It was a Monday. A standard Monday.
Little did I know that there wasn’t anything standard about this Monday.
I had just had a fantastic weekend with my husband and one of our friends visiting from our old hometown, Charlotte, NC. Wineries, dinners, laughs and some amazing company.
I had told my friend how amazing the move to Cincinnati was for my husband and me. We have date nights all the time, our communication is better than ever, and we love our new city. Everything was great.
In my opinion, AJ and I had a model marriage. We loved each other deeply and liked each other even more. We enjoyed each others company so much so, AJ would call throughout the day just to say “hi and I love you”. My friends saw it. They all commented on how great we were together. How much we loved each other.
I wasn’t the only one he fooled.
“No marriage is perfect”. AJ and I struggled with two issues – lack of intimacy and we weren’t on the same page with our financial decisions (to put it nicely).
Way back when AJ proposed, I sat him down to have a serious discussion about what we each needed in a marriage. I know myself, my needs, my wants. I needed my husband to know those things. Sex was a big part of it. I wanted a very healthy sexual relationship in my marriage. I wanted to feel desired, admired… I wanted to feel like my husband needed me. Unfortunately, that isn’t what we had. Our sex life struggled. I tried. All the time. In the beginning, he used excuses like his work schedule. When we moved, we stayed with a friend and he didn’t want her to hear us. When we got into our home, he was tired. I expressed how much it hurt me… I felt undesired, ugly and rejected. I didn’t feel skinny enough, or pretty enough. It began to really pull at my self-confidence. I fought it off and continued to keep an open dialogue about sex. He would become so angry and defensive. He said because we talked about it so much, he didn’t want to do it… another excuse. I remained hopeful and tried to silence the pain and self-doubt building inside me.
We can fix this…
Financially, AJ had always struggled and made poor choices. I knew that from day one. But he stopped paying for the truck in my name for three months, until I opened up a statement and saw the late charges. I paid it in full. He also stopped paying our mortgage and told me it was paid… until I got a call from our Lender. I paid it in full. On our wedding day he bought himself RayBan sunglasses, instead of a “day-of” gift for me. I’d open credit card statements each month and see hundreds of dollars charged without my knowledge. Hundreds… on things I did not see, but that I would always pay for. When we moved to Cincinnati, he did not have to work. We had decided together that he would start his own photography company. His reckless spending continued, with less money to support his habits. I kept thinking we could fix this…
Two big problems, but AJ and I could always handle this. Our marriage was great… or so I thought.
No marriage is perfect… Right?
That regular Monday night I was helping AJ with his resume. He had given up on photography about five months after our move and worked for a small construction company. Since he didn’t have any benefits with his current company, he wanted to find a new job.
That’s how I found them. How I stumbled upon them. Nudes. Nudes of another woman. Not porn. Not random women… one woman. One girl. She looked young.
He kept the photos in his sent mail folder.
That is the beginning of the end of my marriage. My wonderful marriage. My incredible love story.
I didn’t know how to react. Finding those images made me question everything I thought was true. My husband wouldn’t have nudes. My husband wouldn’t seek out other women, because I’m here… asking for physical attention. Unless… something is wrong with me. Right?
That self-doubt and pain I had been suppressing came out of its hiding place and smacked me in the face. I literally felt my heart break. I felt like someone punched my chest with brass knuckles. I felt lost and completely alone.
I listened to my ex-husband’s story about the photos.
I suggested he set up counseling and I went to bed in my room and sent him to the guest room.
I laid in my bed all night wondering how I missed the signs. Wondering if I ever would have found them if he didn’t press the wrong button on the keyboard tonight. Wondering why. Wondering what was wrong with me. Wondering how I can save my marriage. Save my love story. Save my heart.
I was determined to save my marriage.