My husband has lied to me for our entire marriage


#1

My husband and I have been married for six years. We met at a time that he was very spiritually sound and a devout Catholic. He overcame a lifestyle of lust and using pornography and was clean for several years before meeting me. We married and began our life together.

Our marriage was tested almost immediately by several deaths in the family and two among our friends. This was extremely devastating for us and the amount of stress and sorrow was unimaginable. The pain is indescribable to remember. We got into counseling and at first that wasn’t very helpful, but it began to get better and we learned quite a bit about grief and surviving. We began talking to our counselor about unresolved issues with certain family members who had passed on, and it was revealed that my husband’s father introduced him to pornography at age six. I knew that his history began early with the use of it, but I was under the impression it started in junior high and ended in his early twenties.

We were both virgins when we married. He had prior experience but never came close to actual intercourse. Our married intimacy life was very awkward and unsatisfying. The frequency was very little, like maybe a few times a month whenever I initiated it, but it quickly dwindled down to once a month and then basically next to nothing. He seemed quite troubled about having sex with his wife, but I chalked it up to beginner’s anxiety and tried to have compassion for how difficult it was to transition into married life and deal with the deaths of several important people all at once. We discussed it many times and I tried very hard to not push or make him feel badly. But I began questioning what was wrong with me if he didn’t want me. He seemed to want me before we were married, but not after. We were chaste during our courtship. We have never, ever used contraception and have only used NFP. He has been completely uninvolved in the charting aspect, only half-heartedly asking about safe days and then finding excuses not to use them.

I had two pregnancies in a row, and he was uninterested in sex during this time, including the recovery. But, he was very excited about the babies and becoming a father. I was very hurt by the continual lack of intimacy and beginning to panic that we’d only had sex a handful of times in our entire marriage and yet the years were passing. I insisted we get back into counseling and he reluctantly agreed. I was suffering from PPD and my whole life seemed like a fog.

He has been diagnosed with OCD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, anxiety and depression. He is on medication and it helps a great deal, but certainly not enough. He’s on the highest dose they can put him on and still be safe. He’s very successful at his job and a wonderful provider for our family. He’s an excellent daddy to our two girls and they love him to bits. Part of his OCD includes scrupulosity and intense guilt with sexual relations.

Our youngest is two years old, and we’ve only had sex twice in the last three years. The last three years have been a constant cycle of me being infuriated by this and alternately resigned. We’ve discussed it endlessly. He “feels bad” and is so beaten down sounding when I tell him how hurt and troubled I am. We go to therapy and he makes promises but it never changes. He explained that his OCD causes him a great deal of stress and anxiety about sex and that he has a hard time being intimate with me because there is so much anxiety with it for him. He has a million excuses, like being too tired or having too much work or being out of town on business. Recently I walked into his home office and saw Jesus pictures taped to the monitor. I immediately was suspicious and the next morning we had a conversation and he admitted porn use.

It took about a week, but he finally confessed (after my prodding) that he’s been indulging his addiction for the entire duration of our marriage and it began almost immediately, when stress started pounding away with the tragedies that hit our family. He says that he’s told his individual therapist about this but that he’s been terrified to discuss it with me because he knew I was under the impression he’s clean. There have been times I’ve suspected and asked him directly if he’s struggling. Each time he lied to me, to my face. He also lies to me by omission and is never forthcoming. I have to not only guess whatever is wrong, but ask the right questions, and only then will he answer with a yes or no. His OCD leads him to exactitudes and he spends a great deal of time “considering” what he should say so it’s entirely accurate. Yet most of what he says is misleading, or just part of the truth. It’s infuriating and I can’t even describe how angering it is.

He works with technology and is quite computer savvy, so he would often invite me to look at his history and I never saw anything inappropriate. I’ve looked many, many times. There was never anything suspicious.

Under the guidance of my therapist (he hasn’t seen his in a fortnight) we’ve moved the computer to our living room area and last night downloaded a software program. He’s going to contact a ministry in our area that helps support men with porn addiction. He says most of his porn use has been related to OCD stress. Feeling anxious and unable to conquer the anxiety. The two times we’ve had sex, he had serious delayed ejaculation, probably because of the high dose of medication he’s on - or that’s what I thought. But it might be that he masturbated beforehand, for all I know.

continued below…


#2

The problem, aside from all of the above, is that I don’t know how to deal with my own hurt and frustration. I haven’t yelled or been unkind or even freaked out since he told me. I’ve cried and told him how hurt I am, and he’s apologized. He’s thanked me for being so compassionate. But inside, I just want to strangle him. He has been all but absent in our entire marriage, emotionally and physically. When we stopped having sex, he withdrew emotionally as well. I have cried, begged, pleaded, screamed, yelled, retreated and prayed throughout. Nothing ever changed his behavior, although he would express sorrow. It’s literally like he became a different person the moment the rings were on our fingers. The man I dated was attentive, interested, and empathetic. Now he’s anything but those things.

