New Year’s Message

Back in my college days, my best friend got married. I was asked to be a groomsman. I gladly agreed. I had been living overseas and flew back to the states for the wedding. My friend’s brother was the best man; several other friends were asked to be groomsmen. Among those friends was a mutual college buddy. He came from an immigrant family and lived with his family in a very modest house in suburban Los Angeles. He, like most of us, had been asked nearly a year in advance of the wedding and he gladly accepted.

Sometime in that intervening year, this college buddy started seeing a woman who was nearly twice his age. She had kids—two of them, boys of about 10 and 13, if I remember correctly. She was also married. The marriage was purportedly a loveless one, but the husband was very wealthy and afforded her and the family a very comfortable life at a beach house in Malibu.

I met this woman—his mistress (even though he was the “kept” man) a couple days prior to the wedding and at one point was riding in the back of her car with a few other friends. I don’t remember the circumstances, but probably we were going to or from some wedding rehearsal-related event. Although I was a bit too young to “know better,” I do remember feeling rather uncomfortable being in this lady’s car, especially when she took a speakerphone call and spoke to one of her boys. (This is more than two decades ago; cell phones were not common and phone-equipped cars were a real luxury.) I also recall some of my other college friends goading this friend about his “sugar mama”—when she wasn’t there, of course—and saying how they thought he had it made int he shade. She had gotten him a little love shack somewhere out there in Malibu that he could live in—and she bought him a new car, one that was well beyond his means.

This friend brought his mistress to the rehearsal dinner. The groom-to-be was not happy to have an adulteress at this event. She was not invited, actually, but he RSVPed for her anyway. He also brought her to the wedding ceremony the next day. The groom was definitely not happy about this; it was a Catholic wedding, and there was an adulteress sitting in the pews who was “dating” one of the groomsmen, who himself was a Catholic. People make such skewed choices with their morals. But I digress…

After the wedding, we packed into the limo and went to a nearby park for pictures. The mistress drove off in her own car and actually we did not see her. Her “boyfriend,” the groomsman, disappeared shortly after the groomsmen’s pictures were taken, without a word, a thank-you, or a good-bye. He just disappeared. He did not come to the reception dinner or party that followed. The groom was incensed. Not only did he hate the fact that one of his buddies brought his married “girlfriend” to his wedding, but he also felt betrayed by the fact that his buddy didn’t even come to the reception. We all privately thought that the mistress had him “on a short leash” and did not want to be at the reception.

I didn’t really understand this dynamic at the time.  I do now.

Fast forward to 2010: I pick up my wife from a trip back to Japan, one of only two that she made without me during the entire course of our relationship. The first trip occurred when we’d only been dating for a few months and were not yet engaged. I went to Japan a few months later to ask her father for permission to marry his daughter and he agreed. Every year thereafter, we would go to her family’s home for the holidays. Together. She would also come to my family’s home for a couple weeks during the summer. Together. It’s how we connected with each other’s family.  This second trip she took for professional reasons, so we decided I didn’t need to be there. Money was tight back then, so it made sense. She seemed to enjoy being with her family and she didn’t really bother to Skype with me very much, despite my desire to do so. But really, the lack of communication didn’t bother me that much somehow. We’d been drifting apart for several years already.

A few weeks after she had returned home from that trip in 2010, we had an argument in the car. xW said to me that she felt we should separate. This was the first time I’d ever heard anything like that; she could be quite hotheaded, so I pulled over, thinking I’d call her bluff, but we ended up talking. The situation blew over. But, it was the first sign that things were really not good between us. It seems that the trip back to visit her family had given her space to think about things. In a year, the situation would get worse—much, much worse.

Fast forward again to 2017 and I find myself three years divorced. I see a video and pictures on Facebook that show my ex-wife marrying her adulterous partner at a Shinto ceremony in Japan. Then I see her in person a month later at a coffee shop and we genuinely connect, as if those three years never even happened; she not only thinks of me but tells me she thinks about our dog—the one she left behind—”a lot.” Then I learn just a couple of weeks later that she legally married the adulterer here in the US.  I have not seen or heard from her since. But, a few months later, I learn—again via Facebook—that her brother got engaged. There were pictures: a romantic dinner, with champagne glasses, and a box with a ring. I have not spoken with her brother for over six years. He quickly sided with his sister in the whole adultery thing and refused to challenge her immoral conduct.

