Friday, March 5, 2010

Men and Comparisons - Size and Self-esteem

(background post here)
I've not been blogging much lately. Things have gotten into a routine and I'm also really busy. DH and I are working on issues in joint counseling. We're doing a couple's Bible study. Then throw in kids' activities and normal life and it's been crazy. But things, I thought, were going fairly well.
Yesterday I was on my way to work, saying my morning prayers, and I had the most intense urge to check DH's computer history. I've not checked it in a long time. I forgot about it until I went home. DH took Munchkin to her cheerleading practice and I sat down to check email. DH had his login screen up. I know his password, so I checked the history.
Yes. He did it again. The next few hours are quite blurry. Bugaboo was there and he kept crawling up on my lap and handing me a book to read. I tried to point out pictures and turn my head so the tears wouldn't land on his face. I fed him M&Ms so he would be happy while I made phone calls.
I called my sister first, who walked me through the initial shock. She reminded me that my T said not to keep this hidden and that it was not my shame to bear. So I called a husband-wife couple we are friends with and then our pastor. Pastor and I have very different approaches and views on some things. We've butted heads before. But he's very strong-willed and not afraid to speak his mind, which is what I think is needed in this case. He told me that lots of men struggle in this area so that he has unfortunately, had experience in working with men to overcome these problems. He recommended that DH and he meet to outline the issue. Then they'd do many sessions with intense work. DH had to commit to working through the whole program. Then DH would have an accountability partner and Pastor recommended me. Pastor also recommended that I not talk to anyone about it, including not telling DH I called. Well, I was good until the last 2 parts. I don't want to be the accountability partner and I'm not keeping quiet. Today I can recognize my own progress in healing because I didn't (1) accept 100% of Pastor's advice or (2) discount 100% of his advice. I was able to sort through the pieces.
When DH got home I told him we had to talk and he knew why. When the kids were in bed, I asked him if he had anything to say. He tried to blow it off. But quickly realized the seriousness. He was very upset - I guess you could describe it as broken.
I don't think this is your typical porn issue. This is DH's self-esteem issues. He thinks he's not built like other men. He thinks he doesn't measure up. So he's been researching devices, pills, etc. All the sites appear to be those sorts of sites, as well as sites that show women enjoying sex. Because that is what DH says he enjoys seeing. Guess I don't display that for him?
I did tell DH that I had called those people. He was pissed. But I told him that I refused to be silenced. This was his issue and he needed to deal with it. I was not going to suffer in silence. I assured him I wasn't going to take out open-air announcements either. But that I felt the people I had contacted were appropriate. He later admitted he was glad I reached out to these people.
DH called our friends and left to go meet with the husband, who is also the head of the deacons. DH will meet with the pastor to determine if he should step down as a deacon. He says he will start meeting with the pastor. He may also see his T.
Last night, DH wrote me a long letter apologizing for hurting me and asking for forgiveness. I told him I was not yet ready to forgive. I told him that I had blocked all computer access for now. Also, that he needed to be out of the house all day. He needed to get a job, and if he couldn't find one, then volunteer somewhere. It was obviously not good for him to be home alone all day. I have scratched my plans (for now) of having DH provide the child-care for Munchkin during the summer and pulling Bugaboo out of daycare for the summer.
I cancelled our joint counseling session that was set for Monday. I don't think we can really focus on our issues until he resolves his. I did schedule an individual session for me on Monday.
I'm still pretty numb. If DH had responded in anger or denial, I think I'd feel a lot different. But to see him so broken is odd for me. I've never seen a man do that and accept responsibility and admit fault. Well, except to manipulate, but I don't think DH is doing that. I think he is really, gut-wrenchingly sorry. I'm not sure what to do with that. I'm still angry and hurt. I know I need to not get caught up in DH's emotions to the extent I deny mine. I'm not sure exactly how to do that. I think if this had been a more typical porn-issue I'd feel different too. But I really think this is more self-esteem related.
I know this isn't an easy fix. I know DH needs to address the porn issues - hopefully with our pastor who is VERY direct and in some ways, fierce. I think DH also needs to address the underlying self-esteem issues, hopefully with his T who is less fierce/direct, but more understanding and contemplative.
I was supposed to have a spa day today - massage and pedicure - from a gift certificate DH gave me for Valentine's Day. I cancelled it. I just can't do that today. I am going home to nap (I hope) since I didn't sleep last night and care for the kids. I told DH I needed to do things apart this weekend and have some time alone. He is working today, doing some odd jobs with a friend.
At least, thankfully, there is no snow forecasted this weekend. I couldn't handle being cooped inside with him.


beautifuldreamer said...

I know what a devastating blow this must be for you, Enola.

During my last marriage I dealt with the same kind of issue. My hubby put on a show of remorse, swore he would never bring porn into our home again (it was in the form of magazines, this was in the days before personal computers), but months later I accidentally stumbled across his brand new stash.

He wasn't a Christian though, and the fact that DH is will certainly make a difference in how this whole issue is dealt with.

I hope he faithfully listens to the wisdom of others, and commits himself to taking whatever steps are necessary to deal with his self-esteem issues in more healthy ways.

Anonymous said...

I just hate that betrayl thing. Trust (especially between a husband and wife) is so important. As you are keenely aware, once trust is thrown away it is very difficult to restore. It takes much longer to rebuild trust than it does to throw it away.

I think EVERY man struggles with porn issues at some time or another.

I also think that you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. Self esteem.

As wrong as it is boys learn from adolescence (or younger) that part of being a "real" man means you are able to give your girl/woman sexual pleasure. And of course the bigger your "ship" is the better the cruise. Just imagine how difficult it is for a guy who believes that junk.

Another thing is, most men find a part of their identity in their work. Just watch; the next time one guy meets another guy how long it is before the question of "So what do you do for a living?" is asked.

Now add the inability to find a "replacement job" for an extended period of time.

Finally add the "house-husband" title. Wow!

Do NOT think that I am making excuses for hubby. I have been in his situation. I wanted nothing more than to feel good about myself.. if even for a few minutes. But after I was finished with my secret stuff I felt disgusted with myself. I mean I love my wife and my children. I confess to love the Lord. Why in the world would I stoop to such...

You are BOTH in a tough spot. But honestly, if he is looking to feel good, I'm just glad that he is on the internet with websites instead of cruzing the streets looking for a woman to afirm him.

Anonymous said...

Enola, I love your blog and read it regularly.

I have to say on this topic, however... I think maybe you're looking for too many "excuses" for his behavior. I admire your ability to forgive and to try to work things out, but it doesn't seem like your DH really gets what he's risking. I also don't agree that ALL men deal struggle with this issue as another reader posted. I wonder if it's a maturity and impulse control issue more than anything else.

DH is still in the house after doing this multiple times, and that is sending him an important message. Just something to consider. I'm not passing judgement at all so please don't misunderstand my comments, I'm just offering another perspective, that's all.

You are such a strong woman - I really hope this works out the way you want it to for your children.

Rising Rainbow said...

Funny how men can chose destructive ways to handle being out of a job. Then that beats their self esteem down even more. The downward spiral is difficult to stop.

I hope DH is indeed sincere in his efforts to fix this. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, it sounds like you are taking good care of yourself, figuring out what you need to get through this is important.