Those two years of our lives were good and bad at the same time. I was truly living a double life. My evil, hidden self was very, very evil. I believed my good, clean exterior was, on the other hand, fully and happily engaged in parenting and spending time with TL. I enjoyed our walks together along the coast, our dinners on the seaside, and playing at our club or a nearby resort with TL and our child.
I was still obsessively devoted to my to-do list, a personality flaw that challenges me to this day. And, TL did talk to me about her sense of loneliness. I remember not knowing how to respond, telling her she needed to find friends.
Over a year into that insanity with the prostitutes, I got herpes. I hid that fact from TL for seven years. She only learned that truth a week after D-day. Through careful timing (avoiding her during outbreaks), using condoms as our main source of birth control, dumb luck, and a problematic sex-life of my own making, TL did not get the disease in those seven years. About 18 months after D-day, TL did test positive.
Prior to D-day, I had created several problems in our sex life. First, I wanted sex for its own sake, to get the orgasm, put the proverbial notch in my belt, and be done with it. I was skipping the part about emotional intimacy and enjoying each other in a variety of ways that might naturally lead to foreplay and possibly sex. I know this made it seem rather mechanical to TL. We might as well have been talking about brushing teeth or doing laundry. I was doing it for the sake of getting it done. I wasn’t enjoying the full experience, and neither was TL.
Second, if she was ever not in the mood, I took it personally. I interpreted that as her being unimpressed by me or uninterested in me physically. I told myself that might mean I was not attractive or not good at sex. I told myself I wasn’t worth much and that I was a failure in those areas. I think this fed into my double life narrative. I went around looking for other women who might possibly say or do something to make me feel attractive, sexually adept, or worth something. Taking it personally also led me to pout and act depressed.
Third, I conditioned myself to associate asking TL for sex with feeling bad about myself. I told myself that if I asked her for sex she’d likely decline and that would make me feel bad about myself. If she were ever naked in front of me, I would become aroused. I did not want to become aroused by her and then want sex with her. So, I would tell her to put on clothes and look away. Therefore, my sick logic continued, I should avoid looking at her and/or initiating sex.
Fourth, there were occasions when TL tried to initiate sex while I was having a herpes outbreak. I declined during those times, not wanting her to catch onto my infidelity that led to the disease. I had always told her that I would never be too tired for sex and was now using the excuse that I was too tired. She says the combination of me not wanting to see her naked, turning away from her and turning her down for sex led her to believe she was no longer attractive to me. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Fifth, there were times, particularly in the early part of our marriage, when I became insecure and intimidated when TL expressed interest or actively engaged with me in sex. During those sick moments, I told myself her interest and engagement could not possibly be sparked by me because I was unattractive or unskilled. So, I said to myself, maybe she’s really just inspired by memories of previous, more attractive, more skilled sex partners. So, I got angry, jealous, and depressed. This behavior on my part was undoubtedly scary and frustrating for TL.
After D-day, after freeing myself from my sick obsessions, I was able to be more free, affectionate and emotionally intimate with TL throughout our day. I was also able to initiate sex with TL more frequently and with less ego-based fear. Gradually, our intimate life has improved. All this goodness in our relationship was accompanied by something awful: she got herpes from me. I have left her with permanent physical reminders of my selfishness. Much as I try, I may never be able to make amends for those sins.
TL and our toddler made the next move a couple weeks ahead of me, for purely logistical reasons. Previously, I had engaged in seeking prostitutes when traveling away from TL. During those weeks I sought local prostitutes on three occasions.
I was glad when I finally returned to TL and joined her in preparing for our next move. I was hopeful that I could leave my evil ways behind.
During our next move, TL and I learned scuba together. I never would have taken the initiative to do that without TL. We learned together. I learned it because of her, but came to enjoy it for me too. We had a wonderful time getting together with friends, having brunch on the beach while children played, and spending time together.
Then, a year into it, the country we were in became unsafe. TL and our child had to leave for safety reasons. It soon all went wrong again.