Harmless Sexual Fantasy or Sexual Predator Preparing to ‘Groom’ His Unborn Daughter?

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Reader’s Question

My husband’s fantasies involve my “giving” our daughter (whom we have not yet conceived) to him sexually. He says he’s always dreamed of having a family where everyone loves each other with “no boundaries,” and that he’s always wanted a wife who loved him enough to offer their daughter to him.

Let me say from the start that I’m not that woman. But this whole thing came up before we were married, and I still went through with the wedding. Originally, he told me that his fantasy was about “Daddy’s Little Girl.” Naively, I thought he simply meant schoolgirls, which I know are a common theme for some men. By the time he made it clear what he really meant, we were seriously involved. Stupidly, rather than run, I told myself that because these were just fantasies and he would never actually act on them, things would be okay. Now I fear I was wrong.

It wasn’t long before my husband was asking me if I’d really do what we talked about. Without thinking, I said “yes” but then told him we could never do such a thing and that parents were supposed to protect their daughter, not take advantage of her. Besides the moral issues, I pointed out the legality of the situation. Then he told me he had it all planned out that we would make sure our daughter would overhear or see us in sexual situations, and would become curious. She would eventually ask to participate, and after many times of telling her “no,” we would allow her to do so, telling her that it wasn’t normal and we weren’t supposed to do that, but we loved her so much we couldn’t not let her. He said that if she came to believe it was all her idea and that we would get into trouble if she told, everything would be okay. I told him I wasn’t comfortable with that and I would not do that for him. He said he would never do anything that wasn’t okay with me, and we could just go back to talking about it and that it would be fine if it never actually happened.

I told him that even talking about this fantasy makes me sick sometimes, but it has become obvious to me that he cannot stay aroused without engaging in such talk. Needless to say, I dread sex and feel ill afterwards, especially because he still talks as if he thinks I will eventually follow through on this. I love this man, and 99% of the time he’s fun to be around and we enjoy the same things, but lately this whole thing is bothering me more than just in the bedroom. The issue weighs on me all the time, and I’ve become depressed because of it. I started on birth control again, without telling him, so I don’t get pregnant, and I’ve scheduled an appointment with a psychologist. I’ve realized that I need to get some support to be strong enough to confront him, and either he needs to go to counseling with me, or our marriage is over. I know it may be over anyway, as he may refuse — or even if he wants help, he may not be able to tolerate life with me without the fantasy.

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I know he’s going to feel betrayed that he confided this fantasy to me and that I’m going to counseling now. I also know he loves being married and loves me, and his heart will be broken. I have not told anyone in my family the problems, and they all think we are perfect together. They will be seriously disappointed and embarrassed that I am divorcing again, for the second time. (The first husband left me for another woman — and I was the first in the family to go through a divorce.)

I had serious doubts about marrying him because of this, but once I did, I felt that I was stuck and had to put up with his behavior. I know now I’m doing the right thing, even if I should have done it long ago, but I still feel at times as if I’m not being fair to him in this, and that maybe it’s not worth losing him and all of the other good stuff we have over this. I know that’s wrong, and that he has an option to try to change if he really wants to. Can he change? Is there a chance for us?

Psychologist’s Reply

While it’s possible that the kind of “talk” your husband wants to engage in is purely harmless fantasy, his efforts to “test the waters” of your willingness to go past fantasy talk is troubling and sends up a red flag for much more serious issues. Also, the fact that you report that normal, healthy sexual relations are impaired unless you engage in the kind of talk that you find distressing is another red flag for certain problems. Lastly, and by no means definitively, while it’s possible that an unusual sexual fantasy is the main issue here, there are some signs — e.g., incremental testing of limits, boundaries, and using other subtle tactics to secure possible compliance — that your husband’s behavior represents something which might go beyond fantasy to what is commonly termed “grooming.” This refers to the process by which a sexual predator sets the eventual stage for being able to commit a sexual offense. Some persons who have a sexual interest in children have been known to establish relationships with adult partners primarily for the purpose of eventually victimizing a child. And such behavior often signals a past history of similar conduct. Sexual predators can be highly manipulative, preying on the conscientiousness and naivety of others to advance their agendas and avoid detection and/or sanction.

You have done well to seek out a psychologist with whom to counsel. Be sure to share all that troubles you about this situation. Put your safety and interest ahead of what you think your husband needs. From all that you say, he appears quite capable of angling for what he wants.

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