Thursday, March 24, 2011

Voices: An Overwhelming Emptiness

Today’s post contains the words of “Dave.” yet another gay Mormon in a mixed-orientation marriage (MoM).  From time to time, I receive e-mails or messages from men such as Dave who have read something on my blog that resonates with them. The thing that stands out about Dave’s story that he has shared with me is that it is so similar to the many other stories I have read or heard. 

I believe it is very important that stories such as Dave’s be shared, both to give him and men like him a voice, and also to continue to educate others as to the types of emotions and conflicts that men like Dave experience as they agonize over making sense of who they are and what that means in terms of their marriage and the life they have lived as they have struggled to “do the right thing.”  

It is also important anecdotal evidence that there are many, many men in the Church who are in a similar situation.

“I've been reading your blog with great interest, but to be honest, it scares the hell out of me. One reason for my fear is related to the progression that many MOHO blogs take. I began reading your blog and Joe Conflict's blog by starting at the beginning. Reading about other MOHOs' journeys is scary because I'm at the first stages of this journey, and I see where many others end up (a place I've denied as a possibility because my life is spent in denial in order not to hurt my spouse and young children).

“Like many other men who grew up in religious households, I didn't come to terms with my attraction to men until well after I was married. I've spent years in the cycle of self-hatred caused by the mistaken belief that these attractions could be overcome with faith, diligence, obedience, etc. But several events caused me to say enough is enough. Nothing has changed my attraction to men and I'm no longer going to deny it or feel bad for having these feelings. I choose to accept my sexuality as it is.

“But I don't know what that means for the future. And although my initial decision to accept my sexuality was a relief, I now fear what comes next. But I know I can't live with this pain and sadness any longer. The emptiness I feel is often overwhelming and I can't imagine that my sadness is not affecting all the people I hope to protect by living in denial ...

“Several months ago, my wife was out of town and I watched the Prop 8 documentary. I knew it would be biased, but what struck me more than anything was seeing two Mormon men who love each other, but whose love is repudiated by the Church and its teachings. I spent several days thereafter looking at blogs about gay Mormons, including listening to the three-hour interview on Mormon Stories that details one man's therapy journey, as interviewed by his former therapist. For the first time, I heard someone else describe the feelings I feel, and which you described today on your blog - a longing to fill the emptiness inside me that is far beyond a sexual attraction or a visual attraction to men.

“As a result, I chose to stop spending my free time surfing porn, but rather to address these feelings head-on. I also re-read conference talks about homosexuality and listened to the church leaders state that they don't ask anything of gay members that isn't expected of single members. ‘That’s not true!’, my soul cried out. ‘The Church asks its gay members to accept a hopeless future. No hope of dating someone they're attracted to, no hope of marrying someone they have a natural attraction to, not even the notion of seeking such a relationship or the basic things non-married hetero members are encouraged to do.’

“With these feelings and reactions raging, my wife returned from her trip, and although I'm sure she could tell I was deeply depressed, she didn't ask any questions. (By now we're both good at denial).  You see, I told my wife about five years ago about my attraction to men. I talked to my bishop and sought counseling thru LDS social services - but I didn't continue therapy long before deciding that it was a waste of time to listen to a social worker push the church and Evergreen's theories about causes of homosexuality and cures. I also told myself that I could ignore these feelings, and if able to control my desire to view porn, the feelings would go away. Of course they didn't.

“Last month, I decided that I needed to seek professional help from a therapist with experience in this area, and chose a non-Mormon therapist. So far, it's going ok, but slowly. I haven't told my wife that I'm meeting with a therapist - mostly because I'm avoiding all the issues this will raise. My commitment to her for the last 14 years has been chaste - I have never cheated in any way, with the exception of consistent pornography issues. (Oddly enough when I decided to face this situation head-on, my desire to view porn vanished).  At the same time, I'm worried that exploring my sexuality raises so many questions. I don't want to hurt her and I do love her and our children. I don't want her to doubt my love. I don't want her to worry that I will leave. I don't want our children to grow up with divorced parents. But based on the blogs I've read, I can't guarantee that our separation isn't a possibility.

