Adulterous “Love”

Today, I came across an excellent précis of the fiction that is adulterous “love.” If you are suffering from adultery, and think for some reason your spouse’s mistress (or mister) is the “real deal,” please take the time to read through the whole thing. It’s a short read, extremely well written, thoughtfully explicated, and well worth the few minutes it will take you to read.

To whet your appetite, here’s an “executive summary,” by way of a few of key paragraphs:

You confuse an emotional experience, i.e. the affair, with the person who you are having the affair with and believe you “need” that person to keep and preserve that experience. Willing to risk almost anything to legitimize the affair, you call it “love.”

Understanding this distinction can be one of the most important steps to ending an affair and recovering from infidelity.

Love, here, is a personally constructed narrative – a story – which we vehemently adhere to because we need it to be true. After all, so much depends upon it being real. The possibility of “true love”, the confirmation that “soul mates” exist, the justification for destroying families, leaving spouses, children, jobs and friends – all MUST be justified with legitimacy and purpose. Otherwise, those of us in affairs are nothing but hedonistic idiots.

The stage is set for grandiosity and narcissistic self-indulgence. On this platform, all manner of illogical and nonsensical choices are made. We are in pursuit of a valid human need – deep intimacy and belonging. Yet, we are moving toward our fated demise. Authentic love, based on friendship, history and seasoned emotionality, can never result from affair love, which is grounded in escape, deception and illicit illusions. Anything based upon deception is destined to fail. Period. Without integrity, life simply doesn’t work.

The full text is at iVillage, and it seems to have been posted on one of that site’s forum’s by a member who appears to have committed adultery. The perspective of the formerly cheating spouse can be very helpful to those who are suffering from active, ongoing affairs, helping to keep things in perspective, i.e. the affair is a fantasy, a house of cards, and it will eventually blow down. Or, as Mort Fertel would say, “you’ve just gotta hang in there long enough for it to end.”

Again, you can read the full text by clicking here. Please do read it. Believe me, if this topic is relevant to you, you won’t regret the time you spent reading it.

Coincidences and Signs

Today is my birthday. This is relevant, I promise, but I’ll get to that later.

I awoke this morning in a good mood. I tended to my shrine in the bedroom, or perhaps I should say that I tended to my shrines, since there are three of them in the house. I do this every morning, making sure there are offerings (water, light, scent, etc.) before I even have my breakfast. I make coffee and offer that too, before I even get a sip. This activity brings me great joy, because it is one of generosity. It probably takes about 10-20 minutes most days.

Offerings done, I sat down to check my email. Nothing really new there. Then I read the news, surfed the web a bit, and landed on Facebook.

Now, I haven’t been the hugest fan of Facebook since my wife’s affair began; it was launcehd from that web platform, and one of the first things I did was to remove myself from it for a time. However, I have a number of professional connections there, and the site has brought me some work over the years, so I still maintain an account. So, I check it from time to time, but I’m hardly the Facebook “addict” I was, say a few years ago.

Right at the top of the posts on my “wall” is one from the colleague who lives 2 blocks from here. This is the same colleague with whom my wife stayed when she initially “separated” from me last year. This colleague is the woman who, probably more than anyone else, encouraged my wife to have the affair and to move out. I’ll never forget the day my wife went out for coffee with her when the crisis was just beginning: she promised that she would not speak of our situation to anyone, and then she broke that promise within the hour. She admitted to me a day or two later that she broke that promise.

The post that I read was written around 2:00 a.m., and from it, it was clear that my wife had spent the night at this woman’s house. I understand that my wife had had a rehearsal yesterday, and this accounted for her staying overnight in town. The post said that the colleague had appreciated “true insights” from a “good friend” who is “incredibly wise.” This struck me as rather odd; it sounded like the two of them had sat up for much of the night talking about who-knows-what.

I finally had my breakfast and then took the dog out for a walk. We almost invariably go right past this colleague’s house when we go for a walk, and this morning was no exception. Now, here’s where things get really odd. If you’re not a fan of things metaphysical, then just skip ahead to the paragraph after this one, okay?

