Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Group Therapy: Trust and pornography


I emailed Shelle about writing a post for the blog. When I told her what it was about she thought it would be better to do it in this kind of forum.

I have to give SOME background to help with the bulk of the questions.

I feel I'm like any normal male, or most males. I'm average. I say this when I'm talking about pornography. I don't need it and I don't have to watch or look at it, but every now and then when I need a quick pick me up and especially before I was married, it was a fast way to reach the "goal". No harm no foul. If it was there I'd look but nothing obsessive, never ruled my life.

Fast forward to marriage. My wife has never looked at porn. She thought of it as vile and disrespectful to women, even though those women fully engage of their own accord. It was something we talked about before getting married and she said that if I wanted to look at something or watch something that we do it together as a couple, see in her mind, it was worse if I was getting off behind her back or being sneaky about it, so her compromise was together or nothing at all. I agreed to it because like I said before I didn't need it and hell if she wanted to watch and look at it with me I could roll with that.

Not going into a lot of detail because it would suck to listen to, she tried the compromise thing and long story short we looked at porn, really really soft porn.

Fast forward a bit and one day I get sent an email from a friend which sent me to a website with porn. Being a weak human I looked at it. For longer than was probably necessary, I admit, I was guilty and looked at it.

In walks wifey on me. And she flipped. I mean she turned into a whole other person. Screaming, ranting, crying! You would have thought the end of the world was upon us. To say the least, she was not happy about it. I begged to be forgiven. Told her I'd never again look at it unless she was right by my side. Claimed I'd block any friend that sent me that kind of material again. I did whatever I could to try and make it better.

She said she needed time. Time to think about it. Time to let it go.

It's been 2 years. If you were an outsider just walking in on an argument of ours you would think I was caught last week. She still holds it over my head. She still thinks she cannot trust me, even though I haven't looked at porn without her there or knowing about it. She throws out divorce when we argue and blames any problem on the fact that I was the one who caused it by looking at porn.

I love her. I don't want to divorce her. We have a beautiful little boy together. I want my family to stay together.

My questions are: If your spouse or partner did something that made you lose your trust in them and you were able to get past that, how did you do it? Is there anything I can do to make it better, to help her trust me again? Or is there nothing I can do? Is there no hope? Will it only get worse?

***If you have any questions or problems that you would like to have addressed in Group Therapy please email me at blokthoughts@gmail dot com orrealworldvenusmars @ gmail dot com.

Leave your advice in the comments, comment on other comments, and feel free to comment Anonymously.


Anonymous said...

Accountability. And that can take so many forms these days, since porn is literally everywhere and very easy to access. No longer does a dude have to sneak into a back room at the video store, or use a key to unlock a cable box. You can get it on your phone, or even soft core stuff on TV if you stay up late enough.

So, what would accountability look like for you?

And by accountability, I mean more than just your word. You can tell her you aren't doing it until you're blue in the face, but she won't buy it. And in this case, if I may speak freely, with only one infraction, seems lame on her part.

You've said you don't need it. And that you've stayed away from it since this incident (if I read you correctly). Do you share a computer? Would she be willing to search the history every once in a while to confirm that you aren't surfing porn sites? Have you told her that she can do this at any time? In other words, have you given her permission to do so?

How about a filter? Would you agree to put one in place and ask her to monitor it regularly?

Or does she want this sort of control?

Have you asked her what accountability would play out from her point of view? If she's worried that you're doing it behind her back, in what way does she want to be assured that you are not?

This must be a two-way street, where you two meet in the middle and come up with some solution that would satisfy both your desire to steer clear and her need to know that you are doing so.

And you need to be completely honest with her. If indeed you have been staying away from porn, then tell her that. Ask her how she wants you to prove it to her. And tell her that you are growing weary of the sword she is dangling over your head.

If she wants assurance, then ask her to be specific about how she wants to know that you are keeping your promise.

Trust is a tricky thing. One slip and, under some conditions, it is gone forever. At this point, it's about creating a clean slate. Where past transgressions aren't mentioned and current behavior is open, honestly displayed, and, if need be, monitored.

We have an agreement in our marriage. The word "divorce" is simply NEVER brought up in any way during inevitable disagreements. Get the elephant out of the room, and there's room to make things work . . .

Anonymous said...

I like tysdaddy's comment/advice. Word for word.

I do want to add that I personally DISPISE when someone holds something constantly over another person's head and by constantly threatening divorce, in my opinion, is just childish. I said the exact same thing to one of my close friends when she was doing it to her husband.

