I think the most difficult thing for me is that there will never be any tangible proof that anything has changed.
I know what you mean.
But there has been a lot of real change in my partner. Since he has started recovery, he takes better care of himself physically, he laughs more, he spends more time with healthy hobbies and friends, he manages his money better, he participates in church... he'll tell you that I've always been his best friend. But today, we are still best friends, and the friendships he has with others now are way closer than our "best friendship" was back then.
These behaviors don't PROVE fidelity anymore than having a stable life keeps someone from acting out. But they show me something about him and his mindset. He's ready and willing to make choices based on the life he wants, not on the negative messages he got from the abuse. In the end that's the only thing that will be enough to "stop" anyone from acting out-- having the knowledge and the desire to make better decisions.
You are right-- the husband, the relationship, that you thought you had, was a fiction and you can't get it back-- but if you are both willing to do some work, the husband you end up with may blow that fiction out of the water.
I am glad you two are here.