Putting On/In Appearances

I saw my wife over the weekend. Not because she wanted to, but rather because I choose to set the agenda, rather than to simply comply with hers. She had a concert on Sunday—a big, public event—so I went. I had no plan other than to be there and to support her, and maybe to say hello.

I arrived a bit early, and went for a walk in a nearby park. I have lived in this city for nearly 20 years, yet I never even knew that this park existed, right in the middle of the city, and right next to, and also atop, a busy freeway. It was an odd sort of urban oasis, so I just strolled around there for a bit, and then went back toward the concert venue.

As I was arriving at the venue, I could see the adulterer walking down the street perpendicular to mine. He was with his brother, whom you may remember from this post was the one who served me those horrid papers. Yes, they are quite the pair, the adulterer and his brother. They did not see me.

I arrived at the venue about a minute after they did, and as I entered, I saw them talking to my wife. Their backs were facing the door, so they did not see me; my wife was facing the door, so she could not avoid being seen by me. But she tried! Seriously. I smiled and waved to her, and she moved to her left in an attempt to “hide” behind the adulterer’s brother. He did not know what was going on, just that my wife shifted position. I headed down toward the restrooms to wash up a bit (I had to put air in my tires at the gas station, so my hands were rather dirty), and, as I passed by, I smiled and waved again. And, once again, she shifted her position to try to “hide,” but this time both the adulterer and his brother saw me.

As I came back up into the lobby a couple of minutes later, I had to walk right past them to get to the ticket booth. There was no avoiding them, but I did not engage them at all. I just went up to buy my ticket. Then, as I turned around, my wife was still with them, so I gave them wide berth and looked around the lobby. I turned back around to find my wife leaving to go backstage, and the adulterer and his brother were entering the hall. The adulterer and his brother were pretending as though they had not been seen.

I entered the hall about ten minute later; the hall itself is a converted church with very uncomfortable seats, so I simply did not feel like sitting in there any longer than necessary. I took a decent seat toward the middle of the hall, and discovered that the adulterer and his brother were about ten rows away; the hall has semi-circular seating, and they were nearly perpendicular to me, meaning that they could see me very easily the whole time they were in the hall. I basically ignored their presence.

Well, mostly. When my wife came out on stage, I just noticed the expression on the adulterer’s face, which was this smarmy kind of look of infatuation, as if the fog still lingers for him. My wife did not look so fogged out, then or earlier in the lobby. Actually, she looked kind of sick, in an odd sort of way. Her eyes seemed to be ringed in black somehow; although she was wearing eye makeup, there was something else about her eyes that gave them this appearance. It was the same look about her eyes that I had seen in a couple of photos, a look that is difficult to describe, sort of present but sick, disconnected from reality but appearing nonetheless. They are not the eyes that I know, but rather the eyes of a deeply unhappy and very tormented soul.

After the concert wrapped up, I went to the reception area to see if I could at least say hello to my wife. I expected she would not appear there, but would rather wait in the hall for a while and then exit from the hall itself. I was right: she did not show up at the reception at all, but did emerge a few minutes later from the staircase to the hall, which was located upstairs. She was flanked by the adulterer and his brother, and was carrying a bouquet of flowers someone (not the adulterer, as he had none) had given her. She looked troubled, preoccupied, and unhappy. I caught her eye briefly; the adulterer averted his, and the brother peeked around surreptitiously with a rather guilty visage as they tried to slip out of the building unnoticed.

They were not unnoticed, but I did not attempt to engage them.

I left shortly after they did, and saw them at the end of the street. I actually had to go down that same street to get to my car, and considered walking down to the corner to cross the street. There, I could have easily said something to my wife. I was thinking to myself if this would be courageous, or if it would rather just be awkward. I simply did not want to do anything to feed her story (or the adulterer’s), so I left well enough alone, again giving them wide berth by jaywalking to get across the street on my way to the next street where my car was parked. The adulterer did look back, in a somewhat paranoid way, to see if I were behind them somewhere; I was already heading up a different street and clearly had a very different agenda: to get to my car.

So that was that.

I guess I felt a bit disappointed, or that I should have put myself out there a bit more, but really I don’t think there was much more I could have (or should have) done. My mere presence at that event spoke volumes. This is what taking a principled stand is about. The adulterer is and will ultimately be a flash-in-the-pan and, judging from my wife’s expression, could soon get canned out of her life.

