‘I Just Want To Know, I Don’t Want Anything Held Back’
We became sexually involved immediately after we started dating as we had been friends and co-workers first. I was only 22, but it seemed loving and satisfying. A few months into our courtship he told me that he wanted our relationship (and eventual marriage) to be blessed, so we were to abstain from sex. Bummer. Oh well, I loved this man and wanted to support him as this was important to him.
On our wedding night, he wanted to have sex in the limousine on the way to the hotel (the limo was a gift from friends who owned it – their driver, too). I wouldn’t do it – I said I couldn’t in view of the driver and we were 20 minutes from a beautiful hotel room, and we had waited so long, etc. He was furious and stormed out of the car and up to the room. I followed alone. We spent the night in separate parts of the suite. He came to me at about 4 in the morning and apologized.
We had a brunch to go to with family before we left on our honeymoon, so, although I was hurt and bewildered, I put on a good face and chalked up the night before to the year of abstinence, nerves, whatever. The first few days were disappointing. I wanted to make love! He could kind of take it or leave it. The last 2 days of our honeymoon was a two night river-rafting trip with 4 other couples and a guide. I didn’t put my birth control in my bag because we were camping under the stars with strangers. No need, right? Of course this was when he wanted sex. I didn’t want a replay of our wedding night in front of these people so I just muffled us as best I could. Naturally, I got pregnant.
We are in the restaurant business and were crazy busy with the business and we had two more babies before our 4th anniversary. My pregnancies probably masked what I might have deduced if I were more available for sex those first few years. I was too busy to really notice that I always initiated. One night, while I was very pregnant with our third child (we worked in different locations that night) I got home significantly earlier than he did. I waited up for him and asked him what had happened. He said that this one server had gotten drunk, so he drove her home and she got silly and threw his keys out the window and he had to fight her off, etc. She was kind of a loose cannon and it made sense to me, so I let it go. Sort of.
Over the next several years, we moved three times, opened a couple of restaurants, and navigated our family through the elementary, middle, and high school years. Our sex life was completely frustrating to me as I felt that my husband had no apparent drive. I was too proud most of the time to initiate, but if I had a couple of glasses of wine, I could push through my pride and force the issue.
I looked at his family of origin and thought that there was perhaps a bit of shame associated with sexuality and thought maybe that was the cause. When I brought it up, he brushed it aside. I resorted to buying a hot negligee and trying to distract him from a ballgame to which he responded with fury. I retreated to the bathroom to toss the new negligee in the very small trash in the toilet room. I left it there and he took it out with the rest of the trash and never made mention.
I was desperate and depressed and made an appointment with a counselor. I cried through the whole session and all the way home. I actually felt that it was cathartic and felt some release and relief. It wasn’t until years later that it occurred to me that he never spoke. He simply sat there like a kid sent to the principal’s office – completely uncomfortable and uncommunicative. We continued like this for years.
I work in a restaurant/bar atmosphere and have received my share of attention over the years, but I love my husband and always told my girls that I would never return the admiring glances of any man because I would never want some guy to look at their Dad and think “I caught the attention of your wife”. Hilarious. We fought a lot, but we had such good times together and were so connected and close in so many ways, so I decided that his lack of sexual interest was just my cross to bear.
I turned 50 and took stock. Our youngest graduated from college and I decided that it was time to shake it down. I approached him and told him we needed to talk about “us”. He was reluctant but we had a long conversation. I felt like I opened communication, finally, but it was completely unsatisfying and confusing. I prayed and prayed for clarity. I was sinking into depression.
A couple of weeks later, we were home alone and I was preparing a nice dinner when I was compelled to ask him what really happened 22 years earlier when he drove that server home. I told him that I had always been pretty sure that he must have kissed her and demanded that he admit it so that I could put it to bed. He became silent and went out to the backyard and sat down and stared ahead. I was chopping away and watching him and thought ”whoa…”
I eventually went out and sat in the next chair and asked him what was up. He asked if he could wait and unburden himself to a counselor and I said no, that he needed to talk to me. He then told me about being 10 or 12 years old and spending time with other boys at a friends home who was raised by a single dad that had pornography around and that the boys learned to masturbate to the images and that it became habit and graduated to other levels. He admitted that he had been going to massage parlors for decades.
I instinctively steeled myself to be calm so that he wouldn’t shut down and quietly asked him if he had had sex with that server and he said yes. That opened the doors to endless possibilities, so I went upstairs and sat down on our bed to process what he had told me.
He followed me and sat next to me. I said that I felt that it was impossible to believe that he had limited his exploits to that one person. He said that she had told him how attracted to him she was and it unleashed his crazed need for affirmation and he was out of control from that moment on. He then admitted to two others – our Realtor and another co-worker. At that moment my life and sense of who I am, who he is, and who we were just imploded. I got up and walked around the neighborhood late into the night like a crazy woman. He followed me in tears and asked me to please come back to the house. The following weeks are a blur of tears, depression, shock, and rage. It was as though I woke up and my husband of 26 years spoke Russian and it turned out that our whole life was a cover for some scheme.
