Tag Archives: Obstinate Spouse

Update (Sort of); Marriage Fitness Musings (for Sure)

It’s been over a week since my last post, so I figured I should offer an update of sorts.

There really is not much new, aside from my wife’s version of Custer’s last stand. She continues to be obstinate, and continues to want to barrel into that brick wall at 1,000,000 mph. The realization I had a few weeks ago is that there is actually nothing I can do to stop that trajectory, and that my efforts to put some cushions there to lessen the blow of the impact when it occurs only seems to exacerbate matters at this point.

Actually, what I’ve just said above is rather hard to explain, because it has little to do with anything I have been doing, yet it has everything to do with the manner with which I’ve been doing things.

I’m almost embarrassed to say that, having worked Marriage Fitness for such a long time (and that’s what it takes sometimes; I’ll say more about this below) I should have long ago taken Mort Fertel’s message to heart that “you cannot work [his] program with the intention of reconciling your marriage, because that would be manipulative.” This is truly a counterintuitive message. I mean, doesn’t he market his program as a means to save your marriage?

He does, but he does not tell you how that’s going to happen. Honestly, nobody can tell you that. If you sign up for his free emails, you’ll bet a sense of where he is coming from, and I think the sense of ethics that I got from those emails is one of the things that inspired me to give his program a shot. Once you work through the materials, though, you find that message hits you again and again: you cannot do this with the intention of reconciling your marriage.

Well, okay, Mort, then what the heck are you supposed to do? I mean, what should my intention be?

That’s simple: your intention is to become the man or woman of your spouse’s dreams. Your goal is to transform yourself into the kind of person that a million people (pardon the hyperbole) would want to be married to, that is: a person of integrity, of moral values, of trustworthiness, of openness, of candor, and of unconditional love. Those things are worth far more than the mundane concerns of the kind of car you might drive or the size of your bank account; material possessions can be bought, but character cannot. That’s chiefly what Mort teaches: how to be a person of moral principle, and I think that is why his program and its ideas resonated and continue to resonate so strongly with me.

Now, of course, becoming the ideal spouse also means cultivating the relationship skills that an ideal spouse would have. This is where the “techniques” — things like “talk charges” and “giving presence” — come in, but honestly, those are not part of some problem. They are just things that you should be doing if you’re married and, if your marriage is distressed, they are things that you should have been doing all along. Since you weren’t your marriage started to go downhill. This is normal.

So, essentially, Marriage Fitness uses the marital crisis as a platform upon which to build these skills. It might seem a bit odd to put it this way, but really all one does is to recognize that one is still married, and, that being the case, one has the obligation to better oneself as a spouse — even if the other spouse is not willing. One cannot control the other spouse and should not try; one can only control one’s own behaviors. That’s what this program does. It’s hard, at times, because the wayward and/or obstinate spouse wants nothing of it. That is his or her prerogative. The spouse has the right to free choice that the faithful spouse could neither bestow on that spouse nor take away. However, the faithful spouse has a similar right fo free choice, and we (speaking for myself, of course) choose to better ourselves and improve our relationship skills. This may temporarily irritate the wayward/obstinate spouse, but it was his/her choice to attempt to leave the marriage/have an affair/file for divorce/etc., so there are potential prices to be paid for any and all of those actions.

Or, put more simply, the obstinate spouse’s agenda in no way commits the faithful spouse’s participation, especially if that spouse finds that agenda odious.

So, this then brings us back to where I’m at. I finally came to the realization that, even if only on a fairly subtle level, much of what I was doing vis à vis my marriage was basically done with the intention of reconciling my marriage. Thus, the metaphor of “cushions,” above: I could see my wife heading for that brick wall at a million miles per hour, and the compassionate side of me (or so I thought) wanted to lessen the blow of that inevitable impact.

What I’m now realizing is that I have no control over that impact. She wants to hit that brick wall, and so I have to let her do it. It means, at this point, attitudinally taking a step back so that this can happen. This attitudinal shift is actually quite ineffable, and I don’t think it’s really possible to understand unless you’ve gone through it. Here’s what it does not mean: It does not mean cutting off contact. It does not mean curtailing efforts to reach out to my wife. It does not mean halting efforts to improve myself or my relationship skills. I am a husband, after all, and even though my wife might not want that for a time, I have to recognize that commitment that I made to her, and realize that it is, in large part, a commitment to myself.