As we approached the colleague’s house, the most unusual thing happened. I had this sense of a tremendously negative energy field that was emanating from the side of the house I was approaching. This side of the house was also the location of the room in which my wife would be staying — I know this from previous experience: I have seen the room, and she had told me that she stayed in that room when she first moved out. This was a very palpable experience. It reminded me of my childhood days when, on Saturday mornings, I’d run down to the end of the street to see if my friends were awake yet. I could tell if they were because I’d hear the high-pitched whine of their TV set from outside the window (does anyone remember this from his or her own youth?) and, moreover, I could feel their presence, even though there was a brick wall between us. It was a kind of magnetic feeling, although one that would be more sort of a “positive”-pole magnetic feeling; this feeling I had this morning was a “negative”-pole feeling, and a very pronounced one at that.

Anyway, we went home and that was that. (I welcome the non-metaphysical fans among my readers back to the fold here.)

After returning home, I readied myself for the work day ahead. My first appointment was with an individual who n0-showed. To get to the place I meet this person at I need to exit my neighborhood via the street on which the aforementioned colleague’s house is located. So, I’m driving out and — lo and behold — there is the adulterer’s truck, right there in the colleague’s driveway. But, I had an appointment to get to, so I just kept going.

That appointment no-showed; this person pays regardless, so it was no big deal. I came home about 45 minutes later along that same route, and the adulterer’s truck was gone. I should probably also say that the adulterer’s arrival time is consistent with what I know (anecdotally and experientially) to be his arrival time at the other colleague’s house in the city — the other colleague with whom my wife normally would be staying.

So that was a fine “how-do-you-do” for the morning. I had plenty of other things to do today, as it was a normal work Monday, so I just went about my usual business. I later saw a FB post from my wife on this colleague’s “wall” that said something about this being a Monday, and so thus one should make a “fresh start.”

Okay, so here’s where I start “speculating,” or “mind reading,” or whatever one might want  to call it; for me, this is where I allow my subconscious to start to express itself in increments. I do believe that there is a tremendous amount of information we take in and process on a daily basis, only a tiny fraction of which makes it through the filter of the conscious mind. The rest is absorbed by the body into the realm of the unconscious, or something like that. So, if this bothers you, then just stop reading here. (You can, of course, just go to my donate page and “lob me a quid,” as my first landlady in the UK said when I lived there eons ago; or, you could head over to the resources page and see if there might be something there of value to you.)

Here’s what I think is going on: my wife is struggling. She is plagued by guilt, because she knows the significance of this day, and she feels terrible for having left me alone on yet another birthday. This is, in fact, worse than the last one, because last year at this time we were in contact by email (the adulterer was actually overseas for a few days) and she did ask me out for lunch a few days later and even gave me a birthday present. At this moment, things have degenerated to the point at which she won’t even acknowledge the significance of this day. That is truly sad, and I am all but certain (—Okay, skeptics, are you reading? If so, why?—) that this is eating her up inside. I have learned a fair bit about the mentality and psychology of the wayward spouse over the past months (I’ll write about this some other time), and one thing that seems nearly universal is that the wayward spouse’s mind continues to turn back to the marriage more and more as time goes by, and especially as the affair begins to reveal itself for the sham that it actually is.

So, somewhere out there, not more than 40 miles or so from here, my wife is sitting, or lying down, or washing dishes, or doing something, and it is highly likely that, even as I type this, her mind is turning toward me. There is guilt, remorse, sorrow, anger, frustration, and, most of all, pain. I cannot make any of those feelings or thoughts go away; only she can do that.

It’s crunch time up at Camp CS, friends, crunch time. Things come to  head and decisions have to be made. Her question right now is likely, “do I want this?” and the answer is, well, eventually… no.

Odd Developments; Or, Talking To Lawyers, Part III

This is my third (and hopefully final) installment in my series of posts that dealing with interactions with attorneys. Not that I have any disrespect for attorneys; quite the contrary: they perform a very valuable and important service. However, I think my life would probably be immeasurably better if I had no need for them right now.

As I wrote about before, my wife’s original dissolution petition contained some anomalies, not least of which being that there were two pages that somehow went missing. My response documented this fact, and took issue with other things (mainly omissions or misrepresentations of fact). I was told at that time that it could have just been an “honest mistake,” and that my wife could just file an amended petition.

