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.