Her Husband Is Taking Viagra on the Down Low—Should She Tell Him She Knows?

Savage Love Letter of the Day

Comments

1

I say don't tell him. Always ask yourself, what good will come of it? Granted snooping is bad, but rattling him about the Viagra isn't worth it. And it will rattle him, no matter how you delicately and compassionately you talk about it.

Indeed, he may be using the Viagra a few times and the placebo affect might take over. Let this be his own little secret.

Penises don't take such attention well.

(He's probably snooped through your things and didn't tell you. So that's a wash).

2

Getting a prescription and taking a medicine can be two wholly unrelated phenomena.

3

Is it possible that she is reading the history of the most recent office visit? I mean, could he have just been prescribed it for the first time? If so, he may not have mentioned it because it hasn't come up yet. Married people don't rush home and tell their spouses everything the moment it happens. Could it be that he is not keeping it a secret, but just that he hasn't thought to tell her yet? Like, maybe he's going to mention it next time they plan an evening together. "Get ready for a big night, honey, because I've just popped a boner pill."

Also if he is shy about telling, then good for him for talking to his doctor and getting a prescription (safer also, as some people with certain medical issues should avoid it and it's good to have the professional opinion). If/when she does reveal that she knows (like if she sees the bottle or notes the longer boners and he tells her, etc) then she should make sure to take the approach that A) it's sexy that he wants to keep their sex life hot, and B) it's great that he talked to his doc about it.

Also my take on medical disclosures in a marriage is that if it doesn't affect the other person in some way (and most medical issues do- even if it's just because the other person should know about chronic or potentially difficult illnesses so they can help plan/prepare) then you don't have to disclose. I don't tell my husband every time I take pepto or use hemorrhoid cream. Either he appreciates the illusion that my ass is always sparkling clean and sexy or else he plays along with my belief that he thinks of my ass this way because it would embarrass me otherwise. If the husband wants to believe that you think he naturally has the boners of a 25 year old, then allow him this illusion.

4

LW just needs to wait long enough and the subject will come up...

I'm here all week.

5

I don't believe this is her first time snooping. She was already reading his e-mail to see the alert in the first place.

It comes down to how liable your husband is to forgive and forget the snooping. That could be the biggest boner-killer of them all.

6

Gotta swallow this one. You shouldn't know. You do. Gulp.

7

Perhaps this would be a good time to stop reading his email and snooping around his medical accounts?

8

I think men using Viagra a lot like women using lube...as you get older your body doesn't always agree with your brain...so you need a little help. I would never feel bad about my wife using lube, I know she is attracted to me. She shouldn't feel bad about me using viagra sometimes, I'm definitely attracted to her.

9

It seems she may be asking to skate on the snooping more than anything else. The "crisis" being the lack of trust not from him keeping a secret, but from her snooping it out.

10

If she wants to get it out in the open rather than continue worrying about being caught with clandestine information, a simple solution is to propose that each of them carry a card in their wallets with both of their health issues and prescriptions listed. There's good reason for spouses to know their partner's medical status, and if both of them had identical cards it would be easy to keep the information updated as changes occur rather than trying to remember under stress in an emergency. It is, in other words, a good procedure in it's own right.

Viagra should definitely be listed because of it's potential interactions, contra-indications and side effects. If he chooses not to inform her of it's use even for this purpose, then it may be a good idea for her to drop his doctor a line suggesting that he would benefit from having a discussion about the pill intended to reduce his shame and increase his understanding of it's relevance in a list of this kind. If she's convinced that her husband won't disclose voluntarily, she could ask the doctor to propose the wallet cards rather than propose them herself.

Because it really /is a good idea for spouses to have this information about each other.

11

"Should I just try and swallow it?"

Just how many damn pills is he taking at one time?

12

@10: No - Don't call his doctor to piggy back this on a wallet card discussion. What, you want to be annoying and cause an argument?

