My perception of time has been off since I discovered AJ’s secrets. Initially, everything moved so slowly, painfully slow. Now, time is flying past me and it’s hard to catch my breath. It’s difficult to comprehend everything that has transpired in such a short time.

Just about a year ago, I was planning a birthday party for AJ. I always went above and beyond to put together something special for him. I love giving gifts and/or experiences to people I love. AJ was my favorite person to gift.

Each year I’d try to top the previous year’s gift, making sure he had no idea what was to come.

Last year, while in the midst of planning, we had been fighting a lot about one of our big issues, intimacy. I desperately wanted a healthy sex-life in my marriage. AJ didn’t see the need for that as a priority. Our fights went a lot like this….

1. I’d attempt to initiate intimacy

2. I’d get rejected

3. I’d feel ugly/unattractive/large/undesired

4. I’d share how I felt

5. Anger and blame was thrown around in a fight that escalated further than it needed to

Once the fight was over and we cooled off, we had talks on how to resolve our intimacy issues. We would plan on how to have more sex. But our plans never worked and we’d end up having the same conversation within a week.

Regardless of the toll fighting took on our marriage, the issue took an extreme toll on my self-love and appreciation.

He could have had any excuse… it didn’t matter. What was left after constant rejection was my inability to feel beautiful. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, thin enough…. I wasn’t enough to entice my husband to have sex with me. I wasn’t enough to inspire my husband to honor his vows.

A day or two went by, the birthday planning came to a slight halt and I felt like AJ and I had a real breakthrough. He came to me and said that he wanted to fix our intimacy issues and he suggested a couples conference at our church. The conference was the same weekend his birthday was planned for. He told me he wanted to put us first. I felt so lucky to have him. This was one of the many reasons I married him.

We’d always put each other first.

The conference was amazing. I walked away feeling like I had things to improve to be a better wife to AJ, and when I asked him what he gained, he was silent. Maybe he just needed more time to consider the wealth of information we received…

After the conference, there wasn’t much improvement in our intimacy. It continued to crush me.

When you get married, you agree to be everything your partner needs. Part of what I needed from AJ was physical attention. Our cycle of fighting about sex wasn’t helping. I attempted to communicate how devastating lack of intimacy was for my self-esteem. I attempted to figure out how best to share with him the urgency I thought this matter required.

On June 4, nearly four months after that couples conference and continued lack of intimacy, I had to try something else to motivate my husband. I reminded him of what vows meant and how we had to meet each other’s needs on all levels. I told him if he was unable to meet my needs to intimacy, I’d eventually make a mistake.

I told my husband I’d break my vows. Eventually.

Could he understand the urgency in that?

My heart was in pieces just saying that. Speaking it aloud to my husband was terrifying. It wasn’t a threat, it was the reality. I would never want to step outside my marriage for anything, but I felt myself needing positive attention. Why was this issue so hard to fix?

Needless to say, AJ became enraged when I told him there would be a potential to cheat if we couldn’t fix it.

It’s the reality. I needed a need met, and he couldn’t provide it. One day, in the far off, very distant future, I would have messed up if the opportunity presented itself.

The very next day was Day One. The day I learned that my husband had never been faithful. Not before, and not after our wedding day. Literally never. His promises and his vows were null and void. His game was over.

On the last day of the couple conference last year, we wrote letters to one another. I received his letter a while back after we were already separated.

The letter was generic. You could have copied his words onto a hallmark card and given it to your cousin after her first dance recital. He said just enough to keep me satisfied. He did just enough to keep me appeased. Had I not discovered anything, this letter probably would have given me a smile, and I would have excused its lack of emotion. He was just put on the spot. He didn’t have enough time to write how much he loves me. He isn’t the most romantic.

This time last year was such a hopeful time for me. This time this year is hopeful too, because at the very minimum, I’m no longer perusing approval and validation from someone who will never provide it. I don’t excuse bad behavior and actions that hurt me. I love myself fully.

I now have promises I am making to myself.

I vow to always feel like a beautiful, strong, woman regardless of anyone else. Because that’s exactly what I am.

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