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I am 36 years old. I’ve been married for 10 years, and have two children, ages 3 & 5. I met my husband at a bar on February 8th …. I saw his eyes shining from across the room (which makes no sense, as he has dark eyes ). I guess you can say it felt like magic/destiny. He called me the very next day, and we dated for about a week before he went to boot camp for the Navy. He said he had to go to the Navy, he and his mother agreed because he wasn’t getting anywhere job-wise in our town. We got to know each other through letters and occasional phone calls, and met up when he could. One day, he came to visit me at my condo and he never returned to the Navy, except to process his discharge. He asked me to marry him November 7th, as he said he couldn’t wait until Christmas. We agreed to marry the following November 7th. For reasons I can’t remember, I almost called off the wedding, but he insisted that we go through with it. I had him file bankruptcy before we were married to “clear” his name so we could have a clean start.

Early in our marriage, I was dismayed that my husband was looking at porn online. At the time, I could not understand it, as I never had a problem getting a boyfriend, had a great body at the time, and would do almost anything he asked of me. I put a filter on the computer with his consent to put my mind at ease. A couple years later, I found that he was hiding porn in the truck of his car. The more I matured, I realized it (porn) wasn’t about me, so while I did not agree with it, I at least came to an understanding of it if I had to deal with it again.

Later on in our marriage (twice to be exact), he asked for a three-way. He even insinuated where we could get a third partner … he said there were swinger magazines at the local porn store. Both times, I said no, it was against my marriage vows … the only thing I would not do while married. Fast forward to recent years …… he has his own PO box, well more than one over the years that he didn’t think I knew about until I saw his credit report; plus, he’ll hide money (have some checks paid direct to him instead of direct deposited into his own checking account… $2,500 - $4,500 in a year); plus, he racks up credit cards (for I have no idea what, because there’s no new material possessions at our home to account for all of it) – there’s usually $5,000 - $8,000 in new debts by the time I have a legitimate reason to run another credit report. He’ll say it was gas, meals and business expenses, but he already takes $150/wk from our joint account for that. I used to transfer his credit cards over to my name because I hated to see the interest rates he was paying; I’ve stopped -- at least I’ve wised up about that. All because of his job changes and losses over the years and trying to keep a lifestyle that, looking back, we probably were not ready to afford at the time, we are now $35K in debt (just the credit card part).

Last year, our cell phone text messaging skyrocketed. When I inquired, I found out he was texting a woman (something crazy, like 90 text messages over a short period of time). He had me call and confirm with the Executive Assistant of his company that he was trying to get her a job, and it checked out, so I had to drop the feelings I was having about it. Unfortunately, while looking in to my bill, I discovered that he had called a chat line for local singles a few times that year. When confronted, he said it was only because we were under an extreme amount of stress because of his job situation (he’s a salesman that was making $40K, and had transferred to a job that promised him the world…but the new job was averaging only $15K for the whole year and I was on him because we were “not making it” financially.) He said it was “stupid” and just an escape from reality. He insisted he’s never cheated on me, especially now he’d be ashamed to, because of the weight he’s gained over the years. I told him that I still feel attracted to him after all these years, changes and all. We ended up in counseling for the chat calls, only to stop going because it was “too stressful for him” – he needed to concentrate on his job and making money (sales). Before quitting counseling, the counselor had asked him to close his PO box, but, since no new mail is coming to our house, I know he still has it.

I am still in counseling. I have deep-seated trust issues that have intensified because now I have to talk about them rather than suppress them. I feel incapable of seeing my situation clearly because of this suppression. I feel that all of these warning signs may point to an even bigger “smoking gun” about my husband --- like counseling just scratched the surface --- he only admitted to what he was caught doing. I see no signs of drugs, alcohol or gambling. Am I just being paranoid or over-analytical? I came close to ending it after the chat line incident --- but he said that I have no idea what I’d be putting my kids through … he comes from a very broken family … he knows. Then I stopped pursuing it.

If I go on pretending that all these trust issues do not exist, our marriage seems ok, and we very rarely argue. We live well together, he does a bulk of the household chores, helps me with the kids, and we have an active sex life (better now that I found out about the chat calls). I am bright (normally!), college-educated accountant. I make much more money than him, but never boast of it.

