Saturday 17 March 2018

Dear Mary: We don’t make love any more - I fear he pays for sex with someone else

Illustration: Tom Halliday
Illustration: Tom Halliday

Q: I’m so nervous writing this. I have a huge problem that I’ve been burying for the past two years. I am in my 40s and have been married for more than 20 years. I
 thought we had the perfect relationship but there have been major changes over the last two years.

We still get on very well with each other but our sex life is non-existent. He simply lost interest and I have tried to talk
to him about it. He says he will make
an effort and we will be back to the way it was in no time. I had thought about it and put it down to our advancing ages, but I definitely don’t want my sex life to be over at this stage. The problem really is that I
have discovered that he is actively watching porn on the internet. I think he may be addicted.

The bigger problem is that I have found in his possession sex-enhancing drugs, which shocked me beyond belief. I confronted him about it, and he explained it away, and I put my head in the sand and kept on hoping things would improve. However, things did not, and I know for definite that he is watching porn three or more times a week.

I can’t talk to anyone about this and my biggest fear is that he is paying for sex with someone else. I’m confident he is not having an affair. I really need someone’s opinion and I wouldn’t dare tell anyone about it whether it is that I don’t want to face the truth or I am just so embarrassed — I don’t know.

A: I am very happy that you have written to me because now you are actually doing something about the problem. It is always more difficult to talk about sexual problems, because our sexual life is a very private part of our lives and people generally don’t discuss their sex lives, even if everything is going really well. It is even more difficult to talk about it and admit to having a problem, so I understand your reluctance.

If you were to confide in a friend or a family member you would probably feel that you were betraying your husband in some way, so that is not really an option for you.

The pornographic industry is a very large one, and there are many and varying views on whether it is acceptable or not to view porn. I am referring to adult pornography, without any question of illegality such as underage porn being involved.

Some people have no interest at all in porn, some couples watch it together, others like the written word, while on-screen porn is what interests another sector. However, the number one rule is that no matter what somebody
looks at or fantasises about, it must not
interfere with their real-life relationship, and this is what is wrong in your case. Your husband is watching porn regularly and has opted out of a sexual relationship with you. What we don’t know is why he is doing this. Is it because, as you suspect, he has become addicted to pornographic websites? Is it because he has a sexual dysfunction — hence the sexually enhancing drugs and instead of confronting the problem finds that he can get satisfaction from watching and being aroused by porn?

You worry that he may be paying for sex instead of having sex with you, and this is another possibility. You raised your concerns with him, and he gave you some sort of explanation that didn’t satisfy you, but nonetheless you didn’t pursue your questioning. I feel that the time has come when you have to fully address the issue with him. However you may not feel able for this, having failed once before, and so I suggest that you talk it over with somebody trained in sexual addiction before you do.

Your husband may not be addicted but you need to have the benefit of having discussed things with a trained addiction counsellor. 
The Centre for Sexual Addictions provides one-to-one counselling not alone for the addict, but also for concerned family members. Its website is .

Things are not going to improve unless you take an active part in effecting change. You should also reassure him that whatever he wants to tell you is acceptable, as long as it is the truth, and that he should trust you. Then together you can decide what is the best way forward for you both.

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