I had a rather momentous occasion in my spiritual life yesterday — one that I’ll likely go into on another occasion — that left me with some impetus for reflection. Specifically, I’m thinking about the letter that came from my mother-in-law the other day. The post I wrote about that letter was really quite reactive, and by the end of the day I had developed a somewhat different view on the whole matter. The occasion yesterday gave me further pause for reflection.
I guess my initial reaction to receiving that letter was that it was likely that my wife had directly provoked it in some way, for example complaining to her parents and asking them to write to me. On further reflection, that seems quite unlikely.
You see, I’ve had the chance to think not only about what my mother-in-law said, but also the way in which she said it. Her choice of words was quite peculiar: she repeatedly used the verb “to bother over,” as in “I wish you wouldn’t bother over my daughter.” The suggestion from that word is that her daughter was rather a nuisance, and the implication that lay just beneath the surface was that she absolutely did not agree with her daughter’s choices. Thinking more about my mother-in-law’s motives, it even seems quite plausible that this was a face-saving tactic for her: she finds her daughter at present to be quite intractable and impervious to reason, and possibly thinks that this situation will never end.
Well, she’s wrong about that — the ending part, that is. The imperviousness to reason and intractability, well, those seem pretty accurate. But it is just that intractability that will bring about that inevitable ending.
The tone of my mother-in-law’s letter, despite its somewhat harsh wording, was actually quite mild, and the intent of the letter actually thoughtful, perhaps even kind. It was as if she wanted to reach out to me and implore me not to waste my time on her daughter who seems to her increasingly beyond reach. I can sense that she feels more than a bit of exasperation at this situation, especially considering the shame and embarrassment it has brought upon their family. Japan, for all its modernity, is still a “face” culture, and things like this just don’t go over well, especially with my in-laws’ generation.
I did decide that the best response would be no response, and have stuck to that decision. There simply is no point in saying anything about any of this. I feel truly sorry for my in-laws and the pain and suffering this ordeal has caused them, and would do just about anything to ease that discomfort — except, of course, doing what they asked, as this would only make things worse long-term. The discomfort is temporary, and will ease once my wife’s affair crashes to the ground. There will, of course, be a lot of mending to do; some of it will be my job, but the lion’s share will be my wife’s responsibility. And as that responsibility dawns, as I believe it has been doing in her awareness, she withdraws further from that inevitable reality.
A couple of the things that keeps me hanging in there is the thought of those statistics compiled by Peggy Vaughn that indicate that the overwhelming majority of affairs run their course in 6 to 24 months, and the work of Jeff Murrah, that cites 15-24 months as a typical range for an end-point. Another thing that makes this all the more real — the fact that the affair will end, is the knowledge that an acquaintance recently ended an affair that seemed to have lasted about 18 months. This person apparently left the spouse and shacked up with the lover, and was very public about it, posting frequently on Facebook about it and, worse yet, involving the kids with the adulterous partner. I do not know if the marriage is on the way to reconciliation, but from what I could gather, it seemed as if the betrayed spouse was standing for the marriage.
And the most significant thing that is motivating me to stay the course right now is this momentous event that happened yesterday, but that will be the topic for another post.