Seriously, people, you don’t want friends to get involved. You don’t want family to get involved. You don’t want coworkers to get involved. You don’t want anyone to get involved in your marital situation, with the exception of a trained professional. Nobody else really can help.
As I’ve mentioned before, a colleague and mutual friend of my wife and myself inserted herself into our marital situation by giving my wife a place to stay for the next month. She has even helped my wife go out and find boxes to help with her packing. Of course, I personally find this type of behavior inappropriate: I don’t need anyone else to help make my marital crisis more of a crisis than it already is. Not that I blame this person, though. My wife confided in her, and she felt obliged to help. I can understand that. It’s an expression of our basic humanity to want to help others.
The problem is that we do need to understand when the skillful means of action is to provide assistance, and when the proper means is to take a respectful distance. If anyone ever wants to involve you in their marital crisis, the only truly helpful and ethical thing you can do is to tell them you sympathize, but that you feel it would be inappropriate to get involved. You should then refer them to a professional, if you know one.
This blog post was precipitated by the aforementioned friend. I was just at her house. I had called last night to see if I could drop off a package for my wife, since she was supposedly spending the night there. I never got a call back, but received a text this morning apologizing for not getting back to me. I was already on my way to work, and knew I’d see her soon, so we just were going to chat when there was a spare moment. That did not happen until the end of the work day; she seemed rather guilty and wanted to apologize to me for my situation and so on; I briefly let her know that I had a package to drop off, and arranged to drop by later to leave it and said we could talk then.
When I arrived at their house, I asked if my wife was there. They looked around — the husband came to the door, too — and said she was not there, but that she was with her “friends.” I told them that I’d been told that she was going to spend the weekend there, and that’s why I was stopping by to drop off the package. The wife said that she had been there briefly, and then went out with her friends. Who knows if this was true. I suspect that they were given a story to provide her some cover. They know about her lover, and they know him by name. This is brilliant. They now are in the position of having to lie to me about him, too.
They began to apologize to me about the difficulty of my situation, and I just told them that I was sorry if I might seem curt, but I just simply don’t talk about my marriage with anyone, as it’s a private situation, and private should stay private. They said they understood. They assured me that they didn’t want to get involved — impossible if you’re giving my wife a place to stay! — and I was clear that I did not fault them for anything that they were doing, and that I commended them for feeling compelled to help a fellow human. I did tell them that there was basically no reason for my wife to need to leave home, they understood, and I told them that she was always welcome in our house. They said they understood that, too. They told me that my wife said she needs “space.” Well, space is the worst thing that you can give anyone in a marriage crisis: they’ll just use that space to disconnect from you and to connect with someone else. I simply told them that the situation would resolve all by itself if nobody did anything. I further apologized to them that they had been involved, assured them that I would never have wanted them to have gotten involved, or to feel that they have to take sides. I also told them that I am totally committed to my marriage, I take my vows and commitments seriously, and would not abandon my wife under any circumstances. This was not coming from a position of dependency, but rather one of responsibility.
Anyway, I left it in a good place, or at least as good a place as is feasible in these circumstances. I do think that they feel some guilt and responsibility now, and it’s possible that they may not feel comfortable with my wife’s presence in their midst going forward. I did half-jokingly tell them that, if they wanted to kick her out, there would be a warm and loving house for her to return to.
So, that was it. The ball is in their court, at least insofar as how they’re going to feel about having an active adulteress in their midst. Not only that, they have full knowledge that they are interfering with a sincere attempt to reconcile, and aiding and abetting adultery in the process. That’s likely to wear on their consciences. I have no idea how this will play out, but I suspect I’ll eventually hear things, as I inevitably seem to do. Stay posted…