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Cher
Cher, Relationship Enthusiast
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 18553
Experience:  Extensive experience as Educator/Teacher, M.A., Counselor, Spouse, Parent, Psychic Advisor
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My husband and I have been batteling over the same issue for

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My husband and I have been batteling over the same issue for years - he gawks at other women. He becomes fixated and does this in front me, and now in front of me and my son. Its emotionally hurtful and devestating, I've been told repeatedly that I am loved and he wants to have a happy family, but these "episodes" just destroy happiness for awhile. I don't know what to do anymore.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi,

How long have you been married? How old is your son?

Have you ever suspected that he has been unfaithful?

Do you know if he looks at porn online, or is this his only indiscretion? Does he just look, or does he flirt with the women, make conversations, etc.?

Thanks,

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Cher - we'll be married three years this September, and have been together for about 7 years. My son just turned 1 in May. The gawking has been going on for years, but to me its become worse since we got married. Just 6 weeks after we wed, he pulled a gawking episode while we were out with friends, and he repeatedly stared at the same woman over the course of 1/2 hour. Its continued ever since. I've confronted him about it more times than I can count, and the response has ranged to screaming at me, accusing me of being insecure, accusing me of making a big deal out of "nothing" to the response that he's a man, visual creature, etc. the same rhetoric we're told in popular culture. He has also admitted to having a problem, claims to want to get help, and then it goes nowhere.

I have suspected cheating, in fact, last year after the birth of my son during the end of the summer. I felt there was suspicious behaviour with one of our friends, who is also married and in an unhealthy relationship. She is a stay at home mom in the area, and my husband and I decided to have him stay home with our son for FMLA for 6 weeks. When it was mentioned to this friend that my husband was to begin his leave, I felt there was a stare between them that just didn't feel right. Later, there were issues with text messages where she sent the same message to both of us while out at a party saying "miss you, love you!" - he saw the message on his phone, not knowing I received it as well, and deleted it saying "Gina said hi." He assumed he only got the message and I would get upset if I read it. While I was over at this friends house, both of them were outside smoking, and were out there for a good 10 minutes or more, with the lights off and out of view. When I confronted him about it, I was told some things may have looked odd, but he did not cheat on me. I've seen him stare her up and down before, but that is typical with him. I do believe he would lie to me in order to protect the security of having a home and a family.

He does use pornography, apparently he uses it every other day, although this was admitted about 8 months ago and I'm not sure on the frequency now. I was told 2 months after I had my C section that he was unhappy with my body, and that porn was his outlet. He apparently wanted to get control of it, but I doubt that has happened. He understands that I'm the "real thing" but again, I doubt things have changed. We do struggle with our sex life, and have struggeled for years. I'm told that he's not that attracted to my body, but that he loves me. He does show love through actions, making dinner, cuddeling at home and affection. I cannot deny that he is a wonderful person who I love, but there are other issues we struggle through, this, however, is the most toxic.

We continually go back to the idea that we both want a happy family. He is not a big advocate of my accomplishments, but I've been told this is because he doesn't know how to be expressive/supportive. I continued graduate school while I was pregnant, had a baby, went back to work full time, and I feel my accomplishment for this was not celebrated. I will be graduating this month, after some major hurdles the past two year, and here I am upset over this. Again. It destroys most happy moments in our relationship.

To be clear, he does not glance, he stares, and several times these women notice. He does not engage in conversation, at least around me. Just last weekend, we were in the parking lot of a Toys R Us with our son, and he stared at this woman who was also entering the store with her son. She smiled at him because he was staring, and I was positioned behind him so I couldn't see his face. He proceeded to walk in front of me pushing our son in a cart, and follow her into the store, and I could see him look her up and down. When we got into the store, he couldn't remember a specific toy we wanted to buy, which to me said he was still distracted by this. He ended up seperating and walking to another aisle, and must have caught her attention again, because as we were leaving she was standing in the parking lot, her son in the car, as she's smoking and talking on a cell phone. TO me, this was her attempt to linger around and get noticed. I'm sure she enjoyed the attention of a married man, out with his wife and son, staring at her repeatedly. When I confronted him, I was told he specifically made an effort not to stare at her, because she was attractive, and that I walk too slow which is why he was walking in front of me. I'm dumbfounded at the completly different interpretations of this scenario.

We did seperate due to a hurtful incidint,part of it gawking, while on vacation during Christmas. He physically stopped walking next to me, and fell behind me so he could stare a woman up and down right in front of her, and apparently so I could not see. However, I saw what he was doing in a reflection. We also seperated because I was accused of not financially contributing, but he quickly realized once I was gone that his inability to keep up with montly bills proved this theory false. He has apparently forgot as well that I paid all of my medical expenses for my last pregnancy.

