I am sharing because I can’t find another woman who’s been in this situation. But I am sure they are out there. My head is spinning and I feel so foolish and lost.

My husband and I have been married for almost 20 years. He is funny, charismatic and loving to me and our children. His problem is that when he was about 19 ears old he was caught exposing himself to an unsuspecting female. When we got married I knew about it but thought it was a one time deal…I should have known.

Early during our marriage there were many nights when he didn’t come home from work when he was supposed to and had a lot of “car trouble”. When my second child was only 1 year old he was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior. I was devastated but realized I should have known something was wrong. He went to counseling and it took years to rebuild any trust. I am sure he did it many more times and just wasn’t caught. I didn’t want to leave because I loved him and felt the kids were young and needed their dad.

Our sex life was pretty normal. We’d go some dry spells like I think most couples do. One thing that always made me wonder was he would be sure to please me but often would be satisfied with just that and not having an orgasm himself. I have never heard of that and was always suspicious of why. Although I have never been able to give myself completely to him emotionally. I could never give proactive hugs or initiate sex with him. I always knew we were a little off compared to the few past relationship I had before him but he was so good to me and supportive in so many ways. So I figured whatever that wall was with me I could work around.

Here I am 11 years later, he calls and says he “messed up” and my heart drops. He exposed himself to a woman on his way to work. He swears he hadn’t acted out at all in the last 11 years and I am inclined to believe him (as naïve as I know this probably is. ) but it doesn’t really matter at this point. His mom passed away just 3 weeks ago and I am assuming this was his trigger. We are waiting to see if the woman is going to press charges. He deserves the legal trouble but the kids and I don’t. My kids range in age from toddler to teen. I am more worried about how this will affect them if he is arrested.

I am humiliated and ashamed. I feel like the past 10 years I was living a lie. I started to think we were a normal couple. I shouldn’t have thought we could have friends. I know it’s his issue but I feel so much shame. He is actively trying to find a therapist and has reached out for help because he is sickened by himself. I don’t know if I should stay or go.

Like many other women, I can’t afford to leave. I still am not sure the gravity of this has really sunken in. I can’t stop crying and have a constant sick feeling. The kids know something is wrong with mom…isn’t that a joke! I always wanted to feel secure and protected in my marriage and I can’t look at him with respect or adoration like I would have liked for my husband.

I have no idea what my future will hold.

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8 Responses

  1. Dear Annie,

    For now, leave “shoulds” aside from how you look back on your husband’s deception. It’s just crazy to suggest we “should have known” anything. These people are liars in ways we could never imagine. It’s just so hard to come to terms with that truth about the person we loved. It’s not just us—they fool family, friends, employers, church folks etc.

    It is difficult to know what would be the thing here—getting arrested and having the justice system manage him, and also remove the responsibility from you to tell everyone OR having no charges laid and a chance for him to make the changes he needs to make. But it sounds like he’s been at this a long time. There may have been periods when he was not acting out, but he clearly has a problem that isn’t going to disappear without considerable effort and therapy.

    You must be shaken to the core. But don’t be ashamed. You didn’t cause this or do this. We were all fooled. You hold your head high, because you haven’t even begun to know your own strength.

    Please get yourself a therapist to work out the big questions and express your feelings safely. Your family needs a sane person in leadership. Also make sure you have some money of your own somewhere. Tell a few people who are trustworthy. With your therapist’s help you can make a plan that is flexible enough to include his recovery plan, if you want it too.

    I think JoAnn is going to be offering another ebook about our own recovery, so keep watching for it.

    I am saddened by the picture of you in this awkward relationship without much passion or joy. Perhaps there is a better future you can build for yourself.

    much love to you, Annie,

  2. Annie,

    Just wanted you to know, I completely understand with your situation. Our situation are very similar. I wrote the post about my husband fetishes for panties and exposing them to women. If you ever want to talk, I would like to. Im sure we share similar feelings. Its beyond awful. Im here if you want to talk.


  3. Thank you both for your feedback. Diane, you said a few things that really struck me. You are so right, the kids need a sane leader. I feel like they’ve been cheated by my distant behavior. They can tell so much.

    I really appreciate this site. I can’t believe there is someplace where people aren’t shocked by this action. After all of this time, I am still confused by it. The hard part is finding someone I can trust to tell. I don’t know of anyone that wouldn’t be disgusted or scared by his behavior.

