Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I dated a guy for two years and then he asked me to marry him. Everything was fine until a month after we were married; the sex stopped; he stopped wanting to do things with me; he stopped wanting to go places and fell into depression.
It took a year and a half before I was able to figure out why. He was molested as a child and I was not informed of this before or after marriage–I guessed and was correct. He never got help for the abuse; he also has ED, and didn’t inform me of this either. We did, however, have sex before marriage, but it was not often; I thought it was more of a moral issue.
I feel betrayed and hurt and can’t get past this. I laid all my issues out on the table upon request before we were married and I asked the same of him and he said there was nothing to tell. I now know that was a lie.
We are attending counseling, but I am not gaining any relief from it, it gets worse as his responses are just weak. I resent him tremendously for making a lifelong decision FOR me. I also feel he was not ready for marriage as he has a lot of excuses for his actions and not taking responsibility for them either. I feel it is over and I cannot trust him anymore.
How Do You Cope with a Deceptive Husband?
Dear Ms. Betrayed,
If I was in your position I would feel betrayed as well. No one wants or deserved to be hoodwinked, especially not hoodwinked for life. While I empathize with you, I also empathize with your husband. He has some very profound issues/challenges and probably believed that lying was the best solution.
Over the past eighteen years I have treated both men and women who have been molested and have found that men are more likely to take their molestation to the grave. I am not excusing your husband’s behavior or supporting men who lie. I am sharing this point because sexual abuse digs deep at a man’s soul. It is the ultimate violation of manhood.
Someone made a lifelong decision for him when they violated him and unfortunately he did the same to you. This is not right by any means. However, the cycle of abuse sustains itself out of fear and rejection. Deception is not easy to cope with, but it is possible to overcome it. Deception in any form is not good, but I do feel empathy for your husband. He is dealing with two issues (ED and molestation) that are probably strongly correlated.
The best thing for your marriage is to have your husband attend individual therapy for his abuse. You cannot expect him to know how to process and express his issues, if he has never put them on the table.
I know that you are frustrated and feel victimized. Again, you have right to feel as such. Given this, I highly recommend that you seek individual therapy. In order to effectively cope with your husband’s deception, I believe that you need to process your emotions individually.
I say this because you will not be able to hear anything that your husband has to say with objectivity or understanding until you are emotionally stable. I believe that it is important to listen to people’s pain and fear. What you consider to be excuses might be your husband’s defense mechanism. The victim mentality can consume individuals. Think about how you feel now. Coping with deception is not easy, but understanding the source of the deception can help.
If you decide to continue with couple’s counseling, please try to be open and demonstrate empathy. This is an ideal time to model for your husband the behavior you desire. If you do not express empathy toward him, he probably will not express it toward you.
I understand that physical intimacy is very important in marriage. I also understand that ED can stem from both medical and psychological issues. Whatever decision you decide to make regarding your marriage, please do so with a clear mind and good information. Support your husband in dealing with his issues and he might be able to help you cope with your grief and feeling of loss. Take care of yourself, but also move forward with understanding and grace.
Best regards, Dr. Buckingham
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Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.