1. How long has your WS been a sex addict, have you known, & what are they doing to deal with that (SA, etc)?
Within 2 months of our marriage in 1980, my husband (and high school sweetheart) H began having a series of extramarital affairs. In fact, the way I found out was to find him in bed with another woman. This happened 1 year after our wedding when we were living in Indiana.
Of course I was furious and hurt. I took H home and he cried and screamed for OW, the coed he was having the affair with. He tried to jump out of the VW van. I took him to our trailer (home) and we pretended to talk about it and he said many mean things to me like how he had the affairs because I was fat, smelled bad and was just a “stinky gash”. Then he cried and sobbed for his lover and expressed a desire to be with her. He told me he did not want to be with me but wanted OW instead. He said he tried to talk one of his lovers, a bisexual, into “teaching me” but even she was revolted. He shoved me to a mirror and asked if I would have sex with that. He told me that he had found out after an affair with a woman in Utah the summer before we married that I would never satisfy him sexually. He told me that he found OW, his current and constant lover of a year, a summer fling with another OW and a forced act with yet another OW so he could be satisfied and he did things with them that were so much better than sex with me.
I was still thinking of leaving and H then started saying he would call my father before I ever left town and tell him what “really happened” and tell him about the drinking I had resorted to in my isolation. He also kept asking me how I was going to go home and admit defeat and explain what happened because he would deny everything.
The next day I went to the Courthouse for information and found that I would get everything in an Indiana divorce. When H was informed of that he begged and pleaded with me not to leave, said he would never cheat, etc. He also didn’t want to talk about the affairs, wanted me to forgive him and said we’d live “comfortably” and he would stay, be faithful but I would have to realize that I didn’t satisfy him and we’d never speak of it again. I thought on it and realized that out of fear like he said, I couldn’t go back home and admit defeat after a year of marriage. I was terrified, young and foolish. We both were.
So I stayed and I tried many things such as losing weight and using hygiene products that would help hide my perceived odor and tried to initiate sex with every chance. That was when he told me to stop forcing myself on him and let him feel in the mood once in a while.
During that time I discovered that H had women’s underwear in his possession. I confronted him on that and he admitted that he had ALWAYS had an underwear fetish and he took those from the women he had affairs with. I expressed my displeasure but was again told that I was a prude and he was not screwing around anymore. Then he would say “you know why I have these”.
We made it through that miserable time in Indiana and although I heard rumors of his continued infidelity from mutual friends he assured me that I knew of the 4 people he had affairs with. As we embarked on our move to Boulder both of us appeared to be anxious to “start over”. Of course, we had a rollover accident with our trailer – our home - which prevented us from arriving in Boulder together.
By the time I got to Boulder a month after him; he had settled in and although I had continual doubts and suspicions he swore he was not having any affairs. He then told me that he could not live in a marriage where he was not trusted and always asked about his fidelity. I would ask him if he was faithful and he would swear he was and tell me that I had a problem and couldn’t let go of the past.
During our time in Boulder, H got arrested for stealing women’s clothes and he admitted that he was heavy into the fetishism. He told me that “I knew why” he did that. He did some minor court mandated class on shoplifting and told me that it was because of his fidelity to me that he was “acting out” and it was something he would seek help for. He never did seek help and I just went along “knowing why” - that his fetish behavior was random masturbation from not being satisfied by me.
We had our son and things seemed normal but not passionate. I always “knew why” and accepted it because I truly love H. I wanted to believe that he was faithful and that his masturbation problem was the worst of it and I could live with it. I never had any reason to believe he was not faithful there. We were happy.
We then moved to Phoenix, we had our daughter and for the best of my knowledge he had never had any affairs. However, that all ended when he got fired his job in 1990. He told me that he was fired for having photos of himself in full fetish apparel and we had to lie about it. He didn’t want everyone to know why he got fired and we should just tell everyone he got fired for using company property for personal use. He also promised to seek help. He never did seek help and I just went along “knowing why” - that his fetish behavior was random masturbation from not being satisfied by me.
