Navigating Love, Sex, and a Mixed-Orientation Marriage

Photo by Mike Fox on Unsplash

How would you respond if your partner or lover told you they were attracted to a different gender or sexuality than what you knew about them?

A friend shared an article with me this week, How Helping My Husband Discover He’s Gay Helped Me Let Go.

Here’s a brief summary of the story:

Written by the ex-wife, she recounts her husband’s coming out process, how things started, and how they navigated a mixed-orientation marriage until finally ending the marriage after 21 years.

The beauty in the telling of the story is in the details. I’m sure many things were left out, but from the from her perspective, this was the best outcome. They worked it out. They still love each other, but redefined.

And why not? The alternative would have been tragic.

He would have cheated. He might have had unsafe sex as a shame/guilt response.

Instead, she was strong beyond measure. She respected the individual — her husband, partner, lover, and father of her children.

Not because he has more rights or privileges than her, but because a part of his identify surfaced.

Was it always there? Who knows. Can we change our sexual preference with age? I do not know the answer.

How we handle ourselves in situations like this, as she did, is the pinnacle of human dignity.

Don’t read the comments on Facebook.

The ignorance, distaste, self-righteousness, self-centredness, and lack of compassion is off the charts.

I won’t bore you with many quotes, but let’s look at one “holier than thou” response:

“I’m probably the only one who thought he was selfish in this. He dragged her through an emotional roller coaster when he could have just left earlier and discovered himself on his own instead of allowing her to hold on so tightly when I think he knew the entire time he was gay but tried to deny himself. And then he falls in love WHILE still married to her and then just bails for his new partner. She has unconditional love for him. Sad really. Everything he put her though.”

(Name omitted to protect the annoying.)

Every. Thing. HE. Put her through.

Clearly she didn’t read the article. The article is written in the first person by the ex-wife. She details the journey, and how the two of them talked it out. Every step of the way over years. The two of them came to mutual agreements that evolved over time.

The TWO of them are grown adults who made their own decisions. Both are complicit in their choices. The only people who have a right to judge their relationship are the two of them alone.

No one else has that right.

The lack of Empathy on Facebook:

Empathy is about putting yourself in other people’s shoes, in an attempt to feel what they might be feeling. The commenter above, any many more like “her” have a surprising (or not so surprising) immediate disdain and judgement for the the husband.

It’s worth stopping here and watching this short video from Brené Brown on Empathy:

The comments on Facebook show a lack of understanding, and the self-righteousness of people who think there is only one way to love.

They believe there is only way to have a relationship. They attack the husband in the story because they haven’t taken the time to deal with their own relationship drama.

It’s much easier to be angry and make a nasty comment on social media than it is to get therapy, coaching, or make yourself a better human.

Let alone consider an alternate, a queer viewpoint.

It’s my believe that at least half the problem with many of the knee-jerk reactions on Facebook is based on people’s ignorance of the heteronormative prison that is called marriage:

As one narrow-minded neophyte wrote,

“Is saying “I’m bisexual, let me sleep with men” really any different than saying “I am attracted to another women, let me sleep with her”? When you get married you are committed to one person and you don’t get to go out and experiment or have your fun. It shouldn’t matter if it’s with a man or a woman, it’s cheating.”

Saying you are attracted to the same sex when you never expressed that before is DIFFERENT. Like, at the fucking core of your identity different!

And by the way dumb ass, cheating is when you don’t tell the person. Clearly this couple established boundaries about seeing other people. That is not cheating.

Life is about change, growth, and transformation

The longer we are in relationships things change. We are not a single person in a relationship. If one person grows in a different direction, and the other person doesn’t grow, what then?

How often have you grown apart from a friend, or vice versa? WHY should a marriage be any different?

We have the freedom to choose how we want to live our lives.

What many of the commenters ignore is that the husband and wife had an open dialogue about what was happening. They both chose to go on the journey together.

Take a look in the mirror and see yourself

Where in your life have you needed compassion, or empathy? Did you get it or did someone shoot you down? Were you judged for your choices? How did that make you feel?

Where in your life did you challenge the status quo or tradition? How did that work out for you?

Is love a selfish act?

My friend who sent me the link to this article wrote,

“I have a belief that love is generally a selfish act because people love the way someone makes them feel and do not necessarily have true love.”

Based on he negative comments on this article we could presume that love is a selfish and needy act.

The possible unconscious thought for this false premise is,

“If you don’t love me the way I expect you to, then you’re a terrible person.”

Here’s the Truth

No matter how close we get to someone, no matter how much we love or are loved by another person, that person can never know all that we are.

That’s neither good or bad. It’s a simple truth.

Your life experiences, feelings, memories, and behaviours have been developed over many years. It’s impossible to be able to share every aspect of who you are, no matter how long you are in a relationship with someone else.

There will always be walls, or a closet of some shape, that holds back the truth of who we are.

Perhaps this is our core essence and maybe that’s something we need to selfishly and silently hold onto.

But is love selfish?

Yes, it can be when it’s one-sided. That’s either greed or expectation.

To survive you need to take care of you first. You need to nourish your body with food and water. You need to exercise to stay strong and healthy. You need to give of yourself, to care and love others, so that you can receive the same.

Is love needy?

It can be. And in the case of this couple, both needed each other. Both wanted to care for their children. Both wanted to share in the journey. They needed that, but they chose it together.