Friday, June 3, 2011

Uncharted Territory: A Tribute to the Wives

I had a poignant conversation with my wife a few days ago.  I have been reticent, since beginning my blog, to write about her.  Though the result of this has perhaps been seen by some as conveying a lack of interest in her “side of the story,” nothing could be further from the truth.  I have simply wanted to be very careful to protect her privacy.  It is one thing for me to spill my life and innermost thoughts out all over my blog; it is quite another to share the thoughts and feelings of others, particularly those of my wife.

She said something in our conversation, however, that I feel is too important not to share with those who may read my blog.  We were talking about all we and our family have been through since last October, as well as throughout our marriage, and she said the following:

“You know, this is all uncharted territory for me.  What we have been dealing with and trying to navigate is something that is never talked about in Sunday School lessons or in sacrament meeting talks.  It is something that is never discussed in General Conference.  There are no manuals, no guidance from the Church about these things.  In some respects, we’re kind of on our own.  That is why I just have to rely on the Spirit to guide me and enlighten me as I have worked my way through this.”

I became emotional when she said this, as did she.  My heart ached for her, for the good woman she is and for what she has gone through.  At least I have support from friends, from other gay men who have gone and are going through what I am experiencing.  She has support from friends, yes, but not from other wives who have experienced what she is now experiencing.  In this respect, she is walking alone, though she feels she has felt the guiding and comforting influence of the Spirit as she has grappled with the trials that have come unbidden into her life.

I commented to her that she and countless other women are the other half of this “story.”  They are women who are never talked about at Relief Society conferences, who are never mentioned by the Brethren; they face trials that are never discussed.  In this respect, and in others, they are invisible, just as we gay men in mixed-orientation marriages are invisible and unknown to the general membership of the Church.

So, I just wanted to pay tribute to my wife and all the women like her in the Church who, for the most part, walk in silence in the uncharted territory of their mixed-orientation marriages (and, often, the wreckage of such marriages), their grief and pain largely unacknowledged. 

Michael McLean's Safe Harbors.


  1. So generous and thoughtful. I hope the universe blesses both of you.

  2. In our effort to do the right thing--marry, have children, and build the typical family--our wives become collateral damage...true victims of a culture that still fails to recognize that some of us are just not wired for marriage with a person of the opposite sex. These women are true saints.

    I look forward to the day when the Church recognizes that pain is the likely outcome of any mixed orientation marriage and teaches that as a result, mixed orientation marriages should be avoided.

    These good women who enter into marriage consciously or not of their husbands sexual orientation do not deserve to endure the pain and loneliness that inevitably results.

  3. I think you're totally right. David Hardy ( spoke of a similar uncharted territory:

    "The Gospel has always been easy to have faith in and follow because it made real sense and worked in our lives. This would make no sense. And the current doctrine, as set forth in To The One is not working for our family. I can't tell you how strange and difficult this is. It's like we woke up one morning on a different planet. In our greatest time of need as a family, the Church has failed us and abandoned us - and through the convenient but hurtful doctrine of parental causation, complicity and guilt it directly promotes (evidence the article in September's Ensign), it kicks us while we are down! I know this is only one of many issues that the Brethren deal with, and certainly not at the top of their list, but for us it has become our universe. We live in this issue twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and must raise our children through it by our best lights. And there are many more like us in the Church. Parents like us are ultimately forced to make a hopeless decision: abandon our homosexual children, or turn from the Church. "Not so," you say. You would never know unless you walked in our shoes."

    I definitely feel for the women in failed MOM's.

  4. Thank you for recognizing the pain that we women go through when all we really wanted was to do what was right...raise a good and righteous family, love our husbands and serve others. Living in or leaving a MOM has pain threaded throughout. We stay because we love...we leave because we love. And there is the pain. But recognition and understanding helps heal. The video was beautiful. Thank you.

  5. I hope that young people reading this post can get a sense of how incredibly ill-advised it is to enter into a mixed-orientation marriage. If you are gay and you marry a straight person, you do them great injustice, even if you disclose your orientation before the marriage. You cannnot provide by force of will what a straight spouse needs.

    I wish there were better support available for people, especially women, who find themselves in mixed-orientation marriages or who have left such a marriage. There are some organizations ( that are active in this area. I also know that Carol Lynn Pearson acts as a kind of unofficial ombudsman for LDS people in this situation, and she answers e-mail. Her books are great.

    Also, I think coming out is really important in the long run for the straight spouses. They need to be able to hold their head up high and have our respect.

    (To those of you who are currently in mixed-orientation marriage, I have this to say.)

  6. My wife has expressed to me nearly the exact sentiment. It is a very lonely road without a guide map. There are support groups for wives such as ours, but my wife has chosen to not seek them out, but instead, searches for her own answers... maybe not the best choice, but hers nonetheless... These women are saints and, for the most part, carry their saintly load in silence.

  7. Thanks to all who have added their voices. And thanks, Holly, for your warm wishes.

    MoHoHawaii, I have actually suggested to my wife that she meet Carol Lynn Pearson when she is in SLC next weekend. She's considering it.

  8. Thank you for the tribute. When I divorced I was so broken I could not see the effect my choices made on my ex wife or kids. It has taken a lot of courage and faith on my ex's part to extend the hand of friendship to me. Today I have the blessing of counting my ex wife as one of dearest and closet friends.

    Carol Lynn Pearson offers Telephone Consultations to anyone who would like to talk to someone about the many issues we face. She was very helpful to me. To request and purchase time with her visit her website: click on Telephone Consultation

  9. Although I am not in a MOM, I too, have often wondered about the women in all of those marriages. There stories mostly remain hidden, but they definitely deserve praise.