Over the last six months my husband has told me countless times how much he loves me and how sorry he is for his years of lies. And several of those times I have said back to him, “I know you love me but I need respect.”
I have no doubt that my husband loves me. I have no doubt that he feels attached to me; that he is fond of me. But is love enough? Hell no, it is not.
I need respect. And love without respect is dangerous; it can crush someone as the last six months have taught me. A person who is respected is seen as her own unique individual self; with the right to make decisions for herself, based on reality, not some fantasy façade of what he thinks would make her happy. My husband admits he never once told me the truth of his problem because he loves to make me happy and knowing this wouldn’t make me happy. That’s so sweet right? Not wanting to hurt someone is true love, right? Wanting to spare them any pain is love right? Maybe, but it is NOT respect. And if I had to choose between love and respect I would choose respect.
I suppose I am splitting hairs here because I do believe true love encompasses respect. But I know now that it is totally possible to love someone, to feel attachment and fondness, but not to respect them. A man who truly loves his wife respects her enough to be completely honest even if it paints him in a bad light; respects her enough to be truthful even though it may cause her pain; and respects her life decisions once she knows the full truth.
Years ago when Robin Givens talked about her abusive marriage to Mike Tyson she told a story I will never forget. She talked about how he would beat her and then within a few hours they would be hugging, cuddling, holding hands, and crying together. What the hell kind of nuttiness is that? I remember at the time thinking, “If he loved her he would’t have hit her in the first place!” Well, now my 40-yr old self gets that story. I so get it. Mike Tyson was indeed crying because he felt shame and remorse for what he did to someone he was attached to and fond of (love). So now I would say, ‘If he respected her he wouldn’t have hit her.” Huge, huge difference.
My husband never told me when we were engaged that he had a 10-year problem with porn/masturbation/lust. If he had respected me he would have known that nobody has the right to make decisions for somebody else’s life. And after a few years of marriage when I discovered part of his problem, he lied to me some more about the rest of the story because he didn’t respect me enough to think I deserved the truth. When my husband objectified me (and countless other women) as sex objects he did so because he didn’t respect me as a smart, educated, hard-working woman with her own ambitions and life dreams. It’s so patronizing and patriarchal to assume I need to be protected, coddled, and kept in a fantasy world of lollipops and sunshine. Thankfully with 6-months of sobriety he is beginning to respect me. The haze of addiction has subsided and now when I tell him I need respect more than love, he can see the difference and progress is being made.
Many thoughts in this post came from this amazing article.
One of thee worst phrases in all of Mormondom is “You chose this trial.” I have heard this phrase many, many times from well-meaning but ignorant people–especially when we found out we couldn’t have kids. Somehow assigning some nobility to my suffering made them feel better. Well, that stupid phrase never made me feel better. Someone has watched Saturday’s Warrior one too many times if they believe we chose everything before we came to mortality. I don’t even care if it is (I doubt it) true because that doesn’t help me get through today’s troubles. It’s akin to rubbing my face in a bowl full of pain.
The second worst phrase in all of Mormondom, the one that makes me bristle because it is so common, is: “I am grateful for my trials.” Now I believe you can be grateful for the lessons you learn from trials; I believe you can be grateful to feel God’s love for you so acutely in your moment of suffering that you can never again doubt His, or your divinity. And maybe when the trials are just a part of everyday life you can be grateful for the actual trial, but I do not believe for one minute I need to be grateful for the sin that, unbeknownst to me, has been a part of my 20-yr marriage.
I will never, ever be grateful to know that my husband is capable of lying to me.
I will never be grateful to know that my husband has seen and lusted after thousands of naked women.
Sin is never a good idea and we don’t have to go looking for it, nor love it to prove that the Atonement works. As Elder Holland has said, “We don’t have to look for sorrow. We don’t have to seek to be martyrs. Trouble has a way of finding us even without our looking for it.” Bingo Elder H.
To be grateful for this filthy trial that my husband chose (God did not send this to me) would be to be a martyr, happily suffering because of his misuse of agency. We just read this scripture from 2 Nephi 2:27 with my children the other night “…..men are that they might have joy.” We are supposed to have joy in this life–we are not here to embrace suffering as martyrs because of someone else’s sins. The Gospel makes me happy, sin does not.
Martyrdom is overrated.
