I found my husband watching porn and now I feel betrayed

The question I walked in on my husband watching porn and now I feel extraordinarily hurt and abandoned.

My grown-up children have left home and I have managed to have a rewarding career. However, having a good relationship always eluded me until I was in my 50s.

I have been married before and I am in my early 60s now. We have been together for a while. I thought we were ecstatically happy and that, at last, I was in a truly fulfilling and equal relationship. I now doubt all this, and have lost respect for my husband. We have tried to talk about it, and he is only sorry that I am upset and doesn’t seem sorry that he used porn. He must know women are often exploited and always objectified in these situations. He says his love for me is as it ever was, and says he’ll stop if I want, but I want him to want not to do it

You’ve discovered that you and your husband have different views about porn – and this may have triggered your teenage trauma

Close view of senior couple having a serious conversation. The focus is on the woman who is talking to the senior man. She looks concerned and worried. On the left, the man is in soft focus and looking away. They are casually dressed. Only head and shoulders are visible.
‘It is important that you have sympathy for each other’s points of view.’ Photograph: John Kirk/Getty Images
Philippa Perry

Philippa PerrySun 30 Jan 2022 17.00 AEDT

508

The question I walked in on my husband watching porn and now I feel extraordinarily hurt and abandoned.

My grown-up children have left home and I have managed to have a rewarding career. However, having a good relationship always eluded me until I was in my 50s.

I have been married before and I am in my early 60s now. We have been together for a while. I thought we were ecstatically happy and that, at last, I was in a truly fulfilling and equal relationship. I now doubt all this, and have lost respect for my husband. We have tried to talk about it, and he is only sorry that I am upset and doesn’t seem sorry that he used porn. He must know women are often exploited and always objectified in these situations. He says his love for me is as it ever was, and says he’ll stop if I want, but I want him to want not to do it.

https://3d09d839eee721b8aa61957788225513.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

I experienced a serious trauma when I was in my teens and have had bouts of depression since then. I have not been good at choosing the right men to have relationships with, but with years of counselling I managed to turn my life around. I really thought that this time, by being with a kind and interested man I had at last got it right, but now I’m unsure.

I feel betrayed by my husband using porn. It is as though he has been cheating on me.

Philippa’s answer I’m not saying using porn is right or wrong, because me declaring judgment on it won’t change anyone’s behaviour. It is more useful to understand it. And yes, I dislike the objectifying, potentially exploitative side of the porn industry. But I can also understand it’s nice to have a little private pleasure. A bit like having a lovely, satisfying poo that you wouldn’t necessarily tell anyone about.

You mentioned your teenage trauma, so I’m thinking it is still relevant. What trauma can do is shatter previously held beliefs such as: “Most people are good and trustworthy.” After the trauma, you may have developed rigid rules like emergency measures that come with new beliefs such as, “I shouldn’t trust anyone.” I’m wondering whether discovering something new about your husband which is hard for you to understand means you’ve reverted to this type of emergency-mode way of thinking – thinking in very “all or nothing” terms. You’ve gone from “ecstatically happy” to what sounds like panic – that marrying was a mistake, as though your discovery may have reactivated this old trauma and tipped you into an emergency trauma-mode mindset.

https://3d09d839eee721b8aa61957788225513.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

What you are doing is discovering something new about him. It’s a part of him, it’s not all of him. Some of us tend to assume that sex means the same thing to our partners that it does to us. This is not done consciously but in a sort of take-it-for-granted way, and it is often left unsaid. This is why it can be a great shock when differences are found. You might be feeling excluded because he kept this part of his sexual life a secret. Maybe you find it disgusting and feel contaminated by it. It might be tantamount to him having sex with someone else. But for him, porn is probably nothing to do with his real-life relationship with you, but instead about his relationship with himself.

