Thank you for bringing your question to JA.com.
Do you mind if I ask you a few clarifying questions to better understand your situation?
yes, that's fine.
First, I am very sorry to hear that you are facing this situation it must be very difficult at times.
I'd like to get better understanding of your question. You've clearly sated the problem. Are you looking for a strategy to manage this issue? What is your central goal here?
My central goal is for him to tell me the truth. I know without a doubt he is lying to me, I just don't understand why he will still sit there and swear up and down he is not, and make me look like I'm the bad guy, because I don't trust him.
If you know for a fact that he is lying, it may be that he simply can't handle the guilt of being caught, or the thought of hurting you in any way. I have worked with many couples in my private practice where there were internet transgressions through dating sites and live multi-partner games. I've seen these marriages actually be strengthened by the experience.
Both partner's need to understand that such playful emotional affairs are dangerous, not just because of the danger of actually meeting someone but because it can really hurt the other partner.
You should also realize that there are very aggressive online marketing strategies for many of these sites, on line where they can very aggressively track and follow a desired customer online.
Well, the problem I'm having here is, he has done it time and time again. As far as gone on dating sites. I guess it wouldn't bother me as much if he would have done it the first time, said Sorry and stopped. But he has done it time and time again. He is a wonderful husband (otherwise) as far as hard worker etc. but I'm so tired of the lies etc. I'm tired of being the nagging, untrusting wife.
There are also pop-ups that can be aggressive and leave tracking cookies. Are you sure that he was interacting with such a site?
well, that's what he says it was. He said must have been some site he goes to that leaves cookies. But I'm always like, why does it do it, only when I'm gone?
Also there must be some way to distinguish between a tracking-pop up (or other aggressive/malicious software) and actual site visits from the internet history etc.
Well as far as the history, there is nothing on there when I look, I mean nothing, like he deletes it, but I will look in the cookies and there will be sites, that I definitely did not go to, and they are there when I come back home from being gone awhile, so if he went to decent sites, why would you delete them?
I hear you. Do you mind telling me more about the kind of person your husband is, the kind of work he does, and more about your relationship? How do you communicate on difficult or hot-button issues when they come up (not this one)?
How do you think your husband would scale your relationship on a scale of 1 to 10? (1 equals big problems and 10 means realistically as wonderful as it can be)?
How would you rate the relationship?
Do you have kids?
He is a good person, as far as he would do anything for me, and I know I'm his world. That's what I don't get about the whole situation. He works at a factory, but he just got promoted and has a decent job, he doesn't hate his job. When we communicate it usually turns into him getting mad and defensive, and him saying I'm nagging. Like yesterday he said he thought our marriage was perfect and than this came up, he says I always have to ruin things. I would say it was a 6. We have a little baby girl, she is only 6 months old, and he is a perfect daddy!
Thank you for that detailed information. I have some ideas that I think will be very helpful here. I need to take a call with a client in crisis. I'll be back in 10 minutes and devote my time to you until your question is answered. I'll be back shortly.
I'm back. Thank you for your patience. How long have you been married for?
only a year and a half
What I'm concerned about is that one of the most damaging forms of communication to a marriage is what's called a criticism-defense cycle. Divorce can actually be predicted with almost 100% accuracy base on how couple's communicate around hot-button issues. I'm not saying your marriage is at risk, but I think like so many husband's I've worked with in my private practice, if he realized that this pattern puts the emotional foundation of your marriage at risk, he would be more highly motivated to change the underling behavior...I'll keep typing my answer.....
The reason you get the criticism defense cycle in the first place (I'll provide a video link after that explains it very clearly from a leading relationship researcher) is because core relationship needs are not effectively being communicated and met. This is often the same reason that can motivate both husbands and wives to look for fun and excitement online or in other relationships, usually at work...I'll keep typing my answer....
There are 2 science based strategies here: 1) learn how to communicate and meet each others relationship needs more effectively...when you do this together it gets that relationship number back up to the 8-10 range; and, 2) make boundaries to protect your marriage (I'm addressing both partners here). Most partners don't realize the danger of engaging in emotional affairs (weather online in what seems like a safe dating site) or in person. 80% of couples have affairs (50% men and 30% woman). The relationship science shows that affair proof healthy marriages set clear boundaries around these high risk situations...I'll keep typing...
