Tag Archives: Counseling

Apologies and Milestones

It’s been a while since my last post, and that has more to do with my being busy than anything else. After a slow phase at work for the month of September, things have picked up significantly and now I find myself swamped. The other side of this is that, even though I’ve got plenty of cash coming in next month, I find myself scrambling to make ends meet for the time being. This aspect of the whole marital situation has been very frustrating. (Please feel free to donate to this blog if you appreciate the content and feel so inclined.) On top of that, my sister came into town to pay a surprise visit, and she stayed with me for a couple of days. This was a good situation that may actually help, short- to medium-term, with my reconciliation efforts.

In the nine days since my last post, a milestone of sorts was crossed. My wife’s affair hit the one-year mark, depending on how you look at it. It was on October 10 of last year that the adulterer made initial contact with her via Facebook and an emotional affair was launched. It was clear from the very beginning that the two of them were going to take it physical, and they did so about three weeks later. That one-year mark arrives on November 1st. Believe me, dear reader, I never thought that I would be dealing with this situation for an entire year.

In a way, the duration of this affair is one of its most startling aspects. There have certainly been many opportunities for it to end. There have certainly been disagreements and likely an altercation or two by this point. The “in-love” feelings that are nothing more than infatuation have almost certainly burned off by now. It’s as if the world is an alarm clock issuing wake-up calls over and over, yet they just really want to stay asleep. The earplugs and eye masks have now come out in order to keep them sleeping. So what on earth could possibly keep this grossly immoral relationship going?

Fear. That’s what I think, and here’s why.

I saw my wife last Wednesday for our appointed dog-custody swap. This followed another withdrawal phase from her during which I did not see her for three weeks. I had dropped the dog off at her colleague’s house the week before, and nobody was there. She had refused to see me, because she said she was busy, which I later learned was not the case.

There was a subtle difference about events last week. First, she called me. Normally, she just sends me a text. Not this time. I had just woken up, a bit later than usual; I had left the house before 6:00 a.m. to get my sister to the airport for her flight home, and decided to try to sleep a bit more when I got back home. I did manage a couple of extra hours of shut-eye, and then my wife called. This was really a surprise. She just wanted to know if I were coming to pick up the dog. I angled to have some chitchat with her, but she was a bit uncommunicative.

I dropped by her colleague’s place, where again she would be spending the night, and managed to get her to go out for coffee. On our way out, she said that she was hungry, so we opted for dim sum instead. This provide a nice opportunity for us to hang out and connect a bit. We reminisced a lot about things we’d done in the past, and she also told me that she had not dealt with some of the logistical things she had needed to take care of at the university. This got me a bit curious, since she had told me the previous week that she would be doing this, and that was ostensibly why she would not see me that week.

After dim sum, we headed to an Asian grocer and picked up a few staples for her. I asked her if she’d have coffee with me the following morning — I had an agenda — and she said she’d be busy. She suggested that we have coffee just after our grocery shopping, so we did.

I took her to a coffee shop not too far from her colleague’s place, and again we had a nice time hanging out. We browsed an art gallery’s catalogue while sitting there, and it just struck me that this is one thing she and I share — an appreciation for art — that the adulterer almost certainly lacks. (I’ve seen some of the cards he bought her, and believe me, they not only belied no aesthetic sensibility, but also were totally not her taste.) Thus, some more genuine connections were made. Time was getting short, and I had to get to work, so we finished up and left. She asked me to drop her off at a nearby shopping center, and I said I’d oblige.

But I had an agenda, and there was still one part of that agenda that had not yet been fulfilled. I needed to apologize to her for something I had done — something I felt was so egregious that it absolutely warranted an apology. Nearly a year ago, on the evening of November 2nd, I discovered my wife’s affair, which had just gone physical the night before. In a fit of blind rage, I threw her out of the house. It was a cold November evening, a bit before 10:00 p.m., if I remember correctly, and I sent her out of the house on a moment’s notice with only the clothes on her back. It was the single most cruel and heartless thing I had ever done to anyone. She stood on the front lawn, all alone in the crisp autumn night, talking on her cell to the adulterer. He proved to be no Prince Charming, and did not come to her rescue. After a half an hour or so, I relented and invited her back in. This is what I had to apologize for.

Apologies are hard, and most people don’t know how really to apologize. While that topic is beyond the scope of this post, most people just simply say, “I’m sorry,” and think that that will somehow cut it. In reality, a good apology thinks through all the emotions the offended party experienced as a result of the offender’s behavior, and expresses those feelings in the apology. If you do it right, it can be truly cathartic, and it actually feels in a way as though you have lived through the feelings you have caused as though they had been inflicted on you. I thank Marriage Fitness for having given me this truly invaluable skill.

