Demonstrating the fact that I know these things through small but frequent acts of giving is not obsession. It is not “stalker”-like behavior, nor is it any sort of odd form of “pursuit.” No, these are instead one very simple type of thing: these are acts of love.

I know the path to my wife’s heart; I found it ten years ago, and it really has not changed since. I know the heartstrings and how to tug on them. I know how to light the gentle fires to melt the ice that had built up there. The adulterer knows none of this stuff, and this is why he’ll soon be history. He knows only narcissism, egocentrism, and selfishness. He gives my wife cheesy stuff she secretly despises — believe me, I’m sure of it. There is more power in the tiniest act of genuine generosity from my side — just the slightest thing that says, “I know you,” than there is in a thousand different things the adulterer might try to do for her. He simply does not know her soul, and never will. He doesn’t really care to know, for adultery is not fundamentally about such knowledge.

Is this the tipping point, at which things might begin finally to change? I do not know. But suddenly things are looking a whole lot different than they were just a few days ago.

It Was A Good Day

I broke my mala a couple of months ago. This ended up to be a very fortunate karmic turn of events.

I know this is a strange way to start a post, but it is extremely relevant. I have a couple of malas that I use in my spiritual practice; one is made of sandalwood, the other is of the finest grade lapis lazuli. I really splashed out on the latter; I was feeling the need for inspiration, as I had kind of gotten stuck in my practice as a result of my marital crisis. I practiced with that mala fairly often, and then one day, as I was getting ready to walk out of the door to go to work, I went to put it around my neck (I was going to need it later in the day) and — snap! — the cord broke and the beads went everywhere.

Now, there are “officially” 108 beads on a mala — those are the ones you count if you’re doing mantra repetitions — but there actually are more. This mala had 3 turquoise spacer beads (these are sometimes known as “resting” beads), plus a large “guru” bead that marks the end of the circuit of beads. You skip the spacer beads, or pause on them, and you stop at the guru bead and turn the mala around to do another round of mantras. In all, that makes for 112 beads. Well, actually the spacer beads had little metal spacers around them on each end, so that would add in a total of 6 more beads, making 118.

None of this is terribly important, except for the number 108. The beads literally went all over the floor, and I managed to find 107 of the lapis beads, as well as all the other parts. But there was one lapis bead I never did find, and to this day I have no idea where it absconded to.

When a mala breaks, you can get it restrung, but this can be costly. I got quotes ranging from $30 to $150, and only one person could assure me of replacing that missing bead with something of comparable quality. Grade AA lapis is hard to come by, I guess.

This past week, I went on the search for one such bead. I found a local purveyor who had some, but they were something more like Grade C, and the color was not a good match. Nevertheless, I bought a string, and got some cheap (Grade D) jade beads: I figured I’d better have something to practice with before trying to restring my mala. In the end, I made mala with the jade beads, and a couple of bracelets with the remaining jade and lapis beads. On the evening I was making these pieces, a car drove by and posted a note on the utility pole just in front of our house. A little Pomeranian had gone missing, and the owner was looking for her. There was a reward, and a request not to approach the dog, but to keep her in sight until the owner arrived. This little poster ended up being very significant.

I gave one of the lapis bracelets to my wife, dropping it off at the colleague’s house. (No thanks were received for this, of course.) I also learned how to make tassels and Chinese endless knots. I ended up going back to the bead store over the weekend to purchase some green aventurine beads to make an “official” mala — one that I could actually use in practice. I think I pretty much got the hang of it, and I found it to be a good mindfulness practice.

This is all a long-winded lead-up to the events of today. This morning, I visited another bead store that had some lapis beads that were a very close match to the one that I was missing. I bought a string of these beads, and came home to finally restring that mala. I also had to drop by the shop to get some food for the dog. Thus, I ended up running late this morning, and finished the mala restring just minutes before I needed to go to work. I didn’t really have a chance to check out the mala very much, so I brought it with me as I got in the car to head out to work.

I managed to make it about 4 houses down our street, when I saw a small animal that looked like it could have been the missing dog. I couldn’t really believe my eyes. I stopped the car, and got out to verify. The dog was skittish, and ran up the driveway of a neighbors house. I was the dog perched on the neighbors porch, and asked another neighbor if the owner of the house had a dog; I was told that the owner only had a cat. I got on the phone and called the owner, who was about 10 miles away, but who promptly turned around and said he’d be on the scene in about 20 minutes.

Right about this time, another neighbor walked by with her three dogs, and I told her what was going on. She offered to help, and first took her dogs home so they wouldn’t scare the little Pomeranian. She was able to see that the little dog had run into the back yard of this house, and I was able to notify the owner of the house, who came out to help. We could not locate that little dog, though.

The owner arrived shortly thereafter — a young, college-aged guy who clearly loved his dog. I filled him in on the details, and we went into the back yard. The other neighbor had circled the block to see if the dog had escaped the yard, and in fact she had. The owner hopped the back fence and joined her in the neighboring yard, and within a few minutes, they located that little Pomeranian,

This was one of the happiest experiences I’ve had in recent memory. His dog had escaped on February 28th, just a couple of blocks away, and had not been seen for five days. The weather had alternated from rainy and blustery to clear and sub-freezing cold in that time, and it is likely that the dog had had little to nothing to eat or drink in this period. Nevertheless, she looked pretty healthy. The owner said he’d contact me regarding the reward, but really the reward was just being able to help.

The winds of karma blow in all sorts of unpredictable ways, and sometimes they can bring great fortune to those whose paths cross as a result.