I once heard Dr. Laura Schlesinger take a call like this. Her advice was far more closer to mine than yours.

13

Another simple consideration might be - Is he taking "Viagra" or is he taking "sildenafil"? Yes, they are the same medication, but they are taken for other things as well . . . Pulmonary hypertension being one of them. Sildenafil was discovered to have its priapic side effect in male patients who were taking it for something else . . . Just like Rogaine (minoxidil), a blood pressure medication that caused hair regrowth as a side effect. Never presume to know what a medication is for unless the label specifically says it.

14

Considering she, without authorization, electronically accessed privileged medical information which could be a crime, it would be wise to do your best to forget everything you learned, and never break into his accounts again or "trust" issues could be the least of the worries. If he's not ready to tell, you have no place to invade and force.

15

I'm curious if she has any memory of him having erectile issues with her.

16

First, LW snooped into her husband's e-mail account, and then she compounded that by snooping into his medical records because she thought her husband might be hiding a medical condition? That's a lot of snooping LW, as well as suspect guess work. It seems likely your husband doesn't know you snoop into his e-mail, because otherwise you could have told him that you had seen an e-mail from a doctor, and wanted to know if everything was ok. Perhaps the guilt you're feeling now will be a good motivator to stop snooping into your husband's things.

I disagree with @10's approach, although I do believe that people's primary care physician should be aware of all the medications that a person's other physicians are proscribing. As you get older, and more physicians are proscribing medications, it is a good idea that one physician has an overview of the medications you're taking to spot potential issues. So in this case if LW's husband is on medications proscribed by his rheumatologist, and he received a proscription for Viagra from a urologist, his primary care physician should know about all these medications. If LW's husband hasn't kept his physician in the loop about any of this, she can mention that to him that he should update is physician the next time he is going to an appointment.

17

Sporty @5/Scarlet @7/Finger @14: Agreed. DUMMY, you've done a bad thing, and the punishment for your crime is that you need to pretend you don't know this. If that's difficult? Good, maybe that will give you an incentive to respect your husband's privacy.

The only reason she may want to mention this is that Viagra does have side effects. But since she has to pretend she doesn't know, she should research these herself and keep her eye open for them.

18

If my husband snooped, revealed the reason behind said snooping included worry for me, apoligized for the bad behavior, and finally told me he supported me in the behavior I'd been hiding...I'd call that one half of a good but tough conversation needed to make our marriage more honest and comfortable for both of us.

I agree there are times where sharing something isn't worth the burden it causes on the sharee, but based on my own experience with upping communication with my husband, I wouldn't put this in that category.

19

I don't know. I'm not too worked up about this sort of snooping between long term partners. If you are regularly scrolling your partner's phone or looking at their internet history or listening to their phone calls or whatever, that's nuts and you might have some major trust issues (plus you probably need a hobby), but looking at the medical alert of a long term partner, well that's forgivable to me. Likewise looking at financial stuff. People are complicated and they stress about certain things and sometimes conversations around this stuff can be difficult- yet your long term partner's medical info, financial info, etc all affect your life too. When you know someone very well, you know when conversations will be effective and efficient and when it won't. Sometimes it's better all around to get to the bottom of it, and sometimes this is out of concern for the partner. Also soemtimes people do lie and manipulate, and snooping has revealed that more than once and helped people make clear decisions in situations that conversations would not. A conversation only works when both sides are willing to communicate.

The only thing that's slightly alarming about this is that the LW, after snooping, is concerned enough about what to do about the fact that her husband is taking a completely normal and common drug that she feels the need to seek advice about how she should proceed. This is a little odd- wouldn't most of us just shrug our shoulders at the viagra (or else feel glad the partner is getting this help for our shared sex life) and then feel relief that the medical situation is not something more serious? If I were concerned that my husband was keeping a serious medical condition from me and discovered instead that he's taking boner pills, I'd feel immense relief followed by a desire to go hop that ride, not anxiety and the necessity for advice.

