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Confused and Desperate
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Confused and Desperate

First of all, we cannot afford counseling; and this is exactly what I want and we need and he has claimed that he is willing to do in the past.  However, time and money is a huge concern.  We are struggling to make ends meet as he works long hours, I work two jobs from home, and I am in college.  I have four children from a past relationship of 8 years, wherein I was abused, cheated on, and lied to.  They are gone for the summer, and we were supposed to be concentrating on rekindling that spark.  We have had ups and downs as far as how to go about some things, but it seemed we came to a mutual agreement... and now it is already going awry.  He was savagely raped and abused by a stranger when he was 5-6 for the course of a year and started masturbating when he was very young, even just looking at scantily clad women before he hit puberty.  I am a psychology major and have manic depression and anxiety, as well as a lot of experience working on myself and with others to help them.  When it is this close to home though, it seems almost foreign to me because of distractions, denial, desperation, confusion, emotions, and sleeplessness.  I have gone without eating, going on a diet, vigorously exercising, wearing sexy clothing and bed attire, making him videos and pictures, and fulfilling all of the fantasies he says he has.  We are pretty open about that type of thing.  I keep myself very clean and groomed... I am 30.  I am fairly thin and fit, wear a 36DD, and have that big butt that he likes.  I am far from confident, but his friends and others tease him about not wanting to have sex with me every minute of the day.  This makes me feel good, but there has to be something wrong with me.  I will explain a little.

I could go on forever and ever and will certainly miss details and important parts of this, but to avoid rambling and including too much I will simplify it as much as I can.  I will start when my kids left.  He has stopped looking at porn, or so I thought, when he realized how much it hurts me.  We have had several long talks, intimate talks, listening and responding, holding each other, and exploring "why" he does it and "why" it bothers me... and try to come to a compromise or a solution, but now I feel like he is just trying to appease me no matter how accepting and patient that I am.  I do not react angrily anymore and try not to even show my sadness when I know what he is doing... not until he is ready to come to me and tell me.  He says he will tell me when he has done it or has the urge to.  After the kids left, he told me he would rather WANT to than NOT want to and I will have to get used to it or suffer because he is not going to stop.  It is like this is a part of how he identifies himself, he has been doing it so long.  He just likes watching the naked female body, has a thing for undressing, and does not necessarily like lesbians but will watch if they are doing masturbation type things and the woman is attractive- number one thing.  He consistently insists that I am PERFECT.  He is attracted to me and my body more than any of those people... and he can get "hard" looking at me clothed but has to touch himself before he can get hard no matter what these other women are doing.  This seems to be the case, so I am confused... why would he rather masturbate to that stuff more than have sex with me the majority of the time?  I understand men are more visual.  I understand that he often wants to "get off" but is too tired to perform or has no sexual energy.  The thing is, this is rising to the level of abnormal... and as much as it kills me and hurts me, I am also concerned about him.  I want to know if he has intimacy issues, fears, unresolved pain, or just fantasies he is not communicating.  He has told me some pretty intense fantasies... embarrassing ones... We are close in this manner.  This is why I am having a hard time thinking that.

