Husband feels powerless amid marriage struggles
DEAR ABBY: I married for the second time two years ago to a younger woman. Seven months after our wedding, she announced she didn't like my dominating personality, which is why she was stepping out of the marriage. She then went back to her deadbeat ex-boyfriend for six months. I went for counseling and have made a major change in how I treat, talk and make decisions with her. I love my wife with all my heart. I want to protect our marriage and move forward from the affair.
Our second anniversary is approaching, but she has been interacting with other men. She takes her daughter with another man on play-dates along with his daughter, and goes to the park with another man for three hours. (He was a single dad having a BBQ.) The third one is a guy she goes with to the park, splash pads, public swimming pool and a water-slide park. They text each other often. One guy is a married stay-at-home dad. He has cheated on his wife before.
Am I wrong to think this is unacceptable for a married woman? Any advice would be absolutely appreciated.
-- BEWILDERED IN CANADA
DEAR BEWILDERED: It's time for joint counseling, with a new therapist for you and your wife. I can't think of a better way to drive her away than continuing to obsess about what she "may" be doing on these outings. It is hard to envision her carrying on flagrantly with a child in tow; the activities you describe seem distinctly family-oriented to me. It appears you still expect her to conform to your idea of how a married woman "should" behave, or you're having serious trust issues. More counseling for you may be in order if your marriage is going to last.
DEAR ABBY: I've been with my boyfriend for four years. Over those years, he has acquired an addiction to porn. He refuses to admit he is addicted and insists that it's perfectly normal. I'm usually not one to judge, but it has reached the point that it's affecting our sex life.
I can't remember the last time we had a moment to ourselves that didn't start with him spending all day watching porn. I tried getting involved with it myself hoping we'd find a common interest we could bond over, but he doesn't seem to want me involved at all.
I feel like I'm being cheated on, as silly as that sounds. I'm struggling with my body image because of this. I feel like I'm never going to be adequate enough for him to focus on our sex life. How do I compete with porn?
-- SHUT OUT IN VIRGINIA
DEAR SHUT OUT: You don't. Tell your boyfriend that his reliance on porn is negatively affecting your self-esteem and you are no longer willing to be involved with him because of it. If he's in love with you and willing to work on the problem, there are resources available to him. (Twelve-step programs come immediately to mind.) If he isn't, however, accept that this has NOTHING to do with your level of attractiveness, and move on.