Husband has a double life
July 23, 2012 7:50 PM   Subscribe

My husband is making fetish videos of himself, and I'm not sure what to do about it (if anything)

I'm a bit freaked out from my discovery over the weekend of a self-recorded video of my husband on one of our computers. I see this little thumbnail of a black and white shot of my DH sitting in a chair, and he looks like he's naked and grabbing himself.

I thought I was seeing things, but I clicked on the file and watched the video. He's in the chair in his office, naked and wanking. The video concludes when he comes - it sprays on his chest, and he leans forward as if to show the camera that this was definitely real. Then he switches off the recorder.

I'm wondering who he made this for. He never told me about it (obviously). I'm pretty sure this wouldn't be meant for posting on the internet though. DH is hypervigilant about these things, freaking out if I post anything online that he thinks might be traceable to me, so I don't think he's planning on putting this out there - especially since his face is in the frame.

I need to talk to him of course, but I'm putting it off because the thought of confronting him about it makes me feel dizzy.

DH and I have been married for about ten years. I love him and always have, and if this incident changes anything, it won't change that. We have moments of irritation and boredom, like any couple would after a longish time together. What has always grieved me though is a feeling that we were incompatible sexually. He's always been into body piercing, for instance, and his genital piercings put me off oral sex. That's been a pretty much permanent thing. Even when he takes the jewelry out, the wounds are still there- it makes me feel queasy.

DH has mentioned doing things in the past that wouldn't have occurred to me, but he always presented them as mistakes, or things he wandered into, and would never do again. He used to go to a nude beach in another state, and was propositioned by men. We always laughed about it. He also told me about being photographed by a guy who asked him to jerk off. DH said he just got out of there fast, but now I'm wondering if he actually did that. And maybe that experience was just the tip of the iceberg.

Another thing that complicates this - my guilt around our subpar sex life. I've had crushes on other guys - my romantic life seems to be taking place on a plane other than my marriage, although I don't actually have physical affairs with the men I become obsessed with. I feel terrible guilt about this, and I've been unable to talk about it with DH to date.

DH has also had crushes, but nothing serious as far as I know. He lost a lot of weight recently (looks great btw) and doesn't drink anymore, but when he was drinking he would get a little out of hand at parties, making out with random women. Once he got thrown out of a concert for exposing himself and trying to get another woman to suck him off. But he only did that because he was drunk. He told me about these incidents, in tears, and said he would stop. Stopping drinking helped too. As far as I know, hasn't repeated this kind of thing.

In bed, I know he wants more from me than I ever give him. We usually have sex, though, pretty regularly. I've asked him if he would be happier with someone less vanilla, but he always says he's happy with me. Lately his desire seems to have fallen off, though. I'm relieved by this, because I don't really enjoy sex with DH (this is awfully difficult, almost devastating to admit). But now of course I'm wondering if he's found another outlet. If this video is part of a pattern or another relationship, it looks like I may have found part of the answer.

I imagine a couple ways he could respond if I bring this up: he might be utterly cool about it, just, "Oh, I just wanted to see if I could make one of those. I didn't send it to anyone, it's just for me." Or whatever. Or he might fall apart and start sobbing and confess he's in a serious affair with another woman - or man. Or maybe he's not gay, but enjoys doing these explicit performances for men. Or some combination of these.

If it's an affair, that's my business because we're married. If it isn't - how much input do I have in this? I mean it makes me feel pretty yucky to imagine that he's over there in his office on Saturday mornings making masturbation videos, but if that's all it is - how can I really object? I feel that since we have a blah marriage sexually, he deserves some outlet. I don't want to be his jailer.

Except that - it does involve me. This is all about me and my identity as his wife and what our marriage really is. Even before I discovered the video, I've wondered if DH might be a classic exhibitionist. We laughed together about the time a guy showed himself to me when I was reading in the park outside our apartments. Now I'm wondering if I'm married to that guy! I don't want to be married to THAT guy!

I'm just bewildered about all of this - any input would be welcome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
But he only did that because he was drunk.

That's a little facile. I've been and been around heavy drinkers and and I think maybe one person I know was ever ejected out of somewhere for being creepy, and everyone saw it coming from a mile away. The drinking is what dropped his inhibitions enough to do the thing that he wanted to do. Sad people cry, angry people get into fights, horny people try to get laid.

You're presenting a really, really clear pattern of sexual quasi-indiscretion here, and this latest incident slots pretty neatly into said pattern. Something is up with your husband and it's a lot more of a chronic thing than you just finding a video of him jerking off.

