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DEAR ABBY: Wife's ability to trust her husband takes a hit

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in our early 70s. We have been married seven years. I was celibate before we met and thrilled to have a partner I respected and was attracted to. Our sex life seemed normal and exciting with lots of kisses and hugs throughout the day.

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Recently, I caught him on a phone sex call and then discovered he visits sex chat rooms. I’m devastated. I feel betrayed and angry that my trust has been violated. After several attempts to lie, he finally admitted the truth, but said it was a “recent” thing — which was even more insulting!

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My therapist says men don’t suddenly take up phone sex and pornography in their 70s. When I shared that with my husband, he revealed it wasn’t “as often” in the past. He swears he loves me and will get help, but I can’t imagine how I can trust him again.

He doesn’t seem to want to talk about it any further, other than taking some online classes dealing with porn addiction. Our relationship has always been cordial and friendly and that continues, though I’m no longer willing to have sex at this time. My impulse is to bolt. I’m too old to deal with this nonsense, and I just want to live the rest of my life in peace. What do you think? — THROWN IN KANSAS

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DEAR THROWN: Please ignore your impulse to bolt. When you started your letter, you stated you had a good marriage to a man you respect and are attracted to — with the bonus of kisses and hugs throughout the day. Your husband isn’t having physical contact with anyone on the “hotline.”

If your therapist hasn’t told you, many thousands of individuals of both sexes consider porn to be erotica and helpful, and many couples use it to enhance their sex lives. Rather than sacrifice what has been a successful marriage, you and your husband would be better off scheduling some appointments with a marriage and family therapist, and possibly one who specializes in sex therapy to help you overcome your emotional issue on this highly personal subject.

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DEAR ABBY: My former husband of 28 years cheated on me for the last 15 years of our marriage. For the last six years, I have been in a healthy and happy relationship. I went to counselling for five years and, per the counsellor, I don’t need to go anymore.

My 36-year-old daughter wants me to attend family gatherings with my ex and his wife (his third mistress). I have gone to two of them, but I really have no desire to do it any longer. My daughter is telling me I still have “issues that I need to heal” and has been lecturing me about this for years. Must I sacrifice my feelings for hers? — CLEAN BREAK IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR CLEAN BREAK: No, you have suffered enough. I see no reason why you must continue to expose yourself to the company of two people you neither like nor respect. If your daughter cannot accept this, then perhaps SHE needs counselling to understand it.

— Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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