I found out my husband has me on a Facebook filter so I can't see his activity and talking to a woman he promised he wouldn't due to an emotional affair; what do I do now?
June 5, 2012 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Husband left his computer on so I start to shut it down and see things he clearly didn't want me to see. I'm dazed and confused. What Should I do? Snowflakery inside.

Husband was arrested last night (being AWOL from the military.) It was late and I was emotionally drained so I made the rounds to turn everything off and go to bed. I notice his computer was on so I attempt to shut it off then notice he was watching porn. (I am visually impaired and the screensaver was on so I had no idea.) This is significant to me because we haven't had sex in several years because he is always uninterested. Then I did something awful: I saw his email was open so I looked. (Yes, I know it serves me right.) I saw that not only is he in occasional contact with a woman with whom he had an internet/emotional affair three years ago and promised never to contact again but it also seems he has me on a filter on Facebook so I can't see 99% of his activity. (He had another internet/emotional affair 7 or 8 years ago with a different woman.)

We both have issues from depression and childhood trauma. I have been in therapy off and on but he refuses. We have been together for over ten years after being introduced by a friend on the internet.

I am confused and scared with no idea what to do now. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? What would you do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would cry a lot.

Then I would tell him I wanted a divorce.
posted by kavasa at 6:07 PM on June 5, 2012 [96 favorites]

Wow, I am so sorry that you are dealing with all of this at once. Since you asked what we would do, let's put this in order of what I think are the most important issues:

A) Your husband was arrested for being AWOL. Huge issue, in my opinion.

B) Your husband is talking to women he has promised you not to be in touch with based on his breaking your past agreements with them. Also an extremely significant issue, in my opinion.

C) You read his email. Not cool on your part. Still a lesser betrayal than his in promising not to have contact with those women and then breaking his promise.

Not even D) He was watching porn. Watching porn is not at all the same thing as having sex. Yes, it's an issue if he's not interested in sex because he's only interested in watching porn, but otherwise this seems to be a non-issue.

If this were me, I would give the husband an ultimatum that he either did counseling or we were getting a divorce, because he doesn't seem capable of keeping his promises and also it would be hugely important to me to have sex be part of my marriage.

However, it seems like the "he was arrested for being AWOL" thing is probably the bigger emergency, so you might not be in a position to sort the lying and no-sex business out until that matter has been resolved.

Is there anybody you can call for support/venting/reassurance right now? Because this is awfully tough stuff. Best to you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:07 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

One thing you probably want to do, and quickly, is talk with a lawyer. If he's in the US military, you probably have the right as a dependent to free services from the JAG office at the local base.
posted by Zonker at 6:09 PM on June 5, 2012 [14 favorites]

Hoo boy. Sounds similar to how I found out my husband was cheating on me.

You can't make him go to counseling, you can't change him. Do what you need to to protect yourself, financially and emotionally. Lawyer up.

I'm so sorry.
posted by book 'em, danno at 6:11 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

Can I also recommend the book Facing Codependence? The audiobook is also available for loan via the Open Library's DAISY program if that would be easier for you. I think you might find it helpful.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:12 PM on June 5, 2012

You should use the time while he is in military custody to begin getting your finances and personal affairs in order.

Are you anywhere near a military base? If you are, see if you can get legal assistance from one of the military attorneys (I don't mean the attorney who will be assigned to represent him; I mean one who you can confide in and who will discuss with you the types of things you need to do). This attorney will also have some insight into the military's judicial process that your husband is now caught up in.

You are not making a mountain out of a molehill. This would probably be a dealbreaker for most people, and I'm actually really concerned that he's AWOL--this is worrisome, and suggests he really does not have his shit together.

If you decide instead that you want to stay together and try to work this out, I still recommend getting all of your stuff in order. That way when you make a decision it is from a position of knowing you can leave if you want to, rather than a position of "I'm staying because I'm too scared to leave and I don't have any other options."
posted by MoonOrb at 6:12 PM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]

I am confused and scared with no idea what to do now.

The more time you spend with this man, the less you'll have for somebody who doesn't treat you like this.
posted by mhoye at 6:12 PM on June 5, 2012 [30 favorites]

A good forum for discussing this kind of thing, with people who have been through it, is survivinginfidelity.com.
posted by Sublimity at 6:17 PM on June 5, 2012

Aww, sweetheart, no, you're not making a mountain out of a molehill. And none of this is your fault. He has cheated on you in the past; now he's lying to you and hiding his online activities from you. The AWOL arrest is the most urgent issue, but also the icing on the cake: this man is not the man you thought he was when you married him.