We were nearly at the shopping center when I asked her if we could sit at a nearby park for a few minutes. She did not object. I pulled into the park and we sat in the car. I apologized, and it was very emotional for both of us. But something truly unexpected happened: it turned out that this event was far more traumatic for me than it was for her. She said she did not feel as though she had been thrown out, as I let her back in. She felt that she simply was shown the consequence of her actions and that it more or less had been deserved.

At this point I began to bring up tabled issues. Since becoming a Marriage Fitness “practitioner” nearly a year ago, I had learned that the only way to truly get to reconciliation is to begin by tabling issues — for a time. There were a host of issues that led to our marriage breaking down, but the affair was of course the most serious, even though it has occurred largely as a response to many such issues. I basically told her that I missed her every day, and that I wanted her to understand that our home was still her home and that she was always welcome to come home. She apologized for the fact that we had never had kids, as we were both too busy just trying to make a life for ourselves, and it seems that this was a pretty major issue for her. She also acknowledged that she had truly hurt me and my family with her infidelity. None of this was new, as we’d talked about it before. What was new was that I told her that I had spoken with my family and that they were willing to welcome her back. She told me this was “scary,” and I said in response that I’d already “put cushions there” to soften the blow of that undoubtably hard landing she’ll have once the affair finally implodes.

So this was the big revelation: she is afraid of reconciling with my family. I somehow knew I’d be facing this. I quite stupidly — and, I might add, at her behest — did tell my family about our marital problems a couple of weeks prior to learning of the affair. And, I even more stupidly told them of the affair on the day I discovered it. If there is any bright side to this, it is that there are only three people in family and indeed in my entire world that know of this. In my wife’s world, however, pretty much everyone seems to know. Couple this fact with the fact that she’ll also have to reconcile with three of my family members and you can see that this will be a pretty huge blow to her ego. But that will be one of the inevitable consequences of her actions. Right now, she seems to think that she can avoid it by keeping herself in the fog. Indeed, she probably is trying to convince herself that the affair can last forever. This clearly is not the case: the adulterer is a master at betrayal and failed relationships, and this fact will sink any relationships he tries to have now or in the future.

My thoughts are now that I may have to involve family in my reconciliation efforts. This is tricky, and will likely take professional coaching. (I may have to open a “Rodion’s Counseling Fund” for this…) It does seem, however that, while I undoubtedly took quite a bit of pressure off my wife with my apology, there still is a lot of pressure keeping her in that affair, and that if I can get one or more of my family members to give her the message that she is still welcome in the family and will not be judged, that could remove many of the remaining roadblocks. Basically, I’m trying to open that pathway as far in advance as possible, because she is going to need it very soon. Something will happen in the near future that will cause the affair to blow up, and when that happens she will have to face my family one way or another. Anything I can do now to facilitate this encounter would certainly be appropriate.

Reconciliation is hard, and the hardest part of reconciling with an obstinate spouse is just getting to the point where you can reconcile. Indeed, it’s been said that 95% of the effort expended in the process is needed just to get you there; the other 5% is all that’s needed to actually reconcile once you’re there. I’m thinking I’m somewhere around the 92% mark now, I guess. I’ve made plenty of room for the door to open for us to reconcile, and I’ve taken away the pressure for her to have have to push on that door. At some point that door is just going to swing open. And I think that time is at hand, and will be coming very soon.

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Problems with Information on Adultery

If you’re the victim of an unfaithful spouse and have rooted around the internet in search of information, chances are you are reading a lot of conflicting and unhelpful information. For example, can anyone definitively say how long the typical extramarital affair lasts? Can they tell you what you should do if you suspect adultery to be at play, or what you should do if you discover it? Can they lay out for you the best way to move beyond this heinous act and to begin to heal?

While there are a few helpful websites with good information out there (Marriage Sherpa comes to mind), much of what you’re likely to read is hearsay at best and harmful at worst. Don’t take my word for it, just go and visit some of the many infidelity “support” forums out there, and you will find a bunch of really hurt and angry people, many of whom are on an accelerated track to end their marriages. I’ll get to why this is a problem later in this post.

For me, the single biggest problem with the overwhelming majority of “authority” sites on adultery is that most of them deal with the affair as if it were a thing of the past. That is, you would only find any of their information relevant if your spouse’s affair had already ended. But what if it hasn’t? I mean, is it really possible that the majority of people have no idea their spouses are committing adultery? Are they really that disconnected from their spouses that they don’t suspect something’s up? Are those wayward spouses so wily and cunning that they can totally hide their affairs for months if not years on end? Somehow I doubt it.

