Crossroads - stay or go...?

For partners of people struggling with pornography addiction. A place for Significant Others to support one another, vent their frustrations, and share their hopes. Recovering Addicts are strongly urged not to post on this forum.

Crossroads - stay or go...?

Postby sledgehammer on Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:32 am


I haven’t been on this board for some time. I’m here because I have reached a point in my journey with my PA husband and I’m looking for other people’s thoughts/experiences.

A bit of background. We’ve been together for 18.5 years, married for nearly 12. We have two children aged 9 and 7. P has been in my husband’s life since childhood. His parents almost encouraged his use of P, it was “normal” in their house. When I met him I knew he had a “stash” and also he had a collection of lad’s mags that lay around his flat. I wasn’t too upset by this and it wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered he had more than a passing interest in P. The arrival of the internet was boom time for him, he collected as much as he could and it affected our relationship and his performance at work. He would stay up late downloading, telling me he was working.

We had a couple of major fall-outs in the next few years, one I now know was due to P but didn’t at the time. I grew fed up of having it in our life, it was like the 3rd thing in our relationship. In 2003 I gave him an ultimatum, P or me. He chose me, said he wanted to marry me and promised he would stop using P. We got married, spent a fairly idyllic first year and a year later had our first child. Unknown to me he had started using P again and through a difficult first year of our son’s life when I had PNI and really needed him, he would lock himself in his study “working”.

For seven years I was oblivious to the fact he was looking again. It wasn’t until 2011 that I discovered some evidence and confronted him. He got really angry and denied it. A few months later I confronted him again. This time he got angry and said yes he had been looking again. I was devastated and felt enormously betrayed. I felt like our marriage was a sham.

He agreed to have counselling and we had couple counselling. He stopped looking. I decided to give him a second chance for our kids and because I thought our marriage was worth saving. Four years later I have reached the point where as hard as I try, I don’t trust him. He’s supposed to tell me if he relapses but knowing the lengths he has gone to in hiding stuff from me in the past and that I would leave if he started looking again, I don’t think he would tell me.

He has unprotected internet access and is still repeating the same old behaviour of staying up late and only comes to bed with me 1 night a week, if that. We haven’t been intimate for nearly 2 months, I can no longer stand the thought of him touching or even looking at me. I have never known if it’s me he sees. I’m not even sure if I’m in love with him anymore. I’m lonely, this isn’t what I wanted a marriage to be. It’s like he wants me to take care of him, be a mother to him. There is very little emotional connection between us.

I know it will take an awful lot of work to get to a place where I’m in love with him and happy for him to touch me. I don’t know if I want to go through the horrendous experience of counselling with him again. He shut me out emotionally and was never able to see how much I had been affected, it was all about him. I’m still angry that he refused to do the 6 month check of where he was with regards to P, according to him he didn’t need to.

I am wondering if it’s normal to have such a delayed reaction. It almost doesn’t seem fair that he did all that counselling for me to turn around now and say, I’m off. But also I have only reached the point of being strong enough to do so. I’ve been thinking that when our kids reach the age of 18 I’ll leave but from what I’ve read that can be more damaging for them. The thought of divorce really saddens me and I won’t be able to tell people the real reason I’m leaving, to protect him. But I’m at a place now where I’d rather be on my own than have to live with someone who leaves me on my own so much anyway.

Has anyone else been through this? I feel guilty, that I’m letting him down, giving up on him but I can’t live with the not knowing, spending my life wondering “Is he?” I have to remind myself that he put me through hell and lied to me for seven years. The bottom line is that I wouldn’t have married him if he’d told me he wasn’t going to give up P.

Thanks for reading. Any thoughts appreciated.
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Re: Crossroads - stay or go...?

Postby tootrue on Mon May 09, 2016 11:49 pm

I'm sorry that you've been living with this for such a long time. I am divorced so I do not have a lot of advice about how to manage within a marriage but I wanted to write and let you know that I had read what you wrote and you expressed yourself and your feelings about your marriage and situation really well.

