The Six-and-a-Half-Year Itch

In the summer of 2011, my marriage was six-and-a-half years old. I had been withdrawing from my xW for some time, and she from me; I didn’t know that this wasn’t “normal.” I think we both thought that marriages lose their passion and turn into something more akin to friendships. Boy, how we were wrong. We were vulnerable—to marriage-destroying predators.

During that summer, things were getting rocky; I was being interviewed for a job out of state after a protracted period of under-employment. This job was in my line of work and would bring me full employment if I got it. My xW had wanted to see me fully employed for some time, and it had been excruciatingly difficult to find good-paying work in the depressed economy that had followed the 2008 market collapse. When the prospect of this job came up and I turned out to be a finalist, xW told me that I could take the job and she would stay put and not move with me. This was a major sign of trouble. I asked her how much money I’d need to make in order for her to consider moving; she quoted me a figure that was exactly what this job would pay. I told her I’d be making that figure, and she still told me she would not come with me. I really was at a loss for what to do.

I did not get that job, and I felt a bit of relief, I guess.

A month later, we went to visit our former home town out in the hinterlands. We hadn’t been there in the three years since I had lost my job there, and it was a nice nostalgic trip for both of us. Actually, this was almost seven years ago to the day—I saw the “memory” pop up in my Facebook feed a couple of days ago.  Things seemed okay.

A couple of weeks later, xW met and chatted with OM at a cultural festival at a nearby community college. Less than two months later, she started her affair with him.

When people talk about the “seven-year-itch,” they are describing something that I think is real. It’s not so much that the timeline is real, or that one spouse or the other will be susceptible to having an affair after seven years; it’s rather that, by the time a marriage hits the seven-year mark, chances are good that both partners have disconnected enough that an affair becomes increasingly likely. The infatuation (or “limerence”) that held the marriage together in the early years is now long gone, and it hasn’t been replaced by anything deeper because there never were any relationship skills developed that would have fostered deeper, more enduring feelings. So, the partners settle, and the marriage weakens. An adulterous predator can sense this, much as OM did when he chatted with my wife. He knew she was vulnerable; he smelled blood on the water, so to speak.

I don’t need to recount what happened next; the details are all over this blog. I chronicled most of them in real time as they happened. They are preserved here for the sake of others who find themselves in a situation similar to mine, their lives roiled by the monstrosity that is adultery. I’m here to tell you that you can and will make it out the other end, and you will come out a better person for it.

I have seen xW three times in the past year and a half; on the first occasion, we had an amazing connection and talked for half an hour. You can read about that here.  I saw her a few weeks later and she had turned cold. You can read about that encounter here.

The third time I have not written about yet, and in fact it took place about five months ago. It’s not that I didn’t feel it was worth writing about, I was just busy and preoccupied with too many other things, and I just never got around to posting the blog post that I had been formulating. I was actually just about to go overseas for a week to a place that I know xW would have been interested to find out about. I had bumped into her at the coffee shop I’d seen her at before; I was just stopping by on my way to the office. I actually had a letter with me I wanted to give her, a sort of Hail Mary pass into the universe that just laid out all of my feelings. I thought that, if I could give it to her, I’d walk away knowing I had not left anything unsaid. She could accept or reject what I had written and life would move forward as it should.

I saw her and she more or less pretended not to see me. This did not bode well. I chatted with the baristas and told them I was headed overseas; they were intrigued. xW was just a few feet away and of course could overhear my every word. But, there was no sign of movement from her. I got my coffee and was ready to leave, and thought maybe I should just go. Then I thought about the letter I had with me and figured I needed to at least take the chance. So I went over and tapped her on the shoulder; she was conveniently turned away in the pretence of not knowing I was there. She turned around.

“Oh, hi,” she said, with a somewhat forced warmness, holding her cellphone in her hand. She was messaging someone in Japanese over Facebook.

“Hi,” I said. “How are you?

“Good,” she replied. Then, motioning to her phone, she said, “I really need to do this right now.”

“Okay, I just wanted to say hello,” I said, and turned around and left.

That was it. I went out to my car and thought to myself that her behavior was unspeakably lame. Really, I could think of no better description. I did not give her the letter. I eventually just burned it.  I later discovered whom she was messaging; I cannot be 100% sure I’m right, but circumstantial evidence leads me to one conclusion. I’ll get to that later, though.

As of this writing, my xW’s affair still has not ended, and she is apparently still married to OM.  There have been some insights here and there, but not much that has been truly revelatory.

Then, a couple of weeks ago and with no explanation whatsoever, xW took her Instagram account public. I knew she had had it for about a year; she opened it just prior to going to Japan to have her big “show” wedding ceremony with OM. I saw it when she opened it because it popped up in my account as someone I might know. She posted about five times before taking it private. It still popped up from time to time, but I never really bothered to look since it was private.

When it became public, I admit, I became curious. So, I looked at her posts. Most of them are pictures of flowers, plants, gardening stuff, and so on. They paint the picture of someone who is blissfully happy in an absolutely perfect married life. Quite curiously, there are no pictures of her “show” wedding in Japan, but there is a cryptic picture or two that was taken a couple of weeks later; it seems she stayed on there, while OM went home. There is also a picture of a wedding cake that was taken on the date she got legally married here to OM. The caption is “now it’s official”—hardly a celebratory one. The tone of many of the captions strikes me as aggessively defensive, in fact. Then, there is a picture of her left hand sporting a ring with what appears to be a large diamond on it; the caption is states that the ring is priceless, and attributes this to the power of fate. Oddly, she never wears that ring. It does not appear in any other picture I’ve seen of her since.

