Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When Right is Wrong and Wrong is Right

I've written about Bisexuality and Marriage 13 times so far in this blog. Yet, I've never found anything that comes close to being the last word on the subject for me.

I'm a grizzled veteran of the wars married bisexual men wage within themselves. The pain from the self inflicted wounds as well as the wounds inflicted by others are greatly diminished now; but like a physical wound healed long ago that still hurts with the changing weather, my wounds from the war with my bisexuality still pain me from time to time. I guess they always will.

It's been five years now since I told my wife I was a bisexual man. The hurt, the sense of betrayal, the wonder why she wasn't good enough to meet my needs have diminished for her too; but like my own ghost pain,  her pain is still there sometimes too. Not searing pain by any means, but the pain that comes when something happens in ones life that can never be undone, like the pain that still is felt 10 years after a loved one died.

In this case, I guess that sort of pain for her is appropriate. On the day I told her five years ago. The "me" that she had known and loved for more than 40  years passed away. A new "me" stood before her, shared her home, shared her bed.

The fact that we have always had the best of marriages helped us and at the same time hurt. We had been fantastic lovers since we started dating at age 16. We could make each others body sing. We could and did soar to heights seldom known to two lovers. It was like two majestic eagles mating in flight as they soared above the beautiful snowcapped mountains far below.

How could that sort of love not be enough to meet my needs? How could her willingness to be anyone I wanted her to be and do anything I wanted her to do in making love to me not satisfy my every desire? She asked herself those questions. I asked them of myself.

The only answer I've ever felt that came close is that I am simply a bisexual man. As a true bisexual man, the urge, the need for a relationship with my buddy is just as strong,  just as demanding as are the needs for my wife.

Over the last few months, a number of men have come to me as they struggle with this part of their bisexuality. The conversation is always the same, "I love my wife. I don't want to leave my wive, but there is this need in me she cannot meet. There is this place in me she cannot reach."

"What am I going to do? How do I handle this without destroying my marriage?"

"I feel I have to be honest with her, but I am scared it will cost me everything."

Fortunately, I never had to consider that my telling her would cost me everything. I was sure I could tell her about myself without endangering our marriage. I knew there would be pain and repercussions, but I knew we would survive it. I knew that as a psychotherapist, she knew I had made no choices. She knew the biological demands upon a bisexual man were just as powerful as those that drives a heterosexual man. She would be sorry to find that she had to personally deal with a bisexual man rather than clinically deal with one as was the norm for her, but she would deal with it. I had no doubt.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine notified me that he needed to speak to me on the phone as soon as possible. Without going into too much detail and keeping his privacy in mind, I will just say that his privacy had been breeched through no fault of his own. Like many of us, his family is the most important thing in his life. True, he functions as a bisexual man, but he lives as a heterosexual man. The thought that his sexuality could become a public matter was not a welcome thought.

In another situation the problem was much different. A young man came to me and asked to talk. He was consumed with anger and denial over his homosexuality. He did not want to be a homosexual man. It was tearing him apart. He was a very young man with a new wife and a new home and a great job. But his feelings about his homosexuality were beginning to affect all those things, and the more he tried to stop thinking about it all the stronger the thoughts and the feelings became.

Fortunately, this young man lives near me. We began meeting once a week and talking about his situation in depth. Gradually, I had to calm him down and help him get to a point that would be conducive to to thinking about a very complex situation. He had to also move to a point at which he could make some very difficult choices.

This young man is one of the most awesome guys, I have ever met. I don't know what his IQ is, but its bound to be 140, probably more. At an age where most of his peers are still having Mom wash their dirty underwear, he's a highly paid and highly respected professional. Nothing gets past him. He takes it all in. And for him that was actually a problem. He knew every possible outcome that could accrue to his being a homosexual man and most of those were not pretty and they were not outcomes we wanted to embrace.