It is okay to request that your husband not make pornographic videos for the consumption of others. That is a perfectly fair boundary to establish.

I feel that since we have a blah marriage sexually, he deserves some outlet.

You guys need to really work on this together, as a couple, maybe with the help of a counselor. "Sexually incompatible" isn't a phrase I want to use because it may be a lot more severe of an interpretation of the situation, but you guys have some issues and his behavior is only going to escalate. As you're clearly not okay with what's going on right now, you need to confront it before it gets worse.
posted by griphus at 7:58 PM on July 23, 2012 [15 favorites]

You two need to talk.

10 years in my marriage was the milestone where my wife and spent, (and are still working through) a great deal of time looking at each other saying "you aren't what I
Married. Who the fuck are you?"

We are re-learning each other, and it's hard, but fascinating. I get to fall in love with a stranger all over again, and she's my wife!

You and your partner need to openly ask each other who you both really are, and start supporting those needs.
posted by roboton666 at 7:59 PM on July 23, 2012 [22 favorites]

Honestly, despite your protestations to the contrary, my gut feeling is that he is posting these videos on the internet. There are thousands and thousands of guys posting videos of themselves masturbating on the internet every day – I've always felt that it's more of a turn-on for the guys taping themselves than for anyone who might be watching – and while that's not really my cup of tea pornography-wise I've always had the impression that most of the people posting these videos are pretty normal dudes other than the masturbating-on-the-internet thing.

I mean, why would it be just for him? If he wants to see himself jack off, he can just jack off – right? Why would he videotape it?

The good news is that if I'm right then it's almost definitely not an affair. Heck, it may even be OK for him to keep doing it although I'd suggest that you make a deal with him that he take down the videos he's posted and in the future post ones that don't have his face in them.

You're going to want to talk about this. You're going to want to be nonjudgemental about it, and you're going to want to tell him that you're not mad but you need to know what he's doing with the videos. Tell him that you don't even care if he does it, but that you'd like to know about it and you'd like for his face not to be in them.
posted by Scientist at 8:01 PM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

You're reading a lot into the video. Maybe it just made him hot to videotape himself or something like that.

I think that at root you don't want to be in your marriage anymore and are looking desperately for an "excuse" to get out, like that he's a sexual offender in secret or having gay affairs online.

Reality is, a seriously subpar sex life and difficulty communicating with your husband is enough of a reason to get a divorce if you want one.

And wow, you do not trust him at all. It really seems like you think he's a liar, cheater, or even out flashing people non-consensually. That's a pretty significant lack of respect that you have for him, primarily revolving around his sexual desires. You say he's trapped in a blah marriage, are you trying to say that YOU need some outlet? Do you want to sleep with other people?

Anyway, if you do want to stay married to him, I don't know what to say. If you don't like having sex with him, that sucks for both of you; if you don't respect him as a person because his sexuality is different from yours, that sucks for both of you too. There isn't anywhere to go from there really but maybe an open marriage, and even then, the lack of respect is just depressing and unhealthy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:02 PM on July 23, 2012 [14 favorites]

(Also, I'm not saying he's not a creep, but since I have no way of knowing I'm focusing on the fact that you think he's a creep which is enough for me to definitively say that something serious in this marriage is broken, and possibly irretrievably.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:05 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You didn't say much about how you are as a couple apart from the mismatched sexuality, which is understandable as you're probably a bit shocked and focused on that element of the relationship. Maybe it's telling in other ways though? The vibe I get is that you aren't attracted to him because he's secretive and his issues are nagging at you and this is not what you signed up for. I would say trust that instinct, it's probably telling you something you need to hear.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 8:06 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Firstly: you sound really non-reactionary and non-judgmental. Good for you, sweetie. That will serve you well in this situation. Which is good, because, Secondly: wow, this is a TOUGH situation. The fetish video isn't the problem - but you already knew that. The problem is a marriage with communication/sexual problems so deeply ingrained that, 1. One partner makes a fetish video without the other's knowledge, and 2. When the other partner FINDS it, they're unable to bring it up in a straightforward way.

While you may eventually wind up in therapy - and it is probably a good idea, if you want to stay married - you can probably save yourself some time and money by sitting down and having a night (or nights) of TOTAL, BRUTAL HONESTY. You say he stopped drinking, but YOU may want to have a few beers. Because it's gonna be ugly. There should be no screaming or guilt or accusations: just both of you attempting to grow the balls to spit out all of the things you've been thinking and feeling but not EXPRESSING. If you can break through that barrier, it's a damned good sign.

