What to do when your spouse has unacceptable activities
Punita asks: This is my second marriage, and I am going through a bad situation. My husband is a video game addict and smokes at home, and we have fights often. Today I found he had plans to meet a sex worker, and I’m sure this isn’t the first time. What should I do? I am broken. I haven’t worked the past 4 months. I am searching for a job. I have no savings. I really don’t know what to do or whom to tell, as my mother won’t be supporting me if I break this marriage – as this is my second marriage and I chose the guy.
Hi Punita –
As you well know, no marriage is easy or perfect. Even my relationship with my human friend Handsome has some tough moments, and it’s easier than any relationship between two people could ever be (I find people and dogs to be far more accepting of each other’s flaws than either is with their own kind!). But you’re in a particularly tough situation. You clearly are saying you’d like to get out of this, or at least to be able to, but find yourself unable because of your jobless status and a lack of support from your mother.
So the giant question then is whether or not you can actually improve things. Or, rather, whether your husband will allow things to improve.
You list three problems. First, the smoking. Of course that’s not only irritating but physically dangerous for you. And do you two have children? If so it’s particularly bad for them (and for dogs and cats too!). I know smoking is a very hard addiction to break, but if you could just get him to be willing to go outdoors when he wants to smoke, that would improve your home in a gigantic way.
Second, the video game addiction. This is a very common problem today, and one where, unlike addictions to drugs or alcohol, it’s usually not necessary for the addict to completely eliminate the “substance” from their life, but just to give themselves limits. Such as a person cutting themselves off from the games after two hours a day, or something like that.
The problem for you, just as it would be if your husband were a drug addict, is that the only way for him to agree to this change is for him to admit he has a problem. Does he? Does he agree he plays too much, or gets too involved in the games? Or does he think what he’s doing is normal and healthy and that you’re crazy to be concerned?! If it’s one of the former answers, this is very fixable. But if it’s the last one, there’s not so much you can do for now.
Then there’s the sex worker. Okay, is he at least admitting that that is some sort of problem? Even if he denies your suspicion that he’s done this before?
If he’s not admitting any of these are problems, then yes, I agree, you should be looking at getting a job that will give you some choices in life. But if he’s admitting any of them, then that gives you two a chance to work on things.
And here’s my big wish – if so, is it possible for you two to go into some sort of couples counseling? A therapist would be great, but if you’re in a religious organization they’ll usually have someone qualified who can help too.
The biggest question is Does He Want To Improve Things. If so, the possibilities are endless. If not, it makes everything far more difficult.
If I can help in any way, please let me know.
Thanks, and all my very best wishes,