Imagine a man in his early twenties, young and carefree. He finishes college and goes to live overseas. He returns home after a few years to earn a professional degree and spends another couple of years overseas again along the way. He does not put down roots but seems happy nonetheless.
Now in his early thirties, the young man is in the final year of his degree. He meets a lovely young woman who hails from a land 5000 miles across the sea. They really like each other—the attraction is mutual—but he still has a girlfriend overseas and is trying to get back to her, so nothing happens. Instead, the young woman ends up dating one of his friends.
The young man finishes the degree and shortly thereafter the girlfriend dumps him. The lovely young woman knows he got dumped, but she is now dating his friend. Depressed and unemployed, he toughs it out for a few months and, just before hitting what he think might be rock bottom, lands a job. The job does not pay much and it is a bit out in the hinterlands, but it is a career he loves, so he is content with what he has. The lovely young woman still keeps in touch with him and it soon turns out that she is single. Meanwhile, the young man finally feels ready to put down roots and even entertains the idea of getting married.
He and the lovely young woman are soon together. Theirs is a whirlwind romance and after a few months he realizes that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her—and tells her so. She admits that she feels the same way. A few months after that he asks her to marry him and she accepts. A half a year later, they are married.
Year one begins with the lovely young woman is still finishing her university degree and this obligates their spending that first year of marriage living in separate residences. His home is with her, but he spends a bit more than half the week away, enjoying long weekends together. She finishes enough of her degree requirements that year to be able to move in with him out in the hinterlands.
In year two, they live together in a small house with an enormous yard and a beautiful garden. They have fruit trees and raise all sorts of vegetables. Money is a bit better but it is not plentiful, yet still they are happy. He would regularly come home to all sorts of wonderful surprises she would prepare for him. He loves her dearly, and she him, but neither of them really know how to maintain this marriage they are in. They simply let the love that started their marriage carry them through. They travel abroad to visit her family.
In year three, he fulfills her lifelong wish of owning a dog by buying her exactly the kind of dog she has always wanted. She is over the moon with joy. Again they travel abroad to visit her family. The dog has to stay at home, but is well looked after.
Year four finds our two lovers, husband and wife, facing the apparent reality that love inevitably fades and must transform into something more lasting. They sense this is happening and they feel that their relationship now has to become something more like friends than soulmates. The young man does not feel so young anymore and is tremendously bogged down with work. He begins to withdraw from her emotionally, bit by bit. She stays engaged. Again they travel abroad to visit her family; this time the dog comes along.
In the fifth year, the not-so-young man loses his job as the result of political backstabbing among some of his colleagues. Even so, he makes a trip overseas representing the institution that wants to let him go, and he brings his wife along to visit a place she has never been. However, he is forced into an uncertain job market whose jobless rate officially would hit 9%. With no work in the hinterlands, they spend a lot of savings to moving back to the city. Soon, some sources are reporting the actual jobless rate to be around 26%. He struggles to find work and eventually lands a job that pays far less than his previous one. Nevertheless, they make two further trips overseas: one for her work, and another to visit her family.The lovely young lady has had her youthful optimism slowly drained away and replaced by a more worldly realism. She works to help support the two of them but seems to resent having to do this more and more as the months pass.
In the sixth year, the not-so-young man starts becoming very discouraged, since he feels that the job market will never improve such that he can find better employment. In year six, the marriage starts to unravel, bit by bit. She makes a trip overseas without him because money is tight and he needs to work. Soon after her return, he hears her say to him for the first time that she thinks they should separate. He has seen her have many emotional upsets that have led to other impassioned statements, but never one like this. Those upsets would always blow over and he figured this one would to, and it did. Still, they seem more or less happy as a couple, but looking at their pictures one can see that this not-so-young man looks weary and disappointed with the world. He formally adopts a spiritual path that actually brings him some encouragement.
However, his wife adopts her own spiritual path, which she soon feels to be different from his and perhaps even a source of incompatibility. Nevertheless, the borderline-middle-age man encourages her to truly explore that path and fully supports her in so doing. They visit a shrine connected with her homeland—one they had gone to the preceding year for a new year’s ceremony—and return there several more times over the coming year.
