Question and answer details
|S (48-female-Sri Lanka)|
|Assalmu alaikum respected counselor, my husband is 58 years old and we are married for 26 years with 3 grown children. Recently i found my husband chatting with a married woman sexually for a about a month and pursuing her through internet for nearly 5 years. When I found out and cornered him he confessed to it and promised to reform. Later he also confessed to having physical acts of adultery many times in the past with various people women, men and group. He promised to never do it without my permission hereafter. He tried to persuade me with group but somehow I have knocked sense into him and he promised never to do. Since all the mufthis i addressed, asked me to forgive him I forgave and trying to live with him. Since he is always abroad for work purposes and comes home for vacations i took upon myself to chatting as he wants understanding his needs in this area. But now he is posting me several porn pictures and asking me to see and chat with him about it as sensually as possible. I am trying to instill taqwa in him as much as possible. My question is, that is it permissible in his case with overly sex drive and hardly living with me, for looking at these pic and chatting about it and for him to masturbate and for me to accommodate his wishes by looking at pictures and chatting? Is it a disease of senility? How should I correct this malpractice and save me also from fitna? Please advise me asap. Jazak Allah.|
|Dr. Maryam Bachmeier|
Assalamu alaikum dear sister,
We can look at several different issues that you might want to find clarification for.
First, let’s look at the health of your marriage. You have been married for 26 years. If we took the sexual equation out of the picture, can you measure for yourself the level of healthy communication between you? Over the years, have you had mutual goals between you that your worked together to accomplish? Have you become each other’s best friend.. a person that you can trust your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, needs, and emotions with? What about the shared spirituality between you? Does it exist?
Before we talk about sex, explore the probability that this is a man with whom you will most likely have in your life with shared obligations and mutual needs for another 20 to 40 years or more. We can examine this through the lens of pop psychology, or we can take a more realistic look. Naturally, I would suggest taking the realistic look.
With that said, after 26 years of marriage as a mature woman with grown children transitioning into a life, it would be nice if you can manage to develop a strong bond of friendship with your husband so that you have someone that you can depend on when you need him as the years unfold. How that will look and the actual quality and type of relationship-marriage that will become is quite unpredictable given the information that you disclosed. However, I can assess from the questions that you are asking that you are likely willing and even wanting to try to create a stronger bond between you and your husband.
Enabling unhealthy behavior is not going to strengthen your bond. Identifying the core issues that led to the emotional and psychological disconnect between you is where you want to put your energy and effort. Then once that is identified, you can get guidance on how to work toward overcoming those barriers and healing your disconnect.
I highly recommend that you see a marriage counselor and gently open this door. The behavior is more of a symptom rather than the root problem. This may be a symptom of something going on specifically within your husband and/or it may also be symptomatic of the quality of relationship between you and your husband. These are issues that you want to explore with a face to face marriage counselor.
Let’s look at your husband’s sexual behavior. Contrary to what we are hearing in the media with all the pop psychology, infidelity is not as natural as we are led to believe. The media and current secular milieu might be selling both men and women this line of reasoning but it is truly unhealthy conditioning. Much like young women believe they are not sexy or beautiful if they do not force malnutrition upon themselves and make themselves medically ill by extreme underweight. This is what the media sells us. This way, we can sell more fancy running shoes and diet pills and powders.
Likewise, men are now bombarded with Viagra commercials. They are buying into the myth of eternal youth. All they have to do is act like “real men” and get their libido up, and prove themselves. Of course, they need to take special medications, get hair implants, and, oh yes… they need fancy running shoes also. This is all very sad. However, if your husband has had to travel a lot and uses commercial airlines, he is bombarded with these advertisements, and he is in a milieu where the women have glued and glamorous hair, and wear modern corsets to make themselves more sexually appealing to the men who are taking the commercial medications. Get the picture?
