So, the third fucking year.

Just like that another 12 months has passed since I learned the truth about my husband, aka The Player, and my marriage, aka The (Former) Good Marriage.

It’s been heart breaking and soul crushing to know I believed in him and in us so much and he played me silly. He was exceptionally good at it. I mean, exceptionally good. You could have heard collective gasps as my friends and family learned about him and what he had done. So, at least I know I wasn’t the only one played, right? Strength in numbers or some fucking shit like that.

He’s done soul-searching hard work. He’s done the personal work that has been required to be a person who lives with integrity (who knew it was so hard to just be honest, even about the small stuff?). We both have done some hard work to stay in the marriage. Our paths have both been hard but for different reasons.

Where are we three years later? I wouldn’t say we’re fully healed – if that is even a thing, “fully” healed – but we’re on our way to what healed means for us. It means we’re committed to putting this family back together, to staying married, to figuring out how to live better. I am figuring out how to live long-term with someone who betrayed me, knowing it was about him and never about me, or us. The Player is figuring out how to live authentically and with integrity long term for the first time in his life and to let all of his flaws show, freely. He’s given up the need to present one thing and do another.

Three years later I am more reserved, most likely never again to be as vulnerable as I was with The Player. It’s not miserable, just not was I’d envisioned when I got married, but then who ever does envision being lied to for two decades. Three years in I now know The Player married me thinking he would and could be faithful. He didn’t know himself well enough to know that any insecurities he had would be magnified as his career grew, adding to the treatment of his parents, especially his father and the memories of a teacher, a coach, a young woman, relentlessly teasing him, and all the while being in an unsafe environment at home, unable to speak to anyone in his family about his feelings.

Once The Player figured out that he couldn’t fix our marriage with his old self, he made noticeable progress. Once he realized he could accept whatever would happen to us and to him because of his actions, he made great strides. Medication didn’t hurt, either. It allowed him to cope with all of the turmoil he created and he was able to cope with the highs and lows without wanting to kill himself.

Some of the things he did to heal himself and the marriage…

  • A year after discovery he told me everything and well over a year he told me the same things over again and again until one day after the next and the next I just stopped asking.
  • He backed up his disclosure with a polygraph.
  • He is rarely defensive. Maybe early on before full disclosure he was, but I can count on one hand since then that he’s been defensive, even when I was being pretty intense.
  • He made himself accountable for his whereabouts and (usually) didn’t require me to ask him to check in when we were apart.
  • He gave me access to his technology until I didn’t give a shit I had access, knowing that me doing that didn’t change any outcome and only actually added to my stress to keep up with it. Side note: monitoring his technology the first year when he was sexually sober but still not recovering actually led me to a text he received that raised suspicion and pushed me to check our server, finding inappropriate emails really pushing me to push him to a polygraph, at which time he brought me into his CSAT for a full disclosure. Side note to the side note: he has stated that monitoring him is the only thing that kept him faithful before he worked on real recovery.
  • The Player has mostly done the right thing. There’s an unfortunate day he spent in a bar then lied about who sat down at his table and to whome he handed out his phone number out to (a provocative woman family friend, confirmed he was attracted to her because we joked about it) and a couple of lies relating to travel because he just didn’t want to deal with my questioning him. He had a couple of more lies that he corrected and did a follow-up polygraph to prove he quit lying.
  • He is willing to do polygraphs, whenever I like, even more than annually.
  • He is the first (usually) to bring up our check ins with each other.
  • He went/goes to group, therapy and SLAA consistently.
  • He is learning/has learned how to bring up things when he is uncomfortable. He used to just stuff it (remember, no talking about anything emotional in his family) and then resented me for his inability to discuss with me, further using this to justify how I didn’t understand him and justifying to himself it was okay to cheat.
  • He really listens.
  • He acts on what is bothering me and corrects or changes his behavior to help me.
  • He isn’t afraid of expressing his emotions.
  • He shares everything he learns about himself and has brought me on his journey to see for myself what he’s learned and how he is implementing new behaviors and his new belief system.

Things are okay three years out from the destruction and trauma The Player caused. I’m happy for the kids and the family and for us as a couple because we’re still together, a family unit, especially since we have a child with significant needs. I am mostly okay having reconciled the past life of mine and ours, now able to accept what I believed to be my reality mixed in with parts from The Player I believe he was truly engaged with me and the kids. I’m still somewhat sad and maybe I will always be about some of the times I thought he was “with” me but really wasn’t.

There’s a memory in our lives when we were under great stress and I used to think of it fondly and often. I held onto that memory of us fighting together for the life of one of our children very tightly for a very long time and it got me through some tough times before discovery. Letting that one go has been tough. It was like letting go of a part of me, never to be seen again, but that’s the reality of recovery and healing. That is sort of how it is, though in this world, isn’t it? For me anyway, it’s been taking the good with the bad in order to move forward.