“So, a couple of questions - I told my therapist that I want to know if there is a way to be happy but stay married. He suggested that being honest about my sexuality with myself and others is a first step. But will that lead to happiness? Right now, I'm on the edge of crying very often. I'm just trying to keep it together. Do you think it's possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

“My marriage is fairly good; we are good friends, we don't fight much, we love each other, but the emotional love isn't there. We have a decent sex life, but it often feels like we're roommates. We rarely hug or kiss; I’m told that I give off a vibe that I don't want to be approached. I know this is different for everyone, but if you were in this situation, do you think you would choose to stay? One big question in my mind is whether I'll be any happier if I leave and seek a male mate? Will the possibility of finding happiness be worth leaving my wife and kids behind? Will accepting my sexuality and being honest with myself and others be enough to fill the gaping hole in my chest?”

So, dear readers, please support Dave by responding to his questions and giving him some food for thought:

- Will be honest about his sexuality with himself and others lead to happiness?

- Is it possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

- If you were in his situation, what would you do (keeping in mind that there are obviously dozens of factors of which we are unaware and that each and every mixed-orientation marriage has its own unique dynamics)?


  1. If he accepts God into his life and tries hard enough, his homosexual attractions will diminish. I suggest Evergreen support group participation, and praying with a sincere heart. Thousands each year have diminished or eliminated their same sex attraction. Dave will find happiness in the strength of the lord and living Gods commandments.

  2. @Anonymous - On what basis do you make such a claim? Personal experience? Are you gay? Are you married? If so, how long?

  3. I'm not in a MOM, but I relate to the dilemma because I feel like I'm facing the same questions just at a different stage of life. I'm not married. I always wanted to be married to a woman but was terrified of ever letting myself be romantically involved with anyone of either gender because I'm afraid of "discovering" that I am, in fact, totally gay and there's no hope for what I thought was my dream. Being back from a mission for a couple years and finally realizing that I *cannot* accept a life of celibacy, I'm realizing I have to at least open my mind to the possibility of what were, in the past, "alternate paths," and so I feel I face the same questions as this dear contributor, but the stakes are what I might lose in the future rather than in his case what he's worried he might lose that he already has.

    - Will be honest about his sexuality with himself and others lead to happiness?

    Not necessarily. Happiness is contingent on more than "openness." However, it may be a necessary step to happiness. It sounds like he may not be happy now (though only he can say for sure), which would indicate to me that it being more open is probably a necessary precondition for future *opportunities* for happiness (though I stress it won't automatically lead to it).

  4. - Is it possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

    Yes. Everyone is so different. This question seems to want to take accountability and put it elsewhere (which is definitely what I do on my "journey", too, of which I think my voracious reading of Moho blogs is a symptom. Will it be possible for him? Only he and his wife can say.

    - If you were in his situation, what would you do (keeping in mind that there are obviously dozens of factors of which we are unaware and that each and every mixed-orientation marriage has its own unique dynamics)?

  5. I feel like I am in his situation; it’s just from a different vantage point. Should I pursue my own MOM, or should I give up now before trying? Thus, reflecting exactly where I am in my parallel journey (with different stakes and at a different life stage), if I were him I would do what I am trying to do now: in that I’ve discovered my current approach has not brought happiness, I have to consider other possibilities. Only by being honest with myself can I even recognize the path(s) that will allow me to be happy. I would be very frank with my wife about exactly what I’m thinking and how I feel about things so that she can be aware and go along with me, rather than one day suddenly be shocked. I’ve recently realized that I am putting strain on my relationship with my parents just by not talking to them about homosexuality more because they assume they know what I’m feeling, and I assume they know, and then I’ll come out with some idea or choice that will throw them into crisis mode. I imagine for a spouse it’s even more important to maintain constant openness otherwise you really will not feel close when such a big part of your person can’t be shared. If I or my spouse could not handle that, then I don’t think happiness would be possible in that situation.

    Yeah, so, sorry to go on so long and with so little experience. I’m excited to hear what everyone has to say.

  6. I've seen many gay men leave their religion and marriages and find happiness but I've never seen gay men find real peace and happiness in a MoM or in a religion that doesn't fully support their natural state of being. Religion and fear seem to be the drug of choice and those who give advice to continue on that path are enablers. Misery loves company. The real truth is all of this can just go away. It happens every day. Men choose to step out of their old way of life that was never really working and into a new life of self acceptance. To think that the best thing for your wife and kids is an unhappy, unauthentic father is delusional. When the plane is going down put on your own oxogen mask first and then help others. You are of no use to those around you if you are suffocating. There's lots of air available, all you have to do is breath.

  7. I have to admit, being honest about my sexuality has made me really happy. I am currently single, though, so I don't have all the
    complication of a marriage that you have. But, when I came out on Facebook I felt free, in a way. I no longer have to hide who I am to myself or anyone. It's like I can finally invite people into my life and let them get to know me--the real me.