I currently feel a bit lost with all of this, not knowing which direction I should head. I’ve tried looking at his laptop for clues on what he seems to be going out of his way to hide, but he’s become more advanced, so the internet history is always cleared. On the other hand, I don’t know if I truly want to know because it might be too hard to deal with. Plus, sometimes I make excuses for his behavior because of his troubled childhood … that he hides things because is Mom was always in his business & that he hides money because he had none when he was growing up and when he earned it, his Mom wanted to claim it right away. I tell myself he’s probably not cheating since he’s always home by 8pm or 9pm, and is always with me on the weekends. Other times I tell myself not to worry because he’s exercising his independence and trying to control a part of his life. It’s not worth talking to my husband about it. If he feels he’s in a corner regarding something’s he’s done, he’ll lie more, tell me what I want to hear, or turn the pressure back on me so I’ll stop. How can I truly ease my mind about all of this and put it to rest?

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Welcome to Marriage Builders, PB.

Sounds to me like you haven't crystalized your goal here...which can be a goal in itself.

I heard you say you don't know if you want to end your marriage, that you thought of doing so given his choice to use the singles chat when married...and that you want to trust and he's not trustworthy.

That you want him to be open, honest, accountable and to rebuild your trust, is that correct?

My guess is your H is a sex addict...and I say this because sexual addiction is not about sex...it's about secrets. And you described really well some of his reasons for hiding from his partner.

And you know he's hiding. And that tears down trust. He isn't trustworthy.

MB plans work when there is no active addiction. I would ask you to consider, research and understand SA and see if the rest fits. He's correct...sex, flirting, releasing chemicals in the brain for distraction, stress relief, anxiety relief...all sorts of reasons...as many as an alcoholic has for drinking.

Sounds like sexual and financial infidelity, which can be confusing, when he meets and exceeds your ENs for Family Commitment (FC), Domestic Support (DS), Attention and Conversation. What are your top ENs, btw?

We are as sick as our secrets. Secrets disconnect us...so they stop our partnering, dissolve our trust and prohibit intimacy. Which is why they are addictive...why our habitual choices continue...for the false payoff.

Takes both to continue the addiction. You can stop. You can find your own false payoffs...and I think you're waking up to them. Often, when awaking, we will see it as leave or stay...when it's really wanting to stay awake, learn and grow...and choose differently.

Some of the resources you can utilize are:

"Out of the Shadows" by Patrick Carnes
http://www.recoverynation.com
SAA meetings and spouses of SA meetings (follows the AA and Alanon 12 steps)

Your choice if you want to really partner your equal husband...not all or nothing. That's an addicts perspective...stay or go...when in reality, it's many, many choices in between.

Welcome.

LA

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Thank you for your post. That was what I feared was happening. I have not read the whole book yet - his needs/her needs. I don't think I ever defined what I wanted in a partner, not when I was dating, and not now. I did see a Lifetime movie about sexual addiction, and it seems to rate with molesters in the area that they can try to change with help, but it never seems to work. I will definitely consider your resources for help in addition to my counseling, but I feel compelled to find proof first...before my slick husband explains everything away once again. Any ideas that work?

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The only thing that will work with him is for you to send him packing. Why should he ever change? Honestly, why? He gets to do everything he wants. You get to shoulder all the burden, just like his mom shouldered it til she kicked him into the Navy, and just like the Navy did it by not tolerating anything.

He couldn't hold a job, so he joined the Navy, where they rarely fire you. Still, even with free room and board, he managed to rack up a debt big enough that he had to file for bankruptcy, and he once again ran from his responsibility by letting all his debtors shoulder his burden. Now, you've been shouldering his burden for the last 10 years, and he has not only let you, he has done unspeakable things to you. Because he can.

Tell him you're filing for a separation and you'll keep it open long enough to see if he is willing to work on becoming a viable husband. If he chooses not to do the work to come home, then you have your answer.

I just posted a comment I heard on the radio for someone else, and it's appropriate here, too:
Denial of responsibility is the essence of immaturity.

Do your kids a favor, and teach them what responsibility and integrity is, by 'helping' their dad grow up. If you don't, you'll just end up with kids who do the same thing he does. Do you want that?

Respect yourself, and send him packing. He can always come home later if he straightens up.

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 Originally Posted By: polarbear
Thank you for your post. That was what I feared was happening. I have not read the whole book yet - his needs/her needs. I don't think I ever defined what I wanted in a partner, not when I was dating, and not now. I did see a Lifetime movie about sexual addiction, and it seems to rate with molesters in the area that they can try to change with help, but it never seems to work. I will definitely consider your resources for help in addition to my counseling, but I feel compelled to find proof first...before my slick husband explains everything away once again. Any ideas that work?