I find myself wondering if we’re even married. I’m fairly confident a tribunal would easily rule after an investigation that my husband lacks the consent for marriage. Since he began looking at porn so quickly after our vows were taken, perhaps he never had the intention of being exclusive. He’s wasted his sexual desire on hundreds of women who aren’t real and will never love him.
But do I tear our family apart? Our children love their father. I love their father. I see his brokenness and I want to help him heal. But he has such difficulty with understanding how his actions impact me and others. I took a vow for sickness and in health. But sometimes it feels like I vowed to withstand being ignored and neglected. It all seems to fall under the description of his mental health problems, but it just hurts. I’m still young and I feel so cheated for having waited until marriage for sex and intimacy - only to have a husband that chose porn over me. What’s even funnier is that I’ve touted his overcoming of the addiction as being the problem - maybe he repressed his sexual needs so much that he just didn’t have any more urges? Yeah, right.

Is it a sin to stay in a marriage if you’re not certain it’s valid? Our marriage took place in the Church and it was a sacrament. Do you have to go through a convalidation in case it’s not real? Or can you even do that if someone can’t even consent to marriage in the first place, and how do you find that out without an investigation (and divorce)?

How much suffering are we called to endure in marriage?

I should say that he does seem so relieved to have this out in the open and to be taking steps to make it better and get him clean again. That’s the only thing that gives me any hope.


#3

It sounds like you are suddenly making some actual progress if he is opening up to you about a problem that has always been there, that he has been secretive about. It seems like it would be a good thing for him to know that he is safe to share his whole self with you, shortcomings and all. Knowing that is what is going to get you to the true intimacy that want to have with him.

Are your counselors well versed in the Catholic faith? Is there a way that you can share with him that marital relations are actually holy and good, that God is present in the marital embrace, and that it is the devil who would have him believe that pornography is a good substitute…because the devil would surely like to prevent you from being close to God.

Is your husband familiar with Theology of the Body?

Prayers for you. Your situation sounds incredibly difficult, but I think it sounds like there is real potential for progress in your marriage.


#4

Sublimefelicity,
I will say some prayers for you and your family. You write very well by the way, and have described just how damaging porn addiction is. I never understood how deep it can be and I am sorry you are dealing with this. Have you spoken with a priest about this? I know people on CAF commonly suggest that route, but if you know of a very good priest, I suggest his counsel.

I am sorry for the pain you are feeling, truly.


#5

I am sorry to hear that you are going through this and would like to offer a few websites that may be of help to him and would encourage you to have him look at these sites, especially the first one as it was created by a man that overcame this addiction as well. I would also encourage you to view it as well.

www.trueknights.org

www.settingcaptivesfree.com

www.dads.org

Check out this thread:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=55427

I would also strongly encourage you to continue to work on your marriage. To me, it does not sound as if you are to the point of “throwing in the towel.” You have to fight for your husband and for your marriage. If for nothing else other than your daughters. They deserve that.

His actions, as you have described them, are typical of what you will find with someone that is addicted to porn. Withdrawn, lack of interest in sex, pulls away from others, views women as objects.

Reading “The Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West would do amazing things in his life

Again, if he is to the point that he does want to work on this and that he does want to save his family, it can and will happen. Look at Ken Henderson (www.trueknights.org) and the demons and battles that he fought to save his family.

While I can understand that this is painful for you and you feel extremely rejected, you need to be there for him and support him through this. I am not saying that you are now in the role of a cheerleader just shaking your pom poms from the sideline. I am saying that you are the one thing that he knows that he can lean on. That is going to be tough for him as he now knows the pain that he has caused you. If he does not know, then you should tell him. He has to know how you feel about this, but not in a way that is attacking him and blaming everything on him and his addiction.

Support him, love him, be there for him. He has to be accountable to you now. Putting the computer in a common area and adding software is a great thing. That will benefit both you and him.

