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Continued: She can't get used to his porn habit

  • Article by: CAROLYN HAX
  • Last update: October 17, 2010 - 3:23 PM

Dear Carolyn: I've searched the archives and can't locate any replies to this apparently very common malady: online, hard-core porn usage by husbands.

I understand men are visual. I get that. I don't get the three- to four-times-a-week frequency, and the "teen" sites he goes to.

My husband is 60 and I'm 53. We rarely have sex anymore and he says it's because I'm a nag and unpleasant. He's right about that. I can't seem to adjust to this. Any insight would be helpful

Carolyn says: I agree that frequent use of hard-core porn can strain a marriage; the teenage stuff is particularly reprehensible, and possibly illegal. But I think a marriage faces an equal or greater threat from the kind of contempt that would move one spouse to call the other "a nag and unpleasant."

It's easy, and tempting, to lay all the blame on your husband. He's the one with the revolting, disturbing and exploitive habit; he's the one seeking sexual excitement outside of his marriage; he's the one choosing to keep that excitement to himself instead of trying to share it with you; he's the one dishonoring his vows by calling his wife hurtful names.

Your merely pointing to him as the problem, however, isn't going to solve that problem, or else it would have already.

So, instead, you have to take control of your side of the equation. That includes deciding what you want out of your marriage. Do you want to make minor repairs so it's serviceable, major repairs so it's fulfilling, or no repairs because you can't make any argument for remaining the "unpleasant nag" who's married to Teen Porn Man?

Obviously, the first two are realistic only if your husband is willing to tear himself from his computer long enough to care about how you feel. But you can start the process.

Namely, you can bite back any words that sound like nagging, and instead pick your moment to tell him your emotional truth: "I am real, and I am here, and I am married to you. When you use porn, I feel rejected and unwanted." His response will tell you pretty quickly whether you have any real hope that he'll invest himself in your marriage.

If he does show a spark of concern for your feelings, fan it with compliments for the man he used to be -- the man you've lost to his computer -- vs. criticism of the "man" he has become. (He chooses porn over a real woman, so he gets the snotty quotation marks -- but for the sake of expediency, let's keep them between us.) Now's the time to invite him to join you in counseling, whether you believe he'll agree to or not.

If instead his lack of interest in you is unwavering -- the more likely scenario at this point, I'm afraid -- then you need to decide: Do you want to demote him to roommate and pursue your own interests, as he has done to you -- or are you ready to be on your own? This decision may be as pragmatic as it is emotional, so consult as needed with the appropriate professional(s) -- banker, lawyer, family therapist -- before you make up your mind.

I'm sorry. I get "for better or for worse," but nobody knowingly signs up for this.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her at 11 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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