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The Problem of Sexual Fetishes and Marriage

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

However, she is in distress because his fetish causes her to question whether or not she is enough for him? In one way she reports that his watching pornograpy smoking fetish sites does not bother her. Yet, she also wonders why he needs to look at other women when she is there and available. It appears that there are aspects of his fetish that make her very uncomfortable. Then, too, there is the question of health and I addressed that in my response. Smoking is a know cause of cancer. Should she be smoking for him or herself considering the major health hazards?

On question #2, he does not appear to be doing anything illegal. He has a right to smoke and he is not even forcing his wife to smoke. In addition, there is no law prohibiting him from logging onto pornographic web sites unless the sites involve children and this does not appear to be the case.

On question #3 the answer is difficult. On the one hand his wife is willing to smoke to arouse him sexually. On the other hand, his fetish is so strong that he has to use pornographic sites to "get off" when she is not around. This causes his wife great stress and, potentially, could threaten their marriage. After all, she reports that she has spoken to him about her distress and he does not respond to her emotional needs.

Given this discussion, and the critieria set by the DSM 1V it would appear that this husband’s fetishistic behavior does cause stress and discomfort and, therefore, falls into an area where he may not be doing very well and probably does need psychotherapy or, at least, couples counseling, as suggested in my response.

When it comes to human sexual behavior there is wide variability in what people are willing to do. From my point of view, as long as sexual participants are adult, fully consenting and not distressed, not violating any laws, and are functioning in society in acceptable ways, they have a right to do as they wish.

However, once laws are violated or people are in any type of distress and social functioning is impaired then there is a problem. For example, if someone is a voyeur then, by definition, he is spying on others without their consent. This is a criminal act and, when caught, the voyeur will probably go to jail.

What are your views and opinions on this issue?

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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