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"Faithful" Husband Carries Condoms
in His Briefcase

QUESTION: My husband and I have been married for approximately one-and-a-half years. My problem is that he stills carries condoms around in his briefcase and travel bag. I have spoken to him about it before and he got upset, saying wouldn't I prefer that he protected me if something did happen.

I don't believe he is being unfaithful to me, but I don't understand why he needs to carry them.

What should I do?

ANSWER: Though your husband may not be actively unfaithful, he is planning for this possibility. Clearly he does not want to give up the potential for an affair, or he is actually having one despite your belief in his fidelity. His proclamation that he is actually "protecting" you is evasive and an outrageous insult to your marital vows.

Your husband's behavior is undermining the trust between you. Do not accept his explanation. There is more here than meets your eyes. Instead, require that he honestly address what is going on. Consider the possibility that your husband may be suffering from a sexual addiction of some degree. Clearly he does not want to give up his sexual freedom, yet he has agreed to marriage.

What are your expectations of marriage? If they include the usual commitment to sexual monogamy, your husband has already broken the spirit of your marriage agreement. Carrying condoms purposefully is an act of intent to engage in adultery of some type. This behavior oversteps mere "fantasizing." Whether he plans on having sex with prostitutes or in the context of extramarital relationships -- by "happenstance" or by appointment -- your spouse is reneging on your marriage contract.

Do not close your eyes to this one! If he does suffer an addiction, he will need your help to overcome it. If he does not see this as a "problem," the future of your marriage is at risk of deteriorating. Consider consultation with a marriage counselor for help navigating through this breach in the marriage. Do not stop short of answers. Though your marriage is young, both of you may need to team up to fight to sustain your relationship.

Sexual addiction may prove to be the "monster" that the two of you will have to drive from your marriage. As the saying goes: You can only lead a horse to water, you cannot make him drink. Be supportive but stop short of codependency. Your husband is having a problem of some sort. His problem is now a marital problem. But his actions are his own, and he alone is responsible for them. You can help him, but you cannot save him. If he refuses to address this issue with you, you may need to consider saving yourself!


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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