I have a kind of nagging feeling that a slow, careful, well-thought-out exploration of an open relationship MIGHT be just the thing for you, if it's an idea both of you would entertain. But THAT is Relationship Talk #10,896. Right now, you guys need to start with Relationship Talk #1: Where the Hell Do We Each Stand?
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:08 PM on July 23, 2012 [11 favorites]

rope-rider, I have to disagree with you on this one. I think that maybe the blah sexual dynamic might be down to the husband having an exhibition fetish that he's not getting exercised, and that if the OP can get that on the table with her husband then maybe they can use that as the basis for a conversation in which they lay down some sexual ground rules that might create a space in which they could both be more sexually content. It'd be quite a bit of work but I feel like there's an opportunity for that there. Hell, maybe the guy has a cuckold fetish and they can work something out where they both get their rocks off – her with one of her crushes, him in the corner with his hand – and then they can have great sex with each other afterward where they relive that. It's not outside the realm of possibility.

The OP didn't come off to me as suspicious or accusatory – a lot of spouses would go through the roof if they found unexpected videos of their partner masturbating on camera. I mean, we don't know how much snooping was going on here, but if he's a closet exhibitionist (which doesn't mean that he's a sex offender, though it sounds like he needs to be careful about finding a proper outlet for his desires where only people who want to see his junk have to see it) then maybe it was just there on the desktop where he "accidentally" left it. Not saying that that's definitely how it went down, but it's plausible.

I don't think that we're necessarily looking at a doomed marriage here, though this is certainly a major event and should be a wake-up call for both the OP and her husband. Some conversation definitely needs to happen here, but I think the OP should hold out hope that something good or at least neutral could come of it.
posted by Scientist at 8:09 PM on July 23, 2012 [11 favorites]

The reality is, you have no idea why he's made that video. And you want to know, and, yes, I feel you need to know, mainly based on his previous behaviour. So I would talk to him.
posted by heyjude at 8:13 PM on July 23, 2012

A double life? Really? I don't know that he has a double life but I kind of sense that you do. You've got one where you're in a happy relationship and one where you are incredibly uneasy with your husband's display of sexuality (I would be, too, though not because of the video) and unhappy with your own sexual fulfillment. That sounds like a terrible place to be and I really feel for you. While you two should probably be exploring therapy, I think you should find someone on your own to talk to first. I think you need to get your head around where you are at this time in your life and how you got there.

The past is past but I would really, really question any guy who gets so drunk that he pulls out his penis and tries to get an unwilling woman to suck him off in public. I mean, it's not too funny, really, and you could make a pretty easy case for assault. But, I feel like you've rationalized it in one way but really you're not okay with it and it's never been truly settled in your mind.

I can see a person getting curious and fooling around with their computer without sending it out into the world. But, given the other behavior, I'm not sure that's what is happening here. I think if you confront your husband about this, all the rest of it is going to come out, too, and I really hope you consider having a therapist in your corner. Because, it kind of sounds like it's fish or cut bait time. You have a whole pile of behavior that you are not comfortable with so what are you going to do? This is your life. If you want to lead it with him, high time to unpack some of this stuff and see if you can reclaim the spark that put you two together or move on. I'm sorry.
posted by amanda at 8:21 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

rope-rider, I have to disagree with you on this one. I think that maybe the blah sexual dynamic might be down to the husband having an exhibition fetish that he's not getting exercised, and that if the OP can get that on the table with her husband then maybe they can use that as the basis for a conversation in which they lay down some sexual ground rules that might create a space in which they could both be more sexually content.

Yeah, the issue is not so much the bad sex (although that is a serious issue, and why your husband hasn't noticed that you don't like having sex with him is another thing to explore here) as that you saw something that could be interpreted in any number of ways, and for whatever reason your interpretation includes the serious possibility that your husband is a sex offender. I really just don't think that having one partner think the other partner is basically someone who assaults people in order to get off is a basis for a healthy relationship.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:24 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

[derail ends here folks, take it to MeMail.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need to talk about all this stuff, including your questions about the video and your own feelings that something is lacking in your sex life. My guess is that he also has questions.

If the two of you do decide to consider an open relationship, let me recommend Tristan Taormino's Opening Up.