Other people can give you better advice on being a military wife and dealing with potential separation/divorce. However, is that laptop shut down? If not, take screenshots of the Facebook conversations and anything else that might demonstrate clearly that he has not been straight with you. If it is shut down (and you can't log on and view his Facebook and other online activity), put it somewhere safe and ask your lawyer (who has experience with military divorces--important!) what should be done with it.
posted by tully_monster at 6:30 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry, this sounds like a terrible situation all the way around.

I would document what you can (emails, screenshots, etc), call your therapist, call a divorce lawyer, and contact the military.
posted by Specklet at 6:32 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's your call, but I really, really do not think you should waste any more time on this man. He hasn't had sex with you for several years. He's carrying on with several other women and actively hiding it from you. He refuses to get any therapy. He also seems to be be irresponsible in general — I mean, he's been arrested for being AWOL from the army. If he won't man up and do his sworn duty to people who have guns, he's not going to do it for a wife.

This is not love. This is not commitment. Leave him so you can be free to find the real thing. Take care of yourself. Get a lawyer. Get a therapist. Find out what services the army offers you. Call on family and friends for support.

Best of luck to you.
posted by orange swan at 6:41 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

Another important consideration is the military's justice system. The punishments for unauthorized absence (AWOL) may be severe. If he was gone long enough he may be considered a deserted and be subject to prison time. UA may be punished by immediate demotion, confinement to post, and loss of pay for up to two months. The system can work very quickly and these punishments could be imposed by the end off the week (prosecution for desertion would take much longer).

If you are financially dependent upon him you need to reach out to his chain of command immediately. There should be an ombudsman you can talk to. Commanders are less likely to impose financial penalties if they know the family will suffer for the service member's errors, but those punishments are still a possibility.

JAG's will not represent you in a divorce, but they may still provide legal advice about the impact of divorce on benefits. I have heard that they will not provide advice to both sides of the divorce so you should take advantage of his current confinement and see them tomorrow.
posted by Crashback at 7:47 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry. You must feel awful. It is awful, realizing someone you love doesn't really care about you. Everything you've described is a decision he made to put his own needs above yours. He had the emotional affair years ago. He had a second one more recently. He kept communicating with Woman #2 even though he knew it hurt you. And he hid his actions from you so that he could have a third emotional affair, and it wouldn't come back to bite him in the ass.

That doesn't even touch going AWOL from the military. That's just the promises he's broken to you.

You are not making a mountain out of a molehill. Your husband is who he is - a guy who puts himself first, protects himself first, thinks of himself first. He refuses to get therapy because he's happy being that guy. Sure, you're miserable, but somehow I don't think he really cares whether you're happy or not.

No idea what you need to do as a military wife to protect yourself and make sure your current benefits continue - someone with more knowledge can speak to that. But you do need to protect yourself, and you need to do it now, because your husband won't.

It doesn't feel like it at the moment, but you did yourself a colossal favor by checking his email. You have nothing to feel sorry for, nothing to apologize for, and nothing to regret. I'd hug you, if I was where you are. Please reach out to someone local who you can trust. This is a brutal discovery, and you could really use a face-to-face friend.
posted by Angharad at 7:50 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Lawyer. Let them know he's in the military.

Even if you choose to work through this, you need to know what your options are.
posted by freshwater at 8:32 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nthing lawyer. The porn isn't an issue at all, but the cheating certainly is...and the fact that he locked you out of the account is a big loud klaxon. I don't know the severity of the AWOL or how that fits with your marital situation, so you can place that where you will.

we haven't had sex in several years because he is always uninterested.

Is that the entire reason you haven't had sex, because he didn't want it? Have you been interested and he wasn't? Did you let him know you were interested, or did he think you were uninterested as well? There's a lot to unpack there. If you do go through with a divorce, he may very well say the same thing about you. Lack of sex is sometimes the grounds for divorce. You can't elaborate because you're anonymous, but this is a real sticking point in my mind.
posted by zardoz at 8:55 PM on June 5, 2012


Get a divorce.
posted by peeet at 11:20 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

If the porn is significant to you then it is an issue. Heavy porn use is often a reason men are disinterested in sex with their wives. Porn is usually emotionally isolating, objectifies women and makes men less interested in real intimacy. I know many will disagree, but there are plenty of studies out there to back it up and I've seen it happen.

