Dear Annie: Not long ago, I discovered that my husband of 25 years was living a completely secret life. This life included pornography, voyeurism, physical affairs, emotional affairs and flirtations with hundreds of women he met through his sales job. Many of the women thought he was going to divorce me, even though he was manipulating them to get his fix. He is a sex addict. At that point, I simply stayed with him for the sake of our children.
According to my husband, his addiction to pornography and masturbation started after he was abused as a child. He shared with me that he used lust, fantasy and sex to numb his pain and the belief that he was fundamentally flawed. As he is learning to deal with his old trauma, I have given my husband mountains of grace, though he raged and verbally attacked me. Lately, he's doing significantly better and is regularly attending meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous.
My husband claims he has been in recovery for 18 months, but he has yet to disclose everything he did, and I have come across evidence that he is still looking at racy photos on his phone. (Voyeurism is also his thing, so he stares at women in public and then denies it.)
I am out of patience. Anytime I start to build trust, I discover he is still lying. But it is hard to leave, because when the marriage is good, it is great. What should I do? — Want My Husband to Stop Lusting After the World
Dear Want: Recovery from any addiction takes time, and there are often relapses. But your husband may need to put a bit more effort into reassuring you that his progress is sincere and ongoing, and you are the only one who can determine whether you've had enough. He isn't the only one who needs help. Please look into COSA (cosa-recovery.org), a support group for those whose lives have been affected by someone else's compulsive sexual behavior. And do get tested for STDs.
Dear Annie: I was furious after reading the letter from "Anonymous," the successful professional who resented that her well-off mother never offered to reimburse her or pay her share of meals.
I am 50 and was born to a family that didn't have much. When I started making money, I used to love picking up the tab for my parents at restaurants, buying them new appliances, plane tickets for their trips and expensive gifts around the holidays. It never could make up for what my parents did for us growing up.
My father died five years ago. In the past few years, my wife and I have had some setbacks and I no longer have the disposable income I had before. It kills me to cut back when it comes to gifts and dinners for my mom. Tell "Anonymous" to get over herself. She should thank God every day that she has the financial means to pick up a check and a parent to spend it on. — Tom
Dear Tom: Every parent-child relationship is different, as are the financial circumstances. Thank you for taking a kind and compassionate view.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.