    It makes me question everything he does. If there is a “mainstream” movie with nudity…I get mad because I think its a part of his sick twisted desire. The reality is, in that particular situation, I am probably overreacting but there just isn’t any trust.
    We haven’t heard about any charges yet but he has found a counselor and is deeply apologetic (like they all are at this stage)and when I start to believe things I wonder how stupid I look. Right now I know he is behaving because he is mad and scared of his actions. he said he needs to address this fast. Which makes me wonder….how long can I deal with knowing he is struggling. The rest of my life? I do love him and admittedly I am scared to be alone and don’t think I want to leave.
    Thank you so much for reading and listening. It is truly the first time I have not felt like a total freak.I hope I haven’t rambled too much.

  4. Hi Annie,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine the pain and shock and confusion you must be feeling. I’m sure your husband is very remorseful right now. They’re always weeping, ashamed and promise to do anything to make it right – but that’s just when they get caught. When they’re getting away with it, there’s no shame or sadness or promises or honesty.

    My thoughts are with you and your children.

  5. Annie-
    When they’re getting away with it, there’s no shame or sadness or promises or honesty. What Mayam wrote rings so true to my heart. I can relate to your story 100%…I was with my spouse for over 10 years and I had no idea he had this totally other life of sex addiction. We actually had a detctive show up at our door asking questions about him exposing hisself. Charges were filed and warrant was issued for his arrest. We hired an attorney and I wish I had left him then…but I didn’t. The charges were just a misdeamenor mainly due to lack of evidence. He made it through almost unscathed and swore and promised he had learned his lesson but he didn’t . He has still been exposing hisself and other things. He is never honest.. Only after he has been caught and until he truly works on recovery I know things will never change. I want to leave and I have many excuses none of which hold water … Yet I stay. 🙁 I don’t know why.. I just do. My life is miserable.. The kids know I’m not happy… Doubtful that they are very happy. I feel trapped mostly. I dont think i can give you any great advice but my heart goes out to you and your family. Life with a SA is extremely difficult…

  6. Hi Wife of addict – I’m so sorry for what you’re going through – it’s beyond horrible to be with an SA. I do think while we’re in it, our sense of reality, what’s possible, even normal is distorted, the intolerable becomes not so bad. I’m working on the partner’s workshop over at recovery nation and I do feel my sanity and courage and perspective coming back to me. It’s free and really giving me some peace of mind and detachment.

    The support from the women here and all of JoAnn’s amazing wisdom are invaluable as well. You can get out of the trap – it may take time but it’s doable.

  7. Hi WifeofAddict,
    I have never met another person with the same exhibition issue…the second incident with my husband was the same kind of notification….a detective at my door. Thats when i realized it wasn’t a one shot deal.
    We did the same…got a lawyer etc. He is showing shame and is very depressed right now which is why it is so hard for me right now. He is starting a group tonight. But like you…i don’t think i can believe much of anything anymore. Everytime he gets in the car i wonder.

    Thank you for just saying you are out there. (all of you 🙂 )

  8. update-
    well, either the justice system is slow or she hasn’t pressed charges. Either way, we are aggressively attacking the problem. More so, he than I. He has a sponsor he checks in with daily and is a part of an group that is more “in your face” than a 12 step. He needs more of a slap in the face rather than just in your face! But I’ll take it. He seems genuinely sickened by his action and dissapointed that we have reeled back to 10 years ago.
    I, on the other hand, am trying to deal with the anger. I can’t help the biting comments I throw his way. I get a lot of support from this site and have found a therapist for me that I think will help. Our children sense the tension.
    I have noticed that 10 years ago I viewed this as more of an illness of sorts. Now it has shifted so that I see his exibitionism as being unfaithful and selfish (my learning curve is slow 🙂 )
    I realize that I can’t fully grasp the fact the fact that he exposed himself to an unsuspecting and unconsenting woman. I think that is more than I can bear so “grasping it” is on my to do list when I feel a bit stronger. The disgust is overwhelming.
    I know I didn’t do it but I feel apologetic to her and the others in the past. I also feel like I am letting them down by not dealing with the pain or discomfort he caused them. This is so far from the person I know him to be. He is sensitive, generous and kind. I will learn how to either separate those qualities or tie them with his extracurricular activity and live peacefully someday with or without him.

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