Tag Archives: reconciliation

The Power of a Single Piece of Chocolate

Yesterday I was my wife for the first time in over two months. We were obligated to attend a “status conference” at which the court would try to determine why we were not on track to obliterating our marriage. What emerged from this conference was, well, quite interesting indeed.

I began my day as I typically do, rising early (usually around 6:00, but often earlier) and doing my morning spiritual practice. I had a hard time with this yesterday morning, as I was quite distracted with thoughts of the impending status conference. So, I cut things a bit short and got myself ready.

The court is located downtown, and the hearing was set for 9:00 a.m. This meant leaving the house about an hour prior to allow for rush-hour traffic and to find parking. I ended up parking the car about 40 minutes before the hearing time. With time to spare, I decided to walk down to a nearby coffee shop that is one of my wife’s favorites; the shop roasts their own beans, making Italian-style roasts of very high quality. I was a ordered a doppio (double espresso), as opposed to my normal americano, as I thought I would not have sufficient time to finish the latter.

The espresso arrived, and on the saucer was a small wrapped piece of dark chocolate with the name of the coffee shop on the label. I thought to myself that I should just save the chocolate and give it to my wife. Let’s call this thought “planting positive seed of intention, #1″—my intention with this thought and its subsequent action was totally pure, inspired by love and generosity. I took the chocolate and put it in my pocket. Then I drank the espresso and walked over to the courthouse.

I arrived at the courtroom a few minutes before the session was to begin. The schedule outside the door indicated that the judge would be hearing about 70 cases on that morning. I opened the courtroom door and saw my wife sitting in a row of benches right next to the door. She looked at me and smiled. I went up to her and greeted her, and she was very genuine and cordial. This seemed totally out of character from both her behavior of late as well as from some allegations she had made with some motions she had recently filed with the court, but I’ll get to that later. She told me that I needed to go check in with the bailiff, and I did so. I then returned and she moved over to make a space for me to sit next to her. I gave her the piece of chocolate and she thanked me for it, putting it in her purse. Let’s call this “planting positive seed of intention, #2.”

I was open, spacious, and emotionally stable. She was nervous and ill at ease; not so much with me, as she seemed surprisingly comfortable with my sitting next to her, but rather with the situation of being in a courtroom, attempting to destroy our marriage. She looked like hell: dark circles under her eyes, and somehow, despite having made the effort to look very presentable, seemingly unkempt. She was clearly a woman undergoing sustained emotional torment—torment that she has entirely created herself. I engaged her in conversation, and things were relatively normal, or at least as normal as they can be in such circumstances.

The judge arrived and began to hear cases. She slammed through these at the rate of about one every 3 minutes or so. The cases were not heard in order of their listing on the court schedule, but rather in some order determined by the bailiff. We sat and waited for about an hour. Then, a woman walked into the spectator area where we were seated and called our names. She and a colleague had been doing this—calling the names of various litigants—since the start of the session, but neither my wife nor I had taken much notice. We identified ourselves and were taken into an antechamber behind the courtroom. We sat down, I diagonally across the table from the officer, and my wife to my immediate left. The woman identified herself as an “early resolution officer” whose task was to ascertain why we were not in compliance with the court’s case schedule. There were apparently some questions about the status of our paperwork, so she had to ask us some questions to get our case ready for the judge to hear.

My wife indicated that she had recently filed a motion with the court to amend her petition; she had already amended it once, but violated court rules by simply filing a petition without the court’s permission. Essentially, this petition was invalid, but on advice of legal counsel, I did eventually file a response—last week. In my wife’s motion to the court, she decided to ask for certain forms of relief that she backed up with frivolous and flimsy allegations. What is important, however, is that the early resolution officer told her that, since she had filed these motions, she had now essentially put our case on hold: it could not move at all until the judge ruled on her motion. That hearing is set for early September. My wife asked what she would then have to do if the judge ruled in her favor, and the officer said that she would have to have me personally served, as she would essentially be starting the case all over again. This does not mean that the case schedule itself would be changed—her trial date still stands—but it certainly could be continued by the presiding judge because of her motion. The officer then said that she was going to recommend that we come back for another hearing at the end of October. I think this news surprised and shook my wife a bit; I believe she expected that matters would just be resolved and things would move forward, and instead she learned that her very actions were now stalling the process she had wanted to set in motion.

