By Hara Estroff Marano, published on December 7, 2005 - last reviewed on December 9, 2005
I have been with my husband for five and a half years, married for two and a half. I am 40 and he is 27. We had a great, wonderful sex life until our first child was born. He is three now. However, when he was born six months later I found out that my husband had a profile and was on a dating website and looking at lots of porn. I was very hurt by this, just having a baby and not being back to my weight. I am good looking and look young for my age, he looks older than he is and people say we look great together, they are shocked to know our age difference. But, it still bothers me even more that my husband has resorted to this. He told me he would never do it again. However, he's done it two more times. As far as I know it's been six months and he hasn't done it anymore. My question to you is WHY? Would you consider this cheating? Is he just not getting satisfied, or is he no longer happy with me? HELP.
Thanks for addressing the questions, but the person you should be asking is your husband. You are so sensitive about the age difference that you overreact to every action on his part as an actual or potential sign of rejection. Not to condone it, but it is a fact that a great many men in even healthy relationships look at Internet porn — probably because it's there; the threshold is very low. Dating websites — that's a whole other matter. Unfortunately you wind up feeling so threatened you launch into emotional crisis mode, which is no way to think a situation through clearly and deal with it in a constructive way. What you need to do is gather information in a helpful way, and your husband is in a good position to provide it. It may be that your husband is looking outside your marriage simply because he misses the attention he used to get before the baby arrived. I suggest that you and he set aside time to sit down and have a conversation, but you have to approach him positively and not accusingly or hyperemotionally; that will only drive him into denial or defensiveness, and that will make you more distressed. For starters, you can begin by telling him how much you care about him and enjoy being with him. And that you want to satisfy him (and vice versa) in every way. Then ask him what you can do to maintain his interest. You can ask him whether he feels satisfied, and what would it take for him to feel satisfied. It's your job also to tell him what you need to feel satisfied in the relationship. These are issues that couples have to negotiate at every stage of their relationship. Having a baby can change the dynamic in a relationship so that a husband can feel emotionally or sexually shut out. You don't resolve the problem by crying or making demands; you need to find out what each of you needs to feel loved. Ask each other openly what's missing, and decide on a plan that includes how to get into the relationship what your husband is now looking for outside it.