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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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Should I Stay or Leave this Marriage or "When Is Enough Enough?"

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Jan 16th 2009

 An anonymous wife sent this comment in reaction to an article I wrote,"Why do men go to prostitutes?"


"January 16th, 2009
My husband and I had a good sex life for the first few months of our relationship, and then he started to not want it. It became rarer and rarer. I had to work harder and harder to turn him on (and he didn't want to talk about it at all) and by the time we got married I had to have a real talk to myself that I would never have a normal sex life. We probably had sex about 3-4 times a year but I distinctly remember a 9-month period sex free. And I'm just going to say here for the record that I was a very attractive young woman, and that I had enjoyed sex. This was tough on me, but eventually I got used to it.

Flash forward 9 years. I came home unexpectedly (with our two small kids) and found him in my bed with a prostitute. It turned out this had been going on for years.

We went for counseling and stayed together -- this has been extremely difficult for me, not only because he was continually unfaithful but also because he denied me a normal sex life while he was doing it.

Since then we've had sex a more normal amount -- probably averaging once a week -- but ironically I don't really want it. I won't get into everything that's gone on since then but let's just say it's hard to be intimate with someone you can't trust.

Now, 10 years later I was finally starting to not think about this all the time and believe him when he said how he's changed, but I just found out he's doing it again ... if indeed he ever did stop.

I know all the stories. Men go to prostitutes because their wives are boring. Because their wives won't have sex. Because their wives are unattractive. Let me tell you that none of those things was true with me, and frankly I think it's all excuses and bull shit. Even in my early '40s now I still have younger men trying to pick me up. I was an active, willing and creative participant in sex. I was loving and understanding and everything that a wife could be.

I think men have sex with prostitutes for these reasons:

1. They can.

2. They want to have sex with lots of women and prostitutes don't cause problems

3. Because they're totally f...d-up about sex and have some weird Madonna/whore complex. I think my husband stopped wanting to have sex with me because he was starting to love me. Now how f...d-up is that?

I remember, after finding out the first time (by the way, these were call-girl/massage parlour type experiences for him and not street prostitutes -- a fact that also made me angry because here I was at one point trying to feed a family on $40 a week while he was buying sex that he wouldn't have with me), and if we were in the grocery store or walking down the street I would feel like these women would see us together and be laughing at me.

When I told him this he said "they wouldn't be here, why would they be here?" and I said, "What, do you think these, women aren't human? They don't buy groceries? They don't go the movies? They don't have lives?" And I could tell by his reaction that he almost did think that. These women miraculously appeared out of nowhere, had sex with him and then disappeared back into the ether."


When there are problems in a marriage everyone must ask themselves the difficult question of "when is it over and time to divorce?" Different people have different ways to answer this question. Some will delay divorce based on the idea that it is better for the children to stay together until they are grown and out of the house. Others may decide to stay together for religious reasons. Still others may decide that the financial strains created by divorce might be too much to tolerate. For others, fears of abandonment, endless and unrealistic hope for reconciliation and willingness to tolerate lots of abuse, may keep them together in an unhappy marriage.

But, is there not a time when "enough is enough?"

In my opinion, the wife who wrote the comment is an example of "enough is enough." In fact, it is my opinion that "enough was enough" a long time ago. Why do I say this?

It is not enough that this husband had extramarital sex ten years ago when he had two small children, but he:

1. had extramarital sex with a prostitute, exposing himself and his wife to sexually transmitted diseases,

2. Brought the prostitute to his home and had sex in his and his wife's marital bed.

3. Was found in bed with a prostitute when his wife and small children returned home and at a time when he must have known that risk was real.

4. Denied his wife sexual pleasure within the boundaries of their marriage.

5. Continued to commit these despicable acts long after they had gone to marriage counseling and long after he promised to stop.

In every way, this man demonstrated his utter and total contempt for his wife, children and the institution of marriage.

It seems to me that this is a woman who could have and should have ended this marriage long ago.

The past is gone and done with but, from this point onward, she can take the assertive and necessary steps to end this relationship to a man who has repeatedly proven himself to be utterly unworthy as a husband and father.

What are your opinions about this and the concept of "enough is enough?"