It’s funny how karma works sometimes.

The officer filled out the orders for the judge to review, and, while she was doing this I said, “for the record, I am an unwilling participant in this litigation.” The officer said that our state is a “no-fault” state, meaning that my wife could bring a dissolution of marriage case before the court without showing any cause whatsoever; I told her I understood that, but that I felt it was the wrong thing to do, and that I believed that we not only could reconcile our marriage, but that we had the obligation to make those efforts first. Let’s call this “planting positive seed of intention, #3.”

My wife did not flinch at all when I said this, but sometimes these seeds sting a bit when we plant them. They insert themselves in the consciousness in a way that simply cannot be removed. We were shown back into the courtroom to await our hearing with the judge. My wife now became visibly withdrawn and uncomfortable, and began to move away from me. She became unresponsive to comments I made to her, and was clearly uncomfortable.

We waited another 30 minutes, and finally we were called before the judge. I was confident and at ease; my wife was nervous and unsteady. The hearing was very straightforward; the judge simply asked what paperwork was still in process, and my wife told her about the motion she had filed. The judge ordered that we return in late October, unless all paperwork was filed a week beforehand. She was very professional and understanding. She then asked if we had any questions, and my wife asked her if she had to have me served. The judge explained that the judge hearing her motion would first have to approve it, and if that happened, then she would have to either get me to agree to an “acceptance of service” or she would need to have me personally served, just as if the case was starting all over again. This made my wife rather uncomfortable. I thanked the judge and we left the courtroom.

We did not exactly leave together; instead my wife, who had been so open and genuine just 90 minutes earlier, was now making a beeline to get out of there. She was visibly frustrated and was now trying to avoid speaking to me. She stopped at a bench in the hallway, as did I, to put away her paperwork; I tried to speak to her but she walked off into the ladies’ room across the hall. I just walked away, out into the lobby, to wait for an elevator.

She came down the hall soon after, and her energy was totally different than it had been at the start of the hearing. That genuineness was now transformed into anger and hostility. I tried to engage her in conversation, asking her if she needed anything, and she told me I had to leave. I offered to hold the elevator door for her, and she walked away. She refused even to get into an elevator with me. I looked at her and said, “you do not need to be hostile to me,” and told her I was leaving to go to work. I got in the elevator and left.

I have not heard a peep from her since. But, that chocolate stayed in her purse.

She knows I am committed to saving our marriage. My actions have shown that for nearly 22 months now. Her life currently appears to be a shambles because of the poor life decisions she has made over those past 22 months. She appears to be on a downward spiral that she will not have interrupted, and I am willing to allow her to have that spiral. It is likely that she will have an emotional breakdown, and this could happen soon. She is certainly in the physical, emotional, and mental states that would enable that to happen. She is equally likely to have a huge blow-up with the adulterer, and that could likely happen soon as well. After all, he probably wants this whole situation over and done with, and will learn that it was her actions—not mine—that are now causing this delay. His patience, I would think, must be nearing an end. Chances are the blow-up and breakdown will occur around the same time, and probably in that order. The affair will end—I am more convinced of that now than I have ever been, as I can see it written all over her—and her life will truly spiral out of control.