He then went to work for another company and I went back to work. H started traveling a lot and my fears all came back to me. However, whenever I confronted H on his fidelity he would respond that he made mistakes long ago and I had trust issues. He always denied any affairs, but his fetishism was always there. Many was the time I had to pick up his paraphernalia before the kids saw it or make excuses for when the kids did see his panties. He would leave video tapes of himself in the VCR and I would have to get those out before the kids saw them. When confronted on it he would just apologize and tell me that I “knew why” he did it.
We drifted apart as many couples with kids do. We had sex but it always was somehow fetishized – either by dressing up on H’s part or H asking me to do things out of my comfort zone. Any rebuke of that or attempt at discussion about that resulted in being told I was repressed and uptight and didn’t really care about his pleasure and I “knew why” he needed the extra stimulus.
At this time I developed panic disorder and went through exhaustive medical tests and therapy for it for over 5 years. Through that entire process H told me it was my problem, not his, and he didn’t want me talking about us or his fetishes or affairs. He asked me not to use my counseling as “marriage counseling”. Foolishly I agreed and I never discussed it with my clinicians. I did what I could in therapy for MY panic disorder and learned a lot and continued with monthly check-ins with a psych nurse. We then switched insurance and I then just went to my primary care physician for the Xanax as I felt it was simply physiological. My panic disorder was managed pretty well with the small dose of medication.
H then stopped going on the road and we became “comfortable”. Things went on that way for many, many years. H continued to practice autoeroticism with his fetish props. He would stay up late to have his personal sex life. It had become the thing we didn’t talk about. When we did have sex there was a sort of fetish involved. There had not been intimacy for many years. There was always a fetish element – being it H wearing women’s underwear or some sort of sex toy. If I would report no excitement from that he took it personally.
After my hysterectomy my sex drive diminished greatly. H often complained about this and we would have rote obligatory sex. I did research on the issue and embarked on a journey of weight loss, specific yoga exercises and supplements that were geared to bring my libido back. I have been trying to make myself somehow desirable and also interested in sex. I had even asked my gynecologist for a prescription for testosterone which I never filled.
Everything came to a head on Thanksgiving weekend. H came to me giddy and excited. He had gone that Wednesday to have his nipples pierced. He showed me and told me he had thought of it doing it for years, had always gotten off on nipple stimulation and that this was so good for him. He told me how the young woman who pierced him “really understood” him and was so cool that he was just so excited that he had done it. Then he finished up by saying “and maybe this will help spice things up for us sexually”.
I took it all in and held it back all Saturday and Sunday until our daughter left for college that Sunday evening. I told H that I wanted to ask him some questions about his piercing and he seemed delighted. He told me where he went, the process, the beauty of the woman who did it to him and how he was so happy.
When I asked him how he, in his mind, went from me not desiring sex to suddenly desiring sex with him wearing nipple studs he became very combative. He said he “refused” to live in a marriage where there was no sex and that I had never seemed interested in sex with him and he didn’t believe in rape. He also inferred I “knew why” he had his nipple pierced.
I then confronted him on how when we had fetishized sex (which is always) it always makes me think of the previous affairs, how I considered his autoerotic behavior an affair and that it I had never felt as though it was really ME he was having sex with and I was tired of “knowing why”. Throughout a late night discussion, tears and angst we got to a point where he admitted that when we were in Boulder he had numerous affairs and had frequented adult book stores where he engaged in transvestic homosexual behavior in porno booths. However, he avowed that once we had moved to Phoenix he had never had an affair. Upon further confrontation with H he finally admitted that when he got fired from his job it was not because he had pictures of himself in fetish gear but because he was caught having sex with a transsexual.
To say this was earth-shattering would be an understatement. The “revelation” of his numerous affairs in Boulder and the lie he told me to lie about actually being a lie my total life was crumbling underneath me. Everything I had convinced myself to be true had been a lie. I confronted him on his sexual activity since he got fired. At this point his hand job by a Chinatown hooker came up, his “close to” necking session with female coworkers and his leaving work to go to porno theatres or dress up in full fetish drag and drive around.
