‘I Was Married to a Porn Addict’

On any given day, I might have found a picture of a woman with giant breasts ogling me from under the mattress, between the sofa cushions, in the glove box of the car, under a candy wrapper on the floor, or in his pants pocket. The women changed, the body parts differed, but they were naked or wearing thongs or fishnet stockings — flaunting, teasing, smirking. They were the other women in my husband’s life. They had a hold on him I couldn’t compete with.

I used to think it was funny, this obsession with unreachable women, and believed they were Photoshopped fantasies that were part of every man’s prized possessions. In my college days, being pro-ERA, I subscribed briefly to Playgirl, tearing open the brown paper-wrapped magazine every month. I soon got bored and determined that it was a male thing to enjoy viewing flesh in print. One of those Mars/Venus differences.

When my husband-to-be – my second husband – told me he masturbated at least eight times a day I thought it was because he was bored or had a high sex drive. It didn’t seem abnormal, but what did I know? I never had brothers, and of course my mother, sisters and girlfriends never talked about masturbation. My first husband had been in the Navy, and they put chemicals in the servicemen’s food to squash those feelings. We were divorced after he was discharged, but that’s another story for another day.

When my second husband and I were packing up to move out of our apartment into a house, I found stacks of porno magazines. Not Hustler or Playboy, but the kind men pay big bucks for in specialty stores that are purposely shabby and dark so that most women never attempt to enter. My first thought was to compute the amount he’d spent on these magazines — and then how many boxes of diapers and formula I could have bought with that money. My next impulse was to ask why he needed so many magazines to masturbate with when we were having sex twice a day. Confronted for the first time, he was at first taken aback, then shocked. Then he blurted out, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to throw those out; they’re old.” I pushed aside the observation that many of them were dated in the last month, preferring to believe him. He kept his promise and disposed of them.

As our daughter grew older, going from a baby to a kindergartner, I developed a tolerance of his collection of “hidden treasure.” I would find a magazine or two at the bottom of the clothes hamper or under the bed, but I rationalized that it was only a few. However, the sight of a few cockroaches means a few hundred are in hiding.

A Time for Confrontation

One day, everything changed. My husband loved to stay up late while I went to bed early so I could be up then with my daughter. The sex between us now was less frequent, which I attributed to our schedules and just being married longer. One morning when I went to insert a Disney DVD for my daughter to watch, out popped “Triple X Hot Vaginas,” with a picture of just that. I quickly pulled the movie out and broke it in half, thanking God that my daughter hadn’t put in the disc, which she knew how to do. My hands were shaking as I threw it into the trash, pushing it to the bottom of the barrel. Not satisfied that it was covered enough, I threw a basket of coffee grounds on top. Then I pulled it out, walked outside and put the broken disc underneath the trash bags.

With my daughter occupied watching the movie, I confronted my husband. “You have a daughter now!” I said, “You have to stop this!” His reply: He had “to be a man,” he said. But the “that’s what men do” argument was wearing thin.

 

Reality Hits

A few years later, my daughter was printing out a report for school in our office/playroom. The light on the printer started blinking: out of paper. She called me for help and the printer resumed. I saw color on the document, which perplexed me since it was a black-and-white text document. As I looked more closely, I saw a naked woman bending over for a man with a huge penis. Again, a close call. What a ghastly image for a seven-year-old child to see. When my daughter left the room, I looked at the browser history and found several web addresses to porn sites. More detective work revealed paid subscriptions ranging from $35 to $75 a month.

I flew downstairs to his “man cave.” This was an area I didn’t often visit because I respected his privacy. Now that he had violated our daughter’s space with his vile pastimes I felt no guilt, though. I flipped over the sofa cushions and found more magazines, DVDs, videotapes, beer, wine, whiskey bottles and canisters of creatine powder (used to increase sex drive) on the floor. I headed to the laundry room and found even more pictures, DVDs and magazines.

How could I be so naïve to think he would change because he had a loving wife and a beautiful daughter? I blamed myself for being ignorant and I realized for the first time that he had a problem. My thoughts flashed back to all of the signs. I knew that no matter how often he threw out the objects, he would just replenish his supply and that as our daughter grew toward puberty and her impressionable teenage years, he would not quit bringing them into the house for her sake. My pleas that he get rid of these things to be a better father did not and would not work. As an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol and must seek treatment, a porn addict needs treatment as well. And just as with drug and alcohol issues, the first step is admitting there is a problem.

My husband never made it to that step. He believed it was his right to continue to keep his prized possessions. He eventually moved his bed to the man cave. Or, rather, I moved his TV, clothes and objects I found under clothes in our closet and under our mattress there after I decided I would no longer share an intimate space with someone who loved his fantasy women more than his daughter and me. We had not had sex in four years, because he would not touch me unless I wore high heels and posed the way his women in the movies did. Many married couples engage in fantasies from time to time, but this was not the way it had to be all the time. I felt cheapened and detached, not loved and cherished by the act.

I stayed with him another two years, probably because I still had hope that he would seek help and change. We even separated for a few months. But to me, a marriage without intimacy is not a marriage. And I knew one day my daughter would find his collection. I took samples of it to an attorney and filed for divorce and a petition for sole residence based on an improper environment for a minor.

Today, two years after the divorce, I have no regrets. I live my life with a new confidence and the strength to deal with whatever challenges each day brings. I have friends, a career and a teenaged daughter who gives me my joy. I do not have a man in my life. I do not date and have not been intimate with a man in six years. I’m not seeking a relationship and don’t anticipate one in the future. Certainly there is damage and there are scars. Maybe one day I will talk to a therapist or a counselor, and I should investigate the possibility of a group of women who talk to each other, other victims of porn addiction. But for now, I am happy to be free of the burden of being his enabler. The “other women” took my husband, but he was never mine to begin with.

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