Last week I went into one of those dark places I described before. I can’t remember why, but I asked my husband if he liked going to that stupid famous website that features swimsuit models once a year. He said he did. I don’t know why but this threw me into that dark place. Early on, when this whole filthy Mc-Nasty story was unfolding, M made sure he told me that it wasn’t about beautiful women, it was about sex. He specifically avoided any type of porn where the women looked all fakey and perfect. He was interested in real women. This made sense to me only because he has never once told me how I should look or could look. I’ve always felt secure in my looks not because I am gorgeous but because I know it really doesn’t matter and because he has always told me I am beautiful. Always.
But this new revelation about him visiting that stupid swimsuit webpage told me something else. He does desire perfection. He does desire beautiful women. I am not beautiful compared to those women. Sure, I am 5’10” but that’s where our similarities end. Completely end. I felt heart broken all over again. I felt like in addition to knowing my husband likes to watch naughty videos, now I need to mourn the fact that he lusts after amazingly beautiful women.
So the next day I went to that filthy website. I have never once opened any pornographic website my husband has viewed (the web titles tell enough!), but since I knew this wasn’t full nudity porn, I went to it just to see what it was he liked. Wow. And did you know Heidi Klum was a swimsuit model? I sure didn’t. I gave up watching Project Runway this last season because I didn’t think M could handle seeing all those half-naked (half starved) models, but now I know I will never watch that show again (at least with M in the room) because he has seen Miss Heidi pretty much naked in very provocative ways. I hate all the layers to my trauma. Sometimes it seems as if there will be no end to the traumatic things I will have to learn and then cope with. The swimsuit thing is just more evidence of that.
P.S. Ironically, in the olden days when I first caught M with porn 17 years ago I asked him if he looked at porn as a teenager. He said no (more lies), just the swimsuit edition of that magazine that has nothing to do with sports. And, since I had never seen that magazine, I had no idea just how bad that piece of garbage magazine really is. Then again, he admitted to seeing it in the 1980s so who knows how bad it was then. I should google those images and see for myself. Nah.
I shared a previous post, getting what you deserve part 1, with my husband the day I wrote it and it did not go well. He said I was lashing out at him and being mean just to be mean. He was angry that I thought he should have to go live with a trashy woman. Funny, I don’t remember saying anything about trashy, all I did was describe some of his addictive attributes. Anyway, I felt stabbed through the heart. I wasn’t lashing out–I was opening up about my own problems and how I’m trying to give them away to God. I cried like I haven’t cried in front of him ever. I usually save those wracking sobs that bring on dry heaves when he’s at work, but not that night. I screamed “Damn you” and cried until I thought I would throw up so I had to run to the bathroom. He felt horrible, tried to apologize, but I couldn’t even look at him. I went and slept on the couch that night in the office. That velvet couch that I love is so soft but boy is it hot to sleep on!
It was a horrible night’s rest. In the middle of the night, wide awake, I bought a book on the Nook called The God who Weeps. So far it is pretty fantastic. Another wife of a porn addict recommended it on her blog. I was drawn to the title because somehow that comforts me to know to that God weeps with me right now. Anyway, the next day I woke up to a note he had written over night. He talked about how wrong he was and he quoted lots from the book He Restoreth my Soul from the section about the trauma inflicted on wives. He acknowledged that he was the cause of my pain and that he stomped on my feelings when I tried to share them. I just couldn’t say “I forgive you”. Now I have one more thing I need to forgive him for and just can’t.
I feel cold and numb towards him. This is kind of what I wanted to feel from the beginning–detached so that I could kick him out. And finally I feel those feelings only it’s too late to kick him out. He is on the road to recovery. He is trying so hard every day. He reads and studies his scriptures, has gone to the temple, once with me and once alone, prays daily–really truly heart-felt prayers, and attends his recovery meetings. So today I am praying for all the usual–asking God to take away this pain, after all, Christ already suffered for it so why am I still carrying it? But how do you give away something invisible? And in addition to all that now I am just praying to even like my husband. I’m afraid at how cold I feel towards him sometimes.
I keep doing this. I keep bringing up memories and asking him if he was using at the time–ordaining our son to be a priest (no), business trips (mostly yes), etc. Why I need to know I don’t know. It only hurts to ask. Everything hurts these days. Every damn thing.