    I plan to find a man that I can be with, share my life with, and commit to. (Obviously I'll have to leave the Church, since I don't imagine that we'd be happy together without being intimate.) I just had my recommend taken away, even though I feel like it was unjust because all I've done so far is make out, and that wasn't as devastating as I thought it would be.

    Whether coming out will make you personally happy, I could not say, but I would recommend it. Clearly, it seems as though starting along that path will eventually lead to you leaving your wife and finding a man. But, maybe not. There are several others in your situation that are still committed to staying with their wife. The only advice I would give is to start feeling emotions again, and then to be true to yourself. If you feel that staying with your wife is being true to yourself, then do it.

  8. I was in a MOM for 13 years. The minute she found out I was gay it was over. Just took another 15 months to wrap up. Trev has to remember what this does to the other half. If they don't know about the gayness they are being deceived. If they do know it is self deception. Likelihood of success is low. I will never do it again. I have met so many guys like me who bet their lives on it. Most of the time they lose the bet.

  9. I believe it is possible to find a balance and a real sense of happiness in a MOM. It takes a lot of work, and some serious sacrifice on both parts, but it is possible. Communication is the key. I'm slow at learning that lesson, but it is amazing to see now, as I come out to two of my kids, that my wife's solidarity with him, and not against me, is coming through and paying off.

    Is there that deep passion that dreams are made of? Maybe not, probably not, but there is commitment, companionship, and a deep relationship that is centered on love.

    Some days I wonder if I will ever know that passion of dreams, but what I do have is still worth it.

  10. [My therapist] suggested that being honest about my sexuality with myself and others is a first step. But will that lead to happiness? ... Will accepting my sexuality and being honest with myself and others be enough to fill the gaping hole in my chest?

    Coming out to yourself and those closest to you is only a first step. By itself, it may not make you feel better, but it can be the beginning of a longer process that may result in significant life improvements.

    As you mentioned, coming out is scary. It has ramifications. It may introduce changes in some significant relationships in your life, including your marriage. If you're ready to start this journey, give it a go. If you need more time, then wait.

    Do you think it's possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

    It depends on "how gay" you are. A minority of gay people appear to be capable of relating romantically with a person of their nonpreferred sex. These folks are capable of maintaining acceptable opposite-sex marriages and making the necessary compromises. For the rest of us, an acceptable level of satisfaction in a mixed-orientation marriage is just not possible.

    However, the statistics no matter how dismal aren't really relevant to any individual case. The relevant question here is where you fall on the Kinsey scale, from super straight to super gay. The fact that you are 14 years into a relationship and still feel a severe inability to achieve a passionate emotional connection with your spouse could be seen as evidence that you're more on the gay side of this continuum.

    People on the outside can't really advise you here. You need to look into your own heart and decide if you can continue along your current path, or if real change is needed.

    I know this is different for everyone, but if you were in this situation, do you think you would choose to stay?

    I do think you might be happier if you entertained the possibility in your mind that you might end your marriage. What this thought experiment does is help reduce any feelings that you are trapped in your situation. It's one thing to choose to stay in a marriage because of various practical reasons; it's another thing to feel trapped and hopeless in such a situation. Staying married should be something that you actively choose, not something that's forced on you.

    If you seriously gave yourself permission to get divorced and considered it as a real possibility, you might still choose to stay married. I think the fear of divorce causes a lot of stress that can be alleviated by simply admitting that it's one of the real possibilities and then starting to work systematically on the underyling issues.

    One big question in my mind is whether I'll be any happier if I leave and seek a male mate? Will the possibility of finding happiness be worth leaving my wife and kids behind?

    You could also ask the question of whether your wife might be happier if she had the opportunity to find a heterosexual partner in the future? Would your kids benefit if you could relate to them from a place of happiness instead of despair? These kinds of situations involve the needs of lots of people. I'm guessing that the unhappiness in your household is not limited just to you.

    Not to plug the institution of divorce, but just because you have a bad marriage doesn't mean you can't have a good divorce that includes respect, affection and a significant improvement in the outcomes of everyone involved.

    Talking with others who are or have been in similar situations can help. I'm glad you reached out on Invictus's blog. Maybe you can meet some of these folks in person and continue the discussion.

  11. I've been dying to read your comments all day. Thank you all for your thoughtful responses.

    I read the first comment early this morning before leaving for work, and while I am trying to remain open to all options, my reaction wasn't good. (I couldn't find the emoticon for scorn, otherwise I would have replied earlier...just kidding.)

