SL Letter of the Day: Potential Murder, She Wrote
by Dan Savage
on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 6:11 PM
I'm a 30-year-old female who has been married for four years and I think my husband might want to kill me.
My husband and I met and started dating when I was 17 and he was 19. We've been cohabiting since then, so you could say it's like we've been married for 13 years. A lot has changed over all those years. It started out all hot and heavy, got comfy and cozy, and about 5 years ago became slow and "comfortable." My husband's sex drive dropped dramatically when he had a bought of depression and joblessness in the mid 2000's. I attributed the change at first to the joblessness and the economy. I called him out on his depression and made him make some changes (going outside, being more active, eating differently, talking) and he did get a new job and the depression seemed to fade but the sex drive never returned.
At first I thought we just had different sex-schedules and we were wanting it at different times. Then I thought he wasn't attracted to me. Then we tried diet and exercise. Nothing seemed to work and I felt horrible. I felt like I was pressuring him to be something he wasn't, but I also felt like I wasn't getting what I needed in my life. We talked a lot about our expectations, needs, and feelings, and he told me he felt he'd been sliding into asexual nature. I was supportive but honest and told him that I couldn't live in a sexless marriage yet. We agreed that I could safely and respectfully see someone else if I wanted.
That was three years ago and now that I'm out of the house more, my husband was alone more often and I started to notice something that creeped me out a little.
The rest of the question—and my response—after the jump...
He started watching shows about crime scene investigations, serial killers, rape, and historical atrocities.
At first I thought it was a passing interest—like horror movies in late October. But he began to watch these shows exclusively, all the time, mostly when I'm not around but he doesn't really try to cover it up when I'm at home either. He watches these true crime shows about real women who were killed, checks out books from the library about crime and violence, and has a porn history on the computer of some pretty violent scenes where the women "die" at the end. I told him that I'd like our home to be a sanctuary from violence against women, that it makes me uncomfortable, and he agreed to turn off the shows when I'm home. It still creeps me out.
I asked him outright if he'd thought about killing me and he said yes.
I asked him about the details and he said that sometimes he thinks about choking me to death but then the thought makes him sad and he stops what he's doing and does something else for a bit.
He says he'd miss me if I wasn't around.
He's cried about it and told me that he'd never kill me for real and that when he thinks of killing me it is always "a scene gone too far" or "a horrible accident." But, the very next day, the shows are fresh in the history, although there isn't the porn—but I have no idea what's up with incognito windows and I don't want to drive him underground.
He seems really happy so I don't think this is depression.
Even though we are both working, I don't have a ton of money for long mental health sessions. I also don't think he'd go. I've known and grown with this guy for well over a decade—while I don't feel like I'm in imminent danger, I don't want to die because I didn't listen to my gut and trusted that he'd never hurt me in real life.
People think about dominating each other, torturing and teasing each other and all sorts of things. I want to be supportive of my husband's fantasy life and I know that trying to dictate some else's thoughts isn't right. But when does thinking about killing your wife start to get dangerous?
Uncomfortable But Wants To Be Supportive
You're sitting at home worried about making the wrong choice (decide to stay and wind up dead), UBWTBS, and now I'm sitting at Ann Lander's desk worried about giving you the wrong advice (advise you to stay and have you wind up dead). The stakes are much lower for me, I realize, but I nevertheless find myself wanting to err/advise on the side of caution and order you to GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE!
But just for a moment, just as a thought experiment, let's set aside the fact that your husband of four/thirteen years OBSESSIVELY FANTASIZES ABOUT MURDERING YOU. We'll circle back to that trifle in a sec, okay? For now let's focus the less sensational issues your letter raised about your marriage: your husband doesn't fuck you and you two have very little in common anymore—besides, of course, a now-shared obsession with murder, i.e. he obsesses about MURDERING YOU, you obsess about NOT BEING MURDERED. Hm. It looks like the whole husband-fantasizes-about-murdering-you thing is harder to get away from than I had hoped. Suffice it to say, UBWTBS, you have good reasons to end this marriage even if your husband hadn't been OBSESSIVELY FANTASIZING ABOUT MURDERING YOU. Day and night. For years.
Yes, yes: some people have dark fantasies and obsessions and lovers and spouses shouldn't attempt to dictate each other's thoughts or police each other's fantasy lives. But we're not required to remain married to people whose fantasies are so unsettling that we can't feel at ease in your own homes. In particular a woman who wants her home to be "a sanctuary from violence against women" can't be expected to live in what is essentially a grindhouse theater that shows nothing but slasher flicks.
Frankly, UBWTBS, your husband sounds mentally ill—at the very least is sounds like he never got over his depression. Depressed people can suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder ("recurrent, repetitive thoughts (obsessions), behaviors (compulsions), or both that a person recognizes as unreasonable"), appear outwardly happy, and lose all interest in sex. Get him to a therapist, get yourself to a divorce attorney, and—again—get out of there.