Dear JoAnn,

Thank you for your work on the website; I think it’s helped me to finally understand what’s been going on for 20 years.

I don’t want to act as though my behavior in marriage was perfect; our relationship was troubled from the beginning but, at 25, who knows what to do? I swear though, that I have written a very truthful account here. My husband keeps dwelling on the fact that it was he who felt unloved in our marriage, and I feel terrible about this, but I never resorted to the things that he did and felt just as unloved and misunderstood.

In short, he continues to make me feel guilty and, although after writing my story, everything seems clear and I feel relief. When I sent it to him, all he says is that “I am wrong about many things” and then goes off on how I was dissatisfied with him early in our marriage and how my “hitting” really affected him. I, again, swear that I did not just get angry and hit him. It was only after sometimes hours of interaction when I invariably felt as though I were running in circles, or hitting my head against a brick wall with him.

I am a very logical person and he would never agree that his explanations and attitudes/behaviors MADE NO SENSE! I was, literally, driven mad. I really think he is a manipulative passive aggressive person, and actually shudder to think of those days. It came to a point, however, that I was so broken down that I no longer even tried to argue (I once went a whole year telling him “that was passive aggressive” rather than respond.)

One other sick thing I didn’t mention is that 6 months before D was arrested, I had stopped having sex with him because it was both completely un-fulfilling to me, and I felt used, as if he were getting all he needed/wanted with something not much better than masturbation. I found that I was no longer enraged with our relationship, and I had a clearer head for trying to figure out how to fix things, which was the whole point of the exercise. What I believe is, he used this as an excuse to have more “encounters” using craigslist. And, sure enough, when he was arrested, he blamed his behavior on my enforced abstinence.

I’m really lost right now but trying to keep it together for my kid. What has hurt has been not being able to tell anyone about my problems. Thanks, JoAnn, you’ve done a good thing for the world and I know how difficult it must have been because it’s taken all my strength to relive and write this down.

Sincerely,

L

I am 47 years old and have been married to my husband for 20 years. We have an 8 year old daughter. We are now separated.

My husband was arrested in a Craigslist sting operation when he corresponded with a “woman” who eventually claimed she was 14 years old, and “curious” about being with an older man. My husband didn’t send pornographic images, did not say anything more explicit than “have sex” in his correspondence, and didn’t show-up at the arranged meeting place — he was arrested when he stopped his car to call the person to tell her that he had decided he didn’t want to go through with the meeting — he had said all along that he thought she was older, and maintains that this is the case. I found out, through the lawyer, that D had successfully arranged 2 other meetings in a week’s period before considering this one. Apparently, she was the only option left that day.

I believe my husband is telling the truth, that he was actually entrapped (the initial ad on Craigslist said nothing about her age), and would stand a good chance of acquittal IF he were given a fair trial. However, he was arrested while he was attending a conference in a small Southern town with a long history of sending innocent people to jail. He lost his job (after his boss, a friend, demanded his resignation, thinking of the shame his company would experience if D were guilty), we spent all our savings on legal fees, our house was put into foreclosure, D declared bankruptcy, and I took the first job I could find in a different part of the country which turned out to be a disaster, and I resigned after a year — under normal conditions I would he been able to have seen this coming but I was so afraid that a news article would appear and my daughter would suffer the consequences I wanted to move asap. D was first arrested over 2 years ago, the lawyers keep having the case postponed, so there has been no closure, and constant stress. He’s been able to support us through consulting jobs (he was once a prominent scientist in his field) and I have moved overseas to where rent is low, although many people vacation here, so it is very relaxing — I need to recover and so does my kid.

Here’s the real story, though: I find myself thankful that this happened because I now realize that I was trapped in a marriage that was only held together through the love of our daughter, and our desire to give her a happy home. I believe my husband is a sex addict; one who has successfully blamed me for all his failings through passive aggressive behavior, and dishonesty. If he hadn’t been arrested, I would have continued wasting my life with a person who, although he’d like to, cannot be emotionally intimate with me or my daughter. I would have been driven deeper into depression, unable to figure out what the problem was with our marriage, blaming myself. We were not a happy family when all this happened.

Looking back, like so many women on this site do, I see the signs, overt and subtle. Psychologically, the most difficult aspect of my husband’s personality was extreme hostility if I ever questioned him. We married while college students and I confess to having a less than satisfactory upbringing, with a distant, emotionally abusive father and a emotionally unstable and un-affectionate mother. I would rate my insecurity level as relatively normal though, initially. After only a few years of living with my husband, be “broke” me, made me feel as though my anger issues (we are both scientists and he was always so illogical about events, explanations) were to blame for our problems. Indeed, I did get so angry that I hit, kicked, yelled, threw things — however 99% of the time, it was because he backed me into a bathroom, and wouldn’t move (he is over 6 feet, I am 5’ 5” 110 pounds) or wouldn’t leave me alone when I asked him to please drop it — I wasn’t up for fighting. He would NEVER agree to talk about our relationship, never, and, after times when I became angry, he would “punish” me (his word, he said he couldn’t help it he was so affected by my anger) by not talking to me and generally being nasty for a period of a day or two. This, to my knowledge, is not how an “abused” person acts, and he used to say I was a spouse abuser, which would enrage me because I knew women who were physically abused and this was nothing like it; but I was emotionally drained and felt horribly guilty and disappointed with myself for not being able to control my temper. It didn’t help that all our friends knew D as such a nice guy, he sent me sweet cards on valentines day and presents on my birthday, and that I was opinionated and outspoken (although it is worthy to note here, that D does not have any close friends, male or female; I do.)

