Wow, John. Just… wow. You have spoken from your heart, and I am proud of you for desiring the deepest of all things, both for you and for Patricia. It takes a very big person with a very big outlook on life, love and faith to live according to unconditional love like this. I hope the very best of all things that this very short life has to offer us.
Finding a person who is experiencing a revelation that their spouse is gay is not as surprising to me as it used to be.
However, being contacted by a man whose wife has come out of the closet is still somewhat of a rarity to me in my world. Why is that? I’m not sure, but I know it isn’t as uncommon as I once thought.
John, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, contacted me through finding this site, as it is now listed as an online resource through Straight Spouse Network. Thank you, Ron, for pointing him in my direction. I am sure he (and you, Ron) can help others who are going through what the two of you have gone through. Many blessings to you, Ron and John, as you travel down this path that you did not expect… but trying to keep your feet on solid ground.
Thank you, John, for sharing your story. I know that it will help others. Here is what he wrote in his journal. Such transparency. Such raw experience. Thank you.
We’re facing a major crisis; we both feel that our lives are unraveling. Back in May 2013, I had started going to a marriage therapist (alone) and my wife had returned to see the psychologist that she had been seeing some years earlier. She had ‘come out’ to me as being a lesbian, as having long struggled with her attractions to other women, as having long been in denial, even to herself. My first reaction was one of immense compassion in the face of so much suffering, over such a long time. And a strange sense of relief that the barrenness of our physical relationship was not my fault, or hers; she couldn’t feel desire for me, and she couldn’t feel desire for any man.
I’m shaken to my roots and beyond. For me, marriage and my love for my wife is not just a relationship, now in difficulty. It’s also so deeply tied up with my faith, my understanding of God, his calling for me, his love. All this, for the moment at least, is shattered. I don’t feel that I can go on preaching, taking services as a lay preacher. And my wife has for years prayed to be freed from all that, The Gay Thing, ‘given it to God’. She feels she has never been answered or even heard, and that has played a major part in her practically losing her faith.
My prayer – though I can hardly feel anything of a prayerful nature, find it very hard, impossible, to believe in possible change for the better – is that God may give me some new spark of life, something to live for; that he may give her something to live for, some new spark; and that – if possible – he may give something to us together that allows us to go on together. We clearly need to give ourselves the time we need to come to any decisions. For the first time, we’ve mentioned the ‘d’ word (divorce), because others have. So far, we both want to see how we can stay together – and we don’t see how we could in any case afford to separate. We both feel that we’re too old to find the energy to invest in creating new separate lives for ourselves. I’ve talked about getting chemical castration so that we can both be at the same level of no desire… She has no other person in view, though she’s had a very short relationship with a woman in the past, more to see what it was like than out of love. I’ve never looked at anyone else, despite the immense frustration of an almost non-existent sex-life. We’ve both struggled, prayed, so long with issues in our lives… prayers that were not answered.
We both struggle with a heavy burden of guilt. Others still see us as pillars of the faith-based NGO that has been our professional ‘home’. But now, we can no longer fully identify with it, because of the gap between the movement’s ideals and what we’re actually living through. Can I accept to mourn the loss of my legitimate desire to be desired? Can Patricia mourn the different love that might have been?
All the past is not changed or invalidated by this crisis. One thing we’ve done a little of (suggested in one of the two books I found on Amazon about married women who love women) is to remember and list all our good memories, all that we have to be grateful for. Whatever becomes of of us, there has been a lot that we can be proud of and grateful for. In my panic, I was losing sight of all that. One step at a time, one day at a time. ‘Normal couples’ also have their crises; have no absolute guarantee for the long term. I think it was Keynes who remarked that ‘In the long term, we’re all dead!’
Nothing has changed. But everything has changed. Four words: ‘I am a lesbian.’ It’s just a word, just a label. The person I married and loved is still the same person. I just know a little more about her. Understand a little better. Understand why the intimacy hasn’t been all that I hoped for, longed for. I understand better why I’ve never felt desired. Is that really true? I should be wary of words like ‘always’ and ‘never’. My memory’s not great at the best of times, and now I’m a little shaken and stirred. I feel that I have never been desired. Loved, perhaps, but not desired, not wanted. There’s never been more than an effort on her side to satisfy me. And this is deeply damaging to my sense of self. How can I be desirable if I am not desired? Isn’t this one of the basic needs? One of the basic motors for marriage?
Nothing has changed in our daily lives. Life goes on. We talk to each other, a little more than before, more intimately. So much emotion, turmoil, pain, uncertainty. And nothing has changed. Or rather, one thing has: our promised of ‘till death do us part’ are now modified. We’ve said to ourselves and to each other: ‘for now, or until one or other meets someone else, encounters a new love’.
