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My husband is addicted to porn

(101 Posts)
SlipperyWhenW3t Sun 20-Apr-14 21:21:31

I'm new to this forum and have joined specifically because I would desperately appreciate any advice from anybody who has experience with this sort of thing. Depending on how much time you have, I've written the full story or a short version.

Short story:
I'm 26, my husband is 29. We have been married nearly three years and together for just over five. Since fairly early in the relationship there have been serious problems with sexual compatibility but we were so head over heels in love, and continue to be so compatible and well-suited in every other respect, that I believed the issues could be fixed with time. In the last two and a half years the problem has mostly manifested in what appeared to be an almost complete lack of sex drive on his part. I have worked incredibly hard to try to fix the problem but unfortunately in the last three months have succumbed to the pressure of a serious attraction to a new colleague. In the last week my husband has admitted that the actual reason behind our problems is that he has been addicted to watching porn since he was 11. The association for him between porn and sexual gratification is so strong that he actually finds it almost impossible to get turned on by anything other than being left alone with a computer.

I have told him about the bare bones (excuse the pun) of my relationship with my colleague but he does not know the gory details. He says he would rather excuse an indiscretion than have me leave him, and thinks he can sort out his issues This is unfortunate timing as I have been waiting years for him to admit and address the real underlying issue, and am now struggling to give up the new-found sexual thrill of flirting with somebody else. Can anybody suggest a plan of attack for us to try and address this, get our sex life back on track, and rescue our marriage?

The (very, very) long story:
I met my now husband when I was 21; I am now 26 and we have been married nearly three years. He is three years older. We met online, which was a new experience for me. We fell in love very quickly. It was a real meeting of minds. I like and respect him more than any other man I've ever met. He is clever, funny, well-educated, extremely compassionate and shares most of my outlooks on life. We remain best friends, enjoy a nice life doing lots of things together, very rarely argue, and the emotional aspect of our marriage has been, until very recently, almost perfect. Initially our sex life was as you'd expect for a new couple - we had sex regularly and it was light-hearted and fun. However, as we started to commit emotionally and got engaged etc, I began to feel concerned and at times disturbed because the sex we had still seemed to always be very impersonal and at times I felt quite demeaned. He seemed to find it impossible to engage with me at all, and I often felt as if I could just be anybody, or even not there at all. To put it bluntly, I began to get upset that he was just fucking me and never making love to me. I expressed my concerns to him in what I hoped was a sensitive manner and for a very short while he seemed to make an effort, although to be honest his attempts at looking at me or talking to me during sex were often more disappointing than before I'd said anything. However, not long after this, our sex life began to tail off abruptly to, relatively speaking, almost nothing.

There have been peaks and troughs over the last four years, but mostly we have been in a situation where if we would have sex, we could easily go several weeks before it happened again. Inevitably he finishes extremely quickly and the sex itself is disappointing, which does not help encourage repeat episodes. For the vast majority of this period he has maintained that he simply has a low sex drive and does not know why. There have been countless promises to try and change/improve the situation, with occasional bouts of very short lived success, eg having sex twice in a week, before reverting to the norm. Initially I tried on my own to pinpoint what could be causing this low sex drive. We have no children, no pets, no dependent family members, no more stresses or money worries than the average couple our age, and of the two of us I am the one who works long hours with emergency, on call and night duties. I have tried everything in terms of the way I look, to try and increase his attraction to me. I have been curvier than usual, slimmer than usual, and now have settled on simply concentrating on being happy with myself, so I eat healthily and work out several times a week. My hair has been long, short, dark, blonde and every shade in between, trying to find a style he fancies more. I shave my legs, my bikini line is immaculate, I always wear nice matching sets of underwear and dress carefully. I am not particularly confident in my own looks but the point is I make a massive effort for him, and I figure I am not going to get any better looking than I am now as I grow older and have babies etc!