I can only share my own experience which is that I did have young children and divorced due to porn addiction and all that goes with it when my oldest daughter was 3. Now, 12 years later things are well. My children are thriving and successful and happy. They also have a good relationship with their father but it has been limited and protected. But it was a long hard road for me even after leaving. Mostly what was hard for me was once I did leave, dealing with our daughter having to then deal with him and his addiction on his own was a reality too. That all had to be worked out in court.

I have never once regretted leaving except for the impact on my kids early that I was so devastated that I allowed myself to waste so much time getting pulled into the addiction. But for me personally it was the best choice to leave and even then it took a long time to get over.

At first I attended marriage counseling with my then husband. This helped in many ways to validate what I was going through.

I then spend many years in counseling myself. In the beginning I worked on how to best deal with my H and how to live with him and how to handle what was happening, my own emotions about it, my sense of loss and fear, my anger, and how I could be supportive to him. He also went into counseling but I came to realize that he was not being truthful in those sessions and ultimately he chose to give up therapy and did not make any attempts to recover or admit his addiction. I tried to identify what I wanted to do, how I would leave, and what I wanted my life to be like.

One thing that I can honestly say is that it was really really hard. I had financial help and if I didn't have that I would have been literally trapped.

I really recommend going to therapy for yourself and if that is not a possibility then seeking out online free resources like this site and others.

Now that many years have passed though it is more clear to me that leaving even a loveless marriage is not the only answer. Everyone must do what is best for herself and her whole family. Sometimes I see people who are really thriving in marriages that may not be terrific, but she has chosen to move on and live vibrantly anyway. I think that especially in cases where financially children would experience a loss of lifestyle, or possibly end up unsupervised with a porn addict, this has to be carefully considered.

I do not think about this stuff often anymore but for years afterward I still did. It really impacted me. I remember preparing for a hearing in court and sitting at the table going through the list upon list of porn sites my ex had gone to in a certain time period. I was sitting there doing that with my mother and thinking how much it had impacted lives that here was my beautiful and really good hearted mom writing this stuff down to help my lawyer show in court what my ex was looking at during our daughter's dance class. I'm no prude but it sure did rob me of a lot of innocence, a lot of time, a lot of energy I could have spent otherwise.

I am so grateful for this board and the support I received here. I also made friends and learned a lot.

I hope more ladies come along soon and write from their perspectives too. There are so many wise ones here and from the old threads too.

Wishing you all the best life has to offer.
Last edited by tootrue on Wed May 11, 2016 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.~Frances de Sales
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Re: Crossroads - stay or go...?

Postby liss2402 on Tue May 10, 2016 11:32 pm

Hi sledgehammer,
Sorry to hear you are going through this and are at the crossroads so many of us have been at. From the sounds of it, your H is using again and probably in your gut you know (we always do).

My history with my H and yours are not dissimilar. We have been together for over 20 years and have 3 children, 16, 12, & 7. Like you, we lived with P for more years than I can count. It too was/is very normal in my in-laws family.

About 8 & 1/2 years ago it all came to a head and I had simply had enough of being treated like a "thing" and my opinions & feelings surrounding P being dismissed. Before that time we had tried counselling (separate) as well as some online courses ( - the online workshop I got ALOT from; defining my values, and what I would and would not accept from my partner.
Then I had a final discovery of finding a mag stashed away. This breached our agreement & led me to do an in-house separation (an option I learnt about from recoverynation). In all honesty I think finding that was the best thing ever (in the worst way possible) as it forced my H to make the call on whether he wanted me or P for good, and it showed him just how much I had changed over the months since the last D-Day.

I refused to engage in his recovery after that and he was in charge of deciding, locating, booking and attending counselling sessions for himself. He attended several months of therapy with a "mens issues" specialist and the change in him was immediate. No longer would he lock himself away, not attend family functions, be "too busy" to watch the kids or come out with us. It was like his P veil was lifted and he saw what he actually stood to lose.
I put a keylogger on all PC's in the house and controlled the passwords. These have since been removed as we've upgraded PC's, and I'm OK with that.

I decided after much thought to stay and try to make this work.

Largely it's been great. We've had 2 hiccups along the way, one only 7 months ago. The most recent one saw me seeing my counsellor again to help work out what I was going to do. Like you, we have an agreement where if he slips or brings P into our house, he leaves. No ifs or buts. And it was this agreement that left me seriously at a crossroads of what I was going to do.

