I need help

I'm an older woman and was married 7 months ago to a man the entire world thinks is perfect. I thought he was perfect, too. We had both been alone for many, many years before we started dating. We went to high school together, knew a lot of the same people, but didn't do things together. We had a fairy tale, long distance courtship for a year and a half (3 hours apart), spending weekends and holidays and lots of extended time together.

He introduced me to his work colleagues and friends and every one of them, dozens of people, told me he is the best man they know. Everyone loves this man. Including me.

Two weeks after our wedding, I found out he was paying for and had been going to porn/sex/chat sites on and off the whole time we were dating and into our marriage. I found the monthly charges on his credit card bill. He was so embarrassed and said he thought he'd cancelled it. He said he'd started going to those sites many years ago, when he was alone. He said no one ever knew who he was, everything was anonymous or he used a fake picture and name. That part I know to be true because I got in there and did some serious investigative work. He said he kept telling himself he was going to stop, and would for months, but ended up going back. He begged me to forgive him and said he would do anything I wanted, combine our bank accounts, phone service and anything else so I would know he wasn't hiding anything from me anymore. I didn't think I could survive it, but I did. I didn't understand it, but there is so much good in him, I made the decision to stay and fight for our marriage. A few months later, I found that he had 5 email accounts he'd been using for these sites. He had quit using them, but I saw the emails and chats and again, I was in shock and my heart was broken. The most devastating thing was that he was talking mostly to men. He said that he started out talking to women, but that he always found out they were men pretending to be women, so he just went with it. He was married twice before me and has never had a homosexual relationship or been attracted to men. He said he only wants to be with a woman (now me), but that he found the bizarre things he would see and hear on those sites turned him on. I had looked at sites like that in the past and some things I looked at weren't anything I would ever do, so I understood that part.

When we started dating, he had some ED issues off and on. He is on blood pressure medicine and I knew that was part of it. And there's our age. But, we have always had an intense sexual attraction and an amazing sex life. He is very attentive to me and is a wonderful lover. As wonderful as I thought our sex life was, he didn't believe that it was satisfying for me. He said that was one thing that kept him going back to the porn, that there wasn't anyone to judge him there.

I have found a couple of times that he relapsed. I threw a fit a couple of times, one time I hit him repeatedly and told him I hated him. He wrote me a long message and said that I couldn't hate him more than he hated himself. That he was completely broken. I emotionally distanced myself from him for a couple of days, but I could see the pain he was in and I love him so much.

Recently, I knew he did it again one night when he was away from home. The first time he'd been away from me for a long time. I brought it up to him differently this time. I told him that I knew, that I wasn't going to throw a fit and it wasn't going to be the end of the world. I told him I would be there for him. He admitted it and said it was the worst experience yet. That he only did it for a few minutes and he felt such shame that he stopped.

We're going to get counseling. He will do anything. He's said that every time. He was always so sorry and in such pain over it that I didn't press for us to take action. I just wanted it to go away.

Looking for advice.
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  • @itsnotfair Hello and welcome. Thanks for reaching out. I'm sorry that you're having to go through this, and I'm sure it's been an emotional roller coaster ride for the both of you. I'm glad that you're going to go to counseling, as I do believe that can help. And it is helpful that he wants to work on this. Chances are he really does hate himself and is in a lot of pain over his decisions concerning the matter. Addiction can make one feel like that, no matter what they're addicted to.

    I don't have a lot of experience with the topic of porn or sex addiction, so not sure I am able to really offer any significant advice. I do encourage you not to take it personal if he relapses. His brain has now been hardwired to look for that dopamine boost that he gets when he watches porn or engages with others online. It's going to take awhile and consistency for him to rewire those connections in a different way so that his brain isn't always scanning for porn or causing him to feel as if he should watch it.