I have looked at ways I could be a better partner, I have asked him if there is anything in the way we interact that puts him off sex. I have asked him if it is confidence in himself that's lacking. I cook him healthy meals and try to encourage him to exercise. I have had him checked for all possible medical issues and he came back from the doctor with a very expensive prescription for medication to treat erectile dysfunction. That put us in an even stranger position because I assume the way to use that medication is wait til you're in the mood then take a pill - however because the issue seemed to be libido rather than a mechanical problem with 'getting it up' it was impossible to plan. I didn't feel particularly sexy saying "why don't you take a pill?"!! He took one and the rest remain untouched in our medicine cupboard. I tried literally hundreds of times explaining to him that the fact he didn't seem to want to sleep with me made me feel as if there was something wrong with me, that he didn't love me. I told him time and time again of the loneliness and isolation, the humiliation of not being able to tell anybody because I was so embarrassed, when everybody around me complained about having to pretend to be asleep or other ways to deflect their partners' constant demands for sex. I have told him how upset it makes me that I don't know how we could possibly hope to conceive, let alone what would become of our almost non-existent sex life once a baby or babies come along. I used to feel so excited at the idea of starting a family with him, but now it fills me with dread and anxiety. Nothing has changed.

The turning point has come in the last three months. I finally grew exhausted of trying to solve this problem on my own, feeling as though I was getting no help, and mostly of being starved of the feeling of being sexually attractive. I started a new job just before Christmas and from January onwards have been working with a colleague with whom I have sexual chemistry. Initially we were just very friendly, but I found myself pouring out all my troubles to him. His total bafflement at how I could have found myself in this situation stroked my ego massively and eased some of the stress of keeping this huge secret to myself. At first he was very respectful of the fact that I was married and really kept his distance but it was like something in me finally snapped and I am ashamed to say that following encouragement on my part, we have ended up spending two nights together. There is no great future in it emotionally and I am not in love with him, but the sex was eye-wateringly good and our flirty texting is like a drug to me that I am finding really hard to consider giving up. I have told my husband that there is something going on with this other guy, but I have not told him all the gory details. He is obviously not happy, but says he would rather excuse an indiscretion than have me leave him.

Unfortunately, my husband has picked the last week to finally admit to me that the real underlying issue in our own relationship is an addiction to porn. He was raised by a strict Catholic mother who taught him that sex was dirty and shameful. In rebellion against this, he has been looking at internet porn since he was 11 and now finds it almost impossible to become turned on by anything 'in real life'. He only finds himself getting in the mood once he is alone in the house with access to a computer. Doubly unfortunately, many years of trying to find new material to keep him entertained has inevitably led him to some very extreme, quite violent and very demeaning material, which sits badly with me as I was raped when I was 16. This means that normal sex with a normal person who wants him to look in her eyes and touch her, speak to her and engage with her as his loving partner holds absolutely zero appeal, and when he tries to do those things rather than just shut his eyes and think about things he's seen online, it results in him losing his erection. Naturally this makes me feel horrendous about myself and it has got to the point where between his admissions and my relationship with the other guy, I can't even bear the thought of my husband touching me.

Nevertheless, my husband now thinks that as he has admitted the real issue to both himself and me, he can get help to solve the problem. I do not want to split up, and I would love to get the marriage back on track, but I am finding it very hard to give up my secret life on the side (I am aware that is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances). If anybody has any words of advice or wisdom I would be desperately grateful. If anybody has actually read all this I am really impressed!!

Fairenuff Sun 20-Apr-14 21:25:18

many years of trying to find new material to keep him entertained has inevitably led him to some very extreme, quite violent and very demeaning material

Leave him for this reason alone.

Fairenuff Sun 20-Apr-14 21:26:13

Oh, and dump the colleague who is just preying on your insecurities.

Twinklestein Sun 20-Apr-14 21:34:47

Your husband has had all his adult life, and the five years you have been together, to address his problem. It's a bummer that he left it until you had given up on him to address it, and it's rather selfish of him not to have mentioned this before given your efforts to try to resolve the issue, and the effect on your self esteem. I understand that he's likely ashamed of it, but it's not a problem that you can hide or would go away.