Beware of seeing the issue in terms of just right and wrong

The thing to remember is that each of you will have formed different attitudes to relationships and to sex and to porn: this might be difficult to explain or talk about because both of you might not have been in the habit of putting non-conscious assumptions about sex or porn into words (perhaps not even to yourselves). But I want to encourage you to keep trying, so that each of you can understand the other. I don’t think you’ll ever be on exactly the same page, but I do think it is important that you both really understand what is on your respective pages and have sympathy for each other’s points of view.

He has probably been watching porn in private moments all the time you have been together, and all the while you loved and trusted him and felt “ecstatically happy”. He may need private time to masturbate, but whether you want this to be kept secret from you is something else to talk about. There is a difference between privacy and secrecy. The former is OK and the latter can feel like betrayal. I hope you can find a way of talking about how you each do privacy, how you need it and how you use it. It might enrich your relationship.

Porn can be destructive when it is addictive, but as he offered to give it up if you wanted him to, it does not sound like he has an addiction to it.

Beware of seeing this issue in terms of just right and wrong, and keep the dialogue open. Porn is what the genitals enjoy in private. This might be very different to who we each are with each other.

You’ve discovered that you and your husband have different views about porn – and this may have triggered your teenage trauma

Close view of senior couple having a serious conversation. The focus is on the woman who is talking to the senior man. She looks concerned and worried. On the left, the man is in soft focus and looking away. They are casually dressed. Only head and shoulders are visible.
‘It is important that you have sympathy for each other’s points of view.’ Photograph: John Kirk/Getty Images
Philippa Perry

Philippa PerrySun 30 Jan 2022 17.00 AEDT

508

The question I walked in on my husband watching porn and now I feel extraordinarily hurt and abandoned.

My grown-up children have left home and I have managed to have a rewarding career. However, having a good relationship always eluded me until I was in my 50s.

I have been married before and I am in my early 60s now. We have been together for a while. I thought we were ecstatically happy and that, at last, I was in a truly fulfilling and equal relationship. I now doubt all this, and have lost respect for my husband. We have tried to talk about it, and he is only sorry that I am upset and doesn’t seem sorry that he used porn. He must know women are often exploited and always objectified in these situations. He says his love for me is as it ever was, and says he’ll stop if I want, but I want him to want not to do it.

https://3d09d839eee721b8aa61957788225513.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

I experienced a serious trauma when I was in my teens and have had bouts of depression since then. I have not been good at choosing the right men to have relationships with, but with years of counselling I managed to turn my life around. I really thought that this time, by being with a kind and interested man I had at last got it right, but now I’m unsure.

I feel betrayed by my husband using porn. It is as though he has been cheating on me.

Philippa’s answer I’m not saying using porn is right or wrong, because me declaring judgment on it won’t change anyone’s behaviour. It is more useful to understand it. And yes, I dislike the objectifying, potentially exploitative side of the porn industry. But I can also understand it’s nice to have a little private pleasure. A bit like having a lovely, satisfying poo that you wouldn’t necessarily tell anyone about.

You mentioned your teenage trauma, so I’m thinking it is still relevant. What trauma can do is shatter previously held beliefs such as: “Most people are good and trustworthy.” After the trauma, you may have developed rigid rules like emergency measures that come with new beliefs such as, “I shouldn’t trust anyone.” I’m wondering whether discovering something new about your husband which is hard for you to understand means you’ve reverted to this type of emergency-mode way of thinking – thinking in very “all or nothing” terms. You’ve gone from “ecstatically happy” to what sounds like panic – that marrying was a mistake, as though your discovery may have reactivated this old trauma and tipped you into an emergency trauma-mode mindset.

https://3d09d839eee721b8aa61957788225513.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

What you are doing is discovering something new about him. It’s a part of him, it’s not all of him. Some of us tend to assume that sex means the same thing to our partners that it does to us. This is not done consciously but in a sort of take-it-for-granted way, and it is often left unsaid. This is why it can be a great shock when differences are found. You might be feeling excluded because he kept this part of his sexual life a secret. Maybe you find it disgusting and feel contaminated by it. It might be tantamount to him having sex with someone else. But for him, porn is probably nothing to do with his real-life relationship with you, but instead about his relationship with himself.

