Dear _________, Thank you for posting your prostitution ad on Craigslist. I’m not being sarcastic. Last year, I called you the “c” word when I asked you to stop writing my husband. We blocked your email address so your emails would stop.
I stalked your website. You were selling sex. I hated you and your youth. Your disregard for the norms I grew up with made me sick. I was taught that sex was special, and there you were, selling it. Worse, my husband took your bait. You pretended to be a Yale music student. You posed in your underwear and bra. You were “looking” for friends because you were new to town. In answering my husband, you asked if he could pick you up. The day he wrote you, he told me he loved me.
When I first found your spam-filtering message on his Blackberry, he didn’t admit to contacting you. I grew suspicious of him then. But I believed he didn’t have it in him to go outside our marriage. He hated lying and wanted to be accepted by my mother, who didn’t approve of our relationship.
Our second year together was tough. We weren’t blissfully happy like we were supposed to be. We married young and in love, but struggled to love what each other was becoming. I was on mission to prove that getting married young wasn’t defining, so I trained for marathons, studied for a masters, and worked full-time. My husband was caught off-guard by my desire to be away and he was struggling with his own career setbacks. He had time to peruse Craigslist at work and at home. Once he complained about being our maid, but I didn’t suspect a thing.
He had no problem telling you he was 26, married, and wanted to meet up on a day I had class until 10:30 p.m. But he didn’t tell you he was lonely or wanted company. If you guys had met for coffee, maybe he would have told you I changed and I spoke to my mother about him. Maybe you would have heard about our fights and our lives. Maybe he would have mentioned I never helped out with chores and I acted like I didn’t want to be married. Or maybe he would have told you nothing at all. Maybe he just wanted sex. Maybe he just wanted to feel like a man, in charge of his life, in being with you.
I won’t deny it: I sucked as a wife. I cared only about moving forward in my career, my education, and staying. When I asked for help, he called me a “superwoman,” saying I didn’t need him. We were humming to different tunes and I grew less attracted to him over time. But I still considered him my best friend. My mom, whom I had never been close to, became my support system. She urged me to complete all my goals. I did.
A part of me was intent on reclaiming my youth by doing what my single, professional friends had been doing all along. Another part of me wanted to prove my mother wrong by showing her getting married young wasn’t going to bring me down. I would still rise above what I was and make the most of my life. He told me “I didn’t need to do any of it,” and I felt like he was trying to hold me back from becoming a better person.
The day I confronted him with evidence, he wasn’t guilt-ridden. He was mad about what I had become. My mother soothed me to sleep. She thought I should divorce him. It would have been easy to seek an out. But at work the next day, I remembered the choice I made on my wedding day—to be with the man I loved, until death do us part. I wanted him.
After days of dissecting the raw facts, we both gasped for air, crying at how far we strayed. Instead of celebrating our two-year wedding anniversary, we talked about moving forward. He vowed to never bring anybody else into the marriage. I vowed to never speak to my mother again about my marriage or my husband. I would prioritize my life so I could show my husband I loved him daily, while still pursuing my goals. I would also get off my lazy bum and start doing laundry or something.
I chose to trust him, but it took me months to forgive and forget. When your website disappeared from the internet, I was relieved. You and your sex-selling ways were gone. For good.
The months that followed were difficult. But I still wanted to go home to a man who broke into dance in his boxers. I still longed to hear his laugh. And I wanted to sit down with him for dinner. Most of all, I wanted him to look across many rooms and acknowledge me as his with a glance, wink, or kiss. In the end, fighting for him and for us was worth it.
Why am I thanking you? Because if you hadn’t responded, I might have never noticed I wasn’t being a partner. I might have kept talking to my mother about my husband and our fights, thinking, “Thank God my mother understands.” I wouldn’t have understood that my husband and I needed to be a team, battling the world, instead of declaring war against each other. I wouldn’t have learned that marriage doesn’t guarantee a partner for life.
Without you, I wouldn’t have realized that I needed to change. I wouldn’t have learned to include my husband in making decisions. I wouldn’t have learned to appreciate him as a spouse; the smell of him and his comforting presence at home. I wouldn’t treasure every moment we triumphed together. I wouldn’t have fallen back in love with the man I married.
Because of you, I chose to stay married. I bet you never thought you’d save a marriage.