The truth be told, there are many people out there right now who are struggling with their spouses’ infidelity. Some live with their spouses and know that there is an active affair. Others, myself included, have spouses that decided to separate, because they mistakenly believe that the affair is the Best Thing Ever. Some of these people have confronted their spouses with their knowledge of the affair, but still the affair did not end. Others have made the (in my view, wiser) choice not to confront their spouse with that knowledge. Some of these wish to remain willfully ignorant (not a good idea), others refuse to allow their spouses even to bring it up (very good idea); of these, the latter are in a much stronger place, since the endless lies that need to be told will help to end the affair once and for all.

If you are struggling with an affair, you may likely have seen web pages that tell you that an average affair lasts for two years. Others will say that they last five years or more. I’ve just chosen a couple of websites at random here for the aforementioned time frames, but, as you can see, a lot of the information out there appears to be hearsay. However, some experts who deal with adultery on a regular basis claim that the trajectory is much different, giving time lines of just a few months to a year or so, with the obstinate remainder virtually all ending before two years has elapsed. I do think that the betrayed spouse has a lot of power in ending affairs, but that power does not come in the humiliation and pain that one might inflict by outing the affair to the entire world. Instead, if one were to engage the wayward spouse consistently over time with compassion and unconditional love, this will in virtually every case overpower the utter vapidity of the affair. But it takes time, dedication, and emotional stability; this latter is in pretty short supply for people riding the emotional roller coaster that the wayward spouse provides. Nevertheless, I do think this is the smartest choice.

However, as I mentioned earlier, many people become very angry at the revelation of their spouse’s affair, and rightfuly so. I did, too. Their first reaction is often to kick the offending spouse out and file for divorce. Believe me, I was there as well. Here’s why I think this is a bad idea. Let’s say your spouse is having an affair, and you discover it. You go through the horrible feelings of betrayal, and all of the pain, heartbreak, anguish, and anger that ensue. Then, you decide to end your marriage, for you feel that you can no longer trust your spouse. It could even be that your spouse has become hurtful to you in return, and so you feel the best thing you could possibly do is to get this person out of your life. So you go ahead and take that course of action, and perhaps you feel vindicated.

It seems fairly common that, while the betrayed spouse is attempting to end the marriage, that the wayward spouse’s affair ends. The timing of this can be uncanny; while this is hearsay, I personally have heard of cases in which the affair ended within days of the divorce going final. In many other cases, and this does come from an authority source which I wouldn’t consider hearsay, the majority of wayward spouses end their affairs within 12-18 months, and attempt to return to the betrayed spouse. And, for those very few wayward spouses who are so obstinate as to actually marry their affair partners, the success rate seems to be very poor. In fact, from the most reputable sources I’ve found, it appears that an affair has at best about a 0.75% likelihood of becoming a successful marriage. That’s right, three-quarters of one percent. So, if you’re thinking that ending your marriage is a good way to deal with an affair, think again. In due course, both your marriage and the affair will have ended, and where will you both be then?

Well, here’s where you’ll be. You’ll be unmarried, and you will almost certainly not have any better relationship skills than you did while you were married. Your spouse will be unmarried, will have the shame and remorse of the affair on his or her conscience, and will certainly not have any better relationship skills than before the affair happened. This means that, for both of you, you would be highly unlikely to enter into another successful, long-term relationship. Such a relationship would almost certainly end up in a similar place of disconnect that caused your wayward spouse to become wayward in the first place. But, this is what you see if you visit these so-called infidelity support forums: dozens of betrayed spouses, venting their anger, feeling vindictive. It’s not a good place to be.

So what should you do? Consult a reputable expert. Do not go to a typical marriage counselor, as most of these have, at best, a neutral standpoint when it comes to marriage. Find a marriage-friendly therapist if you can, although, truth be told, these appear to be few and far between. At an absolute bare minimum, get yourself on a healthy marriage coaching program that has a proven track record of success; reconciliation rates of 85% or higher are what you’re looking for. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I recommend Marriage Fitness with Mort Fertel. I do think it is the best and most ethical program out there. Mort has extensive experience dealing with adultery, and support for this situation — especially cases that are ongoing, which, if you were to poke around the internet as I have, would appear not to happen — is a major part of the program.

Don’t believe the hearsay. Find a trusted expert and follow his or her advice.