I had a complete breakdown and H continued to swear he wanted to be with me and he would do therapy even though he shut down whenever we tried to talk. He kept telling me he loved me and wanted to be with me. The talk turned ugly with me being combative, angry and physical. I sobbed, panicked and tried to get more information out of him but he held steadfast in his story that nothing has happened in about 10 years other than the fetish autoeroticism.
H then took over and called a couple’s therapist he had found while researching his condition – transvestic fetishism – and made an appointment for us immediately. He took me an appointment with my primary care physician, and waited while I went in.
Dr. knew I was in bad shape. I told him I was panicky due to a marriage problem and that I needed a refill for my Xanax. He began by weighing me and asking me just what I thought I was doing losing 35 pounds when I didn’t need to. He was very upset about that and said that he was going to draw blood on my and see if there was a physiological problem that was making me sick. He then said that he wanted me on Wellbutrin immediately and gave me a prescription for that. He wanted to make sure I was going to get counseling immediately as well. I sobbed and cried to him and he made sure that I would be taken care of.
We then started seeing our marriage counselor/sex therapist. She asked the root of the problem and H explained it all to her. She asked him what he wanted out of therapy and he told her to be more intimate to me and to stop the fetishism. She asked me what I wanted and I told her to stop feeling ashamed for being fooled for so many years and to have H finally honest and open about himself. I stayed with my sister for 2 weeks until I moved home when H moved out at my request.
I took 12 weeks of FMLA and continued to see my physician for the medications and started seeing a therapist from the Employee Assistance Program at work. I found that my libido returned with the treatment of the depression researched that as a sign of depression. I affirmed this with the psychologist and I saw him for about 10 weeks. He thought it a good idea when H and I separated for the months of December and January but couldn’t understand when H moved home in February. He thought I was making a big mistake by attempting reconciliation. He then told me we were done with any more sessions. He thought I should just go with H to see the marriage counselor since I was still seeking reconciliation.
I went back to work for in February. H and I still see the marriage counselor and he sees her on his own as well for what they have determined is “autogynephilia”. (I go to IC on my own with a new PNP) H is going to Sex Addicts Anonymous weekly and removed the nipple piercings about 5 weeks ago as a sign of his commitment to our marriage. Our sex life has been very good and he has been sexually “sober” (i.e. not acting out, no affairs) since discovery in November.
2. How does your SA act out & how much verifying do you do?
Acting out is transvestic fetishism, internet porn and in the past affairs.
I will verify the internet porn and do his laundry. I have been known to look around for costumes or gadgets but I have now determined that I am not responsible for his behavior. He knows the consequences of a 3rd D-Day so I don’t do a whole lot of verifying.
3. Has the SA had relapses / slips?
H had a slip before the nipple piercings were removed by making a nipple shield, wearing it to work and trying to hide it from me. H was terribly ashamed. There have been no slips since then.
4. Do you have kids?
2 grown children, M age 23, F age 19
5. Brief description of what brought you to SI?
I was brought here by the advice of my therapist.
6. What would you say are the biggest barriers to reconciliation / recovery?
The biggest barriers are trust and forgiveness of both me and H.
7. Would you say you had a good relationship prior to the cheating & what made it that way?
We were high school sweethearts, grew up together and have always been very compatible and have enjoyed each other’s company for 33 years. The children always said we never fought while they were growing up.
8. Current status?
We are still married and still committed to reconciliation. We got to MC and both of us see IC. H goes to weekly SAA meetings. Right now, this minute, the marriage is doing OK. H is working hard at change and doing all that is asked of him and more.
We have good weeks where we are giddy in love and very close and then we have weeks where I am obsessive, angry and can barely stand the sight of him. I am working hard at forgiveness but am having issues with forgiving myself first. Throughout it all H has held strong to his desire to make things “better” and doing anything it takes. We are still committed to reconciliation at this point but I am having a hard time with the rollercoaster ride effect and the enormity of it all. I am cautiously optimistic.