It has been nearly 10 months since my last post, and I have had quite a few emails and comments asking for an update. So, I guess I should put one out there right now for those of you who have followed this blog, as well as for those of you who are new or perhaps arriving here for the first time. (That is, if you typed “obstinate spouse” into google, you will still see this blog in the top five hits.) So, here we go.
As I wrote about nearly two years ago, I was served with a divorce petition on April 4, 2013. I fought like hell against that litigation and even had the trial date postponed. In the end, however, the legal system won and a court commissioner — not a judge, but a frail, elderly woman whose job it is to sign off on these things — “dissolved” my marriage on the morning of March 25, 2014. It was one of the most absurd experiences of my entire life and a testament to just how little value this society seems to place on marriage.
The situation was quite acrimonious at the end, and I was obliged to hire a lawyer to fend of some of the crap that the adulterer was trying to throw at me via my (now ex-)wife. I simply was not in the mood for messing around anymore. In the end, I had to agree to a voluntary no-contact agreement, since the adulterer simply felt too threatened by the prospect the I might have any contact with the now-ex whatsoever. My attorney was very shrewd and kept this separate from the divorce litigation, framing it as a voluntary contract that was never filed with the courts.
I walked out of the courthouse around 9:00 a.m. that morning and have not seen or heard from my ex-wife since. In the interim, it seems that the shit has begun to hit the fan in her life from multiple directions.
An old friend contacted me just after Christmas and asked me if I would like to have dinner with her husband at their place. This friend actually did some critical behind-the-scenes negotiation that prevented the final stages of the divorce from getting far worse. She has known the two of us—my ex-wife and me—for over ten years. Because of the profession from which she retired, she is a very keen observer and sizes people up very accurately and very quickly. It seems like, whenever she and I meet—which has been only twice in the past year—my ex-wife has been in contact with her only days before.
Such was the case last Friday when I went over to this friend’s house. She told me that my ex-wife had contacted her only two days before and that a crisis, or rather multiple crises, seemed to be brewing in her life. She first told me that my ex approached her to seek help in editing her doctoral dissertation. She similarly approached this friend for that kind of help over a year ago, in December 2013, and the friend sized up the situation and told her, “if you ever need a place to stay, you are welcome to stay here for as long as you want.” She also told me that she did not know why she said that to my ex, except that she just had a gut feeling that she should because something seemed not right in her life. In the interim, the ex has done nothing insofar as her dissertation is concerned and did not contact the friend again for help.
That is, until last week, when she suddenly materialized again. Help with the dissertation was the ostensible reason for that communication—and we’ll get to that soon enough here. However, it seems she had a more pressing reason to contact this friend. She told her that she had recently been overseas to see her family and that her mother had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Her mother was refusing conventional treatment in favor of some sort of herbal remedies or something of that nature. The friend further said that it seems like the ex was in denial about the whole thing, and that it is likely that her family is in denial as well. I do not know anything more about this, i.e. what type of cancer it is, the extent of the metastasis, what her prognosis is, and so forth. However, when I heard this news, it was truly crushing, especially since I am unable to reach out to her or her family at this time.
The friend then told me that the ex was possibly seeking a new dissertation advisor and that she might not be given any further leaves of absence. If this is true, I have seen this situation coming for years now; at some point her advisor was going to either get tired of her lack of effort, or would come under some scrutiny for having a student who has now exceeded the allowable time limit by three years. I do not know exactly what happened, but it seems like she is under a lot of pressure. Moreover, she has also changed her thesis to an entirely new topic, the content of which to me seems somewhat odd. The friend is not expert or even really knowledgeable about any of the topic material (although I am knowledgeable if not expert in both areas she wants to explore) and further does not really know the extent or scope of the work that she would have to do in “editing” this dissertation. The ex needs more than an editor; she needs someone to be assisting her at all stages: conceptualization/topic-framing, structure, research, writing, editing, submission, and revision. Moreover, all of this needs to be done and completed in the next 16 weeks. That is a truly Herculean task that, if I were with her every single day for the next 16 weeks, we perhaps could pull off; I’d give it 50/50 odds. However, with this friend’s intermittent guidance that would happen once a week at best, I’d say the likelihood of her completing this project on deadline is, at best, about 10%.
Moreover, if she is not able to secure a leave of absence—and it sounds like that leave might not be granted—then she will have to come up with nearly $2000 in tuition fees within the next two weeks or so. The friend told me that both the adulterer and the ex are hurting for money right now; I am not sure how she knows this, but it is likely that the seasonal nature of his work and whatever cash outlays he may have made (e.g. for plane tickets abroad for her) plus the meager earnings she brings in are really stretching their finances thin.
In short, she could be facing the complete implosion of her situation. She might be able to forestall it a bit, but given the weight and severity of everything that is occurring in her life right now, it seems unlikely that that implosion could be too far off in the distance.
Anyway, dear readers, I only have one simple request, should you be willing to grant it, and that is for prayers. If you care to make prayers or positive aspirations for my ex-mother-in-law’s improved health and recovery, that would be greatly welcomed. Moreover, any prayers you might wish to do for the ex and the other members of her family would be welcome as well.
As for me, I already am praying for all of them, and further making the aspiration that she see the light of day before it all is too late, while I still can provide a soft landing spot for her when the whole situation crumbles. I don’t know how much longer I can leave the door open to that possibility, but as of this writing, I have not needed to shut it yet, since it really requires no effort to keep it open.