Whether you want to give him time to try to rectify the issue is a choice that only you can make.

Addictions are very difficult to treat, the person has to be completely committed, and this case is not simply addiction but conditioning too. I have no idea whether he will ever be able to develop a 'normal' attitude to sex.

GrassIsSinging Sun 20-Apr-14 21:35:02

Back away from the colleague immediately. Thats only going to fuck everything up.

Your husband needs professional help. I would suggest a specialist therapist. Whether you are willing to stay with him while he works out his sexual issues is your call. It all sounds incredibly stressful and like a lot of painful and hard work to come for such a young relationship and two suchyoung people. No matter how much you love him, you'll need to accept that th foundations of your relationship are very shaky and based on a huge deception on his part. That doesnt bode at all well.

Take time to make the right decision for YOU.

FastLoris Sun 20-Apr-14 21:48:59

Wow. His relationship to porn sounds extreme. It's clearly had a terrible effect on your relationship, but it's hard to blame somebody for something they got into at 11 in reaction to their upbringing.

The one thing I would say is that you describe your sexual relationship at the beginning of the relationship in positive terms. That means it's possible. It might be easier to conclude there's no hope if he'd never been sexually OK with you at all.

It's certainly a big thing to take on though, and there may be a lot more to it than porn, which may be more of a symptom than a cause. (I'm curious about the repressive catholic mother).

I agree with others that you're better off without the extra-marital dalliance. In which case, what's to lose in giving it a go? Your H has taken the first and most important step in admitting the scale of the problem. People do get over addictions, although to be fair I suppose we don't know that much about porn addiction yet.

SlipperyWhenW3t Sun 20-Apr-14 21:55:51

Thank you for all replies. It's good to get a variety of opinions. I have, naturally, thought about jacking it all in and leaving him, but I love him, I know he loves me, and quite honestly I can't bear the thought of being alone and having to start all over again. He is a good man and I probably haven't said enough to emphasise how good our relationship as two people is. It's like it's split down the middle and the physical side of things is completely separate, almost like being in a relationship with two different people. I know that I have to lose the bit on the side, I just need to give myself a kick up the arse and actually do it. I'm really interested to see what other replies come up. Again, thank you all so far smile

MamaMary Sun 20-Apr-14 22:01:47

I'd put less emphasis on your DH's upbringing and more on the fact that for many years he has chosen and continues to choose, to look at degrading, violent images which will certainly include rape in multiple forms, possible include minors. He alone is responsible for this choice. He is treating you, and 50% of the population, with zero respect. I'd be concerned that he only confessed after you owned up about the colleague.

I agree that he needs professional help. Whether you stand by him while this is sought is your choice. It certainly won't be an easy journey.

I agree with the other posters that the colleague is simply preying on you after you admitted you were vulnerable. That was a shabby thing to do and he sounds like someone you'd be better cutting ties with immediately.

Fairenuff Sun 20-Apr-14 22:03:35

How can you love a man that gets his kicks out of sexual violence to women?

GrassIsSinging Sun 20-Apr-14 22:07:46

I really do not want to sound patronising, but saying that the physical side of thing is 'separate' and portraying this as 'just' a sexual issue in an otherwise healthy, happy relationship amounts to a massive denial of the reality of the situation.

He has lied to you for your entire relationship...and its a huge, huge lie. He has hidden a deep, deep problem he has, a problem that directly impacts on your relationship. He has hidden it even when you have blamed yourself...even when it has hurt you...even when it deprived his own wife of a normal sexual relationship.

Added to that, there is the very real chance that he will not be able to enjoy a 'normal' sexual relationship at all. Ever. For him to be able to have any chance of 'curing' this addiction, he is going to need to embrak on intense, painful therapy over a long period of time, possibly ongoing for many years. A life long prn addiction that has got so extreme it has basically killed his ability to function in a sexual relationship with another human being is pretty serious stuff.

