Things are Becoming Clearer

I think I’ve gotten a clearer image of what’s going on in my marriage.

Here is a man who is wedded to him computer for interaction (being blind) and for his primary contact with the outside world on a daily basis.  He trolls the internet for contact with those he finds interesting and amusing. While married to someone else, he comes across this blog and reads of a housewife, turned student, turned writer who lives a full life. I have a job, three children, a home, cats, and a husband. I get up and go to work every day and I write interesting things during my time off.

Cue eight years later where I give up all that, come live with said man. After things were progressing long distance using Skype and email, we find that being in each other’s presence isn’t quite the same thing as communicating over the internet. Gone are the interesting things for him; my job, my life, my interesting thoughts. Gone are my fantasies that we have anything physical in common due to fetishes I don’t share. We also failed to notice that he is an extrovert entertainer absolutely ADDICTED to being liked and appreciated and to being out in the social scene. I, on the other hand, shun social interaction as much as possible.  I do not like parties. I’m done boozing and bar hopping. Oooo. Bad move on my part.

This man therefore turns to the internet yet again for someone of interest. He finds another woman, university educated AND employed. Her topic? Music of course. Bingo. She also shares some of his fetishes because that’s how they met, on a site catering to that.  Bingo again. They now share morning and evening Skype conversations just as we did. This woman is now filling the role I did all those years ago; interesting life, shared fetish (which I was willing to entertain, but not obsess over), shared interest in music, social butterflies that crave attention.  He fails to see the parallel whereas it’s so obvious to me. I have failed to keep his interest and my one sin; being in the same room with him. Automatically I’m diminished by proximity.

My husband cannot say no to another human being even if it’s to the detriment of his own well-being or his family’s.  I can have no respect for a man who has so little respect for anyone outside his current, immediate circle of interest. I have come to the point of doing my duty without expecting any emotional rewards. That’s what marriage is isn’t it; an exchange of rewards? We exchange emotional rewards and intimacy for doing and sharing the same things? As one author put it, we make deposits in each other’s love bank and hope that enough deposits will overflow into and become the strong marriage we invested in.  What accrues is interest, closeness, shared loyalty, affection, passion, all of which add up to that weird mysterious term we call ‘love’.

By the same metaphor I think that my account is open, but there is very little left in it to draw upon. The smaller and smaller amounts I invest is offering no return (in fact, it’s being diverted) and I’m considering closing it one day. Why keep an account open that works against you? It’s at these times that I need to find a solid figure spiritually to focus on; one I know will always be there for me. I think God provided this in my darkest times before and, whether made up or not, God will once again provide an anchor I need when all human anchors fail.  My Daily Stoic talks about having a ‘mantra’ one can turn to at times like this; to bring one back to the center and stabilize.

Let it be so.

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The Importance of a Father’s Love

I think that my lack of a father’s love started this whole mess.

My real father abandoned my mother and my sisters, and I when I was just 3 years old. My step-father did not have a loving bone in his body and ate cruelty for breakfast.  I was ripe for someone to come along and make me feel as if I were the most important person in their world; something daddy’s do for their little girls. Normal daddy’s anyway.

My lack of a father’s love probably contributed to my conversion to Christ when I was 23 years old. Feeling out of my depth as a new wife and mother, one day I felt an overwhelming sense of love and well-being from a father/brother figure.  That sustained me for quite some years. My marriage was not a passionate love affair, but merely a remedy for small town boredom and we parted ways when our children grew up and moved out of the house. Notice I don’t say our home because I’ve never really felt ‘at home’ anywhere. We never jointly created a home like some couples do; putting their particular stamp on a place to reflect their budding love. Perhaps a father’s advice about any of this would have been invaluable.

It was almost inevitable that I dream of the perfect romance. My romance fantasies led me to a couple of affairs and later to the online ‘romance’ that landed me where I am today. All I’ve ever wanted was be someone special to someone else. I wanted to hear the words, ‘I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy’ or those coveted words, ‘you are so special to me’.  I’ve never heard that, or felt it either while growing up or in all the years I’ve been married. My sister, mother, and I have always dealt with our pain alone, probably because no one ever sought us out to comfort us.  But still one hopes.

