July 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Between pop-up ads, risque tabloids, celeb gossip sites and spam email, sometimes it seems like online porn is everywhere. One thing’s for sure: If you’re looking for x-rated content on the web, you won’t have a problem finding it. The accessibility and (relative) discretion of viewing the content raises tons of issues for couples like 29-year-old Mia, a stay-at-home-mom, and her 30-year-old realtor husband, Carson. (Read the full story here.)
Mia’s Turn This isn’t the first time she’s caught her husband looking at online porn. She discovered his habit three years ago, they had a huge blowout and he promised to stop – but clearly he hasn’t. He also blames her for it, saying he wouldn’t need the sites if they had sex more often, which infuriates her. It’s his problem, not hers! They have a 4-month-old son and she’s so tired all she wants to do in bed is sleep. He’s also a huge flirt, hugging and chatting up other women, and it drives her crazy. Carson’s father used to make lewd comments about women in front of Carson’s mother and no one made an issue of it. Mia’s own parents were proper and buttoned-up, so her father-in-law’s behavior and her husband’s porn habits totally appall her. She feels as betrayed as if he physically cheated.
Carson’s Turn He feels completely sexually rejected by his wife. He hates fighting about it or upsetting her, so he does what he needs to do in his private time. Looking at online porn is just a physical thing – he doesn’t have a steady “partner” he chats with so there’s no relationship – and he feels he has no other choice since his wife shuts him down all the time. He’d never have an affair and thinks she should be happy he’s not running around with someone else. He understands his flirting makes her uncomfortable but doesn’t see the harm since he’d never actually cheat; it’s innocent. And though he’s embarrassed by his dad’s sexist comments, too, he still thinks Mia should ignore them.
The Counselor’s Turn Just as an affair can indicate that a marriage needs a wake-up call, so can a habit like Carson’s. They were both uncomfortable talking about sex, for different reasons, so they never discussed their unhappiness. Carson’s viewing tastes tended towards standard sexual situations, so his interest in porn was pretty normal. Mia had to understand that his porn-watching didn’t mean anything about her – that she was unattractive or that he didn’t love her – but she also had to accept that her constant rejection of his advances helped in part to drive him away. Men equate sex and love, and if he felt desired and wanted, the counselor thought he’d stop looking elsewhere. Mia also withheld sex to get back at him for flirting and for when he ignored her valid concerns about his behavior. Carson first needed to limit his flirtations with other women, which he succeeded in doing once he realized how much it hurt his wife. Once she saw the improvement, Mia began to accept his advances more and learned to gently decline when she’s not in the mood. As for the porn, Carson quit the habit cold-turkey, and since their sex life has improved he hasn’t felt the need to use it anyway.
March 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Affairs are clear no-nos. Sleep with a person other than your spouse and you are pretty indisputably in the wrong. But what about unconsummated relationships? Does an affair of the heart equal an affair of the flesh? Or, in plain terms, if you fall for someone else but you never get it on, are you still a cheater?
This week’s Can This Marriage couple, Larry and Liz, are dealing with that very issue. Larry, a partner in his family’s contracting business, has been married to Liz, a stay-at-home mom of three boys, for 10 years. He chose their anniversary dinner as the venue to tell his blindsided wife about his emotional affair.
Liz’s turn She should have seen this coming. Larry’s been spending all his time at the office or the gym, getting fit for his new love, and they haven’t had sex in ages. Liz gained significant weight with each pregnancy, so she’s not surprised her husband isn’t attracted to her anymore, but it’s not as if he couldn’t have guessed she’d put on some pounds: They met at a Weight Watchers meeting. In the early years of their dating, they worked out together and kept each other in check. Now, Larry works out with the other woman – a receptionist at his office who’s fitter and younger than Liz. Larry tried to sleep with the coworker, but she turned him down, saying she didn’t think of him that way. What hurts Liz the most is that Larry seems to think it’s okay since he didn’t physically cheat. Read more
January 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
By this point in time, pretty much everyone on the planet – and their mother, neighbor and dog – has a Facebook account. That may be an overstatement, but with over 500 million active users, the tally isn’t too far off. And while it’s a great place to reconnect with old friends, share photos and updates and generally keep up-to-date with the people in your life, it’s also an easy place to get into trouble. And not just the computer-hacking, home-robbery-when-you’re-on-vacation type of trouble, either. In the Can This Marriage Be Saved? column from our February issue, one husband used the social network to get back in touch with an old flame and start up a new affair.