I am not trying to be unkind by saying this. But I think you have to really, really have tothink about this realistically, not romantically, and base any decision to stay in this marriage on an appraisal of the facts with eyes wide open.

The fact that at 26, you are scared to start over again is also slightly concerning. That should NOT be a reason to stay.

Twinklestein Sun 20-Apr-14 22:37:57

I have to agree with MamaMary - my reaction was the same: many boys get into porn when they are very young nowawadays, that is not the same thing as actively seeking out extreme images. The two things are not necessarily related at all. As an adult it has always been under his control.

I also agree with Grass that this is not just simply a 'sexual issue', it's not even just an addiction issue: it's a deep mental and emotional issue, complicated by a fundamental on-going deception through your entire relationship. It's going to be very hard to resolve.

This chunk of your post really struck me:

I told him time and time again of the loneliness and isolation, the humiliation of not being able to tell anybody because I was so embarrassed, when everybody around me complained about having to pretend to be asleep or other ways to deflect their partners' constant demands for sex. I have told him how upset it makes me that I don't know how we could possibly hope to conceive, let alone what would become of our almost non-existent sex life once a baby or babies come along. I used to feel so excited at the idea of starting a family with him, but now it fills me with dread and anxiety. Nothing has changed.

He let you go through all of that for so long, and he never had the compassion or the gumption to tell you the truth. He's supposed to love you. And what is the truth? Perhaps the truth is that he likes a certain kind of sex and you don't. Therapy might help him wean himself off addiction to viewing extreme images but it may not change his sexual predilections or how he relates to his partner sexually.

Perhaps you should explore the 'dread and anxiety' of starting a family with him. There may be more to this than you're currently conscious of.

This affair may not simply be about being desired sexually, it may be that part of you wants out, and the (too?) late revelations do not materially alter this.

It's absurd to think you're too old to start over again. At your age many people, perhaps even most these days, haven't even met their life partner yet.

TinyDiamond Sun 20-Apr-14 22:57:00

Sounds really hard and you have been patient. I am not condoning your relationship with your colleague as you know that is wrong, for many reasons. But I do think you should leave your husband. He will only get the help he needs in his own time and it is totally unfair for you to be waiting in the background. He's had years.
You are not too old but you're only going to get older.

Custardo Sun 20-Apr-14 23:01:12

id say to dh " i totally believe you want to fix our marriage so we are getting rid of the internet"

that would be my one and only rule

internet goes - i stay

keep internet - i go

FastLoris Sun 20-Apr-14 23:03:03

Custardo - yep, in theory. Can people actually function in the world without the internet now though?

DustBunnyFarmer Sun 20-Apr-14 23:12:56

It would also mean ditching smartphones, internet at work etc. not realistic in this day and age.

badbaldingballerina123 Sun 20-Apr-14 23:16:24

The om is a parasite , you need to get rid of him. Porn addiction is the tip of the iceberg , there's often underlying serious issues behind this. Your husband has badly let you down . I don't see a future in it.

Guiltypleasures001 Sun 20-Apr-14 23:21:43

Hi op

Porn addiction is now a huge problem in this country, it permeates everything and anyone, kids are becoming addicted from very young and have no idea what a real woman or man should look or perform like.

Hence girls think they have to act like porn starts and do some very unacceptable things in the bedroom.

The upshot of all of this is that the longer the addict is involved with porn,then the more desensitised they become. They will need a harder fix each time to get the same outcome.

The first step is he has admitted this, he now really needs to go see a qualified counsellor who will take him back through his childhood and the triggers that have brought him to where he is now. He needs to totally re train his brain and thought patterns, this will not be over 6 weeks with CBT.

If he and you are serious about tackling this issue the. Be prepared for the long haul and spending money on the therapy, he can recover it is doable, he is not a lost cause.