Maybe I’m feeling a tad maudlin but when I read of other people’s marriages, of the love and care and the grief that happens when such lovers are apart, I mourn for what I never had or have never known. I worked so hard to be a good wife and failed both times. Now I just wish someone would care for me. Just a little bit. Some people say that God can fulfil that need in me, but how can you have a fulfilling relationship with an invisible person?  I’ve yet to master that, even after all of these years.

I am broken by this latest betrayal and although I KNOW that acting with love toward someone whether they deserve or not is the Christian thing to do, just once, I wish that someone would be more concerned about me than I was for them. Just once. Is that too much to ask?

What Used to Be

Budapest Opera HouseI used to be a woman of faith. After a spiritual experience in 1983, I began going to church and the rest  I’ve written about extensively on this blog. Since then I’ve given up my religiosity and my beliefs in certain dogma.  I no longer go to church per se, although I’ve been going to the Quaker meeting house with my husband for a few years now.

I still cling to some notions about Christianity, but the one thing I don’t believe in any longer is prayer.  By prayer I mean an action the believer takes to attempt to move the Maker into changing the Laws of Nature or the minds of other people to affect an outcome.  Now, I believe in meditation and silence and prayer in the sense that it helps the person praying, but I don’t believe that some Divine Being is listening to our prayers and deciding to rearrange the universe to answer them.

What made me realize this is that in times past, my first inclination when faced with bad news is to pray for the a positive outcome that happened to suit me at all times. Now, faced with my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I realize that no amount of praying will change the news of how large or small this tumor is. It just is. It’s been there unknowingly and will continue to be there no matter what I believe in my mind about it. No amount of prayer will affect that. No one will hear this prayer but me.  I don’t mean to say that prayer is not good, but I believe it’s only good for the one doing the praying. It acts as a meditative tool to calm one’s nerve, bolster one’s resolve, and to give someone the much-needed cool-down time before doing or saying something rash.

The reasons I came to this conclusion is by observing the world around me.  Despite a prayer force of billions of people in the world, we still have death, famine, abuse, rape, murder, cancer, wars, and all the evils that man can devise. Despite faith in a Divine Being we still have those idiots who believe that God wants the deaths of everyone who doesn’t believe the way they do. Despite billions of the faithful praying daily we see no discernible difference in the outcomes of cancer deaths or salvation from it by miraculous means. No, I have faith in medicine and science to find the cures for most ills before I have faith in prayer.

Now I know all the arguments for and against such things, but this has come from years of experience and it hasn’t come lightly. I’ve struggled mightily to keep an innocent faith in God, Jesus, and prayer, but at some point I had to face the cruel facts of reality. So, as I face the cruel facts of an uncertain future with a cancer diagnosis, I will face it with prayer like I always do, but I have no expectation that the cancer will disappear. I don’t believe it’s some kind of test or sent by God to make me more faithful. How awful to believe such things! I am of the idea that we will do everything available to us to stop it or at least slow it down. I have every expectation that prayer will make me calmer and able to face it. I suppose that makes me the double-minded man in the book of James, doesn’t it? Ah well, better that than be in denial about the cruelties of nature.

If You Could Just Be More…

fat_women_by_a7med47-d4qttthWomen have always been more (or felt more) responsible for their relationships than men. Women are held to a higher standard. I think I am being held to such right now. Only, rather than being too fat for a good marriage, I’m not interesting enough.

When we were conversing via Skype long-distance before I came over here, my husband claimed later that he thought I would be good for him, help him not be so complacent, and provide so much excitement intellectually that he would be distracted enough not to look elsewhere.  The one thing I didn’t have to worry about was my weight, because my husband is an FA; Fat Admirer in fetish-speak. I was delighted to find this out.  I then came to realize that I could lay my fat in the bed next to him and he would be perfectly happy that the rest of me wasn’t there. It’s all about the feel of fat on a woman, not the woman herself.

