Alarmed by the seduction,
I wish it would stop.
Kind of a propos to those of us dealing with unfaithful spouses.
Yes, I wish that it would stop. And along with it, I wish that the pain would stop. I would say that most days I'm okay, I'm not really suffering, but there is an underlying tension to it all, not knowing what's around the next corner. I just never know what sorts of twists and turns await me as we inch nearer to the end of her relationship with that feckless boob.
There is also an underlying layer of pain. It's very subtle most of the time, and I don't really notice it. I usually relate to it directly when I do my morning meditation, which these days is pretty much just tonglen. But every now and then there is a trigger that comes unexpectedly, and there comes the pain, and on come the tears.
Take today, for example. I had just made my lunch, and was sitting watching TV, which I rarely do. It was a cooking show, of all things, and the host was throwing a party for a couple with an infant that was probably only 3 months old. The moment I saw that infant, I started to cry. I still had a mouth full of food.
I'm not really sure why I started to cry. Maybe it was all the dreams that were never fulfilled in our marriage. We never had kids, and my wife is now nearly to old to entertain that idea. We could have had kids, but she was never willing to put in the effort that would have made our financial situation conducive to raising children. She never showed me any seriousness in trying to finish her doctorate, and never showed any interest in having a "real" job, or at least to work enough to bring in more than a couple hundred dollars a week, if that. It's as if she has absolutely no clue what it costs to live in this world. And it's also as if she was expecting to import the norms of another society to ours.
You see, in her home country (Japan), single-income families are the norm. The man works full-time and the wife stays home and raises the kids. Employees often commit to their employers for life, and employers pay their employees as salary that is, among other things, based on age and family size. I distinctly remember my wife telling me, right near the beginning of our marital crisis, "I just wanted you to make all the money so I could do whatever I want." Seriously. That was the unguarded, honest comment of a grown woman.
Mind you, this is the same grown woman who at the same time claims that she wants to be "independent." I don't see that happening, not now or ever in the future. She does not have the life skills to make that happen. It's not that she's incapable, quite the contrary. It's just that she lacks the perspective of what it actually means to be independent, to have nobody there for you to help out when the money runs out, when hardship strikes, etc. She has always had someone behind her to help out: her parents, her teachers, friends, and, of course, me. One of the first things I did when we first started dating was to give her several hundred dollars so that she could pay her bills. Of course, she still has someone behind her now — the adulterer — although I don't know how keen he is on actually supporting her.
So she really doesn't want to be independent. She actually seems to want two things: 1) to be autonomous, and 2) to run away from her problems. The first is a delayed act of maturation that never happened in her life. She never was truly autonomous, despite having left home to go to college, and then having left her home country to pursue graduate degrees. She was still accountable to the friends and family back home who were helping to bankroll her. So now she wants that autonomy, but does not realize that it doesn't require destroying your marriage to get it. As for the second, this is also a maturity issue. She really wanted to marry her father. She wanted to marry someone who she felt would sacrifice everything for his wife and his family. Not that I wouldn't, but her father's story is rather unique: his father died when he was in his early teens, so he had to quit school and begin working at the age of 16 to support his mother and his family. That's the standard I was being judged against, apparently. The story of the adulterer is one of a person whose parents split up while he was a child, and who had to help support his mother. Similar story, in a way, but with a few key differences: the adulterer learned early on that broken homes were the norm, and so his marital homes — both of them — ended up broken as well. He is nearly 50 and still does not know how to conduct a successful long-term relationship. He has also been the victim of and has committed adultery. This is hardly a positive role model.
But what can you say to an adulterer who thinks she's "in love"? Nothing. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it's not love they feel. It's dopamine addiction. It's a form of narcissism that manifests in a shallowly indulgent short-term relationship. It will end, and soon. Spring is upon us. The buds are forming on the trees and the early blooms are already present. But the bloom is not quite off the rose of their relationship. I actually don't know where it's at. I do know that the more time they spend together, the quicker the bloom will wilt and that relationship will end. It's been nearly 6 months since this madness started. Something tells me that April will be a critical months for that illicit relationship, and the gateway to reconciliation.
Friends, it's been a few days. I have an incommunicado spouse again. That's right, only this time things are a bit weird.
As you may recall from an earlier post, whenever my wife goes incommunicado, something seems to be going awry. The first time she did this was right after she delivered a long letter to me outlining her rationalizations for her crazy "path" she has chosen for herself these days. We don't need to review all the things this path entails; the contents of this blog will make that eminently clear. But, if you want a thumbnail sketch, that path is about one thing and one thing only: adultery. The second time she went incommunicado was on her five-day weekend just prior to her actual move-out.
Here we are again, spouse gone AWOL, no contact, no nothing. I've tried to be considerate, too. The last I heard from her was on Wednesday when she stopped by to teach a student. I was not home, and she made sure her arrival and departure occurred when I was not present. That's just how much she seems to want to be avoiding me. Then, on Friday, her typical departure date for Camp Chickenshit, I fully expected to see her show up while I was still here, but she did not. I left the dog at home, along with a couple of small gifts. The gifts were not claimed, and the dog was waiting at home when I arrived.
Now, I'm really glad to have the company of the dog, and my wife has sacrificed the companionship of her "treasure," as she calls the dog, for more than a week now. I asked her to leave the dog at home for the weekend when she moved out, and she only had a brief visitation time with her on Wednesday. Other than that, no contact. Hmmmm. Why, oh why would she not come and take the dog away for the weekend?