After the kids left and he got some masturbating and porn out of his system, he admitted that he had his brother make him a DVD while he claimed he was not jacking off or watching anything.  He even told me where it was.  I left it alone.  He DVR'ed a lot of the Skinemax and other late night shows and used DailyMotion to watch women doing things... I let him.  When I say "let," I just mean that I did not object or make him feel uncomfortable or ashamed about what he was doing.  He uses that term, and it has stuck; but I am not really cozy feeling like I am "allowing" him to do anything.  We are free adults.  Anyway, he deleted all of these movies and has refrained from getting on the computer.  I used to have a password on the DirecTV and computer, but I gave them to him.  Out of nowhere, he said he wants us to spend time together just knowing each other and having fun and being friends and lovers with no interference.  He said this would at least be a week just to devote to me and forget about the porn.  Then, I see on History he tried to do something during this time.  This morning, I walked in the living room and saw he was changing from TV mode while pretending to watch a show.  I am not stupid.  I stayed in there, not to keep him from whatever but to see if he would just admit it.  He promised me he would be honest from now on, and I am trusting him.  I promised not to react or ask questions, etc.  It was working well, but he has this obsession with hiding it... this sneaky stuff.  He swore he had no other movies besides the one I knew about, but I know he is not watching that other DVD because it messed up and does not work.  He started doing stuff with me, and I noticed he had "stuff" on the tip of him... and I innocently asked why, as if I was turning him on.  That happens sometimes.  His reaction was suspicious, making excuses like he was leaking, etc.  We had sex, and it did not take him long to "get off."  He then kept trying to get me to go in the other room, making silly requests and asking me if I needed to log in to work.  I could tell something was up.  He left a little later than usual, as if he was worried.  Sure enough, when he left, I discovered a porn DVD in the player and a case on the floor under the coffee table with a movie inside and one under it.  Fridays are also supposed to be our "special days" every week where we spend quality time together and just have a blast and focus on our deep connection... or so I thought.  I am 100% sure he masturbated and "got off" right before I came in there.  He acted like the remote was messing up and was on TV mode and he was trying to fix it.  This is after just yesterday he said he wants to be completely upfront with me and will tell me from now on if he even has an urge.
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Before what seemed like a huge breakthrough where we got a lot closer, I would wake to him searching for the perfect videos right in front of me on the computer as I was in bed and even sometimes at night when he thought I was asleep.  I have to try so hard to get him to have sex with me.  We used to do it every day, sometimes several times a day... and now I am lucky if it is a couple times a week.  He knows that morning sex is my BIG thing, my fantasy, what really gets me going for the day... but he would rather masturbate in the morning.  This morning was rare, and he tried to act all happy before he left and claimed it must have been the "sex."  This hurt my feelings.  Masturbating, he has said before, does not tire him and makes him feel normal afterwards and carries on... but sex relaxes him and can make him want to just go to sleep.  What is going on with him?  We had determined together that this was an addiction, but then he acts like he can stop... It never seems to happen.  He is angry and lashes out when he is unable to do stuff/porn.  As much as I want to stop the pain it is causing me, I want to fix whatever is wrong with him for HIM.  There is obviously something very wrong, and I love him.  I want whatever problem there is to stop.

I have no issue with porn itself and am not a fan of censorship in most cases.  I do think I feel betrayed and cheated on.  Early on, I would destroy any DVDs or videos.  I would try to limit or block his access to it.  He viewed it as controlling, so I stopped that.  I am not possesive or domineering, so I wanted another approach to where he saw how much I cared and that I was not being selfish or overbearing.  We have come a long way in that regard.  I swore not to be destructive... but after this morning, I was crying and felt as if he was playing me for a fool and using me and taking advantage of my understanding nature and willingness to work through this as long as it takes.  I poured acetone on these DVDs and put them in the microwave for 5 seconds.  Now, there are marks I cannot get off.  I want to just put it all back the way it was for a little while to see if he confesses.  I fear his reaction.  This happens usually after I am trying so hard to be the best for him... like this morning, I made his coffee and breakfast and gave him time alone, where he said he wanted to just watch TV and wake up.

I do not know what to do or even what I am asking.  Does anyone have any advice or at least something to say that might help me out here?  I am lost... Aside from this, we have a perfect relationship.  We have no secrets.  This is the only thing, and it is really doing a lot of damage.  I feel like I am the only one making effort and suffering to such an extent as to lose sleep and contemplate suicide sometimes, rarely.  It is not just the porn and the pain it makes me feel but also for him because I cannot help him...
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I guess I have so many questions and so many ideas that I might need to consider from others.  I feel like I have tried everything except for counseling.  I want to be able to afford it and also have a schedule where we can... Money is the big thing, though.  When kids get back, I fear the troubles we were having might return.  He no longer wants to talk about this, as he has indicated.  Then, he will say he will... and it depends on the day.  He said for a lot of our relationship, he was miserable and wondered if he was in love with me... and the ONLY thing really causing it was the porn.  After our recent "breakthrough," we have shared special moments... ignited the bond and passion we felt in the beginning... and opened up about so many things, comforted each other, became close, and learned so much about each other we failed to do while I was depressed and he was going through this fear of commitment thing because he wants to feel "young and free," he had said.  He has said he feels close to me again and like I am his best friend, having fun with me since our new beginning, and knows he wants to be with me and is 100% in love with me... Is this porn actually strong enough to demolish something that could otherwise be a beautiful and fairy tale type love story?  I am just stumped.  I would not mind it if he admitted to it and it was only sometimes, where it was "normal"... but this is an addiction, an obsession, and seems to be more important than me.  I sit back and try to deny that it is a problem because I do not want it to be a problem.  That approach is not doing either of us any good... I do not want to lose him; but even if I did, I fear he will never find true happiness in a relationship with this being his top priority.  I want him to be happy.  I know he and I can be happy and are the ones everyone wants to be like... They see the connection and the closeness... but they do not know this thing which seems to be destroying the magic that is there.  I want him to get help.  What do I do? :(  I cannot focus on anything else when I feel like this... because I am empathizing with him while trying not to ignore my own pain, and it all depresses me and makes me feel ugly, worthless, and non-productive.  I cannot work, study, sleep, or even clean.  It is taking control over me, and it is not healthy.  I have found the love of my life and do not feel like I am being selfish and do not want to change him for anything in this world... so why is this bothering me so much and how can he understand this without thinking I am being selfish or wanting to change him?  He says he gets it, but I fear he really does not... or does not care.  

