Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mixed-Orientation Marriages: Responses to Dave (1)

Yesterday, I published a post about "Dave," a middle-aged gay Mormon man attempting to navigate issues of faith, marriage and sexuality. In the original post, I asked readers to provide comments in response to three questions:

- Will being honest about his sexuality with himself and others lead to happiness?

- Is it possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

- If you were in his situation, what would you do (keeping in mind that there are obviously dozens of factors of which we are unaware and that each and every mixed-orientation marriage has its own unique dynamics)?

Thirty comments were left to the post. Below are responses from Trev, Don, Keith, Joe Conflict, Beck, MoHoHawaii and Trey Adams. Additional comments will be presented in a subsequent post.


I'm not in a MoM [mixed-orientation marriage], but I relate to the dilemma because I feel like I'm facing the same questions just at a different stage of life. I'm not married. I always wanted to be married to a woman but was terrified of ever letting myself be romantically involved with anyone of either gender because I'm afraid of "discovering" that I am, in fact, totally gay and there's no hope for what I thought was my dream. Being back from a mission for a couple years and finally realizing that I *cannot* accept a life of celibacy, I'm realizing I have to at least open my mind to the possibility of what were, in the past, "alternate paths," and so I feel I face the same questions as this dear contributor, but the stakes are what I might lose in the future rather than in his case what he's worried he might lose that he already has.

- Will being honest about his sexuality with himself and others lead to happiness?

Not necessarily. Happiness is contingent on more than "openness." However, it may be a necessary step to happiness. It sounds like he may not be happy now (though only he can say for sure), which would indicate to me that it being more open is probably a necessary precondition for future *opportunities* for happiness (though I stress it won't automatically lead to it).

- Is it possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

Yes. Everyone is so different. This question seems to want to take accountability and put it elsewhere (which is definitely what I do on my "journey", too, of which I think my voracious reading of Moho blogs is a symptom). Will it be possible for him? Only he and his wife can say.

- If you were in his situation, what would you do (keeping in mind that there are obviously dozens of factors of which we are unaware and that each and every mixed-orientation marriage has its own unique dynamics)?

I feel like I am in his situation; it’s just from a different vantage point. Should I pursue my own MoM, or should I give up now before trying? Thus, reflecting exactly where I am in my parallel journey (with different stakes and at a different life stage), if I were him I would do what I am trying to do now: in that I’ve discovered my current approach has not brought happiness, I have to consider other possibilities. Only by being honest with myself can I even recognize the path(s) that will allow me to be happy. 

I would be very frank with my wife about exactly what I’m thinking and how I feel about things so that she can be aware and go along [the journey] with me, rather than one day suddenly be shocked. I’ve recently realized that I am putting strain on my relationship with my parents just by not talking to them about homosexuality more because they assume they know what I’m feeling, and I assume they know, and then I’ll come out with some idea or choice that will throw them into crisis mode. I imagine for a spouse it’s even more important to maintain constant openness otherwise you really will not feel close when such a big part of your person can’t be shared. If I or my spouse could not handle that, then I don’t think happiness would be possible in that situation.


I've seen many gay men leave their religion and marriages and find happiness but I've never seen gay men find real peace and happiness in a MoM or in a religion that doesn't fully support their natural state of being. Religion and fear seem to be the drug of choice and those who give advice to continue on that path are enablers. Misery loves company. The real truth is all of this can just go away. It happens every day. Men choose to step out of their old way of life that was never really working and into a new life of self-acceptance. To think that the best thing for your wife and kids is an unhappy, unauthentic father is delusional. When the plane is going down put on your own oxygen mask first and then help others. You are of no use to those around you if you are suffocating. There's lots of air available, all you have to do is breath.


I have to admit, being honest about my sexuality has made me really happy. I am currently single, though, so I don't have all the complication of a marriage that you have. But, when I came out on Facebook I felt free, in a way. I no longer have to hide who I am from myself or anyone else. It's like I can finally invite people into my life and let them get to know me--the real me. 

I plan to find a man that I can be with, share my life with, and commit to. (Obviously I'll have to leave the Church, since I don't imagine that we'd be happy together without being intimate.) I just had my recommend taken away, even though I feel like it was unjust because all I've done so far is make out, and that [losing my recommend] wasn't as devastating as I thought it would be. 

Whether coming out will make you personally happy, I could not say, but I would recommend it. Clearly, it seems as though starting along that path will eventually lead to you leaving your wife and finding a man. But, maybe not. There are several others in your situation that are still committed to staying with their wife [and she with him]. The only advice I would give is to start feeling emotions again, and then to be true to yourself. If you feel that staying with your wife is being true to yourself, then do it.

Joe Conflict

I was in a MOM for 13 years. The minute she found out I was gay it was over. Just took another 15 months to wrap up. Trev has to remember what this does to the other half. If they don't know about the gayness they are being deceived. If they do know, it is self-deception. Likelihood of success is low. I will never do it again. I have met so many guys like me who bet their lives on it. Most of the time they lose the bet.


I believe it is possible to find a balance and a real sense of happiness in a MoM. It takes a lot of work, and some serious sacrifice on both parts, but it is possible. Communication is the key. I'm slow at learning that lesson, but it is amazing to see now, as I come out to two of my kids, that my wife's solidarity with me, and not against me, is coming through and paying off.

