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Looking for understanding

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Posted

Hi.

I'm gutted to have found myself in this position but this is where I'm at. I discovered last week that my husband has been using porn for the last 15 years.  I can't even begin to get my head round it. I feel like he's been cheating on me even when there's no real 'other' woman. 

We have what I thought was a decent or at least reasonable sex life. So I can't understand why he's been attached to this behaviour all this time. Why did he not just have sex with me?! 

When I think about the lies he has told over the years including a situation where I believed him over others and ended friendships with a number of people, I can't get my head round why he has deceived me so much.  

We have a tough life one way or another. Just a couple of weeks ago I was distressed about my sons health and struggled to sleep all week/cried myself to sleep. Meanwhile my husband was downstairs mastubating to a perfect 10 on the Internet.  

How have I not known for 15 years that this has been a problem? To the best of my knowledge he had a normal upbringing and didn't suffer any abuse. Why then is he so obsessed with watching people have sex and mastubating at every given opportunity? 

Am I too controlling? Am I boring in bed?  Tell you what, I know I'm no porn star.

I've been looking through pictures from over the years and feel like all our life has been a lie.  Smiling and looking happy but clearly one of us wasn't. One of us was waiting for the next opportunity to be alone. 

I can't even look him in the eye at the moment. He always likes to give the impression that he's some kind of a gentleman. I spoke to his brother looking for support for my husband and he dismissed me saying all men do it. 

Do all men do it with such regularity? Do all men put porn ahead of their family? Do all men leave their wives upstairs to go and masturbate elsewhere whilst watching God knows what?! 

What else has he lied about? He literally told me the briefest of details. Has he been meeting other women for sex? He tells me his colleagues at work sit and watch porn between work duties. What kind of world is this?? I go to work and do work. I can't imagine going to work and during quiet moments making sure I have quiet time! 

Who is this man that I married? How is it that the man with whom I thought i had loving sex, can be so turned on by sex that is so degrading to women. Women incidentally who aren't fat or saggy or marked with stretch marks. How can I let him see me naked again? Surely I can only ever be a disappointment to him. 

How could he break my heart like this. I've swapped at times to wanting to view this like an illness and wish that I could help him. But I can't maintain anything I feel. I just feel ashamed and embarrassed and worthless.  

I've read posts that say just leave as it'll only get worse and I don't think I've got the strength to cope with worse than this! I'm so tired of the same thoughts going round my head. I wish he had just cared and respected me enough not to do this.  I know I sound harsh and am making it all about me. I'm just so overwhelmed. I chose this man. 

 

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Posted

You are experiencing devastation Anon123.  It is a devastating experience and your reactions, dismay, self-doubt, anger, confusion, to name just some, are normal.  Whilst I have been on the other end, I do feel for you.  

There is so much I could say but a few thoughts.

1. You aren't alone.  There are many who are on this harrowing road.  Do reach out to others in the same boat.

2. There is help for you.  I would commend Paula's book for partners.  Sex Addiction: The Partner's Perspective.  Her other book on Understand and Treating Sex Addiction is also extremely good.  One of the things you will learn is that this isn't primarily about sex and it isn't because of anything you have done or not done.  

3. There is hope.  Two years on, I have been clean from porn, masturbation and visiting sex workers.  It was awful beyond words telling my wife, but we have got through it - with a lot of help from others.  

4. If there is one piece of advice I might give you?  Don't go soft on him, don't make excuses for his behaviour - there aren't any.  Help him to face up to his problem - don't collude with it.  Sadly but inevitably, addicts (especially sex addicts) find it so very difficult to be honest.

5. Oops, perhaps one other piece of advice - tell someone who you know will support you, walk with you on this dreadful road.

All the best.

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Posted

Thank you PJ. 

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. I did tell a friend of mine over the weekend but I'm so embarrassed about it. 

I can't see to fall soft even if I wanted to. I feel like I'm tormenting him at the moment.

I'll get the books. Thank you xx

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Posted

Hi Anon123

You are not alone. I found that husband has been using porn for the majority of our marriage (we've been married 21 years). His behaviour escalated resulting in a big crash, confession to one thing and then a series of confessions that I begged out of him. 

The impact upon my life (It's been almost 2 months) has been immense. I fully empathise with you. I thought my husband was a rule-keeper - I never expected the devastating  extent of his hidden life. 

We are attending counselling (a counsellor linked to this website) and it has been really helpful. I am grateful that my husband appears to see the extreme damage his addiction has caused. I have told close and mutual friends and two men have become his accountability partners. We cannot get through this alone. I also know that this will not be a quick process. This is emotional trauma. 

I go from tearful, to reasonable, to incredible rage, shame, embarrassment, hope, rational understanding and repeat - an emotional rollercoaster. Initially I had medication to help me sleep and have a very understanding doctor.

There is help out there and I can see that this website runs some group courses. I think I would like to do that because this journey feels so lonely. Even though you can share with friends, if they have not been through it, it can still feel like you are alone. 

My husband travels away regularly and I feel so vulnerable. 

My heart goes out to you. 

K65

 

 

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Posted

Hi Anon123

My husband was also addicted to internet porn for 16 years and before that he was buying porn mags and videos, and going to strip bars, so his habit goes back maybe 20 years but the internet turned his habit into a compulsion that took over. Sex dwindled as soon as he could see porn online at home and eventually we had a 100% sexless marriage. He disclosed nothing after d-day except the porn he bought in the 1990s and admitted to going to another strip venue, also on the 1990s. Everything else I had to find out for myself. Unlike you, I knew he was using porn as soon as we had the internet at home but although I found out and had a few confrontations with him about it, he just carried on. 