This is partly what is so ineffable, and also what makes “conventional” wisdom so, well, dumb. Conventional “wisdom” (quotes are deliberately shifted) tells us to kick the spouse to the curb, to give up, to recognize that the spouse has “changed,” and so on. My reponse to such “wisdom” is simple: “so what?” What the spouse does is essentially immaterial; it’s what I do that counts. I am a husband, and I owe it to myself and to the world to learn how to be the best husband possible; even if my wife does not want that, I still have to do it. This is essentially just doing the right thing. Why? Because, even if things don’t work out for some reason (and in a small minority of cases, they don’t), then you will know at least two things: 1) you have done all that you can to give your marriage a second chance, and 2) you have taken massive strides toward becoming that ideal spouse. This is how one moves from being manipulative, even if only sublty, to having pure intentions.

So what about the length of the timelines I spoke toward the start of this post? Well, honestly, marital crises just take time. Things do not turn around in a matter of weeks if one spouse is not willing. It takes months, and a lot of them. The reason for this is simple: there is a journey, both for the faithful and the obstinate spouse. The latter has succumbed to the prison of ego, and as a result has to justify everything. This is a truly stultifying means of existence that never brings true happiness. The response of the faithful spouse needs in part to be to shed his or her own ego as much as possible, such that unconditional love can shine through. (Yes, this makes it a spiritual path.) If the obstinate spouse is embroiled in an affair, then that journey includes the feeding of two egos in a superficial orgy of narcissism. That too is deeply unsatisfying, and will eventually run its course; in such cases the faithful spouse has to find the stamina to outlast the affair. (Again, this is where on so many levels conventional “wisdom” just is not helpful.)

That brings me back to the beginning. My wife is making her last stand. I don’t know how long it will take, but this is very likely her last-ditch effort to save her crumbling path. That path does have a brick wall at its end, and she is currently going 987,462 mph and accelerating. At this point, I can rest in the knowledge that I’ve done all that I can to show her that I am a main of good faith, honor, and integrity, so the rest is up to her.

That rest is simple: she needs just to hit that wall, because that’s what she wants. I won’t take that away from her. Oddly enough, that would not be compassionate. She’ll hit that wall, and then things can change. Until then, I can afford to be patient.

Talking to Lawyers, Part II

It’s only Wednesday, and it’s been an eventful week. Not exactly full of the kinds of events I’d prefer, but eventful nonetheless.

On Monday, I had an appointment with an attorney to look over my response to my wife’s petition. It was a bright, sunny day, the kind that makes one glad to live in this part of the country. I had to drive downtown to get to this attorney’s office. The reception area was on the 41st floor — I didn’t even know that there were many buildings downtown that had so many floors. The view from the office lobby was spectacular: panoramic views of mountains and water. The attorney was running a bit late, but we eventually had a brief consult. Her office, as it turned out, was on the 42nd floor. This was a suite in which various businesses and contractors rent office space. It was a small, modest office, with no window views whatsoever. The attorney was very nice, and offered a bit of practical advice. The upshot of our conversation was that it would not be difficult to drag this litigation out just by complying with deadlines. Basically, once the response is filed, there would be no further deadlines until July, and the documents that would need to be filled out would have to originate from my wife.

I did end up filing my response with the court yesterday. I then had to have the document served, and this proved difficult. My wife is not only incommuncado, but is also uncooperative and in hiding. Yes, that’s right: in hiding. That’s how ashamed she is of her choices at this point. She is avoiding any and all contact with me — a person who would never mean her any harm whatsoever. She had listed her colleague’s address — the colleague with whom she had been staying on her visits to town — as the place she wanted the papers served. So, I obliged. I asked a friend to serve these, and this friend was willing; I chose the friend because she has a very open and genuine way with people, and most certainly would be able to put the colleague at ease. This friend also happens to be a practicing Buddhist, and emotionally is a very balanced person.

I originally proposed having the documents dropped off around 8:30 in the evening, but the colleague said she would not be home; I offered to have them dropped off earlier, and was informed that she would not be home until 10 pm. The colleague had a couple of exchanges by phone and email with my wife regarding protocols and practicalities. She suggested my wife contact me, but of course, she refused. There seemed to be some acrimony. Now, mind you, I have made Herculean efforts to build goodwill with my wife, and have done virtually nothing to cause anger or acrimony in her heart. Whatever she is feeling is more or less nothing more than the product of her own guilt.

