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.

4 thoughts on “Glimpses from the Other Side; Or, the Grass Really Is Not Greener”

  1. I’m glad you have decided to keep posting and I’m glad you have not given up hope for reconciling with your ex-wife. Your tenacity is inspiring.

    1. Thank you, Ron. I’ve had quite a surprising outpouring of support and encouragement in the past few days. It seems that somehow the universe is telling me not to give up.

  2. I just read your entire blog. I couldn’t stop crying because I now see what my husband has been going through for 10 years. I was the limerent and I was filling an emotional gap my husband allowed to expand and didn’t fill. He didn’t do the things you mentioned that would have kept the marriage going. That’s the part in your blog that had me in tears. I wanted those things so badly. Once my limerence started, a couple of years later my husband started to do those very things to get me back. He always had me and never truly lost me. My limerence is fading because it’s unrequited but most of all because he told me that he cannot give me what I want and won’t. Something snapped that day and things started to become more clear about my true feelings. My husband still loves me and he was kind and patient throughout my crisis. Your story shows me the emotional states he must have gone through. Thank you for sharing your story. I know what to do now. I thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for reading this blog and for sharing your thoughts. I think it is hard for those of us who have been betrayed to know how difficult it is for the one who strayed. Indeed, many of the betrayed just believe that the best solution is just to kick the wayward spouse to the curb and move on with life. When we talk with others—and I was always very careful not to discuss this with others—that is normally their “advice.” I put that in quotes because that advice is usually based on nothing real evidence or experience.

      My feeling is that a marriage is a sacred commitment (I do not mean “sacred” in the holy or religious sense, but rather one of deep seriousness) that one does not simply walk away from because the situation is difficult. As I articulated to xW’s friend, I believe that getting married involves the commitment to deal with all the crises that can and will occur in the course of a marriage, and this includes very serious crises such as adultery. As you noted, both parties share responsibility in allowing the conditions to develop such that one or the other parter may be susceptible to straying from the marriage.

      In reality, a large number of married people do stray from their commitment, even if not by betraying the spouse through adultery. Many go and discuss their feelings and situations with friends and family members, divulging private and often privileged information that really should not be shared with anyone other than a competent marriage professional (and there are very few of those). These also are very real betrayals of intimacy that can be destructive to a marriage over time. Mort Fertel calls this “emotional infidelity”; it can occur between a man and his golf buddy as much as it can between a woman and her closest friend.

      You are truly lucky that your husband had the resolve to remain committed to you and he is extremely lucky that you saw and recognized that and decided to return home. While there is evidence that my xW recognizes the value of the marriage she left behind, to date she has not yet had the resolve or courage to leave the other man who seems even now to be able to control her. My feeling is that she is extremely fearful of losing everything and is holding on to whatever shards of hope that may remain. She got everything now that she supposedly wanted, including the traditional marriage ceremony in her home country and possibly a honeymoon to boot, and there is probably nothing left for her to look forward to.

      I wish you all the best in your marriage and will hold you and your husband in my thoughts and prayers with the aspiration that your marriage, like the thousands upon thousands of others tenuously hanging in the balance right now, be fully restored.

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