I am determined and depressed. Determined to stay and to make it work. Depressed that I can see no small sign of greater physical intimacy. O for some sign, some promise of some kind of change. Even for the worse, for distancing. Just not more of the same. We can and do talk. But the reality of our lives changes not one bit. Everything that I try leads no-where.
What are the options?
2. An open marriage, at least on my side. She’s said it to me several times now, in anger. I dream of posting on a web site something like: ‘straight man in sexless marriage with a lesbian seeks straight woman in mirror situation for friendship and more’;
3. Chemical castration. This is something that I’d thought of and mentioned earlier to the therapist, as one possible option for me;
4. I learn to live more or less at peace in a sexless marriage.
My deepest desires are incompatible, impossible. I have loved and cherished my wife for 34 years now. I want to love and cherish her to the end of our days, to grow old with her. And I also want (need?) to be desired, loved, wanted physically. I want a deep sexual connection with her, or even a poor sexual connection, but some exchange. And this is just not possible. She cannot offer me this; she is not able. So where does this leave me? What do I need? What cannot I live without? Our marriage IS over. It can, perhaps, be rebuilt on a new basis, but the old one is dead and gone.
Our 34th wedding anniversary today, and the first time that I’ve seriously wondered if it is the last. Where will we be in a year from today? It all leaves me feeling even more puzzled and troubled and depressed and frustrated.
My wife’s impatient with me, seems to feel that I should be moving on, getting on with life. She also thinks that I need a spiritual counselor. I think she may be on to something: someone not to talk about sex with, but about God and his will and plan (does he have one?). Why am I here? Where is faith and God in all this? This mess? Or is it not a mess, but a chance to learn and love more? Did a loving God bring us this far to take us further, together? I am ready to do anything; and she is ready to do nothing.
A great feeling of emptiness and waste. She’s surprised that I still spend time on the Web: but there’s no change, and no change in view. That’s why I’m still looking for support and help and ideas and compassion and understanding from str8s who know what it’s like. She still doesn’t get it. The feeling of not being loved and desired: how that makes me feel unlovable and undesirable. Betrayed, by her and by God.
Can I come to peacefully accept a life of celibacy? She is not going to change. She can’t. She doesn’t desire me; and she can’t. Is any change possible? If it is, why aren’t we seeing it? I could scream with frustration.
Is this as good as it gets? This is a successful MOM! Perhaps this is as good as it gets. After all, what is ‘a successful Mixed orientation Marriage’? We’ve passed the first anniversary of her coming out. And we’re still together, still exclusive and faithful to each other, and intending to continue that way. What a year of trauma it has been, mostly for me, but some for her too. The ‘d’ word has been spoken, divorce. We’ve looked at all the other options: an open marriage, one side or both. Perhaps we’re going for the hardest one, or perhaps it’s the easiest, the one involving the least change. We both felt too old to start new lives. After all, there’s no guarantee of finding a better, more compatible partner if we separate. We’ve invested a lot, most of our lives, in THIS relationship. And there’s a lot of good in it. We like each other; we talk together, we do things together (and apart). But we’ve never had much of a sex life, and now we have none. So there’s very little of the intimacy that for me is such an important part of a marriage. The total giving and opening up, the vulnerability, the no hold-back, the intimacy, the desire for the beloved other. And we’re both mourning the hot sex that we’ve never known and will never know.
But there’s a very deep intimacy all the same. She trusted me, she shared with me her deepest struggle, her darkest secret. We are friends and perhaps even lovers, but without the sex. Can this be enough for me? We’ll see. But it’s already a lot. But I have to learn to live with the present, with what I have, rather than dreaming of some future and improbable miracle change. This is a good day, with lots of good things in it, even without sex. Perhaps this is as good as it gets, and this is success, not the miracle that I was searching for on the web in someone else’s experience. With some magical way of arousing a lesbian who has no desire for me at all, but a lot of tenderness and affection. And there are no secrets, and there is trust. That’s a pretty rare and precious gift too. There are no guarantees for the future – but that’s true of every marriage. Ours are just lived with a far greater realism about the fragility of all relationships.
How can I work on myself, what can I change, while waiting for the unanswered prayers to be answered? I pray for peace and wholeness, but they must be given, from outside. I pray for the fatted calf, as in the story of the Prodigal son, and for my roots to be watered. But I have no handle on any of that. So what can I change? Not hold on to false hopes and dreams; let go of all bitterness and anger. Try to let go of frustration. Try to find compassion for my wife and her pain. Our marriage is for her a prison. She’s said it. Thank God I’m not the jailer, but for her, we’re both prisoners of our past choices. There are signs of appreciation from others; our lives, our life together has not been entirely barren. We leave a trace; we mean something to others. But there’s a big, dark hole at the heart of our marriage, of terrible violence to our selves, to our own lives. An amputation in the field, unhealed.
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