Word of caution: I am writing my response in a fairly straightforward way (not that kind of straight). Truly my comments are meant to add to the thought process and not add to any of the stress or pain. I do come from a loving and caring place with these words.
MoHoHawaii has relayed many of my feelings. I have to reiterate the view of the other side that has been presented. Think of what this does to the hetero partner in a MoM. Is it fair to them? Do you hope or feel that it is acceptable for your children to grow up and find a partner that "struggles" and can't be as loving and intimate as someone who is attracted to them? Would any of us dream of seeing our children "endure" in a MoM? Even if your children find a partner of the opposite sex, does your marriage and lack of intimacy provide an adequate example of what a loving heterosexual marriage looks like? The fact is that many of our children look to our relationships as example of what theirs should be. Are you in a place that you feel your example is a good one? Just as you deserve to find a man that you can feel emotionally and physically intimate with wholly, so does your wife.
I do have one particular concern in Dave's letter that has gnawed at me more and more lately: happiness and coming out because of the belief that we can finally find a man to share our lives with.
I don't mean to sound cynical and I come at this from a place of hope and love. I know I was there at one time and I know it is common desire, but coming out is not about finding a man to share your life with. (I'm speaking more generally to the audience, not pointing you out specifically Dave). Coming out is about being honest to yourself and others. It is about authenticity and allowing yourself to be fully human, fully who you are.
There are many that find true, intimate, spiritual, emotional love with a man after coming out. That is icing on the cake. The cake is still delicious without the icing though.
I am not trying to dash anyone’s hope for a Prince Charming. I'm very much a hopeless romantic and really hope "someday my prince will come" [and he since has]. However, when he does show up, I need to be his prince as well. I need to be stable and secure with myself. I recently broke up from a nearly year-long relationship with a man (my first). It didn't bring me the happiness I had hoped for. In fact, I found myself replaying many of the mistakes of my marriage. Old habits that haven’t died off yet; one of which was that of the emotional martyr: giving up myself to provide happiness to their wishes. Today, I am happily single and my coming out is about me. It may sound selfish, but you need to be in order to be in a place that you are a "prince" to someone else. You must love yourself before you can love anyone else. I do believe that to be true.
Ultimately I would love to find my prince one day. I hope we all find our princes. In reality that doesn't always happen. Also in reality though, many find the freedom in being true to oneself to be sufficient to justify their coming out. Many find the security of being authentic to be sufficient to find true happiness.
Don’t come out because you feel another human being can bring fulfillment to your life. It can add to your happiness, but cannot create it. You, as well as many, many others have already tried that through MOM. We expected that this person we married would make things “all better.” The reality is that only we can make ourselves “all better.”
Dave, as well as to all, best wishes on your journey. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share your path with us. Here’s to happiness!
Dave, I can totally relate to what you’re going through. You feel at peace for the first time with yourself because you can accept something that you’ve been trying to change and fight for years. But it scares you because you don’t know what that means for your future, for your marriage.
Like you, I spent some time with Evergreen. I went to the conferences, read their books, went through the manual, all the time believing that if I just prayed long enough, worked through enough, I could “diminish” my feelings of same sex attraction.
I don’t have a condition called “Same sex attraction.” I’m gay. I’m homosexually oriented. And what that means is not just that I have a sexual attraction that I have to keep in check, but that I want to be emotionally and physically intimate with a man. If you know what orientation is, you realize you want fulfillment.
I’ve been married three years. Not as long as you, I don’t have kids. So I can’t tell you what to do. But I don’t feel emotionally fulfilled from intimacy. I thought for a long time it could be for some other reason. But the simplest explanation is it’s because I’m gay. I was too afraid to face up to that. I told my wife in December that I was gay and I didn’t think that was going to change. I told her I was afraid to go to counseling because of what they would tell me.
I got over that and I went. They didn’t force me to do anything, but I found that as I honestly and openly talked about it for the first time (that had never happened with the LDS therapists I met with when I was first understanding my sexuality) I discovered a lot of things. They didn’t tell me that I should get divorced. They didn’t tell me I should go “live a gay lifestyle.” But they did help me discover that as I accepted myself and stopped hating myself, I’d be happier.
So what does that mean for my future (And yours)? I don’t know exactly. But I think you can relate.
It’s been a hard process talking to my wife. Having to go back and tell her that I don't fill emotionally fulfilled by sexual intimacy with her. Having to explain that the attraction I feel for her isn’t the same as the attraction I feel for men. It hurts me and her. But do you think your wife doesn’t know, that she can’t tell? She may or may not be aware, but when you emotionally withdraw during sex, your wife knows, at least on some level. And she asks herself if she’s doing something wrong. And she asks herself if she just isn’t pretty enough. And a lot of things.
As I opened up to her, she opened up to me. I’ve been withdrawn from my marriage. I haven’t put myself into the relationship like she has. I realize what I’ve put her through. My wife has been suffering from this. Telling her didn’t necessarily make it worse. It just helped me open my eyes to the reality of my situation. I thought that could change. But I really feel that with the lack of emotional intimacy that should come with physical intimacy, that it’s probably not going to change. And why should she or I accept anything less than a true marriage?