I think he also needs help for what sounds like, at best, exhibitionism to non-consenting people (the concert incident) but that isn't the focus of your question, so.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:58 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I dunno. I read this and what I think is that your husband's real fetish is about transgression, and the primary focus of his transgression are the rules and expectations of his perfectly healthy, happy, loving, normal, totally functional marriage So, what I'm reading is that your husband gets off on stepping outside the bounds of his marriage and also might get off on maybe humiliating you a little bit, or preying in a way on your (supposed) naivete by maybe exposing it or giving the lie to it. I mean, I watch porn. My husband knows I watch porn. I don't leave anything on my laptop that I would care if someone other than me watched and I certainly wouldn't leave a little black and white thumbnail of myself jerking off anywhere, much less on my computer, much less in an obvious place my husband might see it and watch it. To me, that you "found this little thumbnail" on his computer means that he left a little thumbnail on his computer for you to find. I don't think there's a reason to be so careless unless your husband either wants to tell you something but doesn't know how to have the conversation, or part of what excites him is knowing that you're going to find this little video of him masturbating on his laptop. Or maybe it's a bit of both.

In any event, you come across as being supremely accommodating and nice, and perhaps a little deliberately so. Is it possible that it's a more comfortable stance for you to take than having a strong opinion about your sexual incompatibility with your husband? Is it better for you to adopt this attitude of, "well, go ahead, honey, do what you need to do, I'll just be over here not having the kind of sex I'd like to have because your sexuality sort of mystifies and maybe even repulses me a little?" I mean, you say his penis repulses you, in so many words. That's a lot for a partner to know and accept, isn't it? And we know these things about our partners. We know their opinions of us. And that's a lot for you to gloss over within yourself, is it not? That your husband's pierced genitals make you "queasy"?

I know this sounds very harsh but it seems like you both have normalized a situation in which you are not happy. It seems better and easier for both of you to have private lives surrounding your individual sexual needs than real intimacy of any sort with one another. I don't think that's so great, really. And you don't really either, I imagine, because you're here giving a lot of hints here and there around your main question about this little porn video your husband made of himself - like maybe he's gay, maybe he's sexually aggressive with strangers, maybe he's participating in on-line sexual scenarios, maybe you're "obsessed" with men other than your husband. All these things point to something much larger than whether or not you should just be cool and allow your husband his sexual outlet of little thumbnails of himself masturbating. You're already pretty accommodating of your husband's peccadillos, wouldn't you say? To me, not saying anything straightforward about this to him and, instead, allowing him to confess his transgression to you, tearfully, is maybe par for the course for you two. So....what exactly would be different about allowing him to have this little hobby on the side? It just seems like more of the same, and the same is making you suspicious and ill at ease and unhappy. So it seems obvious that this isn't what you should do at all.

You guys need to have a really painful, honest, no-holds-barred conversation about the essence of your marriage, who you are to each other, and what you want sexually from your life partner. Because it reads to me like you're his confessor, and maybe his perfect, virginal wife and mommy, and maybe he's somebody safe for you with whom you don't have to risk real intimacy, and maybe you don't really want that anymore. That is a pretty powerful realization, I think. I could be wrong; this is a pretty, in my opinion, knotty situation you should really pull apart with a professional. Good luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:06 PM on July 23, 2012 [35 favorites]

Marriage counseling, ASAP. You can approach this without judgment (if that's what you want to do), but there seems to be a lot of red flags about his sexual behavior, which may or may not be compatible with your relationship. It also seems like you are being super hard on yourself about your "subpar" sex life. It takes two to have a sexual relationship, and it sounds like neither of your needs are being met. You both deserve to have your sexual needs met. Satisfying physical intimacy is an important part of emotional intimacy and overall happiness. Again, I think the only way to parse this in a healthy way and reach a conclusion that makes sense to you requires counseling. Best of luck.
posted by katemcd at 11:03 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Your husband's genitals make you queasy. Even with the piercings removed you still notice the "wounds". If I heard nothing in this conversation but that, I would tell you to get to a counselor ASAP. You see something as damaged, maybe irreparably. And it may be. Find out now so you both can get happy sooner than later, together or separately.
posted by skypieces at 11:43 PM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

And wow, you do not trust him at all. It really seems like you think he's a liar, cheater, or even out flashing people non-consensually. That's a pretty significant lack of respect that you have for him, primarily revolving around his sexual desires.

