All posts by rodion

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.

A Tale of Three Rings, Then None, Then Two (and Still None)

There is no ring.

Well, actually there is one—or in fact, there are two. Let me explain.

Once upon a time, there were three rings: my wedding ring, my ex-wife’s engagement ring, and her wedding ring. These were not only symbolic, but were very significant to both of us. We got engaged at a time when neither of us had a lot of money. The engagement ring was a family heirloom that was nearly 100 years old. It was priceless. The wedding ring belonged to my grandmother, who passed away some time ago. It was also nearly 100 years old, and it too was priceless. I had not planned on wearing a wedding band, but she insisted—and bought me one—because she felt it was a very important symbol of our commitment to one another. It was important to me as a symbol that I was “off the market,” so to speak. These were Our Three Rings.

I had never worn a ring before, but she put that ring on my finger the day we were married and it stayed there long after the marital crisis began. I took the ring off only on the morning that the divorce was finalized, and I did so because my attorney told me to. I’m not sure why it even mattered, but the attorney thought it did; she wanted it off my finger before I went into the courtroom.

My ex-wife treasured her engagement and wedding rings. To her, they were truly priceless. That is, until the affair started. She took them off shortly after the affair began, and even had the audacity to claim that I should have bought her rings, not given her family “hand-me-downs,” or something like that. All of this was very hurtful to me, but you know, the adulterer could not exactly parade her around as “his woman” if she wore something that so obviously showed she was not single. I never asked her to return the rings to me. It was just that one day, as I was cleaning up her office, I found the rings on a very high shelf—a shrine she kept—and I would not have seen them had I not gone up there to clean.

I have kept the rings in a safe place ever since then—hers and mine. They are bound together by a bracelet cord a friend gave me on the day the divorce was finalized. I told myself I’d wear that bracelet as a symbol of my commitment for a year, or until she came home.

A year passed, and I took off the bracelet. I tied it around the rings and put them in that safe place where they remain to this day, symbolically connected by some karmic force that cannot be undone.

When I saw my ex a few months ago, she was already “married.” She had had a “show” wedding in Japan from which videos surfaced on Facebook. In those videos, she and the adulterer exchanged rings, putting them on each other’s left hand ring finger. This is significant. It is significant because in every other picture I have seen of the adulterer since, and there have been many that have surfaced publicly, he does not wear a ring. So, let’s call this Ring Number Zero because there is no ring.

It is also significant because, when I sat with her on that day for the first time in just over three years, she was wearing a ring, but it was on her left hand middle finger. It was a decorative ring that did not in any obvious way broadcast to the world that she was a married woman. So, let’s call this Ring Number One because it is a ring, albeit with the caveat that it does not obviously signify a marriage commitment. Well, she apparently was not legally married: the Japanese wedding was purely ceremonial, and presumably there had not been any kind of civil process to formalize it legally. Still, she covered up that ring when I first sat down to talk to her. She stopped covering it up when she saw that I had no interest in any jewelry she might be wearing, but she did not exactly try to make it visible, either.

A wedding notice was published in the paper here a couple weeks after that, and the records show that they did get legally married in this state a few days after that notice appeared. The adulterer did not begin to wear any ring after this time. This is curious. It is curious because some months prior to all this he publicly posted about a ring maker who makes custom wedding bands; in the comments he noted that he had worn a ring “the last time [he] was married”; this seemed to imply that he would order rings from this ring maker once he married again. He did not.

My ex-wife also did not begin to wear any rings other than Ring Number One, i.e. the decorative one, since the legal marriage was effected. This is also curious. In this case, it is curious because of the significance that her wedding rings from me—the only ones she has ever received.

She received the engagement ring from me on the day I asked her to marry me.

She received no ring from the adulterer when he asked her to marry him.

She received the wedding ring from me on the day we were married.

Who knows when or from whom she got that decorative ring, but it ain’t no obvious wedding band. 

Yesterday, I learned that my ex-wife’s brother got engaged. He posted a picture on Facebook showing his fiancée’s left hand, with a beautiful engagement ring on her ring finger. This is Ring Number Two.