Beware of seeing the issue in terms of just right and wrong

The thing to remember is that each of you will have formed different attitudes to relationships and to sex and to porn: this might be difficult to explain or talk about because both of you might not have been in the habit of putting non-conscious assumptions about sex or porn into words (perhaps not even to yourselves). But I want to encourage you to keep trying, so that each of you can understand the other. I don’t think you’ll ever be on exactly the same page, but I do think it is important that you both really understand what is on your respective pages and have sympathy for each other’s points of view.

He has probably been watching porn in private moments all the time you have been together, and all the while you loved and trusted him and felt “ecstatically happy”. He may need private time to masturbate, but whether you want this to be kept secret from you is something else to talk about. There is a difference between privacy and secrecy. The former is OK and the latter can feel like betrayal. I hope you can find a way of talking about how you each do privacy, how you need it and how you use it. It might enrich your relationship.

Porn can be destructive when it is addictive, but as he offered to give it up if you wanted him to, it does not sound like he has an addiction to it.

Beware of seeing this issue in terms of just right and wrong, and keep the dialogue open. Porn is what the genitals enjoy in private. This might be very different to who we each are with each other.

February Diary

It is two months now that Peter has left me. Four months ago we knew already that he would not have much longer to live. His bladder cancer had spread to the bones, and a few weeks later he was gone. . . .

Gradually I seem to cope a bit better with having to live on my own. So far, it has been ‘only’ two months that I had to live on my own most of the time. Why does that feel like such a long time? Maybe, because I know, that Peter is not coming back to me, not ever. When in the past Peter travelled to Berlin without me for a couple of months or so, he would ring me every day. So, there was still a connection, and I knew on a certain date he would arrive back home. Yes, it is very different now.

Today is Wednesday. At John’s place, Nr. 5, there is a Strata meeting this afternoon. Tomorrow, Thursday, I am going to have two hours of Hammond Care again. Last time Irina came instead of Olivia. Whoever it is tomorrow, I might ask, whether a bit of shopping could be done. Preferably I would like to go along with my carer, so we could do the shopping together. I hope, Hammond Care does allow this!

There was a lot of washing done last week. This week there is none, since I insist in doing my bit of personal washing by myself. It is mainly the large sheets I find difficult to handle. Fitting new bedsheets onto my bed gets done every week. This is a great help. And it is great too, that all the floors get cleaned for me every week.

Usually Olivia comes to do all this work for me. But a few times I had some other woman instead of Olivia. I find, they all do a good job! And they are very friendly and talk to me a bit. They all do the cleaning of the floors very, very quickly: vacuuming and mopping! Usually they have also time for a few odd jobs like taking my bins out to the kerb. When they arrive, they always ask me, whether I need any shopping done. But usually I have already been able to do lots of shopping with someone else.

Council Rates are due this week. Monika and Natasha are going to be here tomorrow, probably very early afternoon, bringing Roxy’s kids along which is always something to be looking forward to. Maybe the Council Rates can be paid at the Post Office? Or maybe Monika can find another way of paying. Also, I do have to mail a reply paid letter to the Roads and Maritime Services at Grafton, NSW, of all places! They were notified of Peter’s passing, I think by Birth, Death and Marriages. They sent a condolence letter and want Peter’s Disablility Parking Permit back since after Peter’s passing it is not anymore valid! So, I can return it in a reply paid letter.

Friday afternoon we are going to play games again. I invited Erika and Irene to my place. Barbara is still going to be in Melbourne. She left one week ago. Seems like the borders to Victoria are going to stay open now. So it wont be long now before Martin will be here for another visit! Caroline and Matthew are in Noosa, Queensland, right now. I hope they have an excellent holiday. This coming Sunday Erika and Brian are going to give me a lift to Church again. I am looking forward to this!

Yesterday, on Tuesday, I again spent a lot of time outdoors. Doing weeding, weeding, weeding, mostly in the shade, but relaxing a bit in the early morning sun and then sitting outside with a good cooked morning meal.

