I have a friend – let’s call her Jane – whose husband has been viewing webcams for years. He has also had a couple of one-night stands. (Let’s call the husband Joe.)
When all this came to light, Jane was absolutely shocked. The couple had been married for over 20 years, and Jane had never thought that Joe would do something like this. There weren’t any signs – and Joe “didn’t seem the type”. (Jane’s words.)
Also, to the outside world they were the best of friends. They had three lovely kids; their lives were intertwined; and they spent their holidays and leisure time together.
Who would have believed it? A total shock to Jane. But, sadly, not an uncommon storyline.
So what happened next?
Joe was sure that Jane would leave him. He wanted to get help. He begged for Jane’s forgiveness, and he went for counselling. In counselling he learned the following:
- Joe had always had troubled with intimacy and had formed an avoidant attachment to Jane. This was something Joe could recognize, and wanted to work on.
- Joe started viewing porn at around 12 years of age. Hence, his brain had become primed, and then addicted to porn. As a consequence of this, sex for Joe meant secret thrills.
- In his mind, all this was separate from sex with Jane. It was something very different. An illusion and a game. The women were just objects. They were tools to turn him on. There was no competition. They would never replace Jane.
But here’s the thing …
- To Jane this sounds like garbage – for he chose them over her (or as well as her). He says it all meant nothing. It was just a mental thing. But it all feels real to Jane, and especially since she knows her husband had a couple of one-night stands.
- Perhaps he was addicted, but Joe made choices too. There were numerous points in time when he consciously gave in. He knew what he was doing when he broke his wedding vows.
- Joe would say it was a way of avoiding intimacy. But paying girls to strip, or to have illicit sex, sounds intimate to Jane (though she “gets” what Joe says too).
Why recovery is a slow and messy process
Understanding can be helpful but it doesn’t ease the pain. Betrayal’s still betrayal. The wounds are just as deep. If only mental knowledge was enough to heal our hearts. Jane’s trying to forgive – but it’s not an easy road.
Thus, there are four realities that make this journey so complex: Joe’s actions, and the reasons, the questions that remain, and the damage that’s been done – and can never be undone.