An R-rated Facetime call with my husband’s mistress shouldn’t have been my first indicator of the cracks in our marital foundation. He also didn’t need to coerce me into life-threatening cosmetic procedures to reveal that my looks alone weren’t doing it for him anymore. Despite 16 years of sleeping side by side, I suspect our marriage — or any genuine sense of intimacy and affection — died long ago. In fact, I’m fairly certain that as my role in our family dynamic has grown, our marriage weakened, suffering a slow, painful death.
It’s just a shame I wasn’t brave enough to face the music until a horny, half-clothed woman broadcast the truth right before my eyes on the 6-inch screen that was home to my husband’s many indiscretions.
. . .
1. This statement befuddles you to no end
My husband is a lot of things: wealthy, tan, decisive, a meat-lover, etc. That said, there’s one thing he most certainly is not: my best friend — or even my friend at all, really.
Have you ever heard the statement insisting that a spouse should be your “best friend”? It sounds ludicrous, right? I can’t tell if this mythical phrase was invented as some kind of sick joke to vex the living daylights out of normal married people or if there’s actually a soul who believes it to be true.
When you think of a “best friend”, perhaps you think of these traits:
- A shared sense of humor
- A mutual feeling of respect
- A non-competitive cheerleader
- An attitude of compassion and empathy, rather than judgment
- Someone in whom you can confide your deepest, darkest secrets
When I think of my husband, I think just the opposite. I can’t remember the last time we shared a common laugh that wasn’t at my expense…
Mutual respect sounds like a similarly fictional idea, as it would require him to place a value on my ideas, intellect, and intangible contributions. Since he measures his value in the revenue his company generates and the luxury cars he adds to his collection, I don’t think I’d make the list…
As far as being a cheerleader, perhaps this one is more my fault, as I’ve done nothing “cheerworthy” in his eyes. Though it likely didn’t help that he stripped away my burgeoning career the year we got married in exchange for the relentless role of motherhood. I suppose he couldn’t be bothered to tune into the chaotic event that is raising teenagers — perhaps it isn’t quite as thrilling as the spandex-wearing men running across our projector each football Sunday.
Compassion and empathy seem further incomprehensible, as we play such different roles there’s hardly any middle ground. He runs a business, and I try to keep our preteen sons off TikTok and our teenage daughter off OnlyFans.
Lastly, and most laughably, is the idea that my husband could possibly be my confidant and a vessel for my most vulnerable confessions. Was I his confidant when his weekend “business trips” turned out to be $1k per night honeymoon suites with a mystery companion? Would his upfront honesty in regards to his rampant infidelity have made me his confidant, and thus, made it all okay?
No, we aren’t best friends. Sadly, I don’t think we ever were. The power differential was just too great, and marrying an older man for money at 22 isn’t quite conducive to any kind of “friendship” I’ve known.
2. He could replace you with these three people
When I first met my husband, I had never met anyone like him. He was so confident, bold, and charismatic to a degree that almost granted him a magnetic force that sucked unsuspecting outsiders into his vortex. I presume that’s what makes him so successful in sales and business dealings: He’s almost irresistible — that is, until you get to know him.
I got so utterly suckered into his bright-toothed smile and effortless charm that I felt like the lucky one from the outset. From the moment I met him, I doubted I’d meet anyone better. How could I? He was every girl’s dream guy, plus an 8-figure net worth…I’d be stupid to let him get away.
While I knew my husband was utterly irreplaceable, I have grave suspicions the feeling isn’t mutual. Perhaps that knowledge sparked the insecurity that’s chipped away at my confidence slowly but surely, lowering my romantic (and sexual) market value by the day.
I tried to take on the roles I could to keep him happy: I learned to cook — a skill in which I was severely lacking at the start of our marriage. I cleaned up after him, and soon after the kids, too. I took on every weird, kinky fetish and fantasy he requested, mistakenly believing maybe this would be the glue to keep our romance intact.
Guess what he did?
- He stayed later at work, expensing fancy takeout on his company card.
- He hired our neighbor’s housecleaner — not because I couldn’t do the job, but because he didn’t want to insult his buddy who’d recommended her.
- And finally, he found a real-life hooker to replace me.
I guess I should have seen the writing on the wall the moment I realized the totality of my contributions could be seamlessly replaced by a chef, a maid, and a mistress.
3. The 70/20/10 rule governs your conversations
After 16 years of marriage, you begin to fall into a variety of less-than-exhilarating routines and patterns governing your dynamic. In our case, these patterns extended all the way to our communication style, and a formula emerged: Nearly every conversation took on a three-part structure.