If she's constantly threatening divorice than maybe there's another issue that she's not talking to you about. I find it very hard to believe that after two years she's still pissed off about this. What I mean is that there very well could be an underlining issue here and this just happens to be easier for her to voice.

Also, it sounds more like she's upset that you broke a promise, not that you were looking at porn. You PROMISED to not look at porn. Period. End of story. You looked. Would you have felt guilty if you hadn't gotten caught? If you wouldn't have felt guilty, than maybe you need to do a little soul searching and find out why. Whatever the case, you broke a promise.

Put yourself in her position. If you felt the way she did about porn and promises, etc, and you caught her doing something you specifically asked her not to do and she agreed to it. How would you feel?

For the record; I have no issue with porn. I also find the fact that your wife constantly brings up divorce is just ridiculous. Maybe I'm wrong here but I honestly think there's an underlining issue.

The way I see it when someone breaks a promise to me: If I've caught them doing this thing, what else have they done behind my back? What else have they lied about? Maybe nothing at all. But I don't know that ... (and that's what I'm getting at with the whole "underlining issue" thing).

Good luck with your situation!

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I agree with accountability. But monitoring him shouldn't be THE way to instill trust. I kinda feel that trust is very similar to faith.

You have to learn to just believe or to just trust again or it will be detrimental not just to your relationship but to yourself.

Always making yourself worry or snoopy is not a way to live. If you forgive then you should forgive all the way. And try to let it go.

You seem truly sorry. She still seems she hasn't fully forgiven you, she latches onto that incident as a crutch. It gives her an excuse it seems to not take blame and to always take the role as the victim.

I am interested to see if someone has been through something similar and how they worked through it.

Anonymous said...

Well what I would do would be explain to her, when you AREN'T actively fighting that you have heard the last of the porn stuff. Explain that she is being juvenile and she needs to let it go because it is hurting your relationship tremendously. If she has made ANY indiscretion then after you explain to her how silly she is being everytime she says porn you say (whatever she did)

Also explain to her that you promise to never view porn within 24 hrs of her having relations with you.

my kind of deal.

Mrs.Duran said...

I was just like her, I never even knew what "real" porn was until I got married and I thought it was gross and stupid and I thought those women were dirty whores. Anyways I caught my husband looking at porn with his cousin one day( which the cousin LOVED his porn) oh I was hurt I went into the bathroom and cried and I was angry because we had a similar agreement that we would look together. Now let me explain something I am a big girl always has been always will be! So when I saw him looking at these skinny women all I could think was " he wish's I was skinny" or " I bet he thinks about them when he is having sex with me". It was about I dont know a week later I finelly broke down and said something on the lines of you wish I was like that skinny women, and he was shocked that I would even say something like that to him. He told me that he didnt like women like that and that he was just in the room when his cousin brought it up on the computer, it took me a while to believe I even ask the cousin if that was the truth and it was. but i still had the whole issure of being compaired, I was always worried he was thinking about them. He finelly made me see that he didnt like skinny women that he was very happy with my curves. I am now ok wiht him looking at porn but it has to plus size women and we actully look together sometimes, and if I am out of town he will ask me if it is ok if he goes and looks.
I feel like maybe she is worried that she is being compaired and I am sorry two years is a long time to hold something over his head, I think it time that she get over it and move on.

Nicole said...

This is a topic close to my heart.

My first husband threw his life away with porn. We met in our first semester of college, and I trusted that he was a wonderful man of good integrity. He was from a good family, possessed many of the qualities I was looking for in a husband, and I felt really lucky that such man would fall for me. Things were fine for the first year. While I was sick and pregnant, we got an internet connection to help pass the time. Little did I know through my pregnancy that my husband made online porn viewing a daily habit.

It quickly became an addiction. He'd log on at my parents' house. He'd log on at work. His temperament and personality changed. His tenderness toward me vanished. He was demanding and coercive. His words and actions became more perverted. His mild mental illness symptoms quickly exploded exponentially, and he eventually ended up in a mental hospital.

We went to counseling together. I changed myself to be the woman I thought he wanted me to be. But after 4+ years, I knew I did my part. After our divorce, his addictions became actions, and he is now a sex offender serving 15 years in prison.

And to think it started with one inappropriate link in an email.

DGB said...

There are two big issues going on here.

First - trust. As mentioned above, you made a promise and advertantly or inadvertantly broke it and got caught. She has a right to be upset and you cannot begrudge her feelings just because you don't agree with them. That said, if it's two years later and she's still clinging to this one event...that's a problem that needs to be dealt with. Despite what the root of the problem is, that's a long time to carry something around.

