When my husband and I decided to stay together and work on our marriage after his emotional affair, I made some rules perfectly clear. He was to have no contact with Evil Bitch. He had to give up his personal e-mail account. He was to block EB’s number from his cell phone. He and I were to live with total transparency and honesty. We put in place a list of rules to affair-proof our marriage in the future. We were to support each other in every way, including emotions. Strangely enough, the last rule was the only one that Husband had a problem with.
At first, Husband claimed to be 100% on board. Whatever I needed, he wanted to give me. He became involved in my toxicity illness…wanting to come with me to doctor appointments, make me dinner that fit in my dietary restrictions and asking me daily how I was feeling. He was rubbing my back at night. He would leave me little notes before he left for work, just saying he loves me and hoping I have a good day. He was being wonderful, and I appreciated the effort. I hate to say I wanted more, because I knew he was really trying. Yet, more is exactly what I wanted.
As well as we were getting along, it seemed artificial to me. Everything was pleasant, but it was on the surface. Inside, I felt like we had no emotional connection. I desperately missed my best friend. The man that I could talk to about anything and everything. He was guarded, and felt distant to me.
Husband was never really one to share his emotions. I knew this from the get-go, and accepted that about him in the past. This time was different. While he may never have been an open book, there was a time when we couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed. Those sweet couple of hours between them dozing off and our turn to do the same, we would snuggle in bed and talk. And talk. And talk. About our dreams, our hopes and our fears. Our past and our future. Jobs, kids, likes, dislikes, pets, friends, technology, art, etc. What we ate for lunch that day. What we would do if we won the lottery. Favorite movies, songs, colors, foods and holidays. We just enjoyed talking to one another. Suddenly, Husband had nothing to say to me that didn’t revolve around my illness, our kids or his job. If I would start asking him questions, he’d rub his eyes and seem disinterested. It was like I was an annoying gnat that he couldn’t swat away from his face. I missed our connection, and was afraid it was gone forever.
I tried talking to Husband about this many times. I begged him to open up to me. I suppose, because of everything that’s happened, he thought “talking” could only mean talking about the affair. I suppose he probably thought that I was just waiting for another opportunity to pour salt into that wound. I told him that not every talk has to be an emotional, two-hour cry-fest. That I just desperately wanted to feel he was interested in who I am again. That we needed to learn how to be best friends again. It seemed to fall on deaf ears. He told me he hoped I could learn to accept the person he is, and not need to change him. Then, I began to pull away, out of frustration and defeat. I told him that I was trying to learn to depend on him to meet my physical needs, and my friends to meet my emotional ones. He seemed just fine with that arrangement. For awhile.
I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know what changed. After six months of me asking for my friend back, he started talking to me. One night, before going to my son’s football practice, he told me to think about two questions: If I woke up healthy and back to normal, what foods would I eat, and what my dream vacation would be. I was giddy just thinking about it! That night, we laid in bed talking for a couple of hours. We laughed a lot. It was easy and perfect. I told him I appreciated the effort, and he told me there was no effort. That once we got started, it all fell right back into place. It was natural.
Truth be told, I believe it was the guilt that kept him away for so long. He has been very hard on himself. I don’t think it was a conscious decision, to keep me at a distance. I think he was protecting me from being any more disappointed in him. I think he felt he didn’t deserve the best of me. I think it was about punishing himself, unfortunately also punishing me in the process. I asked him what changed, and he said he wasn’t sure. That he just had a “What am I doing?” moment. Maybe he feared I would fall in love with someone else that would take an interest in me. Maybe he realized he missed our connection as well. Whatever prompted this change, I thank God for it!
Can I say that we are now best friends, and living as if Husband’s affair never happened? Nope. Can I say I forgive him with all my heart? Huh uh. But, I can say that I feel closer to him than I have in a long time. That we are enjoying each other’s company again. That we both have a lot of opinions that are worth hearing. That I’m beginning to fall in love again…with my husband of 15 years. And most of all, that somehow, by the grace of God, this has been one hurdle I didn’t have to keep tripping over alone.