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD




Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Not sure if I agree with amused... - - Jun 7th 2011

Yes, people do have a sexuality that can still be primal, but where we differ hugely from animals is the length of time it takes us to rear our children.  It has been shown again and again that while there are some wonderful single parents out there, children in single-parent homes often have more problems socially, with drugs, and with violence than others.  Also, there are many primate species that mate differently, all depending upon their society.  There is one species of ape that sings a melancholy song every night after their life  partner dies.  They have now found nuclear families that are thousands of years old.  Some people are cheaters and some are not.  However, learning that onloy 40% of our country can read above an 8th grade level and only 1 in 5 reads above a 12th grade level, no wonder people can seem annoying.  Some of us are just closer to monkeys than others.  I lot of the "primal" talk is just to push responsibility off of yourself.  Some people want and deserve a committed relationship.  And, if you are someone that finds it impossible, then stop lying to people and pretending that is what you want.

Marriage is a social construct - Amused - Dec 30th 2010

It still amuses me to find women who are surprised that men cheat.  Don't you all know that we're not supposed to be stuck with one partner for life?  That's not what mother nature dictates.  Marriage is a social construct that makes us supress our very primal instincts to propagate.  Just like the birds, just like the bees. 

For whatever reason, we think we're above the instincts that every other animal has and have decided to avail ourselves of this thing called 'marriage'.  It's ridiculous to me.

I'm not saying sleep around and have numerous partners at one time.  I certainly don't condone that behaviour.  Especially with STD's so rampant.  But it's not realistic to say either that a person will stay with just one person all their lives.  There's the old cow and the new cow theory.

I'm a woman, and have been in some great partnerships but every partnership has a shelf life.  And sometimes, I've had to move on because I was no longer sexually attracted to that person.  It's a call of nature. 

It's just my opinion but the sooner society accepts, that, the less broken-hearts and devastated people will be in the world. 



why would he - Rick - Nov 16th 2010

Just reading the posts again some women seem to be saying why would their husband cheat on them with either prostitiutes or porn when they are slim and attractive and available 24/7

I certainly would never cheat on my wife if she were attractive in the way I desire and available 24/7. I don't want the guilt of cheating. I don't want the risk of being caught and the hurt it would cause her.

I am sure she trusts me completely which is part of the reason she feels she does not have to take into account my requests, I will just have to accept things as they are in her view.

I knew 20 years ago when we got maried the sex side was not right but I also knew what a wonderful and loyal person she was and felt that the sex would work itself out eventually or that in any case most couples probably loose interest over the years and then what would count more would be how compatable we were in other ways.

If only I had known just how strong and long my (males) sex drive would last and how quickly a womans would decrease, especially as she is older than me, I might have given more thought to our future sex life and less to how compatable we were in other ways.

I love my wife - Rick - Nov 16th 2010

I love my wife and only want to have sex with her but.......

She dresses like a man, jeans flat shoes, jumpers that make her look flat chested. She never wears a skirt and certainly never wears anything sexy like stockings. She never wears anything that exposes much flesh, frankly whats to fancy?

Yes she is a wonderful caring person but those qualitys don't cut it in the bed room where she dresses equally drab.

The result is I nolonger care if we have sex and have told her so but she just says "I don't believe you" whilst missing the obvious proof!!!

After many years of this situation its all too late, nothing she could wear or do will ingite any fire now but that does not mean I don't love her.

We have a long shared history and many good memorys not least our children. I want to look after her until she dies, or I die. She is my best friend.

But what am I to do about all those hormones swilling around inside me not getting used up? What am I to do about those feelings I get when I see a lovely long pair of legs clad in black stockings and a short skirt? I am a man after all and it is very very frustrating

If my wife is feels no obligation to try and use up those hormones in a way I appreciate (for example in the way she dresses occasionally, I don't mind jeans 350 days a year) am I suppose to write off the rest of my sex life forever? having already written off the last 20 years?

To any women reading this, perhaps you are a really sexy woman just the type I am looking for who wears skirts and heels etc so you don't think my post applys to you but what have you done recently to spice things up? You need to change your look from time to time.

And again to all you women out there, don't make the mistake my wife does thinking that because a man ejaculates he has had an orgasum. For all the talk of woman pretending to orgasum I am sure there are just as many men doing the same thing.

You see its all in the mind for a man and 50% of the foreplay takes place in a mans mind as he weighs up the woman / wife across the room looking at her shape and the way she is dressed. Another 40% is what he sees in the bedroom and 10% is the actual sexual act. If the first 90% was not right the last 10% has no chance of working.

