The day before yesterday, I received an email from my wife. Much like her emails in recent months, this one was completely unprovoked and came out of the blue.
In this email, she began by asking me if I would take the dog to the vet to get a rabies titer for her. We have needed this test done in the past, as we took our dog with us on one occasion on a trip overseas. In order for her to pass quarantine, a titer needed to be done to ensure that her rabies antibodies level was sufficiently high. We did this in 2007, but then did not revisit the situation until four years later.
In 2011, my wife and I were considering moving to Japan, and this would have obligated us to bring the dog along, and again to get the appropriate documents to pass quarantine. We learned at that time that we had allowed our dog’s rabies vaccine to expire by just five days, and that the dog would have a 180-day waiting period after being vaccinated before she could enter the country. This quashed my wife’s desire to move: even though I told her that we could easily find a solution, she told me, very tearfully, that the thought of leaving her dog behind — even for just a short period of time — was just heartbreaking for her. This thought has significance right now, if not for her, then certainly for me.
After this initial request, she went into business mode, and told me she wanted to see me to discuss taxes. She said she’d bring her paperwork along so I could do our tax return. Well, I’m not ready to do that yet, as I’ve got a number of forms that still have not arrived. She then told me that she planned to close her accounts at our bank once we take care of this “mess” (as she quite curiously called it). There’s no ostensibly good reason for her to tell me this: if she wanted to do that, she could just go ahead and do it. She also asked me to shut down her cell phone, since she’s not using it, and to close down her website which she also is not updating. There was also a brief discussion of some financials that need settling, the details of which she clearly did not understand.
To conclude, she told me that the colleague she was staying with was having a hard time receiving things from me to pass along to her, and she asked me to stop leaving parcels and such with her. She claimed that she wanted to avoid uncomfortable situations with this colleague.
At this point, I smelled a rat. I have had a number of communications with this colleague, and they have all been positive and supportive. Moreover, this colleague had openly expressed to me that she hoped my wife and I could work things out, and that she would be happy to help out in any way she could.
So what changed? That is what I decided to find out.
I contacted the colleague and asked if I could come speak to her in person. She agreed, and the night before last I went over to her house. I brought a small gift (just some food I’d cooked, since this woman does not really cook and eats very little), and we sat in the kitchen and began to talk. After some initial pleasantries, I told her that I had come to see her because I felt the need to express regret for the burden my marital crisis seemed to be placing on her. I expressed the desire to apologize for any discomfort, but told her that I really did not know how to effectively apologize, since I did not know how she felt about any of this.
She seemed a bit baffled, and assured me that she felt no burden whatsoever. She said she felt touched by my efforts, but at the same time rather confused: my wife appeared so certain, according to her, as though here mind were totally made up, and all she had to do from this point on would be to figure out how to settle outstanding matters. She said that she thought the gifts and things I had left for my wife were beautiful and genuinely touching, but said that my wife appeared not to appreciate them at all.
This is typical, folks. The obstinate spouse gets very annoyed with attempts to rewrite their history of the marriage, and they get really frustrated when those attempts begin to have their desired effect. In fact, they start to get desperate.
The colleague then had some questions for me, but as these were getting into the realm of privacy (i.e. my marriage) I told her that I could not really give details. I did at one point tell her a story — which I believe I have yet to relate here — about an old acquaintance who committed adultery over the past year and a half, and how that affair finally, and quite predictably, blew up. She was curious about marital dynamics and statistics, and said that she knew that second marriages were more likely to end in divorce than first marriages, but that she had heard that third marriages were likely more successful than first marriages. (This seemed odd to me, and I suspected she might have heard this from my wife, as the adulterer has already had two failed marriages, and he might have been trying to mislead my wife by suggesting that third marriages somehow have an optimistically realistic shot at survival.) I let her know that, in reality, the likelihood of a third marriage surviving was only 15%; she seemed a bit shocked by this revelation. I also filled her in on the typical causes for marital disintegrations, and she asked me about statistics on affairs. Again, she was surprised to hear that virtually all affairs end, and normally do so in two years or less. She actually seemed rather encouraged to hear that news, and I can only guess why.
The colleague then assured me that I was welcome at her home at any time, and further offered me the use of her basement apartment (where my wife stays on Wednesdays) were I to need it at some point in the future, e.g. for visiting relatives. She told me that she really misses my wife and me as a married couple, and had always thought we were truly happy together; for that reason, she seemed very shocked when she initially learned of our crisis and my wife’s immoral agenda. She told me that she really hopes we will reconcile, and said she did not want to feel like she is taking sides. I assured her that she should feel no obligation whatsoever to take sides, and that if she were to hold that aspiration in her heart, that would be sufficient.
So, all in all, it was a positive meeting, with a very positive outcome.
I also learned where my wife is at right now. She is prevaricating and dissembling, and trying to prolong the inevitable end of a horridly flawed relationship that started from a terrible error in judgment. She plunged herself headlong down a dead-end path 15 months ago, and is now racing toward the brick wall that is at its end. It’s as if she’s driving a bus right toward that wall at 100 miles per hour, and the passengers now are shouting at her to slow down and change course. To spite them all, she is shouting back that there is no wall up ahead, and is leaning even harder on the gas pedal.
This is craziness, of course, and has only one outcome: destruction. She will hit that wall, and she will hit it hard. There is a price to be paid for mistakes like these, and that price is significant, both for the transgressor and the party who was willingly transgressed. There is no happy endings to affairs, and no “they lived happily ever after” that gets appended to such sagas. There is only heartbreak, embarrassment, humiliation, and, hopefully, humility.
There’s a big piece of humble pie on the kitchen counter at home. There’s also a big piece at her parents’ home, and at the homes of my family, as well as at those of her friends and colleagues. She’ll have to eat each and every piece, of course, but I’m going to try my best to minimize the unpleasantness of that experience when the time comes for that to happen.