But for now, that piece of chocolate remains. She may have eaten it already, or she will do so soon. She will not throw it away, but even if she did, it does not matter. When she sees that chocolate, whether it be to eat it or to chuck it in the trash, it will make an enormous impact. That piece of chocolate is a very powerful seed of intention. It carries with it the sum total of all of my positive efforts over the last 21-plus months. It carries with it all of the positive actions I have taken over the course of our marriage, as well as over the course of the two-year friendship that preceded our marriage. It carries with it all of the highs and lows of our relationship and the ways in which we connected. It carries with it one very simple, yet powerful and unstoppable message: “I love you and I always will.”

And that, my friends, is the power of a single piece of chocolate.

Back to Where It All Started

I haven’t posted in a while, as I’ve been very busy; besides that, there hasn’t been a whole lot to report.

This past weekend, I went to the shrine where my wife’s affair started. I hadn’t been there in nearly two years. There was a big, semi-annual ceremony going on there, and the last time I had attended it was two years ago with my wife. Something told me that I should go; if I needed a reason, there were a few amulets and such that needed to be returned to the shrine, and then perhaps one new one that I felt I should pick up. In that spiritual tradition, amulets and other items one might use for personal use or for home altars are annual in nature, and need to be replaced every year. I had a few around the house that were 2+ years old, so I figured I should be responsible and change them out. This shrine is the only place in North America where one can do that.

Even the night before the ceremony, I was still unsure if I’d go. I wanted to be clear on my ethics and intentions; if there were any possibility that I would be going to mess with my wife’s affair—which still seems to be clinging on for dear life—then I’d just stay home. I was pretty sure that my intention was pure, but thought I’d better sleep on it.

I awoke the following morning feeling a bit ambivalent. My intentions were pure enough, I guess, but I just wasn’t sure if it would have been a good idea to go. So, I pulled down my I-Ching book and did a quick reading. The answer was unambiguous: I should go.

It was a fine Sunday morning, and I had some other obligations before the ceremony started mid-morning. Having taken care of those, I set off on the 40-mile drive to the shrine. I suppose I felt a bit nervous, because I did not know what would meet me there; I strongly suspected that my wife would not be there, but I just did not know what to expect.

I arrived and found that the adulterer’s truck was nowhere to be seen. In previous years, he would always be there; he volunteered at virtually every event, as he was more or less the highest-ranking member of the shrine, aside from the priest. It was my sense that, due to the affair, the adulterer and my wife had both gotten themselves banned from the shrine, or at least made very unwelcome. This is, of course, rather odd, as the adulterer lives about 2 miles from the shrine; given the remote location of the town, there really is no other reason for the adulterer to live there. They never did arrive.

But I did. As I stood in line to enter the shrine, the priest saw me and beamed a huge smile. He came outside to meet me, shook my hand, and greeted me with a warm and genuine sincerity. He asked me how I was doing, and I said, “excellent.” Upon entering the shrine, I encountered the priest’s wife. Now, she had been very vocal in her opposition to my wife’s affair, and went so far as to post a disparaging remark about it quite openly on Facebook shortly after that sordid mess had begun. She came up to greet me, and also seemed quite happy to see me. I’m sure it did not escape her notice that I was wearing my wedding ring. She asked me how our dog was doing, and then said she really wanted to see the dog. This also seemed like a very genuine connection. I returned the amulets to her, and went and bought a couple of new ones for this year.

The ceremony went as planned, and afterward I stopped by to thank the priest on my way out. Again, he was very genuine and enthusiastically thanked me for being there. I then returned home.

It’s hard to know what any of this meant. I think that, for me, there was perhaps some sort of sense of that karma coming full circle with my return there. It is of course said that all actions are interdependent, and thus I can probably expect some sort of karmic ripples to be sent out as a result of my visit. Those ripples will almost certainly meet my wife and the adulterer; when that could happen or the effect that might have is entirely uncertain. But, that’s really not my concern; it’s not why I went there in the first place.