I still have a longing for my wife to kick herself into gear but I know she never will so despite my love for my wife I have visited prostitutes several times and guess what? It's never been any good.

So you might ask why I kept going and the answer is because it might be good one day where as I know now it will never be any good with my wife.

So here I am risking loosing the woman I love who is my best friend over a few unsatisfactory visits to prostitutes that leave me full of guilt afterwards. How stupid am I.......

but does my wife not have to share at least some of the responsibility or is it OK for her to have the take it or leave it attitude to our sex life she does?

My life is like a ticking timebomb as one day I will be caught and I will be so sorry, everyone will blame me and I will accept the blame but deep down no one will persuade me its all my fault.

Finally I hope the above has helped answer the question Should I Stay or Leave this Marriage, I would say have a real look at yourself and if you can honestly say you have done everything you feel you can to make your husband happy in the bedroom then perhaps you should leave the marriage but don't think he does not love you because he has been with prostitiutes. its a cliche I know but men do seperate love from sex.

Porn was a deal breaker - Destroyed - Jun 16th 2010

My husband promised me last year after 6 years of countless occurances with porn  I left him and went to see my Parents with two little kids 13 hours away.  He chased after me confessing his apologies over and over that he would never do it again.  He went through counseling for 7 months.  Yesterday, I found out he had been back at it again. I caught him at 4 a.m.  I told him last year that if he did it again, I was gone.  Porn was a deal breaker.  He went home after I gave him a son (same day) to check out porn all night.  He would not stay in the hospital with me (c section).  He did the same thing again when I gave him a daughter.  My question is, should I just let this one go, or leave him?  Why should I believe that he won't do it again and rip my heart and trust to shredds?

help me - - May 1st 2010

i live with a husband who is depressed amd we have not had sex for over a yr  i seem stuck in this marriage because i feel like if i leave him he will do  somthing drastic to himself but yet in the mean time i cant really communicate with him because he is so depressed. i feel like his depression is taking a toll on me any advice?

Enough is Enough - Sexual Addiction - - Mar 29th 2010

Ladies Ladies Ladies...please google and find out what Sexual addition is.  i found out the hard way cause i am married to one. There is also an amazing book called "Out if the Shadows" and "Contrary to Love".  Your life will change after your read those books.  A little too clinical but it's like some one got in your life and documented what happened.

Sexual addiction is an illness. Just like any other addiction.  It needs treatment...12 step program and most of all God's intervention. These men were sick way before we met them or married them. According to specialists, they get addicted between the ages of 11 and 16.  It has nothing to do with how pretty or smart we are. Look at Halley Berry.  It happed to her. so do not blame your selves. Please.  Unless it gets treated like a disease...chances of recovering is really slim. In fact it gets worse with time.  Also,  i heard relapse is very common even after treatment unless they go to meetings like Alcoholic Anonymous.  so the battle is takes admition by the addict, determination and dedication.  But the problem is as wives we have been so hurt,  betrayed and denied of our sexual lives, we have lost our self esteem and doubt our can we stand by the man and support him while he goes to treatment and recovery.  and that is only for those that admit they have a problem. 

   For those that are christians, we have biblical grounds for leaving the marriage.  I have only been married a year and a half,  i have a two month old baby, i have a masters degree, had a successful  career that i gave up to be a wife and a mom.  I am on the verge of leaving so that I can get back to work and raise my baby before i loose my mind and can't even work and feed myself.

I have fear...what would people say...i was the last one to get married out of all my friends and now i am scared i will be the first to get a divorce...

but there is a day for everyone where enough is enough and we have to take leap of faith and move on...God will be there

Can't explain it! - Laura - Jan 31st 2010

I've known this kind intelligent man for four years. I knew he had not had a lot of girl friends before me and was approaching his forty's when i met him. 

He never rushed me in to sex and when we did i took the lead. He was clumsy  and couldn't come. So we took things slow with the four play and eventually  he became more at ease. He still could not reach orgasm and had to masturbate  in order to finish.

I always thought with time things would get better, to no avail. He just avoided sex when we moved in together and just masturbates every morning and night. Sometimes he will touch my breasts before had but never below. Then when i've held his testicles to help him come, he kisses me goodnight and turns over.

