Confessions of a Sexless Marriage Part Two
When I wrote my first confessional, talking about my years in a lonely, affection-less marriage and the extramarital affair that followed, I did so as a therapeutic exercise. Put it all on paper, purge the emotions, exorcise the demons. I never expected to publish the piece.
Even after the first time I discussed the piece with the curator of SMM, I quickly withdrew, telling her I didn’t think I could share it after all.
I knew the judgment that would follow. Hell, I judged myself.
I wanted to feel guilty for what I’d done, but I didn’t. I wanted find a way out from under all the justification I offered myself, even though everything I told myself made sense.
But each time I opened the piece and read it, I had to acknowledge how much my story would resonate with others.
You see, one of my best qualities is my research capabilities. When I’m interested in something, want to learn more, I pour myself into my research efforts. My marriage was no different.
I spent years reading about marriage and relationships. I poured over books and articles, trying to find the key to changing my own relationship. I read studies on testosterone, passive aggressive people, bonding activities, how to bring the spark back, on and on and on.
And I also learned there were many people, men and women alike, who suffered the same feelings of loneliness, hurt, and betrayal that I was experiencing.
I know that sounds funny coming from me, the adulteress, not to mention hypocritical, but I felt immense betrayal from my husband.
Simon no longer wanted me as a wife, but he wasn’t willing to let me go either. He kept me in a state of limbo for years. He had the ability to give me affection, yet withheld it without ever telling me why. Each time I asked what I was doing wrong, how I had contributed to the decline of our relationship, he would tell me “nothing,” or “it’s me, not you,” then go back to ignoring my needs and desires. I even asked if he was punishing me in some passive aggressive way for some secret resentment he wasn’t sharing with me.
I begged my husband to help me, but Simon did nothing, leaving me to assumptions and conjecture. I tried everything I knew to heal my marriage long before I ventured out.
Did I betray my husband and my marriage? Absolutely.
Did my husband betray me first? There is no doubt in my mind.
Simon failed to nurture our marriage, ignored our problems, leaving me alone, afraid, and looking to outside sources to fill the hole inside me.
I am not alone in my struggle to fill the void, bringing us back to how my story will resonate with so many others. During my research on the subject, I found men and women deploring their affectionless marriages, their pain a visceral expression jumping off the pages of articles, message boards and advice columns. Men and women who long for affection, who yearn to be loved, who ache to be touched. Men and women starved in their marriages, desperate for something or someone to fill the hole.
Don’t misinterpret my words as excusing my behavior. As I stated in my first confessional, intellectually I know what I’ve done is wrong.
I’m here now to tell you that I’ve taken steps to, at least partially, rectify my wrongs.
No, I didn’t confess the affair. Do the research, my friend. The only people who feel better after such confessions are the guilty parties. I genuinely don’t want to hurt Simon. I don’t want either of us to hurt anymore.
What I did was acknowledge that my marriage was, in essence, over. I gathered up my courage again and asked for a divorce.
And you know what? Simon knew it was coming. This time there were no tears, no pleas to stay.
He admitted he wasn’t happy either. He admitted he didn’t want to continue the way things were. He admitted he wasn’t in love with me anymore. He admitted a lot of things, some he should have admitted years ago had he really wanted to save our marriage, but that time had long since passed.
It was a heartbreaking moment for both of us, but also one filled with relief.
The next step, of course, was to tell the kids. They’re adults now, and even while it upset them, they understood. I suppose it helped that Simon and I approached them together and explained that we loved each other enough, as friends, to let go of what wasn’t working. There were tears and hugs, and an even greater sense of relief.
Now comes the rest. I’ve never been divorced, so this is all new territory for me. I’m certain there are more tears in my future, as well questioning my decisions and a lot of uncertainty. In the end, however, Simon and I will have the opportunity to find what we both need.
And the other man?
I know you’d like me to say that I stopped seeing him, that I realized the error of my ways and cut ties.
That would be a lie.
You see, the reason we connected in the first place was because we were both suffering. Sometimes when he looks at me, his loneliness is so palpable I ache for him. And he has listened as I’ve gone through this evolution of admitting my marriage is over. We provide comfort and affection to one another, a precious commodity in this ever-increasingly fast-paced, heartless world.
The last time we met, he danced with me in his hotel room for an hour, laying his head against mine as one hand stroked my hair. “This is going to be over soon, isn’t it?” he whispered, his voice almost distraught. “You’re going to be single soon, and you’ll grow tired of this and of me. It won’t be enough.”
Part of me knows he is right, and soon this thing between us will be over because that is the inevitable conclusion. When it’s over, so too will be the one and only chapter of my life in which I had a torrid affair.
I don’t think I’ll have many regrets about it.
My point to all this is to present a cautionary tale to those readers who treat their marriages like a right, not a responsibility. A chore instead of a source of joy. Drudgery instead of opportunity.
The flames of your marriage require tending and nurturing, and cannot be ignored.
I still don’t know exactly what I did to extinguish those flames, but I do know what Simon did. He left them to burn, burn, burn, until there was no fuel left, and I could not save it alone.
I remember once, a couple years ago, one of the kids telling me and Simon, “I hope someday when I get married, I have a marriage like yours. You guys are best friends.”
I can only shake my head now when I think of it, and tuck it away as a bittersweet memory.
I wish better for my children, just as I wish better for every single person reading this now.
(For “Confessions of a Sexless Marriage” Part 1, visit http://suburbanmisfitmom.com/confessions-of-a-sexless-marriage/ )