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Month 11

It’s Labor Day weekend, and that means that September has arrived, and with it, so has the beginning of month 11. If you’re reading this post and finding yourself at the beginning of a marital crisis, please do not get discouraged. Marital crises are very difficult situations, and few of them change very quickly. It typically takes a period of many months to turn things around, as the obstinate spouse has to go through a process of withdrawal, deliberate rejection, and eventual discovery before returning to work on the marriage. While this is happening, the faithful spouse has to do two things: to learn and implement excellent relationship skills, and to begin working on him- or herself, fixing the behaviors and habits that contributed to the marital crisis.

That’s right: I’ve been trying to reconcile my marriage for ten months now. On November 2, I committed myself to trying to reconcile our marriage. I had found a book by a guy named Mort Fertel called Marriage Fitness, after browsing many titles online, reading Amazon interviews, and so on. This book seemed to be the most highly rated. In late October, I found a copy at a nearby bookstore and devoured it. I presented it to my wife a few days before the end of that month, and she told me she wasn’t interested. I had no idea that she was having an affair.

After reading through the book, I realized that maybe I needed something a bit more potent. Honestly, the book itself isn’t really geared for healing distressed marriages; instead, it’s designed to improve the quality of marriages that have gone a bit stale. So, if you’re reading this and you don’t have a marital crisis, but you think your marriage could definitely stand some improvement, then that book is definitely a good one to have. It’s kind of a user’s guide for marriage — the kind that you never got when you took your wedding vows. In fact, I’ve got a colleague who is getting married in a few days, and I’m thinking about giving her a copy. I know she is at least as naive, if not more so, than I was when I got married 7-1/2 years ago.

If your marriage is in serious trouble, though — if there is threat of divorce, or if there’s separation, affairs, or other serious problems — that book alone won’t do it. I went onto Mort’s website, signed up for his free emails, took some of the online marriage assessments he offers, and did a lot of thinking. I saw that he offered a Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp, which seemed like it would be the right solution to our situation. So, after much hesitation and a lot of dilly-dallying, I went ahead and signed up on November 2. Honestly, I was a bit put off by the price tag — it wasn’t cheap — but there was a payment program through which I could split it into three payments, and that made it a whole lot more affordable. In retrospect, it was the best money I had ever spent.

Not more than a few hours after I signed up for the boot camp, I discovered my wife’s affair. I was going to cancel my order for the boot camp, and planned to kick my wife out of the house and file for divorce. I won’t rehash the details; you can read about them here. Fortunately for me, Mort’s office was closed, so I couldn’t cancel the order. Two days later, I had my first “teleseminar” with him — you dial in for an audio lecture —  and so I figured I’d give it a shot. I kept the materials in pristine condition when they arrived, because he offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and I thought I’d need it. I was wrong about that. The message of that first teleseminar instilled so much hope in me that I decided to give it a go. And here I am, 10 months later.

I thought it might be helpful to others to track the trajectory of my reconciliation efforts, so that you could see first-hand what it’s like to attempt a reconciliation with an obstinate spouse who is having an affair. So here goes:

  • October 2011: My wife unleashed our crisis on October 14, telling me that she wanted out of our marriage. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had begun and emotional affair on October 10 which would go physical on Halloween. I was hopeless and ungrounded for the final three weeks of this month. I did find Mort’s book, and began to think hard about how to get my marriage back together.
  • November 2011: I discovered my wife’s affair and went into a serious tailspin. I also started working Marriage Fitness and began to see things change. The first couple of weeks involved pushback from my wife, but things did begin to improve between the two of us.
  • December 2011: Things largely continued to improve, although there was tension and occasional strife. Thanks to Mort’s program, which I was working as a so-called “lone ranger,” I built a tremendous amount of goodwill between my wife and myself, so much so that, had there been no affair, I’m pretty confident we would have begun to reconcile our marriage. But, the affair was a pretty potent drug, and so that continued to lead things on her end.
  • January 2012: After spending several days with the adulterer, my wife came home in a bluster and told me she’d start packing and would be moving out. I freaked. She did begin the process of separation, and started to sleep at a friend’s house a couple of blocks from here. She spent most of her days at home, however, and so I was able to build further goodwill. I later learned that she nearly ended the affair mid-month, as we were having heavy snow, and she was not seeing the adulterer at all. She actually nearly made a sane choice to end the affair and begin working on her dissertation.
  • February 2012: We had a joint session with my Marriage Fitness coach. I wrote about this before; these coaches are really awesome, and are so much more skillful than the typical marriage counselor. There were many insights, and my coach was able to not only cast doubt on my wife’s choices, but also to plant a number of seeds of hope about the future of our marriage. I think this affected her, as she then began to withdraw from me and avoid coming home. Things seemed to deteriorate for some time thereafter.
  • March 2012: This was an odd month, marked mainly by my wife finally moving out at its end. I do believe that the adulterer pushed her to do this. She had claimed a week or two before moving out that she would be moving into an apartment; this never occurred. Instead, she moved in with the adulterer. She also told me that she wouldn’t tell me where she was moving to initially, but would eventually let me know. So far this has never happened: I still don’t “officially” know that she lives with the adulterer, but there is ample public evidence to verify that fact at this point.
  • April 2012: This month marked the beginning of my wife cohabitating with the adulterer. Things were rather tense between us for most of the month, although I did see her on a weekly basis. Clearly, something was up, as she requested a “custody” situation for our dog that would allow her to have the dog on alternate weeks.
  • May 2012: This month began with an altercation, after which she got out of our car in a huff and went to the courthouse. She had filled out contested dissolution paperwork, and had one of their paralegals check it out. I know this happened, because I saw the paperwork the following week. She didn’t file anything, though, as she clearly wasn’t ready. Despite this early setback, things steadily improved over the month, to the extent that we had a wonderful date a few days after my birthday, on which she took me out for lunch and spent quite a lot of time with me. The adulterer went overseas without her, and her thoughts were clearly turning toward me in his absence.
  • June 2012: Yet another month of improvement. Even though I was only seeing her once a week, our communication was quite positive and things were trending in the right direction.
  • July 2012: Pretty much more of the same. During this month, we had our longest “date” thus far — she spent 7-1/2 hours with me. The connection I was building with her was unmistakable. Nevertheless, she was beginning to go very public with the affair, starting a new blog in which she extolled the wonders of her “new life.”
  • August 2012: The first week of the month was fine. We had a very brief date, but I was able to refer to her as my wife in front of complete strangers, and she did not object. Then, the next week everything changed. She suddenly gave me all sorts of pushback and began to withdraw from me. The last time I saw her was on August 1, and the last time I spoke with her was when this pushback happened on August 8. Since then, all I’ve had was the occasional email or text message. This is really an extraordinary phase. I learned that she began to make movement toward filing again, but since then appears to have taken no action. I also learned that she has two trips planned with the adulterer. She also continued to ramp up her taking the affair public by posting very openly on the adulterer’s professional Facebook page.
  • September 2012: This is month 11. I never  believed that it would have taken me this long to turn my marriage around. I’m still working on it, but things have become more challenging. My wife is trying very hard to cut me off. She does not answer the phone when I call anymore. She used to at least answer on Wednesdays when she was in town, but she doesn’t even do this now. She keeps her cell phone turned off most of the time, and the result is that her voice mail box fills up. I have had to resort to sending her voice messages by email. It is very, very frustrating.

If you’re suffering a marital crisis and still reading, please do not get discouraged! One of Mort’s first dictums is that, in the world of relationships, “slow is fast, and fast is slow.” You simply cannot rush the process of reconciliation. It can be very tiring, frustrating, and discouraging. You need to be committed to the process, and you must have hope and determination. If you lack any of these, the chances of your getting derailed along the way are much higher.

But what are your options? You could take the easy way out, as most people do, and just simply allow the marriage to fail. You could allow your marriage to be destroyed by that most horrible of institutions, the divorce. You could try again with someone new, only to find that the process repeats itself: a few years later, you’ll be back in another marital crisis, none the wiser, and will be facing divorce number two. And if you are foolish enough to get married again after that, the chances of divorce number three are even higher — typically about 85%. So, you can walk away, and allow that relationship to dissolve, or…

You can stick it out, and eventually you and your marriage will evolve.  But (as it is said in the tele-boot camp) even if you somehow don’t manage to reconcile (there’s maybe a 10% chance that this might happen), you will end up a truly transformed individual who will be in a much better place in life overall. The choice is yours.

I know that I’ve made the right choice. I know that I’ve done everything I can, and am continuing to do everything possible. I am simply waiting for the affair to end, and its demise has got to be near at this point. When it does end, then the process of reconciliation truly can begin.

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Separation does not work

I’d like to thank a recent visitor to this blog for prompting me to write this post.

When a relationship crisis strikes, the marital environment can get pretty toxic. It can become difficult for the spouses to suffer each other’s company. There may be tension, arguments, the “silent” treatment, and even fights. I have personally experienced all of these things. None of them is pretty. Given such circumstances, it might seem logical for the spouses to separate from one another. It’s likely that most well-meaning family and friends would advise this, and indeed many so-called marriage “professionals” would advise this as well.