I'll tell you why: because something truly anomalous is going on. I have circumstantial evidence at this point that shows me that she has taken a road trip with the adulterer, and that they are currently in another state, about 800 miles from here, visiting the adulterer's daughter and her husband. Please don't ask me how I know this. The walls of secrecy are leaky, and adulterers are careless. They try to hide their tracks, but they aren't professionals, so they leave steaming evidence trails from time to time. I already know that she has not one but two "secret" bank accounts. I saw the ATM statements. I know the bank — it's right down the street — and I know that she has listed this address on the accounts. The bank communications have come here. Duh! This is just the tip of the iceberg I'm seeing. I don't know why she's there, but I have my hunches. I won't get into those, though.
You see, one of the things adulterers do is to start making "plans for the future" with their adulterous partner. Why? Well, it's simple. They've found their "soul mate." The definition of this person is: "someone with whom I share one or two superficial concerns, who provides me with a temporary bandage for my existential crisis, and someone with whom I have sex." That's about it. There's pretty much nothing else there. There is no love. Nope, you need trust and honesty for that. There is no deep, underlying emotional health. That's pretty much impossible, since the relationship is poisoned by the tension of maintaining a vast network of lies and deception. There's just addiction, and that's about it. Since they are addicts, they exercise extremely bad judgment. They introduce their adulterous partner to friends and family. They quit jobs and sever personal ties. They waste money on frivolities. They live in a 24/7 fantasy world in which nothing could ever go wrong.
That is, until the bubble pops. Sooner or later the bubble pops. It always does. It pops because the relationship stops being novel. It pops because the combined weight of all the lies starts to grind down on the adulterer's conscience. It pops because they become aware of the disapproval of others of their behavior. It pops because the relationship ends up being like any other: very human, fraught with all the personality faults, disagreements, and issues of any other relationship. But there's a twist: since this relationship is built on a bed of lies, it is very fragile, and once these faults and issues arise, the bubble gets ready to pop. This happens more quickly than in normal relationships because the deceitfulness of the relationship destabilizes it from day one. There is no happy ending.
So, she'll come back sometime next week. I don't know when, but I suspect it will probably be on Tuesday. Then something else will unfold. She'll have all this hope of this new future scenario she has put in place. Maybe she'll be moving into a new apartment after all. Maybe she'll be moving in with the adulterer. Maybe something else will happen. No matter what it is, it will be a matter of extremely poor judgment made in the impenetrable haze of the affair fog.
I've been enduring this crisis for nearly six months, folks. 5 months and 21 days, to be precise. That's 173 days since she opened communication with this adulterer and the avalanche of nonsense came cascading down. For the first 23 days it was an emotional affair. The physical affair I've been enduring for 151 days. That's 4 months and 30 days. Yes, nearly 5 months. 21 weeks, if you prefer. I've been trying to reconcile for 20 weeks. That's 145 days, or 4 months and 24 days. Yes, I did calculate all this. From what I understand, the average affair lasts about 6 months, or "until the bloom is off the rose," so to speak. Well, that latter could certainly happen sooner. I guess I've just got somewhat longer to endure. It might be another month until that bloom really does go off the rose. The more time she spends with this adulterer, the quicker that will happen. There is one thing that has not change during this whole time, and that's my behavior. It has remained constant. I still reach out to connect, I still give. Even thought it's harder to do with her withdrawal from me, I still do it. I persevere. That is what will make the difference in the end.
So it was today. She never turned up while I was here, but I had a gift at the ready. Just before Christmas, I had stopped off at a consignment shop, totally on a lark, and found some Fire King dishes on display. I know my wife loves Fire King products. She had bought several on Ebay in the past. So I took the opportunity then to buy her a couple of gratin dishes. I knew she'd like them, especially since the color was quite unique. Yesterday I stopped by the same shop again. I was getting a haircut just up the street, so it was on my way to work. They still had all the Fire King dishes there, so I decided to buy a few more pieces: a couple of little bowls, plus two coffee cups. The shop owner said she'd give me a 20% discount on them, since she wanted to move the products.
Also on a lark, I'd stopped by a chocolate shop, to see what they had on offer. They had these little chocolates in the shape of a hedgehog, that were filled with some sort of nuts and crispy cookies or something like that. I had bought my wife a little ornamental hedgehog made from organic products (sunflower seeds and things like that) from one of her favorite shops a while back, and she seemed to like that — she packed it with the stuff she moved out, anyway. So I bought the chocolate hedgehog, and then put it inside one of the little Fire King bowls, placed both in a little gift bag and left it on her piano.
I got home tonight and the porch light was on, so I knew she had been home. When I came inside, I saw something on the dining room table that appeared to have been left for me. It was a bag of coffee beans from one of the artisanal coffee roasters here in town. There was a note that said, "enjoy the coffee," that she had signed. I peeked into her office and found the gift had been taken. Not only that, but in the kitchen I noticed that she had used one of the coffee cups I'd bought. Hmmmm...
So what's incongruous about all this? Well, that's pretty simple. My wife moved out on Friday. This is one of the most hurtful things she could have done to me: to have movers come and haul away furniture and boxes of belongings. Nevertheless, I manifest unconditional love. And in return she leaves me a gift. I don't know what else to make of it. She was downtown and was thinking of me. She brought me a gift of coffee beans. It's not the first time that she has given me gifts. For an obstinate spouse, she is having a hard time staying obstinate. A truly obstinate spouse would not do this kind of thing. It might give the recipient "false hope". Wait — she actually told me the she didn't want to give me any false hope. Hmmmmm......