He claimed that he could not help discussing his fetishes and other things with others because he just NEEDED to. He claimed that he thought I would be interesting enough to keep him from turning to others. I feel like the wife of a husband who says that if I hadn’t let myself go, he’d be more interested. In other words, it’s my fault that I haven’t lived up to his expectations.  Sometimes I wonder who it was he thought he was getting because it surely was not me. I never offered to be a world traveller, fascinating conversationalist OR fetishistic. The assumptions we make when we are in the fog of infatuation.

I can’t win really. I firmly believe that even if I kept him busy, stimulated his mind with scintillating conversation all day and night long, dressed up in nylons and girdle and bustier, and was pleasingly fat, he would STILL find others online to share his fetishes with. The problem with this thinking is that there is no incentive for me to even try. He’s not trying.  It’s a vicious cycle. If he wants me to start investing interest, he’s going to have to do the same. I’m supposed to go fishing and hope to catch a fish, even though the fish isn’t interested in the bait.

I’m done thinking that it’s me that’s the problem; that it’s me who isn’t trying hard enough to fix things. And why am I always responsible for what happens in this relationship? My husband typifies the sentiment, ‘Look at what you made me do’.

Same Shit, Different Day

The Housewives TarotAs if all of this were not enough, we’ve now found out that my husband probably has cancer. Well, now what? He is of the belief that no amount of stewing over it makes it change, which is true. However, that also means that he’s adopted the same devil-may-care attitude about this that he did about marriage and exclusivity. Eh, he shrugs, no big deal.  It is what it is.

Now it leaves me in a new position of becoming even more of a carer. This I always expected since he is 13 years older than me, but it tests one when you realize that no matter what you do, it doesn’t make any difference. About my failed dreams about our marriage, I have railed and screamed and cried, been angry and belligerent all in the face of unconcern from my husband. So, I’ve pretty much reached the end of my care meter in any direction. He’s got cancer? Sigh, well let’s just get on with it and plan as we go along. He’s unconcerned so why should I be? It’s the tone of our whole ‘marriage’.  At least now I will be forced to have a plan for the future rather than exist in limbo.

I just feel like such an idiot. It’s so disheartening to see he’s skyping his new ‘friend’ when I go to bed at night and he’s skyping her when I get up in the morning. This is all so reminiscent of how we were when we met online that it’s really difficult NOT to make parallel assumptions. He thinks I’m being silly of course. So, I’ve gone back to my separate bedroom.  I did enjoy sleeping with him until I realized I was kind of a consolation prize after one of his gabfests. We haven’t had any sort of sexual contact in months, so it’s just as well.  Besides, I enjoy sleeping alone and his sleep habits are usually disruptive. I sometimes relent from loneliness and go back to sleep with him a couple of nights, but it is always short-lived.  I don’t miss it that much.

Sometimes I think the only reason he brought me here was to be carer to him in his old age. Any claims that I supposedly had as a wife are long gone, if they were ever there. If he doesn’t care, why should I? That’s the problem with women, perhaps we CARE too much.

Non-Monogamous, but Committed, or something like it

Right now I am sitting upstairs in our bedroom as my husband skype’s with his new girlfriend. I know this because he makes a show of listening to the radio on television, which is under our bedroom, but I can hear his tea-cup hit the desk next to his computer chair. Sure enough, I go downstairs and see that he’s skyping his girlfriend. I turn off the TV in the other room and come back upstairs without a word. He makes guilty noises like he does when caught but says nothing.

Here’s the thing. I’ve told him over and over that all he had to do was just stop lying and hiding and do it whenever he wants.  At least that would be honest. In fact, I’ve half convinced myself that it’s the lying and secretiveness that angers me most. At first it was feeling like the discarded wife and the dying of a nice romantic dream, but after my initial anger and hurt feelings (and love?) died down, I realized that the betrayal is not who or with what, but with hiding it.  This was the chief reason he and I told our respective spouses about our chatting after we’d met online and took up chatting. I even offered then to just chat and have a bit of online romance, because we didn’t want to break up marriages did we? OH he was soooo determined that we should tell our spouses about our ‘relationship’. We should be honest, he said. He was not willing to just chat and be married to others.