Many of you know that I am a Marriage Fitness practitioner. Core to the concepts and practices of this program is to avoid separation insofar as is possible. I feel so strongly about the benefit of what I’ve learned from the program and how to deal with my own unwilling separation from my wife that I feel compelled to duplicate the link to their website again, right here, in most clear (and perhaps obnoxious?) fashion. Please, please, please make this website your first stop if you are dealing with separation.

Click here to visit the official Marriage Fitness website.

Just do it. It will saver your marriage. So please, just do it: go there and check it out. Remember folks, I’m not a huckster. I just really believe in this program and will stand by it 100%. I personally know of situations involving separation — or worse — that have totally turned around because of the positive impact this program has had on the marital situation, despite obstinacy, affairs, separation, etc. But I digress…

Separation is a terrible, terrible idea. It accomplishes nothing. It puts physical distance and emotional space between yourself and your spouse, and all that distance and space will do is to further erode your connection with your spouse. Feel your relationship is distressed now? Well guess what — separation will make it worse. A lot worse. If your spouse wants to disconnect from you, then that will happen in a hurry if you separate. If your spouse wants to have an affair, then that will quickly follow the separation. If your spouse is having an affair, then that affair will almost certainly escalate if he or she leaves. (There is a silver lining to this, though: the affair could very likely blow up a lot sooner as a result.) If your spouse is thinking about divorce, it becomes a whole lot more likely that this will happen if you separate. If your intention is to reconcile your marriage, then separation complicates everything and achieves nothing.

Yes, you should ignore the well-meaning friends and the credentialed “marriage” counselors who would advise separation. They clearly do not have the best interests of your marriage in their hearts.

Now, don’t get me wrong: you cannot force your spouse to stay with you, but you should do everything within your power to try to prevent an impending separation. This does not mean that you should plead, threaten, or bargain. Words are useless at this point. You will need to show your spouse that you want him or her to stay through your actions. You will need to make positive changes in the marital environment, through both working on yourself — the aspects of your behavior and person that led to the marriage breakdown — and through learning and employing the best possible relationship skills and habits. This is really the only way to stop a separation.

The problem is that sometimes even this doesn’t work. You can do everything right, and still your spouse ends up determined to leave. In fact, it often appears that it is because of these changes that your spouse decides to separate. Please don’t let this confuse you if this happens. What you’re seeing is nothing other than a fairly potent form of pushback. It’s typically a sign that you are rewriting the story your spouse has been telling him- or herself, and that story could be months or even years old. It most certainly will be old enough for your spouse to thoroughly believe it. So it comes as quite a surprise to an obstinate spouse to see you suddenly change for the better. Your rewriting of that story challenges everything he or she believes to be true about your marriage, and that’s a difficult place to be. The human ego seeks desperately to preserve itself at all costs, and it doesn’t take well to existential shocks that truly and experientially define its boundaries and definitions.

So what do you do if you’ve done everything right and your spouse still wants to separate? Well, you might just have to accept that separation is a temporary station on the journey to reconciliation. It happens that way sometimes, and it has happened that way for me as well. You don’t want to participate in, encourage, or facilitate that separation in any way, if you can help it. Make it clear that it is not your desire that he or she separates, but that you have no control over your spouse’s choices and have done and are doing your best to understand your spouse’s feelings and concerns. You also absolutely must make it clear that your spouse will always be welcome in the marital house without any judgment or conditions whatsoever. This is very important, because your spouse will need to come home at some point. If there’s an affair, the affair will end. If it’s obstinacy, that ice will melt. If it’s divorce proceedings, your well-directed efforts will likely bring those proceedings to a halt.

If you unwillingly end up with a spouse that separates, don’t fret it too hard. It’s still possible to pursue reconciliation despite the separation. You can reach out to your spouse in virtually all the ways that you could if he or she were still at home. (See the Marriage Fitness website for resources on how to do this — they have a whole program that is oriented around this and other kinds of difficult situations!) It may likely take longer to get to reconciliation, but you can still get there nonetheless.

This perhaps another question open: what if you were the person to separate? Maybe life at home was too painful or too difficult, and you felt like you simply had to get out to make the situation more bearable. The answer is simple: if you really want to reconcile your marriage, then you have to return home. You have to move back in. And you’ve got to do it now. Not tomorrow or the next week, but now.

Separation hurts, it’s painful, and it’s ultimately pretty useless. If it’s happening to you, don’t despair, because you can turn things around. If it is looming over your situation, don’t freak out, because you can change the momentum. Please make sure that you check the resources page on this website for links to helpful, marriage-friendly sources of information, inspiration, and guidance.

