Caught in Undercover Sting
Q: My husband and I have been married more than 20 years and have three children under the age of 12. Just recently, my husband was caught in a sting soliciting an undercover police officer for oral sex. I had no idea my husband was going outside of the marriage for sex. He stated it was his fantasy to have oral sex with a stranger. He picked up the prostitutes on the street on his day off. He eventually admitted to me that he had oral sex performed by female prostitutes twice a month for the last three months. He was locked up overnight and his car was impounded. He claims he is sorry he hurt me, that it was a fantasy he didn't expect me to ever find out about. He claims his night in jail has scared him straight. How concerned should I be that he will repeat this behavior once his memories from his lock-up wear off? What other things should I be concerned about? Should I leave him? -- Abby, 43
Dr. Susan: With your long marital history and your three young children, you need to consider very carefully before thinking of leaving your husband. Whether or not he will repeat his illegal and unfaithful behavior is hard to say. Sometimes being caught and locked up and being exposed to his wife does truly scare a man straight, for keeps. Those very shaming memories won't be leaving him any time soon. Most important right now, though, is for the two of you to get your relationship back on an even keel. If you find it hard to talk openly about your sex life, or if he can't or won't do so, perhaps some therapy would be helpful in opening you both up. The fact is that we're all entitled to our fantasies, but acting them out is another story entirely. It might be wise for you to be as understanding of his needs and desires as you possibly can, without accepting his behavior as legitimate. Once your emotions and sense of betrayal cool down a bit, you may be able to help your husband find ways of livening up your intimate life in a way that is satisfying and thrilling to both of you. Meanwhile, he will need to re-earn your trust. You should both expect that to take as long as a couple of years.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.