20

I talked about starting to take small doses of generic cialis with my wife, mostly because there can be adverse health outcomes. But she takes it as a failure on her part, and talks about how dangerous the drug is, which fucking pisses me off. I have tried to explain exactly what Dan is saying, it is not an aphrodisiac I need to choke down to sex my someone I’m not attracted to, it is a chemical that makes my now untrustworthy dick do a better job. The result is quite placebo, but it works for me and takes 7.0 hard ons up to 10.0 stiffies. So now I do it on the down low and don’t bring it up which is less convenient but less fraught.

21

She should not have snooped, but it makes you wonder what else isn't being communicated, if a man hides a simple bedroom-related thing like this from his partner. Does he feel too emasculated to trust, and if so why?

(Or maybe I can give him the benefit of the doubt and say he doesn't want to worry his partner further)

22

Any advice? How about talking to your husband? Forget the Viagra. What about 'did your doctor explain to you how you could be immobilized by a year by arthritis?'. Perhaps many people will now tell me that arthritis is frequently that paralysing. Then I'm in the same need of explanation as the LW. This couple either have other things to worry about--her husband's illness or disability; their possible lack of a sex-life; her standing lack of trust--or maybe they don't; maybe they have a working relationship and these things are not out the way, not the bone of possible conflict between them. Or causes for unhappiness. If they have problems, DUMMY knowing her husband is worried about keeping it up is the least of their worries. But if their relationship is otherwise good, it's just something for her to swallow.

23

@21. swatbot. Just look at drjones's answer to see why a husband wouldn't want to disclose. It's nothing, or very little, for a man, and can be an issue with an emotional dimension to a woman. (To me, half a blue pill is no different than an asprin or a Vitamin B or a glocosamine sulphate for bone-strengthening). What if he's vain? What if he fears ageing, fears becoming physically dependent and losing autonomy and agency in sex, as well as in other areas, like ordinary housekeeping or manual work or even earning a living? Let him have his vanity or his privacy.

24

@19 EmmaLiz. I feel just the same as you would in your last sentence. Possibly this is a relationship where she habitually 'takes care of things'. I don't mean 'initiates sex'; I mean that literally--she is the one in the partnership who looks after practicalities, who exercises initiative in e.g. where they're going on holiday, their plans for the weekend, how they're funding their retirement, how they're visiting their kids. This could be the first time her taking-the-lead attitude has landed her in a situation giving rise to guilt and embarrassment.

25

Swatbot @21: I don't have a penis but I think it's completely understandable that a man might choose to hide this particular medical concern from his wife, or, if not "hide," at least not broadcast. Society places a lot of emphasis on the ability to get an erection, even tying it to one's essential masculinity. If he's having trouble in that department, I'm not at all surprised if he was embarrassed and went to his doctor to sort the problem without his wife knowing. Read DrJones's comment @20: This guy may fear his wife may react in a similar way.

As for the snooping, I agree long-term partners have a right to know about each other's medical affairs. If this guy has a history of being less than forthright with his wife about his health, I can forgive the snooping.

26

RE: Dummy
@20 DrJ describes the exact same situation that I find myself in. This has become a "don't-ask-don't-tell" occurrence in my marriage for the exact same reasons.
I feel much more sexy when I do not have to stress out over being able to sustain an erection, & I can enjoy the moment and take as much time as I like. An ageing body is no picnic for men. There are lots of things my body refuses to perform adequately, tumescence now among them. Without an enjoyable shared intimate life I feel alienated from my partner and lonely and sad. DUMMY needs to stop snooping and forget what she found.

27

She starts the letter with a big bullshit lie: this was the first time she snooped.