Looking above, I see that the OP's husband has gone off and made out with other people at the parties, and already flashed people nonconsentually by exposing himself and trying to get oral sex from a random girl. I don't think that's a lack of trust, I think the trust is already irrevocably broken.

What do you do?

OP, I'd say to confront him about this, but it seems like he's already been engaging in bad, cheating-type behavior in your marriage and you've kind of made excuses for him before. I think you may need to examine yourself and ask why you're so okay with blaming yourself on this one? Why do you take all the blame for your lack of good sex life?

Even if you don't go to couples counseling, it might not be a bad idea for you to see someone.
posted by corb at 1:51 AM on July 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think the problem isn't the video. The video just makes you think about the real problem, which is your sex life. The sex life isn't "another" issue, it's the issue.

On his side, he has cheated, he has different sexual interests than you have, and his interest in sex with you is waning. On your side, you fantasize about others, don't like having sex with him, and don't find him attractive.

If he's made a video that's just for himself, what's the problem? Surely it's ok for him to masturbate. You think it's unlikely that he's made a video for the internet, so let's grant that. The other option is that he's made it for a specific person -- I find this likely.

So what's the problem with making a video for someone else? Well, you don't like sex with him, and he likes sex so he's looking for sex with someone else. See, the problem isn't the video, it's the sex life.

What if that's wrong, and the video is just for himself? It makes you feel bad because there's this whole area of his life that you know nothing about. It highlights the sex problem, and you two aren't really talking about the incompatibility. Again in this case, it's not the video.

Forget the video. Talk with him about your sexual incompatibility.

For yourself, try to fix the part of you that cannot find your husband attractive. I get the issue with piercings -- I don't find it attractive, either -- but you two are in love, right? (Right?) There are people with partners who have had really devastating things happen to their bodies post-wedding, and still they find them attractive because they love them. Can you learn to love his body as much as you love him?

If you can't, maybe because a piercing is a choice rather than a medical issue or mutilating accident, then would he be willing to leave this behind? Eventually it would heal up (or a doctor can stitch him up). Would he trade a piercing for blow-jobs? If yes, what can you offer that is also a significant or equivalent compromise toward the end of a better sex life?
posted by Houstonian at 4:39 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

No way around it, you're going to have to discuss it. Things are changing in your marriage, whether you like it or not. You can't bury your head in the sand.

He's how I'd broach the subject, "Sweetie, I was on the computer and I saw a video of you and I'm a bit bewildered about it. What's up with that."

See where that takes you. Clearly there's something sexual that your husband feels that he can't share with you. Does that trouble you? Do you think it should?

You can't know where this will go, but I think you ernestly need to ask your husband, "How do you feel about our sex life? I'm feeling vulnerable because I don't enjoy it as much as you do, and I'm concerned that you're looking outside of our marriage for fulfillment."

You need to know exactly what he's feeling and where you stand in the relationship, as it exists today.

It's not going to be easy, but it's going to be better than turning this around and around in your mind, and guessing at what's going on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

This gets said a lot here on Ask MetaFilter, that to the regulars it seems canned, but having just read The Ethical Slut myself, I think it's worth checking out.

I sense a lot of fear in you--hell, I feel fearful on your behalf--that pulling these threads and having a serious conversation with your DH could crater your marriage. I'm not at all saying you two should embrace polyamory (which the book is putatively about), but rather recognize that both of you are not getting something significant that you want from the relationship, and that acknowledging that doesn't necessarily have to be a cataclysm.
posted by philosophistry at 9:30 AM on July 25, 2012

I feel for you and understand your predicament.

Not entirely sure if this is any help. But a close friend of mine (male) found this kind of videos on the computer he shared with his girlfriend. She entirely stone-walled his attemps to discuss them. (The videos was of males masturbating, and the movies were intended for her personally apperently - ie not downloaded from pornsites).

They're not together anymore. He swears by that, had she been open to explain and discuss what she was looking for (needed), they might had a chance to work on their relationship.

Instead they ended 15+ years of (as far as I know) amicable relationship - not with a big bang, but with a black, silent, hole.

My friend has difficulties getting over the whole deal. He has not reached closure in a satisfactory way. He still has to second guess what she'd been up to, and has no idea what she lacked in their relation.

What ever way you chose to take this: Try to talk it out with your SO, get the issues on the table. It may hurt in the short term. But it will make the long-term life much easier.

End of anecdotal story.

Take care and live well. Feel free to mefimail if you want to.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 3:06 PM on July 25, 2012

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