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After nearly 30 years of marriage, I found out that early in our marriage, my husband went to strip clubs 1-2 times a week for a number of years, and after that occassionally with his brothers. He claimed it was to play pool, drink a beer, and relax after a hard days work. I feel very betrayed and angry that I have been lied to all these years. He knew I wouldnt approve of his going so he didnt tell me, so I wouldn't 'get hurt'. He said all men go, they just dont tell you, and that I should 'get over it'. He claims he never had a lap dance or had anything to do with 'those women'(after the 100s of times he had been there, right?). Through the years I found out about his magazines, calendars, etc. which he chose to hide from me as well(claiming I wasnt ok with porn so he never showed me, but he never gave me a chance to be-so how did I know he had or was doing anything like that? I do not agree that all men have outside porn in their life; I do believe that some have values and morals and appreciate their wife and marriage and just dont do it out of respect for them, and that if you want it in your life it should be enjoyed as a couple, not where one is sneaking around hiding it to make sure the other dont find out). He also in recent years was getting sex pict messages on his phone from his friends which I happen to run across answering the phone for him when he was in the other room. After all these years, I didnt think we had anything to hide, now I find out that he has hid everything, and there is probably much more that I dont know. He gets mad when I say something, saying its his past and let it go, but it was on my time, and I dont know if I should stay in the marriage now or not. He says if someone has a bachelor party he would go again, knowing how I feel, but that he wont go just for the heck of it anymore (although honestly he hid it well, and if he goes again I would never know). His hiding it all these years makes me feel that our whole life was a lie. And he has given himself permission to go again. I dont know how to leave, we have 5 kids and a stable environment, yet how do you stay with a man who dont respect you? And who has destroyed your trust? I do love him, but it will never be the same. And this from the guy who wouldnt let me join a gym all these years b/c I might meet someone. Heaven sake I take care of myself, right? He can go do all of that yet he dont want me looking good for other men to check out. And he said if I get an augmentation, we are thru, period. It's all about him. He can go do whatever he wants without 'reporting', yet he expects me to tell him where I'm going/doing. And there is not even a male strip club in our state, except for one for gays/transsexuals. Again, for men. So, its not like I can go check out men in their 'g strings' or whatever they wear anyways. This world seems so esqued(sp?)in the amount of female nudity that is allowed vs. males that its not even funny. Maybe if men did have to start taking their clothes off more, this world would change. I dont know why women dont demand it since men obviously are enjoying the flip side. But thats another topic...

Answer
Hello Ruthie - the marital issues you describe are...

1] grieving your loss of trust in your husband;

2] hurt that he would lie to you, and probably a need to accepot or forgive him;

3] loss of respect for him as a man and a partner (?), and...

4] loss of some marital security (?).

There may be deeper issues like inherited psychological wounds.

If he is willing to join you, you both can heal these with patient effort and honest communication. Here are some resources that can help:

http://sfhelp.org/cycle.htm

http://sfhelp.org/grief/qa.htm

http://sfhelp.org/relate/keys/trust.htm

http://sfhelp.org/relate/keys/respect.htm

http://sfhelp.org/relate/boundaries.htm

http://sfhelp.org/cx/skills/ps.htm

It might be prudent to seek the help of a veteran marital therapist to help you both resolve these issues for your and your kids' sakes. Your choice is to see this rupture as a "problem" or an opportunity to heal and strengthen your marriage and family...

If you have other questions, please ask!  

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Peter Gerlach, MSW

Expertise

I can answer questions about choosing a mate wisely, marital communications and problem solving, affairs, same-gender relationships, trust, respect, bonding and intimicy, values differences, boundary problems, grieving, dealing with ex mates, parents, and in-laws, remarriage, separation, divorce, abuse, feeling unloved, codependence, psychological wounds, money disputes, balancing kids, careers, and marital primacy, etc. I cannot answer legal or medical questions

Experience

I've been a professional family-systems therapist in private practice for 33 years. I have specialized in helping people avoid and adapt to divorce, and manage remarriage ans stepfamilies, since 1979. I've studied and taught classes in interpersonal communication for over 40 years, and have presented over 200 seminars on a wide range of human-relationswhip topics to Chicago-area churches, schools, menyal-health agencies, and businesses, and have been featured on Chicago and national radio and TV. I have been married and divorced. I now believe all marital and family problems are caused by five little-known factors - see http://sfhelp.org/hazatrds. This forms the basis of my work as therapist and educator.

Organizations
I now answer "AllExpert.com" questions on stepparenting, communication, and counseling. I belong to "SelfGrowth.com, "Death with Dignity," "Compassion and Choices," and to the online Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) at http://acestudy.org/

Publications
I've published over 200 free Internet articles on childhood-trauma recovery and wholistic health, communication skills, healthy grieving, human relationships (including marriage and divorce), family health, effective parenting, and managing a stepfamily). These articles are in the form of seven free self-improvement lessons (http://sfhelp.org). These articles are augmented by 168 YouTube videos ("gercacn" channel); I've published a book on childhood-trauma recovery ("Who's *REALLY Running Your Life?"), and other books on interpersonal communicactioin skills ("Satisfactions"), remarriage ("The Remarriage Book"), "Stepfamily Courtship", and "Stepfamily Co-parenting" All published by Xlibris.com.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from Stanford University (1959); Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) from George Williams college (1981); hundreds of hours of post-grad trainng from Northwestern U. the University of Chicago, et. al. in a wide range of human-relationship topics.

Awards and Honors
The state of Illinois licensed me to practice clinical social work in 1981. I was selected twice to serve on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA), and am currently on the Stepfamily-expert panel at Auburn University; I was the Board chairman at a major public mental-health agency in suburban chicago, and was the chairman of the Parent Relations Council for a major suburban High School. I currently have over 500 subscibers on YouTube since I began uploading educational videos in May, 2011.

Past/Present Clients
I've worked with over 1,000 men; women; dating, merried, remarried, divorcing, and redivorcing couples; and whole families. I'm currently 74, semi-retired, and disabled, and I do therapy with people and couples by phone and Internet (Skype).

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