    @JoshuaShea will have some excellent insight and advice for you here. Just know that you're not alone in contending with this and that you can come here anytime to share. We will be here for you in any way that we can.
  • @itsnotfair To be blunt, he sounds like a textbook porn addict who is a master at manipulating you. Despite the fact there may be some truths in what he says, that's only because if he gives you half the truth, you're the kind of optimistic person who holds onto that instead of the part that was the lie. I think that you should be very wary of anything that comes out of his mouth when it comes to porn. I almost did a spit-take when he told you he only did it a few minutes and it was the worst time ever when he was away. If you're believing that, I've got some land for you...
    You married a porn addict. Addiction is a medical condition, and now even porn addiction is recognized by the World Health Organization as a diagnosable condition. You can't guilt, yell at or pray away a medical condition. Would you tell him you hate him if he smoked his whole life, got lung cancer, and still snuck a cigarette now and then? No. You'd be frustrated and disappointed, but probably not tell him you hated him. He is a man with an illness.
    Like most addicts, he probably does hate himself for doing it and he wants to spare you pain and agony, but he can't stop. Willpower is great, but it doesn't actually fix anything. You can only know how strong your willpower is by having it fail.
    Why are you going to counseling? What is a marriage counselor going to offer you to fix this situation? They can help facilitate certain conversations and they may call him on his gaslighting minimization of the facts, but it seems to me that he needs some much deeper one-on-one therapy.
    It sounds like he understands and has shared some of the surface reasons he uses, but it goes much deeper. Did you 94% of all porn/sex addicts have some kind of trauma in their background? He may try to tell you he's in that 6%, but what are the odds, really? When I went through therapy, I discovered all kinds of reasons that I ended up the way I did that I never would have even considered early on. Think about that...at least the person with lung cancer knows it was the the smoking. He may not have any real idea why he ended up the way he did.
    He doesn't want to be this way, but until he gets professional help and enters a real program of recovery, which can include one-on-one therapy, 12-step programs, research on his own, online sites like this, inpatient rehab, group therapy, etc....don't expect too much to change.
    And while I know it feels like a massive betrayal and the emotional reaction is understandable, try to remember he's sick....and doesn't want to be sick. Try to keep your home a safe and judgement-free place for him. You'll get more honest information out of him if you're nice than if you're berating him. Who wants to share with someone that is acting mean, even if it's not their fault?
    I'd urge you to check out the resources page on my website at http://www.RecoveringPornAddict.com It's a good place to start to figure out what your next steps are going to be.
  • @JoshuaShea Wow. That was a punch in the gut. Your words are very hard to hear. I HAVE learned that he is a very good liar. Something I said I would never live with. There were times I knew things and asked him about them. He lied and denied until I proved that I knew, then he would admit it. NO ONE would believe this about him. Everywhere we go, people talk about how good he is, how perfect he is. He loves it and smiles. It's hard for me to listen to. Everyone comes to him for advice. He gives good advice. He is the most understanding, loving person. He makes everyone feel good about themselves. He has a lot of female friends, people he's worked with or known a long time, that write to him and ask him to lunch. He always tells me and has invited me to go with them. I know there is nothing romantic going on in any of those relationships. But, I think he needs the validation they give him ... that he's good. He's almost unnaturally nice to people who have wronged him. I always thought that was a sign of good character. Now, I don't know. It is very important to him that everyone think he is good. He's told me that in some of our soul bearing talks. I think that may be another sign of something buried in his past.

    He never thought I would stay with him if I found out about his activity. I would have never thought I would, either. But, like I said, there is so much good in him. I can't give up on him. He says that with my love and God's help, he can stop this. I know now that it will take a lot more than that.

    When I said we are going to counseling, I wasn't talking about marriage counseling. I meant counseling for me to find out how I'm going to be able to deal with this. I meant addiction counseling for him. The kind you referred to. He has agreed to go.

    He had me set his phone so he can't go to any adult sites, he doesn't have the password to change it. He's agreed to have software put on his computers that either track him or don't allow access to adult sites. What are your thoughts on that?