28

I'm sorry for those of you whose partners are giving you grief about taking boner pills. Some people have trouble separating the body from the mind. We age and our bodies work differently even if we are still horny in our minds as can be. I'm sure you are trying to communicate this in various ways, but a helpful analogy might be the one about lube above. When I was young, I never needed it. These days, I go through bottles. It's not because I'm not horny, and if I were shamed for using lube or else made anxious around it or if my husband took it personally and tried to make me fuck without, for sure that would kill my libido and piss me off too.

29

I have always made "ability to communicate" a primary emphasis when choosing a partner, but I know that's not true for everyone. The problem goes deeper than this one instance. DUMMY should be working on improving the lines of communication in her marriage. Why does hubby need to hide something so basic from her instead of simply having a conversation? Why does she need to snoop instead of simply having a conversation? 1)Talk. 2)Talk. 3)Fuck. 4)Talk some more.

30

Embarrassed to "have to" use an assist from Viagra or Cialis? Hurt that your partner "needs" to use them?
Late 20th/21st-Century fucking "problem!" Better living through chemistry, I always say. And be grateful you didn't live for most of human history, when you kissed your dependable boners goodbye sometime around age 50.

As far as the wife's crime of snooping, I am in the camp with those who say that in the context of a long-term marriage, I don't think it's a big deal for one spouse--a concerned one--to check a medically-related communication. It's not like she was searching for his porn, found some that featured barnyard animals, and is now freaking out about what a freak she married, or someone who is going through their partner's phone looking for sexts to and from strangers.

Ultimately, Viagra is a prescription medication, and as such, carries some risks that I think it's a good idea for your partner to know about. And if you can't talk about the completely natural phenomenon of aging and what steps can be taken to mitigate it with your long-term partner, that's kind of sad.

I'm with DonnyKliciious @29 100%.

31

If viagra or it's generic equivalent had been available in the 70s through 90s, I'd have been a lot happier. I have a life long history of low self esteem, anxiety, depression, anger, and general nervousness around others that makes getting and keeping erections difficult. Psychopharmacology is a blessing with much of my anxiety and depression. Sometimes I can't get hard when I'm by myself. Sometimes the viagra seems to be missing the active ingredient. Nonetheless, it generally works better with than without and it's more fun. When you're a gay man, everyone expects a major performance and most people are not going to stick around to coax and cajole a boner out of you at 60+. I take the stuff. I don't share that information with my mostly anon partners. So, that's life.

32

It might be helpful if people generally changed their attitudes from "I can't have sex without Viagra" to "we'll have BETTER sex with Viagra."

Nocute @30: For most of human history, people kissed their LIVES goodbye at age 50. Agree that ageing is no picnic for any gender, and we should be more accepting of bodies that no longer work like 20-year-olds'. (Hell, some 20-year-olds have the same issues.)

Gaydor @31: You can amend your post to "when you're a man, everyone expects a major performance." We've all been schooled that boners mean desire, lack of an erection means he isn't into you, and you, the partner, are inadequate so you should take that personally. So toxic for everyone.

33

@32: It turns out that those "life expectancy of 40" stories aren't actually true. The way that number was arrived at was by taking the age of all skulls from a particular time period and averaging them. So say there were 100 skulls ranging in the age of the person at death from 2 years to 80 years. People counted them up and averaged them to 40 and said that the average life expectancy was 40 years. The problem was that It didn't account for the very high infant mortality rate. It turns out that many more of those skulls belonged to children under the age of 5 than to any other age. In other words, if people made it to age 10, they had a good chance of living to 60-80 years old. Plenty of men lived long enough to experience middle-aged boner difficulties.

Also, the average age of marriage was tied to menarche. So while girls from families that arranged marriages might have been "married" at 12 or 13, they didn't actually live as a married couple (barring the ever-present awfulness of molestation and rape) until the girl could conceivably conceive. Which happened at around 17-19, because the onset of menstruation is tied to body fat and historically people's nutrition ensured that that happened in the late teens. I realize that this has nothing to do with the letter, but it's another one of those "facts" that get tossed around and that are inaccurate.