Tag Archives: Dissertation

Things always get worse before they get better

Sometimes things go from bad to worse. After receiving a tiny bit of positive news this morning, I get a very bad piece of news this afternoon. The piece of good news came directly to me, the bad news made its way through the grapevine.

First, the good news. My parents emailed me this morning to tell me that they had received a gift from my in-laws. They had sent their customary Christmas/New Year’s gift last month, and received a gift in return. From the looks of the photo my parents sent me, it is a very nice gift, and they also took the time to handwrite (and translate) a letter for my parents. This is a good thing, potentially at least. I’m hoping this signifies that my in-laws feel some sort of connection with, and possibility to my parents.

A couple of hours later, the bad news arrived through the grapevine in the form of an email heads-up about a developing situation. Apparently my wife’s lover has assented to let her move in, and this is to happen in the next 2-3 weeks. This is very bad news. I am beginning to wonder a bit whether my stonewalling over the landlord’s phone number had anything to do with this development. It certainly is possible. The email said that the lover decided yesterday that her moving in would be okay, and that my wife was looking to hire movers to take her stuff out of here to some other location, so that her lover wouldn’t have to come by the house or see me when he comes to pick things up with his truck. I also believe, from information that came to me in a similar way in the recent past, that the lover’s daughter and son-in-law are in town, and that would mean that they now have met my wife — and I stress that this is my wife, as she is, in fact, a married woman — but have likely been given some manner of lies about the true nature of her marital status. All of this is terrible news, and a major obstacle in the way of reconciliation. I noticed that my wife apparently left with our marriage certificate; I have no idea why she might need this, but it does lead me to believe that she may try to file for divorce against me some time in the near future.

For me, this situation is incredibly frustrating. I have done just about everything right over the past 3-1/2 months, and made enormous strides toward building goodwill that will help us to reconcile. I have even been working on myself, and there have been changes that my wife has noticed. Unfortunately, there are two things that I simply have no control over. First, there is the affair. Everything my wife is doing in the way of destroying her life and our marriage flows from the affair. She is so deep in the affair fog at this point that she simply cannot think rationally. She has probably rationalized to herself that moving in with her lover will give her the space to work on her dissertation. While that may be true in some limited sense, her living with him is not a necessary condition of working on her dissertation. I would imagine that, in her mind, it is a prerequisite for any further work on it, though. Second, there is my wife’s willful nature. She has always been a willful person, and while her goal-orientedness and determination have at times been a positive force in our lives, they have also been a serious problem for her as well. I have watched her numerous times work herself into emotional, mental, and physical crises because she had some objective that needed to be obtained, always with a deadline, and she never would give up if the objective was unreasonable. In fact, our current marital crisis started with one such situation: she took on three concerts, two of which required learning massive amounts of music, and she only had one month to prepare. It was a totally unrealistic task. The affair began at the beginning of this process.

This latter trait is fundamentally the cause for her current behavior. She convinced herself within the first week of the affair that she was going to spend the rest of her life with the adulterer. This resulted in her conjuring up all sorts of ideas of a future life with him, living out in the boondocks, gardening, doing spiritual “practice” with him (it does not seem their practice is authentic at this point, but rather a rationalization for their immorality) and so on. As I’ve written elsewhere, this “new life” was to start on January 1st.

But it didn’t.

Then it was going to start on February 1st.

But it didn’t

Now, it’s apparently going to start sometime around March 1st.

I guess we’ll see about that. A lot can happen in 2-3 weeks. For starters, she will be 2-3 weeks closer to the end of her academic career. And I do mean the end of it, too. To my knowledge, she has done virtually no work on her dissertation since she put in a 5-hour stint after we first met to talk it over last month. There is, of course, every excuse in the book for this, including the fact that she needs her own “space.” By my estimation, she now has about 12 weeks to write the entire dissertation and get it edited. This is a tall order even for a person for whom English is their first language; for my wife, who will be writing this dissertation in a second language, it’s a near impossibility. Her smartest move would be to stay here and work with me. But her willfulness and high pride simply will not allow reality to interfere with the fairy tale that is her “new life.” I advised her a couple of weeks ago that she would need to write one chapter per week, and so far she has written zero chapters in over two weeks. More correctly, she has written zero pages. This does not bode well at all for that project.

