Ninety-three days is a long time.
It had been 93 days since I had seen my wife. It had been 93 days since I had heard her voice. That ninety-three days ended yesterday. I helped bring it to an end.
December 12, 2012 was the last time I had seen my wife, and she was very cold to me. This was came ten days after I had seen her with the adulterer, and I’m pretty certain that experience did not go over well with him. So, it was I suppose no surprise that I would have gotten some drawback from her in the aftermath of that event. I just didn’t expect it to last so long.
I had a few dribs and drabs of communication with her. One exchange came in January, while the adulterer was away for a day or so, and his absence led to a flurry of emails between myself and my wife. The other exchanges I can pretty much count on one hand: She contacted me again in January to complain about my sending her parents a Christmas card; this was soon followed by a letter from my mother-in-law asking me to give up on her daughter. Two more emails came in February; the first carried a request to work on our taxes and a threat to close down all her bank accounts once the taxes were complete. The second came about two weeks later; this time she had changed her mind about taxes, and was deciding to file separately. Again, this carried a threat: she needed my Social Security Number, and said that, if I did not provide it, she’d let the IRS know. She also more or less demanded that I stop leaving things for her at her colleague’s house when she is in town.
I have met quite a few skeptics of Marriage Fitness and even a few nay-sayers about its methods for connecting with an obstinate spouse. I have heard people call it “pursuit,” “stalking,” “pathetic behavior,” and so forth, and have had people advise that “you should just let go,” “walk away and she’ll come back,” or even “file for divorce to wake her up.” I have even received unsolicited emails through this website, either from well-meaning individuals, or from those who felt they just simply knew better, and had thought about writing posts to refute some of these claims, but never got around to it. So here, in part is that post.
In that last email I received from my wife in February, she did in fact say that she felt “stalked” and that I was “obsessed.” Now, let’s think about that for a minute: it makes no sense for a man to “stalk” his spouse, nor does it make much sense to call expressions of caring and love “obsession.” But, to the twisted mind of an obstinate spouse — especially one who is having an affair — anything that does not mesh with their agenda can be construed negatively. This is important to understand. The obstinate spouse wants one thing, and one thing only: compliance. When you don’t give it to them, the begin to resort to whatever tactics they think might be effective in getting their way, and this includes things like the terms my wife wrote to me in that email.
My response to that email was just to ask her to call me, which she predictably did not. I also did not bend to her requests to stop. This would have been consistent, of course, with the unsolicited advice of the well-meanings and know-betters out there, but it also would have been disastrous. Instead, I exercised a bit of sensitivity, and simply dropped off some mail that had arrived for my wife the following week when she was in town. I emailed the colleague to let her know, and this small packet was duly passed along. I also included a small gift in that packet. This detail is highly significant, and I would encourage the potential “well-meanings” and “know-betters” out there (along with all the otherwise curious folks) to read on.
Last month, I decided to repair a mala that I had, which had broken some months previous. It was quite expensive, and the repair costs were anywhere from $30 to $150. I dropped by a local bead store to find a bead that had gone missing from that mala, and one of the workers there advised me that it was very easy to fix myself, and showed me how to do it. I bought some cheap beads with which to practice, and then made a mala. In fact, I ended up making two of them, since I wanted to practice some other techniques, like making tassels and such. I found it to be an excellent mindfulness practice, and it’s one I shall continue.
I not only ended up with two completed malas, but I also had a bunch of extra beads. So, I made a few bracelets, stringing them on red beading cord, finishing them with adjustable knots. I gave one of these — a lapis lazuli bracelet — to my wife with that packet of mail. I did not receive any pushback at all. Well, actually I received no feedback whatsoever.
I finally felt skillful enough to repair my broken mala, and did so a couple of weeks ago. Again, I had some left-over beads — higher-quality lapis lazuli beads this time — and made my wife a hand mala (i.e. a quarter mala with 27 beads), finishing it with a white tassel. I left this for her as a gift that week. Again, no response whatsoever — until yesterday, that is.
I finally got my wife on the phone yesterday. I had contacted her via email at the beginning of the week to say that we needed to talk, but got no response. So, I contacted her again mid-week, forwarding my earlier email as a reminder, and she did then respond. She claimed to be “busy” the following day (Thursday), but could call me on Friday. We set a time, and she did, in fact, call.
