Hi JoAnn,

I thank God for you and for your website! I am brand new to this entire experience and right now, I think I’m still in shock. I’ve inhaled almost every woman’s story on this site to find answers to a problem I now know is Sex Addict.

My story is more the same…My husband T and I have been together for almost 22 years. We married in 2000 after a very rocky initial 10 years. We are both former Marines and fell in love in Thailand when we were 20 years old. It was so romantic! At the time, I was married to someone else, so it wasn’t a sexual relationship. And my marriage was a marriage of convenience, not for love. I’ve had a pretty traumatic childhood and had some serious abandonment issues, low self-esteem, etc. But I hid it from the world. I’m a pretty good actress I guess!

After returning from Thailand, I got pregnant by my first husband, who by the way, was an abusive jerk. When we married, I was a virgin or a “good girl” as he called me. He and his entire family were very religious. He thought he struck gold with a virgin. T and I became friends and he left to go to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm.

I got pregnant after T left because I turned to my husband for comfort. T came back in April and I was 5 months pregnant and he was so disappointed. We corresponded the whole time he was over there. He wrote me the most beautiful letters…I long for those days. A few weeks after T’s return, my ex, who I was still married to at the time, pushed me and physically roughed me up and I went into early labor. T came to the hospital and declared his love for me and the baby. I never returned to my husband.

Fast forward, a couple years later, things started to just change. T was never a go getter. I thought it was cute how he was so charismatic and that everybody loved him, but he was a slacker. Always made excuses. Always looking for the short cuts in life. That’s him even today. If there is a short cut, T will find it.

After his honorable discharge, I helped him to become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Prior to that, he was a security guard at night with no real plan. That’s where we are soooo different. I always have a plan A, B, and sometimes C. I accepted that I was the ambitious one and he was laid back. I thought it gave us balance.

For a while, life was good. Then I got pregnant unexpectedly with our 2nd daughter and I wasn’t ready to do it again. My first pregnancy was very difficult. I almost died, the baby almost died. It was horrible! Plus, I was in school and loving the life I was living. When I told him about the baby, he didn’t seem thrilled either. In fact, he asked me if I wanted to keep it. I was hurt and shocked! He told me he would support my decision.

That was a big red flag that set into motion they dynamics of our relationship. He never wanted to help make the hard decisions about anything in our life. That was a revelation that came to me a few months back. It was almost as if he would stand in the wings and wait for me to make the decisions about our kids, finances, cars, anything. That way, if it didn’t work out, he wasn’t the blame–I was.

Other things started to take shape too. Like he started to become emotionally distant in our relationship. So much so, that I would go days, weeks, even months without any intimacy or sex. It later turns out that he was sleeping with women at work. Various women would give him oral sex. He even got emotionally involved with someone.

But JoAnn, I’m not without sin or fault. I was an extremely controlling and hard young woman. I felt that I had to be, I had a tough life. Drug and alcoholic mother, who would eventually die of AIDS. A emotionally empty father, that was authoritative and controlling. A step mother that was weak and docile. My father had at least 11 kids outside the marriage and brought them all back to her. I mean I had my issues. I was determined not to let “any man” control me. But I was also supportive and loving, loyal and trust worthy, dedicated and committed.

I wanted him to return those things to me and I thought if I set the example, surely he would follow my lead. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know how. He did it in Thailand and early on in the relationship right? But when it didn’t happen, I too found solace in someone else. I thought I was justified because he left me first. I waited and waited. Tried and tried to get him to love me back, but it never came. Eventually though, it blew up in all our faces.

T was devastated because my “affair” was with his best friend. He to this day will say that that hurt him the most. But let me set the record straight, he was sleeping with multiple women and started a sexual and emotional relationship with someone else. I was left in the house for months and months with 2 kids, working to support the family, going to school full-time and he was completely absent. But he was good at putting on fronts.

Once when his father, visited, T was the perfect partner and father. Cooking, cleaning, even doing the girls hair. His father was furious. He called me a bad mother and accused me of shackling his son for my own selfish gain. T never told them that I made more money than him. Or that I tried putting him through school and he flunked out twice. To this day, he still never tells anyone the whole truth about anything. Those half truths have been a major problem FOREVER! Selective memory is another.

So I’m sure you’re wondering at this point, “why did you get married?” Well, because I loved him and still do. He’s not a bad guy. He has his good points. He’s generous and funny. He’s smart and handsome. He’s a good father to our now teenage daughters, 19 and 16 respectively. He raised and adopted another man’s baby and loves her as his own. How can a man like that be so bad?

