My husband and I had to start over with our marriage. We didn’t try to rebuild it, because the foundation was cracked and faulty. We had to tear it down and start from the beginning. Is our marriage better now? Yes. Would I go through all of this again to have a better marriage? No way. But this is where I’m at in life.
I had choices after the last D-Day. I could decide to leave, decide to stay, or get help with my trauma and observe what JP was going to do. There were many days when it would have been much easier to give up on our marriage and get a divorce. I would have still needed to work on my own healing, but I wouldn’t have to worry about being hurt and betrayed again. I knew better than to try to “forgive, forget, and move past it” because that’s what I did 6 years ago and now I’m processing all the trauma that I didn’t deal with back then. I chose to go to therapy, work on my healing, and watch for progress from my husband.
I would give myself 3 month increments to evaluate JP’s progress. Things started getting better after his first few sessions with his CSAT. He had a lot of anger which she helped him resolve with EMDR. We learned that the anger stemmed from his shame and once that was gone, he was able to have empathy and sit with me in my pain. That was a major shift in our relationship.
JP and I started sharing with each other what we were learning about ourselves and talking more about our childhoods. Since television was removed from our lives, we filled our evenings with recovery work. That meant listening to podcasts together, journaling or doing our workbooks then talking about it, or watching courses on Bloom or Path. We needed to find some fun things to do together, so we decided to buy a puzzle. We loved working the puzzle together and that became one of our hobbies. We learned that we enjoy making cupcakes from scratch and decorating them together. We used to go shopping on the weekends, but stopped going the mall or most other stores because I was easily triggered. When everything shut down due to the pandemic, our lives didn’t change much. We have found other ways to spend time together even if it’s working on house projects.
Our evenings used to consist of mindlessly watching TV and ignoring each other. We used to talk at each other, but not with each other. We used to be two people who lived in the same house, but weren’t actively meeting each other’s emotional needs. We didn’t even know what those were. When my husband was in his addiction, he wasn’t capable of meeting my emotional needs. I knew something was missing, but I didn’t know what.
Now we have healthy habits and interactions. We give each other hugs and we kiss several times a day. We leave for work at the same time and talk on the phone while we’re driving. We text each other during the work day just to say “I love you”. JP does 10:00 and 3:00 BLHAST check-ins. We cook dinner together and put our phones away to eat with no distractions. We do our FANOS check-in every night at bedtime. We have learned how to think through our own emotions and have meaningful conversations, so when one of us is starting to feel upset at the other, we can stop and talk it through. It’s taken a lot of time and hard work, but once JP was sober and in recovery, we’ve learned how to have the marriage we were meant to.