So what happens now? I have no idea. I have a very delicate line to walk this week. She has agreed to have a counseling session with me, and I’m scheduling that tomorrow morning. I also expect her to want to talk to me about her new living plans, and I simply cannot and will not allow her to breathe a word about the adulterer. She knows this, too, but I do suspect she is going to try to come clean to me. My dilemma is that, if I cut her off as I should, she could bail out of the counseling session. What I will likely try to do is to stall any relationship talk whatsoever until we have the counseling session, and let things come out then.

I think there are two things that potentially can work in my favor going forward. First is the impending dissertation deadline. As that nears, she will become more and more stressed out. She will not have regular access to me, and frankly I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the whole adultery situation if she does move in with him, as I’d have to acknowledge it in some form. Second is the role her parents might play. They have listened to her and “understood” her, according to her own reports, yet at the same time, she has said that she needs to act independent of their judgment, and I take this to mean that they have expressed disapproval of her actions. I would imagine that, once they learn of this new development, they will become very concerned indeed. I expect her father and mother to reach out to various spiritual advisors and fortune tellers to get an idea as to what to do. Her father received advice from one such person back in December, and this person told him that my wife’s lover was “absolutely unacceptable,” and that, if she continued on her present course of action, her situation would totally collapse. The fact that my in-laws have given my parents a gift will likely only complicate things for them. I imagine that, in addition to their concern, they also have feelings of shame, guilt, and humiliation. They have not reached out to me, and while I consider it unlikely, I wouldn’t consider the possibility of my brother-in-law reaching out to me to be too far-fetched.

At this point, it’s just anyone’s guess as to what might happen. On the one hand, I sort of want her to go live with this adulterous cretin, so that she can find out first hand just how awful he is, how massive his character flaws are, and how impossible that relationship is going to be. On the other had, I don’t want her to go live with him, because it will mean the further destruction of her life, and with it mine as well. I would expect her to actually file for divorce if she did go live with him, and he would probably encourage her to do so.

My one hope is that something or someone gets in the way of all of this in the very near future. That someone could be my father-in-law, my counselor, or some unexpected third person who casts enough doubt in my wife’s mind that she begins to reconsider her actions. That something could be a disagreement or series of disagreements, emerging personality incompatibilities, or even a full-blown argument. I have certainly been hoping for the latter, as a full-blown argument with my wife would almost certainly be a deal-ender.

My one request to you, dear reader, is that, if you are a spiritual person, you please, please, please pray for me. Please pray for the welfare of my wife and that she may be restored to some modicum of sanity sometime soon. Pray for the health and preservation of my marriage. And while you’re at it, please, please, please, please also pray for all the people in the world who find themselves currently in the throes of marital problems big and small.

I am reminded again and again that in these attempts at reconciling marital crises things always get worse before they get better. I have heard many stories that bear this out to be true. Things certainly have gotten worse over the past 5 weeks, and will likely deteriorate further before there is a turnaround.

Feeling low

Not that I’m one to wallow in self-pity, but I came home to an empty house yet again today. I had hopes that my wife would have at least returned, since it is Monday, but I guess the fact that one of her students canceled tonight led her to think that staying with the adulterer another night would be appropriate. Actually, I don’t know if she’s there with him, I just assume that to be the case. Given past evidence, if she had returned, she’d come home, even if she were going to go spend the night at her friends’ place that same day.

She is so lost. She has absolutely no direction in her life anymore. She is totally unmoored and is headed right for the cliffs. The collision with reality is coming, friends, and it will not be pretty. I just hope it happens soon — really soon — as otherwise the fallout from that collision is going to be much, much worse.

The single most pressing thing in her life at this point is her doctoral dissertation. She now has only 3 months to finish it, and even that time frame is generous. Finals week comes during the first week of June at her university, and, assuming her committee would be willing to schedule the defense for that week (they may or may not wish to do this), then she’d have to have the dissertation completely finished and sent to her committee by no later than April 30th so that they’d have a chance to read it and give her input before the defense. This is really critical, because if there are objections they can be dealt with beforehand; if these are not raised and addressed, the committee can decide to fail you. I do see this as unlikely, but it nevertheless does happen. Her advisor did have a student who failed last year, and I would imagine he is not very keen on having another such case.

