Ask Dr. Schwartz
Ask Dr. Schwartz
Psychotherapy and Mental Health questions

Sexual issues with husband

Last night, my husband and I were talking about the possibility of separation. We have been having sexual issues and I need some advice as to what to do because I am exhausted trying to figure this out. The issues are twofold. First, I am a survivor of incest (my father throughout most of my childhood until 14) and sexual assault as a teenager. Currently, I have restarted therapy in dealing with these issues. The other issues have to do with the role pornography and sexual fantasies have played in our relationship. When we first started dating, my husband had thousands of nude pictures of women which he looked at for hours on a daily basis. He told me that doing this and masturbating was more arousing and exciting than our sexual relationship. He spent more time and had more interest in doing that. He also told me that he constantly fantasizes about other women from his life both when we are together and when he is unable to look at pornographic pictures of women. I responded by trying to participate in his fantasies and porn with him. However, I found that to be nothing more than me acting like an aid for his masturbation and I started to feel used. Eventually this issue became very upsetting so I told him that I wanted him to choose porn over me which he did. Begrudgingly, he deleted his picture collection after acknowledging how much it was hurting our relationship. However, he told me that if he was to do this, he would need me to be sexually available to him whenever he needed me to. I agreed, but ended up feeling very used again. I'm not sure I made the right decision when asking him to give up his pictures. Since then he's gone back to masturbating to pictures of naked women a few times telling me that I am not fulfilling or exciting enough. A few months ago, he told me that he was wrong for doing this and for telling me that I should have sex with him whenever he wants. However, my self esteem has dropped dramatically and I am having big trust issues that I am who he really wants to be with in a sexual way. Since all of this has happened, I have not wanted to have sex very often. I used to enjoy being sexual almost daily. As a survivor, I find myself struggling to figure out what is healthy sexually. I'm not sure if I am being too close-minded about the pictures that he likes or if I am being too sensitive by feeling used. I am having difficulty with depression, crying all the time and having trouble going on dates in public with my husband because I am wondering if he is having sexual fantasies about the people around us. I have told him about my feelings and he gets frustrated with me, but especially if my emotional reactions seem to be extreme and out of nowhere like breaking down crying uncontrollably while we are trying to have sex. I would like to make things better between us and for myself but I am not quite sure how to go about it. Sorry this is so long, but I would greatly appreciate any advice. Thank you.



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