One of the questions on his mind was should he tell his wife. He saw that as the ethical thing to do, but he also saw it as something that would not only destroy their marriage, it would destroy everything. The thought of that was unbearable. The thought of not telling her was also unbearable.

We spent many hours in conversation. At first he was guarded which is understandable when everything is on the line, but gradually he began to trust me and he began to tell me his every thought, his every fear and his every hope.

Being the super intelligent man he is, he is a planner. And as a newly married man he is busy planning the future for himself and his wife and the family to come. His sexuality though is a wild card in the planning. That wild card drives him crazy.

I was amazed at how quickly he began to progress once we reached the point he would honestly answer any question I asked him. I was even more amazed that he would quickly yet exhaustively consider my every suggest. Rejecting some, accepting many and modifying some to his own liking. That was exactly what I was hoping for, but what I rarely encounter in most guys.

Over the months we have talked, I have come to know that I can assure him he is not a homosexual man. He may be a bisexual man, but even that is not certain yet. What he thought was homosexual desires may have been nothing more than a bit of curiousness. It's rare, but I've seen it before.

One of his recent questions was about telling his wife. As a very ethical guy, it had to be a consideration for him. I urged him not to consider it at this time if ever. There is nothing for him to gain and everything to loose. There is nothing for her to gain either and everything for her to loose. Some can and will argue that it is the ethical thing for him to do and that she deserves to know. Those who make that argument are people who only see black and white in a world that is more often shades of gray than black and white.

Quite honestly, look around you. Those who demand black and white answers to every question and every issue are destroying this country. Everywhere you look the country is polarized. We see in in our politicians, we see it in our churches, we see it in our schools. It is everywhere we turn.

The first guy whose privacy was breeched not of  his own making, felt he had to take another route. With the fact that his personal life could quickly become public he chose to tell his wife everything. His decision was a good one. If you're going to get outed, its best to take control of the situation and make the first move.

His wife was not happy to hear what he had to say, but the conversation went well. My friend is hopeful that his marriage will survive.

Whether or not to tell one's wife is the biggest issue a married man has to make when it comes to his non-straight sexuality. It simply must be a personal decision based on the realities of his personal situation.

But in my experience telling is rarely the right thing to do. While the guy is often convinced he is doing the right thing, he is almost always doing the wrong thing. In many cases, the wrong thing for himself, his wife and his children.

If one thinks about it rationally, every single homosexual or bisexual man I've ever known has struggled with himself for years. Many NEVER really are able to stop the war within themselves. For others it takes years. How can any man who has lived those battles for decades suddenly blindside his wife with HIS war and expect her to survive it. The answer is, he can't. She will be a casualty of the war before she even begins to understand what the war is about.

Almost 70% of all marriages in which the husband confesses his bisexuality or homosexuality end within two years. That counts only the ones that end formally. It does not count the ones that are damaged beyond repair but remain in tact only on paper.

There is not handbook for the married bisexual or married homosexual man. The ultimate path is easier for the homosexual man, but easier does not mean easy. There will be pain, but as a homosexual man he has clear choices.

The bisexual man has no clear choices. He often needs his wife as much as he needs his buddy. It is a situation that women simply cannot understand because sex and emotion are wired differently in women that they are in men.

In the foreseeable future there is no good choice for the bisexual man who wants a wife and family and a buddy. Telling her before marriage is not a good answer. By my wife's own admission, had I told her before we married she would have not married me. But also by her own admission knowing what she knows now, that decision not to marry me would have been a mistake.

In every relationship one person simply loves more, one person gives more. Things are never equal. Each is duty bound to give all he/she can. A married bisexual man should give all he can, but life is full of situations where something has to be sacrificed for the greater good. For a married bisexual and his wife, the marriage is often good and to maintain it as a good and viable marriage the man must sacrifice refrain from telling the whole truth.