Best of luck op thanks

GimmeDaBoobehz Sun 20-Apr-14 23:37:03

Nothing more to add but you have had good advice.

He has let you suffer without telling you. To me that isn't love.

Custardo Sun 20-Apr-14 23:39:15

well you can access porn through smart phones - so it is totally realistic - at home

not sure why someone needs internet access at home - do something else if the internet is a problem

FastLoris Mon 21-Apr-14 00:03:08

Well most of us need email for all kinds of communication purposes. It's pretty much replaced snail mail and noone in the old days would have just chosen not to have an address they could receive mail at.

And if you have something that can receive email, it can also load a browser and receive porn.

badbaldingballerina123 Mon 21-Apr-14 00:03:32

When you say you've told your husband that somethings going on with the work chap , but you've not told him the gory details , does that mean you haven't actually told him that you've had sex with him ?

Your husband has kept secrets from you for years. He's denied you intimacy and let you take the blame. You will need to consider whether there is more to the porn issue , eg chatting to women on line , web camming or even worse paid services .

I think your husbands lack of reaction to heAring about the om is sadly lacking. I would not refer to infidelity as a indiscretion , not would I be willing to excuse it. How do you feel about him being willing to excuse it ?

Custardo Mon 21-Apr-14 00:08:01

i think i could do without e-mail to save my marriage if that was the option

MrsThor Mon 21-Apr-14 03:39:19

Sex addiction is extremely difficult to deal with. He needs to find a CSAT ..certified sex addiction therapist and contact SLA..which is a twelve step programme

You can also contact posarc, which is support for partners of sex addicts. The first thing you will learn is that there is NOTHING you could have done to change this...it is not about you or how desirable you are. His brain has been " re wired" and there is nothing you could have done to change it

Finding out about the porn may only be the tip of the iceberg....commonly sex addicts behavior escalates to meet their need for a high

It might be worth you also speaking to a counsellor as the affects on a partner are traumatic

I hope this helps

MerryMarigold Mon 21-Apr-14 04:06:54

the sex we had still seemed to always be very impersonal and at times I felt quite demeaned. He seemed to find it impossible to engage with me at all, and I often felt as if I could just be anybody, or even not there at all. To put it bluntly, I began to get upset that he was just fucking me and never making love to me.

This is exactly what porn does to a sex life with a real person. This is exactly how I felt, so it is interesting to read that it has had the same effect on you. I don't think my dh was where yours is in terms of addiction as he could still have sex with me and hadn't got into anything 'extreme', but sex was just so impersonal. I actually told him I felt like a blow up doll (not so much sensitivity there!). It has taken years (10 years) to overcome this, and I think we just about are. For the first time in my life with him, I feel satisfied by sex and find it enjoyable, and actually get to orgasm nearly always. He has been pretty committed to not looking at anything at all for the past 4 or 5 years, not even dodgy late night films.

I don't know how or if your h can overcome his addiction. I think it is a really long road though. Those images are there now, and won't be able to be erased from his mind. It depends how much you both want to do this. I think you need to be honest about what you've done as there is no way this amount of work and investment can happen on a basis of dishonesty. Tell him, and see if he even wants to work it out with you. And if you are able to do it for the long haul.

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Mon 21-Apr-14 06:32:27

Grim.
It's all so grim. He has spend years lying to you, letting you run yourself esteem into the ground over this and all along he had a grubby, nasty addiction that meant he could never function as a loving partner.
Those women and girls in the porn he watches? Raped, abused, coerced, drug addicted, degraded, scared, threatened. He's watched images of simulated or actual rape, with very young women, teenagers actually. Women who have to drug themselves so they can physically cope with the pain of what they have to do in these shoots.
Addiction is complex, yes. But to allow it to get to this extreme before doing anything about it, to the point where he is watching these images and not even questioning whether it's ok to do that, that shows a depth of misogyny that I couldn't take myself.

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