6 thoughts on “Putting On/In Appearances”

  1. If it means anything, I don’t think there’s anything else you could have done at the event, either. However, I wonder if you’ve thought about telling her what you want. Perhaps she literally doesn’t know what else to do, at this point, except keep going on this path. Her hiding of herself may not indicate shame so much as fear: fear of how you’d react if she told you she wanted to come back home. When is it time to have a face-to-face conversation? Does Mort (or one of the counselors) have any advice on that? From an outsider’s perspective, this situation seems like it needs a shakeup, so the two of you can move forward together or move forward apart. All my best to you, truly.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mary.

      I think I have been pretty clear to my wife (should she choose to listen to me or my messages) that she is always welcome at home and will not be judged. I related this message to her a couple of months ago by way of video, but I have no idea if she watched it or even got the message. She has shut herself off from contact such that it is hard for me to determine what, if anything, she actually does listen to; however I do know that she does hear and respond to things on occasion.

      The time for a face-to-face conversation is anytime. Now, 10 weeks ago, or 10 days from now. That’s not the issue; the issue is getting her to agree to a face-to-face conversation. She is in such deep hiding that she simply will not respond to anything at this point, including efforts to meet her. Therefore, I have to manufacture these opportunities, such as the one written about in this post. I suspect it is the adulterer who is the main block at this point, and that he is forcing her to have no contact with me.

      Both Mort and my coach (Dave Rispoli) have advice about the moving-home situation. Mort recently advised someone that you don’t need so much to tell the spouse that he/she is welcome home, but rather should be showing through your actions that the spouse can come home any time. Dave told me quite a long time ago that it would be a good idea to let my wife know that she was always welcome at our home — this was before she moved out. I have related this message to her several times since then.

      You are right: the situation absolutely needs a shake-up, but that shake-up almost invariably has to come from some source outside the marriage. It could be a fight or other issue with the adulterer (that would likely be typical), or words or actions of some other individual, or some combination of factors. That is not to say that the things I might say or do (or have said and done in the past) have no effect; they do, in an interdependent sort of way. In fact, I could imagine that my appearance at the concert without engaging any of them directly could end up having had a major impact on that situation, perhaps one felt right away, or one that sends ripples that magnify as other stressors are felt or are brought to mind.

      1. I admire your ability to hang in there and do what you’re doing. Your actions are speaking volumes, and so are hers. The fact that she’s hiding from you so blatantly almost seems like a cry for help, like she would actually welcome a face-to-face conversation (she’s perhaps too proud to admit it, after everything that’s happened). I think if it were me, I’d do whatever necessary to talk to her personally — if just for my own sake, to see where, truly, the relationship stands.

        1. That’s an interesting perspective, Mary, and one I had not really considered. I am certain that her pride is really getting in her way. It has been very hard for me to get a face-to-face meeting happening, since she is in such deep hiding. Although I know where she is living, I have no legitimate reason to even be in that town, so it would be highly counterproductive to go, I think, and on a lot of levels, too. I’ve been advised not to go there because there is no legitimate reason, and because she has chosen to hide this.

          That said, there are other factors that will lead to communication and also face-to-face communication at that; for one thing, I’m redoing my tax return, based on partial information that I’ve learned: she filed independently of me, but I don’t know if she did so truthfully (e.g. by listing herself as single, perhaps). I had filed an extension to buy us some time, but at this point it seems futile, since she did already file and make a small tax payment. Since we live in a community property state, she is liable for payment of taxes on half of my income, and I on half of hers. Based on her tax payment, it appears her claimed income was fairly negligible; however, she will likely get a tax bill of at least a couple thousand for the income I have to assign to her. I tried to explain this to her when we last spoke, but she did not want to believe me. Therefore, it’s just better to let the IRS come after her, and allow her to do the explaining to them. We actually appeared to be due a refund if we filed jointly, so maybe this could help her awaken.

          1. Just a quick comment here. You mentioned that you have “no legitimate reason” to go to that town. Isn’t the fact that your wife lives there a legitimate reason? Seems like it is to me. Their adulterous narrative has gone on for a long time now. As a woman trying to put myself into your wife’s shoes, I might be waiting — and hoping — for my husband to more openly “fight for me” (not literally, of course).

          2. Well, aside from my wife being there, I have no reason to be in that town. There are many factors, and last time I discussed this with my coach he thought it unwise to go there. Perhaps things will be different next time we chat, but there are a number of counterindicators, I think. First of all, my wife cannot drive, so she does not go anywhere without OM taking her. Second, it is a small town (3000 people) that is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so there would be no other reason for me to show up there. Since she has cut off virtually all communication and has gone into deep hiding, about the only thing I could do in this regard would be to show up at OM’s house, and that would almost certainly backfire on a whole lot of levels. Believe me, I’ve wracked my brain for any kind of opening I could take, and I just don’t see them right now.

Leave a Reply