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Digging a hole

“The only job you start at the top is digging a hole,” or so the expression goes. This week, my wife began to dig herself a real hole, and I don’t think she’ll enjoy the fruits of this job very much.

Wednesday came and went this week. Wednesday is the day that she normally appears to take care of her very few professional obligations. It’s also the day on which we typically meet, now that I’m very busy on Thursdays, to see each other and deal with dog “custody” swaps. She never called me, nor did she answer my calls. This was rather odd.

Last week, she told me that she had left her cell phone charger at a friend’s place and that the battery had died. This would explain why all my calls went straight to voice mail without the phone even ringing. In the run-up to her Wednesday arrival, this happened again. I was honestly a bit perturbed. I also felt it rather abnormal that she wouldn’t call or pick up the phone when I called her on Wednesday morning, as this would be normally the only time during the week that she would answer.

I had a full day of work, so I really did not know what to expect when I got home. I arrived around 6:00, and quickly found that the dog had been dropped off. I also saw a note on the dining room table from my wife. In it, she said that her cell phone wasn’t charging properly, and so she was having trouble checking her voice mail. She also thanked me for a couple of things I had gotten her, and hoped I was doing well. Then she said that she would be very busy the next few days and wouldn’t be able to see me. This was odd.

Shortly thereafter, I was online checking email and such, and came upon an embedded link that led to her blog. This is not the same blog she has been writing for the past five years, one that I have hosted for her for the past several years. This is one that she was hosting on Blogger that is documenting her “new life” with the adulterer. Ugh.

I read an article over on Marriage Sherpa today that dealt with getting rid of “haunting” post-affair images and how to deal with them. I don’t know why it is, but it seems the majority of the adultery-related articles I see deal with affairs that have ended. But what about the ones that are still going on? I don’t need to wait until the affair ends to see those haunting images. There they were, in plain view, for the entire world — including me – to see.

The first post documented her new “family” and new “life,” showing pictures of the adulterer and other stuff. There were pictures of the garden and the idyllic setting. It was basically a fairy tale writ large. On that same page, there was a link to a short film she apparently was in, one that would be screening that same night at the local independent film festival. I later saw this same link on Facebook. She was starring in it, as was the adulterer. It was a silent short film, about 7 minutes in length, that had been submitted as part of a populist screening in which the audience votes for its favorites. They apparently have been doing this for a couple of years: they announce the rules on a Friday, and then the films are made over the weekend for submission the following Monday. So this explains her being “busy”: she had to go to that screening that night. Okay, whatever.

I had a session with my counselor this morning to go over all of these things. His impression is that my wife has compartmentalized her life, keeping discrete elements separate from one another, e.g. her adulterous life, her married life, and the real world. Most of the week she lives in that more or less hermetically sealed fairy-tale world, but one or two days a week she has to deal with me, and this in turn puts her in direct contact with the real world. I reckon that the fairy tale world is not all that she thought it would be cracked up to be, and that now she is beginning to feel need to go even more public with her tales of adultery in a vain attempt to make the unacceptable somewhat more palatable.

This won’t work.

Sooner or later, something will give. There have already been signs that there are pressures on her affair. One cannot live immorally at length without expecting some pushback from the universe. When that pushback does happen, it cannot be argued with, for it only intensifies if one tries to resist. Nevertheless, my wife seems committed to digging herself that hole of immorality, one that will eventually cause great embarrassment, humiliation, and remorse. I wish I could stop it, but she just has to live through this in order to learn just how wrong her actions are.

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The “lone ranger”

I came across this article on Marriage Sherpa today, and it illustrates a basic principle in the marriage reconciliation process: it does not take two to tango. You can absolutely reconcile a marriage, even if only one person is willing to do so. Trust me on this: I’ve been doing it for months now. I still haven’t reconciled my marriage yet, but I do believe that now I am closer than ever. (There have been some late-breaking developments today that I will write about once I’ve got a bit of time to decompress.) My situation is a bit complicated, to be sure, but then again, all marriage reconciliation cases are complicated to some degree.

The reason I think this article is significant is that it flies in the face of much of what is on offered form the marriage “counseling” community. It would seem as if many marriage counselors would more aptly be called “divorce counselors,” as their practices seem more likely to lead to divorce than to reconciliation. Indeed, some I’ve come across seem to be out there mainly to help distressed spouses find “closure” (which, in my opinion, is one of the most bogus terms out there) on their way to finally destroying their marriages. That situation is really quite shameful, so it is good to know that there are at least a few honest souls out there who are sticking up for marriage.