Sue, a 40-year-old working mom of twin teenage girls, is married to Carl, also 40, who travels frequently for business. As Sue found out, he ended up traveling for more than just work.
Sue’s side She’s totally blindsided by her husband’s affair. The other woman, Jill, is Carl’s high school girlfriend who dumped him not long before Sue and Carl went on their first date. When they met, Sue was wary of getting involved because he seemed hung up on Jill, but by their second date he seemed to have forgotten about her and they fell in love quickly. Now they bicker constantly because Carl seems to think that despite her full-time job she doesn’t need help around the house, and they also don’t have anything more than surface conversations – and definitely don’t have sex. She loves Carl and wants to save the marriage, but at the moment she can’t even think straight.
Carl’s side He didn’t want the affair to happen and had no intention of sleeping with her when they reconnected through Facebook, but when he saw Jill in person after suggesting they meet up for coffee, he felt the past evaporate and his old feelings rushed back. He now talks to Jill constantly and has slept with her several times, and he can’t seem to stop himself. He’s totally unhappy in his marriage and thinks Sue talks down to him, is always anxious and acts like a micromanager and a dictator. In his eyes, the marriage has been in trouble for a while and it’s only come to a head because of his affair.
The counselor’s take Many people don’t consider the implications of reconnecting when they hit “send’ on a friend request, but adolescent relationships can leave strong marks that are tough to erase. Sue and Carl were terrible communicators, trading accusations and brushing their true feelings aside, and it’s tough to save marriages like theirs because the anger and blame runs deep. Since Carl’s affair had flourished via email, the counselor recommended he and Sue communicate that way, too, so they could speak honestly and really hear each other. He also had to vow not to talk to Jill for at least 6 months while he and Sue worked on the marriage. They had to slowly work their way back into sex after he violated her trust so badly. They started to go on dates, just the two of them, to restore their intimacy. After 6 months of counseling and steady progress, Carl told Jill that he and Sue were a team and planned to stay that way.
What do you think? Is it too easy for old flames to reconnect on Facebook? Have you ever gotten back in touch with a past love?
Don’t forget to pick up our February 2011 issue for the full story, on newsstands now!
October 5, 2009 at 5:16 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Is it just me or have Jon and Kate finally gone off the deep end? Kate’s latest claim – that Jon withdrew all the money in their joint account, leaving her unable to pay bills or feed her many kiddies – is just the latest in a salacious string of tabloid-happy headlines from the warring couple. First comes love, then comes accusations of affairs with 20-year-olds, then comes bankruptcy.
I realize these two formerly private people are now living a public life, but don’t you think some things should actually be kept between you and your divorce lawyer? What do you gain from discussing your bank-robber ex aside from embarrassment for your kids and maybe a tiny bit of sympathy from those who still care about your situation? With all the J+K overload these days, I doubt you’ll find many of those people left! But seriously, what’s the point?
Of course, this is a reality “couple” whose 15 minutes has ballooned into 500, and the he said/she said game is par for the course. But in my own relationship, I’d never dream of discussing something so personal in public. In my mind, there are certain things that will always stay within the walls of my relationship, whether I end up hating him down the road or loving him forever. Any sympathy I’d get from admitting something like my husband’s awful behavior would be overwhelmed by how pathetic I’d feel, I think.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m growing a bit weary of seeing Jon’s pimply mug and Kate’s seagull hair (though maybe she’s changing it? ) on the cover of every tabloid on the newsstand. What do you think? Does this kind of gossip keep you interested? Or is it like a car accident – horrific and shocking and sad to see, but you can’t turn away? Do you think talking about these kinds of personal things helps others in the same situation, or do you think they should stay private?