Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mixed-Orientation Marriages: Going Insane Inside

A little over a month ago, I republished a blog post about mixed-orientation marriages that had been originally posted on my old blog in 2011. It was about a man named "James" who described what his mixed-orientation marriage was like.

Yesterday, "Jeff" left a comment on that post. In order to give this comment the exposure it deserves, I am posting it here in its entirety.


I can't help but wonder why more people have not responded to this post. I would love to see the original replies. 

Thank you so much for reposting this. James' story is exactly mine. To a tee, with the exception that my wife has not caused me to be disfellowshipped. Might I share a few thoughts as I read this today?:

Today is June 26, 2015---a momentous day in LGBT history and equality. As I heard the announcement that gay marriage is now legal, I cried. Tears of joy fell from my eyes for quite some time as I realized the magnitude of the decision to allow same-sex couples to marry. After the elation of the moment passed, I sat back and looked at my current situation. I am a gay man, married to a woman, with three beautiful children. I live each day under the guise that I am just like everyone else. I've done everything that the church says that I'm supposed to do. Like I say, my story is just like James'. He did an excellent job of describing the emotions, intentions and reasons for his life decisions. Mine were exactly the same. 

So here I am on this beautiful day, so happy that gay marriage is now legal in our country. And it will literally have no impact on my life, as long as I continue the status quo. So I find myself faced with this question: Why do I continue life as a gay man who lives each day as though he is in hiding?....especially when the rest of the world seems to be progressing more and more towards acceptance of homosexuality and understanding of people like me? Why do I let my church, my family, my wife and even myself squash me down as though in a vise? 

The answer is, and always has been, my children. I can deal with the church rebuking me, my family chastising me, and my wife giving me hell if I were to leave her, but I don't know if I can leave my children. Sure, I would still be in their lives, but their world would be crushed. And their father would be the one who threw down the hammer. Compounding things, my parents divorced when I was little. I never grew up with a dad, really. He lived on the other side of the country, so I never saw him. It devastated me. How could I do the exact same thing to my children?

On the other hand, I am going insane inside. I am quickly dying. My ability to keep my mask up for the world to see is waning. I feel that my children would see a much healthier father if I completely came out, divorced my wife, and moved on with my life. 

So, today's decision by the Supreme Court is a cause for celebration. I wonder if it will be enough to convince myself that accepting gay marriage in my own heart, truly, means no longer being a hypocrite. No longer staying married to a woman. No longer telling myself that my children would hate me forever if I divorced their mother. No longer telling myself that my children would hate me if I chose to marry a man instead. 

In the end, my children's love is the only love I care most about.


Please, anyone who reads this who has been or is currently in a mixed-orientation marriage, leave a comment for Jeff to lend him support and counsel.

I am the first to say that each mixed-orientation marriage is different and that I respect the decisions of each man in such marriages as to how they deal with their particular situation. That being said, Jeff, here are my thoughts.

I was once, in a sense, where you are now. However, my situation was a bit different. I never planned to come out, and my marriage was already on life-support when events propelled me out of the closet. I was willing to continue to try to work on our marriage, but my former wife was not. 

I had already reached a point, shortly before coming out, where I realized that we'd probably all be a lot happier if we divorced - me, her, our children. Like you, my parents were divorced when I was young. I never wanted to divorce. But it happened.

Though there have been some difficult times for everyone involved over the last five years, I don't regret the decisions I made. After 40 years, I was able to live my life authentically and happily. I met a man with whom I fell deeply in love, and I have experienced more happiness during these past four years that I ever would have thought possible. 

Several of my older children have expressed gratitude to my husband for facilitating the happiness they see in their father - something they rarely saw as they were growing up. These same children have also expressed gratitude for the example I set of choosing to live my life authentically. They have made the same decision and are experiencing their own happiness as a result.

As to my younger children, though I don't live with them, they know I love them. They see me happy. They experience the love of my husband. They see Mark and I together. They see the love between us. Just the other day, as Mark and I shared a hug and a kiss, my adolescent daughter said, "Awwww, true love."

