Anniversaries can be hard, and this one was rather unpleasant.
Just over one year ago, my wife committed adultery. She left on the evening of Halloween, supposedly to attend a party. She told me that she had made some new friends at a job she had recently been hired at, and that she might end up spending the night with them.
It was all one giant lie.
I did not know that, three weeks earlier, she had begun an emotional affair via Facebook with the adulterer with whom she currently lives. I suspected something was not right, as she had become very secretive about things, and especially about her computer, which she would close or shut down whenever I’d enter the room.
So it was on the eve of this anniversary that my wife phoned me, after a two-week hiatus, to come pick up the dog. I was in the shower at the time, and returned her call; I was predictably shunted right into voice mail. She called back a short time later, as I was on my way to the bank.
She was very business-like; I was very cordial. She was telling me she had to do all sorts of shopping and would be busy all day; I took every chance to angle for opportunities to see her. She rejected each and every attempt. She finally agreed to see me quite late at night. Then, she began to throw all sorts of pushback at me, telling me she was finished with me, she wouldn’t be coming back ever, and so on. I told her that I considered myself her husband and would never give up; to this, she got frustrated and hung up on me. Not only that, she immediately shut her cell phone off, so that my attempt to call her back went straight to voice mail.
This was just typical obstinate-spouse verbiage, folks, so if you end up hearing it yourselves (I assume that many of you have arrived here via Google searches for “obstinate spouse,” or the like), don’t be surprised. It seriously is as if all obstinate spouses read off the same script. It was also typical obstinate spouse behavior, absolutely standard, factory-issued stuff. If you don’t believe me, read on.
I finally did see her late in the evening. I had just finished a long day of work, and she called me to let me know that she was at her colleague’s house and that I could drop by to pick up the dog. I headed out, mentally prepared for the conversation that would ensue. I wanted to talk to her about her behavior vis à vis our dog, which she had been using as a bargaining chip in her attempt to undermine our marriage. I wanted to let her know that this was simply unacceptable, and that I would draw some lines in the sand. I knew that I would probably get pushback, and that it could be ugly. Despite all that, I was fearless, and feeling very confident.
I called her as I arrived, and she came out. I gave her a quick kiss on the forehead, and invited her to sit in the car with me. It was just after 10:00 p.m. Things started cordially enough, and we exchanged pleasantries and news of recent events in our lives.
She then asked me what I had wanted to talk about. I had tried to contact her several times over the preceding week, and she simply refused to contact me back in any way. I simply asked her what had happened to the dog — why she hadn’t brought her home as planned and agreed upon.
Then the fireworks began, albeit slowly at first. She told me that we didn’t have a contract, and that the dog was hers, and that she was simply being kind to me to allow to have her on alternating weeks. This was a tremendous revision of the history of the preceding six months. Again, this is standard obstinate-spouse fare. They all do this; they all rewrite history to keep it in line with their own stories. I countered by telling her that our dog was not a possession, but rather a sentient being with feelings, memories, and emotions, and that she deserved to be have a life that involves both of us.
Then the fireworks really began. She then attacked me, saying that she was “done” with me, she was not coming back, she had made up her mind, she would never change that mind, and so on. She told me that she did not love me any more, in fact she did not love me at all. She claimed that I was just holding on to an impossible situation, and that I just would not let her go. She began to call me “sick,” telling me that I needed to see a psychiatrist. She told me that she was disgusted with me and with our relationship. She claimed that I was harassing her, and at a couple of points, she threatened me. First, she told me she’d get a restraining order. I simply looked at her calmly but increduloulsly, and said, “For what?” She had no answer. A bit later, she threatened to file for divorce. To this, I simply said, “What are you talking about?” It was clear from her reply that she had no plan whatsoever, and that these threats were likely as empty as the air through which they were uttered.
There were many other things that were uttered, far too many for me to recount here, and far too many for me to clearly remember. This pushback went on for about 45 minutes. I did draw a few lines in the sand.
At one point, she predictably asked me to take certain logistical steps to further cement her separation from me. For example, she asked me to cancel her cell phone and remove it from the plan. I stopped her when she mentioned this, saying, “Look, I don’t want to talk to you about this anymore. I simply cannot do anything that would further any separation between us or that might undermine our relationship.” This, of course, made her quite angry, but I refused to comply.