    I have looked at some of your material, briefly. I plan to read much more when I can.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge ... as hard as it is to hear.
  • @itsnotfair He may indeed be an incredible man. Just because he has an addiction does it mean he doesn't have good character. Plenty of people are caught up in some sort of addiction, and they're good, kind, giving people. I'm sure he has his issues, we all do. And in any relationship things will arise that will give both parties the opportunity to heal some sort of wound and grow. That's just kind of how relationships are designed. He's got plenty of opportunity to grow, as well as you. But it does sound like you're both willing to try and that's a wonderful thing!

    Joshua has given some wonderful insight and advice. I hope you'll continue to research his information and continue to come here for support.
  • Welcome to the forum, @itsnotfair. I'm sorry you're having to deal with your husband's issues, but happy you came here and shared with us. You've already received some very good advice and insight from @dominica and @JoshuaShea. Hopefully at least some of what they've told you will resonate with you.

    Please know that your husband isn't a bad person. Addiction of any kind isn't a moral failing; it's a brain disease. But with the right kind of help, I think he can find recovery.

    We are here for you, to offer up support, help, advice, or just a listening ear when you need it. So feel free to come by and post anytime you'd like, even if it's just to vent. Writing your thoughts in a forum like this can be very therapeutic.

    I'm sending you lots of love, light, and hope. And I will keep you and your husband in my thoughts and prayers. You are not alone.
  • When I originally joined, I posted this in the wrong forum. I asked to have it deleted and am now posting it as part of my thread.

    Thank you all so much for responding. I've had nowhere to turn and no one to talk to. I've felt so completely alone and like I was going to go crazy. I can't tell you how much it means to be able to talk about it. The biggest problem I have is that I can't stop thinking about it. I'm sure that's because I found out so much of what he had done. I read a lot of it. He was doing it between the time I would leave for work at 8:00 and when he left at 9:00. All while saying he's rushed in the morning to get ready. And, he would send me loving messages in between his online trysts. There is no trust at this point. He would tell me that my love and God's help had given him the ability to stop. That he felt so good about it and was so much happier. I would start to get back to some kind of normal, and he would do it again ... and destroy any healing that had happened. You say I need to separate the behavior from the man. How do I do that? He says that it's this one little piece of him that he has in a box, and it has nothing to do with his real life. I don't understand that. Because it's affecting my real life. I feel betrayed, cheated on and I feel that he cares more about this activity than he does me. If not, he wouldn't keep doing this to himself, and to me.

    I married him thinking he was who he portrayed himself to be. Good, honest, trustworthy. He always said that what we have is given to so few and that we have to protect it and cherish it. Is this protecting it and cherishing it?

    He has made progress, and I'm grateful for that. We've also noticed that his body is responding more during intimacy, now that he isn't doing it as often.

    But, with each relapse, I lose respect for him. I'm afraid it's going to kill the love.

    I'm on the verge of tears all the time. I am so broken and feel so alone.
  • @itsnotfair... Thinking of you today and sending you positive energy and tons more hope. How are you doing today? Let us know. We are here and we care.
  • Thank you @DeanD. That means so much. We just returned from a trip we had planned before this all came to a head. We had decided we would move forward with getting help when we returned. We ordered 2 copies of @JoshuaShea books and they arrive in 2 days. We're going to read it together, then we'll decide our next step. I hear everyone say that he's not being honest with me, and I know that's probably true, but I believe he's trying. He is such a good man, in every way but this horrible thing he's dealing with. I wonder if my working with him and trying to help him through this is helping, or making it easier for him. I guess we'll find out.
  • @itsnotfair Thank you so much for purchasing the book. It means a lot. I can almost guarantee you he's trying hard. Most addicts who wish they weren't addicts try hard, but I look at addiction like being shot. You can put a band aid on the bullet wound, but there's still a bullet inside of him, causing infection. If you are a source of understanding and support (not someone who screams they hate him) his chances of a successful journey in recovery grow exponentially.
  • I'm really happy to hear that you guys are going to move forward and get help, @itsnotfair. And glad you picked up @JoshuaShea's book. Reading it together seems like a very good exercise for both of you. Let us know how that goes, okay?