I immersed myself in books and a support group. We found a counselor for him that we eventually both went to. Over the months that followed he would promise that there were no more surprises and that I knew everything, but bit by bit admitted to more. I learned more myself and discovered his habit of minimizing. It turns out, so far, that he had sex with a dozen of our employees and customers including friends of mine and my very best friend. He decided about ten years ago that these were too risky and confined himself mostly to massage parlors.
Part of what hurts so much is that over the years I repeatedly told him that I felt unloved and undesired by him and that I was desperate to fix it. He says that the whole Madonna-Whore syndrome was in play. Sex had to be dirty and illicit. After much therapy he says now that he is a classic narcissist and that his wants/needs/desires/ always trumped anything and anyone else including me, his children and God.
Another incredibly painful aspect is his complicity with people I knew to betray me. Following their affair, I unwittingly invited my “best friend” to come on a 2 day trip with us. We all shared a hotel room. I helped her plan her wedding, gave her a shower, etc. I continued friendships with some of these women after they left our employment. How disgusting. My head knows that he couldn’t stop these “friendships” without exposing his crimes, which he was sure would instantly end our marriage, but my heart can’t accept that my husband couldn’t protect me from that much, at least. It would have been so much less painful if strangers were involved. His ego wouldn’t have been served by prostitutes though. He needed flirtations that could escalate into sexual encounters that would affirm his desirability. So sad.
We have had hundreds of employees over the years and I shudder to think of how many know how duped I was. People talk. It’s funny because he says that these women would never have told anyone. Apparently he thinks that he only fooled around with principled whores! Being that delusional, he was probably reckless enough that it was obvious to observers. Ugh.
Our finances are really tough right now and cannot afford two households. I have stayed with my mother and friends off and on over the past year when there has been opportunity. He is really committed to his recovery and meetings and expresses tearful acknowledgments of how much he has hurt me every day. I am grateful that he feels my pain so acutely, but if I am even to consider beginning a new relationship with him (the old one is finished – it was a sham) I need to know how this all unfolded. I don’t want sexual details, but I want to know everyone and anyone that I need to 86 from my life even those whom he has had inappropriate conversations with. I don’t want anything held back at this point. He remembers insignificant events of his childhood or sports, or whatever, but cannot remember how any of his innocent employer/employee or customer relationships escalated to trips to hotel rooms, etc. I can’t accept that.
((((((((hugs)))))))) You poor, poor woman. I simply have no other words. I mean, I do… but they are evil, so I’ll keep them tucked away where they belong.
Thank you for sharing your story. In all of our stories there seems to be a commom thread of narcissism and yet weakness in these sex-addicted men. I am starting to wonder if my husbands line that all men have a sexually deviant streak is true.
My best to you, L 🙂
Thank you for sharing the story of your marriage. I totally empathize with all the feelings you described—from the strange sexual habits at the start through “my husband speaks Russian” through the “we can’t afford two households.
It is such a terrible shock to the system to finally have the missing piece of information that is holding together all the “am I crazy” moments. So many betrayals at so many levels. You really need a therapist of your own at this point. The trauma you are going through will not be managed by sheer will alone. Please look after yourself in this way.
And please get legal and financial advice. It is absolutely crucial for you to know exactly what your position is and what your real options are. You can’t be careless with this moment. Much of your future may depend on how well you cover this territory. I know it’s a shock to see your lifestyle shifting, and the symbols of home sliding away—but you can build a life that is good—simpler, safer, happier, with less clutter.
Most of all, don’t try and fix him. Don’t try and solve his problems. Don’t look after him. The only healing you are responsible for is your own. This has been a really tough lesson for me. And having worked so closely with your SA spouse in your business life—that partnership will be deeply entrenched in you. You may still try to “keep the business” going.
This is not about giving up on your marriage, its about changing the patterns within it so that you can be safe and whole.
Enough for now. I’m really sorry this horrible pain is in your life. I can only tell you that over a year later, I’m in a much place after some hard work, and I’m happy in my life. But there will always be a sad place for this love that can no longer be, and probably never really was.
Choose life. Choose life. Choose life. The rest will sort itself out if you do that.
lots of light to you.
Thank you for sharing. I can imagine how confusing it is to have had many successful aspects to your partnership with your husband for so many years when all the while this deceit was going on behind your back. These guys can be the best of times and the worst of times all at once. Give yourself time to prioritize your needs and thus sort out what you can and can’t live with in relationship with your husband. It’s a messy, tangled web.
I think it can take an SA many months or longer to fully disclose everything. Use the time for you.
I just happened on to this site a few days ago when I googled “why are all spouses of sex addicts labeled co-dependent” This is a God-send.
Thanks for the big cyberhug, Lorraine. I vascillate between compassion for this very broken man and, when I can’t tuck the evil stuff away, pure venom that I spew at him.
Annie, I may agree with your husband. This issue is SO important for parents of boys to learn to manage when they are young so that they don’t end up destroying their lives and the lives of others. And,as a mother of daughters, I want them to be aware of these possibilities.
