My Husband Is Obsessed with Other Men
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can wreck havoc on a marriage.
Posted Sep 29, 2013
"He reads articles online about how big one finger on his hand is compared to another, and these 'finger length studies' have proven that he is gay even though the thought of being with a man disgusts him. Last night when we were intimate with each other he stopped in the middle of it. He said that he was imagining men in his head to see if his erection would go away, and it didn’t. I don’t think that he is gay, but either way it is damaging our relationship, and I don’t know what to do! How can I convince him that he is not gay, and that he really has OCD?” - A woman married to a man with OCD
Sexual orientation OCD: An obsession that can ruin a marriage
Anyone who is married knows that a long-term commitment comes with a price. For example, your spouse may forget to take out the garbage, put the dishes away improperly, or even snore for hours through the night. You may even be at a point in your marriage where you are asking yourself, “How could this get any worse.” In addition to the usual challenges in your marriage, imagine if your husband was obsessed with other men!
“I am to the point to where I don’t know what to believe anymore. I switch back and forth between gay and straight porn to see which one causes an erection. About 15 times a day I bend over and kiss a pillow just to check and see if I enjoy it. Oftentimes if I see a man and woman walking down the street I will look both of them up and down, and I will check with my hand to see if I moved down south. I freak out at the thought of having a sexual relationship with a guy, but I worry that I’m truly gay and I will have to choose that route one day. This problem has ruined my last several relationships with women because of the stress of dealing with me and my obsessions ... I literally can’t take it anymore!” – A man with SO-OCD
Supporting the spouse with sexual obsessions
What can you do to help? As a spouse there are things that you should and shouldn’t do because they can make the obsessions worse. The wife at the beginning of this article asked, “How can I convince him that he is not gay and has OCD?” It is common for someone with SO-OCD to ask for reassurance to see if others think they are LGBTQ, but telling them they are straight is not effective and it may even cause the obsessions to get worse.
Here are some tips to help your spouse with SO-OCD:
- Read as much as you can about the disorder so that you can understand your spouse and their obsessions
- Log into online forums and read what others with SO-OCD are struggling with so that you can learn to be more empathetic for your spouse (ex. www.ocdtypes.com)
- Let them know that with the right treatment a majority of individuals with OCD will have a decrease in symptoms
- Tag along and be supportive if your spouse decides to see a therapist
- Attend a conference hosted by the International OCD Foundation
- Join a local OCD support group and gain a network of support from individuals with the same condition
Providing support for your spouse with SO-OCD may be tough but it is important to continue loving your spouse. If your husband has this condition, regardless of how many times he asks for reassurance or tells you a story that “proves” that he "may be gay," make it your responsibility to love him by being patient. Remember why you got married in the first place and continue to work toward a healthy relationship with each other.
by Nicholas Bach, B.A., and Monnica Williams, Ph.D.
Wegner, D. M. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101, 34-52.
Williams, M. (2008). Homosexuality Anxiety: A Misunderstood Form of OCD. In L. V. Sebeki (ed), Leading-Edge Health Education Issues, Nova Publishers.
Williams, M. T., Crozier, M., & Powers, M. B. (2011). Treatment of Sexual Orientation Obsessions in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder using Exposure and Ritual Prevention. Clinical Case Studies, 10, 53-66.
Williams, M. T., & Farris, S. G. (2011). Sexual Orientation Obsessions in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Prevalence and Correlates. Psychiatry Research, 187, 156-159.