He used to call me his special girlfriend, as if i should just understand why this all is. I know he had asked young girls out at work because his older manager friend did with some success. So i put it to him that perhaps he fantasizes about young women whilst masturbating. He doesn't want to talk at all about it and we are suppose to be getting married this year. Relatives don't understand why i seem reluctant about the wedding, but i can't tell his mum or his sisters what's wrong.

I don't want to have a sex less marriage or feel frustrated  or have to buy a vibrator.

I know I'm attractive, look young for my years, I'm 42, people put me at 30-32 usually. Have had amazing sex in past relationships, so what the hell is wrong with this man.

I just want a normal guy, who wants to have sex with me.

Is that so bad!


If nothing else, be willing to forgive. - - Jan 28th 2010

My opinion is this: Clearly it is his problem, and despite whatever he may say, it has nothing to do with you, his attractive and willing partner. In fact, I wonder if perhaps he chose you as his partner because he thought you could satisfy or fix his problem. Over time his problem persisted and, likely due to shame and guilt, he was unable to admit it to you, his clearly devoted partner who put up with it for so long. So in the end, you have been cheated of honesty and intimacy, and potentially feel like your entire relationship has been a lie considering his double life. In the end you will choose to stay or go.

So what is left? Betrayal? Hurt? Devastation? Maybe even hope? I say if nothing else, be willing to forgive. Don't force yourself if it is too difficult to face right now. Don't deny anger, and don't excuse him. Accept and feel every emotion that comes with it. But over time you can be willing to forgive a little bit. You can let go of it one piece at a time. Consider the possibility that some day, in the distant future, you will have moved past all this and let go of the hurt because you have the choice and the right to be happy and fulfilled. You have the right to be free of this pain.

Sounds preachy? Perhaps. But I speak from experience.  Although the behaviour never returned (to my knowledge), I left in the end. I simply realized that I was married for the wrong reasons. Best of luck to those of you immersed in this situation. I am confident that you will do what is best for you.  AB

Guilt??? - Joan - Aug 12th 2009

I was married for 20 years and left my husband two years ago.  He has called me names repeatedly for years, but I chalked it up to him having a bad day.  I found myself walking on eggshells to avoid his temper, he was addicted to porn, would wake up in the middle of the night and leave because he said he felt he didn't get enough attention.  Meanwhile, he had all of my attention because I focussed on him all the time to ensure his moods would stay positive.  Finally, I got home one night and he was drunk.  I was 20 minutes late and he accused me of having an affair, despite the two grocery bags of food I had picked up in that 20 minutes.  In front of my children, he pushed me, kicked me and proceeded to choke me to the point of losing my vision.  it was like someone else took over his body.  He swore that it would never happen again and begged me to stay, but I just couldn't take the chance.  And I was tired of reassuring him all the time that he was loved, yet receiving nothing from him.  It was crazy.  It was like a roller coaster all the time and I needed to get off.  But he could be such a kind and caring individual as well, and it is for that reason that I carry around guilt still.  How could I leave such a sweet and caring guy.  I have put him through hell by leaving.  He really didn't cope well and begged me to return.  His family did as well.  How do I know I did the right thing?  or did I do the right thing?

Dump The Jerk. - - Aug 12th 2009

I would love to meet someone like you, move on. Sounds to me like you deserve better, cut your losses.

Male Response - truthful joe - Apr 27th 2009

There is no accounting for taste.  Women can rightfully claim righteous indignation as they cast the 2nd stone, the first being the cheating husband.  You think divorce solves problems?  It certainly creates new ones, just remember that when you walk out on the marriage you will have to say it was your choice.  Whether others view it as justified or not, it will be your choice and that decision and its consequences for you rests on your shoulders, while his decisioin to be irresponsible rests on his shoulders.  Adultery is certainly a valid reason for divorce, but you could choose to stay married anyway.  All men masturbate.  Plain and simple.  So do the young ones who hit on you.  Also remember that mom's raise boys and those boys becomes mates to other women.  It's a cycle.  Women raise boys, so other women can complain about them when they become husbands. ha ha ha  It is good that you write of the destructive power of porno.  With the expansion of the internet it is now more prevalent than ever.  It is a sin, and the question is how to respond to that sin.  If men would realize it's a cancerous cell, they wouldn't do it.  Is that true? Pax vobiscum