Eventually, the time was set for 10 pm, and the friend was still willing to help out, so we headed over once that hour arrived. I brought the dog with me. My emotions were very even: no nerves, no pain, no guilt, just mindfulness of the reality of the task at hand. The papers were dropped off, along with a card for my wife (basically telling her that I did not want this, and offering a brief but open and honest message). The friend returned to the car with a bag that had some containers in which I had dropped off food for my wife and the colleague a week or so ago. These had been washed for return to me. I had no idea how these containers would affect our dog, though.

After returning home, the dog began to pace around the house and cry. This lasted for at least a half an hour, and I could not initially figure out why — until I realized that the dog could smell my wife on those containers. I let her sniff one of them, and she then went off around the house looking for my wife. It was really quite sad.

Today I was to drop off the return of service form at the clerk’s office; little did I know that they close for lunch. So, that task will have to wait until tomorrow. My wife should be picking up the response any day now. I suspect sparks will fly up there at Camp C-S. My wife basically provided me with a petition that pretty much obliged me to disagree, thereby causing this to drag out as a process by itself. Her secretiveness and refusal to communicate with me led her to either fail to specify information, or to assert certain information to be true that I cannot verify. What’s potentially worse for her, vis à vis the situation at Camp C-S is that she has laid herself open for the blame game to commence: the adulterer can now blame her for this process appearing to backfire.

My guess is that it could be a bumpy ride up ahead, but those bumps could be severe enough up there at Camp C-S that my wife could either bail out of that vehicle that is traveling that path, or be ejected outright.

Just Some Thoughts

Just some thoughts, that’s what this post is all about.

Statistics are thoughts, and I liked to cite them here often. For example, my wife’s affair launched as an emotional, on-line affair 498 days ago. Other statistics I have liked to cite include the fact that the vast majority of affairs run their course in anywhere from 6 to 24 months. Six months is 182.5 days; 24 months is 730 days. The average of these two figures is 456.25 days, so that means that right now, my wife’s affair has exceeded the average by 9.15%.

Such statistical thoughts lead me to thoughts of other imagined statistics, here, from  James Joyce’s Ulysses:

What relation existed between their ages?

16 years before in 1888 when Bloom was of Stephen’s present age Stephen was 6. 16 years after in 1920 when Stephen would be of Bloom’s present age Bloom would be 54. In 1936 when Bloom would be 70 and Stephen 54 their ages initially in the ratio of 16 to 0 would be as 17 1/2 to 13 1/2, the proportion increasing and the disparity diminishing according as arbitrary future years were added, for if the proportion existing in 1883 had continued immutable, conceiving that to be possible, till then 1904 when Stephen was 22 Bloom would be 374 and in 1920 when Stephen would be 38, as Bloom then was, Bloom would be 646 while in 1952 when Stephen would have attained the maximum postdiluvian age of 70 Bloom, being 1190 years alive having been born in the year 714, would have surpassed by 221 years the maximum antediluvian age, that of Methusalah, 969 years, while, if Stephen would continue to live until he would attain that age in the year 3072 A.D., Bloom would have been obliged to have been alive 83,300 years, having been obliged to have been born in the year 81,396 B.C.

My thoughts right now is that, in the realm of human relationships, statistics aren’t very meaningful. Such statistics are just abstractions, and cannot express the qualitative aspects of human relationships and their inevitable vicissitudes; thoughts about such statistics are just abstractions of abstractions.

I also thought about going down to the center where I do my spiritual practice, and in fact, this evening, I did. In this sense, my abstract thoughts became real in the world of actions. I went there to look for a book, and in the end I chose a book called The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the MindThis is Buddhist stuff, mind you. It was written by Traleg Kyabgon, a master of the Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism who died last year. Lojong, as a practice, consists of the contemplation of pithy slogans as a means of generating greater compassion in one’s daily life; there are many commentaries like this one that are available, and they can be very helpful, as the pithiness of these slogans can, at times, get confusing. The slogan I worked with this morning was as follows:

Self-liberate even the antidote.

Hmmmm. The antidote here is the analytical meditation that one uses to cut through confused cognition, but what does it mean to “self-liberate” even that? The commentary I had this morning was by Pema Chödrön, who simply said that you need to let go of everything—even the realization that there’s nothing left to hold on to. This is a slippery concept to wrap one’s mind around: Buddhists call it “emptiness,” or shunyata; while it sounds like there is nothing there, the reality is that “emptiness” is instead full of possibility, endlessly giving birth to the myriad experiences we have each day. Clinging too tightly to our perceptions and thoughts is essentially the cause of suffering. Those of us who have and are experiencing marital crises know this all too well. In fact, working with an obstinate spouse has been one gigantic lesson in ego-clinging: I know when I’m doing it, but I sure as heck know when my wife is. She’s pretty much stuck there 24/7.