Exactly one week before this, the adulterer publicly posted pictures of himself on his professional Facebook page that showed him holding various products he was touting. The pictures show his hands clearly, and one is a closeup. He still does not wear any ring. Ring Number: Zero.

I know they both reacted to my ex-brother-in-law’s photo of his fiancée’s wedding ring—through the “like” button. What is unknown is how they reacted internally or to each other.

She got an engagement ring from me on the day I asked her to marry me.

She got nothing from the adulterer when he asked her to marry him.

She still has nothing symbolically significant from him, even though they married.

I don’t want to be a mind-reader, but I do think this probably got under her skin. Her brother made a big deal of the engagement, as did I nearly thirteen years ago. The adulterer two years ago did heaven-knows-what, but it was no such big deal. He may have blown a lot of money on the show wedding in Japan, but it does appear that everything was rented, from the traditional bridal kimono and groom garb down to the wedding bands that were exchanged.

You can rent an outfit you’ll only wear once, but you cannot rent a commitment.

And even though I don’t want to be a mind-reader, I do think that the adulterer has an ulterior motive for not wearing a ring. He might say that it is because he is a gardener and works in soil, dirt, and other muck that a ring might get damaged, dirty, or whatever. Such thoughts apparently did not deter him before, when he was “last married.” I suspect, however, that his ulterior motive might be less pure: perhaps he does not want women he meets to know that he is unavailable.  In fact, back in the early days of the affair, the marriage coach I worked with told me that “guys like him typically have several women they’re stringing along at a time”; he’d seen the scenario many times over in his career. The adulterer is a gardener who has a lot of high-end clients. Not that that means much; he’s just one of the many garden-variety (excuse the pun) gardeners one finds in the neighborhoods he works in. But it does put him in the position to meet any number of affluent women, above and beyond women he might meet elsewhere.

There are a lot of memories and a lot of significance associated with Our Three Rings. Something tells me that Ring Number Two will be symbolic beyond her brother’s engagement.  It could be the symbol that points directly at Ring Number Zero and hence to their undoing and uncoupling.

From Seeming Hopeful to Seemingly Hopeless

I saw my ex-wife again a couple days ago. It was in the same place—a little coffee shop in our old neighborhood. I wrapped up an appointment a bit early and dropped by for a coffee and to send a few emails before heading to my office. As I entered, she was seated at a table right next to the door. I had to wait in line and was thus standing just a few feet away from her; I had no reason to believe there was any cause for concern, so I took a couple of steps over to her table to quickly say hello.

She was wearing earbuds and wrapped up in her work, but this is not normally a deterrent for most people to greet another. I said hello and asked her how she was. She was rather unfriendly and more or less rebuffed me, saying she was okay. She did not even bother to make eye contact. I got a look at her face and she looked terrible—dark black circles around her eyes, which looked kind of splotchy, almost as if she had been crying recently. “Are you okay?” I asked, feeling genuine concern. She said she was fine, and was rather curt.

I recognized this energy. It’s the energy of obstinacy.

I have a lot of experience with obstinacy. In fact, at some point during this blog’s life, a quick Google search for the term “obstinate spouse” would bring this blog as the top hit (it currently ranks #2 or 3—on my browser, anyway—as I write this). I figured something had gone wrong in her life and I’d just be the target of her unhappiness. So, I figured it was best to leave well enough alone. I got my coffee and went and sat at a table out of her view, sent my emails, then packed up and left. I had to pass right by her table as I left, so I waved goodbye. She just ignored me.

Something really changed in her life in the past few weeks, and she did not seem happy about what that change means to her life right now. This was the behavior of someone who is truly obstinate.

I later texted one of her friends and suggested that she call my ex-wife; I felt that something was wrong enough that the friend would do well to try to find out was wrong with her. This same friend promised a couple of months ago to talk to my ex-wife, but by her own admission never did.  I had spoken to this friend the night before this most recent encounter, in fact, and the friend told me she would talk to her. Somehow, I doubt that has happened.

