Originally appeared at GoLocalProv.com.
I’m surprised you don’t get or print more letters on the subject of pornography, which has gone from something relatively rare and seedy to as common as the nearest computer, iPad, iPhone, etc. I am a married middle-aged woman, and I don’t have a single friend for whom pornography viewing, either by a husband, son, or even father, has not been at least a minor issue.
In my own marriage, I have tried to deal with it with an open mind and open communication with my husband. I think I need a new approach, though. In order to satisfy his desire for visual stimulation, my husband and I decided to try making videos of our own lovemaking. While this seemed preferable to watching random strangers having sex, his fixation with our videos seems just as detrimental to our relationship, or at least the sexual side of it. My husband watches these videos a lot – I’m not sure what amount of viewing I would consider “average,” but it would be a lot less than he watches them. What’s worse, he insists on having them on while we’re being intimate, and he pays way more attention to them than he does to me. When I suggest leaving the TV off, he says okay, but he ends up seeming less enthusiastic. More like going through the motions.
Was this experiment a mistake? I have to admit I regret it. This didn’t really work out, so where do we go from here?
I’m Here, Not There
Dear Here, Not There,
I agree that the emergence of pornography into mainstream culture is one of the more interesting sociological changes our society has undergone recently. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with enjoying watching others engaged in sex, but it seems like so much pornography continues to be created for angry, sad men who don’t like or are threatened by women. (The men I know who do like porn seem like they’d be ready for erotica that’s a bit more evolved. We’ll see if the porn industry catches up, but frankly, I’m not very optimistic.)
As you can attest, though, even a mature approach to porn viewing has its pitfalls. For what it’s worth, I think the way you and your husband handled this situation was imaginative, respectful and well worth a try. It does sound as if he’s a bit fixated on the voyeuristic aspect of it, though. I think there’s a lot here for you to talk about with a therapist who specializes in sexual issues. Considering your openness to working on this part of your relationship, I think there’s an excellent chance that this part of your marriage will end up better than it’s ever been.
I’m a reader on the back nine of middle age. My wife passed away many years ago after a wonderful but too-brief time together. I haven’t really dated anyone seriously since then because, to be honest, I haven’t met anyone I wanted to. I’ve become quite friendly with my next-door neighbor, and she will occasionally try to set me up with a friend, a friend’s sister, and so on, but I always say no with some half-baked excuse. This last time, though, she seemed less willing than usual to accept my brush-off of her suggestion, but I could never tell her the real reason I’m not interested: I said I’ve become quite friendly with her, but what I meant was I’ve kind of fallen in love with her.
Like me, she has adult kids who are off with lives of their own, and like me, she seems kind of lonely. Unlike me, though, she HAS a spouse. But their marriage is an unhappy one—well, maybe not UNhappy, but not happy, either. In a rut the husband is completely unwilling to climb out of. I don’t know him well and have nothing against him, but I’ve fallen in love with his wife. I guess my question is, do I confess this to her? I have no idea how she’d take it—sometimes I think I see a sign that she would be receptive, but then I think nah, I’m just kidding myself. I don’t want to have a fling with her; I want us to be together. Is it crazy to let all that out? What’s the worst that could happen?
Love Thy Neighbor
Dear Love Thy Neighbor,
I don’t think it’s crazy to tell her how you feel, but it could be quite costly. Whether it’s worth the cost is your call to make.
Children are the big complicating factor in situations like yours. If either of you had kids living at home, I’d say their emotional well-being has to be considered. But since that’s not the case, there’s nothing wrong with laying it on the line and seeing what happens. The worst that could happen? She doesn’t share your feelings (or she does but is unwilling to break up her marriage) and you lose a friend and confidante and gain a hostile husband on the other side of the back yard fence. It’s questionable, though, whether that would be worse than wondering, “What if … ?” for the rest of your life.
My husband recently came home with a tattoo – okay, so he’s a little behind the curve, trend-wise. It’s fine—small, no skulls or devils, and not visible when he’s dressed for work. (It’s on his shoulder.) The thing is, I didn’t know he was going to do this. I’m not mad, but it has led to a friendly and continuing debate over whether we should have talked about it first. He claims to be “surprised” that a woman who is adamant about women’s autonomy over their own bodies would deny her husband the same autonomy over his. (I don’t think he’s surprised at all—I think he knew exactly where this would lead.) Like I said, it has all been good-natured, but I do think we should have discussed it. Your thoughts?
I think he should have at least mentioned it to you. And I think had he done so, you should have said, “If that’s what you want honey. Would you like me to go with you?” While I believe you when you say this has all been good natured, it does strike me as having a challenging or button-pushing aspect to it. What’s all the talk about autonomy? No one’s saying he didn’t have a right to get a tattoo, but marriage is every day for a (hopefully) long time. Small considerations go a long way. In my opinion, he should have made sure you were cool with it, and in the absence of any skulls or devils, you should have been.
Photo credit: Flickr / amslerPIX