Some may think this works out well for him at the expense of his wife. It actually works out well for her too. A truly bisexual man will never be happy if he is prohibited from having the relationship with a buddy that he needs. His wife will live with a happier, more giving, more loving man if he has his wife to love and his buddy to bond with.

Jack Scott


  1. This is a thought-provoking post. I find there are many situations where honesty is not the best policy. I think it speaks to our broken nature as human beings, when being open and honest are more damaging than hiding the truth.

    I am out to my wife, and so far it seems ok. There is still a lot that I don't tell her, and this makes me wonder if I'm being dishonest, or perhaps protecting her. Is that a rationalization? I don't know.

    It is a difficult balance for us as we try and do what is best for all involved without destroying ourselves in the process. I do wish things could be a little more black and white, but that isn't realistic.

    Perhaps one day, full disclosure will be possible and we can be who we are without fear of our nature betraying us.

    1. Mack thank you for a thoughtful and provocative reply. You are absolutely right. There are many many situations in human interactions where honest is not the best policy. At one level we all know that and we all practice it. The rare person who does not know that at a basic level and practice it judiciously is thought of as rude and crass.

      But bisexuality is an emotional topic and so people let their emotions override their common sense.

      As far as your wife knowing some but not all, remember that my wife is a psychotherapist and she made me swear never to share details with her. She knows, as a therapist, that details would simply keep the sore open and accomplish nothing good. She asked that I be careful not to bring any STD home to her. I am scrupulous about playing safe. She deserves that and I deserve that.

      I am sure that if present trends continue the day will come when full disclosure is possible. We won't live to see that day but I know it is coming.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mack

  2. This is a brilliant, wise, and powerful post. I think every bisexual married guy should read it once a week. Merely by saying that things are not black and white, that there are no simple answers, and that much of the problem of our society today lies in our denial of the reality that most things are shades of gray, would be enough to make this post important. Thank you Jack so much for writing it and putting into words what so many of us feel.

    So far as honesty is concerned, I remember once having a therapist tell me that it is possible to use truth as a club, to hit someone over the head with, and that it can sometimes be cruel as much as it is liberating (sometimes more). Just because something is true doesn't mean it has to be said, or that the world--or a relationship--will be for the better if that truth is uttered.

    But of course secrets can be a dangerous thing in a marriage. One of the most pernicious things about the secret life that many bi married guys lead is the way in which it subtly shifts your center of gravity away from your wife and your marriage, even as you think you are holding onto them. I've often likened it to the undertow at the beach--you think you are standing in one place, and then you discover that the current has moved you without your even knowing it.

    Every guy is different, every woman is different, and every marriage is different--and every one of these is dynamic and constantly changing, too. The idea that there is one solution that fits every situation is naive at best, and destructive at worst.

    Jack thanks again for doing so much to raise the level of dialogue.


    1. Well as you can see by some of the other comments PJ, brilliant and wise are not the adjectives everyone would chose to describe what I knew would be a inflammatory and controversial post.

      I honestly believe that, as you say, the refusal to recognize the grayness of the world and its affairs affects all our relationships, our institutions and our religious practices. Another name for the grayness of the world is Situational Ethics. Situational Ethics has become a whipping post for the purest of the world. They see situational ethics as no ethics at all or at most an ethical standard designed to benefit ones self.

      Nothing could be further from the truth. Situational Ethics, like anything else in life can be corrupted by the unethical among us; but situational ethics can and are used daily by ethical people to bring about the most fair and least hurtful outcome in the complex issues of modern life. Those who insist they want nothing to do with situational ethics are ignorant in the classic sense of the word. One cannot live in the richest country in the world, enjoy the highest standard of living that the world has ever known while most of the world goes to bed hungry each night and not be a participant in situational ethics. Those who cannot see this are sticking their heads in the sand and pretending all is right with the world.