I have come to a place of a certain degree of comfort in my situation, actually. This is likely the result of the regular contemplations I’m doing in my daily spiritual practice; these contemplations have recently shown me the deeper meaning of what is going on. I suppost it could be summarized in this way: happiness comes from positive actions, yet all too many people engage in negative actions in their pursuits of happiness. Buddhist doctrine holds that there are ten non-virtuous actions from which one should abstain; pondering these actions can be truly shocking, and can lead to greater compassion for those who engage in them, wittingly or otherwise. Although most of us unwittingly engage in about half of these actions fairly regularly, my wife’s list of non-virtuous actions resulting from her affair probably encompasses eight or nine of them. Pondering this likelihood has shown me the wisdom of stepping back a bit and allowing the natural course of things (i.e. karma) to just go ahead and play out. In fact, my earlier attitude, as seen in many of the posts here from, say, last year, more or less demonstrate how “tight” my energy was around the whole thing. I do think that maintaining that kind of “tightness” distorts things somehow, making it harder for the situation to resolve. I’ve pretty much gotten out of the way now, energetically speaking, so that situation can just collapse under the weight of its own karmic debt; that could happen at any time now.

As for me, life is good, and I’ve got a paid holiday from work. Time to wash the dog, I guess. Happy 4th to all of you.

More on Love

I guess you could say the title of this post is a play on words.

It’s been a slow news week on the relationship front, but things could heat up fast. My wife has a concert tomorrow, and I’ll be there. Who knows, sparks may fly; stay posted.

Until then, I thought I’d post a link to another article by a former adulterer who reconciled his marriage, and who reports from the “other side.” Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite:

Let’s get right to it shall we? Real love is never about “falling” into anything, has nothing to do with “finding a soul mate,” and actually has less to do with “getting” anything in particular you deem either necessary or [of which you feel] deserving…

So, here’s the problem: Relationships fail because we don’t know what love is or what is required to actually love someone. Most see the main problem of love as that of “being loved;” that is finding the “right” person, missing completely the real problem, namely, our capacity to love another, which is no small task…

What most of us call “love” is not love; it is a self-absorbed, conditional quid pro quo [in which] you invest something only if a return of some sort is realized on a self-determined time line… Here, “love” is actually a relational bartering system justified by our self-obsession with presumed entitlement to get needs met […], as if a relationship were some egalitarian utopia, rather than the mysterious and demanding encounter it is [—a place] where you really can only expect [returns] in proportion to what you contribute, an idea foreign to most who claim to “love.”

You can read the whole article here.

Coincidences and Signs

Today is my birthday. This is relevant, I promise, but I’ll get to that later.

I awoke this morning in a good mood. I tended to my shrine in the bedroom, or perhaps I should say that I tended to my shrines, since there are three of them in the house. I do this every morning, making sure there are offerings (water, light, scent, etc.) before I even have my breakfast. I make coffee and offer that too, before I even get a sip. This activity brings me great joy, because it is one of generosity. It probably takes about 10-20 minutes most days.

Offerings done, I sat down to check my email. Nothing really new there. Then I read the news, surfed the web a bit, and landed on Facebook.

Now, I haven’t been the hugest fan of Facebook since my wife’s affair began; it was launcehd from that web platform, and one of the first things I did was to remove myself from it for a time. However, I have a number of professional connections there, and the site has brought me some work over the years, so I still maintain an account. So, I check it from time to time, but I’m hardly the Facebook “addict” I was, say a few years ago.

Right at the top of the posts on my “wall” is one from the colleague who lives 2 blocks from here. This is the same colleague with whom my wife stayed when she initially “separated” from me last year. This colleague is the woman who, probably more than anyone else, encouraged my wife to have the affair and to move out. I’ll never forget the day my wife went out for coffee with her when the crisis was just beginning: she promised that she would not speak of our situation to anyone, and then she broke that promise within the hour. She admitted to me a day or two later that she broke that promise.