Well, that’s exactly what she did, with a twist — or two. I went online to check that the forms I’d filed (just procedural stuff) had been processed by the court, and discovered that an amended petition had been submitted. This was a surprise. So, I went down to the courthouse tomorrow to pull the record and get a copy of the amended pleadings. Apparently in response to my response, she filed this new petition, and changed a bunch of information. This was very, very fishy.

So, I booked a session with an attorney tonight, just a quick, pro-bono consult. The lawyer I spoke with mainly litigates corporate law cases, but used to do a lot of family law cases; like other lawyers at this legal “clinic,” he volunteers his time. (Since I do a lot of volunteer work myself, I respect this tremendously.) He looked over my sheaf of documents, and examined my wife’s pleadings. His first reaction was, “oh, man, this is a mess.” He quickly pointed out that, aside from the fact that there was considerable disarray and other problems with the documents my wife had drawn up — including the new ones — she had also violated court rules. You see, she cannot just file an amended petition. Her original had already been served and responded to, and so now a whole new set of procedural rules applies, and with good reason. You can’t exactly sue someone, and once the case is entered into the records, just change the case at will. There are procedures to be followed.

The procedure she failed to follow was simple. First, she was supposed to draft an amended petition and leave it unsigned. Then, she was supposed to either contact me to get written permission to file it (I would have declined, of course), or to have motioned the court to submit the amended petition. That unsigned draft would have to have been submitted for a judge to review, approved, and then submitted to the clerk. Then, I would have to be served, and then given 10 days to respond. None of that happened. This means that this amended petition is bogus and will be struck from the record.

The attorney began to strategize, saying, “so, what could we do here…” He said that I could motion the court to strike this new petition, “but that would just annoy her.” Heh, heh… “Or, you could just ignore it, and do nothing.” That’s what I’m doing. Ignoring it, and doing nothing. She asked for certain types of relief that he felt were almost certain to be rejected by any judge, even if procedure had been filed. He said he doubted she could “get it together” enough to actually file for the kinds of relief she was requesting, and even if she did, she probably would not be successful. Note that these were new things she was trying to get into her pleadings. That just won’t fly.

I left with a lighter conscience. I’ll sleep well tonight.

Update (Sort of); Marriage Fitness Musings (for Sure)

It’s been over a week since my last post, so I figured I should offer an update of sorts.

There really is not much new, aside from my wife’s version of Custer’s last stand. She continues to be obstinate, and continues to want to barrel into that brick wall at 1,000,000 mph. The realization I had a few weeks ago is that there is actually nothing I can do to stop that trajectory, and that my efforts to put some cushions there to lessen the blow of the impact when it occurs only seems to exacerbate matters at this point.

Actually, what I’ve just said above is rather hard to explain, because it has little to do with anything I have been doing, yet it has everything to do with the manner with which I’ve been doing things.

I’m almost embarrassed to say that, having worked Marriage Fitness for such a long time (and that’s what it takes sometimes; I’ll say more about this below) I should have long ago taken Mort Fertel’s message to heart that “you cannot work [his] program with the intention of reconciling your marriage, because that would be manipulative.” This is truly a counterintuitive message. I mean, doesn’t he market his program as a means to save your marriage?

He does, but he does not tell you how that’s going to happen. Honestly, nobody can tell you that. If you sign up for his free emails, you’ll bet a sense of where he is coming from, and I think the sense of ethics that I got from those emails is one of the things that inspired me to give his program a shot. Once you work through the materials, though, you find that message hits you again and again: you cannot do this with the intention of reconciling your marriage.

Well, okay, Mort, then what the heck are you supposed to do? I mean, what should my intention be?

That’s simple: your intention is to become the man or woman of your spouse’s dreams. Your goal is to transform yourself into the kind of person that a million people (pardon the hyperbole) would want to be married to, that is: a person of integrity, of moral values, of trustworthiness, of openness, of candor, and of unconditional love. Those things are worth far more than the mundane concerns of the kind of car you might drive or the size of your bank account; material possessions can be bought, but character cannot. That’s chiefly what Mort teaches: how to be a person of moral principle, and I think that is why his program and its ideas resonated and continue to resonate so strongly with me.

Now, of course, becoming the ideal spouse also means cultivating the relationship skills that an ideal spouse would have. This is where the “techniques” — things like “talk charges” and “giving presence” — come in, but honestly, those are not part of some problem. They are just things that you should be doing if you’re married and, if your marriage is distressed, they are things that you should have been doing all along. Since you weren’t your marriage started to go downhill. This is normal.