      You are right too that secrets can be pernicious. Living in secret as a married bisexual man is a slippery slope at best. But I, for one, do not buy the slippery slopes reality as an excuse for failing to do something. In my experience and as a student of history, it seems to me that life itself is a slippery slope. Without our fathers and our forefathers being willing to tread the slippery slopes with acute awareness of the dangers yet willing to take a calculated risk, we would all still be living in caves.

      As you say, every guy is different as is every woman. I have been taught my whole life that each of us must work out our own redemption with God. So it is in life. We must each work out the qualities and the philosophical paradigm that will best serve us in life. To the degree that we are able to do that is a direct ratio to the success we achieve in life and also in direct ration to the fulfillment in life we enjoy.

      To the extent we fail to work out those individual redemptive qualities, we suffer. All one has to do is look around to confirm the truth of that. It's just not a Politically Correct thing to say.

      Thanks PJ for a great comment.

      Jack Scott

  3. Jack, I'm not sure if I agree with everything you've said. One statement that really makes me uncomfortable is: "A truly bisexual man will never be happy if he is prohibited from having the relationship with a buddy that he needs." This prompts THE fundamental "either/and" question of bisexuality: is a bisexual someone who can feel complete in an intimate relationship with a person of either gender? OR, is a bisexual someone who can only be complete if s/he is in an intimate relationship with someone of both genders? From all that I've seen and read, there is no agreement on that question. ClosetCase3498's most recent post emphatically states that he, a bisexual, would be happy with either, but you've said the opposite. Whichever answer is more generally true has important implications.

    Another thing: why is that bisexual men, who are in relationships with men, rarely talk about feeling incomplete because they do not have a female lover on the side? I'm sure that happens but it cannot be common; I can't remember one time when I've ever read such a statement. Doesn't the rarity of that statement cast doubt on the bisexual duality requirement?

    Finally, I wonder what proportion of married bisexual men, once released from their marriage, actively pursue both genders for a significant length of time? If 90% of these men are only sleeping with men two years after their divorce, what happened to their need for women? No one knows what tends to happen but the answer could be very revealing. What is certain, at least from the ex-wife's point of view, is that any bisexual man who pursues only men is not bisexual.

    1. Two Lives, life would be so dull if we all agreed on everything. I'd hate it.

      I think your first paragraph is a valid point of inquiry, but to me the answer is fairly simple. Human sexuality is not a point on a line. Rather we each come down on a line that is as long as it needs to be. It is sort of like in pro football. The Goal Line spreads (technically) around the world.

      I accept ClosetCase 3498's assertion as basic truth for himself and for where he falls on the continuum. However, for me, I've never met the man I'd want to live with full time. I'm strictly a one woman man when it comes to living with someone and sharing my life with her. Yet I was never fully happy and truly fulfilled until I found a buddy to satisfy the parts of me that my wife, wonderful as she is, could not reach.

      As to your second paragraph, you're on to something there. Yet the answer, in my opinion based on a great deal of experience with thousands of men, is pretty clear. Bisexual men certainly exist. There can be no real doubt except for people who are biased for one reason or the other. The facts are that 20 to 60 years ago a person could not come out as gay and live a successful life. It simply could not be done with rare exceptions. There for gay men married straight women. Today it is much more acceptable to be gay. And many married men have come to admit they are gay. But because they are married and in many cases wish to remain married for financial or social reasons, they self identify as bisexual.

      As for men suddenly released from marriage, in the thousands of men I personally talk to I've known it to go both ways. There are influences that enter into the decision making process which you may not have thought of.

      I have had the greatest marriage any man could ever possibly have. Our live together has been simply wonderful, in sex, in raising kids, in success from going from 18 year olds with nothing to the top 9 or 10% in income. But if my wife were suddenly taken from me, I would never think of marrying again or dating a woman. Not because, I am gay. I am bisexual, but remarriage at this point in life would complicate inheritance issues for my kids. It would mean at 64 I would have to learn how to live with a new woman all over again. That is not an easy task at any age. Living with a woman would invade my independence. I'd have to learn how to negotiate with her over everything. I'm simply not willing to do all that. I watched as my Dad tried it when my Mom died after a long and successful marriage. He couldn't replace what he had had with my mom and he lived the rest of his life in misery. I'd settle for a guy who continued to live in his place and who I could see when we both wanted to do that.