The post that I read was written around 2:00 a.m., and from it, it was clear that my wife had spent the night at this woman’s house. I understand that my wife had had a rehearsal yesterday, and this accounted for her staying overnight in town. The post said that the colleague had appreciated “true insights” from a “good friend” who is “incredibly wise.” This struck me as rather odd; it sounded like the two of them had sat up for much of the night talking about who-knows-what.

I finally had my breakfast and then took the dog out for a walk. We almost invariably go right past this colleague’s house when we go for a walk, and this morning was no exception. Now, here’s where things get really odd. If you’re not a fan of things metaphysical, then just skip ahead to the paragraph after this one, okay?

As we approached the colleague’s house, the most unusual thing happened. I had this sense of a tremendously negative energy field that was emanating from the side of the house I was approaching. This side of the house was also the location of the room in which my wife would be staying — I know this from previous experience: I have seen the room, and she had told me that she stayed in that room when she first moved out. This was a very palpable experience. It reminded me of my childhood days when, on Saturday mornings, I’d run down to the end of the street to see if my friends were awake yet. I could tell if they were because I’d hear the high-pitched whine of their TV set from outside the window (does anyone remember this from his or her own youth?) and, moreover, I could feel their presence, even though there was a brick wall between us. It was a kind of magnetic feeling, although one that would be more sort of a “positive”-pole magnetic feeling; this feeling I had this morning was a “negative”-pole feeling, and a very pronounced one at that.

Anyway, we went home and that was that. (I welcome the non-metaphysical fans among my readers back to the fold here.)

After returning home, I readied myself for the work day ahead. My first appointment was with an individual who n0-showed. To get to the place I meet this person at I need to exit my neighborhood via the street on which the aforementioned colleague’s house is located. So, I’m driving out and — lo and behold — there is the adulterer’s truck, right there in the colleague’s driveway. But, I had an appointment to get to, so I just kept going.

That appointment no-showed; this person pays regardless, so it was no big deal. I came home about 45 minutes later along that same route, and the adulterer’s truck was gone. I should probably also say that the adulterer’s arrival time is consistent with what I know (anecdotally and experientially) to be his arrival time at the other colleague’s house in the city — the other colleague with whom my wife normally would be staying.

So that was a fine “how-do-you-do” for the morning. I had plenty of other things to do today, as it was a normal work Monday, so I just went about my usual business. I later saw a FB post from my wife on this colleague’s “wall” that said something about this being a Monday, and so thus one should make a “fresh start.”

Okay, so here’s where I start “speculating,” or “mind reading,” or whatever one might want  to call it; for me, this is where I allow my subconscious to start to express itself in increments. I do believe that there is a tremendous amount of information we take in and process on a daily basis, only a tiny fraction of which makes it through the filter of the conscious mind. The rest is absorbed by the body into the realm of the unconscious, or something like that. So, if this bothers you, then just stop reading here. (You can, of course, just go to my donate page and “lob me a quid,” as my first landlady in the UK said when I lived there eons ago; or, you could head over to the resources page and see if there might be something there of value to you.)

Here’s what I think is going on: my wife is struggling. She is plagued by guilt, because she knows the significance of this day, and she feels terrible for having left me alone on yet another birthday. This is, in fact, worse than the last one, because last year at this time we were in contact by email (the adulterer was actually overseas for a few days) and she did ask me out for lunch a few days later and even gave me a birthday present. At this moment, things have degenerated to the point at which she won’t even acknowledge the significance of this day. That is truly sad, and I am all but certain (—Okay, skeptics, are you reading? If so, why?—) that this is eating her up inside. I have learned a fair bit about the mentality and psychology of the wayward spouse over the past months (I’ll write about this some other time), and one thing that seems nearly universal is that the wayward spouse’s mind continues to turn back to the marriage more and more as time goes by, and especially as the affair begins to reveal itself for the sham that it actually is.

So, somewhere out there, not more than 40 miles or so from here, my wife is sitting, or lying down, or washing dishes, or doing something, and it is highly likely that, even as I type this, her mind is turning toward me. There is guilt, remorse, sorrow, anger, frustration, and, most of all, pain. I cannot make any of those feelings or thoughts go away; only she can do that.