But, for my wife, the single most pressing issue in her life seems to be the affair and everything that flows from it. First, there’s the need for the dopamine fix. After each encounter, there’s a dopamine crash and a whole host of other neurochemical stuff that goes on that causes withdrawal and other unpleasant symptoms and emotions, and so she simply has to go back for another fix to be able to continue to feel okay about life. This then leads to the need to further justify the affair, which in itself is completely unjustifiable; the continued avoidance of reality through self-deception, coupled with the act of willfully ignoring her plagued conscience is a cocktail that produces only misery. That misery, coupled with the dopamine crash, leads to the need for another dopamine fix, further need to justify the unjustifiable, and ensuing further dopamine crash, more guilt, etc. It’s basically a downwards spiral from here on out; then again, it’s been a downward spiral from the very beginning, but now we’re likely entering the final, flame-out phase.

What else flows from the affair? Her need to separate from me, for starters. She has begun to waffle on and on again about wanting to be independent, as though that were something that she really needs to learn at this point in her life. She has told me that she finally wants to learn how to drive, and is going to sign up for lessons. I’ve also learned that she’s starting to look for houses or condos to rent; she’d have to avoid most apartments, because she has a dog. Oh, and there’s also the idea of divorce that probably is still running around her head. That flows from the affair, too.

There’s a practical set of problems with all this, though. First, she doesn’t have a car. She could always use our car, but then that would make her dependent on someone (i.e. me). Second, she doesn’t really have the $600 or so she’d have to spend on driving lessons. (I’ll get to why this is the case below.) Third, she absolutely does not have the money to rent either a house or an apartment. She could not afford the start-up costs of first/last months’ rent, deposit, and so on; on top of that there are all the utilities one is responsible for if you rent a house (vs. and apartment), plus the rent itself. She has pretty much obliterated her income to the point that she could scarcely afford a box to live in anymore.

Even if she were to scrounge up enough money to do some or even all of this, she still can’t afford it, and here’s why: she has to enroll for one term to complete her dissertation and defense. That will run somewhere close to $2000, and she simply doesn’t have two nickels to rub together for something like that. This is even more true as her online shopping habits show no signs of curtailing — a new package arrived today, in fact — and so she’ll wipe out most of her money frivolously before the registration deadline arrives, which it will in about 6 weeks or so.

So I guess I still haven’t gotten around to the title of this post, “feeling low.” I just am feeling a bit low at this point. Work is going well, I am greatly appreciated and respected by colleagues, and I have more clients starting and others in line. In fact, I’m rapidly approaching overbooked. Good things will come of all that, I’m sure. It’s just that I’ve come home to an empty house for four days straight now, and I’m just getting tired of it. Maybe it’s practice for what is to come, I don’t know. And maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t so completely needless. I mean, her affair is going to end, there’s no doubt about that. The situation is totally asymmetrical, and she wants far more from this man than what he is willing to provide. That simply has to backfire sooner or later. But until it does, I’m just left here to wait, and it does get a bit lonely around here this time of year.

More interesting things afoot…

Once again, my wife spent the night at her friend’s place, thus continuing the “separation,” which is going on 9 days or so now. I’m not really counting, since I know this is probably going to be temporary anyway. She came home again this morning, and spent the better part of the day here, but left late afternoon to go back to her friend’s place. It has been snowing most of the day, so she’s trudged her way there and back .

The truly interesting development right now is the following: I have it on pretty good authority that her affair could be on the rocks. I do know that there have been issues, but from what I’m hearing, it sounds like the affair is just draining too much of her energy. That would be consistent with what I’m seeing: she always looks tired, defeated, defensive, beaten down, and generally unhappy. Things might be getting ready to turn for the better here, as she has not been so cold toward me the past couple of days.

I think the thing that is hitting her the hardest right now is the reality that she has to finish her doctorate, and that she’s got very little time to get that done. We’re talking 3-4 months that she has to write the dissertation, and then about another month getting ready to defend. That’s a lot of work, I can tell you from experience. I do believe that she is finding the affair to stand in the way of this goal of finishing her dissertation — a worthy goal to have.

The question now is how this is going to play out. I can foresee a couple of possibilities: First, she might try to keep the affair on ice while she continues to write up and defend, and then rekindle it during the summer. I find that quite unlikely, as the affair has probably zero chance of sustaining itself on life support in the intervening months. Second, and actually this is related directly to the first point above, she could try to broach the subject to the adulterer and trigger an affair-ending argument. I find this scenario to be more likely; the first scenario would see the affair just sort of fizzle out, but I think they’re headed for an all-out blow up.