    Perhaps my comments in the blog were unclear - I've tried this route, to "accept God into his life and tries hard enough, his homosexual attractions will diminish" for more than 10 years, without success. The result? Despair, self-hatred, hopelessness, anger, know the cycle.

    To be honest, I'm not sure where I fall on the Kinsey scale, but MohoHawaii is likely correct. Without coming to terms with whether I'm ready to slap a rainbow flag on my car or claim bi-sexuality, I have come out to several good friends by telling them about my years of silence and pain, and by describing the beginning of this journey. The reactions have all been supportive, but certainly differ depending on whether they're Mormon or not. I have felt some peace since my secret is no longer my own.

    I've also sought out a second therapist that is Mormon, but who is on the same page with me as far as the likelihood one can change one's sexuality. And I'm working toward re-engaging my wife in this discussion. MohoHawaii is correct here as well, I need to know if she is ok living an emotionally vacant marriage. And while she may say that she is at the outset, that could well change as I work through this over the next several years.

    When we discussed this several years ago, she was loving and supportive, but then I was still describing my feelings as same gender attraction. Which is very different from saying, I love you, but I can't love you in all the ways you deserve, and probably never will. Oh, and I'm gay, not simply "suffering from SGA".

    Thanks again,

  12. I would like to throw in a couple of cents.

    1. Will being honest about his sexuality with himself and others lead to happiness?

    I say: perhaps. I believe Abe Lincoln was mostly right when he said something to the effect that a person will be about as happy as he makes up his mind to be. You may not be “happy” in the sense that you will feel elation, etc, but if your experience is anything like mine, you may experience a very satisfying feeling of peace and rest from inner turmoil. I also believe you may experience a rewarding sense of well-being that you long for but haven’t felt.

    2. Is it possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?

    Of course it is possible but possibly very difficult depending on your marriage relationship, your nature, your priorities and needs, and what you value.

    3. If you were in his situation, what would you do (keeping in mind that there are obviously dozens of factors of which we are unaware and that each and every mixed-orientation marriage has its own unique dynamics)?

    I would search within and decide what is most important in life, realizing that my decision (either way) may not lead to happiness, per se. In my case, to remain was to die – literally. I would have simply become a martyr and would have been of no value to my family.

    Am I happy now? I am at peace; I love life again; I am no longer afraid; I have a wonderful man to share life with and to love, one who also loves me. If that is happiness, then yes, I am happy.

    Best wishes,

  13. Thanks to all of those who have left such thoughtful comments for Dave.

    Dave, several of the men who have commented are alumni of mixed-orientation marriages and know whereof they speak; you will note that they have also commented that every situation is different, and are therefore respectful of the factors in your own situation.

    I think it is great that you have opened up to a few, carefully selected friends. I wish you all the best as you continue to explore your inner self with yourself, your counselor and others close to you. If ever you feel the need for support or just want to bounce some things off, please let us know.

  14. I think, first we MUST listen to the voice of the lord as expressed through our prophets
    “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural,” he said. “Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?”

  15. Anonymous:

    With that comment, I HAVE to assume you're simply a troll looking for attention.

    However, in theory the Lord still loves you.


  16. Invictus - thank you for allowing my voice to be heard through your blog. Your earliest advice, to follow my heart, resonates with me. And the path I plan to pursue will hopefully help me find peace in my decisions.

    I have not had time to respond to all the comments here, but will attempt to now.

    Trev - you noted that I don't sound happy now. And as I replied earlier, I'm not. But there are many factors involved. Prior to reaching the tipping point, my unhappiness was caused by my anger at God for not taking away this SGA, for not changing me, and at myself due to my inability to live a good enough life to make this go away and for never coming to terms with my sexuality or acknowledging my true nature before burdening my wife and children with this dilemma. Now, I reject these ideas and accept that my sexuality will not change, but the guilt related to what I've done to my wife remains. And my angst now is related to the uncertainties that lie ahead. It's extremely difficult to give up on the future I always thought I would have.

    Don - your words are appreciated, "You are of no use to those around you if you are suffocating. There's lots of air available, all you have to do is breathe." I agree. Until I am open with my wife about everything that is happening, determining whether I can be authentic with my family and also be happy is an unknown. For now, I'm trying take this one step at a time while I figure out what my true nature is and whether this acknowledgment changes the feelings I have for my wife.

    Joe Conflict - I've read your blog from beginning to end and it was a great help. I agree with your advice to Trev. Before giving a MOM a try, I would suggest that Trev be true to his nature and explore a same orientation marriage/relationship. Maybe that's easy for me to say, but I believe my choices would have been very different if I was trying to figure out my sexuality in today's environment.

