The Desperate Way I Tried To Save My Marriage

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Black and white photo of a young woman

“…To be honest, the cheating, lying creep doesn’t deserve good undies.”

The message read in part to a men’s underwear company a month after my husband left the house. Almost three years later, I stand by this message.

My response to the betrayal, this time — every time — was to find an outside source to validate my worth.

Between the time my husband told me he was pursuing another woman and when he would finally leave our home, I manically tried to find every way to keep him from walking out — including making absurd purchases for things I’d been told would make his life tolerable.

Just a couple of weeks after his announcement, I ordered a pair of insanely expensive underwear for him. They were not just a pair of overly-priced boxers; they were evidence that I pay attention, that I care about his needs and the needs of his nether regions. My love and devotion manifested as a pair of size-large, bright orange, athletic boxer briefs.

Within a week of his revelation of reignited love, he moved out of our bedroom to the basement guest room. He left with his work clothes, c-pap sleeping machine, and the special pillow that formed to his mask-covered face.

I missed the rhythmic puffs of the breathing machine, but I did not miss the nightly mask-donning ritual: A reminder that I’d kept settling for a sick man.



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Although we had an entire floor separating us it wasn’t enough to keep me from trying to force myself back into his brain, to make him miss me through my acts and absence.

I’d clean the guest bathroom — his new bathroom — every day, top to bottom. I’d make the bed where he slept alone — but communicated with the new woman in his life and tried to meet even more on multiple dating apps. I left his freshly laundered, precisely folded clothes on the dresser.

Some nights the despair laced with fear drove me to walk the two flights of stairs down to him for what would be an inevitable round of self-flagellation. With each step, I abandoned my dignity and went toward dissolution.

I’d show up at the bedroom door with massage oil while wearing baggy pajamas that covered the lingerie clinging to my insecure, dishonored body. He easily refused me, but he never once refused a body rub.

Once I got the nod of approval to enter, he’d take off his expensive boxer briefs and roll onto his stomach, revealing his hair-covered back.

I was blinded by my delusions of winning him back with my magic hands, so I would ignore how much I hated the feeling of my fingers kneading into the oily, coarse, hair-covered skin.

How I hated to have to carefully avoid his love handles because it made him feel insecure, and I would be the one to blame for his excess stomach fat. And how I hated myself for this willing act of humiliation, pleasing him while remaining silent — the price for his company.

During the last month with him still living in the house, I behaved like a crying toddler — a death grip around my husband's ankle as he tried to leave the house. I was frantic and unbecoming.

By the time the expensive underwear arrived, he’d found a new place to live.

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I gave him the underwear with a note of contrition. He gave them back because he didn’t really like the way the flap mingled with his anatomy.

When he finally moved out with his Eddie Bauer work shirts and expensive road bike, the dismissed undergarment was left behind.

I found myself essentially alone in a cavernous house filled with Marine Corps memorabilia. It hung on the walls, took up space on flat surfaces, and filled our cabinets in the form of logo-etched pint glasses emblazoned with all the years of being a steadfast, loyal military family. A humblebrag to any of our dinner guests.

But that night, the loudest thing in my home was the pair of underwear.

My cocktail-hour companion became a customer service form. It was well past happy hour. I was on my second or third glass of vodka which had become my new fuel source.

I hit the start arrow on my women’s empowerment playlist. Lizzo reminded me I’m a baddie and the alcohol and lyrics moved me into a state of self-righteous bravado.



I settled in, sipped my dinner, and sat with the obnoxious boxers. They did feel nice — a soft, high-quality material that must have felt soothing next to his delicate foreskin.

I turned to my new friend, the underwear company customer service page. I wanted to be heard and validated without opinions on how I could turn this misery into a great learning experience. I did not need any more suggestion-giving friends.

I sat with my phone and wondered how to tell the customer service agent my plight within the limiting number of letters allowed in the text box.

I opened with a short, yet revealing, introduction: “My husband is leaving me for another woman.”

I then went on to explain why I was requesting a refund on the underwear:

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I closed with a polite, firm request: “Please let me send these back and get a full refund.”

And, because I was plastered, I then went all-in with a word-trust-fall:

“PS: Here’s my husband’s name. He can be found on Facebook — comment on his page please — he is a lying, cheating man who left his family heartbroken.”

With the confidence only a drunk, scorned woman can have, I hit "submit" without even considering spell-checking.

I didn’t expect a response, because I didn’t really remember sending the message. So when I got a reply several days later, I was confused.

“I wish you lots of healing and hope you can forgive him. Not for him, but for you and your kiddos so you can have happiness again. I went ahead and refunded the entire order plus the shipping because I think it’s appropriate in this case.”

There’s a reason and season for every relationship. My no-judgment friendship with the underwear customer service rep lasted 7–10 business days.

It was exactly the act of friendship I needed: kindness wrapped in a credit card refund.

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The author has been a military spouse for over 20 years. She is sharing her story of becoming an active-duty Marine Corps wife, fully embracing the military lifestyle, and now her journey of unbecoming everything she’s been for the past two decades.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.