There is one other detail here as well. I had an advisory board meeting tonight for a non-profit I work for, and the woman who is currently housing my wife also serves on that board. Tense moments? Not really. I see her every Saturday, and I've long gotten used to her perfidy, in addition to that of my wife. They both have guilty consciences. So tonight, as I'm leaving, she sheepishly asks me how I'm doing. I tell her I'm doing fine, which is basically true. That's about all I had to say. She sounded and looked so guilty, though! And that's a good thing.
Do you see what I'm dealing with? I have a spouse who desperately wants me to agree to her agenda, to get out of her way, to allow her to smash and wreck everything we've built over the past 8 years, all so that she can enjoy the poisoned fruits of an illicit relationship. Yet at the same time, this spouse feels guilty, guilty, guilty. I have tugged on her conscience and her heart strings. She wants to ditch me, but somehow cannot really do it. I've been applying very gentle heat to melt the iceberg around her heart, and slowly there seem to be cracks in the ice walls. She's trying with all her might to patch up those walls, and I'd bet that the gift today was just one attempt to keep that wall from collapsing.
The problem is that the wall will collapse, even if I do nothing. My continued engagement just speeds it up. I am a bit tired at this point, honestly. I've been dealing with this situation for nearly 6 months now, and actively trying to reconcile for almost 5. In the marriage reconciliation process, that's kind of like a half- to three-quarters-full bucket. It seems that most of the cases I know about have taken anywhere from 7 to 9 months on average to reconcile. When infidelity is involved, as it is in my case, the adulterous relationship has to crash and burn first. That typically takes about 6 months on average to reach the point where the bloom is no longer on the rose, so to speak. After that, it's just a matter of weeks, if not days. I don't know where I am in that regard, but I think I'm getting close. She has tried very hard to throw me off her trail, and nothing has worked yet. When she sees that nothing will work to derail me, then the wheels will come off the affair, and she might be pissed off about it, too. But in the end, she is a married woman, and married women don't get their needs met outside of their marriages, or at least they're not supposed to. That's why, at the end of the day, I'll win this battle.
Dealing with an obstinate spouse is hard. Dealing with an obstinate spouse who is committing adultery brings another flavor to that experience, but at the same time adds a few rays of hope. It's different, because an obstinate spouse is just obstinate. They have no other reason for doing the horrible things they want to do, other than they have convinced themselves that exiting the relationship is the only path to happiness. They are usually wrong about this. The wayward spouse does have another reason for the horrible things they do, and it includes one of those horrors: adultery. That's where the hope enters in, since adultery never lasts. They think they're "in love." They believe they've met their "soul mate." They honestly do not believe they are wrong about anything they are doing: not the betrayal, not the hurtful words and actions, not the packing of boxes, not the threats of never coming back, not the references to the residence as "your house" (not "ours"), not the desire to split assets, not anything. They are never, ever wrong.
Except that they are wrong. They just don't realize it yet. They certainly feel guilt. They certainly have all sorts of bad feelings about what they are doing. They certainly have had to learn how to turn off their emotions and harden their hearts to the persons closest to them. They do this because they are addicts. Dopamine junkies. There's really not a whole lot more to it than that. They are addicted to the affair and the biochemical high it provides. They get a thrill, and some temporary relief from the pain and sorrow that they have created in their lives. That's not to acknowledge that authentic pain and sorrow might not have been there, but this all sort of goes out the window when a spouse decides to throw in the towel and have an affair without making an honest and productive effort at healing the primary relationship. From that point on, all of those authentic qualms take the big back seat. The will not and cannot be dealt with until this new source of pain and sorrow — not just for themselves, but also for their spouses — is dealt with first.
But how do you deal with the pain and misery of adultery? You let it die. That's what they tell you. You simply get out of the way and let it run its course. That's much easier said than done. I know where the adulterer lives. I could easily shatter his life, humiliate him publicly, and send him running with just a few emails, a few phone calls, or maybe a few Facebook posts. Sure, that would probably be effective in terminating the affair, but it would also cause immeasurable damage to my relationship with my wife. She made the mistake, she committed the sin, and so she has to pay the price that is exacted by living through the full range of experiences and emotions that the adulterous relationship will provide.
I probably don't need to remind you that adulterous relationships are not healthy. They never are. They attempt to take root in filthy soil that has been thoroughly poisoned by countless lies, deceit, and secrecy. There is just so much pressure in the world that will eventually kill such relationships that few, very, very few actually succeed. (This begs the question of what "succeed" might mean in this context.) Adulterers are selfish, insecure, and often very immature individuals. The sometimes are acting out repressed scenarios from earlier in their lives. The adulterer who attempts to break into a marriage may have serious self-esteem issues, and be using the affair to bolster his/her feelings of insufficiency: they are competing directly with the spouse, and seem to be winning. Then they get all sorts of crazy ideas in their heads: they can live together, they can start families, they can build new lives together, and so on. It's all a giant sham.
At some point, something quite magical happens. The relationship cycle kicks in. This means that the newness of the relationship begins to wear off, and the mundane aspects of maintaining a relationship start to take hold. It is at this point when the external pressures really begin to be felt. That "in love" feeling — the dopamine high — isn't there anymore, or it's just not there enough of the time. If the adulterers are spending a lot of time together, this can happen pretty rapidly. All of the stressors that were there but were ignored because of the dopamine rush start to stick out. New stressors kick in. Distasteful habits and personality quirks arise. Tension builds. Arguments start to happen. Disapproval from friends, family, colleagues, or others may begin to be heard and felt. Pressure starts to rise. Then, at some key moment, the whole thing comes crashing down. It's impossible to say just exactly what might make that happen. It could be a huge argument. It could be a phone call from a friend. Or, it could just be that one of the adulterers gets tired of feeling guilty all the time. But it does end.