I'm glad you won't stop at a Lifetime movie for research...I say that because like alcoholism, porn is the vehicle...tricky, complicated stuff. I'm married to an SA. A recovering one. He hasn't acted out in over two years now.

There's a few of us on MB...you're not alone.

You think you'll find proof of his SA? You already have proof. What you need is a counselor who specializes in SA...there are MC's who do that. I found a Christian MC with that specialty...and no, that was God's gift, not mine...I didn't know what SA was until we began counseling.

Most, not all, SA's experienced sexual abuse as a child, so I understand where the molesters parallel comes in. Just as children of alcoholics experience the alcohol at a young age, too. I don't believe God made any of us so that we cannot change our behaviors. We all can. Happens when we change our beliefs.

I don't know how you benefit from believing your H is slick...because he's your equal...his self-deception his huge...you buying into it is yours...you can be respectful, resistant and loving, without being a doormat or a pushover.

Your choices matter equally with his. Focus on you and you really will change your marriage. Focus on him and you won't.

I believe addicts marry addicts...we can be addicted to our rage, our shame, good feelings, security, etc. We have our deep, habitual "coping" patterns, many of which continue to cause the very events they are needed for...seemingly perpetually. We can be addicted to drama, to another person...because what we focus our thoughts on becomes our treaure.

We train our brains in this way...we can tell ourselves we're being vigilant, careful, when we focus on hearing lies, catching our partners in lies...so we can really be right--the good one. And then we discount and toss out the truth...because it gets past us...for we are focused on lies.

Balance in our focus...to know we only control ourselves...we honestly cannot change anyone else on the planet. Yet when we change our choices, our beliefs, choose a different perception and/or perspective, everything changes.

Looking within is my idea...you can be married without trust. I've lived it. We're told we cannot, yet we can. We can have intimacy without trust...not forever, just for awhile. When he speaks, you can hear him without taking on what he says as the truth...it's only his truth, his stuff...not the truth. See, trust is two halves...one partner earning it and the other (you) choosing to trust. You can understand what he believes without believing it yourself.

For awhile.

The book "Between Parent and Child" by Eincott, is excellent, a quick read, and I highly recommend it as one of the "ideas" for you.

Also, understand the difference between justification and explanation. They are different.

One has ownership and the other does not. Look to see what you own, your part, not its size, in everything.

I treasure my marriage, my partner, our lives. I am surprised and delighted by DH every week...he comes through for our relationship again and again...and yes, over three years in counseling (it's not a quickfix...it's a lifelong recovery); as radical as his changes are, so are mine.

Please keep looking at your ENs and LBs...learning what you want...and ask yourself if you give it to yourself, too.

LA

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Thank you for writing. I was wanting to hear from a man on these hiding issues. I am sorry to hear that your relationship has gotten beyond your control.

I've suppressed my anxieties about my husband hiding money & credit cards for years. Now that I'm in counseling, I find myself unable to suppress my emotions, consumed by the ideas of what he could be doing with the money, often thinking the worst. I feel it's starting to eat at my like a cancer. I find myself compelled to find out more answers, starting by adding spyware to his laptop. I've had the opportunity to do it at least 3 times by now, but I've been unable to because it just felt wrong.

I am unable to become a stronger person because I'm just consumed about what HE's doing right now. I need to get out of this cycle ... I'm not going anywhere except in circles. I've only ever told myself that that only reason I'd divorce was because of my husband cheating on me...I don't know how to handle all these "gray areas" of marriage I've never even thought to consider.

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PB,

Read Cat's post again..."denial of responsibility is a sign of immaturity."

You have the responsibility for half the marriage...financially, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Are you telling yourself he "should" tell you about the money, that's why it's wrong to find out the truth?

Shoulds are great indicators we aren't in our own responsibility...not minding our stuff. You remain responsible...whether he tells you or not, to know.

That's healthy. There are no secrets in marriage...because you're both liable and responsible. Don't expect an addict to not lie...that's unreasonable of you. We can be addicted to fantasy (marriage is about trust, he should/shouldn't do/say/think). It covers a multitude of harm. False comfort.

You are inherently responsible for knowing the truth on your own.

Depends on whether you want to continue fighting him or fight for the marriage.

