To me, marriage is choosing every day that your partner is enough for you. That commitment is a choice day-in and day-out to stay through sickness and health, richer or poorer, forever.
The few serious relationships in my adult life before finding my husband all had one thing in common – each man cheated on me at some point. It made me fearful of commitment. It made me think that I’d never be enough for someone else. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone with my heart. So, I stopped committing to anyone for a long time. I figured if I didn’t let myself be vulnerable, I couldn’t get hurt.
Then, I got to a point where I was fine just being alone because a non-committal relationship wasn’t fulfilling to me either. When I met my husband, I had never trusted someone so much where I felt like I actually WAS enough for him and would be for the rest of our lives. He was such a good man, I feared losing him and lied about parts of my past. The truth always comes out, and I almost lost him at one point.
It took him a long time to trust me again, and when he did, I got comfortable in our relationship again. I took all we had worked towards for granted. I got really busy one summer with going back to college and picking up a second job that I neglected him and our family in general. Each day just felt like survival.
He gave me warning signs, and I was too oblivious to see them. After it all exploded, I then was able to see my part in it. He had kept asking me why I never put in any effort for him anymore – why was I always throwing on sweatpants, and why did I barely even shave my legs? Then, he had started asking why he was even there and did I even want him there? Did I even need him? I blew it all off and kept telling him:
Of course I want you here. We need you.”
Then, he pushed even more about what his purpose as a man in our house was and that he felt like we were just roommates. None of it sunk in. I don’t excuse what happened next, but I do understand it.
One day, I walked past his nightstand after coming home and saw a message and picture pop up on his tablet screen that haunted me for a long time. By instinct, I just grabbed the tablet and locked myself in the bathroom. I had never once even thought about going through his things, but I couldn’t ignore what I had just seen. I don’t even know how long I was in there, reading through the conversations that had been going on for the past month. I felt like my whole world was crashing around me.
I can’t even remember what I said when I came out of the bathroom, and he saw me standing there holding his tablet. I was in shock. Then, it all erupted. He felt like it wasn’t cheating because nothing physical had happened. But, for me, the betrayal felt just as real. The day ended with his bags packed and him walking to the front door after little ones were asleep. I remember standing there in the dark, talking about how we’d figure out visitation and me telling him I just wanted him happy, even if it wasn’t with me any longer. I sobbed, and he went to hug me goodbye. I’m not sure what happened, but at the last moment, he chose to stay, and I chose to forgive him.
That was the start of a very hard road of me having to choose again each new day to forgive him and keep the paranoia at bay, while I also had to work to correct the things in my control that brought us to that breaking point in the first place. I did have much more respect for what he went through the early years, learning to trust me again, while I learned to do it for him in return. It was a lot of trust with verification, and not every couple is able to survive it.
When your kids violate your trust, you have no choice but to stay with them and figure it out. With your spouse/significant other, it is a choice – a daily choice.
I can tell you that no marriage will ever survive if you continue to hold any form of past deceit or infidelity over your significant other. It’s not easy at all to come back from such a significant loss of trust, but you have to make the choice as to whether you think it’s worth it and then hold to that commitment. I do trust him completely again now, and he trusts me. We both admit that we’ve hurt each other, but now we spend each day more grateful for one another and where we are now in our relationship. There’s no resentment, there’s no guilting each other. He’s worked hard to repair his flaws, and I am conscious each day to never repeat the path I went down myself.
Loss of trust can make or break your relationship. Thankfully, for us, it made our marriage stronger in the end, and we value and cherish each other even more now. If you’re going through something similar (no situation is ever the exact same), here are the words of advice I would offer:
- Do you want to save your marriage? Do you think your relationship is even worth fighting for?
- If yes, can you make the choice to forgive your spouse? (Forgiving and forgetting are not the same, keep in mind!)
- Can you truly commit to not holding it over their head and trying to make them feel guilty, despite the own hurt you feel?
- Without excusing your partner’s behavior, can you look at yourself to see your part in how you got to this point?
- Can you choose to commit to making your marriage a priority despite all of life’s other obligations?
- If you can answer yes in each step of this process, then ask your partner the same questions and start choosing each other each day.
Marriage is a choice, and it can be beautiful and the most fulfilling part of your life. Choose to be enough for each other. Choose to never take each other for granted. Choose to fight for each other every day. If you feel it’s worth it, make it worth it.
I went through all of this alone, and I was too embarrassed to talk to anyone about what we were going through, so I write this post to let you know that you’re not alone and there’s hope if you want it. Plus, the stronger your marriage, the stronger your family in general is. Being a better spouse can make you be a better parent. I had been taking motherhood for granted as well during that whole period, and I chose to invest in my mother-child relationship just as much as my husband-wife relationship. No one is perfect, but imperfect people can still be perfect for each other!