She then began to play the angle of her feeling trapped, cornered, or as though she were in a cage. I told her that it made no sense to me, because that cage seemed to be as vast as the sky. She had, after all, taken the initiative to remove herself from both our relationship and from our marital home. She claimed that my reaching out to her made her feel as though she were being pushed into a corner. In response, I asked her how it were possible that someone reaching out to her with love could in any way be oppressive. Her reply was to call this “selfish love” — as though such a thing exists — and she began to impugn, among other things, my spiritual path. (Actually, I guess she’s right to do this, to some extent: if I were really a diligent practitioner, I probably would not be writing this blog, or at least not in the way I have been doing it.) When I attempted to tell her how I felt about this, she interrupted me, telling me that I had no idea how she felt. So, I asked her to tell me how she felt, and I’d just listen. She simply regurgitated previous material, saying she felt cornered, I wouldn’t let go, et cetera. Then, I said, “Okay, I’ve heard how you feel. Now let me tell you how I feel.” I won’t reprint what I said here, but suffice to say that I was honest, a bit blunt, and quite forceful with my choice of words — all eight of them. I was not rude, but rather very frank. She met my comment with a repeated barrage of things like, “that’s because you’re just holding on,” or “you just won’t let go,” and so on.
Honestly, it was a very difficult conversation to have, because it really wasn’t a conversation. Most of the time, she sat there, justifying herself, refusing to listen to me, and when I did try to speak, she would just interrupt me and attempt to justify herself some more. Nevertheless, I think I did get a few of things to sink in:
First, I asked her what I had done to hurt her so badly that she would need to treat me this way now. She had no reply other than, “you won’t let me go,” and, when I prompted her to go back to the period prior to our crisis erupting, she simply had nothing whatsoever to say.
Second, I asked her what was going on in her life right now that made her feel like she could not be totally open and transparent with me. This is dangerous territory, as I was basically giving her an open invitation to tell me that she was still committing adultery. She did not take it. She just continued to dissemble, prevaricate, and justify.
Third, I told her that she had told me a few weeks earlier that she had recognized the fact that she had hurt me, and that she said that she had to take responsibility for what she has done. I told her that appreciated the sentiment, but would like to know when she would actually take that responsibility. Again, she attempted to interrupt, saying that her taking responsibility equated to walking away from our marriage. Here, I drew another line in the sand. I told her that taking responsibility would mean recognizing the pain she had caused and how she had caused it, which she had already done, but would further mean that she would have to commit both to stopping any such actions, should they be ongoing, as well as to never do any such things again in the future. Then, she would need to come to me with true remorse and ask for forgiveness. This message did sink in, briefly, before she began again to rationalize and justify.
Finally, after her continued protestations about my not letting go and the torture she said it was causing her soul, I simply asked her, “What do you want me to do?”
“Walk away,” she said, “just walk away.”
“I can’t do that,” I told her, and I explained why: in order for me to walk away, I would have to agree with her that adultery is not wrong, that betraying your spouse’s trust is not wrong, that lying to your spouse is not wrong, that abandoning your spouse through separation is not wrong, and that being secretive and hiding things from your spouse is not wrong. I told her that I found all of these ideas to be morally offensive, and I simply could not pervert my moral views for the sake of her immoral agenda.
It had taken about forty-five minutes to get to this point, and not once did she make any effort to get up and leave. It was sort of like a game of chicken, to see who would cave in first. When I told her with this last statement that I would not give in to her agenda, she said, “obviously this discussion is going nowhere.”
Then she got up and left. That was two days ago.
Yesterday, she apparently got on a plane, and is somewhere overseas with the adulterer for a few days.
So folks, here I am, still at home, still faithful and committed to my marriage, one full year after the commission of her horrible act of carnal betrayal. I suspect that there may be a bumpy ride up ahead as her path begins to crumble further. Right now she is attempting to keep it together by avoiding me, but as she certainly knows by now, there really is no way for her to throw me. I’ve endured everything up to this point, and I can certainly endure anything and everything else that might happen. Simply put, I can outlast the adulterer and his devious designs for my wife, and I can outlast my wife’s infatuation with that fantasy life, a fantasy that doubtless is fading fast.
While the future is uncertain, there are certain outcomes that I believe are likely. She will continue to feel that pressure that I supposedly assert on her, pressure that is nothing more than the weight of her conscience. She will repress this more and more, and eventually she will show the adulterer that side of her personality that she showed me two days ago. It’s more than likely he has already seen it, just not in its full force. When he does see that, he will end that relationship, and he will throw her out. Then, I will be dealing with an angry, heart-broken, depressed, and embarrassed woman; then and only then will she be ready to heal.