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.

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