I have been with my husband for most of my life. We started dating in high school when he was 17 and I was 16. We went to college, moved out of state, went to grad school, started careers, we truly grew up to become adults together. After we had been married almost 10 years (together for 15) he was asked to move for his job, a big promotion. So I gave up my career and moved with him. During that time I found out that he was looking at porn on a regular basis and was very hurt. When he was then asked to move across the country to headquarters I said no, and that I would move back to resume my legal career as I didn't want porn to be part of my life. He swore to me that I meant more to him than porn and that he would stop.
We moved to California and took some communication seminars together, and found other help. I figured we had gotten together so young we needed help to figure ourselves out, so we did these things and even though I was still having depression I felt closer to my husband. He told me that "if either of us see someone else naked we will tell each other." I agreed on that compromise. At least there wouldn't be secrets and lies.
The years passed, we moved around with his successful career - in the states and overseas. I trusted him. Truly trusted him. Like some kind of religion, I trusted him. Sure, there were times I felt he was emotionally distant (even more than usual as he was not one to always talk about feelings) but I figured it was stress of the job.
Once we reached some of our financial goals and figured out how we wanted to live, he quit work and we traveled for 10 months. It was great. I felt very connected most of the time. Once, when he was on my computer he showed me some sex ad thing that came up. I didn't think much of it as it did not apply to me. That's how I felt for most of the time between 2002-2018, I knew stuff with porn and hook-up sites etc were going on, but it just didn't apply to me, so I ignored it.
On May 18, 2018 my world came crashing out - not in, when I found out that it did apply to me. After maybe four years of not looking at porn he had started back, albeit quite infrequently, when he was traveling for work. The thing that kills me about it is he says he can't remember when he started again. Something that could end our marriage was not even important enough to actually remember.
After he quit work, those first 10 months were the honeymoon, we felt close, but once we got settled back in our home I guess the boredom of life with me set in and he would entertain himself and meet his own needs when I was out with a friend for lunch or even just out walking our dog. I felt the emotional distance and sexual disruption and tried to talk with him about it several times, but he wouldn't really talk about it. He preferred to keep his secret and have a bad marriage with me than give up his habit. I didn't search for evidence, but it just showed up on my synced phone when I was visiting a friend. Since then I know more about porn than I ever wanted.
The hardest part during those first few months was discovering that my deep trust was based on an illusion. I felt like I was ‘losing my religion’ - that’s a saying from where I'm from and it felt true. I also felt that no one in the world would really understand. It seemed like most people know that people look at porn, but think it is no big deal. Once again, I felt alone in my grief. My body was hit hard by my not eating, and drinking a bit too much wine. My poor self. She suffered.
I told a friend, then another, then a few more. Not all the details, but just about the hurt. I don't think most of them truly understood, but luckily for me they cared for me. I realised though that I couldn't just rely on them... no one wants to be negative and pitiful all the time. The most amazing thing happened though - one of my friends told me about Naked Truth Project and the Whole Hearted programme. I didn't join at first because I didn't like being told that this was my ‘journey’. I don't want to be on this stinking journey! But like it or not, I am. So I joined the Partner Programme for Whole Hearted and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Women in the programme understand. Some have gone through way worse than I have and some are in the same position, but we all support each other.
The amazing ladies who coach and guide us: Cat, Fran and now Lisa are invaluable. I am nowhere near the end of this hideous journey, but now I feel like I am acquiring the tools and have the emotional support to try to move forward.
Will I move forward with or without my husband? That remains to be seen. But for now I am the bird sitting on the branch of my marriage. The branch may break due to its internal rot, I don't know. But I am busy making sure that I stay strong enough to fly away if that happens.