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Dear Mary: I distrust my voyeuristic husband, is this the right time to leave him?


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I have been married to the same man for over 30 years. Our marriage - if I can call it that - has been in crisis for at least the last 10 of these years.

The problem for me is that I found out my husband has voyeuristic tendencies, which he denied vehemently at first as he feels very ashamed of this, which I understand.

He also spends a lot of time looking at pornography which I find very upsetting.

We have had major rows about all of this, with one episode of physical attack by me, and him counter-attacking.

I did ask for a separation before all this was uncovered as I felt unhappy and knew that somehow this relationship wasn't exactly what I really wanted. I'm still here but getting closer to leaving every day.

We went for five or six sessions of group therapy but he felt it wasn't for him and that basically he had no problem in comparison to the other people in the group.

Now I'm in a place where I don't trust him and feel I haven't much love left for him as a husband.

Our sex life has dwindled to non-existence over the past two or three years. I am unable to respond to him but this does not mean I'm not interested in having a sexual relationship.

So basically the problem for me now is, do I leave and try to live my life independently as I don't like myself, or the way in which I treat him? I undermine him, don't trust him, I'm suspicious and always wonder if he is lying.

I know I want a happy, contented, spirit-filled life with love in my heart and not what I'm living at the moment.

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The big question: is it time to leave?

Mary replies:  You haven't been explicit about your husband's voyeuristic tendencies, but as you discovered that he was doing something wrong I can only assume that he was caught actually watching people having sex or watching a woman undressing or doing some other sort of 'peeping Tom' activities.

This is obviously much more abhorrent than him watching porn - which may indeed have some voyeuristic element to it - but this also causes you upset.

I cannot go along with your husband saying that the other people in the group you attended had much bigger problems - whatever they were presenting with - than he did with his voyeurism.

That is like saying that somebody with alcohol dependency isn't as bad as somebody else because they only drink beer whereas the other person drinks bottles of vodka.

Your husband's behaviour is unacceptable, could cause untold distress to his victims and even though, as I understand it, there isn't an actual offence of voyeurism in Irish law, it could lead to him being charged with harassment under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997.

Perhaps individual or couple counselling would be more appropriate for you.

Certainly with the added element of physical violence on both your parts, it is definitely advisable that you seek help.

I don't think that anybody except yourself can decide whether or not you leave your husband.

The relationship is certainly in deep trouble as you seem to have only negative feelings towards him.

Because of this, he needs to seek further help with his voyeurism and you both need counselling to see if the relationship can be salvaged.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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