It was another interesting day. My wife and I had arranged to meet today to work on our taxes. Really, this should be priority number one, and in past years I’ve always just taken care of it while she just did whatever she wanted. Generally speaking, I have no problem with that. But this year is different. This year she’s trying to ditch me and walk out on our 7-year marriage, so I’ll take every opportunity I can to connect.
I left fairly early for the grocery store to pick up a few items — a few flowers for the house, some green bananas for my wife, and so on. She texted me while I was there to say that she was waiting for me at a coffee shop not too far from where she is currently staying. This alone speaks volumes to me: she could have just waited for me at the house she’s currently “living” in, but instead she took the opportunity to get out and hang out in a somewhat sterile-looking coffee shop. It was clear to me yesterday that she did not seem to happy with her current living situation, and the fact that she’d leave to go someplace else helps to confirm this suspicion somewhat.
I drove down to the coffee shop and found her sitting at the far end. It’s in a recently built apartment building that hosts a bunch of shops on the ground level. It’s a fairly large space that is a bit austere: concrete floors, functional furniture, but not a whole lot of warmth. It’s not an unfriendly place, but not exactly the kind of place you’d want to spend a lot of time. There are a lot of hard angles and sharp corners. This is one thing if the architectural theme is modern and austere, with cool colors of grey and blue and lots of translucent surfaces, but this place rather incongruously uses dark browns and other colors that are somewhat earthy and rather unfriendly to the place. My wife did not see me as I entered, and I walked all the way up to her before she saw me.
She looked up and smiled. Not just any smile, but a big, warm, very genuine smile. You know, the kind of smile that says “I’m really glad to see you.” I ordered a coffee and sat with her while she Facebooked, or whatever she was doing on her computer. Then we left for the house.
I had bought some bagels yesterday in preparation for this morning, with the idea that we could have breakfast together. Montreal-style bagels, no less. (Please click the link if you don’t know what these are.) No such luck — she ate some banana bread at the coffee shop and wasn’t hungry — but she did eat one of the green bananas I’d bought. I’m sure she notices these details, by the way. You know, that I keep things around the house that she likes, like green bananas. I had my breakfast and let her do more Facebooking, or whatever she was doing on her computer, and changed the flowers in the house. I put some new daffodils in her office, and she thanked me for them.
I just looked at her, and then I kissed her on the cheek. Twice. There were no complaints.
So far, so good. We sat down to start with the taxes by sorting out the receipts from the past year. Then I started to work on the spreadsheet where I could keep track of all these things, and she went off to practice a bit. She came back out after a while, and then suddenly got a phone call. She went into her office to get her phone and then promptly disappeared into the bathroom. You know what that means: it was a call from the adulterer. Guess she had to go hide out so that she could answer it by text. She left her Facebook open on her laptop, by the way, and that laptop was sitting right next to mine. I could see clearly on the screen on her profile page “In a relationship with [adulterer’s name].” Seriously, do these people have no shame? I guess if you’re going to broadcast it to the world, then you might as well just go the whole hog, right? This just means that there will be massive humiliation for her when the affair does come crashing to an end.
From this point on, her energy shifted and things deteriorated somewhat. She had asked me earlier to give her a ride on my way out to work, but now she suddenly decided to take the bus and go shopping. Yeah, right. I do know that she had some students to teach, but I suspect there was nothing more at play than a meet-up with the adulterer. I told her that I would not be done with the taxes before tonight, and that I’d need her signature. She got a bit testy and said that she couldn’t be back until after Monday (well, why the heck not?!) and that I’d just have to sign for her. Yes, that’s right: please go ahead and commit forgery on a government document so that I can commit adultery. This is really how her mind works. She then got ready to leave. That familiar black cloud of dark energy had descended on her and followed her out the door and down the street, much like the cloud of dust followed Pig Pen around in those old Peanuts cartoons.
Heheh… Pig Pen. More like pig sty, if you’d ask me. That’s what she has created for herself, and that’s where she is, wallowing in the filth.
So here’s what I think. It’s clear to me at this point that all the goodwill I have built with my wife over the last 5+ months is still there. I could see that in her smile this morning, and I could feel it in her demeanor and her energy yesterday. It’s also clear to me that she is confused, troubled, and deeply unhappy. This is not riding on the surface, though. It’s repressed and probably comes to the surface every now and then. She doesn’t want to feel guilty about the things she’s doing, even though she knows they’re wrong, and so she’s broadcasting her immorality to the world. Yet at the same time, she has to hide those broadcasts from me. I mean, if you were really so certain of your rectitude, wouldn’t you just not hide anything at all?
Not possible. I make her hide this stuff. She could get the whole world to listen to her and try to convince them that she’s not wrong. But the one person who will not listen is me. I simply will not allow her to breathe a word of it, and that must eat her up inside, day after day. I cannot let her speak of this to me, because I cannot let her clear her conscience and try to legitimize that which it inherently illegitimate. And I’m the one person in the world that she needs to buy into it more than anything else.
How will this all pan out? I have no idea. I mean, I know the affair will end, and I do think at this point that it has the potential to end in a rather spectacular fashion in the very near future. But it’s anyone’s guess if it will. I think she is riding on this line between wanting to maintain the affair and its narrative and having to deal with the fact that she still has feelings for me. I’m clearly the better person in this equation, too. Maybe I cannot offer all the things the adulterer can: a house in the boonies, a sole-proprietorship of a business, or a common spiritual tradition that is probably as geniunely held as an act of cultural graverobbing. But there is at least one thing I can offer that he can’t, and it’s far more powerful: trust.
I was teaching a student this afternoon, a 9-year-old boy with a lot of cognitive and neuromotor issues: ADD, eye tracking problems, short-term memory deficits, and so on. He is a highly intelligent boy, though, and very genuine. I asked him a couple of prompts today to get him to do some conceptual processing, and the second one he chose (at random) was, “What is trust, and how do you know that you can trust someone?” His answer was startlingly insightful and mature. He said (and I paraphrase), “Trust is when someone tells you that they’re going to do something, and they promise to do it, and then they actually do it. When they do this at least a few times, then you know you can trust them. But if they say they’re going to do something and then they don’t do it, then you can’t trust them.”
Wow. Notice that he said “a few times.” That is key.
My wife knows she can trust me. I will not betray her under any circumstances. I will not abandon her, ever. When I promise to do something, I do it. This extends to my marriage vows: I promised to honor and cherish her for the rest of my life, and I’m going to do that. Yet she also knows that she cannot trust the adulterer. He is a liar and a cheat. You cannot trust someone who lies (e.g. to his own daughter, which he did) or who violates other peoples’ trust. He has broken into marriages before, just like he broke into ours, and I see no reason why he wouldn’t do it again.
So yes, the affair will end. And I’ll be here, well positioned, waiting for that to happen.