I did not do my usual early morning walk yesterday for I was too busy with all that weeding, and after that I needed a good rest. And there is still lots more weeding to be done! Things just grow too quickly in this beautiful late summer weather, for we have this year plenty of rain and luckily also quite a lot of sunshine! I very much enjoy this kind of weather. I don’t actually mind to do a bit of weeding here and there. That I cannot keep it in some kind of good order a lot of the time, well, that is just too bad. I do only as much as is possible, and the rest can wait for another day.

As long as I stay healthy, can still do a little bit here and there, and mostly enjoy the days that are still left to me, I am very happy! But often it is also a rather lonely existence. Being able to still write a bit, does help to overcome this feeling of loneliness when nobody else, just nobody is around me for hours on end. I guess, I just have to keep myself busy. Making some kind of use of the time that is left to me, I feel is very important. Every hour is getting more and more precious, really. For who knows, any hour can be close to the last one, even though so far I have no terminal sickness that I know of. However, my body is telling me that I am very, very old.

Everybody is always so kind to me when they see me creeping along. This kindness is a blessing. Whenever possible though, I aim at keeping some kind of independence. My rollator is a great help in this regard. I am so happy, that this is available to me. And the trolleys for doing the shopping are a blessing too. I can walk very well with just a shopping trolley to push along. Maybe I should eventually get a motorised wheelchair? Then I could use public transport again like our Gaby did! I say, Gaby was indeed a very determined quadriplegic! I often think of her how she managed her life . . . .

Easter is not far off. Maybe I can spend Easter in Benalla with son Martin. That would be good. On the other hand, seeing the great-grandkids collecting Easter eggs, would be fun too. Still, I would not be surprised, when the grandchildren would take their kids away on some holidays. They always like to do a bit of travelling when there is a chance for some holidays away from home. And why not? Peter and I always enjoyed a bit of travelling too. These were the days . . . .

Can the Writing of Emails be seen as a Substitute for Letter Writing?

A few weeks ago I referred in my blog to something I had read about ’emails and tweets’:

https://auntyuta.com/2018/01/27/nobody-inherits-emails-and-tweets/

Nobody inherits emails and tweets!”

This is what Wally says in Di Morrissey’s novel:

https://auntyuta.com/2018/01/26/the-red-coast/

I regard email writing more or less as a substitute for letter writing, and I do save a lot of emails for future reference.  I like that these days some instant communication is possible with email writing. In the past a letter would take quite a while to reach the receiver. Even though instant communication is possible per email, most people seem to prefer  the making of phone calls or sending messages by phone  or using  something like Facebook or twitter. These messages would probably not be kept for very long. But to my mind if you use emails as a substitute for letter writing, these emails might well be of some interest for future generations.

Or what do you think?

DSCN3771

Peter and I saved heaps of letters that we received in the olden days when we had to rely on the postal service for the delivery of letters. We usually made copies of the letters we sent away and these copies are in these folders too. Well, all this someone interested might find in these folders once we’re gone!

Gaby’s Birthday, 28th of August

Today,  Peter wrote the following letter to his daughter Gaby who passed away five years ago:

Dear Gaby,
today would be your birthday and I’m sure we would have visited. Sixty years is an enormous number but you did not quite make it. Your fiftieth birthday comes to mind for which you organised a big party for your friends and relatives. It was a great occasion, we will never forget. We even danced together. I’m sure you would have organised something for your sixties too. Perhaps some of your carers are having
a drink at the Parramatta Leagues Club to remember you. There is a picture with all of them. They were more than just carers, they were your good friends and were with you right to the very end. Your life was a shining example of how one should live. You showed us not to despair and to accept the things we can’t change and make the most of it. With this lesson in mind, we have accepted your life and your passing. Memories can be bitter and sweet but we stick to the good memories. Our thoughts are with you every day of our lives but more so today. Mum and I, we wish we could be with you and give you a big hug. XO

Gaby celebrated her 50th birthday on the weekend after her birthday.

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Gaby celebrating her 50th Birthday

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Gaby and her Carers

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Gaby with Family