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By Rick Clemons
Are “gay men” living heterosexual lives ALWAYS a bad thing?
Your husband comes to you and says, “I have something to tell you.” The first panicked thought that crosses your mind is—”Oh God, he’s dying or having an affair.” Both thoughts are true, but slightly off-course from what’s really about to happen to your marriage.
You’re about to kill him because he’s having an affair … but it turns out, with a man (or even many men). Life as you knew it just got flushed down the toilet. White picket fence dreams blacken. Golden years of retirement tarnish.
Related: 10 Tell-Tale Signs He’s Cheating
Thoughts of how could I have not known or seen this? cause you to gasp for air. Divorce court, here you come. Or, do you?
Maybe, just maybe … not; it depends on the strength of your marriage and your desire to work it out.
Gasp! Did I just suggest that you stay in your marriage even if your husband is pounding the pool boy? No. I’m suggesting you find out what is really going on with your husband and his desires for same-sex sex. It’s not exactly true that he’s become the gayest blade in the neighborhood.
Too often, we assume that same-sex attraction definitively define a man, or a woman, as homosexual. Granted, the bisexual card can also get played, which simply means the person is more fluid in their sexual attractions.
The real question becomes, what it is that makes your guy want to have sex with men? Is it a closeted bromance? Lack of testosterone? Latent femininity? Desire for submission? Or, was it a one-time thing that just happened?
In the world of sexuality and sexual exploration, there is no one right answer. If there was, then there would be no therapists, coaches, or counselors. The right answer would be published in a New York Times bestseller and all would be right in the world (of sex).
Yet, here’s one of life’s dirty little secrets—hundreds of thousands of “normal” married couples (if there is such a thing as normal) are living in mixed orientation marriages by choice. Mixed orientation marriage meaning one spouse is homosexual and the other is heterosexual.
I know, that’s a jaw-dropper, but it is true. Google “mixed orientation marriages” and here’s what you’ll find plenty of advice and article on how to make mixed orientation marriage work. With a little more digging and sleuthing, you’ll find there is a whole underworld of support for both spouses, but no one is talking about it. Why?
Hello, have you seen the reactions to gay marriage? Does a day go by where someone, somewhere, is NOT bullied, abused, or even murdered for being gay?
Under the covers of the mixed orientation marriage world is a dress rehearsal. Until we as a society accept this choice as a viable option and part of the fabric of our lives, nothing will change; and that’s the problem. Nothing will change because, unfortunately, for many people, gender and sexual orientation is still a black or white concept. No room for shades of gray in the discussion.
But I say, let’s get to the gray conversations! So, here are 5 reasons why mixed orientation marriages are worth considering:
1. Whatever works, works.
Just like being gay, bisexual, transgender, polyamourous, asexual, and all the rest of the spectrum of sexuality, if it works for a couple to have a mixed orientation marriage, then let it work. It’s their marriage and their relationship. How many of you would like someone getting into your bed and telling you how to live in your marriage?
2. There are two sides to every story.
Couples who find themselves in a mixed orientation marriage often feel victimized and repressed. When communication is open to discussing how each partner feels, there’s a higher likelihood that common ground might be found between them. Uncover the real story and you’ll also uncover the real answers to what you should do in this situation.
3. Determine the levels of desire.
As hard as it is to have this type of conversation, it’s critical to determine if this is a deep-seated sexual desire, or an emotional desire. The two are mutually exclusive and mutually dependent.
If the “gay” partner is seeking sexual satisfaction only, with no emotional attachment, then sexual exploration might be a space for the couple to venture together.
On the other hand, if there is emotional attachment and deeper connection to individuals of the same gender heightened by sex, then there’s a high probability you might be looking at a bisexual or gay partner. If that’s the case, then the onus rests on the partner struggling with their same-sex attractions to find themselves and come clean to their spouse.
4. Does wanting gay sex mean they’re gay?
Not necessarily. Sexual desires require many different paths in order for full satisfaction. It’s no different from the desire for the missionary position versus doggie style. One may desire a same-sex tryst from time to time to satisfy their sexual energy.
Provided the couple has open communication about their sexual requirements, then all that’s left to do is make it work.
5. What’s sex got to do with it?
As a society, we’ve become very sexually hung up. Sex is either a tool for procreation, a recreational sport, or a deviant behavior. Yet, it seems there is no room for “sex just isn’t my cup of tea.”
Often, mixed orientation marriages work because, for the heterosexual partner, sex is not a priority. Love, companionship, co-parenting, and social standing are the priority and sex is simply an option and/or obligation.
Ironically, those who’d like to throw stones at someone else’s marriage, especially those who’ve never stood in the shoes of a mixed orientation marriage, need to consider the following:
- Sometimes people get married for the wrong reasons and it has nothing to do with one partner being gay or afraid of being themselves.
- Marriages of all varieties fail and fall apart ALL the time. Get over it.
- Sexual orientation is perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back, but no one talks about all the other straws in a marriage that were also too heavy to carry.
- Love does conquer all, even a spouse being gay.
- You have the right to live in your marriage your way, just as much as someone else has a right to live in their marriage their way.
At the end of the day, the final word really is: there’s 50 shades of gray to almost everything in life, even marriage.
Rick Clemons is a YourTango Expert and author known as The Coming Out Coach.