Friends, that's what I'm waiting for. My wife has done everything she can so far to try to derail my efforts to reconcile our marriage. She said all sorts of hurtful things. She packed box after box and left them in the house for two months. Then she actually hired movers and took her stuff out. The timing of this last event was somewhat curious: she had taken the dog for the "weekend", left on a Friday, and returned five days later on a Wednesday. Her first words were "I need to pack." I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that the adulterer convinced her that she had to do this, because I just wasn't "getting it." That is, that he's the man in her life, not me.
Except for one thing: he's not. He never has been, and never will be. There is basically a zero percent chance of him ever being anything other than a huge mistake. He is the force of massive destruction in her life, but she just doesn't realize that yet. She has had to disrupt everything: living arrangements, sleep cycles, professional commitments, financial obligations, future aspirations, and all for what? I'll tell you for what: for nothing, that's what. The problem is that my wife, like most adulterers, has no previous experience with this situation, so she doesn't realize that she's acting out a script that has been written in advance. It progresses according to formula and comes to a predictable conclusion. It's a very weird thing to watch, too, because like watching a movie on the screen, the actors cannot hear you when you shout at them that they're in danger. No matter what I or most others might say about the stupidity of her actions, she won't hear it. She's simply not wrong. The whole world is wrong, not her. It does not matter what society thinks of adultery: society is too conventional, and people are brainwashed by cultural norms. It does not matter what statistics say: statistics simply do not apply in her case.
Did you notice that, in the previous paragraph, I used the expression "like most adulterers"? This was deliberate: her adulterous partner has been there before. He has committed adultery, and he has been on the receiving end of it, too. Early on, when I discovered this affair, I intercepted some communications between them in which he said, "I told myself after the last time, 'no more married women'! — and there you are." That phrase is burned into my mind, even more so since I learned that his first wife cheated on him and left him in the dust, leaving him nearly suicidal. This man clearly has learned nothing from his previous life experiences in this regard. I would say it's a fair bet that he is playing out a repressed agenda, acting out in ways that he thinks can allay some of his deeply seated insecurities. I guess that makes sense, except that it doesn't. If you know from experience that these things don't work out, then why would you think this time is any different?
I'll be blunt here: it's just because he's a scumbag. I know I shouldn't be critical or judgmental, but I cannot find any other descriptor that is appropriate. I'll never forget the look in his eye as he talked to my wife last September, when they encountered each other at a cultural event. She was wearing a bright red summer dress and looked, well, fantastic. He watched her from afar, and then eventually engaged her in conversation. I didn't think much of it at the time. In retrospect, I distinctly remember a lecherous glint in his eye, and it kind of gave me the creeps. He friended her on Facebook shortly thereafter, but to my knowledge there was no communication. Then we went for an event at the shrine he belongs to. She went looking for him, but I did not realize this. That night, he pounced. He contacted her via Facebook, and the rest is history. Sordid, sordid history.
So where does that leave us? In a holding pattern, basically. I'm like one of those jumbo jets stacked up at 10,000 feet somewhere to the west of London, waiting to land at Heathrow. I'm just circling, circling, taking care of business, and circling some more. Sooner or later I'll get my clearance to land. That will be a happy, happy day, folks, but first I likely have to endure some more of this tedious circling. There's a big hole in my heart that only she can fill. And while I'm circling, I continue to miss her, every day, day after day.
I've heard a number of stories of obstinate spouses who separate and move out. The stories are never pretty. Such spouses often are destructive. They show tremendous disregard and insensitivity toward those they leave behind. There is a remarkable edge of cruelty to their behavior, as though they want to punish their spouses for what they perceive to be their failed married lives.
Folks, this is bad karma when people behave in this way. Bad karma is never rewarded with positivity. It always manifests at some point in some negative fashion. It's not a tit-for-tat situation, and the effect could be delayed years, if not (in some philosophical views, at least) lifetimes. Its manifestation could be minimized through virtuous activity, or it could be intensified through non-virtuous, hurtful actions. The obstinate and/or wayward spouse creates an inordinate amount of bad karma, every day, for months on end. So it is with my wife.
But she's not all bad, you know. I know the virtue that lies deep within her, inside that truly tender and beautiful heart of hers, that heart that currently is encased in steel. That heart is too vast and beautiful truly to be limited by such encasement. It peeks out here and there, gushes out in unguarded moments, and even explodes out at times. I've seen all of these things in the past five and a half months.
Yesterday my wife left this house. She did and said everything she could to try to quash my hope. But, as I said before, hope only dies if you kill it. My hope is still alive. It fuels my passion and gives me drive to continue to do all the right things, despite all of the actions my wife might take to try to discourage me. I have the power of the universe behind me, the universal power, the power of love. That is a power that is truly unstoppable.