You have a serious issue with HIS boundaries...and you're not looking at your own. I think that's what Cat's message was. When you expect more of him than you are willing to do yourself, then you're crossing your own boundaries...living in extra conflict, the fantasy kind...and very much the same way...in wishfulness. Change your actions...predetermine your boundary enforcements around you, make them progressive...and hold yourself to them.

Make knowing the truth what a loving wife does...especially when in secrets, the truth becomes something so distorted as to be unrecognizable. You can handle whatever you find out. Know why? Because you acted from respect and responsibility.

When you change your stuff, you settle down a bit in knowing others can change theirs. And they can. And you can. It's a choice. A series of choices.

Not so many gray areas in marriage...there is doing/not doing...and worrying may feel as if you're doing, when you're not.

LA

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My husband is looking at escort services on sites like craigslist and backpage. He also reads "the erotic review".com. The erotic review list reviews of escort/massage providers and tells in detail what services they offer to VIP subscribers.

Feeling a little sad, but not desperate -- still feel in control of my life. By this point, I was not suprised. Now is the time I have to to determine what I should do next. My poor kids.

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What about all the advice we gave you two weeks ago?

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Well, I've bought the "Shadows" book and I've read part of it. I've been in counseling since last October talking about his hiding issues and sneaky suspicions. I am at the "get and face the truth" stage, where I am gathering evidence to make me mad enough to be strong enough. I'm taking things slowly, trying not screw things up more than they are already. I'm not sure what's next, you think filing for a separation is next? I am normally very intelligent, but I am in this too deep. Yes, please spell it out for me --- and by the way, I don't know many of the abbreviations used on this site.

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Polar - I wish that I had been stronger many years ago. Instead, I stayed in a marriage riddled by deceit and even though things settle down and get much better, the pain is still there and it gets worse with every new betrayal. I've never considered that my DH may be a sex addict. I am going to research that right now. I wish you strength and eventual happiness.

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Originally Posted By: polarbear
Well, I've bought the "Shadows" book and I've read part of it. I've been in counseling since last October talking about his hiding issues and sneaky suspicions. I am at the "get and face the truth" stage, where I am gathering evidence to make me mad enough to be strong enough. I'm taking things slowly, trying not screw things up more than they are already. I'm not sure what's next, you think filing for a separation is next? I am normally very intelligent, but I am in this too deep. Yes, please spell it out for me --- and by the way, I don't know many of the abbreviations used on this site.
First, you shouldn't be in counseling talking about HIM. You should be talking about YOU and finding out why you enable him - that is YOUR issue, not his.

I'll just repeat my earlier advice, since you didn't follow it yet. And yes, what's wrong with a trial separation? It's not death. It's just a wakeup call to him that you value yourself and will no longer be his mommy.

Tell him you're filing for a separation and you'll keep it open long enough to see if he is willing to work on becoming a viable husband. If he chooses not to do the work to come home, then you have your answer.

I just posted a comment I heard on the radio for someone else, and it's appropriate here, too:
Denial of responsibility is the essence of immaturity.

Do your kids a favor, and teach them what responsibility and integrity is, by 'helping' their dad grow up. If you don't, you'll just end up with kids who do the same thing he does. Do you want that?

Respect yourself, and send him packing. He can always come home later if he straightens up.

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Lots has happened since I last posted. I did put software on his computer and found out that he was not looking at "just porn" but escort services ads! Just over a week later, Dr. Phil had a spot on Craiglist's escort services, one of the sites he explored daily. I couldn't resist, "Hey, look at this!" He followed me around the house, demanding why I said that. I finally had a firm discussion with him and why I thought he was a SA. I demanded that he seek counseling or I would file for a separation. I also wrote a list of demands like proof that he closed his PO box, no clearing the history on his computer, etc. He started counseling last Friday with a faith-based, addictions specialist who will also be a strong male role model for him. So far, so good; but way too early to tell. I am still meeting with an attorney to get information on separations in case I need to act. Thanks all of you for prodding me to this point.

Last edited by polarbear; 04/07/09 01:16 PM.
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We had to get an internet blocker for my husband.

Good luck.

It IS poosible to recover from this. My husband was acting out for nearly 20 years, and so far he's been sober for two years.
While we had our moments, we chose to remain together, rather than separated during the recovery process.

I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned it, but addiction recovery takes time. My husband's therapist told us it would take 3-5 years to recover from this. I think it's pretty accurate.

Good luck!


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