I think you're husband is a very, very good man. But the trick to helping him understand these facts about strengthening and making marriage even more healthy and gratifying is to not use criticism that will make him defensive. Some part of him as obviously very worried and hurt by the idea that he would harm you emotionally. I don't think he understands the risk of harm. You're also in a very naturally challenging time of your marriage, with a young child. This is a time when really communicating needs and meeting them reciprocally along with setting up boundaries is critical. What are your thoughts so far about what I've shared?
I agree with you. I know I'm very bad about communicating and it always goes into his form of nagging, I need to figure out how to communicate with him, and meet his needs. I know half of it is me, obviously. But than again I don't want to just let everything go, and act like nothing is wrong. I know a lot of things need to change, and I do know he is willing to make the change, because we have talked before about reading books together etc. We just need to do things, and stop talking about them.
reading books as far as relationship help books
he does say that I act like I could care less about our marriage, and he says I'm mean to him, and don't give him the attention he needs, that could be the biggest problem right there.
In my experience this defensiveness comes from his underling emotional distress from upsetting you. He doesn't see that visiting the dating sites (if he is), can actually lead to harm, he may also be defending himself from the guilt associated from it. He probably thinks that its harmless, that he would never meet a woman, it's just exciting. And those sites always aggressively market with images of unrealistically attractive woman. He's picking up on the fact that he's hurting you and this hurts him. When he gets hurt (like all of us) on this emotional level, its easy to get mad to defend against the primary feelings. The anger is called "reactive anger". When we get angry because of emotional distress our IQ or intelligence goes down fast. So we can't problem solve or communicate effectively.
In my view criticism is just a very unhealthy and ineffective way to express a core-relationship need.
I think you're husband just needs to learn about this process, and that there is nothing you can't give him emotionally that he can get from a dating site. Not only, that but if he gets tricked into an affair, the long term consequences will hurt everyone in your family vs the short term payoffs of brief entertainment or excitement etc...This actually just indicates the need for learning some basic relationship skills that we are sadly not born with.
He may also be unconsciously soothing his own sense of discomfort from increased stress/responsibility and work associated with a new family and other responsibilities he has. He needs to know that you can soothe and relax him when needed, this would be a core-relationship need for him to express and meet.
Have you read any relationship books together or just talked about it so far?
Just talked about it.
I'm going to get you links to the most valuable relationship books on the market (based on the highest quality marital research there is). You can likely get these books at your local public library for free. I'll be back in a second with some important links that I think will help you get this mutual learn process going.....
Can you give me any pointers on what I need to do and should I just stop asking him about the sites, even though I know he is lying to me about them, should I just let it go?
Yes. I'm actually getting you some links to study and share here's the first one:
These two video links will show you the communication styles I mentioned above and the reactive-anger process that harms marriages....
This woman is literally the best marital therapist and researcher in the world, Dr. Gottman from the first video links on couple's research has said so recently. She wrote the book I recommend you and your husband read together. It will guide you in taking about this and other core relationship needs. All relationship needs break down to "attachment needs."
Alright. Thank you.
Here is the site that explains the book:
I recommend that you put aside at least 30 minutes a night for a week and read one chapter to each other. It's very easy to read and to understand. It will also guide you through a structured conversation very gently to get to the heart of the matter.
When you're husband starts to see that he is hurting you at this level rather than just seeing your anger, that good husband will come out and want to protect you and love you. This will help him re-think any internet or other behavior that requires marriage protecting boundaries.
Does that make sense? And, do you have any other questions?
alright. I bought the book. Just one more thing, do you think I should just shut up about the sites, and work on our marriage and let it go, or just bug him til he tells me the truth?
I think you address the internet issue within the context of the book. The most
important thing is to learn how to communicate your feelings and needs none-defensively. I'd get started with the book soon, and anticipate bringing up the issues in the guided conversation.
alright thank you. Have a good day!
You also. I wish you and your family the very best!