It’s crunch time up at Camp CS, friends, crunch time. Things come to  head and decisions have to be made. Her question right now is likely, “do I want this?” and the answer is, well, eventually… no.

Odd Developments; Or, Talking To Lawyers, Part III

This is my third (and hopefully final) installment in my series of posts that dealing with interactions with attorneys. Not that I have any disrespect for attorneys; quite the contrary: they perform a very valuable and important service. However, I think my life would probably be immeasurably better if I had no need for them right now.

As I wrote about before, my wife’s original dissolution petition contained some anomalies, not least of which being that there were two pages that somehow went missing. My response documented this fact, and took issue with other things (mainly omissions or misrepresentations of fact). I was told at that time that it could have just been an “honest mistake,” and that my wife could just file an amended petition.

Well, that’s exactly what she did, with a twist — or two. I went online to check that the forms I’d filed (just procedural stuff) had been processed by the court, and discovered that an amended petition had been submitted. This was a surprise. So, I went down to the courthouse tomorrow to pull the record and get a copy of the amended pleadings. Apparently in response to my response, she filed this new petition, and changed a bunch of information. This was very, very fishy.

So, I booked a session with an attorney tonight, just a quick, pro-bono consult. The lawyer I spoke with mainly litigates corporate law cases, but used to do a lot of family law cases; like other lawyers at this legal “clinic,” he volunteers his time. (Since I do a lot of volunteer work myself, I respect this tremendously.) He looked over my sheaf of documents, and examined my wife’s pleadings. His first reaction was, “oh, man, this is a mess.” He quickly pointed out that, aside from the fact that there was considerable disarray and other problems with the documents my wife had drawn up — including the new ones — she had also violated court rules. You see, she cannot just file an amended petition. Her original had already been served and responded to, and so now a whole new set of procedural rules applies, and with good reason. You can’t exactly sue someone, and once the case is entered into the records, just change the case at will. There are procedures to be followed.

The procedure she failed to follow was simple. First, she was supposed to draft an amended petition and leave it unsigned. Then, she was supposed to either contact me to get written permission to file it (I would have declined, of course), or to have motioned the court to submit the amended petition. That unsigned draft would have to have been submitted for a judge to review, approved, and then submitted to the clerk. Then, I would have to be served, and then given 10 days to respond. None of that happened. This means that this amended petition is bogus and will be struck from the record.

The attorney began to strategize, saying, “so, what could we do here…” He said that I could motion the court to strike this new petition, “but that would just annoy her.” Heh, heh… “Or, you could just ignore it, and do nothing.” That’s what I’m doing. Ignoring it, and doing nothing. She asked for certain types of relief that he felt were almost certain to be rejected by any judge, even if procedure had been filed. He said he doubted she could “get it together” enough to actually file for the kinds of relief she was requesting, and even if she did, she probably would not be successful. Note that these were new things she was trying to get into her pleadings. That just won’t fly.

I left with a lighter conscience. I’ll sleep well tonight.

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.

Where I’m At

Things for me somehow seem to be coming to a head, and I’m not sure why. There are the outward signs: I’ve got a response to file next week, a meeting with an attorney (please feel free to donate to that cause) in a few days to get that response ready, and a family law “orientation” to attend tomorrow morning, provided there is space available. I’ve also got a spouse who is pushing back harder than ever, and who is trying to hide even more than before. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that, when the experts say that “it always gets worse before it gets better,” this really seems to be true — universally true. I can understand why so many people end up divorced, because they just don’t understand the signs or the basic psychology behind those signs. Instead, they react instinctively by defending their own ego narratives, and that creates a downward spiral from which recovery is extremely difficult.