    Beck - I've also read your blog from beginning to end. And I appreciate your comments, including "It takes a lot of work, and some serious sacrifice on both parts, but it is possible. Communication is the key." Time will tell if communication helps in my case. Honest is certainly a necessary element to moving forward. My own self-deception has played an important role in the emotional roller coaster I've been on. And dishonesty is a skill I've mastered by living this lie for so long.

    Trey - generally I relate to your martyr comment. Being in the marriage, but not being present, is no longer working. My advice to others is to meet this head-on by first exploring "the depths" as Invictus advised me, and then figure out which direction to take. Living in denial and in hiding hasn't solved anything for me.

    Thank you all,

  17. @Jesse - Love your comment. :)

    @Dave - Thank you for your additional comments and insights; they have caused me to reflect on my own situation - particularly your comments about your anger toward God and yourself for either not taking "it" away or not being able to overcome "it". I think I'm going to have to ponder that for awhile ...

    As you continue to get in touch with yourself and validate that self, you will continue to grow stronger. I wish you the very best as your journey continues. Feel free to write any time.


  18. Word of caution: I am writing my response in a fairly straight-forward way (not that kind of straight). Truly my comments are meant to add to the thought process and not add to any of the stress or pain. I do come from a loving and caring place with these words.
    Mohohawaii has relayed many of my feelings. I have to reiterate the view of the other side that has been presented. Think of what this does to the hetero partner in a MOM. Is it fair to them? Do you hope or feel that it is acceptable for your children to grow up and find a partner that "struggles" and can't be as loving and intimate as someone who is attracted to them? Would any of us dream of seeing our children "endure" in a MoM? Even if your children find a partner of the opposite sex, does your marriage and lack of intimacy provide an adequate example of what a loving heterosexual marriage looks like? The fact is that many of our children look to our relationships as example of what theirs should be. Are you in a place that you feel your example is a good one?
    Just as you deserve to find a man that you can feel emotionally and physically intimate with wholly, so does your wife.
    I do have one particular concern in Dave's letter that has gnawed at me more and more lately: happiness and coming out because of the belief that we can finally find a man to share our lives with.
    I don't mean to sound cynical and I come at this from a place of hope and love. I know I was there at one time and I know it is common desire, but coming out is not about finding a man to share your life with. (I'm speaking more generally to the audience, not pointing you out specifically Dave). Coming out is about being honest to yourself and others. It is about authenticity and allowing yourself to be fully human, fully who you are.
    There are many that find true, intimate, spiritual, emotional love with a man after coming out. That is icing on the cake. The cake is still delicious without the icing though.
    I am not trying to dash anyone’s hope for a Prince Charming. I'm very much a hopeless romantic and really hope "someday my prince will come." However, when he does show up, I need to be his prince as well. I need to be stable and secure with myself. I recently broke up from a nearly year-long relationship with a man (my first). It didn't bring me the happiness I had hoped for. In fact, I found myself replaying many of the mistakes of my marriage. Old habits that haven’t died off yet; one of which was that of the emotional martyr: giving up myself to provide happiness to their wishes. Today, I am happily single and my coming out is about me. It may sound selfish, but you need to be in order to be in a place that you are a "prince" to someone else. You must love yourself before you can love anyone else. I do believe that to be true.
    Ultimately I would love to find my prince one day. I hope we all find our princes. In reality that doesn't always happen. Also in reality though, many find the freedom in being true to oneself to be sufficient to justify their coming out. Many find the security of being authentic to be sufficient to find true happiness.

    Don’t come out because you feel another human being can bring fulfillment to your life. It can add to your happiness, but cannot create it. You, as well as many, many others have already tried that through MOM. We expected that this person we married would make things “all better.” The reality is that we can only make ourselves “all better.”
    Dave, as well as to all, best wishes on your journey. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share your path with us. Here’s to happiness!

  19. Ben - I appreciate your comments. Believe me when I say that I care a great deal about how my choices have affected my wife. Much of the anger, despair and self-loathing I've carried around is related to this very issue and what my choices have done to her and my family. And although I noted that we discussed my SGA several years ago, I didn't explore the depths of my sexuality enough to really understand and explain what this means to me and my wife and our relationship. Instead, I bought into the notion that I should determine the causes (distant father, etc.) and thereby understand solutions, which allowed me to go back into the closet.

