Every time I hear this song I think about me and Jeff. The fading of our romance, our passion and the intimate and honest way we related to each other did not just disappear one day. It faded …until today I can’t feel those things and I can’t find them in my heart. The stresses of life butted their way through our greatest intentions and brought out pieces of ourselves that we never meant for the other to see, that we never wanted for ourselves or our marriage. Seeing them caused a lot of shock and hurt and anger. But as we were resolving our 457th (or so) argument about a week ago Jeff spoke words that were very true: “We still like each other and have a great time when things are going good. But, when we’re stressed we turn into the worst versions of ourselves. Stress brings out our bad sides.”
You may be thinking, “Mandi, just do what you need to do to get it back.” I think that, too. And, it would be easy for me to do all the work and make things temporarily better for us. I can do that and I’ve done it before. I can push all the junk down and put on a smile, but I think something important is about to happen in our marriage and I don’t think it needs to be started by me. Just imagine for a second that every time something needs to be fixed or talked out, you bring it up. Every sweet effort is made by you. Every invitation for intimacy is your nudge. Every special occasion is only special to you. (“Every” is a strong word, but it’s pretty true) I don’t think I should do anything this time. A few months ago my pastor preached 2 weeks on what women want and what men want out of relationships. Men need to lead and he said that if you, as the wife, are leading then you need to stop and create a vacuum. Well, I’ve stopped and the vacuum is there and I’m waiting and praying that Jeff feels the tug and steps up and leads this marriage to a place of health and happiness. Maybe that’s selfish, but I don’t feel that it is. I feel like this is what I have to do.
I never intended for this whole “love week” experience to be a downer (if you’re just starting to read here, you’ll have to head on back to Monday to get all the “love week” posts), but as I close the notebook to our past and our history, my lip is quivering and I’m choking back tears. I cannot shake the fact that we started SO STRONG and have fallen SO LOW. Reading the words we spoke to each other almost makes me uncomfortable because I imagine saying them again today and I know I couldn’t. There’s layer upon layer upon layer of hurt in my heart that are blocking out feelings.
Here’s what I regret and would change if I could go back. Please take it as advice if you’re married and at a better place than I find myself.
I would never have stopped writing. Writing down my feelings was always a road right into my heart. I’ve never been as good at expressing myself when I speak. I always hold back. Knowing that about myself, I should have kept writing.
I would have never, ever, ever let the internet and pornography take the place that it did in Jeff’s life. Granted, it’s nothing like the place is has in a lot of men’s life. But let me be clear in saying that it is not welcome in our marriage in any way. I know you’re thinking that it’s his decision and that I can’t change his actions. But, I know now that my reactions to his actions have a lot of bearing on his future actions. The first time that I learned of it, I would have flipped the f**k out…and not in a “poor me” kind of hurt puppy way but in a ferocious, animal kind of way. I should have done what I needed to do to make sure that those actions found their exit from our marriage. Because not doing it has killed the love that and respect that I had for my husband.
I would have pushed past the hurt and found a way for intimacy to remain. I don’t know if any of you out there have ever experienced the hurt over finding out that your husband has looked at porn, but to me it feels as if he cheated on me and turned all that we had into something ugly. Since we have been married, at least twice a year pornography has stolen our intimacy and any trust that we were able to rebuild in that area. This time it’s been 5 months. Each time I believe that it will never happen again and I believe that Jeff is sorry, but I cannot stop my skin from crawling when he touches me. I pray for this to go away pretty often, but when it comes down to it I still don’t want Jeff to touch me. I know that we can’t get better until I can get past this.
I would have admitted to myself and to other people that I was hurting. I am a master of disguise when it comes to my feelings. I can write about them all day long, but in person I cannot show weakness. Trust issue? I don’t know. But I do know that for pain to heal it has to be brought out into the light. There is only one person that I’ll talk to any of this about (she knows who she is, I’m sure), and still it’s guarded and selective. I’m sure I’m just afraid that once I start crying I might not ever stop.
If you’re married, please learn from our mistakes. Guard your love. If you are a person that prays, I would appreciate your prayers as we go on our journey back to the marriage that God intended for us.