Is there that deep passion that dreams are made of? Maybe not, probably not, but there is commitment, companionship, and a deep relationship that is centered on love. 

Some days I wonder if I will ever know that passion of dreams, but what I do have is still worth it.


“[My therapist] suggested that being honest about my sexuality with myself and others is a first step. But will that lead to happiness? ... Will accepting my sexuality and being honest with myself and others be enough to fill the gaping hole in my chest?”

Coming out to yourself and those closest to you is only a first step. By itself, it may not make you feel better, but it can be the beginning of a longer process that may result in significant life improvements.

As you mentioned, coming out is scary. It has ramifications. It may introduce changes in some significant relationships in your life, including your marriage. If you're ready to start this journey, give it a go. If you need more time, then wait.

- Do you think it's possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

It depends on "how gay" you are. A minority of gay people appears to be capable of relating romantically with a person of their non-preferred sex. These folks are capable of maintaining acceptable opposite-sex marriages and making the necessary compromises. For the rest of us, an acceptable level of satisfaction in a mixed-orientation marriage is just not possible. 

However, the statistics no matter how dismal aren't really relevant to any individual case. The relevant question here is where you fall on the Kinsey scale, from super straight to super gay. The fact that you are 14 years into a relationship and still feel a severe inability to achieve a passionate emotional connection with your spouse could be seen as evidence that you're more on the gay side of this continuum.

People on the outside can't really advise you here. You need to look into your own heart and decide if you can continue along your current path, or if real change is needed. 

- I know this is different for everyone, but if you were in this situation, do you think you would choose to stay?

I do think you might be happier if you entertained the possibility in your mind that you might end your marriage. What this thought experiment does is help reduce any feelings that you are trapped in your situation. It's one thing to choose to stay in a marriage because of various practical reasons; it's another thing to feel trapped and hopeless in such a situation. Staying married should be something that you actively choose, not something that's forced on you.

If you seriously gave yourself permission to get divorced and considered it as a real possibility, you might still choose to stay married. I think the fear of divorce causes a lot of stress that can be alleviated by simply admitting that it's one of the real possibilities and then starting to work systematically on the underlying issues.

“One big question in my mind is whether I'll be any happier if I leave and seek a male mate? Will the possibility of finding happiness be worth leaving my wife and kids behind?”

You could also ask the question of whether your wife might be happier if she had the opportunity to find a heterosexual partner in the future? Would your kids benefit if you could relate to them from a place of happiness instead of despair? These kinds of situations involve the needs of lots of people. I'm guessing that the unhappiness in your household is not limited just to you.

Not to plug the institution of divorce, but just because you have a bad marriage doesn't mean you can't have a good divorce that includes respect, affection and a significant improvement in the outcomes of everyone involved.

Talking with others who are or have been in similar situations can help. I'm glad you reached out on Invictus's blog. Maybe you can meet some of these folks in person and continue the discussion.

Trey Adams

I would like to throw in a couple of cents.

1. Will being honest about his sexuality with himself and others lead to happiness?

I say: perhaps. I believe Abe Lincoln was mostly right when he said something to the effect that a person will be about as happy as he makes up his mind to be. You may not be “happy” in the sense that you will feel elation, etc, but if your experience is anything like mine, you may experience a very satisfying feeling of peace and rest from inner turmoil. I also believe you may experience a rewarding sense of well-being that you long for but haven’t felt.

2. Is it possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

Of course it is possible but possibly very difficult depending on your marriage relationship, your nature, your priorities and needs, and what you value.

3. If you were in his situation, what would you do (keeping in mind that there are obviously dozens of factors of which we are unaware and that each and every mixed-orientation marriage has its own unique dynamics)?

I would search within and decide what is most important in life, realizing that my decision (either way) may not lead to happiness, per se. In my case, to remain was to die – literally. I would have simply become a martyr and would have been of no value to my family.

Am I happy now? I am at peace; I love life again; I am no longer afraid; I have a wonderful man to share life with and to love, one who also loves me. If that is happiness, then yes, I am happy.


  1. After three years, I can't say that I currently agree with what I posted. I have come to the point where my wife and I can't communicate about this subject anymore. It has become an all-or-nothing proposition for her. Either I am completely with her or I'm not.We can no longer dialog about my homosexuality without getting in an argument. To make it work, I suppress it, let it go, and move on. She holds the trump card. I don't. It's a way to make it work... maybe not ideal, nor healthy, but it is what it is...

  2. Don's comment about seems absolutely correct to me. I've never, ever met a gay man who says they regret coming out. I have, however, known lots of them who waited in fear until they were much older and could stand it no longer. This is what almost always happens. They often seem depressed and bitter.

    The sooner we come out, the sooner the healing begins. That's the bottom line.

  3. Thank you, Beck, for updating your situation. As you point out, many times, the situation really depends in large part on how the straight spouse feels about it.

    Thanks, Michael. I agree.

  4. I am in much the same situation as Beck. My wife and I get along so much better when the subject of my bisexuality doesn't come up. I've been out to her for more than 20 years and while I am more considerably more comfortable with myself and healthier mentally/spiritually/physically, she remains ill at ease with the subject.