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"He's Having Phone Sex with Women He Meets Online"

She says he's having phone sex with other women. He says she won't sleep with him anymore. Can this marriage be saved?

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The Couple’s Turn

The Couple

Diane: 37, X-ray technician

Scott: 40, software developer

Married: 9 years

Kids: none

The Counselor

Stephen J. Betchen

Cherry Hill, New Jersey

The Background

Diane hurt her back in a car accident three years ago and hasn’t wanted sex since. Scott has coped by using Internet porn and having phone sex with women he meets in chat rooms. Diane found out and freaked. They’re barely speaking.

Diane: This marriage is over. Porn’s bad enough. But phone sex? That crosses the line. Scott’s always had a strong sex drive, but he’s not into kinky stuff, so I’m shocked he’d do something like this. My first thought was that he must be having an affair. When I confronted him, he insisted he’d never met the women he’d talked to. He said he went to the Internet so he wouldn’t have to bother me for sex. Does he really think he did me a favor? I feel totally betrayed and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust him again.

Scott: I love Diane, and I never meant to hurt her. I thought cybersex was the easiest and most convenient way to take care of my needs and deal with my frustration. We used to have sex three times a week, but after Diane’s accident, it dropped off to once a month — and that’s not enough for me. She’d say that she wasn’t in the mood or that she was too tired or that she was in pain from her injuries. I knew she was suffering, both physically and emotionally, so I didn’t want to add to her stress. We’d only end up fighting.

About a year after the accident, I stopped asking for sex and went online, thinking it was the best solution. I knew sex chats and phone chats were wrong. But I figured what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. I never dreamed she’d find out. I guess I didn’t cover my tracks as well as I thought.

Diane: Look, I get that Scott’s frustrated. But he should have talked to me about it instead of sneaking around on the Internet. I know I haven’t been easy to live with lately, but that’s no excuse, either. The accident nearly ruined my life. I had numbness in my leg and couldn’t walk for the first six months. Surgery got me walking again, but I’m still not that mobile. I’ve gained 30 pounds because I can’t work out. It’s been hell. I’m mad at the world, and my emotions are all over the place: I can go from angry and bitter to anxious and depressed in the course of a day. I couldn’t function without pain and anti-anxiety medication. But the meds kill my sex drive and make me sleepy.

I want more sex, but my back hurts so much that I can’t enjoy it like I used to. Once a month has been enough for me at this point, so I was relieved when Scott stopped making moves all the time — at least I didn’t have to reject him. What bothered me was that he started avoiding me. We’d eat dinner and watch TV together, but then he’d disappear into our home office. He’d work late into the night and come to bed hours after I was asleep. I feel like we’ve been living more as friends than as a married couple these past three years. That makes me even more sad and depressed. Scott shut me down every time I tried to have a serious conversation about our relationship. He’d tell me he was happy, but he certainly wasn’t acting like it. We wouldn’t be in this mess if he’d been honest.

Scott: I didn’t want to tell Diane how I was really feeling or why I was avoiding her because confrontations aren’t my thing. Besides, Diane’s called the shots since day one — on everything from where we go on vacation to where we live. It doesn’t matter what I think or want. We always end up doing things her way. So I’ve learned not to cross her. But in this case I didn’t feel justified complaining about our sex life or her moodiness. It seemed insensitive and wrong, given all that she was going through. And I feel like it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Diane: That’s not fair! Since when is not talking about a problem ever the answer? Yes, I’m more bold and opinionated than Scott, but I’ve gotten that way because I can’t get a straight answer out of him on anything. It’s not like I want to be so bossy! I wish he would speak his mind. But he checked out of our marriage without giving me a chance to make things better. Scott keeps apologizing, but I’m so pissed that I don’t want to be in the same room together, let alone talk to him. And I can’t stop thinking about what sexual things he may have said to those women. I don’t know if I can forgive him. When I told Scott I wanted a divorce, he suggested counseling. I’m skeptical — I doubt he’ll be able to open up, but it’s worth a shot.

Scott: I made a stupid mistake. What I did was wrong, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make it up to Diane. But she’s got to forgive me and give me another chance. I hope she does, because I don’t want to lose her.

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