So, in working with this statement this morning, I just found myself thinking it (yes, more thoughts) again and again, and prompting myself to just be at ease with whatever came up, and then to just let go even of that. But I guess I felt I really wasn’t getting the meaning of the slogan, and so therefore I went out and bought this book. The explanation was so simple: contemplation can no sooner dissect itself than can a knife cut itself, and so whatever experience or answers that might arise from contemplation simply have to be let go. This is a bizarre, but very helpful image: a knife trying to cut itself. It’s kind of like a Zen koan that deliberately throws a curve at you that provides no mental way out.

And now, at the end of the day, I’m left with just thoughts. More thoughts. Thoughts about tomorrow. Thoughts about the fact that my wife is coming to town. Thoughts about the Japanese breakfast I’m going to cook in the morning and thoughts about how I’m going to pack it up and leave it for her. Thoughts about the things I did not buy at the grocery store for her this time. Thoughts about whether my actions are enough. Thoughts about thoughts, even, like the thoughts of incredible frustration that arose as I was heading out to buy this book this evening: the frustration of feeling like I could be doing more to reconcile my marriage, when in fact I’m already doing as much as I can, and am pretty much relegated to a virtual holding pattern while the affair winds down.

Enough thoughts for today. Tonight, I’ll let my subconscious produce those thoughts for me in the form of dreams. Maybe something interesting will come up. You just never know; but, when you dream, you have to let go.

A New Look for the New Year

The lunar new year came and went this past week. In my spiritual tradition (Vajrayana Buddhism), we observe the lunar new year, which this year occurred on February 11th.  The lunar new year is considered an important marker that functions in a couple of ways. First, it is said that, in the 10 days prior to to the new year, all of the negative karma one has collected tends to gather up and come to fruition, so it is said to be a good time to sort of lay low, generally be mindful and careful, and to devote oneself to one’s spiritual practice. These karmic “fruitionings” are called “döns” in the Tibetan tradition; a dön is basically something like a naughty spirit that hits you with unexpected surprises. I never had really considered this before, but I found myself injuring my hands quite a bit in this most recent “dön season”—nothing major, just little cuts and scratches and such, all of which happened when I wasn’t really being mindful. The other way in which the lunar new year functions is as a sort of “gate” through which one can figuratively pass, leaving behind mental clutter and negativity from the past year, with the aspiration of making a better way through life in the year to cone.

It was with this latter in mind that I entered with due diligence into the days preceding the new year, taking on some new spiritual practices (for purification), and making a renewed commitment to my practice, which had been somewhat languishing, as well as to renounce useless or unproductive behaviors and ways of thinking. Most of these center around my marriage and the crisis that has been ongoing within it over the past 15 months or so. I came to realize that I simply had been holding much too tightly to my desired outcomes, and had to just be okay with whatever needs to happen, and to allow that to unfold on its own, and at its own pace.

One of the first things I did was to thoroughly clean the house, and then begin to rearrange furniture. My wife was always an avid feng shui practitioner, and in fact I helped her to develop her interests and skills, buying her her first feng shui book nearly nine years ago. All those books went with her when she moved out, so I had to do some research of my own. What I found out was kind of shocking.

The first room I decided to rearrange was the bedroom. This room is longer than it is wide; however, we had the bed oriented along the narrowest dimension, crowding the available space. Researching my personal kua number, I found that the bed had been oriented in the worst possible direction—for me. For my wife, it was okay, but for me, I was sleeping in the worst possible direction. I moved the bed around to face my optimal direction (the crown of one’s head should point in this optimal direction, so if that direction is north, then the headboard will be along the center of the north wall), and two things happened. First, there suddenly was a large amount of available space that could be used for other purposes. Second, there was a palpable shift in the room’s energy, and this has since made s notable shift in my sleep patterns and overall well-being.

I have more research to do, and will be starting to work on the other rooms of the house, as well as undertaking some more general remedies that have to do with our house location and environment.

