How do you find interest in sex without trust?
My husband was addicted to porn before we got married. I believed the “the last time was the last time” line for a while. He never admitted to watching porn; I always stumbled onto the evidence of it, when he forgot to hide it. He refused to call it an addiction, and I was left with no support — no one to talk to about this.
He had his first emotional affair at about year 7 or 8 of our marriage. Again, he wouldn’t call it that and he didn’t really agree he was in the wrong. He told a girl online, who we both knew through a game, secrets about his first sexual experience that he had never told me, and he was calling her while driving to/from work. He agreed to stop talking to her, as a sacrifice because it was what I wanted.
Somewhere around year 12 or 13, he informs me he’s been unhappy with our sex life since the beginning of our marriage. I was confused, since he had never mentioned this and we had been having sex roughly every other day because we had been trying to conceive. Still, he made me feel so horrible that I had hurt him for so many years. He almost convinced me we had a sexless marriage. So I did everything I could to increase my enthusiasm for sex and how often I initiated and everything else he said was wrong with me.
Within 3 months of that conversation, he had his first online sex chat. Full virtual sex affairs followed, including chats and video calls while he traveled for work, until he was convinced there were women out there better than me for him — women with a higher sex drive, which he required to be happy.
Only by God’s Grace and miracles, our marriage survived that, and few people even found out how close we were to divorce. And I fought daily to win my husband’s heart back, since he had zero desire to fight for our marriage. I accepted that sometimes the spouse who is wronged has to fight the hardest for the marriage. That was two years ago, and I thought we were out of the woods finally. Then last week, I find out that he’s found another woman who’s become his “friend” over the last several weeks of work travel.
Now I know that he still believes talking to women about his sex life and even putting me down is fine, as long as I don’t find the conversations. He admits he took the most recent one too far when he sent her pictures of himself in a bathing suit. (He’s “pretty sure” she’s a lesbian, yet I saw her response to his picture and she praised how good his body looks.)
But he holds no guilt about deleting their conversations so that I can’t see them. And he would still be chatting with her while driving to/from work if I hadn’t demanded that it stop.
We’ve been married over 17 years. I’m emotionally exhausted at this point. I can’t fight for my marriage any more. He will probably never physically cheat on me, but he will never be faithful. And he can’t see the dishonesty in deleting conversations and histories to hide them. He thinks he’s protecting me.
Part of me wants to walk away, but I don’t even have the emotional energy for that, and I still feel like I probably don’t have a biblically justifiable reason. And there are some things I would miss about this man I’ve devoted myself to for so many years. But I’m tired of it all. So tired.
So right now I’m just resigned to continually find out over and over again that my husband has a new girlfriend that he tried to hide from me, and his only regret will be that he failed to keep it hidden. And he “loves” his job too much to find a new one with no travel requirement. But if I don’t find a way to be interested in sex, he will start claiming he has an excuse to find other outlets for his frustration, I’m sure. He can’t comprehend that desire requires trust.
Oh, and counseling? He refuses. The one we saw right after his online affairs came to light dared to want to talk more about those affairs than about my “sin of sexual refusals,” which my husband admitted at the time I hadn’t refused him in at least a year. But he says that counselor was unfairly biased against him, and he believes all others will be too.
To literally answer the question you ask, which I know is not the best way, and may not even be possible for you, or for others, if not most women, and that is to separate the physical and the emotional. It becomes almost selfish in nature, where you focus on what you want and what is pleasurable to you. If a woman can’t separate the physical and the emotional, which I think is by far “normal”, than I don’t know if it is possible.
Now to address you, I am sorry that you are going through this. I have had to deal with trust issues in our marriage throughout the years, and am still trying to heal from some events in the past several years. I understand the not having energy, I lost all my fight, and I have fought apathy. I had to face an overwhelming feeling of wanting to walk away, and yet, knowing that I didn’t have a Biblical reason to…but I was so desperate for relief and some form of peace, I was just a prayer away from following my feelings, my flesh. I was worn. Have you gotten counsel for yourself, whether from a pastor, spiritual leader, or counselor? Have you considered separation, first to find healing for yourself, and then with a greater hope in bringing restoration to your marriage? Are you willing to live this way the rest of your life?
I know you probably feel alone, but you aren’t. Here is a quote that I found very encouraging from a recent study I have done:
“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”
@Susan98, my answers to your questions:
1. Have you seen such a separation actually end in reconciliation before? We reconciled before, but it was only a separation within our house where we slept separately, and only a very few people knew.
Yes. One set of friends actually were on their path to divorce, and the state they live in requires a year before it becomes finalized. It was at the end of that year that the husband, who had multiple affairs, realized that he was missing out on his family. That’s when he became repentant and she received him back, and he was willing to fall under their church’s discipline and leadership to help them be fully restored. They are still together and doing well 18 years later.
2. How would I convince him that the separation is with the hope of reconciliation when his request for separation before was with an absolute intent of ending the marriage?
There is no guarantee that you can. You could share your heart, and it will be an act of faith, but the reality is, he is human with free-will and will make his own choices, but fear should never be our deciding factor. Sometimes, speaking from my own experience and lessons in life, when we are so wrapped up in fear and anxiety, we need to think through our worst fears, and come back to “but God”. No matter what your husband does or what choices he makes, do you believe God will take care of you? Will you continue to love and serve Him?