We’re getting divorced. We just made the decision this week. I’m glad it was our decision, and not just mine. But honestly, my wife and I do love each other. It’s just for me more of a friendship love than a romantic love. I get along so well with my wife. We’re great roommates. It scares me to lose that. But I have to let her move on. And I need the freedom to be myself. Neither of us should settle for less than what could be.
I could write you a novel. But my best advice is that you are too afraid of where your journey might lead you to explore your options (in thought experiments at least, I’m not saying to go cheat on your wife) then you won’t ever get to where you want to be. All of our circumstances are different. If you are going to make it work with your wife, then you are going to have to face this together. It may be that with kids, you choose to stay together longer. I could stay married to my wife. But neither of us could have the happiness that we deserve in this relationship.
You’re going to have to make the choice. I don’t think you are ready yet. But keeping asking questions. Keep praying, and God will guide you. I think that Ben gave you (and me indirectly) some really good advice. If you do find a relationship with a man, don’t expect that alone to make you happy. I don’t think I can find happiness just in being in a relationship with a man. It doesn’t work like that. I think that someday, yes, that will bring me happiness. But I have to come out for me. I have to be together before I can give myself to another person.
I’m not getting divorced so I can go be with a man. I’m getting divorced because I realize that we can’t make our marriage work. Living together as roommates, best friends, sure. But marriage? No way.
I'm perhaps one of the more happy survivors of mixed orientation marriage in the Mohosphere. Recently I celebrated with my wife our 33rd anniversary. We have three lovely daughters who are now mostly grown up and out of the house. There have been many past years where I would/could not have used the term 'celebrate.' I'm one of those guys who has 'stuck with it' and hopes to continue in happiness, acknowledging that with MoMs, as with many aspects of life, "it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do."
It seems like there are few of us mostly happily married Mohos out there, if you look at the blogs. But I suspect a majority of gay guys in this church are not blogging or talking about their experience in Priesthood meeting. I think most of 30+ year old active/attending gay LDS men in the church are not single, but are 'struggling' with their MoMs, trying to evolve to a place of happiness and fulfillment within their families. Certainly much of the same could be said for straight marriages as well.
My MoM journey has changed me in critical ways--my faith no longer accepts everything the church says as Gospel. My personal evolution brings me to greater empathy and activism for gay people, even as I realize that I have a marriage of substance and worth. I haven't 'chosen' to be gay, rather, I've 'chosen' a heterosexual relationship that I have invested my life in, that I now choose to continue. My wife has grown up with me, is open-minded on gay issues, loving and supportive of my differences, and is willing to go with me so long as I am faithful to her. That's a negotiated bargain I'm happy with.
So what could I possibly tell you that hasn't already been said? There are many wonderful comments here--I especially agree with MohoHawaii that honestly coming out to yourself and spouse is the vital starting place. Also that you have to give yourself permission to end the marriage as a possible option. Not until I did that could I let go of the feelings I harbored of resentment or being stuck in unhappiness.
Also realize that this isn't just about you and your feelings--perhaps your wife has more of a say in continuing your marriage than you really do. Deciding together what you can live with AND what you can live without, will help you both to determine your commitment to each other. In many ways, kindness and respect are what we really need, along with honesty. If you can both honor and do that, then perhaps there's a chance that passion and devotion will persevere.
Finally, there is a spiritual aspect to all relationships, especially those founded in sacred covenants. I lost that spiritual base for a while, thinking that it had died along with my passion for her. That spiritual death was partly due to the shame and guilt I felt about my natural attractions. I sucked in all the crap-mingled-with-scripture that LDS homophobic culture has created, and ultimately believed I was unworthy of any cure. It's hard to feel the Spirit when you believe God's acceptance and support is conditioned upon 'obedience' to a list of church rules.
I decided to be obedient to the Savior's priorities, which I found in the scriptures. In doing this I came to realize the great and complete love that Father and Christ indeed have for me. I let go of my self-hate and self-pity, and then rejoiced in the truth of their unconditional love for me. I know that love is real. Let it fill your life, influencing how you treat others, especially your wife. (Whether or not you choose to stay together.)
I just saw a link to this post in another's blog. Hence the incredibly late response time. I'm Bravone or Steve & my blog is luckynowandthen.blogspot.com. Like Beck and GeckoMan, my wife and I are in the category of a happy, although not perfect, enduring MOM. We will celebrate our 26th anniversary in a few weeks. For most of our marriage, I held everything inside, not even admitting to myself the huge role being gay plays in my life. Living in denial and despair lead to many unhealthy and unhappy decisions in my life. I eventually lost all belief in God and violated my marital covenants.
To make a long story short, when I lay as a broken man, all my secrets fully exposed to the Light, healing began. The road home has been rough at times, mainly with issues of faith. However, it has also been a deeply sacred experience for me, and only strengthened my relationship with my wife.
I have written extensively about my thoughts and experiences, so won't belabor the point here. I do agree with many of the comments given relating to the importance of self-care, transparency with spouse, acceptance of self, joint journey with spouse, etc.
My journey of striving to live authentically as a gay Mormon married man has softened my heart, humbled me, increased my awareness of others, and made me much less judgmental of others.
We are all different in so many ways that I can't pretend that my path will necessary work for others, but I do want to go on record saying that mixed orientation marriages cannot only survive, but can also thrive. I have asked myself the questions you now ask, and, at the end of the day, have decided that my maximum happiness comes through my marriage, faith, and family.