So, this raises the question as to what happens when a betraying spouse marries the affair partner. Some time ago—as I was recently reminded—I was made aware of a web post by a woman who had married her affair partner. You can read the whole thing here; I mention this because it corroborates most of the things I have personally heard others say. Here’s my précis:

  • The wayward spouse destroys someone else’s life. There’s no way around that.
  • If there are children, their lives are horribly damaged. There’s no way around that.
  • All of the negative things that end up happening in the marriage will be your fault and will remind you of your tremendous selfishness that drove you to have the affair. There’s no way around that.
  • Whenever anything goes wrong, the new (adulterous) spouse will look at you and wonder if all the sacrifices and damage were worth it. This is inevitable.
  • People will look at you negatively for what you did and will not forgive you for it. There’s no way around that.
  • Loyalties will be divided; you will have to choose between the affair-partner-cum-spouse and your family, and even your friends, most of whom will either not accept the new “spouse” or will do so with reservation and judgment. There’s no way around this predicament.
  • You will suspect your “spouse” of potentially betraying you every time there is an unusual shift in your relationship: when he comes home late, changes his dress, or does anything else that seems “new.” This is inevitable.
  • You will be faced with the reality that you cannot trust your “spouse” and know that he cannot trust you. This is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and it’s there 24/7; there’s no way around that.
  • Even if you portray your “marriage” as perfect, idyllic, and harmonious—in short, as the Best Marriage Ever—the reality will be quite different, and almost certainly the opposite. There’s no way around that reality.
  • Chances are your new “spouse” will cheat on you. (Even if he doesn’t cheat, it won’t matter: you’ll suspect he’s cheating.) When he does cheat, no one will care. No one will commiserate. There’s no way around that.
  • Suddenly “growing a conscience” won’t help. It will just make matters worse—much worse. There’s no way around that, either.

So, that’s the list of bullet-points that married adultery partners have to face. There’s no way around any of this stuff, and it seems that no one is immune. Is it possible that some actually do end up happy and do make it work? Sure, I guess it’s possible, but it’s rare—very rare. And they all say that, if they could go back in time, they wouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place because of all the shame, guilt, and remorse.

Why is this significant? Well, as mentioned above, xW portrays her “marriage” as a picture-perfect one. She repeatedly uses words like “perfection” and “harmonious” in her social media feeds to describe her life. She portrays this in the day-to-day minutiae: what she’s cooking, what she’s doing, what she’s harvesting from the garden, and so on. Everything is just super-awesome. It’s almost like this is a god-level relationship.

Except that it isn’t. How do I know? I don’t. I can only go off evidence that I have, evidence that is publicly available through her now-public social media feeds, or through other leaks in the social media walls she has tried to make impermeable to people like me, people who do not agree with her life choices.

Let’s go back to that last encounter in the coffee shop. I was 24 hours from getting onto a 14-hour flight to the other side of the planet, an overnight in a hotel, and an onward trip to a quite remote location. She blew me off to text with someone in Japanese over Facebook.

Well, I found out—circumstantially, at least—why she was texting. I probably picked up some information peripherally from her cellphone, which was in clear view, even though at the time I only briefly glanced at it as she pointed to the screen, which she showed me. A couple weeks later, a Facebook Live video emerged in which she and a Japanese acquaintance are having a conversation and are interviewing each other. They are both trying to sell the same line of health-care products; this is what apparently brought them together. The acquaintance is also an expat but lives in another country quite far away.

Yes, I watched that video; I found a sort of morbid fascination in it, perhaps because it confirmed some of those bullet points above. Most significantly, the acquaintance asked xW how she had ended up in the United States, and xW told her that story. That story was 100% accurate insofar as I know her story. She then asked if she met her “husband” here, and xW said she had. She then asked how she met her “husband.”

Here, xW hesitated, and the colleague reacted with curiosity. xW then prevaricated: she said there were a lot of “happenings” in her life at that time, and that she had gone to a shrine where OM did gardening, she met him there, and voilà—the rest was history. All that stuff about being married at the time? Meh—that doesn’t merit a mention.

This told me everything I needed to know. Even now, almost seven years later, xW has to sanitize her life story for public consumption.

Did the kids get irreparably damaged by the affair and the subsequent marriage? Well, xW and I had no kids. OM has a grown daughter, with whom xW apparently has a “good” relationship. This tells me that the daughter almost certainly still does not know the truth about what her father did. There’s another 800-pound gorilla in the room, at every family get-together, on every phone call with the daughter, and so on.

So, every day for the past six and a half years, xW has been living a lie. She has told lies on top of lies to hide the truth of what she did, and she has prevaricated or otherwise withheld the full story to keep reality at bay.

I learned just the other day that she has a concert this weekend that she is playing with Adultery Enabler #2 (AE2)—the husband of the “friend” who enabled the affair by giving her shelter in the early days, providing her with a place to live and giving cover to the affair. The other colleague involved in the concert knows some things but probably has been given a sanitized version of events; she still remains connected with me via social media. (Neither AE2, nor his wife, AE1, do; they both blocked me early on.) There are a number of other weird incidences as well, including a LinkedIn connection request that came from the husband of the woman who first encouraged xW to have the affair. That woman and her husband promptly defriended and blocked me on FB—presumably because I had the audacity to stand for my marriage. They both have moved out of country, and then the husband tries to connect with me. (I ignored his request.) Neither of them are connected with xW on social media anymore, and I can only wonder what triggered that parting of ways.

Well, anyway… This post has gotten much too long. Let’s just say that the truth eventually comes to light. Lies and deceptions are revealed and the adulterers pay the consequences.

No one gets away with it. Ever.