One other change has been the appearance of this blog: I’m shifting toward a more text-based, minimal theme for this site, and have been experimenting with various layouts. I’m not quite done with this yet, but for now, things will probably stay as they are for another week or two.

Rather coincidentally, the lunar new year also happened to fall on the day for which my wife’s import application for the dog (i.e. to take her overseas) would expire. As I wrote in my last post, she had asked me to get a rabies titer for the dog, so that she could clear quarantine quickly. I had proactively booked an appointment with the vet, but was reluctant to go through with it—the cost was rather exorbitant—without speaking to her about it.

She refused to call, of course. However, the day before the scheduled appointment, I received an email from the quarantine service overseas (I’m not sure my wife was aware that I was routinely being CC’ed on these by that office) stating that the application had been canceled. So, I forwarded this email to my wife, and asked her to explain, and that, absent some valid explanation for continuing with the titer, I’d cancel the appointment.

A series of rather sheepish emails followed, in which she told me that she had been too late in trying to get that process going, and that we essentially did not need the test. She admitted that she had no plans to take the dog overseas in the foreseeable future. So, I canceled the appointment, and told her she could contact me to discuss.

She did not.

We were supposed to meet mid-week to discuss our tax situation, and since she had originally requested to see me for this purpose, I asked her to call me to arrange that meeting.

She did not. Gosh, you’d think I’m getting stonewalled here, or something.

This meeting would have happened the day before Valentine’s day, and having received the okay from the colleague to drop stuff off for my wife at her house, I stopped by that morning and left her some breakfast. She had not yet arrived, when I swung by; it was quite convenient for me, as it was on the way to a couple of errands I had to run that morning. I thought it appropriate that the first thing my wife sees upon returning to town to be something from me. This gesture was, quite predictably, met with silence—no acknowledgement whatsoever—even though I know she received it.

The rest of my week was occupied with work, work, work. I have been extremely busy of late, which in part explains why there have been so few posts here recently. Things will start to slow down a bit next week, so I’ll have a bit more time to muse on the situation as it now stands. Basically, we are in end-stage adultery, in which the affair’s inevitable demise is being forestalled as much as possible. I wish she or the adulterer would come to their senses a bit quicker, but this is how things go when dealing with extreme egocentrism. There is an ugly mess that is needing clean-up over there on aisle “A” (get it?), and neither of them wants to acknowledge it yet. That day of reckoning is rapidly approaching, my friends.

Prevaricating, Dissimulating, and Deceiving

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.

Cracks in the Wall of Stone

I don’t know what it is about Fridays. Really, I just don’t know. I’m looking at the past several times that my wife has contacted me, and all but one occasion has fallen on a Friday. These are occasions when she reaches out for some reason, putting a crack in that horrible, stone wall of silence that she has built in the middle of our relationship over the past several months.

This last Friday, I got an unsolicited email from her. She wanted to complain about her checking account balance having gone overdrawn, and simultaneously wanted to blame me for it and to be apologetic about not having any money to make a tax payment that we had due.

In truth, her overdraft was a result of one thing: insufficient funds in her account. I have not been monitoring her account much at all, but I did notice a couple of weeks ago that a sizeable deposit had been made, one that was at least three times larger than any plausible deposit she would have made. I contacted her when I saw this, as there was also a withdrawal from her account that I needed to keep her apprised of. Moreover, I wanted to ask if that large sum of money was in fact hers; if not, I wanted to advise her not to touch it. I also needed to advise her about the tax payment: she offered to fork over her share, and just expected me to handle it, so I wanted to get her permission, or at least to advise her of what I was going to do. I did feel obliged to have her contribute financially on this, as I am very loath at this point to do anything that might further encourage her separation. (That is, if she goes broke because of this separation, that’s okay with me.)

Alas, there was no communication whatsoever. I took the payment for taxes from her account, and then just kept an eye on things.

About a week later, I noticed that she had gone overdrawn. The large deposit was apparently an accounting error, and the bank had adjusted the balance accordingly. However, since she had insufficient funds to cover the tax payment, her account went overdrawn. I saw that, a day later, funds from our joint account were transferred to cover her overdraft.

Thus the topic of her email to me. First, she wanted to complain about the business withdrawal — this was regarding a topic that I’m handling and have told her that I simply will not discuss with her anymore. She seemed, or at least feigned impatience with this situation. Then, her second sentence informed me that  she had asked the bank to transfer money into her account to cover the overdraft. Here’s where it was interesting: she ended that sentence with an elipsis (…), as if to imply some measure of regret.