I understand the desperation you feel, Jeff. I understand what it's like to feel dead inside. I understand the fear you feel when you contemplate what your children might experience in the event of a divorce. But I ask you to consider this: a parent's profound unhappiness affects his children in ways that can be deep and long-lasting. If you are dying inside, can you be the best father you can be?


  1. I have read this blog for some time, and have often felt I should comment, but I resist doing so because I hate offering advice. I am not an authority, and I despise those who often think that theirs is the only advice to be taken. I admit I use to be one of those narrow minded and short-sighted individuals who felt that the only answer was "X" and anything contrary is evil, and those who did not follow my advice that was regurgitated from some proclaimed authority were not worthy of my time.

    With that said, I too am in much the same situation as these two men. I am married to a woman, gay, and feel like a liar going to church and sitting there believing in the teachings of Christ, but feeling all the trappings, pomp and circumstance that surrounds these simple yet powerful teachings just lead to exclusion, rather than inclusion. I feel that I should stand up for myself and others who do not fit in with the mold and say "we are just as valid and decent as you." But I don't, for a multitude of reasons I remain a coward. I don't want to lose my family and face the ridicule and rejection that exists when a man embraces this aspect of who he is. This is a very scary reality for me, for I have seen how they seem to love and accept someone who has walked this path before, and how they truly act behind his back, and I don't have the courage to do go through that.

    I admit to a certain amount of jealousy as I read your blog, and see the love that you have now in your life, and how you seem to have everything together. I evaluate my own life and relationships and see no possible "Mark" for me, so I don't entertain taking the next step. And, like James and yourself, I love my children more than my own life, and want them to have a loving father for them as long as they need me to be there. The size and influence of my wife's family would necessitate my moving to another state, if we divorced, just to feel like I could live some sort of normal life without having to run into someone every day and relive it over and over again.

    So what would be my advice, as a man who is married to a good woman, who has her faults, but now knows that the man she married is gay? What could I say as someone who believes in the teaching of a loving Son of God, but no longer believes the "true church" by which those teachings were presented? Could I say to him to walk in my path? To somehow ignore those most base of emotions, to feel the longing to be loved by another man, to desiring the intimacy and fulfillment that only another man can offer him? To somehow come to accept their current situation as something that offers a glimmer of hope and maybe a sliver of happiness, but nothing more and feel that that is good enough for now?

    I can't, I haven't even figured that out for myself. Thank you for stating that every situation is different. There are those that are gay and are proud to be in mixed orientation marriages and flaunt that for the world to see, but then there are hundreds more like me that wished they had made different choices, that they had more information available before they were married so that they wouldn't have had to come to the very difficult cross-roads that me and so many others face on a daily, or even hourly, basis.

    If gay marriage was legal 10+ years ago, maybe I wouldn't have tried so hard to become straight and marry a woman. If a majority of the gay men that I have met in my life (I am in an industry where I work with quite a few) didn't seem to be self-centered, self-loathing and self-destructive, then maybe I could have pictured myself falling in love with one, and having a life together, rather than a series of one-night stands or temporary relationships. If I had known that men like you and others had existed, maybe...

  2. (My apologies that this is so long - and it wouldn't fit into one post)

    The reality is that I have lovely, young, and wonderful children full of promise and needing both a mother and a father. I don't want them to be pitied by the women of the church as the children of a gay man, I don't want my son to have to defend his father to his friends, and the multitude of other things that I have seen happen to the families of men who come out as gay and leave their families. I know my children are strong enough, but I am not.

