"He Became Addicted to Prostitutes"

Listen in as one real-life couple works through a major crisis in their relationship with the help of a marriage therapist.
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THE COUPLE

Isabella: 47, Interior Designer
Scott: 52, Advertising Executive
Married: 21 years
Kid: Beau, 15

THE COUNSELOR

Abbé Barclay, Orlando, Florida

THE BACKGROUND

Isabella is in complete denial about the lack of intimacy in her marriage. Scott has been struggling with a secret sex addiction for years and can't figure out how to stop -- or how to tell his wife.

Isabella

Scott and I are both very busy, and our son, Beau -- who is physically disabled -- takes up most of my free time. Our sex life is pretty much nonexistent, which is okay with me. I'm not that into it, and it seems like Scott checked out a long time ago, too. My priority for basically the last 15 years has been taking care of Beau. He requires around-the-clock care. Plus I figure that Scott will always be there, and when the time is right we'll reconnect. Scott's major beef with me has always been that I don't spend enough time with him. I tell him, "Help me take care of Beau more and then I'll have more time for you."

Scott

I started cheating on Isabella about 15 years ago, around the time we had our son. We love Beau but raising him has been a challenge. Nothing can prepare you for having a disabled child. Isabella's completely focused on finding the right care and treatments for him, and to distract myself, I dug into my job and became a total workaholic.

I think the combination of making a good salary, traveling so much, and having a wife who was always preoccupied led me to cheat. After Beau was born we stopped having sex, and all we talked about was him. I thought, "Isabella can't give me the attention I want, so I'll get it elsewhere."

That was the way I was able to justify it in my head. It seems like every day the news headlines are about politicians or sports figures being unfaithful. And I just thought, "This is what men do. It's acceptable behavior." I figured having an affair was too risky and complicated, so I turned to escort services. There's no emotional attachment to these women. It's just sex. I get off on the anticipation of being with a beautiful woman who showers me with praise. So I go on the Internet to find them. It's all so easy, and I'm very good at covering my tracks. Isabella had no idea this was going on.

Isabella

That's not entirely true. I noticed he was taking lots of money out of our bank account, so I knew something was up, but I never would have imagined that it was to pay prostitutes. I'm very good at denial. It's easier for me to pretend that everything is okay than to deal with my emotions.

But yes, there have been many times over the years when my intuition told me something wasn't right. One time Scott went away for a few days on a business trip to Chicago. Beau woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to call his daddy. He was really insistent so I kept calling until Scott finally picked up. He said he was sleeping, but I could tell he wasn't alone. He was whispering. Who was he afraid he'd wake up? But as usual, he had an excuse.

Then one night a few months ago a text message flashed up on his cell phone while he was in the bathroom. It was from a number I didn't recognize and had all these acronyms and codes like "dfk" and "dde." Later, I googled the terms and found out they meant "deep french kissing" and "doesn't do extras" and my heart just sank. She was definitely a prostitute. I knew I had to confront him but I was scared.

Scott

By this point I was seeing girls two or three times a week. I was taking them with me on business trips. Every time I saw a prostitute I told myself afterward, "This is the last time." But I was addicted. I'd get upset about something Isabella said, like if she told me I was being a bad father, and I'd go right back online looking for a quick way to medicate myself. I don't drink or do drugs. Sex is my drug.

Isabella

When I asked Scott about the texts, he admitted that they were from a prostitute but swore he hadn't had sex with her. He told me he was just testing the waters but would never in a million years go through with it. And I sort of believed him. I know it sounds crazy but talking myself into believing lies is second nature.

Scott

At this point I said to myself, "I almost got caught so this is the last time." I made a plea with God: "Just get me out of this and I'll never do it again." Yet I was right back at it two weeks later.

Isabella

I might have let the whole thing slide but I got a call from a guy claiming to be a prostitute's father. He said, "Do you know your husband is sleeping with my daughter?" He was calling all the wives of the men his daughter was seeing and blowing their cover. I just totally lost it.

When Scott got home I confronted him. He tried to lie at first by saying the guy was out to get him, but this time there was no way I could believe him.

Scott

Isabella said something like, "If you continue to lie, Beau and I are leaving. Or you can tell me the truth and maybe there'll still be hope for us." That's when something snapped in me. I just couldn't do it anymore. I was so tired of living this way. I told her it was true and I just started sobbing. I got so hysterical that I actually threw up.

I was such a wreck that Isabella drove me to the hospital, where they put me on suicide watch. I honestly think I would have killed myself if she hadn't taken me to get help. I hit rock bottom.

Isabella

I was so worried about him even though I had just found out this awful thing. So typical -- it was still all about him! At the hospital, a therapist said, "He told me about the prostitutes. I think your husband is a sex addict." I was like, "Prostitutes? There was more than one?" That just floored me.

Scott

Most women would've left me at that point. Isabella hasn't forgiven me, but she's agreed to see a therapist who specializes in sex addiction.

Isabella

I'm still unbelievably upset but something the hospital therapist said stuck with me. She told me, "Some of the most wonderful, kind people I know are sex addicts in recovery." If I hadn't heard that, I think I would have walked away. But knowing that Scott is not necessarily a terrible person, but a person doing terrible things, makes me willing to try therapy.

Continued on page 2:  The Counselor's Turn

 

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