Some things happened — two years into the marriage, I had an accident in the lab I worked in, some human serum from Africa was splashed into my eyes. I became extremely ill with a bizarre fever and tested positive for exposure to HIV (it was a false positive, I am not HIV positive). D “confessed” that he had been with a prostitute in Russia — his job required very frequent international travel — and said he hoped that he hadn’t given me anything. After finding that I, in fact, wasn’t HIV positive, neither was he, I suppose it was less a shock that he was with a prostitute, and he gave me a good story about how the prostitutes there “just wouldn’t give up” and knocked on his hotel door all night until he “gave in”. So I let it go.

Then, while I was working myself to death getting a doctorate, he told me that he had started an affair with someone at work, that it was no big deal, that he was “dealing with it”. I figured out who it was, called her up, and said that I knew about it and that it definitely wasn’t OK with me. When D found out that I knew who it was and that I had called her, he immediately moved out, told some friends of ours that I was abusive, wanted a divorce. At the time, I was working 14 hour days, and couldn’t find an adviser so I quit school, even though I had spent the entire summer studying for the comprehensive exam and had passed. I moved to Hawaii and stayed with my brother, thoroughly destroyed. Strangely, even though D said at one point that he loved this woman, from what I can decipher (he was never honest with me about anything) the relationship was over within three months by his doing. In fact, he convinced his boss that he needed a month with me in Hawaii to sort out our marriage, and, 4 months after I left, he was with me again. And I sold myself out — blamed myself for everything, I had even said “go find someone else to have sex with” when I was so exhausted from working so hard in school. All my fault.

A month after we “reconciled”, I find some weird $10 cashiers checks he had purchased through our joint account. I also find out that he has a personal credit card using his work address, a secret PO box, he had to change his phone number, etc. He tells me he is into “swinging” and had posted ads (before internet you had to pay for newspapers to print your personal) and like an idiot, I agree to go to one of the swinging events with him, more than one. Completely ridiculous, what a bunch of dorks, sorry, it was pathetic and I consider myself very open-minded when it comes to sex. Looking back, I remember even before we were married, D bringing home a porn movie — I, again, thought it was stupid, so fake, and I really felt that there was something morally wrong with the extreme objectification and submission portrayed, so, I guess, yeah, I’m a boring wife. WRONG! If ever there were sexual newness introduced into our marriage, it was from me. I used to be a very sexual person, or so I thought, I don’t know what men expect, or, indeed, what women expect of themselves, anymore. I remember that when I was coerced into having “perfunctory” sex (he wanted sex twice a day), as I called it and just lying there for him, he would invariably have to stare at my breast, just one, and really concentrate to orgasm. I once saw a TV show (CSI) where a porn obsessed man could no longer have normal sex with his girlfriend, whom he loved, because he, presumably, was overstimulated by the porn he watched all day. I have a terrible feeling that this is what was happening to my husband, and, sadly, for a sexually experienced and adventurous person as he was, sex, past the first year, was never very good with us. Is this the norm for sex addicts? No intimacy, for sure. I’m so sad to think that I was this beautiful young person wanting real love and fulfillment, and I was objectified. It would be easier for me to accept and move on, but I stayed with my husband for 20 years — I am now approaching menopause. I’ve wasted my youth on a man who never really loved me.

I was thinking of leaving D, very soon after our reconciliation, but I became pregnant, accidentally, one year after moving back in together. Having a child shifted my priorities and I’m sure D was doing all kinds of things behind my back although he claims that he “had a problem that was never very serious.” He has admitted to only a few online meetings during the 2 years before his arrest, says he only looked at porn intermittently — I think I would be foolish to believe him. As part of his criminal defense, he had to pay $10,000 for an analysis by a sex expert, to prove that he had no predilection for young girls; he passed. But he has never been in therapy, in fact, often states there is no need, he just “loves sex, and loves diversity.” I’m so tired, every ounce of my energy is going into being happy for the sake of my daughter, whom I love beyond measure. I am also shocked, I never thought of myself as a person who would find themselves in this position. I don’t know that I should recognize D’s behavior as a sickness, forgive him, feel sorry for him, and invite him back into our lives — after all, my daughter loves him and he is, in many ways, a good father. There is so much more to write — I am still trying to analyze it all — I do believe that there is a significant antisocial component to D’s personality, real pathology that he could he treated me this way all this time and never acknowledged it, he blamed me, still blames me, or, at least, only wants to focus on the things that I did wrong in our relationship. I think he may have actually used me as a safety mechanism, as a cover, for his activities. There was one time, recently, when I asked him to give his lawyer permission to talk about the case with me, so that I could potentially help, that I was actually frightened of him — I felt that I didn’t even know him — he had a severe reaction and said something like “You know, I’m getting really tired of your constant criticism, I think I’ll just leave”, right after we had made detailed plans to all be together for my daughter’s birthday. The only reason that I have come to my senses is that a job has kept him away from home for two months — I have known peace for the first time in years and I found this site and I’ve now written part of my story. I think that I am beginning to understand and I actually feel great relief that there is an explanation, potentially anyway.

D, who is still overseas, now claims to be “a changed person”, that he realizes how “special” I am and how sorry he is for the way he’s treated me. However, he still maintains that his issues with sex were “minor”. He refuses to own-up to anything that he hasn’t be “caught” doing and continues to focus on the things that I did in our relationship that were wrong, rather than discuss his behavior. Am I crazy to want to believe him, that he really did only see women the few times? There were many occasions, also, when money would “disappear” from our account, but we’re both terrible money managers so I could never make a good case. How evil that he will have the ability to continue to keep me wondering.

I don’t know what to think. I need to find the strength to start over and may only have a few more months before I need to begin looking in earnest for a job and new life for myself and my daughter because I’m running out of money — D may, of course, be in prison, soon, and even though I am sorry for him, I believe he is innocent, I won’t even have financial support from him. He’s ended-up hurting his kid, how sad.

Thank you, so much, for reading.