    Sending lots of positive juju your way, and keeping you guys in my thoughts and prayers.
  • Today has been hard. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to why some days are so much harder than others. But, every day is hard. I cried on and off all day. I don't feel like he is mine anymore. I felt it so strongly before I knew all of this. He was mine and I was his and it was wonderful. But ... now I know it wasn't. Now, it feels like everything is fake, it's all a lie. I don't know how to be normal. I am so unhappy.

    He seems to be able to put it out of his mind. He told me that it's this one little part of who he has been and he's detached from it most all the time. He says he doesn't have daily struggles, that it's always a spur of the moment impulse. And he says it's only happened once every couple of months this year. Even if that is true, and it probably isn't, it still proves that he can't or won't just stop.

    He doesn't belong to me. He belongs to it.

    We are about to enter into the active part of getting help. I know this is going to be very hard. Joshua suggested he go to some Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings. I don't think he would ever do that. He knows too many people in this town ... a LOT of people. He would feel like it would destroy his reputation. I know that. His help will have to be more private.

    Please pray for me, for us.
  • I want the life I thought I was going to have ... the life he made me think I was going to have ... a simple life full of honesty and true love. @DeanD , @JoshuaShea @dominica ... Before this, he made me feel like a million dollars every single day. Now ... I'm 61, how do I do this? #itsnotfair #ifeelcheated #imsosad
  • I’m sorry you are having a hard time & are hurting @itsnotfair
    I can somewhat understand what you are going through and wish I could do something to help you. The sting of betrayal is sometimes overwhelming along with the other feelings and thoughts that surround a situation like yours. I remember the way I felt when I clicked on the movie purchased button accidentally and saw about a dozen porn rented. I didn’t understand it. I went through similar stages as others describe about thinking something was wrong with me. I also was upset because u can get it for free and here he was doing this who knows how often and for how long... and I was the one paying for everything including the cable bill. It was even more confusing and painful when I would come home from work, he had rented them yet never wanted to be intimate... I believe we went weeks at a time without even though I tried.
    You will be okay. I know it’s hard and hurts so bad, and it doesn’t matter what anyone says because your fairytale recently turned into a nightmare. I can only suggest you do what you can to take care of you. Sleep, healthy food & exercise are most important but also yoga, meditation, bubble baths, therapy... You are not to blame at all for your husband’s addiction and therefore the only thing you can do and are in complete control or is You & by taking care of you.
    If you have trouble sleeping, passionflower extract & Nighty Night tea can be helpful. I also find sometimes when my mind won’t shut off, I come on here and read old posts and sometimes respond as well. I also find sometimes reading info on whatever is bothering me can help (like learning about myself, my disorders and where in my life did I develop characteristics & habitual patterns which made me drawn to unhealthy relationships and what made it ok for me to stay as long as I did. What made me not put myself first. What could my inner child tell me is still missing from my life that affects my self-worth & decision making?
    You are amazing and deserve happiness. Addiction can be a truly awful thing yet many people in recovery are successful. Healing can begin if you are open to it. Sometimes we focus on the pain & hopelessness and end up stick there instead of truly letting ourself feel all the feelings.. sometimes we get so used to bottling up our emotions that we don’t know how to experience everything we feel. I hope you can find some peace and are experiencing your feelings.
    There is hope and things will get better. Whatever happens, we are here for you.

    And because I love these quotes and think this one is nice, I thought I’d share:

    “I do believe it should comfort you to know, that whenever you face a fork in the road of life, no matter which path you choose, I'll be there in all my glory.
    (Probably moon walking, with a long, feather boa trailing in the breeze...)
    You can't go wrong -
    The Universe”
  • @itsnotfair I'm sorry that you're struggling so much. Perhaps part of the issue is that you put a whole lot of weight on him for your personal happiness. I understand that our partners can add value and some sort of happy feelings to our lives, but to put so much weight on it can cause life to come crashing down on us when things don't go as planned.

