He seems to be watching online porn and emailing a past girlfriend. Is their marriage in jeopardy?
Question: I think my husband has a porn problem. I have even seen stuff on our computer suggesting he is in communication with other women. You should know that he has always been very affectionate with me and that hasn’t changed. Our sex life is a little lacking, but he has a disability that makes “getting physical” a little a little bit of a challenge. I have asked about the porn and he denies it. We have been married more than twenty years and I really love him. Last year he was in touch with his old girlfriend, but claims she contacted him. He said that he hid it from me because even though it was completely innocent and nothing happened, he had a fling with this woman many years ago, and didn’t think I would understand him talking to her now. However, I believe that he is watching porn, still talking to his ex or some other woman, or all three, and pretending to love me. Help if you can. …Joni
Answer: First, let’s deal with the porn issue. If your husband is looking at online porn, he is like just about every other guy (and some women) using the internet today. Guys are very visual and porn appeals to our more voyeuristic tendencies. As long as he is not obsessed with it (ie. missing work, social appointments, meals, or quality time with you), it is probably just a harmless diversion. Even if he is masturbating to the porn (which is fairly likely), it is not a reflection of his feelings for you. Men often use masturbation purely as a means of quick physical release – a stress reliever, if you will. But why would he do this if he has a willing and able sex partner (you) close by? Because maybe he’s already tired, and the idea of the extra effort he may have to exert to have full-on sex with you is a little overwhelming, given his weary state. And to be perfectly honest, most married men masturbate at least on occasion, so truly I don’t think this is anything to worry about.
Since you said your sex life is less-than-stellar, one other thing that comes to mind is that your husband may be avoiding sex on occasion because of his injuries. Although he may still cherish the intimate interaction with you, the actual mechanics of the act may be uncomfortable and/or possibly even a little painful. He might also be suffering from performance anxiety given his diminished physical state. One way for you to maintain the intimacy without him feeling either pain or pressure is to do for him what he is probably now doing for himself to get needed sexual relief – masturbating. It can be a very sensual experience to manually bring your partner to orgasm. And, of course, you can switch off doing each other, or grope each other simultaneously. This mutual masturbation will likely make him feel less pressured and cause him to want to spend more time with you, a real, live, flesh-and-blood woman with magic hands, and less time with two-dimensional online vixens who offer no skin-to-skin contact. It’s kind of win-win for both of you.
On the other hand, if he is having personal contact through text, emails or phone calls with women he’s met online, there may be a problem. If these women are merely sex workers (women who use fake names and descriptions of themselves and charge money to have sex-chat with men), then again, this remains in fantasy land, and probably does not greatly threaten your marriage. I’m not saying I approve of it or that you should, but there is very little likelihood that your husband will ever actually meet any of these women in person. If, however, he is “chatting” with non-pros, the potential for disaster is greatly increased. And this is true whether it’s an old girlfriend or someone he just met today. In this case, talking usually leads to action – and that can put your relationship in major jeopardy.
So what should you do? Although he may hate it, talk to him and see if you can get to the bottom of things. While men generally aren’t fond of this kind of discussion, let him know it is very important to you to understand what’s going on with him. For the best result, you should approach him in the least accusatory way possible. If he does tell you he is continuing to talk to his old girlfriend or flirting with lonely, female strangers online, you should tell him how much that hurts you and that you would appreciate it if he would discontinue this immediately. If he is unwilling to do so, suggest that you both speak to a marriage counselor – either a licensed therapist or a clergyperson, whichever best suits your situation and budget.
From your description of your relationship with your husband, it does sound like he is honestly in love with you. Men who continue to be affectionate with their spouses after many years of marriage generally do so because they feel that affection. Guys aren’t particularly good at faking that kind of thing on a daily basis. It’s just too hard…and why bother, if we truly just want out of the relationship? No, I think your husband is still attracted to you, but there are other issues (feelings of inadequacy, worries about his sexual performance, etc.) that are just getting in the way. It is very possible that he is going through some sort of mid-life crisis and is reaching out to other women to reaffirm his masculinity and attractiveness to the opposite sex. The good news is: this has absolutely nothing to do with how deeply he cares for you. It has to do with his feelings of mortality and his worries that he is growing old and unappealing. The bad news is: satisfying his need to feel attractive to other women can alienate the one woman who actually does find him attractive – you.
© 2010 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.
Besides being a relationship coach and author of the controversial book, "Every Man Sees You Naked: An Insider's Guide to How Men Think," David M. Matthews is an Emmy-winning TV Writer/Producer who's worked on some of television's best shows.
For more information on David or to get a copy of his free report on "The 3 Things Men Are REALLY Looking For In A Relationship," go to www.EveryManSeesYouNaked.com.