There were anomalies in her departure. I arrived home and found an empty house, but I also found a clean house. She had done the dishes and vacuumed the floors. She texted to thank me for the leftovers I had instructed her to eat. Then, oddest of all, she neatly, carefully, and thoughtfully arranged my belongings on the furniture that she had left behind. She had turned our dining room table into a sort of desk, moving it into the wall underneath a wind. She placed bookends on the desk, and neatly lined up several books. She placed my pens neatly to the right side next to paper and other writing materials. She placed a plant and display of flowers (which I had bought) on the left side of the table. In the middle of the table, she placed photos that I had received from my sister of my niece and nephews. These were not haphazardly placed, either: they were very neatly and tastefully arranged, almost like a rainbow, with careful attention to detail. In the bedroom, she had removed the dresser and some things from the wall, but had placed several pictures on the one dresser that remained. In her office, she had taken out her desk and bookshelf, but had placed flowers and several pictures (which I had given her) on the piano. It was as if she was saying that she had to go now, for a time, but that she really still cared. And then this morning, out of nowhere, she sends me an email with no text other than a link to a webcam live stream of nesting bald eagles. I have no explanation for this, apart from the fact that she must have seen this (possibly with the adulterer) and thought I'd appreciate it.
Well, of course she does care. Any spouse that puts up a fight actually does care. If they didn't care, you'd just get the cold shoulder and never hear from them again. This is where it gets even more interesting. In our conversation yesterday, she said a number of things that totally gave away her game plan. She told me there was no hope, and that she would not be coming back. That, of course, is adultery-speak, fueled by the dopamine-addict's affair-fog addled mind. She told me she had found an apartment, but would not tell me where she'd be moving. She'd keep that a secret for a time. She also accused me of threatening her. This was not the first time I'd heard this, by the way. I've never given this woman a threat in my entire life. So what exactly did she perceive as me threatening her? Simple: I just said that I still believed in us and our marriage. From her point of view, that's a threat, and probably the most severe threat that anyone could deliver to her. Her entire future, the survival of the absurd fairy tale she thinks she can make real, depends on me going away and agreeing to her agenda. She doesn't want to have to end our relationship without my consent. I'm just not going to give that consent, not now, not ever. Why? Because she has made absolutely no effort to work with me to solve our issues, as is her responsibility (i.e. per her promise to me through our wedding vows). She just wants an easy out, a painless escape, a simple chance to run away from it all, to leave that horrible villain in her story (me) and live happily ever after with Prince Charming (the adulterer).
Of course this is nonsense. Prince Charming does not pray on married ladies in fairy tales, nor does he do that in real life.
But sick, emotionally immature, morally retarded, and terribly lonely middle-aged perverts do. That's what she found: a pervert cum sycophant who temporarily makes her feel good, if not "perfect." At some point, the real world intrudes. The dog takes a shit on his carpet for the 25th time and foul words are uttered that are truly hurtful and shocking to the owner of that dog. (This could happen — our dog never did this before this crisis erupted, and since then she's been an indoor shitting machine.) The pervert's spiritual "mentor" gives an ultimatum because his mentee is bringing potential scandal to his shrine. The abandoning spouse gets read the riot act by her advisor for not attempting to complete her doctoral dissertation. Or maybe something else.
Does this sound far-fetched? I think not. The real world has begun to speak, and quite swiftly at that. It is beginning to speak in ways that I could not have anticipated. I had a full day of teaching today, and two of my colleagues inquired about my wife. They have no idea of our situation. I just don't talk about it with anyone, since it's not their business. I attempted to be truthful to them without giving too much information. Then a student approached me to ask if my wife had deleted her Facebook account. He was one of her "friends," and apparently is no more. I suspect he got defriended and blocked, as likely have many others, myself included. I told him that I had no idea, since I don't really visit Facebook anymore. He seemed to have been a bit upset by her disappearance. Another colleague emailed to ask me how my wife was doing, and to inquire as to whether she might be available for some work in a couple of months. I avoided answering that question. I'm sure there will be many more such ways in which the real world will speak, and when it speaks into my wife's life it will be truly powerful — powerful enough to blast the walls of perfidy wide open.
Until then, I simply persevere.
I woke up very early, a bit before 6:00 a.m. I went to bed quite late, and then couldn't really sleep very well. I realized that, after my eyes popped open, I'd probably do best just to check my email and then engage in my morning spiritual practice. I did this, and then went out to our favorite bakery to buy some pastries. I figured that, if my wife really were going to go through with her plans, I might as well at least offer a bit of sweetness before she goes.
I got home from the bakery around 8:30 and she still wasn't home. I took a shower and then made some coffee. Time ticked on, slowly. I was beginning to think that maybe she had changed her mind and postponed the movers, since she absolutely wasn't ready for them yet. But then, there she came, rounding the bend and up through the yard, right about 9:30. I told her I'd made some coffee, and offered her some. She agreed to join me, and had a rhubarb danish. I had already finished my croissant, which was a good thing, as I knew things would get emotional.