My former brother-in-law got married just before Christmas. I saw the pictures on Facebook; they were just posted. I don’t have to look for them: someone need only like them or comment on them and they end up in my newsfeed.

I also saw a video my ex-wife made this morning of her and her father. I didn’t really need to look for this one either, since so many people liked it. xW has been trying to run a multi-level-marketing business that she seems very enthused about. I’ve never met anyone who really made any money in MLM, but it seems she is trying. She had a turnkey website that the MLM company offered, and quite curiously the adulterer took that website over a couple of months ago. But again I digress…

The video featured her father trying out one of the MLM company’s products. This was the first time I’d “seen” him in nearly seven years. He looks older and has gone totally grey. xW is visible throughout the video and, despite her “wedding” ceremonies last year, she still does not wear any wedding bands. Moreover, it is clear from the video and the comments on it that OM was not there and in fact probably was not there for her brother’s wedding, either. OM made public comments about how good her father looks, when in reality a “husband” should be communicating privately with his spouse. But, this is part of the show they’ve been putting on for the world for all these years now.

The fact that the adulterer is not over there, right now, is very significant. Chances are that he cannot afford it; from what I’ve heard, he’s not so flush with cash that he could manage two overseas trips in one year. After all, he already blew several grand on a show “wedding” that probably had little more utility than to keep their failing relationship together a few months longer. More than that, he probably wasn’t welcome. As I learned from my best friend back in my college days, it’s inauspicious to invite an adulterer to a wedding. I’m sure that my former in-laws are polite enough with the adulterer when he is in Japan, but I highly doubt that my former father-in-law views the adulterer as a son, as he did with me. He is a very judgmental person (he was initially extremely disparaging of the adulterer and of the adulterous relationship) and likely just seeks to avoid conflict, as is normal in his culture.

Chances are that this time, when she finds herself alone with her family, things will be different than any of her other trips to Japan in recent years. The adulterer has been there with her and more than once—and, I have the sneaking suspicion that they stayed in a hotel rather than in her family’s home.

This time she watched her brother get married. She is watching him embark on a life together with the love of his live in the same way she embarked on that journey with me.  She will think about how that journey was so different than her current “marital” journey with the adulterer. She cannot give meaningful words of advice from her own experience about how to stay happily married.

This time she is at home alone with her father. She will feel her father’s judgment, even if he does not express it verbally. She will feel it in his eyes when she tries to talk about the adulterer. She will hear it in his hesitancy when he begins to speak in these situations. She will look at the pictures of her mother and feel remorse.

This time she has plenty of opportunity to think about her life, about the past six years, and about how different the adulterer looks after all this time. She will have time to think “a lot more” about her dog. She will have time to consider why the adulterer has not put her name on the title to his house, even though they are “married.”  She will have time to think about all the people she hurt and all the pain she inflicted on those near and dear to her in the past six years. She may very well also seek guidance from spiritual mediums her family knows and may again be told, as she was over six years ago, that she is on the wrong path. She will consider the words she said to me six years ago—”I deserve to be happier than this”—and will wonder if she really is happier now.

I doubt it. I really, really doubt it. Adultery is the biggest con game on the planet and eventually everyone figures out they’ve been conned.

I said this would be a new year’s message, and I’m taking a long time to get to the point, I guess. But the point I’d like to make is actually just an aspiration. Six years ago, I made the aspiration that 2012 would be the “Year of Reconciliation” for me and my (now) ex-wife. It didn’t work out that way; perhaps I was just naive. So, I’d like to begin this year with two aspirations.

The first is for my ex-wife:

May her eyes finally be opened to the reality of the life that she has created for herself, and may she realize that that life is not one that she wants to remain in; may she remove herself immediately and forever from that path of wrongdoing, deceitfulness, and suffering, and turn toward a path of wholesome and righteous conduct that brings us back together. May we walk together on that path for the rest of our days and may we together be of benefit to others.

The second is for all of you:

May 2018 be a year full of health, happiness, and joy. For those who are experiencing marital difficulties, may you find the truly skillful help you will need to help you negotiate and resolve those difficulties. For those who are separated, may your separations end, and may you be reunited with your spouses. For those who are in divorce litigation, may that litigation be withdrawn and may your marriages be renewed. For all who are married, may your marriages be unshakably strong, may your love for your partners be unbreakable, and may your unions last the lifetimes that you promised they would last.

Happy New Year—let’s make 2018 a good one.