    This time, I hope to behave differently. This includes bringing my wife into this process. She has to understand the journey I will take to explore my future. And she needs to know that accepting my sexuality means I will not swallow all the koolaid. And I need to learn to live honestly. The lying that is required to masquerade in the role of perfect mormon husband/son permeates many aspects of my life. By being honest about this process, what I'm feeling, what my goals are, etc., I hope that she will be able to decide for herself what she wants and not feel that she has to settle for an incomplete marriage because of all the baggage the church piles on top of us.

    I also want her to understand that reaching this point has affected my faith. It calls into question many of the things I believed. And just as I've made the choice to no longer hate myself or deny my true identity, I can no longer accept the teachings that I disagree with. If any of our children are same-sex attracted, I will advise them to be true to who they are.

    As far as whether I will find a man that fills this void, that was a question I've asked when considering whether leaving my marriage will necessarily make me happier. My goal is to find fulfillment in my marriage with the assistance of a therapist that accepts homosexuality as normal. Which of course means that I must figure out what my true nature is and accept my sexuality.

    I enjoy Don's words: "When the plane is going down put on your own oxogen mask first and then help others. You are of no use to those around you if you are suffocating. There's lots of air available, all you have to do is breathe." Of course after denying and avoiding coming to terms with this for many years, it's difficult to address things quickly.

  20. Dave,
    I can totally relate to what you’re going through. You feel at peace for the first time with yourself because you can accept something that you’ve been trying to change and fight for years. But it scares you because you don’t know what that means for your future, for your marriage.
    Like you, I spent some time with evergreen. I went to the conferences, read their books, went through the manual. All the time believing that if I just prayed long enough, worked through enough, I could “diminish” my feelings of same sex attraction.
    I don’t have a condition called “Same sex attraction.” I’m gay. I’m homosexually oriented. And what that means is not just that I have a sexual attraction that I have to keep in check, but that I want to be emotionally and physically intimate with a man. If you know what orientation is, you realize you want fulfillment.
    I’ve been married three years. Not as long as you, I don’t have kids. So I can’t tell you what to do. But I don’t feel emotionally fulfilled from intimacy. I thought for a long time it could be for some other reason. But the simplest explanation is it’s because I’m gay.
    I was too afraid to face up to that. I told my wife in December that I was gay and I didn’t think that was going to change. I told her I was afraid to go to counseling because of what they would tell me.
    I got over that and I went. They didn’t force me to do anything, but I found that as I honestly and openly talked about it for the first time (that had never happened with the lds therapists I met with when I was first understanding my sexuality) I discovered a lot of things. They didn’t tell me that I should get divorced. They didn’t tell me I should go “live a gay lifestyle.” But they did help me discover that as I accepted myself and stopped hating myself, I’d be happier.
    So what does that mean for my future (And yours)? I don’t know exactly. But I think you can relate.
    It’s been a hard process talking to my wife. Having to go back and tell her that I don't’ fill emotionally fulfilled by sexual intimacy with her. Having to explain that the attraction I feel for her isn’t the same as the attraction I feel for men. It hurts me and her. But do you think your wife doesn’t know, that she can’t tell? She may or may not be aware, but when you emotionally withdraw during sex, your wife knows, at least on some level. And she asks herself if she’s doing something wrong. And she asks herself if she just isn’t pretty enough. And a lot of things.
    As I opened up to her, she opened up to me. I’ve been withdrawn from my marriage. I I haven’t put myself into the relationship like she has. I realize what I’ve put her through. My wife has been suffering from this. Telling her didn’t necessarily make it worse. It just helped me open my eyes to the reality of my situation.
    I thought that could change. But I really feel that with the lack of emotional intimacy that should come with physical intimacy, that it’s probably not going to change. And why should she or I accept anything less than a true marriage?

  21. Part 2
    We’re getting divorced. We just made the decision this week. I’m glad it was our decision, and not just mine. But honestly, my wife and I do love each other. It’s just for me more of a friendship love than a romantic love. I get along so well with my wife. We’re great roommates. It scares me to lose that.
    But I have to let her move on. And I need the freedom to be myself. Neither of us should settle for less than what could be.
    I could write you a novel. But my best advice is that you are too afraid of where your journey might lead you to explore your options (in thought experiments at least, I’m not saying to go cheat on your wife) then you won’t ever get to where you want to be. All of our circumstances are different. If you are going to make it work with your wife, then you are going to have to face this together. It may be that with kids, you choose to stay together longer. I could stay married to my wife. But neither of us could have the relationship our happiness that we deserve in this relationship.
    You’re going to have to make the choice. I don’t think you are ready yet. But keeping asking questions. Keep praying, and God will guide you.
    I think that Ben gave you (and me indirectly) some really good advice. If you do find a relationship with a man, don’t expect that alone to make you happy. I don’t think I can find happiness just in being in a relationship with a man. It doesn’t work like that. I think that someday, yes, that will bring me happiness. But I have to come out for me. I have to be together before I can give myself to another person.
    I’m not getting divorced so I can go be with a man. I’m getting divorced because I realize that we can’t make our marriage work. Living together as roommates, best friends, sure. But marriage? No way.
    Your answer may be different than mine. I wish you luck.
    Your fellow pilgrim,
    Feel free to e-mail or chat anytime.