So, essentially, Marriage Fitness uses the marital crisis as a platform upon which to build these skills. It might seem a bit odd to put it this way, but really all one does is to recognize that one is still married, and, that being the case, one has the obligation to better oneself as a spouse — even if the other spouse is not willing. One cannot control the other spouse and should not try; one can only control one’s own behaviors. That’s what this program does. It’s hard, at times, because the wayward and/or obstinate spouse wants nothing of it. That is his or her prerogative. The spouse has the right to free choice that the faithful spouse could neither bestow on that spouse nor take away. However, the faithful spouse has a similar right fo free choice, and we (speaking for myself, of course) choose to better ourselves and improve our relationship skills. This may temporarily irritate the wayward/obstinate spouse, but it was his/her choice to attempt to leave the marriage/have an affair/file for divorce/etc., so there are potential prices to be paid for any and all of those actions.

Or, put more simply, the obstinate spouse’s agenda in no way commits the faithful spouse’s participation, especially if that spouse finds that agenda odious.

So, this then brings us back to where I’m at. I finally came to the realization that, even if only on a fairly subtle level, much of what I was doing vis à vis my marriage was basically done with the intention of reconciling my marriage. Thus, the metaphor of “cushions,” above: I could see my wife heading for that brick wall at a million miles per hour, and the compassionate side of me (or so I thought) wanted to lessen the blow of that inevitable impact.

What I’m now realizing is that I have no control over that impact. She wants to hit that brick wall, and so I have to let her do it. It means, at this point, attitudinally taking a step back so that this can happen. This attitudinal shift is actually quite ineffable, and I don’t think it’s really possible to understand unless you’ve gone through it. Here’s what it does not mean: It does not mean cutting off contact. It does not mean curtailing efforts to reach out to my wife. It does not mean halting efforts to improve myself or my relationship skills. I am a husband, after all, and even though my wife might not want that for a time, I have to recognize that commitment that I made to her, and realize that it is, in large part, a commitment to myself.

This is partly what is so ineffable, and also what makes “conventional” wisdom so, well, dumb. Conventional “wisdom” (quotes are deliberately shifted) tells us to kick the spouse to the curb, to give up, to recognize that the spouse has “changed,” and so on. My reponse to such “wisdom” is simple: “so what?” What the spouse does is essentially immaterial; it’s what I do that counts. I am a husband, and I owe it to myself and to the world to learn how to be the best husband possible; even if my wife does not want that, I still have to do it. This is essentially just doing the right thing. Why? Because, even if things don’t work out for some reason (and in a small minority of cases, they don’t), then you will know at least two things: 1) you have done all that you can to give your marriage a second chance, and 2) you have taken massive strides toward becoming that ideal spouse. This is how one moves from being manipulative, even if only sublty, to having pure intentions.

So what about the length of the timelines I spoke toward the start of this post? Well, honestly, marital crises just take time. Things do not turn around in a matter of weeks if one spouse is not willing. It takes months, and a lot of them. The reason for this is simple: there is a journey, both for the faithful and the obstinate spouse. The latter has succumbed to the prison of ego, and as a result has to justify everything. This is a truly stultifying means of existence that never brings true happiness. The response of the faithful spouse needs in part to be to shed his or her own ego as much as possible, such that unconditional love can shine through. (Yes, this makes it a spiritual path.) If the obstinate spouse is embroiled in an affair, then that journey includes the feeding of two egos in a superficial orgy of narcissism. That too is deeply unsatisfying, and will eventually run its course; in such cases the faithful spouse has to find the stamina to outlast the affair. (Again, this is where on so many levels conventional “wisdom” just is not helpful.)

That brings me back to the beginning. My wife is making her last stand. I don’t know how long it will take, but this is very likely her last-ditch effort to save her crumbling path. That path does have a brick wall at its end, and she is currently going 987,462 mph and accelerating. At this point, I can rest in the knowledge that I’ve done all that I can to show her that I am a main of good faith, honor, and integrity, so the rest is up to her.

That rest is simple: she needs just to hit that wall, because that’s what she wants. I won’t take that away from her. Oddly enough, that would not be compassionate. She’ll hit that wall, and then things can change. Until then, I can afford to be patient.