Marriage comes with many assumptions. One of them is that you’re one of the people who knows your spouse the best but that’s not always true. Discovering your husband’s secret fetish can be a shocking and startling revelation. Your spouse is not the person you thought they were.
I’m starting a new series today and would like to introduce you to Nancy. Nancy lives in England although she’s originally from Brazil. She went to England for a couple of months back in 1988 and ended up staying after she met the man who would become her husband. Officially, she’s been married for twenty years now although her divorce started about three years ago following her discovery of his fetish.
Nancy says she and her husband had been talking about schools for their eldest and like so many public schools here in the U.S., you have to live in the attendance area to attend a certain school. They didn’t live in the area for the school Nancy wanted her son to attend and since they didn’t want to pay for private school, Nancy and her husband agreed that she and the kids should move into an apartment within the school’s attendance area. That’s when the fun started. Here’s Nancy:
The apartment was an expensive place, we hardly had any furniture here and it didn’t feel like home at all, so I used to go back to the house in the day when the children were at school. I started noticing that my husband looked a bit happy and there was something that wasn’t quite right. One day I was putting his clean socks away and the drawer was stuck. I had to take the drawers out, and when I did, I had the shock of my life. The gap between the floorboards and the last drawer, it was full of women’s clothes.
Many of the clothes used to be mine, but from a long time ago. I used to put clothes I didn’t want into a bag and ask him to take them to the charity shop. Apparently, he used to keep them. Some of the items I didn’t recognize but everything nicely folded.
I didn’t know what to think at first…is he bringing women here when I’m not here? What is this? I couldn’t believe it. I had a hole in my stomach and my heart was racing. You always think that bad things never happen to us, but occasionally they do.
I went back to the apartment shocked and trying to understand, and I thought I’d go back the next day to investigate. Then the following day when I went back, the clothes had been moved. What was underneath was on the top. I didn’t think he could be wearing them so then I sniffed the clothes and couldn’t sense anything different. I turned the stockings inside out and then I found big long hairs. Then I knew that a woman wouldn’t have legs hairy like that, and I could see quite clearly that no woman had been wearing them.
I kept quiet and I watched him for a month, going to the house and checking if the clothes were in a different position, and they were, every day. I started investigating everything in the computer and found all these membership fetish sites, he would see the woman wearing certain clothes and he would do the same, he would mimic. So, he wasn’t wearing the women’s clothes as a transsexual but more like a fetish, to masturbate, because that would excite him.
I started looking at the history of the computer, and many things I had to learn because I was not at the time, very computer literate, but he had been going through this for many years. I could remember some of the clothes from my first year of marriage. Then I started seeing different clothes and I didn’t know where they were coming from. I started going through everything in the house and I couldn’t find them. Eventually, a couple of months later I found a compartment underneath the floorboards in the loft and in there were five huge bin liners full of clothes. My stomach started turning.
I felt like I never knew this man although I always had this feeling that there was something not quite right with him. He was very different than all the other men I’d met before. Sexually, he was not all that interested. He would rather cut the grass or do this or do that than have sex, and I always thought we’re married, we’re young, we have all that desire, and he was not owning to that. I felt it must be my fault, I’m not good enough, I don’t look nice or there’s something wrong with me, that sort of thing.
The Divorce Coach Says
In this situation there are three separate issues you have to deal with.
One is the realization that your spouse has been keeping a major secret from you. He may have been telling you lies, or you may simply not have been alert to the red flags. What’s likely going through your head is not only wondering about how your spouse has kept this from you but also questioning your own judgment. How could you have missed this?
Another is grappling with the secret itself. If your spouse has been hiding it, then it almost certainly means that it’s something they’re not comfortable with for some reason and it’s something that is typically viewed as outside acceptable norms. It could apply to anything – drugs, alcohol, affairs, money … it’s not just sexual fetishes or issues. You’re going to have to think through how you feel about the particular issue. You may react by thinking that you also have to keep it secret … that can be sign of your discomfort or embarrassment and fear that your spouse’s choices will reflect on you.
The third issue is deciding the impact this discovery has on your marriage. In Nancy’s case, it was not an automatic dealbreaker – she tried to play him at his own game. Another of my interviewees, Debbie discovered her husband was a pedophile and as she says, nobody stays married to a pedophile. It’s very situation specific and dependent on your own values.
Any major revelation is going to shake you and undermine your normal decision-making capability. That’s a sign that getting professional help and counselling would likely be extremely beneficial.