He also has ADHD and has an extroverted personality... always wanting to entertain, make people laugh, get attention, and show off his talents.  He never got much attention as a child.  He acts as if I fill most of those holes in his soul... but apparently I cannot fill this one giant one.  Should I just accept it?  I have tried and feel it is unfair.  I have a high sex drive.  I can do it 5 times a day or more... and still work and get things done I need to get done.  We are both physically attracted to each other, undoubtedly... so what is the problem?  I am so sorry to keep going on.  I am just dying inside... and now feeling guilt over these DVDs and wishing I knew how to cover up the marks on here and pretend I do not know, at least for a little while.  I do not want him to feel ashamed, attacked, like he has to hide anything, or get the wrong idea and think I am angry.  I am far from mad.  I am just worn down.  I wonder if he bought these DVDs or borrowed them or got them from someone, and I want to talk to these people and explain our situation and how this is not some innocent little "normal" thing for him... but I am sure he will not tell me who, and I do not want him to know that I know if I can help it.  It makes me wonder though what he tells people... makes me embarrassed in front of people... because I do not know who... Just so many things are eating at me.  I just want us to get help.
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I got through about 1/3 of that encyclopedic note before I realized it was mostly reiteration of the same points.

        You're going to have to realize a couple of things, in my opinion; first off, you're a student of psychology; you are not a mental health professional, and you are suffering from some issues yourself- it is never wise to diagnose a loved one under the best of circumstances, and you are not living under the best of circumstances; regardless of the temptation, you must accept that you may not have a clear, or even correct perspective.

    Your husband's past will dictate partially the mechanisms he uses to cope with his present. This is true for everyone. He may use pornography for a guilt-free relief when accompanied by masturbation- masturbating as a relaxation exercise is 100% natural, even for married men- when it interferes with  HIS quality of life, and not yours, it can be considered a compulsive behavior. In many cases, this can be attributed to intimacy issues, which is consistent with what you've written, but may not necessarily be important enough to be a critical issue even so.

   Despite what you've written, you're hurt and uncomfortable with his taste for pornography, and you're certainly not alone there- however, you must also accept that pornography IS acceptable to many people, quite possibly including your husband, despite his kind words to you. He may not feel comfortable discussing the issue with you, given your perspective, but you should know that many married men enjoy masturbating to pornographic images alone, along with having a healthy and normal sex life. This falls withing the range of normal behavior.

    My own gut instinct is that you two have opposed philosophies on the issue, but that your husband has a behavioral association between masturbating to pornography and comfort. Changing that could be very, very stressful, leading to the question of whether it's worth doing so or even a good idea for him.