Soon thereafter, I discovered that a marriage certificate had been issued on that same day. That is, the county records office recorded this document on the very morning that I most recently saw my ex-wife. I don’t know when the marriage was officiated, but it likely happened in the preceding few days.

No wonder she was so unfriendly.

As you’ll recall from my last post, my ex-wife admitted to me two significant things: 1) she thinks about me often, and 2) she misses her dog. I have no reason to think that either of these has changed. But now, she all but guarantees herself that she can never see her dog. Why? Not because I’d forbid it; I’d never do that. No, she cannot see her dog because the adulterer would never allow it. She knows that. He has proven time and again that he is insecure, controlling, manipulative, and even perhaps a bit paranoid. Therefore, her brief encounter with me this week reminds her of the magnitude of the sacrifice she has made—for this fantasy life that will never work out.

Okay, really I get it: conventional wisdom would say that she married the adulterer because they love each other and are happy together, so this is just a natural step. But remember, conventional wisdom would also indicate that I never would have had such a positive encounter with my ex-wife just a few weeks ago. So, I don’t pay much heed to conventional wisdom.

The reality is likely quite different. More likely than not, things have been falling apart between them for quite some time. She entered limerence a lot faster than he did, and seems to have exited it sooner and faster than he, at least as far as I can tell. He would therefore normally follow the pattern of becoming manipulative to keep her in the relationship—and he is a master manipulator. What could be more manipulative than giving her the wedding ceremony she always wanted? He could follow that up with other stuff, but these would also be manipulative acts that eventually will backfire.

She doubtless knows deep inside that she is still living her life out of accordance with her values and this must be eating her up from the inside. She likely feels that she destroyed so much that she can never come back. She probably feels like she has to take her chances on a life out in the boondocks with a serial adulterer who is now on marriage #3. (Or maybe #4 from what I heard in the past. That is, that there was a marriage very early in his life that ended when that wife cheated on him, and that he was so despondent that he nearly committed suicide.) By any measure, this is a losing bet.

I know all the statistics. Third marriages have at best a 25% chance of success. Marriages starting as adulterous relationships fail at a rate 25% higher than normal. 25% minus 25% equals zero. It really does seem that the chances for that marriage to survive are pretty much nil. If I were a betting man, I would not put any money on the odds that they might grow old together.

For now, the question is how long this marriage will last. The adulterer’s last marriage lasted just under six months before that woman, wife #2 (or perhaps #3) divorced him. Perhaps this one will go down the tubes even faster.

Anyway, I likely shall not have much to write here unless the situation changes. As always, I ask if you feel so inclined and inspired to pray for my ex-wife that she may leave her errant path once and for all, so that she may walk a new path very soon. May that path be one that is wholesome and honest, and may I be her companion on that path.

The Silence Breaks

So, I bumped into my ex-wife today and we had coffee.


Yes, that’s actually what happened today. I dropped by a coffee shop in my old neighborhood and she happened to be there, too.

So, you may be wondering what happens when you encounter an ex-wife who had been incredibly hostile, combative, and adversarial? I have to say that my encounter today turned out totally different than I could have ever expected.

I walked into that coffee shop without knowing she’d be there. Yet there she was, sitting at a table near the place where coffee orders are picked up, so I knew I’d have to encounter her. I placed my order and went over to wait for it; this meant that I was standing about five feet away from her table and she is facing me. So, I just said her name—in the familiar form I had always used.

She looked up. I said, “Hi, how are you.” She said, “fine,” and looked back down at whatever she’d been looking at before. That was it, I guess. I thought there’d be nothing more, but at least I’d been cordial. I turned back around to wait for my coffee.

A few long seconds passed, and she says, “How are you?”

Uhhhh… what?

I walked over to her table and told her I was doing great; I read the situation very quickly and realized this was an invitation to talk. So, I sat down and we chatted—for pretty close to a half hour. We talked, we joked, we laughed, we reminisced. She asked about my family and I hers; we filled each other in on details. She told me about some of the work she was doing and I shared mine. It was like I had never missed a day with her and we were just catching up.