In my opinion, the behaviour is becoming worse. Its more than just gawking, he is physically walking in front of me or behind me now to gawk at these women. Our three month seperation was difficult because we are in a town with no friends, and it killed us to be seperate from our son the few days when the other had him. We do love our home, and the time at home is heaven and a refuge from our dissatisfactin at work and no friends, no family in the area. Amazingly, and I'm still dumbfounded by this, I got pregnant again after one sexual encounter with him, besides the fact that I'm 34, and now 20 weeks along. We got back together with postitive intentions, but that incident a week ago gutted me.

I try to "blow it off" and be strong, but it eats away at me until I blow up about it like I did yesterday. I know this does not help, but I cannot be this indifferent to it. We've gone to couples counseling, and both times it was pretty unhelpful. The first one told me I should be happy he "comes home to me" and the second one said in so many words, "well, lets work on this and not get upset when he falls off the wagon."

To me, its deliberate, insensitive, and destructive to our marriage and relationship. We both want a happy marriage, we want this happy family, but my god, this just derails happiness and I'm miserable for weeks. My ability to rebound is getting longer and longer. I'm ashamed, embarassed, humiliated and beginning to believe this marriage should have never happened. I've been depressed about this pretty much since we got married and he started gawking 6 weeks into it.
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again, and thanks for your reply with additional information about your situation.

I agree with you that your husband has a problem, and if the counselors you've seen in the past have not been effective, he will need more intensive therapy. It's important to find the underlying reason why he feels the 'need' to gawk at other women, become fixated to the exclusion of everything/everyone around him, and also, his need to look at pornography (I assume this is online and/or magazines?).

This is abnormal behavior for a married man with one child, and another on the way. If he was 'unhappy' with your body after your C-section, perhaps it should be pointed out to him that pregnancy and surgery WILL change a woman's body and you are not only your body, you are a sum of your parts, making the 'whole' person he fell in love with, and married. That's a very superficial and hurtful thing to say to you and/or to imply.

When you separated, he realized how much he needed you and for many men this would have been a 'wake-up call' and he would try to alter the behavior he knows is inappropriate and hurtful to you. Because the behavior has seemed to worsen, he definitely needs professional help to change it. You can seek out a therapist who specializes in 'sex addiction'; although you don't think or don't know for sure if he's physically cheated on you, this behavior is related to that sort of addiction.

Because you're now pregnant, you should not be under this added stress. For the moment, it might be healthier for you to concentrate on yourself, taking care of yourself and your son, and doing what you usually do, around the house and/or at work. I admire you greatly, for all your wonderful accomplishments, like getting your Graduate degree, while pregnant and while working; you're a very ambitious and intelligent woman and if your husband doesn't recognize this and treat you as you deserve to be treated, the first step is therapy for his addiction. It would be a good idea for you to go to a counselor, also, separately from him, to help you cope with his behavior and help him change it. After you both go to therapy separately, you can try marriage counseling, together, once again. The answers you received at the last attempts with counseling were not very helpful, so ask for recommendations from the therapist you may see on your own, for marriage/couples counselors with experience in this type of situation. You need someone who fully understands what's occurring.

Try not to bring it up each time he does this gawking, and maybe 'reverse psychology' will help. It's possible he's doing this to get your attention, and even though it's 'negative' attention, you're still reacting. Try to not say a thing when he exhibits this behavior, and because he's expecting you to make an issue of it, he may be 'disappointed' when you don't. This may help him reduce his desire to do it.

People would say: "What's the difference? He's just 'looking', not touching." That's not a good enough rationalization, in your situation. He's not just looking occasionally, which for men, IS normal. If a man didn't throw a glance at an attractive woman, and a woman didn't throw a glance at an attractive man, even though they were married, THAT wouldn't be normal. Men are *allowed* to 'look' and so are women, but the behavior you describe is definitely not this type of normal looking, and that's why it hurts you so much and bears further investigation by a professional.

If he is still a good husband and father, helps around the house, as you mentioned, and with his son, etc., it might be a good idea to try to put this out of your mind for a while, (although he should start therapy, ASAP), and see how things progress. After the baby is born, you'll be super busy, and make sure he continues to help you with both children and household chores. You have proven to be such a 'superwoman' and 'supermom' in the past, he may think you can do it all on your own, and don't need his help; but make sure he knows you DO need him to help with everything.

After the birth of your new baby, you'll have to reassess the situation and decide, if his behavior has not changed, and/or he's made no effort to change it, if you want to remain in this marriage. Don't scream and yell at him, just calmly make him aware that if he doesn't change this behavior, or is 'incapable' of changing it, he risks losing the most important things in his life: you and your two children.

I do wish you much good luck and hope everything works out well for you and your family.

Cher
Cher, Relationship Enthusiast
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 18553
Experience: Extensive experience as Educator/Teacher, M.A., Counselor, Spouse, Parent, Psychic Advisor
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