I asked her if we could talk a bit, and she assented. I started with some logistics: we have to meet to figure out our taxes, so we set aside a date for that. I asked her about the dog, and how we'd manage "custody" of her; she said that she'd take the dog, but we'd figure something out, maybe a week with me and a week with her, alternating like that. That sounded okay to me. Then I told her that I wanted to just talk about my feelings, and she was okay listening to me. I told her that things were very hard for me right now, and she said that it was hard for her too. I told her that the happiest day of my life was the day when I proposed to her and she agreed to marry me. Then I told her that today was the saddest day of my life thus far. I told her, quite honestly, that over the past five and a half months I had felt as if my heart had been ripped out and shattered into a million pieces, and that this had happened over and over and over. She could understand that. I told her that I understood she felt the need to do all the things she was doing, and that I could be respectful of her process. I explained that we all have a process to go through, and that in a marriage both partners have processes that never really coincide. Part of the secret to successful marriages is being mindful of that fact. I told her that I felt responsible for initially withdrawing from her some years ago; I was working a stressful job that took up a lot of my time, and I just became unavailable. Things only got worse for me after I'd lost that job and I went through a fairly existential crisis. I explained that, once we disengaged from each other, the system that is our marriage began to break down. I also told her that I didn't feel that in any way it meant that things were over between us. I told her that I still believe in us and in our marriage, and that there is always hope. I further said that hope never dies, because true hope has its basis in love. Hope can only die if you kill it. I did use those words, not to be harsh, but to express something I feel to be an experiential fact. I finally told her that, while I'd been struggling with the fine line between attachment and compassion, I felt that by this point I had nothing left to be attached to, even though that did not mean I was not giving up on our marriage. (What I did not express was that I am not attached to the outcome of my actions, but that my actions would continue because I feel it to be the right thing to do.) I also told her that I simply could not be at home while she continued to pack, and especially not when the movers showed up. It was just too painful for me to watch. She did agree to let me have the dog this weekend. This crisis has been very difficult on the dog. She does not like being dragged all over the place and having her routine interrupted. Dogs never like that. Every time she comes home it seems like she's relieved to be back, she hangs out by me a lot, and then she sleeps a lot and very deeply. Not normal sleep, but flat-line, exhaustion sleep. I feel very sorry for her being subjected to all this.
She eventually got a bit defensive, and started giving me her typical rationalizations and words of caution. She would not be coming back. There is no hope. I am attached and need to give that up. Then, after telling me several of my faults which were mostly no longer operative, and to some extent were just her projecting onto me, she then told me of all my positive attributes. It was a long list. According to her, I'm honest, faithful, sensitive, intelligent, caring, generous, and maybe a dozen other things. It kind of makes you wonder why someone would want to leave you when they see all these things in you that seem so inherently positive. But that's what adultery does to people. They go crazy, actually, and cannot think rationally about what they are doing. Their judgment is totally clouded by the fog of the affair. They do patently stupid things like spend hundreds of dollars to hire movers, and then hundreds if not thousands more on apartment rental that they cannot afford, they obliterate relationships, deny their own fixings, and generally begin a spiral down into self-destruction. This pretty much always happens. Adulterers are deeply unhappy people, and they cover over the existential emptiness of their souls with the flimsy band-aids of adulterous trysts.
So that was pretty much it for our discussion. She went back to packing. Rush, rush, rush, pack, pack, pack. The movers were going to be showing up in a couple of hours, and she was nowhere near ready. At some point we ended up in the bedroom together. I showed her a new mala I had bought, a really beautiful one made from lapis lazuli. (You can see a picture of it if you click the link above.) I then somehow asked her for a hug. I don't know why, but I did, and she agreed to give me one. Right after we hugged I was overcome with emotion. I told her, "I hope you don't mind if I cry." There was somehow just space for this to arise, and it did. She said it was okay. And I cried. Hard. I cried for maybe 3-4 minutes or so, and it was a deep, visceral kind of crying, in a way, the kind that babies do. I had no agenda, no story line, it was just pure pent-up emotion that needed to come out.
Then, just as suddenly as it started, it went away. I said, "okay, that's it, that's enough." She was shocked that I could cry so hard, and then suddenly be done. I told her that, if your heart is truly open and you don't have any attachment to your emotions or story lines running with them, that emotions just come and go like the passing clouds. They show up on the scene, have their own life, put on a display, which in a way can be quite beautiful and pure, and then they go. That's exactly how it was. After that, I felt pretty much okay, like I could just let go. It was almost like I'd released 5 months' worth of pain. That's not really true, there's still pain there, but somehow a lot of it just went -- poof, gone.
I had bought my wife a card yesterday, and spent a couple of minutes writing some final thoughts. I left the card on her computer, said goodbye, and left.
Then I went and joined the new gym that opened nearby. That's how I roll. Yes, I feel like shit, but life does go on. I cannot hold on to someone who is in the midst of a crisis that is being caused by outright craziness. That craziness has to run its course, which, I've been advised, it will. All affairs run their course. While the partners are still in the fog, as my wife clearly still is, they simply cannot see reality as it is. They try to convince you that their reality is real, and not some sort of weird cognition that is totally clouded by dopamine addiction. But the addiction does and will pass. After it passes, the adulterer feels shame, remorse, guilt, embarrassment, and humiliation. They go through the motions of realizing the gravity of their errors, and state that they cannot believe the kind of person they had become. They say that it doesn't seem real in retrospect. And, if you're still around and have worked on yourself, they see you with a whole new set of eyes and come back to you, very motivated to reconcile.
That's what I'm waiting for. The affair has to run its course and I simply can't interferer with that. Interference just makes it worse. Once it's over, then I'll have my opening to truly reconnect. That might then become the happiest day of my life.
No such luck. Oh, I did see her, alright. I saw her walking down the street with the dog in tow as I turned into our street on the way home from the grocery store. I checked the mailbox and greeted her. She looked terrible: puffy eyes with black circles under them; it seemed as though she had been crying, which is likely. We entered the house together, and the first thing she said was, "I need to start packing."
Bam. There it went, a stab right into my heart. She had talked about packing up all her stuff last week, since she felt she needed to send me a "harsh message," since I wasn't "getting it" — getting her claims that she's done, our marriage is unfixable, she's committed to this new path, it will be the rest of her life, et cetera. Horseshit, pure horseshit, all of it. There also went my entire desire to make lunch. I didn't have my first client until later that afternoon, but I opted instead to leave early, grab a coffee somewhere, and just avoid the disgusting display she was about to put on.