    It does sound like he is really working on managing or overcoming this addiction. And it does sound like you are working on healing. It's going to take some time. Life rarely goes as we think it should, andthere's always opportunity for lessons and growth. But I think that life can bring us to the point where we become vulnerable and when we can share from that vulnerable spot, we're more apt to move toward authenticity and a deeper intimacy.

    I know you said before this he made you feel like a million dollar everyday. Perhaps this is your opportunity to look towards yourself to feel like a million dollars, rather than on someone else. I know this might not be what you want to hear, and I know it's not just that simple. Keep working recovery like you are, and I do hope that you'll keep coming here for support. We do care about you and we do want you to experience some peace and joy on this life Journey...
  • How are you doing today, @itsnotfair? I hope your Friday is going well.
  • @blueorchid It was so good to come here this morning and read your post. Before I came here, I had no one to talk to. I did talk to someone in my family, but it's not something I can talk regularly about. It was all bottled up, all the time, ever present in my mind. Being able to share and listen to others similar experience is so very helpful.

    How did you handle it with your husband? Are you still together?

    Mine was/is very secretive about it. He never rented movies on our account. He had a secret account on a site where you pay for tokens to watch movies, chat with people, etc. He watched a lot of free stuff, and went to free chat sites and created fake personas to interact with strangers. He would create email accounts and use them to interact with strangers. Then he would feel the shame and guilt and close everything, to create new ones down the road. He felt shame and remorse and deleted everything and just stopped. For a while.

    When I found out about it, and confronted him, everything changed. I am a good techy investigator. If it's out there, I'll find it. And I did. And I yelled and cried and hit him and I was a mess for a while. But, I realized that he didn't want to do it, he wanted to stop, and I have to help him. He is my husband and I love him so very much.

    He is worth staying with and working on this problem with, and for.

    Where are you in your challenge?
  • @DeanD Thank you for asking. It's Sunday afternoon and I'm in a pretty good place. I am calm, a big change from where I started when I first found out about this. My husband and I are openly talking about it, and that feels good. But, I would give almost anything if this wasn't a part of our lives. I wish I didn't ever have to think about it. This is a place I never thought I would be and a subject I never dreamed I would have to deal with.

    One of the reasons I was so open to dating at this point in my life is that he was such a wonderful man. Everyone told me such great things about him. We had an amazing connection and he made me laugh like no one ever has.

    I thought he was going to be a safe, someone I wouldn't have to worry about ... we would settle into a happy, joy filled life ... something we both deserved because we'd both been through such hard times in our life. We were finally being rewarded.

    I don't know how this is going to turn out, but I'm going to give it everything I have. He is worth fighting for.

    Again, thank you for asking. It helps so much to just be able to talk about it.
  • Hi @itsnotfair I’m so glad that my post helped you... It feels so good to support you as I have been supported on here by others and it has truly helped.
    There were many other issues in our relationship that made it toxic (he was very emotionally & psychologically abusive, he was diagnosed as a narcissistic sociopath while he was incarcerated, he was addicted to crack & would take off for 3-5 days with no contact, infidelity, had 2 children that he lied about n never saw... there was more too) so after 5 years I left him. It was a difficult decision but I knew I had to leave.

    From what you describe, it sounds like he wants help and I can tell you want to see if you can get through this with him, that’s really amazing. I don’t know what your thoughts are on religion is however I have always loved this quote: “God will never give you more than you can handle”. I believe that to be true. We all have a story and sometimes the most difficult circumstances are the experiences that we grow from the most.

    Inner work has brought about huge challenge for me, yet it has been the most growth and healing I’ve ever done.

    I hope you can find some therapy that will help u heal :heart:
  • @itsnotfair I'm glad that you and your husband are able to openly talk about this. I'm sure you do wish that this never came across your path. It's definitely not easy and as your username suggest, not fair either. But life rarely goes as planned and there's always opportunity for lessons and growth, hard as that may be at times. Super glad that you're here and I'm glad that we can support and encourage you along your way.
  • I'm glad you find comfort in being able to talk with us here, @itsnotfair. I'm keeping good thoughts for you and your husband.

    Happy Monday. I hope you have a great week. :)
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