To say that your marriage is not valid and that you are sure of it is not completely correct. That would not be decided until the tribunal was reviewing your marriage in an annulment process. But, to me, that is taking steps that you do not need to even consider at this point. You said it yourself that he is a good husband (all things condsidered) and a good father, that has to count for something here. There is a way to make this work. It will take work, work from both of you. Moreso him than you, but it can be turned around. Time to get back to focusing on each other and your life together.

Have him look into the resources mentioned and you do the same. Read the book by Christopher West. Save your marriage.


#6

Thanks, you’re right I probably shouldn’t be too confident about what a tribunal would say. But it’s scaring me very much that maybe my marriage isn’t valid. I don’t think it’s a stretch to wonder about that if he began looking at porn directly after our wedding took place, but hadn’t so much as seen ANY in YEARS prior. I know it was triggered by stress, but some of that stress happened right before the wedding. Hopefully you can at least understand why I’m questioning all of this.

I do take issue with you suggesting that I shouldn’t blame everything on him. I haven’t done that. I haven’t lost my temper or done any of that. He too has suggested to me that he’s not sure our marriage is valid. This is not me just coming up with crazy ideas! He told me that he’s been to men’s conferences where very well known Catholic apologists have discussed their struggles with the exact same thing, and that their wives have reacted with unbelievable sensitivity. He said that he’s prayed for years that if I should ever find out, I could have the same compassion for him. He said he’s extremely grateful that I’ve been so kind, so far. But I admit I’m white knuckling it.

He has read Christopher West. We’ve seen Christopher West speak. We’ve never had any unchaste sex or sexual activity. The guilt would overwhelm him. That’s why all of the secrecy exists - he hates himself for it and told me how ashamed he feels.

Both of our therapists are practicing Catholics. One of them is involved in research with OCD. My husband is prescribed meds by a Catholic psychiatrist.

My therapist frightened me by telling me that we have to nip this in the bud immediately because she’s had OCD clients who look at porn and ultimately start clicking on very illegal items. My husband swears up and down that he’s never done that, is not interested in it and has never used a credit card or anything like that. He said that there were times where months could go by and he wouldn’t look at it. But then sometimes it’s several times daily.

We would speak to a priest about this, but the area we live in is very strict about parish boundaries. We live in a boundary area that doesn’t have a pastor. We are served by a group of monks, I think, and it’s a different one every week who says mass. There is no continuity. We also live in a very liberal diocese and I’m not sure we’d find someone orthodox enough to speak to and get sound advice.


#7

I can understand why you are questioning it. I think that, to worry about the validity of your marriage right now is not the main concern. Again, that would be for the tribunal to answer in an annulment. Maybe it would be a nice thing, once you and your husband are back on track, to renew your wedding vows.

Whoa, slow the bus down here. I did not suggest that you should not blame everything on him. If you will recall my statement and the context in which it was written:

[quote="Mirror Mirror]That is going to be tough for him as he now knows the pain that he has caused you. If he does not know, then you should tell him. He has to know how you feel about this, but not in a way that is attacking him and blaming everything on him and his addiction.
[/quote]

What I said is that you should tell him the pain that this has caused you and when you do that, do not attack him or blame everything on him. If you did do that (not saying that you would) it would cause him to turn inside himself again, feel ashamed and sorry and not look to you for support and strength.

This is the compassion that I am talking about. While being compassionate he still has to know that what he did is wrong (which I think that he does) and the pain that it has caused you. This is not about just him. It is about the two of you. “The two become one flesh” in marriage and what affects him, affects you.

I can understand his guilt and all that. But you must realize that looking at pornography and masturbation are unchaste sexual activities. Studying the teachings by Christopher West will reiterate that.

Good! :thumbsup:

Each case is going to be different, however, the sooner that you can attack these demons the better.

You do not even have to stick to your boundaries. True it would be a lot easier if you had a relationship with the priest that you would talk with, but that is not a requirement. I am sure that there are priests in parishes that are near to you that would take the time to meet with both of you.


#8

As far as the worry that your marriage is not valid…please do not spend time worrying about that right now. There is no teaching that if one spouse hid something important from the other that the marriage is automatically invalid. You need to be operating from the presumption that your marriage is valid right now.

I am divorced and in the annulment process right now. You don’t enter into this process until your marriage has failed and you are divorced. Trust me, divorces are horrific, for everyone involved, especially the children, and should only be gone through if it would be better for everyone involved including the children for the marriage to end. This does not sound like the case in your marriage.

I was married to someone with a secret pornography habit that I had no idea about. However, my husband was not a devout Catholic, was abusive, and was an alcoholic. You have very good reason to stick it out and make it work. Your problems are not insurmountable and it really does sound to me like you are making really good progress on making them work.

