The Grass Is Not Greener

My last post concerned the concept of limerence and the ways in which relationship affairs depend on it. It also concerned the fact that limerence is a physiologically limited condition that simply cannot continue ad infinitum; the body is only capable of producing the euphoric cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters for so long… then it stops. And when it stops, the affair begins to crumble. It is typically only a matter of time until the affair ends.

In most cases, limerence lasts anywhere from three to 36 months; on average, it is said to last from a year and a half to three years. This is why most affairs fall apart by the end of three years. My ex-wife’s affair is now four and a half years old and thus is a statistical outlier. There may be many reasons for this duration, including the fact that, right around the three-year mark, her mother became terminally ill. This understandably could have taken over all other concerns, including what should have been an affair teetering on the brink of collapse. Indeed, I learned of my former mother-in-law’s illness at the beginning of last year, just a short while after it would have been diagnosed. The friend who told me about this said that she felt my ex-wife was in “survival mode,” as she put it.

I have not had much information about what’s going on up there at Camp C-S. (That stands for “Camp Chickensh•t,” for reasons I wrote about some years ago, and yes, it did involve chickens and chicken feces.) Most of what I have heard would seem to paint a picture of a blissfully happy partnership thriving under ideal conditions—even though the actual pictures that sometimes slipped through the leaky walls would show an ex-wife with a vacant stare and an adulterous partner with a vapid, forced smile. There was just something so unnatural to those pictures every time I would come across them, which was not often.

A couple of days ago I came across some other pictures, but these did not directly concern my ex-wife. The pictures were broadcast quite publicly over Facebook and were advertisements for the adulterer’s daughter’s new business. The daughter is a young woman whom I would estimate to be in her late 20s to early 30s. She lives, like her father, out in the hinterlands, albeit in a different state. She has apparently been married for a few years to a man who, like her, purportedly comes from a broken home that was beset with divorce and other issues. So it was a bit curious that this young lady would be starting a business as a personal coach who specializes in relationships.

The pictures—which appeared rather unceremoniously in my browser window—led to her website, which I visited just out of curiosity. It was clear that this business is not more than a few months old and that she does not yet have much of a client base. The descriptions of her services and experience are those of a newbie who is trying to put her best face forward, trumpeting her “successes,” limited though they may be. Only two cases are mentioned, one of which concerned a couple that was on the verge of breaking up. After a consultation with her, that couple decided to get engaged just a few short months later. That kind of success is, in a word, extraordinary.

This piqued my curiosity, and so I looked at a few other pages. Her methodology is not clearly described but what is described seems to focus on a new-age quasi-spiritual approach of somewhat questionable provenance. To her credit, she is credentialed in this approach, even though such credentialing comes from the for-profit concern that its founder created. She appears to teach couples to listen, which is good. But listening alone simply will not fix a broken relationship.

Still curious, I looked at her testimonial page. There were four testimonials in total, three of which come from people closely connected to her: her husband, her father, and my ex-wife. From these last two it became immediately clear that this couple that had been on the verge of breakup—the one whose relationship she “saved”—was none other than her father and my ex-wife.

That told me pretty much all I needed to know.

I felt at once sad for this young lady, because she appears to mean well and to genuinely want to help others. She has been the unwitting victim in all of this, lied to from the very beginning by her father, who ran a fairly elaborate scheme of deception to keep her from finding out who his new “girlfriend” really was when he was trying to pluck her out of her marital home. I do not know if she was ever told the truth about all of this; somehow, I doubt she ever was. Instead, she was probably told some distorted version of the “truth.” And now, she has been led into testing her still-developing coaching skills on a relationship that has virtually no chance of being helped or fixed.

Perhaps that’s why the supposed engagement happened: as a means of sustaining the façade. That, and also as a means of maintaining control. The adulterer is notoriously manipulative; I have direct experience of this manipulativeness. He is probably also trying to keep her in the relationship while the limerence fades. More likely than not, the limerence is already over in my ex-wife’s case, and he is just finding ways to keep her there so that he can hold on to his own limerence, which itself must be rapidly fading. For the past several years, he has had her isolated from friends and colleagues and made her dependent on him for money and transportation . This is not a healthy recipe. Incidentally, in none of the pictures that have surfaced since this supposed engagement does the ex wear any sort of ring. I find that more than a bit curious.

So it seems that it is really true: the grass really is not greener on the other side of the adulterous fence. The wayward gets lured away into a charmed life that turns out not to be so charmed at all. Instead, it turns out to be a relationship that, like any other, has a host of problems. All of the relationship dysfunctions that led to the adulterer’s multiple divorces are almost certainly present, and all of my ex-wife’s relationship dysfunctions that contributed to our marital troubles have also got to be there. Those dysfunctions seem to be very present in recent months, to the extent that they were tearing the two of them apart.

If anything, it seems likely that the daughter’s efforts may have served as a temporary salve to a situation that really cannot and will not heal. There are too many wrongs, too many hurt feelings, too much mistrust, too many lies, too much deception, and too many negative actions. And, if we are to believe what all the experts say about affairs as the limerence dies, there must also be a lot of resentment. The weight of all of this must eventually bring that relationship down.

I have no idea when that will happen, but something makes me feel like it won’t be long.