Second - Porn. You have a very big difference in opinion. And from the way you tell it, it sounds like you've made a lot more concessions here than she has. Again, you need to understand and respect her feelings but at the same time, I question if what you're doing isn't harming anyone, why does she get to have this control over you?

It doesn't seem to be a situation like Nicole's, where porn was a destructive part of her relationship.

Now I say this realizing that your wife is affected by this. So a compromise must be made. However, respect her feelings but stand your ground. You shouldn't have to block a friend just because they sent you an email.

My take is that you may be paying the price for something that another guy from your wife's past has done. She's got major trust issues. You gotta start with those.

Susan said...

Wow... everyone has left really good feedback for you. And as a female, I totally agree that two years for this one incident is not YOUR problem... it's her problem. And I would take it as a red flag that like everyone else has hinted to, there are other things going on and this is just the "easy" thing she can use to argue or create negativity.

At the same time, you have known that this has been something important to her from the beginning - it's not like she's changed the rules on you in the midst of marriage. This should be one of those things that you both use to bring the two of you together. Forego the computer stuff and get some fun sex toys - use them on HER! You both need to compromise and come to some middle ground with it... if she's not willing??? Hmmmmmm...

And for the sake of all women, and as a cops wife who sees all the text and video jokes possible being sent from all "the guys", no matter how okay you are with it all, there are simply times when you think to yourself, give me a frigging break.

I've always said that women as a whole should ban together for a short period of time and collect Playgirl at home, and start texting, emailing and video messaging a rampage of hot male nude and sexual pictures... Our men of the world would not be able to take it. Not at all.

My husband totally agrees. Good luck to you!!!

Anonymous said...

A lot of people have made a lot of good points.

It sounds like there are some other dynamics or issues going on. Marital counseling may help in terms of getting to any deeper issues that may be preventing her from getting past this. (Even if it is only once or twice) It could also help you both communicate (or argue) with each other more effectively without the big "D" card thrown out every time you disagree.

If it really was one instance, and it hasn't happened again, this seems to be an extreme stance given that there isn't a pattern/habit of the behavior that she has an issue with. From personal experience, I think that there are a lot more serious infractions that can be overcome in a relationship, and trust can be rebuilt over time through accountability and open discussion.

However, it takes commitment from both sides to recognize that there is something good worth fighting for. If this is something you both can get past, then it should be left in the past once it is forgiven. Just my opinion, but it isn't fair, healthy or honest to blame all your problems on a single mistake that has essentially not been repeated.

Another Suburban Mom said...

I think your wife is over-reacting. Two years is a LONG time to be upset.

You made a mistake, you apoligized, you never did it again.

Have you two been to therapy about this and your other relationship issues?

I think getting a professional opinion on this and some guidance would be helpful.

If she truly won't let it go, then you need to decide if this is how you want to live.

The Bare Essentials Today said...

I think you're wife is overreacting and that there may be deeper seeded issues here. Two years is a very long time to hold a grudge, especially over something like this.

I can somewhat understand if you were completely ignoring your wife and ONLY getting off on the porn, if you let it rule your life. But even then, I wouldn't have held a grudge for two years, if things were unable to resolved, I probably would have moved on.

I definitely think this should be looked at a bit more closely, it really sounds like there are deeper issues here.

April said...

I agree with all the points everyone else mentioned: Therapy, another issue, trust, holy shit this has gone on way to long, and throwing divorce around is 100% unacceptable.

I'm honestly not trying to be mean when I say that there's something wrong with her. Without knowing you or anything about your relationship, it wouldn't be fair for me to assume that there are other serious issues you have with your wife, but I can't help to feel that way. I mean, it seems really unlikely that this is the ONLY thing she throws fits about and doesn't trust you about. If it is, please accept my apology.

The only thing I can say is to reiterate what ASM said, you need to decide if this is how you want to live. It's not how normal, healthy relationships function and a loving, trusting spouse wouldn't throw the word Divorce around whenever you fight.

Good luck to you. I hope, whatever the outcome may be, that you find peace and happiness.

Vodka Logic said...

Would seem to me your wife is over reacting. She has other issues, not just you looking at porn. IMO anyway.

I would say she or both of you go to therapy and see what comes of it. Does she have past issues you may not be aware of.

I wonder if it is even the porn at all.. If you had agreed never to go golfing without her and then did would she have reacted the same way.

Good luck. [I'm female btw]