'Should I Stay or Leave this Marriage or "When Is Enough Enough?"' - anita - Mar 23rd 2009

My husband is a preacher and I have found pornography in our house countless times, yet he refuses to confess that any of it is his.  We have been married for seven years, during which time, he has neglected to take care of my sexual needs.  Our sexual encounters happen on Sunday morning in the shower, when he pops in, turns me around, does his thing and thats it for another week or so.  My self-esteem has gone from great to zero.  I have a master's degree, I am tall, thin, and according to the other people, very attractive.  All I ever hear is about his past with his ex-wife, how he can have any woman he wants, or how confident he is in himself.  Please help.

I know I deserve better!! - Hurt in NJ - Feb 27th 2009

I found out that my husband visits this book store where he goes in the back room and watches videos and masturbates.That wouldnt really bother me that bad except for the fact he doesnt have sex with me. Its been a year and 3 months since we have had sex and I am totally pissed. I like being married and I really miss having sex. The problem is now is that I am so turned off about the porn and masturbation thing that I cant have sex with him.I really have a lot of resentment towards him and I dont know why he is like this. Im thinking sometimes that maybe he is gay or there is something wrong with me. He said its not me but wont say why he doesnt have sex with me. He used to tell me that he wasnt a real sexual person. Now he doesnt use that excuse anymore after finding out about the book store thing.

I cant understand how a man can go to a place like the bookstore, go in the back room, whip it out and just start doing that!! I just dont get it. Why do men do that and why dont women do that? I find it to be sick and I told him that but then I felt bad but he didnt seem to feel bad...instead he acted mad because I confronted him. I want to ditch him but after 23 years, i just dont know what to do. He said he is not cheating on me but yet I feel it is and maybe he might as well be.

Enough is enough, Pornography - Allan N Schwartz - Feb 20th 2009

Hi Nancie,

It is baffling that your husband prefers masturbation to intimacy with you, his wife. I understand that your self esteem has been hurt from this but I hope you know that this has nothing to do with you or your attractiveness. Your husband has a problem and I urge him to enter psychotherapy and marriage counseling for this. He needs Viagra to have sex with you because he is so drained from all the masturbation. He is addicted to Internet pornography.

I do not ask this next question lightly but I do have to ask why you remain in the marriage? Are you not entitled to a normal and healthy sex life with the man you love? If you cannot have it with him what about leaving the marriage and looking for the right person? Perhaps, if he knew how serious you are about this he would begin to take some steps to get himself help. Anyway, this is something to think about.

Dr. Schwartz

Enough is enough - Nancie - Feb 19th 2009

I can almost relate to your "enough is enough" my husband would rather masturbate to porn then to have sex with me it seems.  Him too would not give it up after 3 years of me telling him I have had enough.  Like yourself I'm very attractive and thin and just a all good person/wife.  I just don't understand in my case why would you want to masturbate when you have a real live person that's willing to do anything to satisfy you and who is open 24/7 for sex????  When we would have sex he would have to take a viagra and use a cock ring, He would never have to do that with the porn.  So my self esteem is zip-zero right now, I filed for divorce 2 weeks ago, cuz I'm too good of a person to be treated like this.  So he can marry his porn addiction.  We have been to two conselors with no good results.  So I'm done.  I've had enough!!!

you survived somehow... - N - Feb 10th 2009

somehow, you were able to hold your end of the vows. For better or for your case...the worst. I don't know where you found your strength to allow a day to end to start the next knowing the infedility. I was married once, unfaithful to him. It was a decieving habit that made me feel worthless. yet i didn't care. It got to the point were I excused the behavior due to already screwing up the 1st, 2nd,3rd and so forth, I told him I was a cheat because no part of me could leave him. I allowed to be discovered of my dirty doings so that he could leave me and I never live with the shame of leaving him or the guilt of leaving the marriage, when I had it all. The intimacy was not lacking with us, but it was best he stayed away. he like I put you both at risk, and although you have heard this now and before and will continue are worth more. He stopped being your husband before he could even say "i do."

Enough - Rajesh - Jan 17th 2009

If at all he had stopped at some point or the other, she could have accepted him.

 But besides engaging pros he completely ignored his responsibilities as a husband and a father. May be he has taken his wife forgranted and didn't other to think that she too has individuality.


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