    Instead, I will sit quietly through the meetings, wondering if the well dressed guy next to me with the scruff on his face is just like me, a fellow well dressed scruffy gay man, and how would I ever even bring it up in conversation. I will go through the motions of the perfect father, good husband, loving son and brother, and on the inside wonder if my lack of courage is not giving someone else the courage to make the right decision for them and their life. I will listen with patience and understanding as those around me tell me that this is the only true way, but in my mind know that this isn't the case. These people may be just as lost as I was, hanging on to what other people say as truth without trying to figure it out themselves. They are probably a lot like me, without the courage to face what is reality, that there is no cookie-cutter and the variety of people that God loves far exceeds their own narrow interpretation, and that is okay, maybe in my small way I can offer pieces of wisdom and advice that they don't feel is tainted by my own agenda.

    To answer the last question in this post: Yes, a father that is truly alive is a much better father, but a father who is dying inside is much better than a father who is dead inside. Maybe I am on life-support, but without my children I would be dead, and leaving their mother is not the answer, at least not now. I will reevaluate if in the future something changes, but for right now, today, this is what works.

    I hope that I haven't rambled and been way off topic, but I do feel that each man does have to be courageous to do make the decision that is right for him and his family. For me, I made a commitment to my wife, and by extension my children. My wife now knows I am gay, and she is free and has my full support to leave me, but as long as she wants to stay together and raise our children, then I will accept the reality of the decisions I have made and continue to be her husband and my children's father. I will put on the face of a good church-going father and take on those responsibilities because it makes her happy, not because I find any fulfillment in that myself. If the current climate of acceptance had existed when I first realized I was gay, then I am sure things would have been different. I knew I was gay before I got married, and as much as I had hoped that following the advice of the authorities would change me, I think I knew deep down inside that I wasn't going to change, and because of that I need to face the consequences of my decisions.

    When I am honest with myself, it comes down to this, I am not as miserable and uncomfortable as you were in your previous marriage, nor am I as happy or as fulfilled as you are in your current marriage. Until things change, I will be like the many other men in this situation and just hang tight and see what happens.

    1. Dear No Place At the Table - I feel very badly for never getting back to you. If you receive notice of this reply, how are you now? How has the new policy change affected your thinking, if at all?

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. There is much here to think about. I'll be back.

  4. Thanks to each of you for your very insightful comments. SO much to think about. I've battling these thoughts in my head over the weekend and have more I would love to share. Aside from this issue, the weekend has brought many people out in regards to the whole gay marriage issue. It's been interesting, to say the least, huh?

    You have a wonderful blog. I am enjoying reading from your life's experiences. I have so much in common with you, which is reassuring and comforting in a way. Keep up the great writing! I will respond again with my thoughts more in detail later.

  5. Thanks, Jeff. I will look forward to hearing from you.

  6. Joseph, I discovered your blog last week for the first time, in an on-going effort over the past year or so to finally find peace in my soul over these inner battles that have been waging inside of me my whole life. Since I first commented last week, I have been reading through almost every entry of yours in this blog all the way back to the first. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment that I spent doing so. There are some entries that are deeply poignant to me and have offered me an immense amount of strength. I have bookmarked them and will comment on them later. But let me just say "Thank you!" Thanks for opening yourself up to the world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, struggles and reflections for others to see. I have found so much validation, comfort, wisdom and strength from so many of your entries. I truly think that you have a gift in writing and reflecting.

    I know it is not easy. It is hard to write, but it is especially hard to keep up with it each month. I find it particularly admirable that you keep going strong even when nobody comments sometimes on even some of your most personal entries. This goes to show that you really do write for many reasons, not just for yourself. You have a lot of love in your life.

    1. Thank you, Jeff. I am so touched by what you have written and that you would take the time to read over 500 blog posts! When I started the process of coming out almost five years ago, I had another blog, Invictus Pilgrim, that is now closed. I've republished some of those posts here. Right now, I am in the midst of writing a memoir of my coming out year that will contain much of my writings on that blog.