She set about packing boxes with a fierce determination. I passed by her in the hall and noticed something: she smelled terrible. There was that funk I recognized from before. It's a combination of cat litter and chicken shit that could only mean one thing: she was freshly returned from the aptly named Camp Chickenshit. I mean fresh out of the adulterer's truck, even. I bet he had just dropped her off right before I turned down the street.
My wife began to ask me about certain things, did I want this, could she take that, and so on. I looked at her and said, "Look, I know you feel that you have to do this, but this is your house, and you don't have to feel compelled to leave it." As I was walking away, she said, "this is not my house anymore." Whatever. I know she loves this house, and she feels tremendous remorse for what she's doing. She probably feels like she has done the unforgivable (adultery) and is now compounding that with another unforgivable (moving out, "for real"). But her addiction trumps all. It was kind of like watching a crack addict rooting around for stuff to sell, trying to get her next fix. It really is kind of sick to watch. That's why I had to leave. It just disgusted me, and made me feel very, very sad.
Before I left, I stopped in her office and explained what I meant with my previous remark. "I just want you to understand that you are always welcome here," I said. "You are welcome now, and always will be welcome, and can come home any time you want." She looked at me, a bit tenderly, and said, "arigatou." (Yes, that's Japanese.) I asked her if she'd need a ride back from her rehearsal tonight, and she said she didn't know. I asked her to call if she needed help. She said she would. Then she set about packing again. I left the house feeling a bit morose, but that passed soon enough. It's amazing how, aside from my marriage, my life in general is going pretty well. I'm doing well at work, enjoying my job, revitalizing my spiritual practice, and things are generally going in the right direction. It's just her and her piss-poor attitude that could use some adjustment.
I came home with a tinge of dread at what I might find. Well, at least the place wasn't ripped to shreds. She had packed 8 boxes, some of them labeled, and had left them in the living room. She had taken a number of things out of the cupboards and off the shelves. She had taken down the curtains, which she had made, and replaced them with ones that came with the house. A lot of this seemed rather petty to me, but then again, it's just stuff. She may possibly come back tomorrow and pack some more. Then I don't know what will happen. Friday is her traditional day to go to Camp Chickenshit. She'll probably do that again, so there will be no packing on Friday. The boxes will likely still be cluttering the living room, in which case I'll relocate them somewhere else, where they're less unsightly. I don't want to encourage her to take this stuff out, but she has told me that she intends to move them into her friends' garage, and then from there into an apartment. I did ask her about that, and she said that she'd be moving into an apartment "somehow".
That last word, "somehow," is key. She has no pot to piss in right now, and very little income to support herself on. My guess is that she's trying to find an excuse and/or external support for moving in with the adulterer again, as I'm sure she's told herself all sorts of stories about how she could establish a new life there, get more students, etc. What a brilliant plan. We live in a major city where there are thousands of recruitable students. He lives in a small town of less than 2000 people. We've been in that situation before, living in a college town about 3 times that size, and the best she could do was to get 5 students in three years' time. This plan will end badly.
It's all such a waste. Honestly, if she had put as much effort into our marriage these past 5 months as she has into trying to destroy it, she'd have the marriage of her dreams right now. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to sit by and watch someone not just take the wrong path, but a manifestly stupid path, that will lead absolutely nowhere, that will bring about destruction and oblivion in very little time, and that will cause her to feel tremendous remorse, guilt, and humiliation? Seriously. She can move all her stuff out if she wants, but it will all be coming right back in a matter of weeks, or, if worse comes to worst, maybe a few months. Plus, if she is stupid enough to sign a lease, she'll have to find a way to get out of it. That's the kind of idiotic thinking an adulterer puts themselves through, all in the service of their addiction.
I know she is stressed out. I know she feels deeply unsettled by the fact that I have not "moved on" to her satisfaction, and that I will not be agreeing with any aspect of her agenda. I know she's getting terrible advice from people, and encouragement to continue this hideous path. She is destroying her life, bit by bit, and it seems to be accelerating. It's like she's been driving down a road at 50 mph, and now that she realizes there's a brick wall at the end of it, she's hitting the gas and revving up to 100 mph. It's crazy. Insane. Nuts. But I cannot stop her or make her change. In fact, anything I might say will just cause her to push harder on the gas pedal.
So, I just stay the course, manifest unconditional love, and wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. The clock is ticking on the time-bomb that is the affair, and it will all blow up in her face pretty soon.
I last saw my wife on Friday, when she stopped by to pick up the dog on her way out for another weekend at Camp You-Know-What. Since then, I have not heard a peep from her. I guess this has just become par for the course. I'm never sure quite what to think: is she being silent to try to keep me at arms length, or is her silence the signs of the final, existential crisis that will end her affair?
I just don't know. When we last chatted last week, she got very emotional about her situation. I suspect she is at least as emotional now as she was then, maybe even more so. The "path" she has decided on is hard, and unnecessarily so. It's no easy thing, deciding to destroy your whole life for the sake of an illicit relationship. The whole universe is against you. What few friends you do have that appear to support your actions will likely begin to feel pressure on their consciences sooner or later, and as a result those friendships may sour. Your family is humiliated by your behavior, and may secretly have a measure of disgust mixed in with their concern about the havoc you are wreaking. It's very, very hard to be an adulterer. There are just so many pressures conspiring to put an end to your immorality, and sooner or later those pressures will gain the upper hand.
On the personal front, life is going pretty well for me. My spiritual practice is reestablished and stronger than ever. My financial situation has improved markedly, and my professional prospects look pretty good at this point. I'm keeping busy with work, and there looks to be plenty more coming in.This is probably because I've made the space for all of this to happen. My main task right now is to make space for my marriage to finally begin to reconcile. I've done just about all I can to pave the way for that to happen, and so now I pretty much just have to give it some space and wait.
I was doing some cooking on Friday morning when my wife came home. I've been taking to cooking for the entire weekend on one specific day (Thursday or Friday) when I have the chance, and have also been using this as an opportunity to give to my wife in the form of food memories. I have a couple of Japanese cookbooks, and am cooking my way through them. I know she loves this stuff, and told me on one occasion that my cooking reminded her of things her mother prepared for her when she was a child. So, I was in the midst of making some salmon nanbanzuke when she entered the house, quite predictably, at 11:00 a.m.
Seriously, her movements on weekends are so predictable that I can pretty much set things up in expectation of how they're going to unfold. She'll come by on Friday morning around 11:00 a.m. typically, and ask if she can "spend time with the dog." This means she is going to spend the weekend at Camp You-Know-What. Then, I won't hear a peep from her for the next 3-4 days. Finally, I'll come home on Tuesday evening and find the dog back in the house. She is taking extended weekends that run through Tuesday morning, and this has been consistent for at least 6 weeks now, I guess.
So it came as no surprise to me when she came into the kitchen on Friday to ask me if she could spend time with the dog over the weekend. My response was generous and giving. I said she of course was welcome to do so. I did not hold back at all. I asked her where she would be taking the dog, and she said that it would be to her friends' house two blocks from here. Now, there might be some truth to this: I do know that she has been getting picked up there on occasion in the recent past. But that simply isn't her final destination, and I know it. That's why I asked: she would need to lie to me, and I do need her to continue to lie, and lie, and lie some more. Every single lie brings her one step closer to ending that relationship.
Somehow I feel that end is drawing quite near. The external signs I'm seeing from her sometimes make me want to doubt this; take, for example, the discussion we had last week, where she really seemed to be digging her heels in. It's the internal, invisible signs that make me feel that this endpoint is approaching. It's very hard to quantify, since it's sort of like just having a hunch about something. A lot of it has to do with the shift in my attitude, and it could just be that that is what I'm perceiving. Nevertheless, that shift will have its effect in drawing that chapter of her life to a close and bringing her back home to start a new one with me.
What exactly is this shift? I've written about this recently, but there is an added dimension or two to it that I've noticed. The main aspect of this shift is that I feel like I've really let go, so much so that I am simply doing what I'm doing because it's the right thing to do. I don't really have any expectations any more, or if there are any they become fewer with each passing day. I'm not measuring my progress day by day and anticipating result x to occur on day y. Instead, I'm sort of going with the flow.
That flow has included a sort of energetic shift that I'm noticing within myself. As I was driving home from work yesterday, I just noticed that I find it more and more difficult to stay in the negative space of worry, dread, and other troubled thoughts and emotions that have plagued me on some level for at least five months now. My mind would go there, but then there would be some sort of positive energy that would push it out of that space. Actually, it was more like a magnetizing energy that would pull it out, back into the realm of positivity. It is hard to describe, but it is palpable. It has a texture and a movement to it, and that movement is forward. Maybe that's why it feels like I'm being pushed, when in reality it's more like I'm being drawn.
I do think that part of this has to do with my having taken a Red Tara empowerment last weekend. Red Tara, as I wrote before, is one of the emanations of Tara, who is seen in the Buddhist tradition to be the consort of the primordial buddha Samantabadhra, and thus the mother of all buddhas. She has 21 emanations, each with different names, appearances, and aspects. Some are white, some are blue, some are golden or orange in color, and so on. One is green — Green Tara — and she is considered to be the main emanation of Tara, and the one that my lineage practices with. I have a friend who practices in a Nyingma lineage, one of the few in the area, and the emanation they practice with is Red Tara. Green Tara is active, possesses karma energy, which is all-accomplishing wisdom, and clears away obstructions. Red Tara is also active, but possesses padma energy, the energy of discriminating awareness, and this is energy that magnetizes. It draws favorable conditions to you, such that you may be a force of greater compassion and positivity in the world.
Last night, I went to a Red Tara tsok that this friend had invited me to. You're not supposed to talk about these things — what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? — not because it's secret, but rather because it helps you to hold the power of that experience close to you. Tsok is also known as "feast practice," because it involves food that is eaten, and the offerings always include meat and alcohol. There will also be extensive liturgies and sometimes teachings that occur during tsok. This is public information that is common to pretty much all feast practice, by the way. The most important thing is that you need to have empowerment before you can do the tsok practice, and so doing tsok is sort of like activating the empowerment, if that makes sense. In other words, you have been bestowed with a blessing with the empowerment, kind of like a primordial credit card, and then you activate that card through tsok (and other things) so that you can use it. The empowerment charges your karmic bank account, as does the feast practice, as well as would any other virtuous activity, so it's not like you have any debts to repay, but rather that you're increasing your good karma balance, so to speak, so that you can make withdrawals for the benefit of others. And, when you make withdrawals, you actually are increasing that good karma balance. (I wish that normal bank accounts worked this way!) This is, of course, a gross oversimplification, but hopefully you get the idea.
So that's where I'm at. The energy is shifting in my life in a very positive way. One can never predetermine the outcome of such shifts or the events they might trigger, but overall I'd say that things are looking up. I still might have a long row to hoe in front of me, but I do know that I can make it.