How We Became Us - A Marriage In Review - 15 - 20 Years

5 years ago

So, here we were 15 years into our marriage and we found ourselves together, yet alone. Alone in every sense of the word.

He would come home and I would be exhausted. I couldn't find the time or energy to sit and talk or listen to him.

My days were filled with work at the office, appointments with one kind of a specialist or another; cleaning, shopping, laundry, making more appointments and watching my sister's children on the days I wasn't in the office.

I learned a tremendous amount of information due to the medical treatment my children received. I joke that I could earn an honorary license to practice medicine based on all that I learned from the various therapists, doctors, nurses, social workers and hospitalizations. If there we weren't at home waiting for a therapist or nurse to come render services at the house, then we were at some doctors appointment, or worse, admitted into the hospital.

On the days I babysat my sister's children, she and my husband would carpool to save time and money. In the long run, carpooling ended up costing us more than what we ever could have imagined.

Over time, my husband would come home aggravated, moody and frustrated. Sometimes I would wish that he wouldn't come home at all.

I know that coming home to an exhausted, cranky, stressed out wife was no picnic, but he was no joy to be around either.

That was the year that his Christmas present to me was the gift certificate to the spa my sister frequented so that I could get beauty tips and a makeover to look just as good as she did.  That was the year that my antennae were standing on end, buzzing that something was very wrong.  That was the year, that my instincts told me that something was brewing between my sister and my husband.  That was the year that I chose to ignore the signs.

As the year progressed, we were drifting...more like hurtling in opposite directions.  Every conversation was a battle.  Our children would complain to their grandparents (on both sides) that they couldn't sleep the night before because Daddy was yelling at Mommy.  And sometimes, Mommy yelled back.

That was the year that we were both vulnerable.

Scott, a long time friend, was more than ever, able to make me feel more like a desirable woman than what I had felt in a long while.  His unrequited love for me burned my eyes and clouded my judgement.  He was telling me all the things I wanted and needed to hear.  They were all the right words, but coming out of the wrong mouth.

My husband wasn't fulfilling my needs.  He was focused on creating a pedestal for my sister and giving her all of his attention and affection. We both kept secrets from each other.  He had a secret about him and my sister.  I had a secret about Scott and I.

After meeting up with and kissing Scott, I confided in only one person.  My sister.  After all, she was the one who kept encouraging me to meet up with him.  She told me "Just go and meet him and see what happens.  Hey, I am *sure* your husband has secrets that he will take to his grave."  She was one of them.

Shortly after my visit with Scott, the relationship between my sister, husband and I became very unstable and volatile.  He was arguing with her, arguing with me.  She was confrontational with him and then with me.  I didn't understand the dynamics that were being played out.

It wasn't until all was revealed, that I understood why the relationships were collapsing.  I was completely shattered when my husband admitted his unfaithfulness to me, with my sister.  My world was completely turned upside down.  I lost all of my faith and trust in everyone I loved.

I had wanted OUT of my marriage.  I had wanted out of this life that was being built on lies.  If we didn't have children, D-Day would have been our last day as husband and wife.  

We briefly separated and I wouldn't have minded making it a permanent situation.

I felt that it was bad enough that he had betrayed me with my own sister, but on top of that, he was treating me like a dog for months during the time of his betrayal all the way up until D-Day.  She was no better, essentially doing the same.  Treating me like shit as if I had done something against her.

He and I went to counselling.  We cried together, we cried alone, we cried tears of shame, remorse and regret.  He was the driving force at trying to rebuild our marriage.  

He acknowledged that his actions and reactions toward me during the time that he was seeking comfort and companionship in the arms of my sister was the perfect recipe that opened the door for my heart to look for the same, but I went looking someplace else...with someone else because he was not there for me.

That's not to say that I blame my husband for me finally giving into to one of Scott's invitations to meet with him.  It was not my husband who said yes and went.  It was I, who was feeling vulnerable and weak who should have stuck to my guns and said no...again.

Within moments of kissing Scott...while kissining Scott, my guilt and shame were in high gear.  Scott felt it too and knew that I had already gone too far.  I know I hurt Scott as much as I hurt my husband.  Scott claims to have loved me all my life (yes, we know each other that long) and that he still loves me.  But I love my husband.

As I said in the past, my husband regretted hurting me so deeply.  He let me, and everyone around me know how much he truly regretting putting me through such awful pain.  He didn't so much say he was sorry.  His actions after D-Day were born of his deep love for me and our family.  After nearly 20 years of marriage, he was finally putting his family first.

We have hit a few major roadblocks with the reconstruction of our marriage.  The first roadblock was that he and my sister still worked together for a long time after D-Day.  And that was a tough gig.  For both of us.  

It took me over a year to rebuild so much of myself and my inner strength before I could think about even confronting her because I knew that she would just lie to me and hurt me with more words.  She did not disappoint my expectations.

The next roadblock is my husband's desire to go back to who we were and the way we were.  Sorry Charlie, that wasn't going to happen.  First of all, we weren't all that great to begin with, which is why we ended up where we did.  Why would I want to do that again?  Secondly, I am not longer the dewy-eyed 22 year old bride who thinks that her husband is the greatest man in her life who will make her unconditionally happy.

The biggest roadblock, is my lack of trust in him.  I don't think that he would cheat on me like that again.  I just don't trust that I can surrender my heart to him unconditionally for a second time.  I know it sounds terrible.  I hurt him too.  And it's not like I think that he will leave me.  It's just that.....well, it is extremely difficult to put my finger on, but I think it has a lot to do with the emptiness and unfulfilled needs that were unmet for so many years. I think that in my efforts to protect my heart from being hurt again, I have built a wall of ambivalence with my emotions.  I pains me sooo much to say this because, I feel that he is trying his best to love me unconditionally, but I can't help but still feel guarded.  I still feel that I need to protect myself.  I feel that this is driving a wedge between us.  I feel that I am pushing him away.

No, I am not the same woman I used to be.  I know this and I feel this because I am doing things that would never have done in the past.  I love him.  I do.  But there is still so much hurt and pain under the layers of the everyday craziness that we go through on a daily basis that we really never get to bring those issues to the surface to be dealt with. And I know that he sees a different woman in me.  

I don't think that he is very comfortable with this new version of me.  I was never one to easily cry or use my womanly guile to get my way.   It was always a partnership. Now, I almost NEVER cry (or at least not in front of him); I don't seek him out if I am blue or having a bad day, I work hard to make my own day better.  I have developed a 'take-charge' attitude in almost everything that I do.  There is less room for negotiations.  

Another big change is that I don't argue with him any more.  I simply shut down and walk away.  I refuse to engage.  I will find alternative ways of getting my point across, but I rarely raise my voice to him.

Things are not the same.  They are very different.  Sometimes, even very difficult.

The day of our actual 20th anniversary was an epic fail.  There was no celebration.  There was no pomp and circumstance.  No grand overtures of commitment.  No lavish getaways or treasures.  No plans to punctuate our accomplishment of 20 years of togetherness, for better or for worse.

So at the start of our 20th year of marriage, my wish is that we will, one day be happy with each other and not take each other for granted.  And that we will allow ourselves to trust each other with our hearts.

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