3. How would he prove to me his honesty and faithfulness during a separation?
I think before this step can happen, you will have to see a godly sorrow that leads to true repentance. I believe that is something you will know when you see it and experience it. Your husband may need the wake up call of all he stands to lose. And even if this doesn’t lead to reconciliation, I know that God will use it for your good.
I don’t know that this is the right answer for you. Only you can pray and ask for wisdom, and the Holy Spirit can make it very clear to you on what to do. I have heard multiple stories of wives feeling like the obedient thing to do is stay in their marriage and continue to love and respect their husband, and just trust God with him. Some experienced their husbands turning around. And others experienced freedom by their husband’s lives being cut short. No matter the final result, the wives remained faithful to their convictions and they saw the Lord take care of them in the midst.
Inexcusable behavior IMO. Obviously nor remorse or repentance. I never advise divorce, but I do advise legal separation with the intention of working out the problem and getting the marriage back together again. This man has a major sin issue and it won’t get any better until he’s humbled by God and realizes what a fool he is. Legal separation may bring him to that point.
I’m sorry that you’ve suffered for so long. Past time for it to end.
So, a couple of things have happened. Apparently, seeing me sad and dejected for a few days and finding out that I’m making an appointment for counseling had an effect on him. We had a very calm talk about all of the dishonesty and personal conversations, etc. — all things I’ve said before, with me being completely transparent about how I felt like giving up. But this time I think he began to understand things like how deleting messages isn’t protecting me but lying to me instead. (I feel like that should be obvious, but it’s not to him.) I think he’s making a real effort. And I think it broke him to realize how emotionally done I was. I think it reminded him of how he felt back when we separated.
In addition, a very good, Godly friend of ours is coming over tonight to talk to him, to try to add some perspective and levity. This is someone he respects very highly and who has a truly God-given ability to speak truth in love in a way people can hear it. I’m scared to trust anything with my husband still, but these two conversations and his responses to everything I said last night have given me some hope.
So sorry to hear of your pain. And for so long. I can’t even imagine, how devastating this is.
Does he claim to be a follower of Jesus?
Is there any other person that you could share with and then have a frank discussion with your DH? Like, do you have a pastor or friend or relative, who could have a talk with him?
Thank you all for your responses. I do plan to seek counseling on my own, and I have one very good friend who has always been a stable source of biblical wisdom for me, and she walked with me through the previous separation. I’ve talked to her about the recent events, but not all of them. I hate burdening her with it because she and her husband are our two closest friends — we’re their children’s God parents.
My husband is a Christian. I’ve seen enough evidence to be as sure of that as I can be for another person.
The hard part of all of this is that he truly seemed remorseful last week and more contrite than I’ve ever seen him. Then he talked to this woman again the very next day, just not quite as personally, but still saying something negative about me. I think he just doesn’t grasp the seriousness of the issue.
For those suggesting a separation, I have three questions: 1. Have you seen such a separation actually end in reconciliation before? We reconciled before, but it was only a separation within our house where we slept separately, and only a very few people knew. 2. How would I convince him that the separation is with the hope of reconciliation when his request for separation before was with an absolute intent of ending the marriage? 3. How would he prove to me his honesty and faithfulness during a separation?
I’m not sure if I’m willing to live the rest of my life like this. But I don’t know that I’m ready to live without him either. He’s been the priority of my life now for 21 of my 39 years of life (including our dating relationship).
Susan, I’m sorry to here about your situation. There’s been some great advice. How has the counseling gone and what is your situation like now after the summer?
You shared how you separated (which I wouldn’t call a true separation) before…BUT WHY did you then return? What changed that made you believe things were going to be different? What plan did you have in place to end your “separation”?
To answer your last 3 questions:
1) I have seen it work and I have seen others not work because sin warps the mind and Satan seeks to kill and destroy everything he can AND it takes two people to humble themselves and WORJ on themselves individually AND as a couple. Separations that work have ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS had a specific restoration game plan WITH outside help and accountability.
2) You tell him, “I cannot and will not live this way, sharing your heart, mind and/or body with someone else. That doesn’t not honor God nor is it something I will live with. If you want to end this marriage, be an adult and divorce me rather than continue playing with my heart. Otherwise, this is what I need and want to see happen for us to have a healthy, whole God-honoring marriage.” Lay out what those things are with the help and direction of wise, TRAINED Christian counselors in these matters. He can believe you or not. It’s not your goal to convince him, a complete separation of residence and maybe more, even with legal boundaries, esp. when kids are involved may be necessary and will hopefully get his attention. This is not for you to move on, it is for you to do the work on yourself, see clearer, and act as a wake up call to him. If not, he can man up and divorce you since he’s not acting like he is…or wants to be married to you. Or if he isn’t willing, it can help you see clearer. You have Biblical grounds for a divorce…but I always encourage a FULL separation with a plan for reconciliation before getting a divorce.
3) only you can decide what is needed and that is why I say you need wise, trained, Christian counseling. They can help you process the issues and help you with the rational and the irrational and process those hurt feelings. Then you both will need counseling to help build a strong foundation for a HEALTHY relationship in the future OR you will be back in the same place 1,5,10,15 yrs later.