I'd dreamed of it as a child.
I'd completely planned my wedding before I reached the ripe old age of 9, and I held fast to it all. When I met my husband, I knew... I just KNEW: he was The One. He was the one who was different.
When his porn "problem" reared it's ugly head in our marriage, I battled it with all the energy of a scorned woman. PORN was the Other Woman in our marriage -she had infiltrated my fairy tale. She needed to be demolished. Our house needed to be purified, sanitized, sterilized.
You should have seen me at work. I was a full time Master o' Control. I checked the computer, his phone, our DVD collection, his brain... and I never let him shower without making sure he wasn't acting out. I never made a trip to the grocery store without texting him at least 5 times to make sure he wasn't acting out. If he was tempted, I had a list for him.
How To Be Perfect, by: Your Loving Wife.
I dropped my friends, my hobbies, my interest... MYSELF. I put it ALL into the Porn Eradication Act.
Five years later, my husband came to me with a confession. He'd been acting out. He'd been lying. I sent the kids to my mom's and when he got home from work, we sat together over a Large take-out pizza and discussed everything so matter-of-factly.
"So it is what it is," I said, "Let's just do this. We know what we need to do."
"Yes," he nodded.
At this point, I had eased up on my policing. His sobriety had improved. A few months went by, and I lightly and jokingly asked how he'd been doing.
I expected him to lightly joke back. I expected a good report.
Instead I got an immediate countenance change -hung shoulders, hung head...
"I'm not doing good," he said to his shoes.
This time it was MY turn for a countenance change. I was floored -decked -utterly shocked.
"WHAT?!" Was all I could say. My tone surprised him. He looked up and immediately moved forward to hold me.
I balked. I refused to let him touch me. I began to cry... the kind of startled cry a child produces when their pet parakeet is suddenly 'et up by the neighbor's cat (totally happened to me once. No lie).
"I had no idea..." I sputtered, "I only asked... I didn't think..."
And then I fled -Disney Princess style -to the bathroom. I locked the door. I sat in the tub. I pulled the shower curtain closed and I cried myself senseless.
How was I supposed to preserve My Fairy Tale? The Porn was beating ME and I wasn't the one with the porn problem!
At that point, I gave up. I quit exercising (what was the point?). I quit watching what I ate (what was the point?). I quit cleaning (what was the point?). I quit socializing (what was the point?).
I gained ten pounds (his fault).
And I saw no hope in my future.
I'd planned my entire little life to get married and live my ideal marriage... and through no fault of my own it had been snatched from me.
I was a GOOD PERSON.
I deserved a GOOD MARRIAGE. I deserved to have MY IDEA of a GOOD MARRIAGE.
And it slowly dawned on me that I would never have it. My husband's porn problem wasn't a problem. It was gripping addiction.
How I hated the word -it rolled so destructively from my tongue.
I married Prince Addict.
It was disaster of epic proportions.
There was a movie made in the Good Ol' 90's titled "Sabrina." It is a modern remake of an old black and white starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.
Both movies have their own appeal, and I love them both equally. But the modern one has a line that I love with all my heart.
Sabrina is in LOVE with David.
David notices Sabrina in the way a neighbor might notice you got a new car. Might.
Sabrina's father is so concerned with her infatuation that he ships her off to Paris for awhile. While in Paris, her boss notices that Sabrina seems distracted. Sabrina confesses her LOVE. Her boss tells her that David sounds like an illusion. She then goes on to say, "Illusions are dangerous people. They have no flaws."
My Illusion Marriage was dangerous to me... it had no flaws.
I sort of lived out my Illusion Marriage when I was enforcing The Porn Eradication Act. I would sometimes pretend there was no porn, and he would pretend there was no porn and we would swim around the sharks with ease and glee.
During these times, I would get upset. I would get grouchy. I would have bad days.
He would call me on them -it wasn't okay that I was upset... not in the Illusion Marriage.
In the Illusion Marriage, we took turns playing victim and rescuer. On my bad days, I was the victim. He would pull me up OUT of my bad mood because it was his job. When he tried and I still stayed in my bad mood...
That wasn't allowed.
And it went both ways. We behaved that way, you understand, because we LOVED each other. We loved each other enough to pull one another up. What a gloriously wonderful responsibility!
But later on... later on when I had ran weeping from the shark-infested waters, I sat on the shore, gained ten stress pounds watching my husband flirt with imminent death, and just stopped making him happy.
I went against everything Dr. Laura had ever taught me!
When my husband had a bad day and came home grouchy, I let him. Once I actually loaded my kids and I up in the car and took off on him stating, "We're leaving. You can't act like this toward us. We haven't done anything wrong. We'll come back later when you've cooled off. You need a break."
And I drove away, hands a'shakin.
I was terrified.
When we came home, he was significantly more calm. He was unapologetic, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that he wasn't treating me or my lovely kids unfairly.
A few weeks after that, I was the grouchy one. I was the one with the attitude problem. Instead of trying to fix my mood -to lift me -he only put his hands squarely on my shoulders.
"You are a grouch," he said, looking straight into my eyes, "Here's some gas money. Leave. Go take a break."
He was trying to be confident about the whole thing, but I could see the trepidation behind his eyes. He was scared I might react... I might be hurt by him, offended, upset.
I only hugged him to me and cried all my make-up off onto his t-shirt. I was so grateful for him.
"Thank you," I said.
Two hours later, I came home.
I came through the front door and tossed my husband a bag of his favorite candy.
"What this for?" he asked, looking up from his video game.
"For calling me a grouch," I said, "You called me out, gave me money and told me to leave. It meant a lot. Thanks."
"Yeah," he nodded, "I'm way nicer than you are..."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"When I'm a grouch, you call me out and then YOU leave and you never give me any money," he said, making sure his arms were 100% around me when he said it so I couldn't slap him.
And then I laughed so hard I cried.
Right at that moment I realized that we were building partners.
The Real Marriage we are building from the rubble of the Illusion is so good I'm nearly scared. It isn't all good, and usually the good is fleeting and rare. But it's not finished. It's slow and steady going.
We're not building one of those cookie cutter houses in city neighborhoods that all look like the one right next to it.
We're building the groundwork for a real monument. It's painstaking and horrible and hard. Neither one of us knows if it's a project that we'll see through to the end. All we know is that right now. today. there's a job at hand. So we're working on it. I'm working on one end. He's working on another.
There's bad weather and communication hiccups and financial tension.
BUT the small successes keep us going, and they are each SO good that they keep me just hopeful enough to ride out the next day.
Goodbye, my Illusion Marriage.
You were such a shoddy friend.