The main point is: He has broken his promises to you and not been fully open and faithful in your marriage. I am sorry for the pain you are feeling right now. He most definitely needs help and if he refuses to get it then this will continue to be a struggle that you must decide if you can handle. YOU need to make sure you are getting help now, too (not just a lawyer, see a counselor). You need to set boundaries with him and you need to take care of yourself.
posted by LilBit at 11:21 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

I don't think you're overreacting. I agree with the above posters who suggested you speak to a lawyer, contact appropriate members of the military, etc.

I'd also suggest going back to therapy if you're currently "off" -- this is a lot to work through.

To be on the safe side, you might want to do a review of your family finances (especially if he's the one who handles them) to make sure things are as you've been told they are. I have several friends who went through something similar and discovered that money was being funneled out of somewhere... drained savings, secret credit cards, etc.

You might also want to back up his computer to disk and put the disks in a safe place. If he's manipulative (and based on this limited glimpse, it sounds like he is), his likely response to being confronted will be to delete all the evidence and then try to convince you that you misunderstood it. Having the originals to go back to can be invaluable in keeping your head screwed on straight when someone's trying to twist it.
posted by Gianna at 7:24 AM on June 6, 2012

I would not assume that he didn't want you to see it.

He may well have left the computer on intentionally so you would find out. I have three friends that have "caught" their SOs under similar "set-up to get themselves caught" circumstances, so I doubt it's that uncommon. Perhaps they all did it because they didn't have the guts to admit what they were doing face to face, and perhaps it was an intentional tactic... but either way, they basically all tossed the ball in their mate's court and waited around to see what THEY would do with it.

And frankly, given that only one of my three friends actually ditched the guy despite the extreme ick of the situations, it's a tactic that seems to work unsettlingly well.
posted by Pufferish at 8:39 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You deserve to be loved. Wholly.

Now is a good time to consider making a change. Personally, I'd ask for a divorce. There's still plenty of time for you to be happy even after this much time with him. I feel that you will thank yourself for giving yourself such kind consideration, respect, and freedom.

I'm not saying you won't grieve this relationship and the things that happened within it, but I think it will be a worthwhile grieving that will move you to a better place for yourself, removing you from a bad situation and giving you the space to focus on loving yourself.
posted by batmonkey at 8:53 AM on June 6, 2012

The porn is meaningless; he has an absolute right to his sexuality, so long as it doesn't endanger you or break his vows of fidelity.

Everything else - everything else - is grounds for you to initiate divorce, or at the very least separation. But if I were a close friend I'd counsel divorce.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:48 PM on June 6, 2012

The porn is not meaningless. Yes, he has a right to his sexuality, but excluding his wife from his sexuality and leading her to believe he is uninterested in sex is a problem. Particularly if she wants sex and he doesn't. Asexual or open marriages are okay with a lot of people, but getting sexual gratification ONLY outside of the marriage - even if it's through porn and not through sex with another person - is not something most people would accept from a partner.

But it's definitely secondary to all the other stuff.

You gave him a second chance and a third chance after he cheated. He did not live up to his part of the bargain. It's not that any of this is a dealbreaker - it's that he already broke the deal. He broke his deal with the military too, so this is obviously an issue he has - it's not about you.

Personally, I can not imagine staying in a marriage with someone who repeatedly breaks his commitments, but even if you do, please, please, please take steps immediately to protect yourself. Whether you leave or stay, you have seen first hand that you can not trust him on important issues. Talk to the military about the benefits you are entitled to as a spouse or ex-spouse. Talk to a lawyer about separating your finances and make sure you are financially secure on your own. Go back to therapy if you're not in it now. Reach out to friends and family to build a support network for yourself. Let go of the guilt about reading his e-mail - you had good reason to be suspicious. Document everything and keep your documentation somewhere he can not get to it. And if you ever do renew a sexual relationship with him, insist that he be tested for STDs (and require proof - not just his word) first.
posted by Dojie at 6:39 AM on June 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Dojie: "The porn is not meaningless. Yes, he has a right to his sexuality, but excluding his wife from his sexuality and leading her to believe he is uninterested in sex is a problem. "

The part of his sexuality that is interested in porn is fantasy life. That is private. And he can be interested in porn, but not in actual sex with another human being. It's dysfunctional, but not dishonest.

I don't believe that he is absolutely required to share that with his wife, any more than he is required to share his image of a dream vacation home with her because they share finances.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:22 AM on June 7, 2012

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