June 30th was our anniversary. Our 39th anniversary. It’s a long time to be married. It’s an even longer time to be married to a sex addict. 😏
When we were married in 1979 (yikes!), the world was a different place. Men were different and women were different. All I wanted was to be married to someone who loved me like crazy and would be my friend, my lover, my protector and the father of my children. I was committed and meant every word of our wedding vows…to love, honor and cherish. Thru thick and thin, in sickness and in health. I MEANT those words. I think those words were completely foreign to Will. He did not comprehend, let alone mean any of them. And, let’s face it, he’s not a quick study.
Many, many times in the past 39 years, we have come close to calling it quits. When he cheated, when he lied, when he ruined us financially (over and over), when he was demoted in the military (twice), when they courts martialled him, when he confessed “everything” in 1996 and pretended to turn over a new leaf…and then of course, D-day. Never in that time, was I truly happy. Never in that time did I feel loved and protected. As puzzled by the words love, honor and cherish Will was, I was equally puzzled as to why my marriage was always so difficult and why was there something missing? I did not know what it meant to be loved, honored or cherished. I thought what we had, was as good as I deserved. Will often told me, in so many ways, that I was not good enough, I was difficult, I was the cause of everything that HE had done. And I believed it. Only really special women were loved and cherished…and I was not special. When D-day and the aftermath of slow mini disclosures came about, I had complete confirmation that I was not special…not to Will, not to my girls, not to my mother or sister. I had always felt alone…after D-day, I realized I had always been alone. It was the hardest time of my life. And I tried to end it. I thank God that I failed. That was three years ago when we had been “married” for a mere 36 years. Times have changed.
Looking back, I can’t honestly say why we are still together. We don’t have an epic, overwhelming love story. We aren’t the beautiful, wealthy, accomplished people who seem to have it all together. Currently, we don’t have the passion for one another that we hope to have when we get to that point in our recovery. But, I think there is much to be said for commitment. But, like I said, 39 years ago, men and women were different. When you married, you stayed married. Even through all of Will’s infidelities, when his addiction was at its peak times, the thought of divorce never crossed his mind. When we married, I committed to Will…heart and soul. I took our vows seriously and I lived them. Will took what he understood, seriously…it’s just that he never understood them. He just knew that somewhere within him, he didn’t want to be without me. It has taken him 39 long years to start figuring it all out. But, we both look back now, and understand commitment differently. We treasure our history, our shared memories, our family, our experiences, our laughter and our sorrows. I think this is all why we are still together and willing to keep working for our marriage.
Today I can say that I am not alone. I do still get lonely and I am working on that. I am no longer puzzled by the past because I have my eyes wide open now and the confusing signals I got then, make sense knowing what I now know. I have discovered that Will is not the key to me feeling special or “enough.” I now know that his addictions were born largely out of his own feelings that he was not special or enough. I am still learning what it is to feel loved. Will is still learning how to love. We still have much to learn…but the difference now is that we are learning together. Finally, after nearly four decades, we are on the same path. We are living our lives differently now and it feels so much better and healthier. We see little changes in one another that are making big differences. Life is good. I am blessed and grateful.