      Thanks for a great comment. In the end we are all the sum of the experiences which have shaped our world views. We all disagree, especially on complex issues where no right answer is possible. Candid discussion can be helpful to each side in provoking thought and modifying paradigms.

      Thanks again for a very good comment.

      Jack Scott

  4. I was loathe to write this comment because I can just hear the response "Another angry woman"..I assure you I am not an angry, scorned woman. Nor am I a "feminist". What I am is an adult woman who is married and makes a very good living.I am smart and kind and not so addle brained that you must save me from myself.

    I am frankly troubled by your attitude. Why should my husband have to "protect" me from the truth? Am I not an equal partner in my marriage? I certainly contribute equally and on some days more than my fair share ;-). My husband need not protect me nor coddle me. I am not so weak that I can't deal with life as it comes. I certainly may not like it but I assure you, Sir, that I don't need to be protected from life's harsh realities. I promise you your sexuality would be far less an issue than my ability to trust your word. I can deal with anything if I have the facts.

    But that does not mean that a man should trick a woman into marriage. You suggest he not tell his wife about his sexuality because she may not marry him and HE needs IT. Well tough. She gets a choice, too. To pick a partner of her chosing who meets her needs just like is the right of any man. Not one imposed on her by a paternalistic attitude like I've heard here. I feel like I'm in Iran or Pakistan for god's sake and subject to arranged marriage....By some father figure who knows better than I what's good for me.. Do you suggest a wife withhold similar information? Suppose there is something in her past that she knows he would care a great deal about but she feels has potential to blow the deal and would rather he not know? Perhaps SHE is bisexual; does the same advice apply or is male sexuality, to your mind, so much more nuanced and complex?

    No, life isn't black and white all the time. We live much of our lives in the gray areas. But your analysis is from a man's perspective only and you cannot begin to understand an issue as complex to a woman, from a woman's perspective, as this. I would suggest that encouraging men NOT to be honest may do more harm in the long run than it can possibly do good, in most circumstances. Much better for the wedding not to go through than for this to blow up when there are 4 school aged children underfoot and a life time of lying to answer for....

    I may not WANT to know many unpleasant things. You could use the same reasoning given years ago to not tell patients about life threatening diagnoses. Some physicians argued knowing would not change the outcome and will subject the patient to needless worry without any objective benefit...and to some extent they were right. But that does not change the fact that no physician has the RIGHT to withold that kind of information from a patient. Now a days he/she would surely lose their license to practice if they attempted such a thing.

    Life is hard and there are sometimes hard truths that must be faced. I would suggest that while it might be easier on the man to keep this secret, most women are perfectly able to face hard truths and then make decisions that are best for them. Is that what you're afraid of?

    I want to apologize if I sounded harsh. It was not my intent, But it remains important that both sides of this equation are considered. Men in this situation have a powerful motive to rationalize their behavior.

    1. Not at all. You'd be surprised at the degree of empathy and compassionate feeling I have for women who are in pain. As I have said, I knew I could tell my wife and everything would turn out ok; but telling her and seeing the initial hurt in her eyes was gut wrenching for me. I had done this to her. I had changed her whole life. I had caused her for the very first time to wonder why she wasn't good enough for me when in fact it was I who was not good enough for her. She had to deal with anger, but fortunately for me, she knew enough about bisexuality as a clinical psychotherapist that that she also felt compassion for the fact that my bisexuality was beyond my control.