I put so many blinders on because that is the T that I fell in love with. It didn’t matter that over the years, I’ve caught him in so many lies about everything from finances (he wrote bad checks and got arrested) or his overly flirtatious behavior. Once a few years ago, we were on our last couple therapy session and I wanted to surprise him and take him to lunch afterward. Well I was the one surprised when I caught him rubbing on a female classmate’s thigh. I was furious and hurt. But I forgave him. The a few years later, he was caught sexting a coworker. I made him call her and act as if I was going to call her and that he was scared. I was listening on the line and heard her say that she knew he was only playing and that she didn’t take him seriously. So, I forgave him again.

Earlier this year, he was at it again with the sexting to a married coworker. I threatened to tell her husband and she admitted it was just a little harmless fun, but not worth her marriage and it ended. I forgave him again. Last Thursday, I discovered an email address that I didn’t recognize and asked him about it. He swore he didn’t know what I was talking about. But intuition told me to investigate and when I did, my whole world fell apart. I found graphic pictures of him getting oral sex. Pictures of his penis emailed to women. Multiple sex sites and dating sites with him trolling for women. Ass shots with is penis going into different women. It goes on and on!!!

Of course he lied and said he downloaded the pictures, that it wasn’t him. But after 22 years a woman knows her husbands hands and penis! After much questioning and investigating, I now know my husband masturbates at least 3 times a day, but only M-F. He rarely gets a chance to do it on the weekends because everyone is home. But if the kids and I leave, then he’ll do it. My computer has had multiple viruses because of all the downloading. He has hired prostitute after prostitute. He says only about 6 in the last 6 years. Did I mention, we’ve only been married for 10?!

He says he thought this was normal because we weren’t having sex. Well sex with him stopped. He tried to blame it on me. First he said that we only had sex 3 times this year, but when I challenged him, he said, ok then 5. That too is a lie. He started having ED issues a few years back and he went to the doctors. But now I know why. He is a SA. He’s risked employment as a private duty nurse to masturbate at a clients house. He masturbates at work. He goes on porn sites at his parents home. But he never thought it was a problem.

And don’t even get me started on the lack of accountability and blame. Never taking responsibility for his actions. He has an excuse for everything and an answer for nothing. His favorite line is I don’t know or that wasn’t my intention. I’ve heard this for years! I suffered emotionally trying to change my personality. I’ve mellowed so much, that this is the most excited and animated that I have been since finding all of this out.

He would use my past against me to justify his behavior. T constantly told me I was needy and wanted too much. I believed that I had impossible expectations of a husband. He would tell me time and time again, that I never needed him because I was too strong. I didn’t let him be a man. I changed for him. Now 22 years later, I feel that my relationship was a complete lie. I don’t know if I believe that he really loved me. He says that he does, but T has never been able to take me crying.

And speaking of crying, he is a robot. I’ve never seen him cry or even come close. He paces and runs to the bathroom. He wipes his head and talks to himself, but never cry. He says that it is not a requirement to prove he’s human. But I say that there should be some emotional release. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve lost loved ones and have had some trying times and joyous times. He believes that sex and intimacy is one in the same. Foreplay is what you do right before the act of intercourse. And now, we don’t even do it. He’s turned off if I initiate it and hates if I give him oral sex. He says that he knows I don’t like it, so he can’t enjoy it. But I never told him I didn’t like it. Maybe once 20 years ago when I wasn’t experienced. We used to have a pretty good sex life. It was never great, but I was content.

I’m going back and forth on whether I should stay and give him another 20 years of my life or leave. What if he never gets better? What if he gets worse? What if this is my one shot at happiness? Life is too short and I just want to be happy. Nothing is perfect and I love him, but I’m exhausted from the relationship. But I’m not excited when I think about starting over, just sad.

I haven’t really eaten since last week. My stomach is always shaky and I’ve lost so much sleep. On top of that, my daughters say how distraught I was when I found out. They’ve been trying to remain neutral and yet supportive of me. I’m embarrassed and confused. No one knows about the SA, but I’ve told a small circle of friends about him cheating on me. I’m worried how this will look to my daughters and how it will impact their future relationships if I stay.

Does it send the wrong message that they can let the men they love cheat and all if forgiven? On the other hand, as Christians, if we are true believers surely God can fix our marriage. This could be a real example of forgiveness of one’s sins. I’m also worried about how it would look to my friends and sister. I know we shouldn’t worry about those things, but God help me, I do.

Thank you for allowing me to really vent. I know my thoughts are all over the place but that is how my brain is working right now. Any advice would be welcomed from everyone.

AL