Our instincts for basic survival pick up on these messages. There is a fear and partly justified fear, that if we don’t hold on to these images, we will not survive in the secular “jungle” and thus, won’t be able to compete well enough to make enough money to experience enough security and make our families happy enough. It’s all about being good enough. Is this starting to make sense?
So, with that goal in mind, we become disconnected from our true core being. In reality, our instincts were put there to preserve the security and safety of our family. The problem is all of the propaganda for unnecessary commercial items (stuff that we don’t really need for basic human survival) is paired with sexually stimulating messages that pass the forebrain and go directly into the reticular formation of the brain. This is where our biological need for sex is stimulated. This area of the brain is stimulated unconsciously, so we do not even know how much artificial arousal we are experiencing from these kinds of media pictures and words, and ideas that we are bombarded with on a daily biases. Pair these sexual messages with the need to be good enough … and well, you get what we have in society today.
With that said, it is possible that your husband had affairs and is not addicted to sex or pornography. However, it is abnormal and unhealthy behavior from a psychological and spiritual perspective to be looking at porn and asking one’s spouse to engage in this type of behavior. It is very possible that your husband has fallen into the trap of addiction.
I am not a mufti, or Islamic scholar or Sheikh, and thus, I cannot say whether this behavior is permitted or not. I am a psychologist and I can tell you that it is not healthy, it is not good for the soul, and it will ultimately damage you if you are forced or manipulated into participating in this behavior. This will not help your marriage.
The problem is, when a man is using pornography to sexually stimulate him, he is not connecting with the real woman that he needs to be connecting with so that he brings himself into sexual union with the actual woman. To connect with the woman on a psychological and spiritual level, a man usually needs to have actual physical contact and physical connection with the woman… not an air-brushed picture of a woman that doesn’t even exist in real life. And the use of this type of paraphernalia prevents a couple from doing the real work of true intimacy, which is pathway to a real bond and healthy marriage.
Identity problems and sex addiction is becoming more and more common. This does not make it normal or healthy. This insidious dis-ease is creeping into more and more marriages. If you would like to learn more about this, I suggest that you take a look at a website of Don Mathews, marriage and family therapist in the Bay Area of California USA. His website will help you understand more about sex addictions. It is called Sex Addict Treatment. I believe that it would be helpful to look at some of the literature that he has on his website. Your husband may or may not have an actual sex addiction. This information will help clarify some of that for you. This is the link:
Now, let’s take a look at your decisions about what boundaries you want to have and what is and is not healthy for you. If you are completely honest with me, then please tell me how comfortable are you at looking at porn while chatting with your husband knowing that he is masturbating? Will this help you feel closer to him or rather, will it slowly cause a build of resentment? Most women usually have to be dishonest with themselves in order to get themselves to accommodate a man in this way. They convince themselves that they like it, or that it is ok, but in reality, they are very insecure that they will lose the man that they feel dependent on, or love, and so they engage in behaviors that eventually make them lose self respect and they become very unhappy individuals. Once women lose self respect, the men in their lives lose respect for them as well.
Take a fearless inventory about who you are, what you are honestly ok with and what is going to cause you psychological, emotional or spiritual harm. Then keep clear boundaries and refuse to engage in behaviors and activities that will violate you as a human being, a woman, and cause you such harm. If you are worried that you will lose your husband if you do not enable him, then consider getting intensive face to face counseling for yourself. You may be right. Yet this is very much like losing a drug addict because you refuse to use the drug with the addict, and you refuse to go buy it for him. If you are in this kind of situation, get help.
As you move toward the path of recovery from what may have been many years of unspoken disconnect and possibly even chronic heartache, be brave and do not give in to behaviors or attitudes that will only enable further psychological and spiritual harm your husband by enabling him, or to yourself by failing to keep healthy boundaries.
For further guidance, please try the following links:
About the Counselor:
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a published researcher, former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant to her Spiritual community in the areas of mental health, clinical disorders, cultural, family and relationship issues, and more.