In year seven, the more-worldly-yet-still-lovely woman suggests they move to her country. The borderline-middle-age man agrees without reservation. The woman’s mother sends them information about the possiblity of their both getting jobs at the same institution in a city not far from her childhood home in which her parents still reside. The borderline-middle-age man completes his application but discovers his wife has given up on hers when she realizes there would be complications in bringing along the dog. He tells her not to worry, but tears stream from her eyes when she says that she looked at the dog’s face and realized she just could not leave her behind.
A few months later, the borderline-middle-age man has an interview for a job in another state. Things have become difficult with the more-worldly-yet-still-lovely woman and she states that she would not go with him if he were to get the job. This struck him as rather unexpected but in retrospect seems to be the consequence of their ongoing emotional disconnection. He feels relieved not to get the job, even if it means facing continued discontent with the still-depressed work market.
A couple of months later, they attend a cultural festival at a nearby community college. Representatives from the wife’s homeland shrine are there to perform a ceremony. They are both asked to participate. At a small reception thereafter, they mingle, but separately. She has a conversation with a tall, somewhat-over-the-hill man who looks at her with a rather unholy glint in his eye. The borderline-middle-age man notes this but thinks nothing untoward of it because he trusts his wife. She is worldly, after all.
One month later finds the worldly-but-still-lovely woman contending with a totally unrealistic workload she has assented to—a workload that nearly breaks her both physically and emotionally. They visit the shrine once again and she disappears. He learns later that she went looking for the somewhat-over-the-hill man whom she had met the previous month and with whom she had become Facebook “friends” in the intervening time. Borderline-middle-age man remembers this “friendship” occurring, but thought nothing of it at the time, because she is worldly, after all.
Five days later, the worldly-but-still-lovely woman erupts at him quite unexpectedly. He figures she is under tremendous stress and that it will soon pass, but this eruption is different than anything he had ever seen. She implores him to move out within six weeks. She stops sleeping in the marital bed. He soon would learn that she had commenced regular contact with somewhat-over-the-hill man via Facebook, which she now began to use more frequently and secretively. Borderline-middle-age man begins to feel middle-aged and is facing the reality for the first time in his life that his marriage is in real trouble. He searches for guidance and finds a book that makes a very compelling argument about staying together and working things out. He introduces this to her and she is uninterested. Nevertheless, he orders some support materials that are supposed to help in cases just like his.
At the end of that month, the worldly-but-still-lovely woman goes out for the day and says she might not return; ostensibly she is going to a party and will spend the night with friends. Something about this feels very wrong to middle-aged man. He does not sleep that night. Worldly-but-still-lovely woman returns the next morning looking somewhat ragged and in an odd emotional state.
That night, they have a long, emotional chat and middle-aged man begins to think that maybe things are turning for the better. The next day they spend in the yard, cleaning up the garden. Middle aged-man feels great; his two weeks of horrendous stress from the marital discord seem to be gone. Nevertheless, when he suggests a rather normal partnership situation to his wife, she refuses to consider it. He takes her to a rehearsal and cooks her a nice meal. For some reason, while she’s gone, he discovers that she left her computer on with her Facebook account logged in. There in plain view is evidence that she has been having an affair with somewhat-over-the-hill man.
The details that follow are chronicled in the pages of posts that precede the post you are currently reading. However, I will summarize them here.
Year seven ends with middle-aged man spending his anniversary and the holidays alone; his wife chooses to be with somewhat-over-the-hill man.
Year eight begins and up-and-down reconciliation process that shows much promise and improvement, even though she moves out early in that year, presumably to go live with somewhat-over-the-hill man—a fact that is later confirmed. Things turn south toward the end of the year and she begins to withdraw contact and disappear from his life. This year also ends with middle-aged man flying solo for the holidays and his anniversary.
Year nine sees an apparent turnaround when his wife chats with him on the phone for an hour. The conversation is genuine and cordial, and ends with her saying, “let’s talk again.” Therefore, middle-aged man is quite blindsided when he learns that only nine days later she has filed for divorce. Things become very acrimonious as he continues to stand for his marriage; she is apparently under tremendous pressure from somewhat-over-the-hill man to be done with him once and for all.