Thank you Diane for the encouragement and kick in the butt. We saw a therapist together, but I told him I could not continue to go to therapy with a liar. You are right and I am going to go back on my own. I do want to emerge better, not wounded. I’m getting kind of sick of wounded. I do fight the impulse to fix him, but I know I can’t. My heart tells me (and he does too) that he would want to hand over to me anything that we have, which is almost zip at this point, but I know that those feelings can change.
Myam, thank you for the permission to take my time!
We all often feel the need to force a resolution, but this is not in my hands – you are right. There is better use of this time to heal and make a foundation for the future, whatever shape it takes.
They NEVER NEVER EVER EVER! Tell you the WHOLE truth..EVER. Just meet someone you deserve.
Survivor…I fear that this is true. It’s hard enough to place the known facts in a place where they don’t overshadow everything else, but the secrets are just continued betrayal and a complete barrier to any hope of emotional intimacy. Mens groups would have us believw that you only need to know about the nature of the behavior. Infuriating!
I can relate to your pain — both my husband and I worked in the same field and I, too, felt betrayed when his staff not only knew about things going on behind my back, but told me that they had to support my husband in his choices because he was their boss — a woman told me this. I feel as though I can no longer go back to this field of work, I’m too embarrassed and suspect there are more landmines out there for me. So you and I have practical reason for wanting to know EVERYTHING about what went on because we need to know who our friends are, so to speak. But, in my husbands case, I know that he must have had many instances of anonymous sex, prostitutes, etc., and I want to know exactly what went on. BUT WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT TO ME? My husband, who is supposed to be sorry for his behavior and claims to be “cured”, wonders, “Isn’t it enough that I deceived you once? Why do you need to know the details?” Why, indeed? Can anyone help, here? Is it unhealthy for me to want to know all the details, the extent to which I was betrayed?
You must be an amazing woman; I believe that your husband knew this all along and that your strength, sadly, allowed him to be lazy and never acknowledge his behavior over the years was immoral and dishonorable (lying and betrayal is immoral, sex is not.) In some ways, your story is one of the more disturbing to me, as your husband seems to be less sick, and more just plain selfish and small. I wish I could help you more — Linda
PS L., Strong, honorable, trustworthy people are never prepared for this kind of crap! When I say that your husband “used your strength”, please don’t think that I am blaming you! I admire you, and you’ll find your way, as I will, eventually.
Thank you for your encouragement. I’m so sorry for the pain of betrayal and collusion that your husband has heaped upon you. I’m sure that it is really difficult to accept that people you associated with could disrespect you so badly and have such disregard for your wellbeing. That shame and embarrassment belongs to them for their lack of integrity, NOT YOU.
My husband and I went over the ‘sexual addict’ vs ‘garden variety player’ issue for a long time. His therapist asked how he felt after each of his escapades and he said he felt sickened and couldn’t wait to leave. His therapist then pointed out that he continued to do it again and again even though it was ultimately unpleasant, therefore, it is an addiction. Sexual conquests were a salve for his overwhelming insecurity. Masturbation and erotic massage had been his coping mechanisms for stress, sadness, anything unhappy since he was a kid. All that being said, you are correct as well, for it is a selfish man that would make conscious decisions to do what he did. Not happily – I often could sense his shame, but attributed it to that fact that he has an inferiority complex (that is not evident to most people as he is a fairly charismatic guy).
Part of the reason you and I want to know everything is simply to make sense of events and ‘seasons’ our marriages went through. Also, his M.O. started to crystalize for me when I got information about different exploits (the who’s, the what’s, and the when’s – graphic sexual details are not necessarily helpful). I am able now to deal with the facts – it is the betrayal of secrets that is prolonging the hurt. As long as this continues, I can’t move forward with him. There is no rhyme or reason to the order that the disclosures have been dealt. They weren’t chronological, or in order of how devastating any one was, so I don’t have a sense of how close to full disclosure we are. Early on we came to an agreement that he needed to tell me anything I wanted to know no matter how difficult it was for him. He had agreed that it wasn’t his right to try to hold on to me by excluding possible deal breakers, that I was owed all of the facts and then it would be my call to stay or not. I think he has had a change of heart about this. As I did confront a few of his playmates that were my friends so they knew to stay out of my life and had one parlour shut down (I know, I know, futile) I have assured him that I am not interested in contacting anyone else – no matter who it is. There is very little satisfaction in it and I wanted to offer him that much.
I’m sure that we can all come out on the other side of our devastation with a much deeper, more authentic relationship with our spouse, or the potential to have that with someone else. God Bless you – L
One of the best things I have learned through this process is about the inadequacy issues that drive this addiction. It is funny because as mentioned above after disclosure, we start feeling inadequate, wanting details(so we can compare/try to figure out what they wanted/looked for) this just makes us feel worse and more inadequate. Early in the counseling, I was told to put a rubber band around my wrist and flick it everytime I need to remind myself that I am “worthy” not for my body, looks, or anything I do, but because of who I am and the value God puts on me. Through this process of healing from my hurt, I am learning to truly value and love myself. I always thought I was a secure, confident person, anyone who knows me would say I was strong, capable, confident. This has brought out a lot of stuff I didn’t know was hidden deep down and now I can heal from my childhood wounds too…