    2. And yes, I do have a lot of love in my life. I am a very happy - and a very fortunate - man.

  7. I'd like to just make a last comment here on a common thread that I have seen throughout your blog: Authenticity. The stories and experiences that you have shared---from accepting your homosexuality to accepting your loss of faith in the church, from your struggles during your first marriage to the struggles you've endured after coming out, from the peace you've found after finally loving yourself for who you really are to the peace that many of your children have found when they came to love you and accept all of you as well---all have a beautiful common thread of authenticity. And I think I speak for many people when I say that I gravitate toward your writings because I, too, desire to be completely authentic. Anything less is a disrespect for myself and God.

    I said that I have been on a personal quest to love and accept myself fully for the past year (I am 38 now). Doing this requires me to be authentic. I have a core belief that has been a guiding influence for me lately. It is this: Each of us was beautifully created to be a unique, confident individual so that we can also be a strong force for good in the lives of other human beings. That, right there, is what I personally feel is the key to happiness in my life. But I find it so sad that so many are working so hard to fight against this, all in the name of doing what is right and socially acceptable and, in some cases, God and religion. I love God. I love Jesus Christ. I love all that He stood for. But He never advocated for hate of others. He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself". According to the Savior we are to love others, and we have to love them as we love ourselves! This, in fact, is the second great commandment. So the all-important question is: If we despise ourselves, how can we follow this great commandment and truly love others? So it is so incredibly important that we spend whatever time is required in order for each of us to love our own selves first, so that we can in turn show our love for others. If we feel forced to be inauthentic because society, a church, or family despises who we are, then we are not fully loving ourselves. And thus, there is no way to completely love others and be a unique influence for good in the lives of other human beings.

    So my dilemma is, I have internally come a long way on this road towards authenticity. Yet, at the same time, I have gone nowhere. I am still wearing the old mask. So I will be spending whatever time it takes to work on loving myself and being authentic. I realize what this means at the end of this process, though, and it scares me. For some in a MoM, they can be authentic, love their self, and still stay married. I am really, really happy for them. But I cannot relate to them at all, because such is not my case. As I said in my last post, I feel as though I am dying inside. I experience too many moments of pure insanity....all inside. I really do not have a good relationship with my wife (I could write a whole blog just about her and her bipolar, narcissistic, anger issues) and I have been hurt too much by the church to continue much longer. Right now, though, I cannot share any of it with my wife or anybody, otherwise it will shatter my marriage and then take my children away. For the time being, I will have to just focus on loving myself more and being as authentic as I can. In the end, it will probably end with my wife and I splitting up. Until then, though, I will take it one day at a time.

    1. Several comments here, Jeff.

      First of all, I appreciate what you wrote about authenticity. I'm very happy that you see this in my blog. Authenticity was what it was all about when I came out.

      Second, you are absolutely right about loving yourself before you can love others. When one carries self-hatred as a result of a stifled sexuality, it is impossible to love others authentically. Well, maybe not impossible, but pretty close. In my own case, there were many other aspects of my personality and life that were inhibited or stifled because they were connected to my closeted homosexuality.

      As to your third paragraph, your situation sounds very similar to what my situation was. I think the process you are going through right now is valuable. As to your marriage, a thought: What if you weren't gay. Would you be happy in your marriage? Would you consider divorce? That might (or might not) help bring more perspective to your situation and your fears.

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  10. Dear Joseph,

    So much has happened in my life since I wrote this last entry to you in July. Would you indulge me for a moment? I feel that you were a source of hope during a particularly bleak period of my life. Let me just preface by saying that the changes that have occurred in my life lately are only part of a journey that I have been engaged in for a very long time. Reading blogs and stories from many people like yourself, Joseph, have only helped me to realize that I am not alone. I am no longer a mistake that God or my parents made. I am me, and I am beautiful. I still carry on my shoulders the guilt and shame that are the result of growing up in the LDS church, and to a larger extent, our society. But, I have hope that perhaps God does not hate me. Perhaps God loves me. Perhaps being gay was something natural that I was born with, along with brown hair and ten fingers. Or perhaps it was a result of a troubled childhood and lack of male affection early on in my life. I do not know entirely. But I do know that God wants me to be happy, and I was not happy in a mixed-orientation marriage.