Now here we are 8 years later and he has accepted this woman telling him that she is in a “non-monogamous committed relationship”. An oxymoron you say? I would tend to agree.  He thinks it’s a great idea though. Look, he says, she doesn’t want commitment! I said only if the two parties involved agreed from the BEGINNING! I remind him of his words to me all those years ago. But, in fact, he doesn’t even remember telling me that this sort of relationship would not do for us back then. See? Out of sight, out of mind.  he is literally blind, but he is also psychically blind. And now that I’m here, where his ex-wife was and she is where I used to be, he’s accepting it all. This means that he was in a bad marriage when he met me and wanted out. It means that I’ve been the one to rescue him from a that bad marriage. I realize that it was probably his goal all along.

Except I’m not sure he’s that devious, knowingly anyway. He’s just that unaware and clueless about how other people feel or react to his actions. He honestly does not care to remember or reflect on anything that’s been past. If it served him then, great, but now he must have a new purpose; getting sexual jollies online. It’s all about now. Not even the future. He’s a man with no principles or integrity but lives in the moment and for the moment.  How can I respect a man like that, who feels so little respect for me?

Giving In or Accepting Things I Cannot Change?

erudite0I have used many philosophical and religious systems in my life, for personal improvement mainly. I’ve been a devout and now a nominal (if that) Christian. I’ve read numerous philosophers.  At university, as a literature major, I was obliged to read widely and often. This I gladly did. I could never quite come to know a system that worked for me, that reflected life as it is lived and not as some dogma pronounced.

My favorite bible book is Ecclesiastes. It has more sound wisdom in it than the entire collection of epistles, stories, and myths in the Jewish and Greek Testaments.  It’s curious that no one preaches from this book, probably because it goes against all the tenets of Paul’s version of Christianity. I have to say that my favorite philosophers have been the more practical ones. I’m all about practicality until I get some damn fool notion of romance into my head. One of the most practical is Aristotle.  The Transcendentalists are sublime. The Stoics are admirable AND practical.

My morning read always includes a portion from The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. In today’s portion, a quote from Seneca, Moral Letter, 83.2

I shall keep watching myself continually, and – a most useful habit – shall review each day.[2] For this is what makes us wicked: that no one of us looks back over his own life. Our thoughts are devoted only to what we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future always depend on the past.

Good words to heed and keeping a journal has been a daily habit with me for over 40 years. I do look back over my life and realize all of the mistakes in thinking that I keep making and all of the actual mistakes. It’s a very self-reflective journal, sometimes nauseatingly so.  Daily examination is a good thing, although as a Christian this would always turn into some kind of scrupulosity fest which never made me feel any better.  But one thing the Stoics believed was that we have control over one thing; our own minds. All else stems from that, including our will.

I’ve also learned a great deal from my husband who follows every whim, denies himself nothing, and seemingly has no control over his own ideas, actions, or choices. He also never reflects on what’s past because he just forgets everything. He’s like a blank slate every day. I ask him about previous marriages and he doesn’t remember anything, or chooses not to. He keeps no diaries or journals or blogs. This complete lack of concern over one’s actions has taught me a great deal about how we see the world and our reactions to it. It’s also taught me that we CANNOT change other people. We can only change our MINDS and therefore, our actions (will).  Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations 7.2:

How can our principles become dead, unless the impressions (thoughts) which correspond to them are extinguished? But it is in thy power continuously to fan these thoughts into a flame. I can have that opinion about anything, which I ought to have. If I can, why am I disturbed? The things which are external to my mind have no relation at all to my mind.- Let this be the state of thy affects, and thou standest erect. To recover thy life is in thy power. Look at things again as thou didst use to look at them; for in this consists the recovery of thy life.

I need to go back to first principles every single day and reflect on those things that worked for me and those things that didn’t. When was I most happy? When was I most content? What made me feel in control and purposeful in my life? What makes me feel crazy and out of control? It is to these which I must reflect on every morning. As Aurelius said, ‘to recover thy life is in thy power’.

No, I cannot change anyone else, but I can change how I see it and how I react. Now this is easier said than done, but if we keep falling into that hole in the sidewalk instead of choosing to walk around it the next time, we have only ourselves to blame.