You know, a lot of people who are trying to reconcile their marriages have a real problem with pushback. Personally, I don’t mind pushback: I see it as a sign of progress most of the time. It’s much harder to get stonewalled, I think. I’ve been stonewalled since the beginning of November, and have been experiencing various degrees of stonewalling since August.

Something must have changed in the dynamic of my wife’s affair in August, as it is hard to explain her sudden turn sour in any other way. And despite a couple of brief spells of warming, there must have been other changes in that dynamic in November, as things went ever farther south then. But, just a month later, at the end of November, she did email me, quite unexpectedly, with expressions of remorse and apology. Again, I can’t help but think that something must have changed in that adulterous dynamic yet again. I saw her at a concert — with the adulterer in tow (who bravely turned tail and fled) — just three days later. Things have gotten much colder since, and once again, I cannot help but think that that horribly immoral dynamic must have further deteriorated.

It’s very hard to read things from a distance and with little to no information, but it seems to me that the adulterer must be some kind of control freak. In fact, I’m willing to lay dollars to donuts that, when this horrible farce is finally laid to rest, I’ll learn from my wife that he was, in fact, horribly controlling, and that this will be one of the final nails in the coffin for their “relationship.”

Why do I say this? Simple: our dog is at home, snoozing away in the bedroom right now. Remember, my wife told me that the only thing she wanted from me was the dog — she didn’t want my money, my possessions, or anything else, just the dog. The dog meant more to her than anything else in this world — except, as it now seems, the affair. Since November, that dog has not been welcome up there at Camp Chickenshit (yup, I went ahead and said it, but it goes along with the “Brave Sir Robin” motif quoted above — see that link, if you haven’t already). Why that is is anyone’s guess, although if I had to take a stab at it, I’d say the following: Our dog is territorial, although not overly so, and I have seen her pee on the floor to mark territory in other people’s homes — including those of my immediate family. She peed right outside the door of the room I was staying in at my folks’ house over Christmas, for example, as if to mark that territory as her domain — which, of course, gets shared with the major domo, i.e. me. I’d imagine she did this at the adulterer’s house, and more than once – and in full view of the adulterer as well. I can also imagine that, due to neglect and lack of attention, she defacated in the house on numerous occasions. Add these likely actions to the fact that her retrieval of the dog obligates her to see me, and suddenly we begin to arrive at a plausible conclusion: the dog represents me, symbolically and practically, and the adulterer just does not want that anywhere in his presence. It’s just too threatening.

So what gives me hope? I mean, after all, it’s been over a year. Conventional wisdom would say that I should just move on, right?

In part, it’s the work of the late Peggy Vaughn that drives me right now. I had been advised by Mort Fertel, the founder of the marital reconciliation program I’m using, that the average affair lasts “anywhere from a few months to a year,” but you know, Mort never specified exactly what that means. Is it a few months to a year from the time the affair is typically discovered, or is he talking about the total duration of the affair? I don’t want to sound like I’m badmouthing Mort, because I do think his program is brilliant, but really the former explanation seems to me to be more plausible than the latter. I mean, a lot of people do not learn about their spouses’ affairs until they have been well underway for a while.

Not me. I learned about my wife’s affair the day after it went physical. This is where Peggy Vaughn’s research comes in: her statistics indicate that affairs run their course in anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, with very few outlasting that latter figure. Moreover, it seems that the average time of implosion (although this comes from another source) is about 15-18 months. My wife’s affair is pretty close to 15 months old now, so that means it’s in the red zone for collapse.

This is what keeps me going: the knowledge that it could all be over any day now. February 1st marks the 15-month mark of that horrid affair going physical; May 1st would mark the 18-month point. It’s almost a certainty that things are unstable by now, and that the fairy tale is finally starting to look like a “normal” relationship, i.e. with all the stresses, aggravations, arguments, and disagreements that healthy relationships would have — except for the fact that this is no healthy relationship. It is a farce, and a sick one at that, and thus cannot withstand those vagaries in the way a healthy relationship can.

There’s a lot to do while one awaits this inevitable demise, and that’s a topic for another post. For now, I’ll sign off and wish you all a good night, and a productive week ahead.

Boredom, Emptiness, Contact

Yesterday, something curious happened: my wife contacted me, totally out of the blue. It was the first contact she has initiated with me in over a month. As with the last time she contacted me, this contact was also by email. It started in a similar vein, too, thanking me for my messages and such.