Your husband has trusted you enough to share his most secret shame with you. Please do appreciate that and please do continue to treat him with kindness. Is there some way that you can open to him…to trust him…and to let him in closer to you than he has been before? I think that it is important that you both be open to that, so he is not feeling exposed and feeling like you are sitting in judgment and disgusted with him. It would be good if you could both be vulnerable to each other.

Since he has a problem with scrupulocity you really, really need to make the validity of your marriage a non-issue at this point.


#9

Sorry for misunderstanding, Mirror Mirror. :slight_smile:

When I mentioned we’ve never had unchaste sex, I meant only between us. He does all of the sinful stuff away from me and secretly. Which is what hurts so much. I thought he had no interest in sex because it was so anxiety-driven for him, but he really just preferred the individual gratification. He did tell me that real sex is the only activity he’s ever “enjoyed” and that the rest just creates misery. I just wish he would have turned to me instead of hiding when the stress and devastation was so difficult in the beginning of our marriage. He said he didn’t know how. (I should say that his parents were separated while he grew up, so he never had a healthy marriage modeled to him. And obviously his father was very exploitative if he thought it was appropriate to buy porn for his six year old son.) But, at least he’s learning. He told me last night that he thinks it’s no mistake that this is coming to light for us during Holy Week.


#10

Okay. Thank you very much for pointing out the error of my thinking. I don’t want to get a divorce. I’m scared that this won’t get better, but I realize it can only get better from here on out. I was worried that if I worry I’m in an invalid marriage, we’re compounding our problems by living in sin if we aren’t really married. I feel like of silly if that’s totally out there thinking, but it worried me.

And divorce would never be what’s best for my children. For someone who was parented so terribly, he is a phenomenal dad. I couldn’t ask for better.


#11

Today is St Joseph’s Day (the usual one). I have just finished a lovely novena to St Joseph today, particularly for my husband. He also suffers from OCD.


#12

Has your husband addressed with his therapist the issue of his father and the porn introduction?

My wife was abused by her father. It led to long term dysfunction that we are still working on.

Feel free to PM me for any additional info if appropriate.


#13

Very awesome advice…Divorce is so,so painful. Take your current hurt and then imagine that you just were hit in the belly with a baseball bat x 20. Don’t give up on the guy. You can work through this. As hard as it may be, don’t detach yourself from him, it will only make the problem worse. Instead, be there for him. Let him know how much you RESPECT him and am thankful for him being a good dad. Also let him know that you FORGIVE him but also make sure he wants to be forgiven. I know you can do it! Don’t give up. I would do anything I could to avoid a divorce. Even after all that has happened, I would still take my wife back. It is worth fighting for.


#14

I will PM you with more details.


#15

Please forgive me for saying this, but … could your husband be gay? Maybe he’s not looking at women, but at men on the internet… this could lead to the guilt, the inability to discuss it with you, and the inability to be intimate or enjoy intimacy. Maybe he likes being married, and having children, and enjoys your company, but just isn’t sexually attracted to you (women)???


#16

Well, that was kind of a silly thing to say.:confused: She doesn’t need this to worry about now on top of everything else. I don’t see how anything would point to him being gay. He would have guilt no matter who he was looking at. Are you saying that he wouldn’t have so much guilt if he were looking at women? Is this type of thing EVER easy to discuss? Women and men go through this all the time and it’s the same story over and over. The other spouse usually has to “catch” the offender by finding these things on the computer or on the screen, or some other way. Usually they don’t just come out and say, “hey hon, I’ve been looking at porn for the last 8 years!” And as far as the sexually attracted part… it is completely normal and common for a man to not want sex with his wife as often or at all if he is looking at porn on a regular basis. That is actually one of the symptoms.:shrug:


#17
  1. Well, she mentions her DH’s father introduced him to porn at age 6 (one of the main ways pedofiles begin sexually abusing kids - so that would be man on boy).

  2. She also said he was very religious before they got married. There are many men who loath being gay, understand the church’s teaching about it, and try their best to ignore it by getting married.

  3. She said that sex was seldom and unsatisfying from the begining … very rare for newly weds (he claimed not to be using porn when they were first married so you can’t blame it on that).

  4. He was very enthusiastic about having kids. He seemed more willing to have sex until they had kids, and since then he has been less than enthusiastic. Many gay men really want a loving family with kids, but once that need is fulfilled, then they are less enthusiastic about wanting to have sex with a woman.