I’ve been lucky to work with a couple of them. My counselor (whom I’ve never met in person, by the way) begins from the premise that you’re married, and you’re going to stay married. This is a very different starting point than the majority of counselors who seem, at best, to be marriage-neutral.

So, what of the reference to the “lone ranger”? Simple. That’s what those of us who follow my marital reconciliation path (Marriage Fitness) are called, if we are doing it on our own. It’s a tough path, but it is doable. The biggest part of the fight is getting the obstinate spouse to wake up enough to see that it would make perfectly good sense to join you on that path. Once they do, things can really fly; getting to that point, however, can be lengthy and require much endurance and stamina.

Anyway, stay tuned for my next update. I had a very positive day today with my wife during her weekly visit. I’m close to cracking that nut wide open — but first the affair fog needs to lift.

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Checking in

I had another session with my counselor this morning. It had been about 6 weeks since I last checked in with him, and based on the events of this past week I felt it was time to get his read on things. As per usual, I began by describing the events of the past six weeks; there’s no point in rehashing those here, since one could easily just go back through my archived posts to read first-hand about all that. What I needed was perspective. Why has her energy seemed to shift toward the positive over the past few weeks? Why did she change her Facebook cover photo? Why has she not shied away from spending time with me? Why is it that we can actually have such a good time together?

Well, the reason is because she’s my wife. I know that’s a simple enough answer, but that’s kind of the long and short of it. I’ve known her for a long time, and I know her better than pretty much anyone, and especially far better than the adulterer. I know what she needs. I know what worries her. I know what makes her happy. I know how she reacts to things. I know how she thinks about the world. She is my soul mate. We chose each other, and when I chose to be with her, I chose to be with her for life, not just until things got tough.

My counselor’s assessment of the situation is that things are trending positively. She is not the typical obstinate spouse. Those tend to just blow off their spouses, they turn a cold shoulder, and can be mean and vindictive to boot. My wife is not like that. She has tried to be cold with me, but it doesn’t last. It’s too hard for her to bear. She pretends not to take my calls, but then she listens to all the voice mails. Then she buys me gifts. She wants to celebrate my birthday with me. She offers me her cheek for a kiss. And so on. He (my counselor, that is) feels that it has been my constancy that has gotten us to this point, the fact that I have stood for what is right, not backed down, and shown unconditional love. He even went so far as to say that it probably makes no sense to her at all why I would still be showing her love after all she did.

I show her that love because she’s my wife.

Okay, so where to from now? Basically, the plan is to stay the course. There could be surprises ahead: my wife has her last professional engagement in town this weekend, and after that she might just try to blow me off. The counselor assured me that, if this were to happen, it would just be temporary. He suspected it wouldn’t be that likely, though, and that she’d still keep coming to town and would still try to connect with me. He felt it likely that she is beginning to see things not working out according to her plan, and that it even could be possible that the adulterer was starting to want her to move out. I’m not so sure about that latter part, though. I would not be surprised if there were problems, though. He did assure me that the affair was likely to end pretty soon, and that they are just one argument away from that happening. One thing he said to me was, “if I were immoral enough to date a married woman and to have her live in my house, I wouldn’t want her to be hanging around her husband.” That would certainly explain why my wife appears to be hiding things from him.

That makes sense. It’s been 7-1/2 months now, and this is the time when any relationship starts to become very human. It’s the point at which the infatuation lenses come off and the other person reveals himself as he really is. In this case, that other person is a petty, insecure, immoral, unprincipled, selfish, callous, insensitive, untrustworthy, and unethical person. He’s a liar and a cheat. He is a failure at marriage and relationships. All of the personality traits that led to his other relationships failing will resurface again, and these will be exacerbated by my wife’s own personality quirks. Now, I can handle those quirks: I’ve got the coping skills for that. He does not. He will fail again.

The session ended on a very positive note. Again, I had the encouragement to stay the course, this time with the knowledge that we are definitely in the home stretch. I do see things likely wrapping up short term; rather than looking at weeks to months, I think we’re looking at days to weeks right now. I’ve made predictions before and most of them have been wrong, but somehow I would be surprised if this drags on more than another month or so. When I look at other reconciliation stories, one of the things I’m struck by most is how quickly they turn around, and how implausible those turn arounds seem even 24 hours beforehand. When you read someone’s story of reconciliation and look at where they were just a month before that reconciliation started, you often find a situation that seems desperate and hopeless. Things seldom are desperate and hopeless when it comes to reconciling, though, provided you know what to do.

I guess I should just say “stay tuned”… There are interesting times ahead.