We spoke for nearly an hour. It was as if the past five months had not happened. The connection I have had with my wife is alive and well, and all the goodwill I have bestowed upon our relationship is still there. She told me things were “great,” and that she was “happy,” but the tone of her voice clearly indicated this not to be the case. It’s hard to describe, but her voice sounded cramped and constricted when she said these things; a person who really feels this way is open and spacious when they talk about them.
Now, I did get a bit of pushback, but if you can imagine what pro-forma pushback would be like, that would be it: she told me she wanted to file her taxes separately, and to deal with some financial issues, but really it was weak sauce. I informed her that we live in a community property state, and that we would each have to file coordinated statements of income with our tax returns, and that this would mean that she would be liable for taxes on my income. She did not believe this, and I reinforced the point by letting her know that, by filing separately, she would lose most of the benefits of filing jointly. She said she wanted to do more research about this, so I let it go. This discussion is also significant, but for a different reason: a wayward spouse does everything he or she can do to live in the fantasy bubble of the affair; having discussions about real-world issues, such as taxes, brings them out of that bubble and helps them to awaken, if only just a bit.
We then went on just to chat. I told her about the work I’d been doing around the house. She said the landscaping I had done in the back yard looked great (I gave her a couple of pictures with the last batch of stuff I left for her this week). I told her I would appreciate her advice, and particularly her feng shui counsel. We talked about our dog, and quite surprisingly she made no effort to assert any desire to take her away. It’s as if she has left the dog here as a “placeholder,” so that she’ll have a reason to come back in due course.
That “due course” could happen a lot sooner that I had imagined. Honestly, I had been feeling quite frustrated with this wall of silence, and had even begun to feel that perhaps my efforts were just being poured down some invisible drain. I suspect the nay-sayers and know-betters out there would assert that this was exactly the case.
Well, all of you nay-saying know-betters, listen up: you’re wrong, each and every one of you.
About twenty minutes into our conversation, right as things shifted to the personal, my wife said, “thank you for the bracelet.” She said she thought it was very beautiful, and particularly liked the choice of colors — a vibrant red and a dark blue. She said that she had put it on the wall, so that she could look at it. Not at Camp You-Know-What, of course, but rather in the basement apartment at the colleague’s house. She also thanked me for the hand mala and said she was keeping it in her purse. These are not the actions of an obstinate spouse who is 100% committed to her agenda of marital destruction. No, these are the acts of an wayward spouse who is beginning to awaken from her fog, bit by bit.
Clearly, the nay-saying know-betters would have me believe that my efforts were futile, that it all was just dumping precious time and energy down some invisible drain. That it all is, in fact, “stalker-ish, obsessive” behavior, or something along those lines. So how would they explain these expressions of gratitude? How would they explain the fact that, at the end of our conversation, my wife said “let’s talk again,” leaving the door open, so to speak? How would they explain any of this? I mean, if they’re right, none of the things I have been doing for the past year plus should have worked.
Well, I can explain it. I know my wife; they do not. I know her tastes and fancies. I know what tickles her soul. Demonstrating the fact that I know these things through small but frequent acts of giving is not obsession. It is not “stalker”-like behavior, nor is it any sort of odd form of “pursuit.” No, these are instead one very simple type of thing: these are acts of love.
I know the path to my wife’s heart; I found it ten years ago, and it really has not changed since. I know the heartstrings and how to tug on them. I know how to light the gentle fires to melt the ice that had built up there. The adulterer knows none of this stuff, and this is why he’ll soon be history. He knows only narcissism, egocentrism, and selfishness. He gives my wife cheesy stuff she secretly despises — believe me, I’m sure of it. There is more power in the tiniest act of genuine generosity from my side — just the slightest thing that says, “I know you,” than there is in a thousand different things the adulterer might try to do for her. He simply does not know her soul, and never will. He doesn’t really care to know, for adultery is not fundamentally about such knowledge.
Is this the tipping point, at which things might begin finally to change? I do not know. But suddenly things are looking a whole lot different than they were just a few days ago.