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Lively, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 260
Experience:  Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, 10 years experience working with individuals, couples, & families
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I feel I have to lay some groundwork before I can ask my

Customer Question

I feel I have to lay some groundwork before I can ask my primary question.I hope I don't run out of space.My husband of almost 37 years had approx.a year long affair. It ended in May 2008. He told me he did not regret having the affair and that it was my fault it ever happened. The whole experience was like walking through Hell on earth. It nearly destroyed me. He did at least tell me he was sorry I got hurt. I already was suffering from chronic depression and anxiety,chronic fatigue syndrome,bipolar disorder II, and other medical conditions.He wound up staying with me,and finally agreed to get counselling. It helped in some ways, but he has not abided by his agreement to cut off ALL contact with OW,including by phone. I am aware of a number of calls to her and one secret meeting which she told me about. Last call I'm aware of was on 12/16/08.He tells me he loves me,but is not "in love" with me. Well, he also loves our dog.Am I just like a comfortable old pair of slippers? I'm so weary of the anxiety of wondering how much he cares for me. Sometimes I try to share with him my concerns and need for reassurance. But I don't get much of that. Now, here is the real question I need help with. In recent months he has become absorbed in online pornography and I mean the hard core stuff. He has even posted profiles on various sites. He acts as though he thinks it is all innocent. I am also afraid he may be communicating with women through various channels. He's been going to MY Space a lot, and tells me he doesn't even have a My Space acct. I need to know how concerned I should be about this and how to handle it. I love my husband, but I'm getting tired of secrets and lies. By the way, I'm practically forbidden from discussing issues concerning the affair. How do I go about finding your answers to these questions? Do I come back to this site, or do I get email. Long time since I used the site. Thank you!
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Lively replied 8 years ago.

This sounds like a very painful relationship for you. It seems like things really need to change in order for you to stay in this relationship happily... I'm wondering if you think that both you and your husband would be willing to do the work necessary to make these changes? If so, I would strongly advise that you seek professional help as a couple. Marriage counseling would be a good place to get all of these thoughts and feelings out with a mediator who could help both of you feel heard and respected. The therapist would also be able to work with both of you on re-establishing loving and trusting feelings. This course of action requires a lot of effort and devotion however, and so if you're not sure that it's something that BOTH of you could commit to, it will likely not work.

Another option is for you to seek individual therapy to help you become clearer about the pros and cons of staying with your husband. For example, you say that you love him and I'd want to know more about what you love, how often you get to experience those loving feelings, etc. I'd also like to hear more about the part of you that feels "tired of secrets and lies" and what it has been like for you to feel betrayed and alone. Seeking therapy around your own feelings could help you get clearer around what you need to do in order to feel happy in yourself- with or without your husband.

There is no easy answer. Clearly there is part of you that is committed to your husband and to your marriage or you wouldn't have stayed with him through all of these difficult times. And yet there is also a part of you that's worried things won't get better and that you will continue to feel unloved and distrustful. The only way through this is to focus on your own needs and to be very clear with your husband about what your needs are, what you are willing to do to get your needs met, and what you would need from him in order to feel continued love and commitment to the marriage.

Lively and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I already clicked on accept answer, but my payment info needs updatiing and I don't know where to go to do that. Also my husband is at home now and I don't want him to see what I'm doing. He has told me he does not intend to go for anymore counselling. Can you address my concern about the pornography issue? I may just have to wait awhile and see how things play out.
Expert:  Lively replied 8 years ago.

Many people feel that using pornography regularly, as it sounds like your husband does, constitutes an addiction. Some people also feel that, emotionally, it is the equivalent to having an affair. Clearly you are upset by your husband's pornography use and it sounds like it just furthers the trust issues that already exist in your marriage since his affair.

I think that the fact that it is so upsetting to you and that your husband knows this and doesn't stop or alter his use of pornography constitutes a real marital problem as it communicates that he does not value your feelings as much as you'd like/want/need him to in order for you to feel happy and trusting in your relationship.