Year ten sees things get worse still, and after a few months the divorce is finalized amidst and atmosphere of utter hostility and contempt that appears to be driven completely by the behind-the-scenes workings of somewhat-over-the-hill man. The fact that the whole situation does not spiral into all-out legal chaos is attributable to a mutual friend—a former neighbor from the days out in the hinterlands—who negotiated a deal that kept the hostility from her side at bay. He does not see wordly-but-still-lovely woman again.
Year eleven begins with news from that same mutual friend; she has just seen wordly-but-still-lovely woman, who reported that her mother had stage-IV cancer. Middle-aged man is heartbroken at the news because he knows he can do nothing to help. The year ends with no further news or contact from worldly-but-still-lovely woman, although he does hear through the grapevine that her mother passed away.
Year twelve begins much like the other recent years; the holidays were passed with family, but without the presence of wordly-but-still-lovely woman. The mutual friend contacts him again and invites him over for dinner; he suspects maybe that this friend has some sort of news to report about wordly-but-still-lovely woman. He remembers her promise of twelve years previous that they would spend their lives together. He remembers their wedding vows spoken at the end of that same year, and reflects on the relative meaninglessness of that now-vacant anniversary date. He has been including her in his aspirations and prayers and somehow even reamined hopeful she might awaken from her path of wrongdoing sometime soon.
Year twelve is only seventeen days old as I write this, dear reader. Some of you have followed this blog for years, while others may be visiting for the first time. I learned yesterday, on the sixteenth day of this year, that my wordly-but-forever-lovely woman is engaged to now-over-the-hill man.
This news was unsolicited and caught me unprepared. It felt and still feels like another betrayal, even though I have not seen her now for nearly two years. Her absence does not erase the memories that flood to the fore of my mind whenever I hear a certain song, smell a certain aroma, or am in a certain place that unwittingly reminds me of her.
I suppose I have been feeling as the days pass that the door for my wordly-but-forever-lovely woman to reenter my life was slowly closing. Nevertheless, I have felt truly responsible to her. It is hard to describe why; in a quick-fix society that has little patience for the protracted nature of marital crises, few understand why anyone would stand for his marriage instead of just “kicking the wayward spouse to the curb“ and ending it once and for all. Yet my months and years of standing for this marriage attuned me more and more to the solemn but joyful vows I uttered just over twelve years ago, and to the sacredness of the promise those vows contained.
I do not know where things stand at this point; my mind is still reeling and my heart is still wounded over this latest news. I am mindful of what this news might mean but at the same time am also aware of what the statistics say: only 3% of affairs end in marriage and those fail at the rate of 75%. Over-the-hill man purportedly already has three marriages under his belt; the failure rate of fourth marriages was recently reported at 93%; moreover, marriages beginning in adultery fail at a rate 15% higher than other marriages within the first three years and 25% higher within five years. If those statistics are anywhere near being true, then there is little hope for either of them sustaining any so-called union.
I pray for both of their sake that this house of cards they built implodes before they can get married, because their attempt to consecrate an illegitimate relationship would bring further dose of horrible karma upon both of them. The question now is where I’ll be when this house of cards finally implodes.
This blog has been my outlet and at times my therapist. I have posted freely here through it all because I felt that others might benefit in some way from my relating my experiences. Many have contacted me privately to offer support and even to say that my words have helped them; to them I am grateful for their sincere conmments. I have even privately endured scorn or ridicule from some who felt my actions were ill-advised; to them I did not react, because I do feel that each can and should be afforded his or her position, even and especially if they do not coincide with mine. I would much rather treat them with respect they feel they deserve as fellow beings walking on this planet.
I may shut down this blog, dear reader, sometime in the near future. I am really not sure if and when I might do it, but for the first time in four years closing this blog seems like a reality. I had always thought my final post would be one of joy and happiness in which I report of my still-ever-so-lovely woman’s sudden return. Perhaps that may still be true.
Tonight, however, I would just like to conclude with a simple, humble request. Please remember me in your prayers, and please remember my still-ever-so-lovely woman as well. Please pray that she will see the fog lifted from her eyes and that she will finally leave her path of sorrow and wrongdoing now, before it is too late. The world has enough of suffering without her injecting more of it upon herself and others. And, if you will indulge me, I would like to end with a simple aspiration that I say and ponder often:
May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the root of suffering.
May they not be separated from the happiness devoid of suffering.
May they dwell in the great equanimity, free from passion, agression, and prejudice.