What have I done? I've stayed.
Why? Because I genuinely love my H and I know he loves me. We laugh together, we love together, he ADORES our children, he is everything I ever hoped he would be. He just f*cks up every so often and needs to be called on it.

He knows I won't stand to go back to where we were 8.5yrs ago- I'll never allow myself back to that place and will leave or have him leave, as much as it would break my childrens hearts, if I needed to - to protect me and to protect them. One of the wise women on here years ago said something like "Living with a P addict or recovering addict means divorce is now always an option with my H" - I feel like that is true, but that it shouldn't be my focus for my relationship or I may as well leave now.

I am really sorry I can't help you decide what to do, but my suggestions would be;

work on YOU
- look at,
- set boundaries (one of mine is no computer in the bedroom if I am not there)
- read what you can find on P addiction.
- do counselling for YOU - not for your H. Make sure you find a counsellor that has addiction experience.
- Put your H's recovery in HIS hands.

IF you do at least workshop I promise you'll be better aware of what YOU want out of your marriage and will hopefully be able to communicate it to your H.

If your H won't talk, write letters to him. My H and I did that for a long time as I simply couldn't talk to him without a)crying or b)yelling at him (often both!).

I wish you all the best. Please know there can be good to come out of it if the PA can step outside of themselves for a bit.
Age: 34
Relationship Status: Married (becoming happily so as h continues his recovery)
Most Recent D-day: October 21 2007
First D-day: so many, I can't remember - 1st major - 15 April 2004
PA recovery: Attended 2 SAA meetings, then attended weekly counselling for several months. No active recovery work at present.
My recovery: individual counselling, recovery nation workshop and reading here.
Children: 3 daughters: age 8 & 4 and infant (21/10/08)
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Re: Crossroads - stay or go...?

Postby sledgehammer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 5:12 pm

Hi again,

Well, thank you tootrue and liss for your replies, especially as your experiences are so different. A lot has happened since my original post, the more time that passed, the more I became convinced that I can't live with this in my life anymore. I don't want to live with the threat of divorce forever, to wait for the next fallout when I discover he is using again, to NEVER know what he is keeping from me. The difficulty I have is that he hasn't ever really wanted to communicate with me about this.

Thanks tootrue for your suggestion about counselling. I agree that this is something I will need. Even though it's me who wants to leave, the situation is still incredibly upsetting and I know I will benefit from talking it through.

Liss2402, I'm happy that you and your H are able to work things out together. I think the difference is that I don't feel the way you do about your H. I feel so hurt and betrayed by my H, I don't know where to start with getting over that. When I needed him to be there for me throughout his recovery (and our recovery) he just wasn't, or couldn't, be there.

I finally plucked up the courage last weekend to let him know how unhappy I have been. He is devastated. He fully understands why I want to separate but is now willing to do anything and everything to keep us together. He is begging me to give him another chance and is convinced we can make it work. He has offered to go back to counselling, something he refused to do a few years ago when we really needed to.

I, however, do not think we can make it work and, actually, why should I even try? Just because he wants a THIRD chance doesn't mean I should give him one. It doesn't seem to matter that I've told him I don't love him, don't want to be with him and would rather be on my own. He is convinced our marriage can be good. I'm concerned that he is offering to make too many changes and that 6 months down the line he will be resentful and I will be in a weaker position than I am now. I also don't think it's healthy for one partner to promise to change so much to make the other happy. It is desperation.

In the last week we have talked more than we have in the last 3 years BUT I still don't know where I stand with regards to his addiction. It is the one thing he hasn't spoken about and it is the one thing I need to know but I want him to tell me. He is making promises to install web filters and be transparent but why would he be that when he's never been able to achieve that in the past? He says we have been together for so long that we should make it work. I don't agree. For 14 of the 18 years we have been together, he has lied to and/or deceived me and I think my only option now is to leave that behind.

I didn't want a life of P, I don't want a life tainted with P. I just want him to let me go, if I stayed it would be because he wants me to (and for our children) and not because it's what I want. I feel like I'd be a fool to give him a third chance. He says people do give third chances. Do they?? Really??

Thanks for reading.
A very sad & confused Sledge :cry:
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