She revealed a couple of things to me that were very telling, however. She said that she thought she had recently seen my car nearby, so she thought I still lived in the area. I told her that I no longer had that car (it was unmistakable, but there are also a lot of identical cars on the road) and had recently traded up to something better. I had long suspected that every time she’d see a car like that one, she’d think about me, and this seems to be the case.

She also asked about our dog and told me that she had been thinking about her, “a lot, actually.” I somehow thought this would be the case as well. I shared some recent pictures and videos of the dog with her and her heart was clearly touched. I told her that she was always welcome to see the dog whenever she wanted. She initially demurred, but I assured her it would be okay.

She never once mentioned the other man, nor did she mention anything connected with him—nothing about where she lives, what she might be doing with him, and so on, even though so much of this she makes publicly available. I did not ask, and she did not offer. That is exactly as it should have been.

Some twenty to thirty minutes had passed by this point, and she reminded me that I’d better get on the road so I could get to the office. Again, I read the situation and realized I could just give her a hug on the way out. And I did. And she did not object.

I held her hand and told her not to be a stranger. I told her that I would be there for her if she ever needed anything, and that she just need to call or email. And I told her again how wonderful it had been to see her.

And then I left.

Conventional wisdom would say that things like this can never happen. Conventional wisdom would say that she would hate my guts forever and never want to see me again. Conventional wisdom would say all that and a lot of other things, too.

But conventional wisdom is just plain wrong.

I spent nearly two and a half years fighting for my marriage. My struggles, my triumphs, and my failures are all documented in the posts on this blog. I showered her with unconditional love despite everything that was happening and despite all the rather unpleasant things she felt she needed to do. This is likely a big part of why things turned out the way they did today.

Also critical to this was the fact that she saw a man today who was quite different from the one she wanted to leave behind several years ago. She saw a man who is self-assured, confident, open, relaxed, non-judgmental, caring, and kind. She saw in me an openness and a freedom that she has not known for years, and I think she deeply yearns to have that in her life again.

I do not know right now where any of this will lead. I left the entire experience on a positive note and walked away with gentleness and kindness. That was her last experience of me today, and I think it is a good experience that will stay with her.

So, my dear readers, I have asked you before, if you feel so inclined, to pray for her, and I’m going to ask you to do so again. Please just pray for her that finally her eyes be opened and that she can see her errant path for what it is. Pray that she finally want to abandon that path and walk a new one—a path that lead to wholeness, true happiness, and enduring love. Pray that she decide to walk that path with me and that our reunion can serve as a beacon of hope for those who feel their situations to be hopeless.

Clearly there is hope, but it requires both faith and action. If you’re facing a similar situation in your marriage, please do not give up hope. Please keep the faith, and have the courage to take the right action. You may be amazed at what can happen.

Limerence and the “Halo Effect”

Limerence comes in many situations and in different forms.

A young man falls in love with his college sweetheart and experiences limerence; if both he and the sweetheart are single, there is likely little problem. A deep sense of longing and desire for the partner develops; she is perfect and can do no wrong, and this makes him feel euphoric whenever he is with her and makes him yearn for her when she is away. This is the romantic love that is the subject of so many novels, poems, movies, and songs.

A middle-aged woman connects with a man in the workplace or in some other environment they both inhabit and becomes limerent. One or both of them are married and their relationship violates societal norms and the moral codes of various religions. Yet they feel that they are getting something vital from the relationship—something that is missing from their primary relationship with the spouse. This partner seems perfect and can also do no wrong, despite the fact that there are obvious character flaws that have allowed their inappropriate relationship to develop. Nevertheless, they  feel euphoric when they are together, pine for each other when they are apart, and experience guilt at the impropriety of their actions. Theirs is a forbidden love, one that is also the subject of so many more novels, poems, movies, and songs.

One feature common to both of these relationships is the belief that the romantic partner is “perfect,” yet there is an obvious problem here: no one is perfect; everyone has his or her flaws, major or minor. The college sweetheart might be rude to waiters at restaurants; her boyfriend dismisses this as a sign of her perfectionism that demands the best from everyone—especially if she is paying for something. He may even find this endearing, but certainly will overlook it. The middle-aged woman ignores the ring on her affair partner’s finger and the knowledge that this man is willing to violate his marriage vows to be with her. She will make excuses for his behavior and tell herself that he is still trustworthy, despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

This is the “halo effect.”

These two relationships are on opposing ends of a spectum; on the one side, “normal” relationships occur, and on the other, “deviant” ones, such as adultery. But, this is a spectrum, and there is room for relationships to fall somewhere in the middle. This post is the story of one such relationship.

There is a person I know, albeit not very well—she is more or less an acquaintance I have made through professional circles—who has been quite public over the past few months via social media about relationship developments in her life. In the past, I have mostly known about her married life, her two kids, and her apparently devoted husband of the past decade. Thus it came as quite a surprise a few months ago when another man entered the scene and apparently created an odd sort of relationship triangle. This man was interacting with the kids and with her husband, spending time at the holidays with both in what seemed like a rather uncomfortable way. There were pictures of his presence and interactions with the kids and professions of how wonderful he was and how patient and accepting the husband was of the situation. Yet it was hard to tease this apart; it looked for all the world like an extramarital affair, but there was no direct evidence of such, and the husband was aware of the whole thing.

Very recently the nature of this relationship became clear as the whole situation crumbled to the ground. These revelations came directly from the acquaintance as she aired all her thoughts and feelings over social meda in the form of a public confession.

A couple of years ago, this acquaintance reconnected with an old college friend whom she had not seen for perhaps a couple decades. He was in jail at the time for some sort of drug-related offense. They began to talk on the phone, and the conversations became more frequent and intimate until they were happening nearly every day. By her own admission, they would talk for up to two hours at a time, and her chats with him allowed her to open up emotionally in a way that made her feel understood, safe, and loved.

I’ll just pause the narrative right here to point out that this is already the sign of a serious problem in the marriage. Ideally, the spouse is the person who should make his partner feel understood, safe, and loved; a spouse will typically usually confide in someone else in this way if there is a breakdown in the intimacy of the marriage. Mort Fertel, in his marriage coaching program Marriage Fitness, refers to this dynamic as “emotional infidelity.” This can happen between a man and a woman, as it had in this case; it can also happen between a woman and her closest girlfriend, or a man and his best golf buddy. The key thing here is that the emotional intimacy of the marriage is being compromised by the presence of a third person who is being told things that only the spouse should know.

Returning to our story, the acquaintance developed a deep emotional bond over the subsequent months with the incarcerated friend, going to visit him in jail, writing him letters, phoning him every day, and making plans. At some point, she apparently felt that this man was the love of her life that she was fated to be with. He was soon to be paroled and she even publicly asked her acquaintances via social media to write letters to the parole board in support of his case. It was also around this time that she asked her husband for a divorce.

Her husband agreed; not that he had much choice, mind you, as this is all taking place in a state with no-fault divorce laws. She merely needed to assert that the marriage was “irretrievably broken”—wording that is ever so conveniently pre-written into divorce petitions in this state—and the courts would willingly agree. Her husband nonetheless maintained a presence in her life through all this because of the kids, although it is hard to know whether they still lived together.

Soon after the divorce proceedings were filed, this man was paroled and came to visit his professed life partner. They spent the holidays together in the aforementioned public and rather awkward relationship triangle that was broadcast so visibly over social media. It seems that there also had been a number of people who had advised her that she was on the wrong path. After all, she was married, had kids, and was wanting to throw all that down the drain in favor of a relationship with a man who had documented drug abuse problems and who resultantly for years had been in and out of jail.

This is not to say that this man is a bad person, of course—I doubt he is—but rather that her choice did not appear to be a very sound one. Emotions are illogical, however, and a person in the throes of limerence is not likely to listen to the logical appeals of friends and family. If it feels right, it must be right. She willingly overlooked the behavioral flaws of this recent parolee and professed that he has changed, and that he can and will change further.

This is the “halo effect” in action.

The divorce appears to have gone final in the early part of this year and soon thereafter appeared on social media engagement pictures of the acquaintance and her recently paroled friend, both wearing engagement rings. They lived many miles apart—he had been jailed in another state—but had plans to be together for good. There were the expected “likes” and statements of congratulations; behind the scenes, there likely were also the admonitions and words of caution from concerned friends and family.

A few short months later, the story of these fate-driven life partners falls apart. The man’s addictions won the day and he soon found himself back in jail again. The acquaintance felt betrayed and heartbroken. She made a public confession over social media that their engagement was over and that they would not marry. She had decided to break of their relationship entirely. She asked others not to say “I told you so.” She struggled to come to terms with her obvious and understandable grieving. She sought counsel from friends and professionals. The halo that she saw over this man’s head was just an illusion after all.

It’s unclear where this person’s story leads now. She is divorced and caring for two kids. The ex-husband is still in the picture and appears devoted to his family and still seems to care for her. My instincts and experienc tell me that this aborted engagement could be a blessing in disguise; it could be the impetus by which they could learn the relationship skills that would give them a real life-long partnership filled with trust, devotion, and profound intimacy. It could be the start of a successful reconciliation. Only time will if that will be their outcome. I do hope it is.

To me, this brought home the extent to which a person can be deluded by romantic fantasy. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, of course, so it’s difficult to watch someone else go through it—especially knowing that the person will never listen to the timely and well-intentioned (and possibly well-informed) counsel of others. Limerence and its halo effect is just too powerful. They sometimes only learn when it is too late and the damage has been done. Hopefully for her and her family, that damage will be repaired.

Glimpses from the Other Side; Or, the Grass Really Is Not Greener

So, I changed my mind. I’ve decided to leave this blog up and running for at least a little while longer. This is because some information came my way this morning that seems to be a game-changer of sorts.

This morning, I had a long chat today with one of ex-wife’s oldest friends. Let’s call her “F” because she’s a friend. She also hails from the same country as my ex-wife. (Let’s call her “xW” to cut the word count a bit.) F reached out to me a couple of months ago because an old boyfriend of hers had died unexpectedly. We ended up having a short but pleasant exchange of messages. Her last message asked me to stay in touch. I said I would, and that was that, or so I thought. Then the unexpected news about my ex-wife ‘s apparent wedding landed like a ton of bricks on my computer screen.  So, I decided to reach out to her.

F had, to my knowledge, been in fairly recent contact with xW.  She, along with another mutual friend (let’s call her “M” because she’s a mutual friend), had visited xW last summer. We talked at length about her recently departed boyfriend, a very kind-hearted soul who had a history of health problems. He also somewhat lacked ambition, and this led F to leave him to pursue her elsewhere.

Nevertheless, they remained very close. He was someone she could always turn to for advice. He saw in her a wife of sorts, to whom he never married and from whom he lived mostly in physical separation. He just did not want any other woman in his life.

F was still mourning his loss. It turned out that she and I really see eye-to-eye about many aspects of relationships, in particular dedication and devotion to one’s partner. The topic then naturally shifted to xW.

F told me a lot of things, some of which I knew, many I did not. I told her a few things that I felt she should know, so that she could convey these to xW if she were to talk to her. For example, I told her about the way in which I was served divorce papers by OM’s brother: he brought his teenage daughter, who helped him find our house but who remained in his truck during the “service” ; he tried to defend his brother by describing my marriage as “already destroyed”; and he responded to my factual labeling of his brother as an adulterer by saying, “Well, I guess that makes xW an adulteress then.” F was really shocked at this and thought the comment quite nasty. She told me that she had met the brother and thought he was, well, sort of a jerk. (For that reason, let’s call him “J.”)

F and M ended up staying for at the adulterer’s place (elsewhere on this blog known as “Camp Chickenshit,” or “Camp C-S” for short) for the evening martial arts practice that was to happen there. J gave some instruction to the visitors and ended up harshly criticized M. (Are you following all the initials?) M had no prior experience and was trying some basic techniques. Thus, J was not very kind. Well, come to think of it, neither is serving someone divorce papers, or keeping a daughter waiting in the truck whiIe daddy goes and delivers those family-destroying documents. Incidentally, J told me during that incident that his wife (let’s not give her an initial, because she only figures once) was currently divorcing him. Surprised?

I also told F how xW had not seen her dog—her most treasured possession—for over three years. F was shocked because she thought that xW and I were even now just taking turns caring for the dog. She actually did not know that I have had essentially no contact with xW since the divorce was finalized nearly three years ago. Therefore, I explained the hostility and nastiness I had received during the divorce process, all of which had seemed to have been driven by the adulterer. (Let’s not give him an initial; I think it’s worth being clear and open about what he does.) There were other details, but you get the idea.

F then told me some things she had learned about the adulterer. First, he apparently has a history of adultery, or “problems with married women,” as she put it. This has included women from his past calling him at home or trying to contact him, and xW either receiving these phone calls or otherwise finding out. xW seems to have denied these as significant, claiming that she could “trust him,” but in reality these were disturbing to her. Second, there was the revelation that OM is not nearly as affluent as he claims to be.  When xW’s mother was diagnosed a couple years ago with an illness that would soon claim her life, xW frustratedly confessed that she couldn’t go visit because she didn’t have the money. “What’s your man doing, then?” F asked her. He had apparently not offered to fly her over there, which to me is shocking.

F also confirmed that the adulterer has had multiple marriages but was surprised to learn that his last one had lasted just under six months. Yes, that’s right—six months, then that wife divorced him. One can only wonder…

In short, it seems clear that there are many obvious problems with this adulterer that xW has apparently chosen to ignore. This of course seems to fit the pattern of the stereotypical “romantic” adulterous relationship; that is, one that is based on limerence.

F also told me some things about xW. In particular, she revealed some of xW’s feelings about me, along with some things she had said. xW was apparently a bit upset with me at one point because she felt that I had believed that she could never finish her graduate degree without my help. (Actually, I never said nor believed this.)

Then, there was a major revelation. After xW had broached the issue of the adulterer’s “other women” and the related trust issues that provoked, F told her, “you know, with [Rodion] you would never have to worry about that.” xW agreed without hesitation.

Wow. It really makes me wonder why she wants to be with this adulterer, and why she has not just run in the opposite direction as hard as she can. This probably shows the kind of emotional intimacy that she is missing in her life with the adulterer and may indeed be longing for.

One final thing that came up was that even though she had seen the “wedding” pictures and commented on them, F actually did not know whether xW had legally married the adulterer or not. She asked, “Do you know if they just did the ceremony, or did they actually get married?” In xW’s home country, religious marriage rituals are just ceremonial; one has to do a civil marriage process to be legally married. My hunch—and it’s only a hunch—is that the adulterer really is not committed and may have opted out of the legal process. Heck, it would be a lot easier for him to cut xW out of his life if there were no legal entanglements. You’d think he’d have learned that from his other divorces.

So, the picture emerges here very much fits the model of a stereotypical emotionally-driven affair. Both partners are limerent, they are ignoring obvious faults, and the straying spouse realizes the value of what she left behind.

This emerging picture also seems to corroborate some evidence that shows that xW was exiting limerence at least a year ago if not more, but was not far enough out of it that the adulterer could reel her back in. Heck, he knows all the buttons to push by now, and this traditional marriage ritual was a dream of hers that we never fulfilled. It also seems that the adulterer  put a lot of money forward—and possibly incurred substantial debt—to make this happen.

So what happens next? Only time will tell. However, once they return stateside, life will become ordinary again. Reality should strike pretty hard soon thereafter, and she will suddenly and abruptly realize that her life has not actually changed. They will together enter the final stage of limerence, and the resentment that characterizes that stage should arise. She already has plenty of reasons to look at him and say, “look what you cost me”; she gave up her marriage, her home, her clients, her money, her dog, and on and on. And he’ll be able to pull out all the bills from that “dream wedding” he arranged and perhaps a “fantasy honeymoon” should that have followed. “Yeah? Look what you cost me,” he’ll say.

Somehow, I feel quite confident that this all of this will lead to their undoing.

This May Be My Last Post

I started this blog in early 2012, shortly after learning of my ex-wife’s affair and shortly after committing myself to fighting for my marriage. I never really intended for this blog to be anything more than an outlet for me to share my experiences in the hope that it might help others. Over time, this blog has been a place of refuge for me; it has been my “counselor” to whom I could air my thoughts and ruminations; it has been a place where I could post sources of help and stories of hope.

It seems my hope has—for now, at least—run out. It seems that today, of all days, my ex-wife got married to the adulterer.

My ex-wife started a virtual friendship many years ago with a woman in her home country who runs a lifestyle and fashion business. They got to know each other first via a blog my ex-wife wrote about our dog; then they connected on Facebook and got to know each other. When the affair started, this woman apparently became a cheerleader for the affair, buying into the idea that ex-wife genuinely was happier in her adulterous relationship—which, I might add, this woman knew was adulterous.

I learned that ex-wife and the adulterer had gone to her home country together a couple of days ago; this woman posted pictures yesterday of ex-wife, her brother, the adulterer, and several others having dinner. Tonight, this same woman broadcast pictures and videos on Facebook of ex-wife getting married to the adulterer in a shrine in her home country.

This came as quite a shock, to say the least.

I know all the statistics by heart:

  • Only 1-3% of adulterous relationships result in marriage.
  • Of those who marry, at least 75% see their marriages end in divorce.
  • Marriages that began as adulterous relationships fail at rates 15% higher than normal in 1-3 years.
  • This figure escalates to 25% higher than normal divorce rates within 5 years.
  • These figures escalate whatever divorce likelihood already exists (e.g. 65% of second marriages ending in divorce).
  • The adulterer has been married twice—at least as far as I know. His second marriage lasted barely six months. Thus his third marriage—all other things being equal, which they’re not—is 75% likely to fail.
  • Ex-wife is going into a second marriage which from her side, which—all other things being equal (which again, they’re not)—is 65% likely to fail.
  • They have been together for five years already; thus the likely escalator for this marriage is 25%.

It’s easy to do the math: 75% + 25% for the adulterer equals almost 100% likelihood of divorce from his side; 65% + 25% from ex-wife equals at least 90% likelihood of divorce from her side. The odds for them simply are not good. They never have been and certainly aren’t any better now.

As to what I’ll do next, well, I’m not sure. I still have a lot of her possessions; some of these include gifts from her family. I may just ship them to the adulterer’s house so that she can have them. I still own the web domains for her websites and to my knowledge she still uses them. I may quietly take them down.

She always wanted the wedding in a home-country shrine; we never did that. She finally got what she wanted.

He apparently always wanted a wife from her country because he practices that country’s indigenous religion and one of its native martial arts. He finally got what he wanted.

They both finally got what they wanted.

I do believe in karma and can at least take comfort in the knowledge that whatever negative karma I have committed against her in this life or some other has now been fully repaid. I will never have to suffer the effects of that karmic debt anymore.

However, the fullness of the karmic debt that they have both incurred with me has now reached its apex and that debt will have to be repaid, in this life or some other. That’s how it works, according to the great realized masters of the past and present.

So, I will bid adieu for now to my beautiful ex-wife for whom I fought long and hard with all my blood and tears. She and the adulterer will now have nothing but the winds of their karma to carry them where it may.

This may be my valedictory post, so I wish to thank you all for reading; I wish to thank you for all your kind comments and the sharing of your own experiences; I wish to thank you all for your private messages of good wishes and encouragement.

May you all see your marriages reconciled, restored to full health, and may you enjoy them as they become fuller, happier, and more vibrant and joyful than you could have imagined.