I’ve been thinking about my situation, and where things seem to be at, and I kind of feel like I’m at a watershed sort of moment at which things are internally shifting for me. Perhaps it’s because of events of the past few weeks, or perhaps it’s because of some complex network of other factors, but at this point I find myself letting go. Somehow, this seems to be a critical juncture.

Letting go does not mean giving up. It does not mean failing to hold a vision of a better future. It does not mean throwing away aspirations and prayers. Instead, it means letting go of the uncontrollable.

I cannot control my wife or her decisions. I cannot control her emotions or her reactions. I cannot control her thoughts or her panic attacks (which I’m quite certain have returned for her). I cannot control her impulsivity or her reactivity. I cannot force her to come home, and I cannot force her to end her affair. I cannot force her to drop her legal proceedings, either.

The only things I can control are my own actions and intentions. That’s it. This knowledge has always been there, staring me in the face, but I’ve only recently realized what this means. And, quite counterintuitively, it means that there is power that can result from this realization.

An action taken with an impure intention is impure, no matter how it appears. Heck, I’ve known this for years; it’s Buddhism 101. A vision held too tightly will suffocate. An aspiration that is not released will go nowhere. An act of love that has any kind of boundary is not an act of love at all.

When those limitations and impurities are taken away, all those actions, visions, aspirations, and acts of love begin to carry true power. They become imbued with the most powerful force in the universe: love. It is the basic state of our existence.

People who casually hear of Marriage Fitness often don’t understand these basic facts about the program. The two most basic tenets are to “put love first,” and to “be the spouse of your partner’s dreams.” They often mistake its “techniques” or “practices” as things that are part of some program. A “talk charge,” is not part of some program; it’s something that you should have been doing from day one of your marriage. You likely were, too, but then at some point you stopped. A “date night” is not a part of a marriage-saving strategy; it’s something you should have been doing at least once a week during the entire course of your marriage. You probably did these early on, but then the reality of life took over and you stopped doing them. A “business meeting” is not part of some “expert’s” scheme to fix distressed marriages; it’s a critical skill that all married couples should use from the moment the honeymoon ends. They are common-sense things that are just uncommonly done.

And that’s where the problem lies: you stop doing these things, and the love dies. You stop “putting love first,” and instead, put it second, third, or fifteenth. So long as it’s not first, it will dwindle and fizzle out.

That’s when the justifications and prevarications begin. “We weren’t compatible.” “She changed.” “We just don’t belong together anymore.” Sadly, there is a very real element of truth to all of these statements. No two people are ever compatible. No person on this earth does not change. And two people who have not learned how to keep their love alive probably don’t belong together anymore.

But, when one person takes the initiative to put love back into first place, and when that one person does some profound introspection and changes the behavioral and personal habituated patterns that were undermining the marriage, then the relationship can heal and become whole. It doesn’t matter if the other spouse is having an affair, has separated, filed for divorce, is stonewalling, or whatever.

I’m going to repeat that statement, because it does seem outrageous: It doesn’t matter if the other spouse is having an affair, has separated, filed for divorce, is stonewalling, or whatever. What matters is how you love your spouse. If you love your spouse totally and completely, and manifest that love without conditions, and if you take full responsibility for all of the things that led that spouse to have an affair, to separate, to file for divorce, to stonewall, or to do whatever else, then you heal that relationship, bit by bit.

It is a process. It is a slow process, a very, very slow process. Relationships do not turn around quickly when they are truly distressed. Affairs take time to end, and spouses that separate need time to get over their egos enough to give love another chance. It could take months, and a lot of them. I know of many reconciliations by this point, and few of them got there in under a year; most seem to have taken something more like 18-24 months.

Love doesn’t have any problem with that.  It has all the time in the world and all the space in the universe. It does not need to endure, because it has neither beginning nor end. Love has no expectations or conditions. It does not need to let go, because it has nothing to hold on to. It has no reference points of self or other. Love just is.

My experience of “letting go” seems to be one of realization of this fact: love just is, so let it be what it is.