  22. Alex - you have captured the essence of my situation - "You feel at peace for the first time with yourself because you can accept something that you’ve been trying to change and fight for years. But it scares you because you don’t know what that means for your future, for your marriage."
    And until I reached this point, I didn't understand the dimension of emotional love that is missing. As you point out, it's not confined by the generic "same gender attraction" term, it is my sexual identity, which is part of me, it's who I am.
    At the same time, accepting my true identity makes me want to live in harmony with my identity, right NOW. But as you noted, everyone must find the path that is correct for them. And I won't know what that means for some time - I want to remain married, but my/our goals may change as we work through this.
    It's difficult to consider living differently than I envisioned. And just to beat Dan's analogy to death, "There's lots of air available, all you have to do is breathe" -- after holding my breath and hiding for many years, breathing doesn't come naturally or quickly.
    So, here's to learning to breathe.

  23. Invictus--thank you for 'hosting' this valuable discussion for Dave (and all of us) about the "what do I do now?" dilemma of being gay and married in the Mormon Church. Sorry to be joining this conversation rather late, but weekends have been the only time I've had lately to catch up on the buzz in Moho Directory.

    @ Dave, I'm perhaps one of the more happy survivors of mixed orientation marriage (MOM) in the Mohosphere. Recently I celebrated with my wife our 35th anniversary. We have three lovely daughters who are now mostly grown up and out of the house. There have been many past years where I would/could not have used the term 'celebrate.' I'm one of those guys who has 'stuck with it' and hopes to continue in happiness, acknowledging that with MOMs, as with many aspects of life, "it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do."

    It seems like there are few of us mostly happily married Mohos out there, if you look at the blogs. But I suspect a majority of gay guys in this church are not blogging or talking about their experience in Priesthood meeting. I think most of 30+ year old active/attending gay LDS men in the church are not single, but are 'struggling' with their MOMs, trying to evolve to a place of happiness and fulfillment within their families. Certainly much of the same could be said for straight marriages as well.

    My MOM journey has changed me in critical ways--my faith no longer accepts everything the church says as Gospel. My personal evolution brings me to greater empathy and activism for gay people, even as I realize that I have a marriage of substance and worth. I haven't 'chosen' to be gay, rather, I've 'chosen' a heterosexual relationship that I have invested my life in, that I now choose to continue. My wife has grown up with me, is open-minded on gay issues, loving and supportive of my differences, and is willing to go with me so long as I am faithful to her. That's a negotiated bargain I'm happy with.

    So what could I possibly tell you that hasn't already been said? There are many wonderful comments here--I especially agree with MohoHawaii that honestly coming out to yourself and spouse is the vital starting place. Also that you have to give yourself permission to end the marriage as a possible option. Not until I did that could I let go of the feelings I harbored of resentment or being stuck in unhappiness.

    Also realize that this isn't just about you and your feelings--perhaps your wife has more of a say in continuing your marriage than you really do. Deciding together what you can live with AND what you can live without, will help you both to determine your commitment to each other. In many ways, kindness and respect are what we really need, along with honesty. If you can both honor and do that, then perhaps there's a chance that passion and devotion will persevere.

    Finally, there is a spiritual aspect to all relationships, especially those founded in sacred covenants. I lost that spiritual base for a while, thinking that it had died along with my passion for her. That spiritual death was partly due to the shame and guilt I felt about my natural attractions. I sucked in all the crap-mingled-with-scripture that LDS homophobic culture has created, and ultimately believed I was unworthy of any cure. It's hard to feel the Spirit when you believe God's acceptance and support is conditioned upon 'obedience' to a list of church rules. I decided to be obedient to the Savior's priorities, which I found in the scriptures. In doing this I came to realize the great and complete love that Father and Christ indeed have for me. I let go of my self-hate and self-pity, and then rejoiced in the truth of their unconditional love for me. I know that love is real. Let it fill your life, influencing how you treat others, especially your wife. (Whether or not you choose to stay together.)