    One final thought- you write a lot about what his solo activities do to you, how they make you feel. Have you considered whether or not your own feelings are normal regarding the issue?  Many women do not feel threatened by pornography. The fact is, your feelings on the issue may be extraneous-  masturbation being a stress-relief exercise, he may very well feel that it's none of your business- he was masturbating long before he met you, it doesn't affect his feelings for you, and it is a calming exercise.
   I'm inclined to believe that you're inserting yourself in an area where you don't necessarily need to be- you're choosing to be hurt over this issue on some level, as there are plenty of wives who just don't care. This implies that you can choose not to agonize over this as well. Just a thought.  Ultimately, you'll have to decide what you can live with and what you can't. Just be aware that he may not be the one who is acting abnormally over this, and that this has nothing to do with his love and attraction to you. Good luck.
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I appreciate the response.  I have considered it and have dealt with it for a long time.  All I have been doing is considering how he feels and wanting to help him until I realize that it is not right for me to be the only one hurting for years.  I know he has a problem.  He knows.  Watching that stuff 10-20 times a day sometimes while only having sex with me once a day if we are lucky is a problem, and I do not have to be a mental health professional to know this.  I have no problem with pornography at all, never have.  I know he has a problem because it changes his moods and interferes with HIS happiness and even finances, work, and other friendships.  We are very close, and I am not misreading this.  I think a lot about it because of him more than myself, but I am going to have worse issues if I also do not take care of my own feelings.  My feelings, according to even HIS friends, are not only normal but quite "liberal" considering how "cool" I am with him about it.  I do not feel threatened by it.  I feel neglected and abused (sometimes) by it, and it does not even make him feel good aside from the sexual release.  He gets depressed and lashes out, as he did before he ever met me; but right now, we are a team.  He made it my business by wanting me to help him in the beginning when he very well could have kept it hidden.  He has reached out to me and told me he did it when I never would have known and asked me for help... but then, as I wrote above, it is turning into a huge problem.  Sometimes, he regrets ever talking to me about it... Others, he collapses in my arms and says he is glad he has someone to talk to about it but just hates that it is hurting me.  I told him that is not what is the most important issue... The big thing is it is obviously hurting me and was before I came along, and it even causes flashbacks of what happened to him when he was brutally sexually assaulted for a long period of time.  I know my issues and can admit my issues and feel like I am working on those, but this addiction he has is keeping him from facing his; and because I love him, aside from what it is doing to me personally, I am concerned.

I appreciate your response, though, I really do.  I have considered some things that I never have, as far as your advice and opinions/possibilities.  There are just some things that I have not only considered but practiced and believed and felt for a long time until this got out of control.  I have been with other people before and never had a problem with it because it was not a problem to them and did not cause them any hardships and really had no effect on our relationship or their feelings for me.  This time, it is far different.  Other past girlfriends of his shared some of the same sentiments to me without me even asking them, they were just trying to "warn" me... The thing is, I will love him and support him no matter what.  We have had some time to talk and be almost "buddies" about it this weekend, which makes me feel good to know that he really can talk to me and wants to... I just have to hide my hurt if he says something that causes me any pain or concern.  I am willing to do that, as we try to fix things.  He has a support system in me and others, as many think he has a serious problem to the point where it is not healthy.  I really feel like I don't have one because I am trying to be strong for him and find a way to not only help him but stop letting myself feel tortured... if that makes sense.

He knows I am writing this.  I do not want all of our friends or family privy to the details of our relationship problems.  Those in the past or the few who know about his issues are people he did not invite in to the issue, and so he said if I need to talk about it online to "strangers" who do not know us then he really wants me to.  I hesitated because this is so complex.  I do not feel like I was repeating myself at all, but since there is so much to this that words cannot really capture and the closeness and friendship we really do have that cannot be described appropriately, I fear no one will understand where I am coming from... but I like all opinions, whether it makes me wrong or right or happy or sad.  I am thankful someone took the time to respond to me.  Thank you...
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Your story is really touching,
and i'm sure everyone would like to give an opinion but it's hard to help you out when everything seems so complex!
Watching porn in itself isn't  problem, it only becomes worrying when it becomes a time-consuming habit that you repeat so many times in one day, so clearly he DOES have an issue that somehow needs to be resolved before it becomes even more out of hand. You talk about counseling, I imagine you're speaking of couple counseling? I think this is more a problem that concerns him and i'm not sure you should be involved in the therapy. I think that his issue with porn hides a lot of trauma from his childhood and that if anything he should be seeing a psychologist.
On the other hand, I think that if this makes your relationship miserable and you feel that diminished by his behavior then at some point there needs to be some action taken. Sometimes we don't like facing the truth, it's never easy, but I think a heart to heart talk about where your relationship is heading is absolutely necessary.
You are 30, you can't keep living through something that makes you this miserable. A discussion with him about your future and your needs as well as his is needed, and if he doesn't want to make any effort and you are not willing to make some either than I'm afraid you'll need to take a break and each think about a better solution. Getting at each other all the time about the same topic over and over again isn't exactly a healthy lifestyle, and from what you're saying a healthy lifestyle is definitely something both of you need!!

Good Luck to you and to him,
I hope you can sort it out.
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