Then, she told me that she had heard from her brother, who had related that her parents had received Christmas cards from both me and my sister. (I had no idea my sister had sent them one; she has been doing this for years, so I guess she felt like she should just continue to do so.) She said that her parents felt uncomfortable or perhaps pressured, because they know of our situation. And so, she asked me not to do this anymore.

Do what, exactly? Stop sending Christmas cards? I have contacter her parents exactly twice since this whole mess started about 14 months ago, and on both occasions I have been very careful to be respectful, and to not give them any pressure whatsoever. This Christmas card said nothing more than “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” and carried my signature. There’s certainly no pressure involved in that. I have no idea what my sister’s card said (although I do know what it looked like, because I got one, too), however I can’t imagine it said much more than did the card I sent.

So what does this pressure mean? Who knows. It could be nothing. Or it could be that her parents were expressing continued discomfort with her and her chosen course of actions. Or it could be something else. What’s clear to me is that, if they do feel discomfort, it’s not because of my sending that card, but rather what the receipt of that card reminds them of: what their daughter has become.

My response to my wife’s request was, well, nothing. Instead, I told her that I had something I needed to talk to her about, and asked her to call me. This led to a back-and-forth exchange in which she insisted on knowing what I wanted to talk about before she’d call. I was not trying to be coy, but told her that I would rather not discuss it by email. Still, she tried to hold me off, saying she would not call unless I gave her this information. I somehow knew that this was all smoke and mirrors.

I had to work a half day, and so I was more or less out of touch with her most of that time. I did get an email or two in which she additionally asked me to stop sending emails to her (now, formerly) primary email account, and to use her (formerly) über secret email account instead. Why the insistence upon this change? Simple: the former account uses her married surname (mine); the latter account uses her maiden name. I decided to choose my battles wisely and just to give in on this one.

When I got home from work, the back-and-forth continued a bit longer. I still did not give in on the original topic I wanted to discuss, and she was really adamant about wanting to know. So, I told her that I simply now wanted to talk about her emails to me that day. You now what response she gave me? Heh – she said that she didn’t have her cell phone with her.

What??? In fact, my response to this started thusly: ?????

It was all smoke and mirrors after all. I told her that she could just give me a phone number and I’d call.

Crickets. Nada. Zilch.

So why bother to contact me, then? Well, you see, the adulterer was out of town. I found this out via his very public Facebook postings that indicated that he was leaving town to give a Very Important All-Day Seminar. This Very Important All-Day Seminar was located 500 miles away: a quick, 45-minute flight, or a dreary, seven-hour journey by car. I neither know nor care how he got there, but I do know that he did not take my wife — and this from the same man who whisked her overseas for a few days just two short months ago. Why become a cheapskate all of a sudden?

Since the adulterer was very public about this 500-mile trip, he did get around to posting pictures today of this Very Important All-Day Seminar. This Very Important All-Day Seminar attracted a total of five people: the adulterer himself, the person who invited him to give this Very Important All-Day Seminar, and then three other people. That is Very Important, indeed.

(I think you may be detecting a bit of sarcasm, or perhaps derision, dear reader, although I like to think of it as facetiousness.)

What’s important here is that my wife has now established a pattern: when the adulterer is away, she contacts me. That’s how it happens. He went overseas without her in May, and we had another back-and-forth, albeit a much more pleasant one, back then. Her previous communication with me occurred while he was gone as well, although he probably was only gone for the day. It’s interesting to reflect on what this might mean: that life ain’t so grand up there in Camp C-S (if you know what I mean), and that, when the distraction of having the adulterer around is gone, she probably feels lonely and empty. I do know this from what others have related: even when a wayward spouse is with the affair partner, they still very often have this sense of internal emptiness, and that only magnifies when the affair partner is not there.

It does seem there are signs (and I don’t really want to get into those right now) that she really isn’t happy with the state of affairs up there at Camp C-S these days, and that her efforts to stonewall me have been a futile attempt to rectify matters by blaming the relational malfunctions on the presence of the spouse, virtual or otherwise. Blame it on whatever you want, there’s nothing that can make an adulterous relationship work out, since such relationships are poisoned from day one.

Thus it seems that I’ve just got to be patient a little bit longer while this farce winds down and collapses like the house of cards that it is. If you’ve read many of my posts, you probably have the sense that I am a very patient person.