Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mixed-Orientation Marriages Revisited: Peace in Being Real

Alex is a young married man who has recently started the process of coming to terms with being gay.  After reading the series of posts on mixed-orientation marriages that ran on this blog in December, Alex wrote to say that these posts and their comments echoed “a lot of things I’ve being thinking the last few weeks and helped to clarify a lot of my reasons for thinking and feeling the way I do.”

I have received Alex’s permission to share part of his story, below.  As he received assistance and food for thought from other men’s experiences, we share his now that it might perhaps help others as well.  (At Alex’s suggestion, I have created a page containing links to all of the posts of mixed-orientation marriages, a link to which can be found at the top of the right sidebar.)

I recently came to terms with being gay. It's taken me a long time. I came out to myself about 2 months ago now. Then I came out to my wife. I had told her I struggled with SSA while we were dating, but I think it's taken years for me (and her) to actually know what that means.  Even though we talked about my “SSA” before getting engaged, it’s not the same as saying, “I’m gay. I can’t change that. Can you accept that?”  She said she didn’t know.

At first everything seemed to be alright. I then spent the following month just wondering how she really felt; finally, it all came out. It was rough, but I thought things were looking better.

But on Valentine’s Day, the illusions were finally shattered.   Like many of your commenters have said, I saw what was happening not only to me but to her in our marriage. My wife told me she felt like she was living in half a marriage, that she deserved to be in a marriage where she felt loved and that she deserved to be in a marriage where she felt respected.

These declarations weren’t a result of me telling her I was gay. They were a result of living for years pretending that nothing was wrong.  I can’t blame being gay for everything wrong in my marriage. But what I realized is that I had thought for a long time that I was the only one unhappy in my marriage, that if I were to divorce my wife I’d be the bad guy; I realized that she was unhappy, too. 

Well you’d think I’d be so enlightened. But I was miserable. I was contemplating giving up all of the new confidence I found in accepting me for me (including being gay) to make my marriage “work.”  I know I can’t “push” this [gay] me away, but could I, you know, make him a little less vocal, a little less present? Did I really have to bring it up to my wife?

I think I do. I can’t live in my marriage not being who I am. I need for her to love me and “accept” (I’ll work on defining that later) me on those terms.

In regards to other comments, I don’t disagree we need to be less selfish. But I echo your words that being selfless in our situation is mutual suicide. If I just bury myself again, I’m not doing me or my wife any favors.

So what do I do?  It’s possible that I’m just trying to force it too quickly, like many men in successful MOM’s that this time will fade and things will get better. I have my doubts. I’m willing to put some work into this marriage. But I will never be able to fully give up my desire to be with a man, and not just for sexual reasons.

I know that one way to deal with this is to create other ways to meet those needs. I don’t disagree, and I don’t want to be too harsh, but I think that we have to be careful and not kid ourselves into thinking that we aren’t being emotionally unfaithful to our wives. On the other hand, this seems to be, and may be the only way to make our marriages work.

I look forward to hearing more about your journey. Mine has been extremely painful. But I can honestly say that my depression is gone. I can also say that I’m dealing with a lot of pain, frustration and sadness as I watch the relationship with a woman I love but have hurt deeply go through some difficult times. But that there’s a peace that comes from God in being real to myself and really acknowledging my emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.

Alex added a postscript:  “I love Chopin. I learned to play Prelude Opus 28 No. 15 when I was 17. At this same time, I realized I was gay, but went through years of trying to “change” (including reparative therapy). Ten years later, I’m finally figuring out that this was mostly a lie.”

As a tribute to Alex and others struggling in mixed-orientation marriages, here is Russian pianist Valentina Igoshina playing Chopin’s beautiful Prelude Op. 28, No. 15:


  1. Postscript: Alex has started his own blog, located at He has several posts that amplify and expand what he has written above, including three posts wherein he answers his question, "Why Did I Get Married?".

  2. Wow. Listening to her play that brings so many things to mind. I don't know if I expected the flood of things I'm feeling and remembering now. Like I said, this was a song I played when I was 17, I realized I was gay but didn't know what to do. That in itself is a long story, but I basically suppressed this part of myself for years feeling guilty about it, trying to change it.
    Well as the post says now I'm married. And all of this is flooding back to me, me realizing what I've been fighting, giving up. It's scary as I balance the need to accept myself and come to be myself with the very real and complicated relationship with my wife. But like your "Painting Pictures of Egypt" post says, I can never go back to a time before I discovered/rediscovered these things about myself, before I told my wife. That makes for some really difficult times. In all honesty though it also makes for some remarkable almost sublime times, where I feel so much more at peace with who I am and with the love and acceptance I feel from God.
    Sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning, I wonder what it would be like if I had just never poked and prodded myself to acknowledge that I was gay.
    But while I might want sometimes to have things be as they were, to go back to my naivety of how my marriage actually is and was, I wouldn't go back and undo it, as tumultuous and difficult as it's been.