Change in the weather

You know that old saying about the weather in Ireland? “Wait 5 minutes and it will change.” I sometimes feel that a similar saying should be applied to my marriage. Maybe something like “wait 24 hours and it will change.” Things have changed, and fairly substantially, and I think one of the people to whom I owe this change was someone whom I somewhat disparaged in my last post.

Yesterday, my wife went to have a session with an “energy worker.” We talked about it this morning, so I now have more details. Although I still hold to my previous assertion that this person gave amateurish marital advice, and should stick only to things that she is qualified to do, i.e. massage (she actually has a license for that), there were at least a couple of things that apparently came up that have influenced my wife’s behavior. My wife got a referral to visit this person from her hair stylist. The stylist is a very talented woman who works at a salon catering to Japanese clientele. Moreover, the salon is co-owned by the wife of an extremely famous major-league baseball player, whom I have personally seen there during the off-season getting a manicure. Okay, that’s not relevant, but at least maybe it’s a bit entertaining… yes, I digress.

The “energy worker” did an energy reading for my wife, resulting in the verdict that she has a serious energy imbalance manifesting in upper chakras that are wide open and lower chakras that are totally blocked. Now before you might go off and say that this is a bunch of new-agey BS (and to some extent I’d be right there with you) I do experientially know that the idea of chakras, energy meridians, and so forth seems more real than western science typically would allow. So that means I’m on board with the idea of chakras, et cetera. She told my wife that she needed to do some “grounding” work. Now, in many meditative traditions (including mine) this is actually very important, and there are many ways to do it. She was encouraged to walk barefoot on the soil, to get her hands into the dirt, and so on. That’s okay, except for the fact that, in this part of the country, what we have this time of year is mud.

The other advice she seems to have been given — I base this on information I overheard as well as on her behavior this morning — is that she needs to a) be mindful of my feelings and attempt to heal them, b) express gratitude to me, and c) understand that her chosen “path” (i.e. separation) is one that will take time. It is actually this latter that marks the marital advice as amateurish: there does not seem to have been any criticism of the affair, at least to my knowledge. Of course, I was not there, so I could not vouch for that, but I just cannot imagine how anyone could sit there and allow someone to natter on about an affair and not be at least a little bit uncomfortable.

The way this manifested this morning was as follows: My wife arrived home as per habit sometime around 8:30 a.m. I made her coffee and we exchanged pleasantries. She offered to come into the dining room and have coffee with me there, and we chatted for a bit. So far so good. Then she says the three words that nobody wants to hear: “can we talk?” In the past, my pulse would have gotten elevated, and I would be at least nervous, if not a bit scared. This time, I calmly sat there and said, “sure.”

We talked for probably about an hour. It began with her thanking me for all the gifts I’d given her, the phone messages, and so on — even thought I knew she had complained to friends as recently as yesterday about these things. She asked me how I knew she would be at the bus stop yesterday, when I stopped to drop off her brunch, and I said, “because you told me.” (She actually did tell me this, and even gave me the exact time of the bus, so I knew that I could arrange my morning outing so that I’d likely drive by at the right point.) She did say that she felt that that action was a bit much, and that, along with the other giving and such she felt like I was “holding on.” I’m not really sure what to, except for perhaps the idea of wanting to reconcile my marriage. After all, we still are married. I did not make any comments about stopping any such giving or other reconciliatory gestures. Were I to actually stop, I’d simply be giving in to her agenda, and that would have the effect of further damaging our marriage.

Things then got more personal, and she began to talk about her situation and the difficulties it caused for her. She felt that she really needed to be “independent” and to “know herself,” but at the same time found the situation difficult emotionally. At night she often finds herself nervous, panicked, or worried, and unable to sleep. She also mentioned that she would be moving on to house #2 next week; this is a situation I know will be deeply uncomfortable for her, so whatever she is feeling now will almost certainly get worse in the coming weeks. She said she’d be taking the dog with her, but wanted to find a compromise so that I could also see the dog and not be totally alone. (This is an expression of remorse mixed with responsibility, I think.)

There was a ton of other stuff that came up, but I think the most interesting thing for me was that she tiptoed around the subject of the affair very deftly. It was as if she wanted to talk about it, but knew that I would shut that conversation down immediately, and that on top of that I had been so deeply wounded by it that she shouldn’t even dare to mention it in my presence. Both of these suspicions, of course, were true. This tiptoeing manifested in interesting ways. For instance, I mentioned to her at one point that our house was her home, and that she should always feel welcome. She said in response that, while she really likes the house and wants to be there, that it is often very uncomfortable for her to be there. I asked her what would make her feel more comfortable, and she said something to the effect that, if I really were to understand her “path,” she’d feel more okay being at home. This essentially meant, “if you’d only accept the fact that I am having an affair and would approve of that, then I could probably handle living here.”

She also waffled on quite a bit about ethics and morality. At one point, I was very blunt with her — I warned her in advance that I was going to be blunt, too — and said, “I think you have made some very poor choices, and now you are facing the consequences of those choices.” This was not a threat, but basically as statement of fact. She did go on the defensive quite a bit here, saying essentially that morality is relative: society may decide a certain act is wrong, but that does not mean that you cannot do it if your intuition says that you should. Honestly, this is the kind of diseased thinking of an adulterer, and it is a kind of temporary insanity. It’s not so distant, in a way, from the rationalizations the criminally insane use to defend their acts.

One of the most interesting exchanges came when I asked her, “what do you want from me?” She said, “I want you to make decisions for yourself, and not to make decisions with any reference to me.” She then asked me the same question in return, and I simply said, “what I want from you, you are not able to give me right now.” I did not elaborate, but in my mind, the answer to that question was, “I want you to come home.” Sometimes things are better left unsaid.

I did, however, at one point have an opening, and I told her the one thing that would really help me would be for her to join me on a counseling session. She agreed, and I explained how that would likely work, and she seemed totally comfortable with the idea. This is huge. I could hardly have asked for a more substantial development. My counselor is not only pro-marriage, but very skillful at getting wayward spouses to articulate their feelings and agendas, and then getting them to think about what they are actually saying, and more important, doing. I do have the sense that, at this point, my wife is so confused that the positive influence of a professional who possesses experience, wisdom, and knowledge could actually prove to be transformative. All that remains at this point is for me to email the counselor with some information, and then to schedule a session. The session should hopefully occur next week.

In a very real way, the discussion this morning was a change in the tide. It was a softening of tone that really is welcome, especially in the face of her appearing to want to dig in her heels for even longer. It suggests to me that her situation is far more fragile, far more uncertain, and far more unstable than I’d previously thought. This is good news. The more stability and confidence I exude, the less tenable her position comes, and the closer we get to her coming home to reconcile.

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