    You were right. If I wasn't gay I would still not be happy in the marriage that I was in. One morning in June I woke up and had the strong feeling that if I divorced my wife, it would be devastating to my children, but they would eventually be better off because they would be able to see life with me, away from and without the influence of their mother. You see, my wife has so many mental and emotional issues that my children are being raised in chaos and instability. If I could get away, they could see what life could be like without the chaos and with so much more stability. So, with that insight, and holding on to faith and hope, I told my wife around the middle of July that I wanted a divorce. Being the narcissistic and bipolar person that she is, you can imagine that the last few months have been a roller coaster.

    I filed for divorce, got an attorney, and began pursuing the right to have guardianship of my children. The children were devastated, as you can imagine. But things are getting better. They genuinely love me, and they love spending time with me. We have so much better quality time together, even though for the time being it is limited. But, for the time that they are with me, they experience stability and peace. My new apartment is clean, peaceful and a bright example of an alternative to the chaos that they live with every day with their mother.

    This decision that I made, ultimately, was because of the chaos, anger and negativity of my wife. The unhappiness in my marriage was not 100% due to my wife. The sexual frustrations played a big part for me. However, my ultimate decision to divorce was entirely because of her. I realized that my kids would actually have a greater chance in the long run if they knew me as a healthy, complete person, and could experience stability and peaceful living.

  11. One additional thing, the first hearing last month determined that my kids would continue to stay with my wife for the time being until further assessment could be completed. I live in a very conservative community, so my wife's lawyer asked me a question that she thought would damage my case. She asked, "Are you gay?" I paused for a moment and replied, "Yes." I added no more comment. You could have heard a pin drop, though, in the courtroom. Afterwards, my family, who doesn't fully grasp the seriousness of my feelings, tried to tell me how wrong and damaging it was to my case that I said 'yes'. However, I didn't feel that way. It felt liberating in a way to be able to just come out and say it. I wasn't ashamed or embarrassed. I felt happy about it. If it really hurts my case, then come what may. I don't want to lie anymore. According to my family, I "suffer" from same-sex attraction. Apparently, it's like a permanent disease, not a characteristic of my identity. We'll have our sit-down soon. They'll either love me or hate me. Either way, I will continue to just love myself. It's taken me 38 years to be able to be comfortable with the fact that I am gay. I suppose they might need a little time as well.

    But the information that leaked last week from the Church really put a whole new spin on my situation, as you can imagine. Two of my daughters are already baptized. One of them is six, and she really wants me to baptize her. This is a whole new dilemma that I was not prepared to deal with. I can't believe that this is happening at the same time as my divorce. So, my thoughts race as to what to do now. Do I just put up the facade that I'm the good Mormon who suffers with SSA, or do I completely come clean. Not sure yet about that one.

    Anyways, I thought you would find my story of interest. Thank you for your kind words before. They helped center my thoughts a bit more in preparation for this stage in my life.

    - Jeff

  12. Yes, Jeff, I do find your story of interest, to say the least! What you wrote touched me very deeply. I applaud your courage to move ahead with your life. I am so glad that you feel so much better about yourself and your sexuality. You are absolutely right: it is an integral part of who you are.

    As to the lawyer asking if you're gay: We went the mediation route when we divorced and my ex-wife's attorney tried to make a huge deal out of the fact that I am gay, that I had abandoned my wife, etc., etc., etc. The mediator, who was a retired judge who had presided over hundreds if not thousands of divorce cases finally turned to the guy and said: "Utah is a no-fault jurisdiction. The fact that he is gay is irrelevant." They did try to stick it to me re custody issues and parental time, but that fizzled as well.

    Keep moving forward, Jeff. You have already seen how your children are benefitting and how you are benefitting. Your heart seems to absolutely be in the right place. Continue to be strong and courageous, always remembering that you are a person of worth and are loved. Good luck with your family. As they see your confidence in who you are, my hope is that their hearts will be turned ... eventually.

    Meanwhile, here's a song for you: