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Weird grey area - and general dismissal

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SeriouslyLost posted 7/26/2014 13:32 PM

I am new here and not sure if I even belong here in many people's eyes. Sorry for the length. Too tired to edit.

Background: My husband of eight years has been a (presumably) faithful spouse, a good husband, a good father and a good provider. Early in our marriage we had a disagreement about "sneaky" contact with an ex girlfriend who was quite clear that she wanted him back. I made it clear that wasn't okay although she continued to periodically contact him until he sent a very clear no contact email. As far as I know, that was the end of that although the secret lunches and calls before hand had already damaged trust to a degree. But I do not believe anything intimate happened between them.

We had also had conversations about strip clubs even before we married, and I made it clear that anything beyond looking was infidelity in my book. I know for a fact (Trigger) that many places in certain cities allow very intense physucal contact. I don't want to upset anyone by going into details but it does involves bare breasts, mouths, genitals, etc. DH agreed to avoid strip clubs to avoid any drama in the event his "buddies" attempted to coerce him with dances. He admitted he would have trouble turning down a "dance" purchased for him. He is also clear why I am not okay and agrees that he could not accept it if the roles were reversed

Fast forward to last week. We were in San Francisco and I left a couple days early to get back to our three young children. I found out a few days later (while installing his email on a new phone) that he has visited a strip club after I left. Not only did he go, he went BY HIMSELF for almost five hours and, by his own admission, had multiple lap dances until the place closed. He claims he was drunk and it "just happened".

I know some women are okay with these activities, but I am not and he knew and agreed to it. I consider it a physical infidelity. He knows it's serious, acts very remorseful, suggested marriage counseling and wants to make amends. He claims it's first time he's gone since we've been married.

I am bouncing all over the place. I go from anger to sadness to severe anxiety (thank a God for Xanax) to numbness. I don't feel like I can talk to friends because they will either say to kick him out, or that I'm just overreacting. At times I even feel myself that I am being dramatic, but it doesn't make my feelings any less real.

And even if I can "put it behind me", how can I trust him? How do I know that's all that's happened, or that it won't happen again. He seriously offered to wear an ankle monitor and I was just, "Like you can't screw someone with a bracelet monitor on?" I need to trust him again.

I NEED to find a balance in my response and feelings. The bouncing around is killing me. We are looking for a marriage counselor but what do I do until then? I can't even bring myself to kiss him good night because who knows where that mouth has been. Suggestions?

Sorry again for the length of post.

wk55hn posted 7/26/2014 13:50 PM

Your husband has all of the answers. This didn't "just happen." The reason he did it is because he enjoys it and he thought you wouldn't find out. May or may not be the first time he's done it. Apparently this is something that has been a problem of his since before you got married. My observation of other guys who like this is that it has nothing to do with their wives. Many guys I've known who enjoy this are getting all of the sex they want at home.

I have never liked strip clubs. The thought that a woman only is smiling/dancing/sitting on my lap/worse ONLY because I am handing her green paper is a real turnoff to me.

Anyway, my advice is to get to the bottom of why your husband enjoys this so much. What is he getting out of it? Why this and not hiring a prostitute? Why not dirty-talking online?

Why is he willing to do this and risk your marriage when he knows there is no future in it?

Why do you think he did what he did?

Aside from the strip club stuff and the ex-girlfriend stuff, what type of guy is he? Does he lie about other things to avoid conflict? Is he selfish?

Tearsoflove posted 7/26/2014 14:07 PM

He claims it's first time he's gone since we've been married.

I doubt that. First time he got caught is more likely. Would he have told you about it on his own? Nope.

Further, how do you just happen into a strip club? That's got to be the most idiotic use of "it just happened" I've ever heard.

"I was drunk and wandering around and I stumbled into a doorway. I didn't even realize it was a strip club. Then, while I was there, money just happened to fall out of my hands into some half-naked stripper's hands. Before I knew it she just happened to climb into my lap. This just happened several more times. I'm still confused because I didn't even plan on going to a strip club."

Please. I can't stop rolling my eyes.

confused615 posted 7/26/2014 14:11 PM

I think some people would be surprised by what really goes on in strip clubs. But not here. We have many members who have a wayward husband who cheated in strip clubs.

Please get tested for STD's. Even if he says there wasn't any contact. Five hours in a strip club is way more than drinking and watching whores.

I would make one of your R requirements to be absolutely no more alcohol. Apparently he can't control himself when he is drinking.

If you know the name of the club, you can google it and look at the reviews. Be prepared.

You cant just put it behind you. He needs to be honest, first and foremost. Then he needs to go to IC, and he has a lot of work to do on himself.

What is he doing to be a safe person for you? How is he trying to show he is trustworthy?

[This message edited by confused615 at 2:12 PM, July 26th (Saturday)]

Gotmegood posted 7/26/2014 15:36 PM

Oh I think you belong here......sadly. First of all, it doesn't matter what other people accept in their relationships. YOU have a problem with 'strip clubs', and YOU made that clear to YOUR husband, because YOU know what really happens in those places. Your husband has deceived you, lied to you, been sneaky in a way to obtain some sort of sexual stimulation without you or your knowledge. This is not admirable behavior, nor healthy for your marriage....and he knew what your feelings were. These indiscretions are no 'gray area' to me.
He is now, as is commonly done by cheating spouses, minimizing and attempting to justify his behavior and choices. Let's look at it realistically and truthfully: He waited until you left SF to entertain himself at a 'strip club'. Purposefully deceptive and sneaky. He 'just happened' to go to a 'strip club' in a strange city? Bullshit. He wanted to see whores, he looked up the address of the 'gentle men's club' ( a euphemism that sickens me it's so laughable), he directed a cab to take him there, he was not under the influence of 'roofies', he had control of his motions and his wallet all 5 hours of his night out. He was not coerced by his buddies, this was his own decision. I believe he needs to do a bit of self analysis, preferably with a professional counsellor to figure out why paying to watch whores, allow whores to rub their breasts on his face, encourage whores to grind their vaginas on his penis while his clothes are still on, or whatever else occurred in the 5 hours he spent there, and why he wanted to do that to himself and ultimately (upon getting busted), to you.

SeriouslyLost posted 7/26/2014 18:19 PM

Thank you for all the responses. It really is helpful to have my feelings validated. Sorry for the delay in responding. Today has been my first day without childcare responsibilities and I basically passed out all afternoon from exhaustion. I haven't been sleeping well.

Aside from this incident, my husband is a mostly honest and upstanding person. (He has, on occasion, lied about loaning large sums of money to family or friends.) He works hard in an executive position, he calls when he's on his way home, he is dependable.

For the most part, he does fine with alcohol. But there are instances in which he overreaches. It seems to be when he is in a particularly jovial or upbeat mood. In this case, he'd just received positive feedback from a new position that would be a big step up for his career. It's like he gets "King of the World" syndrome. He's told me that when he was younger, he would on a rare occasion become an angry drunk but I haven't seem that in our almost nine years of marriage. His binges are not all the frequent, but when they happen, they are intense. (I once found him in a ship casino at 5am still in his tuxedo with $10,000 in chips in front of him. That night he wet the bed, has no memory of getting back to our cabin and was sick for three days.)

After this recent strip club incident, one of the first things he said was that he should stop drinking. I suppose he is right, but that makes me sad, too. One of the things we enjoy together is good wine with dinner and the occasional trip to Napa. If we refrain from wine, it will be a weekly reminder of what happened. But to suggest he only drink with me seems controlling and strange.

As for the strip club thing, I believe that he has a bit of the "Modonna and the Whore" complex. I think he believes "good" women have to be treated in a certain way sexually, and that raunchier activities should be reserved for the "Whores" of the world. It honestly makes for a rather dull sex life if the truth be told. Overall, he's not really all that sexual a person. I think he enjoys the idea of the women being aggressive and taking the initiative, even if he's paying for it.

I have done plenty of googling and I know exactly what happens in strip clubs in that area, and in that club in particular. We used to live in Texas and they also have very "liberal" policies. I asked my husband questions and he admits things happened that he knows I would consider off limits. He denies there was sex, oral or otherwise, or masturbation. But certainly there was a lot of physical contact. I am a person who needs details but am waiting to have a therapist present to push that, and help me process it.

Because he has been dishonest about some things to avoid conflict (the contact with the ex years ago, and the loaning of money), I've tended to keep occasional, random track of what he's doing. Just a quick glimpse through his phones, email, etc. that's how I know about the loans. I haven't brought that up because I don't care that much, and have wanted to keep my avenues of observation open. I've never seen anything else suggestive of inappropriate sexual behavior. While that doesn't mean it hasn't happened, it does lend credence to his claims.

Since this incident I've been tracking him pretty nonstop through his iPhone (which I don't think he knows I can do.) His iPhone record also showed me exactly how long he was at the strip club. He has been truthful about his whereabouts so far.

As for what happened that night, he and coworkers drank beer on a bus (co-ed work function) and had dinner at a restaurant. He and a few off the guys broke off to go to a bar after dinner. Then he decided to go to a strip club. He apparently invited the other guys but they declined. He googled strip bars, found one within walking distance and went there by himself. (this google search was what prompted me to investigate.) when the club closed, he took a cab back to his hotel. The iPhone location services supports this story.

He does show regret for what happened. He has of offered to do "whatever it takes" to "get me back". He has cried and told me how sorry he is that he hurt me and that he wishes he could take it back. I want a therapist involved because I want an objective person to provide input into appropriate avenues to regain trust. I don't want to be a controlling shrew. And I have three small children to take care of. I don't want a fourth. I also do not know how long his "remorse" will last when I do not quickly "spring back" and put it all behind us.

I have been opening mail and plan to continue to do so. I plan to ask for all of the passwords for all of the banking and financial accounts - I never felt a need before.

If I felt this were the only incident, it is something I think we could get through, although it would take some work. But I do not know how to restore enough trust for me 1) to believe this is the only incident of infidelity and 2) to trust it won't happen again. I am currently disgusted by him and sad for the loss of someone I considered my best friend.

Anyway. I've tried to answer questions, Sorry, this is once again long and disjointed. But it's pretty indicative of my emotional state.

Branca posted 7/26/2014 21:59 PM


wk55hn posted 7/27/2014 02:05 AM

After this recent strip club incident, one of the first things he said was that he should stop drinking. I suppose he is right, but that makes me sad, too. One of the things we enjoy together is good wine with dinner and the occasional trip to Napa. If we refrain from wine, it will be a weekly reminder of what happened. But to suggest he only drink with me seems controlling and strange.

Alcohol impairs judgment and increases libido. It's probably best if he drinks only with you. He suggested quitting altogether, so I don't see how it's controlling to tell him it's ok to drink only with you instead of quitting altogether. Strange depends on what you're used to. It's not strange to only have sex with your spouse, it can be just as "not strange" to only have a drink with your spouse. If that makes you sad, I guarantee you will be a lot sadder if he gets drunk and sleeps with a stripper. You've given several examples of him not handling his alcohol. Most grownups don't have that many problems with alcohol. I think him only drinking with you is a good idea.

As for the strip club thing, I believe that he has a bit of the "Modonna and the Whore" complex. I think he believes "good" women have to be treated in a certain way sexually, and that raunchier activities should be reserved for the "Whores" of the world. It honestly makes for a rather dull sex life if the truth be told. Overall, he's not really all that sexual a person. I think he enjoys the idea of the women being aggressive and taking the initiative, even if he's paying for it.

The strip club thing shouldn't be guesswork, you should ask him directly why he likes it.

If your sex is dull, you have to speak up. He is not a mind reader. Communication makes for a better sex life.

Your husband has a problem telling you things you don't want to hear. That could be because he loves you and doesn't want to disappoint you, because he is afraid of your reaction, or because he knows what he is doing is wrong. Or maybe all three at different times. This is something that he should work on with you.

NeverAgain2013 posted 7/27/2014 06:07 AM

Please stop letting him use drinking as an excuse for his crap behavior.

In order to START the drinking that he wants so BADLY to blame for all his bad choices, he had to search on the internet to FIND a strip club. Then he made the conscious choice to WALK to the bar - quite an amazing feat for someone who was too drunk to make his own choices, isn't it? He chose to walk into the place, he found a spot and sat there for many hours.

Those were all HIS actions.

It wasn't DRINKING that caused his decision to go the strip bar. It wasn't DRINKING that made him search for a strip club and then walk there. It wasn't DRINKING that made him walk into the strip club and pull up a chair.

It's utterly ridiculous that he's trying to blame all his behavior on alcohol.

He knew EXACTLY what he was doing and I'd bet my right arm this isn't his first time doing it.

It's just the first time you've CAUGHT him doing it.

Big difference.

In the beginning of your post you claim he's been a faithful spouse (presumably) and a good husband, but the truth is, you've caught him crossing boundaries and doing inappropriate things - starting off with a secret little 'friendship' you caught him having with his exGF right after you got married. So it's pretty clear that he doesn't seem to have the same outlook on loyalty and fidelity that you do. That was your first red flag.

I just think he's become much better at hiding his crap and this time, he got sloppy and you caught him. So now, he's going to try to use drinking as his excuse for his bad behavior. What a crock of bullshit.

It's ludicrous to blame drinking for his CHOICE to go to a strip club the minute the cat was away.

[This message edited by NeverAgain2013 at 6:14 AM, July 27th (Sunday)]

ChangeMaker posted 7/27/2014 08:24 AM

I have never really liked strip clubs either. I just don't get it. There is not thrill for me whatsoever.

I have a friend who likes to go to strip clubs though, because he is very social and personable. He finds that he can go to a strip club and flirt with all the girls without worrying about any misunderstandings or angry boyfriends/husbands. He doesn't do the lap dance thing though, just watches dancers and talks to the girls as they make their rounds (sometimes paying them to sit and talk with us).

I don't think watching strippers is a big deal for a married person (man or woman). But the moment there's sexual contact - not cool. If you wouldn't do it in front of your spouse - it's wrong. Plain and simple.

solus sto posted 7/27/2014 08:28 AM

First, you do belong here.

Secondly, you have real reason for concern. Your husband's actions did not "just happen." He made a series of decisions and could have, at any time along the way--from intentionally drinking to "lower inhibition" and provide himself an "excuse," to locating a strip club, to walking in the door to paying for the first lap dance to thinking, "hey this feels good and I'm going to pay another," to whatever else he paid to do during that FIVE hours--chosen a different course of action.

As a woman whose husband's infidelities began in strip clubs (but escalated over years), I'd tell anyone in your shoes to keep eyes and ears wide open. Observe. Does he seem to really connect, in an emotionally intimate manner? Is there any indication he gets a thrill from sex without attachment?

More importantly, right now, I'd recommend STD testing--repeated at the intervals recommended by your doctor. (Mine recommends retests for 18-24 months--longer if fidelity is not certain, and with ANNUAL HIV testing for all.)

I would not have unprotected sex until all of the recommended retests were clear.

I did catch two STDs from "nothing happened" in strip clubs. I guess he accidentally tripped into a vagina. It happens, I hear.

I'm so sorry you're among us, but glad you found us.

[This message edited by solus sto at 8:31 AM, July 27th (Sunday)]

Nature_Girl posted 7/27/2014 13:43 PM

I completely agree with the others. You do belong here, this does fall in the category of cheating, and your marriage is in serious trouble.

However, I am going to take a different tack than the others. I'm going to shine the spotlight on you. Yes, YOU. Why? Because you are engaging in, and have been for a long time, VERY unhealthy, codependent behaviors. I know this because I used to do the same things when I was married to my addict ex-husband. The checking, the controlling, the modifying things in an attempt to control the environment so your husband will behave in a certain way... Sacrificing things you truly enjoy (drinking the occasional glass of wine, trips to Napa) for the good of your husband, even though you don't really want to and will be losing a part of you in the process.

This isn't healthy for you. This is classic behavior of a spouse of an addict. I'm thinking your husband is an alcoholic and you are the unwitting enabling spouse. I volunteer with a recovery group at my church, I have heard and witnessed quite a few stories that sound similar to yours.

It isn't good for you to turn yourself inside out to try and keep your husband under control. What you're describing goes beyond the normal, healthy self-sacrifice a spouse does for the good of the marriage.

I want you to consider IC for yourself. You need to figure out why this marriage is good for you, or, sadly, why it may not be good for you. You need to figure out why you stay, why you accept year after year of this kind of behavior. Honey, it isn't normal to find your husband passed out in a ship's bar with $10,000 of gambling chips in his possession. Don't minimize this in order to make it okay. This is the kind of thing you need to freak the hell out about and demand change. I bet you have plenty of stories to tell, and I bet in each one of them you are exhausting yourself in trying to make it all better, trying to help your husband see the error of his ways, trying to smooth over the damage, trying to change your life so that he doesn't screw up yet again.

Clearly your husband needs help. But he is an adult and he's in charge of himself. You do not have the right or power to help him, not in the way he needs it. You do, though, have the ability to change and control yourself. I urge you to not only find an IC, I urge you to attend an AlAnon meeting in your area. You need the company of people IRL who have been where you are, who can help you cut through the excuses you tell yourself.


Tickingtock posted 7/27/2014 14:40 PM

I'm so sorry you are here. Like you said, you need to find out the extent of what happened. I used to be friends with a stripper and the men who stayed until closing were the ones that tried to, and often succeeded in, taking the strippers home with them (oftentimes to their hotels). With some women, the men paid for it. With my friend, she did it for free .

How much of your family's money did he spend on these women's bodies? And what did he do for 5 hours?!?! That is a long time.

I'm so sorry you are suffering from your husband's infidelity. I hope you happened to catch him the first time he did this and you can rebuild your marriage. I hope this is not just the tip of the iceberg.

Ostrich80 posted 7/27/2014 15:40 PM

He knew how you felt about strip clubs before you were married. Why would he think it would be ok now and especially after infidelity. I don't believe anything "just happens" except natural catastrophes maybe, not strip clubs, cheating, or anything caused by drinking. I've been drunk ass before but still knew what I was doing.

[This message edited by Ostrich80 at 4:27 PM, July 27th (Sunday)]

SeriouslyLost posted 7/27/2014 16:59 PM

I really do appreciate the responses and support. What happened is certainly not okay in our marriage. I do consider it infidelity. The fact that it happened combined with how I discovered it has shattered my trust in my husband. It has destroyed my sense of security.

We plan to start marriage counseling as soon as we can get an appointment. We already have calls in. Right now I am taking it day by day. I do not have much energy and am not in a good place. I am taking things slowly. The energy that I have I am using for my children for right now, although my husband has taken over much of that responsibility this weekend. He knows we are at a make or break juncture in our marriage.

I believe he will do pretty much anything I ask of him at this point. I just need to be sure that what I ask of him is done from a productive place and not a vengeful one. Because I am very angry in addition to being very hurt. I am hoping that an experienced therapist can help guide us.

I haven't painted a particularly balanced picture of my husband because I'm not in a particularly balanced place now. In fairness, he is an involved, caring father. He helps a lot in the house and is dependable. He typically keeps me posted on where he is and when he's coming home. He usually invites me along on his business trips. That is part of why this has blindsided me so much.

He has had incidences of over reaching with alcohol but it's more been a few times over the course of a decade, not a frequent occurrence. He's never had a DUI. I'm not making excuses, just trying to clarify that. I do think that misuse of alcohol can contribute to poor decision making, but it doesn't excuse the behavior. He may have addictive tendencies and that's something we will explore with a counselor.

I don't know why he did what he did. He hasn't shared that with me yet. It's something he will have to explain before we can get any further. If I don't know the "why", I can't make the decisions I need to make. And I certainly can't begin the healing process in any way that includes him. And, of course, there needs to be more clarification of the "what", as well.

We have a lot more talking to do. I just need to take things at a pace that I can handle, and with the support of a professional. I have no intention of just letting things go. I do very much appreciate the support and input from those who have taken their time to offer input. It does help. I hear all of it and am taking mental notes. It helps to hear various perspectives.

Tickingtock posted 7/27/2014 17:14 PM

I know you're suffering but you seem to have a very level head on your shoulders. It seems to me though that him being in IC would be much more beneficial than MC. It doesn't sound like you have serious problems in your marriage besides whatever the hell happened in his head that made him risk your marriage for random tits and V.

You sound so strong and I hope he is able to deserve you and your M.

Keep posting!!

SeriouslyLost posted 7/29/2014 22:42 PM

Yeah. It just keeps getting more and more interesting. Story goes now that he was drunk, goes to the club. Remembers having a drink, a couple/few lap dances and doing some shots. Then he claims he doesn't remember anything until he's peeing on himself in the taxi on the way back to his hotel. So he goes into the hotel, gets money from the ATM for the driver and goes upstairs and passes out. He was late for his meeting the next morning.

He has three charges on his cards totally $2300 plus a small amount of cash he spent. I do know that this is possible over five hours without actual intercourse, given the VIPs prices, champagne, multiple lap dances, drinks for the strippers, illicitly added tips, etc., or he could have screwed someone. Sadly, although it's not common, he has drunk to the period of blacking out before. It's clear that the alcohol issue has to be addressed.

I'm not sure if I'm more upset about the obvious infidelity (however far it may have gone) or the fact that he let himself be a complete freaking rube. They saw him coming a mile away. He says he doesn't have any receipts (and he is absolutely meticulous about receipts). I've told him to contest this with his credit card companies so he can at least get copies of the receipts. Also two of them are for exactly the same amount as if they were double charged. Idiot. Obviously if he ran up the charges he needs to pay them.

He is devastated. I am angry and disgusted. We have an appointment with a therapist next week. I am going to take over managing some things until he can confidently manage them himself. He won't be drinking.

He is still not able to properly convey what his reasoning was for going there in the first place. We are having STD testing all around since he can't even (allegedly) remember what happened.

I want to spend some time sorting through everything and figuring out as much as I can about what happened and why, before I make my own decisions. While it would be easy (and someone tempting) to decimate him right now, in the end he is the father of my children and the provider for them, so it is in everyones's best interest for him to be as healthy and functional as possible regardless of whether we are together or apart. Ugh! Every day I wonder what additional tidbit of information will trickle out.

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