- The first 70% of the conversation revolved around him, his business, or his friends and colleagues — of which he had plenty, spending his weekdays at the office and weekends at the golf club
- The next 20% encompassed logistical requests (please book the caterer for next month’s charity event), scheduling clarifications (what time is our daughter’s confirmation ceremony?), and complaints (the dog smells horrible — are you sure the groomer even bathed him?)
- The final 10% is divvied up between the kids, miscellaneous topics or news, and anything I might have to add — which of course can’t be much, as I’m just here to serve, after all…
I won’t go so far as to say I expect a 50/50 split between me and him, but the measly 3% or so I’m left with seems to represent my role in this relationship. I’m worth no more than 3% of his time or attention. I offer up no more than 3% of added value, entertainment, or information.
There’s good news for those of you who fear succumbing to a similarly devastating fate known as being devalued in your very own relationship and household: You don’t have to wait until you’re whittled down to a meager 3%. Once you find yourself subjugated to a minority of the conversation on a regular basis — or once you find your contributions are stifled and your voice muffled or ignored — it’s your turn to speak up.
I didn’t have to wait until I was reduced from 50 to 30, then 20, 10, and now sub-3% of my husband’s attention before waving my flag and calling for help. But I did, and this is what tacit obedience gets you: A meager 3% of the stage that should have been equally shared…
4. Artificially-induced dopamine masks your quality time
The night I met my husband, we both had glossy stars in our eyes — mostly thanks to the alcohol coursing through our veins. I’ll admit it: We were both hammered. Still, I didn’t know that night of substance-fueled impairment would foreshadow the next 16 years…
Living in California, substances seem to make a regular appearance at nearly every event or occasion. Living among California’s business-owning elite and our neighbors in the uppermost echelon of society, the substances of choice become stronger, stranger, and all-around ubiquitous. In other words, a fully sober gathering is a rarity I can barely fathom — it simply doesn’t exist.
While I could overlook my husband’s benign substance engagement in social settings for acceptance as “one of the guys”, I’m beginning to think it’s his method of tolerating or shutting me out altogether. In fact, I can’t recall a single example of “quality time” spent enjoying each other’s company, without a booze blanket and weed high easing the friction between us.
Does time together count if you’re both mentally buzzed and emotionally vacant?
If emotion-masking substances are the most pervasive element in your relationship, perhaps real substance is what’s lacking. Filling that void with artificial dopamine-enhancers may be akin to putting a Band-Aid on a gash in need of immediate stitching…You may feel better now, but you’re just delaying the inevitable fallout when the surgeon rips off that Band-Aid to reveal the festering wound.
5. This paralyzing fear props up your united front
When you enter into marriage, there are some acceptable fears that may flutter around in your newlywed brain:
- What if he dies and leaves me widowed?
- What if we suffer a devastating familial heartbreak, like infertility, a miscarriage, or a life-threatening illness?
- What if he breaks our marriage vows, leaving me heartbroken and alone?
Being so giddy to have won the sugar daddy jackpot, those fears didn’t visit my mind when I entered our union. However, a very different fear has kept us together, exuding the image of familial perfection all these years, despite a reality that might infer otherwise.
That fear has nothing to do with death, heartbreak, or feelings at all. Instead, it all boils down to appearances: My husband has warned me (as has his publicist) of just how important our strong, united front is to his professional reputation.
That’s right, he looks at our marriage like an accessory to his business, and revealing a chink in the armor could compromise that spotless reputation.
To be honest, my number one relationship fear is similarly selfish: I worry that if — or when — I leave him, I’ll be known as the scorned ex wife who fell from grace. What’s worse — and the thing I fear even more — is that I’ll prove them right and fail to amount to anything on my own.
We’re both more worried about the appearance of a split than the split itself. If that doesn’t reveal problematic priorities, I’m not sure what does.
The prospect of losing one another should trigger a pang of preparatory devastation; instead, it becomes a matter of reputation management. This all prompts one lingering question: Are we a real couple, or merely a publicity stunt? Sometimes, I just don’t know anymore.
. . .
Self-awareness is the precursor to change
Toxic marriages and loveless entanglements don’t always parade around their problems out loud. I spent the past 16 years with my head in the sand, until I was confronted with a pair of lingerie-clad boobs in my face, shaking me out of my trance. Complacency and oblivion allowed me to silently assume the role of the “good wife” and mother, while my relationship withered away into nothingness, simply existing like an old trophy collecting dust on a shelf.
The manifestation of the above five signs doesn’t necessarily constitute the brutal end to your marriage. I suppose neither does the cheating scandal I witnessed — if you don’t mind your spouse engaging virtually with hookers-for-hire…No matter the bump in your relationship — whether seemingly insignificant or undoubtedly monumental — being honest with yourself is the first step to course-correcting your marital ship. If you wait until your replacement is one naked Facetime call away, you’ll have waited too long.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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Photo credit: Trophy Wife