I found out that my husband has a big porn problem…it is physically affecting him in our sexual intimacy. He has secret emails, is on at least 2 date sights and has a secret credit card all of which he denies. Also has been deep into talking to local girls online…not sure if he is meeting with them or not. He even looks at porn at work although denies it. I have proof! He is a classic narcissist. We talked about it. He says he won’t be accountable to me and if I don’t like it then get the f*** out. Refuses counseling of any kind. I am already done emotionally, but want to check myself. Thanks*
*question has been lightly edited for spelling
First, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I am so painstakingly careful in writing my response to this, trying to do it in a professional way rather than my knee-jerk reaction to this letter. I am careful because I recognize there is SO MUCH I don’t know. I don’t know the whole story behind your relationship, I don’t know the details and what his side of the story is, but I do know that what you have described does not sound like a happy, healthy marriage.
Second, you haven’t asked a question, so I’m unsure as to whether you are looking for advice or validation or something else entirely. So my “advice” my not be what you are looking for, but hopefully you can glean something beneficial from my response whether or not it was what you were searching for. I am always hesitant to give relationship advice because I think we approach all advice giving from our own world view. So someone who believes strongly in preserved marriage as the highest goal will answer much differently than someone who believes happiness is the highest goal. I try to be careful not to let my particular beliefs shape the “advice” I give and instead hope my questions will help illuminate the answer you need to find for yourself. Here are my questions to you, and ones I hope you will answer for yourself:
(Side note: my questions are almost entirely directed at the letter writer. I don’t want this to come off as she is the responsible party – that it’s on her and her alone to make the decisions, to save or leave her marriage, or be the one doing all the work. That is clearly not the case, but I am focusing my questions on her, as she is the one who wrote in).
- What does your gut say you need to do? Answer this one quickly, without hesitating. What is the first thing that pops into your head before you have time to debate it to yourself?
- If you don’t know what your gut says, try asking yourself what are you hoping people will respond to your story with. Are you hoping they will say “leave him!” or “there’s still hope!”? If you know the answer to this, it will tell you something. If you still don’t know, you need more time, you aren’t ready to make a decision yet.
- One thing you are definitely not getting from your husband is validation, is that what you are seeking? Does it matter if it comes from someone else (counselor, friend, family, etc.) or does it need to be from him? Do you need to hear him admit to his transgressions to move forward, or does it even matter if he does at this point?
- What is upsetting you the most – the porn? The effect on your sex life? The disrespect? The embarrassment? The broken trust? The lack of responsibility he is taking? His apparent blatant disregard for your feelings?
- So many times people have asked me for marriage advice and asked “should we go to counseling?” And my first question is almost always – do you want to fix it? Because so often once that idea finally rolls around, the woman is often completely checked out. Maybe you need counseling on how to process a divorce, but it’s important to be really clear what you are wanting to get out of counseling before you go. Is your husband still unwilling to go even if given an ultimatum?
- As you said you are already “done emotionally”, do you want to try and make this work or are you past your breaking point?
- Do you need help making the decision to leave or stay or do you need help actually doing the leaving or the staying?
- Is your husband willing to do anything at all? There is only so much you can do on your own to save your marriage. If he isn’t willing to put in any work, I’m not sure there will be much success.
- If your husband took accountability, admitted his wrong-doing, apologized and was willing to work on your marriage – how would you feel? Relieved or still angry?
- If your husband never changed, and continued his behavior as is for now into all eternity, could you live with that?
I am a huge proponent of counseling, and if he won’t go, I urge you strongly to consider going by yourself. If you decide to leave, it may help to seek counseling to help you understand why you choose a husband like you did, and warning signs to look out for in the future so you don’t repeat the same situation, as often happens. If you decide to stay, you may need help learning how to move forward after betrayal and building a healthy relationship.
I wish you the best of luck and hope that you find what you need and that you understand YOU ARE WORTH A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. You really, truly are. And don’t believe ANYONE who tells you differently.
What is your advice for the writer of this letter? Leave your comments!
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