Either way, there does arise the question of logistics. What’s she going to do for those 5 months from now until her defense? Where will she live? Whose food will she eat? How is she going to make money for her upkeep?

I’m pretty sure the answer is that she’ll just move back in. If the first scenario plays out, I’ll get put on notice that she’s not coming back to me, ever. That scenario won’t last; I’ll keep working on reconciling until I get a true breakthrough. If the second scenario plays out, then it will be more like post-disaster management mode, and I’ll have to get her counseling, shower her with as much unconditional love as is possible, and continue to build goodwill until she joins me 100% on the path of reconciliation. I’m pretty sure that one or two sessions with my counselor would move her pretty quickly right back to my court.

Why can I say this? Well, I just don’t think my wife really is ready to disengage and be single and “independent” again. I don’t know this for sure, but I think that her plans to disengage had nothing to do with her being single and independent ever, but rather taken and dependent on the adulterer. In other words, she has built a vision of the future with him, and if that affair implodes, so does the entirety of her future. Her present will then be totally groundless.

Anyway, interesting times ahead. I’ve had the intuitive sense that the big blow-out could be coming soon, even in the next few days. There’s a new moon on Monday (remember that old Duran Duran song?) and many systems of astrology hold that the days leading up to that new moon to be difficult and quite critical, with the new moon itself signaling the potential for a new phase. That being the case, I’d like nothing better than for her to go over to her lover’s place this weekend and have that blow-up once and for all. Just get it over and done with. Then I can start to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

Interesting things are afoot

This was a pretty eventful day. This morning, my wife asked me if I could help her with her doctoral dissertation. I offered this help last week, and she only decided to take me up on it today. I had to cancel all my students today, as there was a snowstorm blowing in, so I suggested we meet this afternoon.

We did meet, she gave me all of her ideas and research results, and I helped her formulate a workable plan.  I also gave her some strategies for completion. She then went off and worked on it for about 5 hours. This is the smartest thing she has done in over three months. I think she finally realizes that she actually has to do this, and if she does not start now it will be game over in about 4 months’ time. This will have ramifications for the affair. If she is going to change her priorities, the affair will get back-burnered at best; it might even implode, near term.

The other momentous thing today was the meeting I had with my counselor. No, I don’t try to manage this situation on my own, that really isn’t possible. My counselor and I meet via phone, since he’s in another city. (The whole face-to-face situation is overrated for most intents and purposes, I think.) He felt that my wife’s “separation”, i.e. spending the day here but sleeping at her friend’s house, was odd; it sounded to him as though she is deeply confused, and in considerable crisis as a result of her poor decisions. I told him that I felt that I’d developed so much goodwill that, if there were no affair, we’d be reconciling right now, and he agreed. Furthermore, I suggested to him that it actually might be a good thing if she were able to spend more time with her lover, as that would bring them that much closer to implosion. He agreed, and said, “the belief that their affair is one argument away from ending is a good one to have.” That’s a powerful statement right there. He also said that the distance factor (he lives 40 miles away from here) is also important: he said that it is not unusual for a man in such a situation to take advantage of that distance to have two or even three simultaneous relationships. I don’t know that to be the case with this man, but it clearly isn’t impossible.

I then asked him what to expect and what I should do when the affair blows up. He said that the situation differs between men and women: men often are more about the conquest, and so the affair wraps up quickly for them, whereas women are more likely to create a vision of the future with the lover, and it becomes more of a process. My wife has basically staked her future on this affair, so that would be consistent with what I know so far. He said that, in his experience, there are three phases that unfold once the affair blows up:

  1. Anger. He called this “shotgun” anger, i.e. anger at everyone and everything. The primary target would be the lover, but it would also be levied at any other nearby target. Chief among them would be me, but it’s also likely that her family could be affected by this.
  2. Broken heart. She might say something like, “I can’t believe the man I fell in love with has rejected me.” Now is not the time to stonewall. That is, while I have thus far not allowed my wife to speak of the affair, once the affair ends, it becomes appropriate to allow her to speak of it. One should never condone the behavior, as it is highly inappropriate, but talk about the feelings and emotions is appropriate.
  3. Embarrassment. She might dig her heels in for a time, saying things like, “you made me do this,” “why did it take me doing this to get you to change,” and so on.

Reconciliation is tricky business, folks. Even if you do everything right, you can still derail the process if you do the wrong things once the affair is over. I’m hoping for a big blow-up in the affair pretty soon, so stay tuned.