Infidelity is very painful but some couples do work through it, reconcile and subsequently have very strong marriages. That’s not the case when you discover your spouse’s infidelity involves child abuse. Nobody stays married to a pedophile.
Debbie had been married for about six years when she first discovered her husband had been unfaithful. Her natural instinct was to work on keeping her marriage together even though she knew he’d been unfaithful with both men and women. In working through those issues Debbie’s husband revealed that children were also involved. That was a game-changer. Here’s Debbie:
I stayed with him for four months and we did counseling. He told me he was a sex addict and he supposedly joined a twelve-step group, “Sexaholics Anonymous” or something similar. Whether he did or not, I don’t know. I was a little bit in denial but I also needed to give our marriage everything I had.
During those four months, things were deteriorating. He was not coming home from work and he wouldn’t tell me were he was. He worked for a friend but said that friend wouldn’t let him call me to tell me he was going to be late and couldn’t pick our son up.
Stuff wasn’t making sense and once again, he was trying to make me look like the crazy one but it was starting to get clearer that it wasn’t me.
One night when he didn’t come home, I drove forty-five minutes across town to his friend’s business to see if he was there. I thought, “what if he got into an accident, what if something happened?” He wasn’t there.
Slowly, I started to realize that even though he said he stopped, things were still happening.
Then about four months after I discovered the list on the computer, I was looking at our credit card bill. There was a charge for gas, not from anywhere that I got gas but probably about an hour and a half from our house on a weekend that he was supposedly by himself while I was visiting my sister.
One of the women on the list had been a high school girlfriend that I had always suspected still liked him and he had always had some kind of contact with. I thought they were just friends.
We were taking a ‘break’ then and he was in a hotel for a week. I called him and confronted him about her. He admitted that he was considering an affair with her. At that point, I told him not to come home and he ended up getting suicidal.
That’s when my social worker thing kicked in because regardless of what had happened, I didn’t want him to kill himself. I finally talked him into getting into a psych hospital and he admitted himself.
During the hospitalization he wrote me a seven-page letter spelling everything out. It said that he had had fantasies about children since he was teenager and that he had masturbated in front of children and had touched them inappropriately since he was a teenager. But there was nothing that was specific enough for me to go to anyone about because, my social worker instinct was, “do I need to report this?”
I spoke to the social worker at the hospital and said, “I just don’t know what to do.” I remember this very clearly. She said,
“I have to tell you that he shows more love towards his dog than he does to you and your son.”
He was discharged after a week and it was then that I told him he couldn’t come home.
I’m a pretty smart person. I’m a social worker. I’m used to people lying. I used to do child abuse investigations. It’s not like I was in a rose-colored-glasses kind of world but I think that when you trust someone and you don’t have reason to look, you don’t necessarily notice the signs. I had no reason to be suspicious. In hindsight, I can go back and see a few things but not a lot. There was probably one major thing that I look back on and think, “I should have known,” but I wasn’t looking. There was nothing that made me think,
“Oh crap, how did I miss that?”
The Divorce Coach Says
I think most of us can understand where Debbie was coming from when she wanted to work on her marriage even after discovering her husband’s infidelities. The decision to divorce is a very personal one and we each have our own tolerance limit. And we all miss red flags. It’s no good friends telling us what we should do – we have to make the decision for ourselves and in our own time. However, revelations about sexual fantasies and experiences with children moves the discussion about your marriage to a whole different level and in many ways although divorce is inevitable, it is a much more complex situation.
While nobody stays married to pedophile, you are left struggling with what to tell your child, your friends and family members, how to handle parenting time, what to do about your child’s name in addition to your own emotional struggles around self-esteem and trusting your judgment.
Debbie was able to use her social work background to call in the support resources she needed. If you don’t have that background don’t rely on advice from friends. I would start with your attorney and child protective services. Any professional with whom you discuss your situation will likely be under a legal and moral obligation to report the situation to your local authorities.
Debbie said that while there were support groups for spouses of sex addicts and infidelity, support groups for spouses of pedophiles didn’t exist. For that reason she’s happy to offer to support to anyone in a similar situation. Contact me and I’ll connect you.
Photo Credit: a.drian at Flickr