What bothers me is that over all the years of our marriage, I have told him that porn use hurts me and offends me. He has told me that what he looks at is not my business. It also bothers me that he is hiding something from me. He accuses me of snooping and refuses to talk to me about it. We have a good sex life, but sometimes I do withhold from him because I feel that is one way I can punish him for looking at porn when he knows it hurts me.
I know that I can't control what he looks at, but I wish that he would respect me enough not to look at it. Is this my problem or his?
Answer: So what if he uses porn, you withhold sex to punish him, and he uses porn to punish you for withholding? The mandala of marital misery.
Here are the facts you have at your disposal now:
(1) Marriage does not fix problems or change who someone is.
(2) There's no simplistic, zero-sum relationship between porn use and sex. Sometimes having ready access to one of them will diminish one's interest in the other, but plenty of people are happy to indulge in both (or neither).
(3) You have accrued 28-plus years of proof that your husband will not stop using porn. You and he can make it a matter of morality, of sex, of respect, of trust, of communication, of technology, of feelings, of privacy, of control, of the weight ratios of birds carrying coconuts, and he will not stop using porn.
These facts narrow your choices down to two: marriage with porn, or divorce.
Should you choose to remain married, I urge you to stop ferreting out his smut from his various hiding places. You know it's there, you know it offends you, you know you can't make it go away, so why not also know that you accomplish nothing with your purges except to singe your retinas and renew your outrage?
It's not denial I suggest, but informed distance. Whether you keep your husband's stash at arm's length or at a different address from yours, that's up to you.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.