Even so, I can't believe I stood for it. Eventually I ended up with depression and body dysmorphia, no self esteem, I had become sexually 'shut down'. I reached breaking point one day in 2015, like a depressive breakdown. At that point we hadn't had sex in about 7 years. Our sex life ended in failure, and I couldn't bear the thought of begging for sex with a man who couldn't get erect for me but he obviously  could for porn. I believed that he had no desire for me whatsoever and that belief was very damaging. 

After our d day in 2015, I didn't know what to believe. Is he capable of honesty? Because he seemed to lie at every opportunity. There was a side to him I had no idea existed. The porn was one thing, but going to strip bars was something I wouldn't have known about had it not come out by accident (because he didn't know what he'd told me or not). He honestly intended that I should never know. And of course, with all the lying he did, and the deception and 'lies of omission', what else don't I know? He says I know 'everything' but then he said that before I discovered more about his behaviours. And I'm afraid that this is as good as it gets. I have had to learn to live with the possibility that there are aspects of his behaviour I might not ever know about. It's not a good situation but if I choose stay it's something I have to live with. 

I don't believe my relationship is fully recovered from this. He may have quit porn but the relationship has its problems, mostly to do with communication. Sexual recovery has been erratic too  

 I am still traumatised by seeing what my husband watched. His tastes were relatively tame, but then again, porn is a lot more ugly and explicit than it used to be. I can't understand the appeal of watching people being paid to perform sex for the camera. Against my better judgement, I did return to the scene of the crime to make sense of what the big deal was, what was so great about porn? I don't see anything to do with female sexual pleasure. It's impossible for any woman to perform those acts and actually feel  anything remotely pleasurable. It's all about maximising as much explicit detail as possible for the camera. And for what? For some guy masturbating into a tissue? It's ridiculous. 

I refuse to feel bad about myself or feel bad about my body because of this porn shit. The problem is my husband's. He brought this garbage into our relationship. I never asked for it. I never wanted it. The horrible realisation was that HE was the problem. HIS behaviour created these issues.  I'm not saying that there aren't other relationship issues. Of course there are.  And those issues are preserving very difficult to fix – communication, honesty, trust, objectification of women, etc.  Some problems are my responsibility. 

 You can only give it time. You need to see whether or not your husband will quit, stay quit, and whether you can put the relationship back together again. It's not easy. I started out with high hopes, I believed in the "better than ever" outcome, but this hasn't quite happened.  He still wants to hide behind his evasiveness even for things that don't really matter.  He blames me, he says I make things difficult for him if he is honest!  But that's part of the deal. Being honest it's difficult. Listening to what you don't want to hear can be upsetting too. But I don't see any other way otherwise we can't move beyond where we are always getting stuck

Good luck. I know it's not easy. X

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Posted

I really appreciate all of the responses that have come through. In a way it's good to know I'm not alone in the battle with this. 

We've just been away on our planned family holiday. We had ups and downs. 3 says were awful but the majority was ok. If I allow myself to think about it, my mood becomes awful and I am filled with anger and rage and then sadness. If I try to ignore it i get on ok until something reminds me of it. I'm not sure how healthy it is to surpress things this way or if the marriage will last. Time will tell. 

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Posted

Hi Anon123

I can identify with so much of what you are saying.  I was aware of my husband's porn use over our 30 year marriage.  In the first place it was just 'top shelf' magazines, and the occasional video.  I was not happy about it, but accepted the received wisdom that 'all men do it', and apart from that I would have said that our marriage was relatively stable and (for me at least) sexually fulfilling. Two years ago I discovered that his porn use had escalated dramatically, and was shocked by the extreme nature of some of the things he was watching.  I confronted him, he was distraught and embarrassed and promised to quit.  Nine months on, and I found that he had quit for all of two months, and was viewing just as much as before.  The second time was much more devastating, as he was now aware of how I disturbed and upset I was by his porn use, but he went back to it anyway, after all his promises.  It felt as though I had been stabbed through the heart.

He is now in a better place, and has received some help to understand and deal with his addiction (he now understands that is what it is - previously, he said, he thought he was just 'made that way').  He made what I believe was a full disclosure to me, which was hard for both of us, but was very necessary.  We are both trying to be more open and honest and more supportive of each other's emotional needs.  I think that it was only the second time that he really understood both the harm he was doing to me, and the harm he was doing to himself.  Bizarrely, I think we are now in some ways closer than we had been for a long time.

However, like you, I look back at the photos and videos of our life together, and wonder if I was just deceiving myself about this man all along.  The bad patches in our marriage now loom much larger in my memory than the good times, and I am frequently sideswiped by some reference or incident which brings back to me the avalanche of grief and anger that I felt when I discovered his porn use for the second time.

Will I stay with him?  I am not sure. Do I trust him?  Not yet.  Do I still love him?  Sometimes.  I take each day as it comes, make time for myself, and make sure that if I am worried or concerned, I confront him with it immediately.  

I wish you all the very best as you move forwards, and want you to know that what you are feeling is shared by so many other women.  We are strong and we can come through this!

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Posted

What is the help? The furthest we have got is ordering some self help books. Is there something else that you would recommend? 

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We found some counsellors on the internet, and he rang several until he found one with experience in helping people with addiction to porn.  He had several sessions initially, which helped him understand why he behaved as he did, and I think knowing he can go back if he needs to has also been helpful.  He also found the self-help programme (the kick start recovery kit) you can get from this site very useful, and he keeps that to hand to go back through if things ever get tough.  

I've though about counselling for myself, too, but at the moment I don't think I'm ready for that.  

 

Hope you can find something to help you both.

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