  5. She also said it took him a while to ejaculate.

  6. He has OCD, anxiety & depression… symptoms of a person under a lot of stress, maybe due to abuse as a child, or living a “double life”.

All of this points very strongly to me to a person that may be struggling with their sexuality…either because he is gay, or because he was abused by a man at an early age.

People don’t act in ways that “don’t make sense”… there is always a reason for their actions, better to investigate all possibilities, then to be suffering without understanding what is really going on.

I hope I’m wrong, but let the lady at least consider the possibility, it might help her.


#18

Uh, no, he’s not gay. He has always been very clear about the porn he’s looking at.

His father introduced him to porn by buying a Playboy for him at age 6. A woman from a game show posed and it was a “family joke” that he had a crush on her. So his father somehow thought it was appropriate to buy him the Playboy, originally with the explained intent to “keep it for him until he turned 21.” But when my husband asked, “What’s that?” he showed him. My husband’s father kept his porn in his unlocked desk drawer and my husband found it at the same age.

There was never any physical sexual abuse, and certainly never “man on boy.” I can’t believe I’m even writing this…

OCD is a brain chemistry disorder that begins in childhood. It is not a symptom of being gay! Or living a double life! Honestly, the ignorance of that statement is almost unbelievable. His mother has OCD, his grandmother has OCD, his cousin has OCD… it’s in his family. He’s had it since he was a child.

Prior to medication, he’s never have delayed ejaculation. Ever.

My husband wasn’t excited about children until they got here, and he learned how much joy a child can bring into a life. His own parents never played with or taught him.

I think you need to educate yourself about OCD and scrupulosity before you begin making crazy assertions. I would offer you more information, but that isn’t what this thread is about and I’m not interested in entertaining your hypothesis.

Also, perhaps you failed to read my subsequent post about how he has stated to me that sex in our married life is better than anything he’s ever had elsewhere, but he feels so much undeserved guilt and anxiety of actually having sex - due to his scrupulosity - that he avoids it.


#19

He’s not gay, great!

As for causes of OCD, I never said being gay causes OCD, I said being gay and denighing it in a straight marriage, or having been molested as a child causes anxioty, depression, and can cause OCD. You might want to do a little research yourself, there are many sites on line, but I am copying the first sentence of a comprehensive Causes of OCD site from the uk:
anxietycare.org.uk/docs/ocdcauses.asp

As an FYI, my mom was sexually abused as a little girl, and developed a compulsion to wash over and over, sometime until her hands were raw…

Causes of OCD
There has been a good deal of research carried out over the past few years regarding the causes of OCD. It has been speculated that there might be several kinds of OCD and that, in particular, OCD that starts in childhood may be different from that which begins in adulthood.

PsychodynamicsThis is the theory that states that disturbances in early sexual or general development and unconscious wishes are at the heart of OCD.

Depression
People with depression sometimes develop OC symptoms, and those with OCD very often develop depression.

Life
Guilt and shame seem to occur strongly in some people’s OCD, particularly that of young people. ‘Tendency’ also seems to play a large part in this disorder, as in children inheriting a disposition towards OC problems or learning anxiety and guilt from parents or ‘significant other’ people in their lives.

Chemical and brain dysfunction
One cause that is gaining ground concerns the probability that there is a level of brain dysfunction in many OCD sufferers. Although it is not know if this is the cause or the result of the disorder.

Genetics
Some research points to the likelihood that OCD sufferers will have a family member with the problem or with one of the other ‘OCD –Spectrum’ of disorders. However the possibility that it is inherited genetically is not conclusive. It does not follow, for example, that identical twins will both have OCD so genetics cannot be entirely to blame.

Infection
A streptococcal infection of the throat is known to occasionally result in the body confusing healthy cells with the infection and causing cellular damage. Some research suggests that these symptoms don’t seem to last very long and the occurrence of this ‘infection OCD’ seems to be very rare.

**
The cause of OCD is probably a mix of many factors described above, including neurobiological, environmental influences and the way we think. **


#20

Thank you, we’re aware of the causes of OCD. Please don’t presume that I need to educate myself on his illness. My husband’s therapist is involved in research regarding the strep infection causation, and it has been determined that due to his numerous strep infections as a young child, this probably played a large part in developing his pre-disposition to the disorder. My husband is involved with the study as well.

Ecp007, please don’t bother responding to my situation anymore, I’m not interested in your input. This thread isn’t about OCD or about convincing you that my husband isn’t a victim of “man on boy” child sex abuse.


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