Struggling with husband's porn addiction

My husband of 28 years recently (late Feb) informed me that he has a "sex/porn addiction". He would NOT have told me now but the day before had exposed himself on FB to someone who turned out to be a scammer (they had also spent the day messaging each other off & on prior - mind you I was home). The blackmail began immediately and the next morning my husband had made a $500 payment, to which the scammer came back asking for more money and began messaging his/our friends & family members. He also has made fictitious profiles on dating sites in order to engage in sex talk with women, and I guess done sex talk on FB messenger with women also. Anyway, I am struggling with many aspects of this revelation but in particular, at the moment, I am struggling with the knowledge that my husband has lied to me for our entire marriage. I don't understand how he can love me & respect me and do that. Eleven years in to our marriage I had an affair because I was feeling very disconnected from my husband. He had begun travelling for business a few years earlier and we just weren't connecting. He came home from his very 1st business trips telling me all about the wonderful model that he met there and how he drove her back to her hotel across town and they had a wonderful conversation and really connected, etc. He still swears they didn't have an affair but to this day I still feel like it was an emotional affair. He told me then that he wasn't sure he was ready or wanted to be married with kids (we were about 8 years in to marriage & had 2 kids). I was honest about the affair when confronted and stopped the affair. It was not my proudest moment and something I have always had deep regret for doing. Seven years later, my husband announced that he didn't love me anymore and wanted out of our marriage (he claimed that he had not fully handled the aftermath of my affair). We were separated for 6 months and then he moved back home. Now, 10 years later, he tells me this. I am really crushed. For 17 years, I have felt like the "bad" spouse in our marriage (due to the affair) and to learn what he has been doing behind my back for 28 years makes him look like a huge hypocrite. He says he is sorry, and that he wants to beat this addiction & that he can because he has beat his gambling addiction & smoking. He says that he loves me and can't imagine living life without me by his side and that he likes to be around me. I want to believe him but I am terrified that we will never be better. It seems like we have some major marital issue to overcome every 7-10 years and honestly, that scares me. He says he believes that all married couples have these big issues that frequently too. I don't know. I don't really want to be divorced but I am not sure that I want to stay married to him either, which really makes me feel like a heel considering he stayed with me after the affair. It almost makes me feel like I somehow "owe" him my forgiveness and willingness to stay married. He is good at lying and honestly it's pretty easy to hide these behaviors. He is smart enough to use the incognito window on his computer and to delete all messages etc so I don't feel like he "snooping" is efficient. Not to mention that I don't want to be the wife that snoops. I am not his mother and snooping just feels wrong. I just feel like such a fool and don't want to be a fool anymore.
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  • @DEG hello and welcome. i'm sorry you're struggling with so much right now. it probably feels overwhelming at times...

    if it were me, i'd try to sort things out with a professional counselor...individual and couple therapy. if what you've been doing (or not) doing doesn't seem to be working, something's gotta change.... you both want peace, joy, and an intimate relationship...and sometimes you just need some professional therapy perhaps to sort things out and learn some tools that may help.

    we all have our experiences and such with relationships, but i'm not an expert, so not equipped to share the insights you may need.

    but know that we are here to listen... to support and encourage you. most relationships go through stages...and yours is not unique... i do think relationship counselors can help you both....
  • Thank you @Dominica. He is in counseling and I have been to one but so far I am not a fan of it.
  • @DEG You've got a basket of marital issues and you've got a basket of addiction issues and separating your darks and lights into two loads of laundry will make this whole thing easier to deal with.
    His addiction issues have nothing to do with you. It's great he beat gambling and smoking, but he just moved his broken mind onto other things. He didn't actually beat addiction. He's just getting his dopamine hit in different ways, and for whatever reason he's addicted, I can assure you as a cross-addict myself, that despite anything he says, it has nothing to do with you.
    Your marriage is obviously affected by his addiction, but there is still clearly lingering resentment over your mistake years ago and it sounds like he may use that as an excuse for his actions. It also sounds like he knows how to keep this hanging over your head. Some marriages have these issues, some don't. He's trying to normalize your situation and minimize hit.
    He CHOSE to stay with you after the affair. He didn't have to. You owe him nothing for that. If you CHOOSE to not stay with him now, it's ok. You owe him nothing....and that's the exact same amount he owes you.
    If you don't like your therapist, find another. Keep going until you find one you click with because you have a lot of things that you need to sort through here, both as a couple and as individuals.
    Nothing is going to change if nothing changes.
  • @JoshuaShea He has actually had this porn addiction since he was 13 according to him. Can you clarify "He's trying to normalize your situation and minimize hit." Are you saying he is trying to normalize & minimize the porn addiction?
  • @DEG obviously I meant his and not hit.
    Yeah, you get the gist of what I'm saying. You cheated, which is a big deal. But he's clearly got an addictive personality (even if he gets off the porn, he'll find something else) and I believe he's putting them at the same level. Since he lived through the affair, you should live through the addiction. It's his way of justifying his behavior. He's also saying things like "this happens to every marriage". Aside from the fact that's not true, it's him trying to show that you guys are normal and average. If you're normal and average, your problems are normal and average...but they're not.
  • I like that assessment, @JoshuaShea.
  • @DEG,
    As was mentioned in a comment above, his addiction and selfish behavior has nothing to do with your affair or with you at all.. He is an addict since 13. The counselling may not help either because to start it sounds like w he does not own his addiction nor his selfish behaviors. It s typical of addicts to blame addicts for their addiction. I am an addict myself. I am not in a position to tell you what to do, except o cautious about co dependency. but unless he admits he has a destructive addition and has a since desire to stop, there may be no hope for him. Not only that, but he may have to admit he may not be able to stop on his ownwithout outside help and do some work about it and that would be more than just talking to a counsellor.
  • @DEG my bf was upfront with me about his past drug addiction which he kicked but turned into porn. As @JoshuaShea said, the addiction just transfers. I wasn’t sure of what the addiction would entail but did tell him I wanted no part of porn viewing and he has respected that. he does have difficulty telling me things if i ask. It is difficult to deal with and most of the time i have no regrets in staying with him. He has so many good qualities and he overlooks my difficulties. I do believe my ex husband and a couple ex bf’s have porn addiction, they just never disclosed or even realized. I do think it would be harder to find out after than the start of a relationship. Good luck to you
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