Four years earlier, when our marriage had hit a rough spot, we'd tried therapy. On Jamie's sixth birthday, after he left for a weekend with Joe, I called AOL to separate my email address from our joint account.
In his correspondence with three or four women, Joe described his wife — me — in such hateful terms, it made my skin crawl. I realized that I'd always looked at my marriage and seen what it could be, not what it was.I had joked with my girlfriends that my shy, sweet husband didn't know how to put his feelings into words, but I hadn't realized how tragically true that would turn out to be."When Dad went to retrieve the bookmark from the trash, all these porn site addresses came up onscreen." "Really," I said, trying to sound nonchalant."I'm sure there's a reason." When I hung up the phone, I was stunned. What man in his right mind would download porn at his in-laws' house?Mom must have made a mistake, I thought; it just wasn't something my husband would do.
True, Joe spent a lot of time on the computer — two to three hours each evening.
At first, he was vague, saying he didn't recall emailing her. I could see that in the past year, someone had been looking at a lot of porn — and all the dates corresponded with our visits.
I refreshed his memory with details from her Website. The records also revealed exactly when and for how long each site had been surfed and the dizzying number of return visits that had been made.
Wandering into the next room, I'd see Joe sitting in front of the screen, bathed in a flickering blue light. "If someone went to a bunch of porn sites, I don't know anything about it. I watched as Joe dialed their number and calmly repeated what he'd said to me. Furious, they told him he was lying and that he wasn't welcome in their house anymore. The next day, out of the blue, he said something I'd been waiting years to hear: He was ready to have another baby.
When I'd ask what he was doing, he would say, "Just surfing," then turn off the computer and come to bed. During the week that followed, the sting of my parents' accusations faded. As I turned on his office monitor, Joe was playful, cracking jokes as he relaxed against the wall.
But when I confided in close friends, some thought I was overreacting. Others said his behavior was normal — all men like looking at naked women.