My origin myth
Although we weren’t young when we married, it was as if we were. We loved each other truly, madly, deeply, and we satisfied the requisite two of the three possible requirements for a satisfying marriage: we made each other think and made each other laugh. Although we made each other cum, we did so infrequently, and somewhat perfunctorily. Worse, this was fine by both of us, or so we each would have had the other believe. (And maybe, so we would have had ourselves believe.)
We each had different strategies for managing our sexual malaise. Mine grew metastatically from occasional visits to strip clubs to “happy ending” massages once a month to once a week to daily, to “sugar daddy” arrangements, and to a host of other, more destructive and costly behaviors. Needless to say, this all required lots of deception, self- and otherwise. And lots and lots of money.
Meanwhile, we kept at it in the marriage, trying to make the sex part better. But we both presented lots of obstacles to the other. Mine surely were “worse,” in any relative comparison. But they weren’t alone.
Then, one day, it all came clear to me: I wasn’t solving our problems off on my own (as I had told myself). I wasn’t getting that to which I was entitled (which I told myself more infrequently). I was (as) an addict — out of control of virtually every aspect of my life, totally absent.
I got help. Went to a 12-step program, got “sober,” or whatever that means. And I told my wife, pulling the rug out from under her. To her credit (or detriment?), she concluded that, as awful as I’d been, as bad as all this was, she didn’t want to leave me.
She was angry — furious — and confused, and disoriented. But she wanted to stay with me. Probably for some good and some bad reasons.
So we did the things couples do in this situation. We started seeing a shrink together, we worked through our shit, and we discovered that, lo and behold, there were even more problems than just my thieving, lying, cheating ways.
We focused on those problems, both of us, in earnest, in a spirit of devoted commitment to one another and our family. And we hit lots of bumps in the road. Some put there by me, some by her. And the car kept on going — the bumps slowed us down, but they never stopped us.
And then, about a year ago, we passed the end of the bumpy, rutted dirt road and found ourselves, once again, on a smoothly paved one. Our therapist pronounced us ready for graduation, or rather, agreed with our own pronouncement that we were ready. And we were. We emerged into the sunlight of a new day, with stronger love and trust for one another (albeit dented, to be sure) and deeper commitment.
Through it all, all I can say is that I demonstrated, over and over, my deeply felt understanding that I was entitled to nothing, that the harshest possible judgment of me was merited. The only thing I demanded (as much as one in my shoes could demand anything) was that, if she wasn’t ready to forgive me, she at least aspire to forgiving me. There were days on which she couldn’t, on which even forgiveness felt for her a bridge too far.
Thankfully, those days have been few and far between, and most days, we live the life that I document (my half of) in my writing.