    My heart goes out to you. <>

  24. Dave, just wanted to let you know that your post and comments have resonated with me. I am attracted to men, married to a woman, and we have a four-year-old son. I have been out to my wife for about 2 years. Currently we are trying to make it work. I wasn't able to really accept being gay/bisexual until I had a faith crisis and lost faith in Mormonism. Even without the religious pressures, it is difficult to navigate the path toward increasing happiness for myself, my wife, and my son.

  25. Geckoman and Mister Curie - thanks for adding your experience. This weekend has been rough, but I'm more hopeful than I've been in a long time. On Sunday, the sacrament speakers both discussed the importance of following the guidance of the prophets/apostles, with the promise of being protected from harm. I couldn't hold back the tears as I thought, "that hasn't been my experience." On the way home from church I lost it, and I finally told my wife that I've been depressed for months, as well as the things I've discussed here. We've been talking since yesterday. A song by NewRepublic entitled, Giving my Secrets Away, captures how I feel. Carrying this secret has made this much more painful and lonely. But I feel more hopeful as I face this headon, instead of hiding.
    - Dave

  26. @Dave - Thinking of you and wishing you the best as you work through this with your wife.

  27. @Dave, everything that needs to be said has. I can't add much, except to say my wife and I are still going through the process of trying to see if we can make our MOM work. We both recognize that being honest with each other, no matter how much it hurts, has to be maintained. We both don't want go go back to where we were before I came out to her when she just thought I hated her.

    @Invictus - Thanks so much for providing such an open and honest forum for those who are reaching out. I'm amazed at your ability to generate good and meaningful dialogue on issues that are so vitally important to so many of us.

  28. @Dave--I'm so glad to read of your taking the first steps to resolution, that 'vital starting place' of open and honest communication. Don't expect all the matter to be worked out quickly--it takes time with many ups and downs. In other words, you both will make mistakes and probably say things that hurt and wish you'd framed differently. How the two of you choose to react is key. I hope the best for you both.

    I do have to make one correction to my earlier comments...I've been a member of the church for 35+ years, and married for 30 years. Whew, now that I've got that off my chest, I feel younger!

  29. Dave,
    I just saw a link to this post in another's blog. Hence the incredibly late response time. I'm Bravone or Steve & my blog is Like Beck and GeckoMan, my wife and I are in the category of a happy, although not perfect, enduring MOM. We will celebrate our 26th anniversary in a few weeks. For most of our marriage, I held everything inside, not even admitting to myself the huge role being gay plays in my life. Living in denial and despair lead to many unhealthy and unhappy decisions in my life. I eventually lost all belief in God and violated my marital covenants.

    To make a long story short, when I lay as a broken man, all my secrets fully exposed to the Light, healing began. The road home has been rough at times, mainly with issues of faith. However, it has also been a deeply sacred experience for me, and only strengthened my relationship with my wife.

    I have written extensively about my thoughts and experiences, so won't belabor the point here. I do agree with many of the comments given relating to the importance of self-care, transparency with spouse, acceptance of self, joint journey with spouse, etc.

    My journey of striving to live authentically as a gay mormon married man has softened my heart, humbled me, increased my awareness of others, and made me much less judgmental of others.

    We are all different in so many ways that I can't pretend that my path will necessary work for others, but I do want to go on record saying that mixed orientation marriages cannot only survive, but can also thrive. I have asked myself the questions you now ask, and, at the end of the day, have decided that my maximum happiness comes through my marriage, faith, and family.

    If you would ever like to visit, I am an open book and will do my best to support you however I am able. Good luck and God bless you on your journey.


  30. @Steve (Bravone)

    Thanks for weighing in on this post. In the last couple months, I starting telling my wife about everything I've been feeling as well as my therapy sessions. We have both attended a couple sessions together and we're talking about all the questions I've avoided for many years. We're working through everything and although I still feel like I'm on a roller coaster ride of emotion, I believe I'm headed in the right direction. In fact, through this work, the source of the emptiness and loneliness I described in this post is now clear to me. Because it abated for a time and then returned during a discussion that brought back the sadness I've felt in the past when I think about what my choices have done to my wife. And as we continue to talk, things continue to get better. Our emotional connection is now better than it's ever been. And I don't want to throw away all the good things in my life because of this one aspect that I find difficult.

    Thanks for the positive feedback.

    - Dave