      As for why your husband should have to protect you, maybe he doesn't. I didn't have to protect my wife. That was one of the reasons I told her. I knew I could. But you and my wife don't make up all womanhood. There are simply kind and good hearted and excellent wives who cannot be blindsided with an issue their husbands have struggled with all their lives and handle it as if it is noting more than a revelation that he bought milk on the way home from work.

      It's very easy for you to just say "Tough." But again, you do not represent all of womanhood. By my wife's own admission had I told her at 18 what I told her at 58 she would not have married me and she is glad I didn't because from the advantage of hind sight and the advantage of now having better insight into human sexuality as a psychotherapist with years of experience in human sexuality, she would have regretted not marrying me. You are free, quite free to speak for yourself and to form your own view on any matter. You have no qualifications to form views for all women. I don't form opinions for all men. I simply speak to them of how I have made the best of a difficult situation. In the end, they and they alone must come to their own plan of action.

      I agree with you. No physician has the right to withhold bad information. As a man who was told a few months ago that my cancer has metastasized into my vital organs I can well appreciate the analogy. My doctor minced no words. He looked me in the eye and told me directly. He gave me an estimate of how long I've might possibly have. I'd expect nothing else and my wife knows it. (Blogger limits comments to 4,096 characters. I'll continue in what ever way I can figure to do it.)

    2. (Continuation of comment to Anonymous)

      But there are other families who, even today, make different decisions and based upon the person the know and love, they choose to withhold the news that they are terminally ill. That is their right, and it is certainly more their right as family members to make that decision than it is your right to make a rule of your choice for every family.

      You have an absolute right to make suggestions. And you are right, life is hard, but you are simply dead wrong when you suggest that most women are perfectly able to face hard truths about their husbands bisexuality. They are not. They make emotional decisions about it, They seek quick divorces that send themselves and their children from what may have been at least a functional marriage into immediate downgrades in their standard of living and into immediate downgrades of their level of happiness. Where the once were reasonably happy at least, the often become seething with anger that they cannot and will not shed. Almost 70% of marriages end after the woman finds out and it has devastating affects on everyone involved.

      Yes life is hard and life is not perfect. All marriages are a series of compromises know or unknown to both parties. The only difference in this issue is that society has made be gay or being bi a highly emotional and judgmental trigger issue.

      You owe me nothing in the way of an apology. Your letter did not sound harsh to me in anyway. It sounded sincere and passionate. You are absolutely right, men have a powerful motive to rationalize their behavior. So do women and they are using it more and more as they face the truths of their own sexuality. But because something can be abused by self-serving butt holes does not mean we have the right to impose our opinions on everyone else.

      If everyone had a veto, we would not drive automobiles. They are powerful motives to abuse the privilege. We would not eat meat. Animals have feelings too. All of us would be equally poor because it is unfair that by hard work and diligence some of us are rich while others struggle to survive. We should flatten society by taking from the rich and giving to the poor until all are at a level income. The list goes on and on and on using that kind of reasoning.

      Thanks and I truly mean THANKS for your comment. I'm glad you wrote it.

      Jack Scott

  5. Jack, I hope you don't mind. I totally blogged about this earlier, because the idea bothered me. Mostly, because I think you may be right.

    TwoLives, I would say I would not be complete without a woman. The thing is that I have a wife, and so that side of me is generally fulfilled. My experience seems to be a great longing for what I don't have. I think there is a real tension, for me at least, in choosing one over the other.

    1. Mack, you're a better man than I. You said in 6 lines what I said in dozens of lines.

      Thanks for the concise and clear comment.

      Jack Scott

  6. Great post, along with the comments, but where to begin? I agree with everyone here, but I guess I feel most compelled to respond to Ms. Anonymous: Kudos to you and your approach to marriage and relationships! But I think you are NOT a majority when it comes to these outlooks, and I think you have to look at it from a more "traditional woman's" view point. You're refreshingly honest and blunt about your expectations where most of us are programed to think differently; we were all programed to believe in "happily ever after". A huge, misleading belief.

    To respond to your queries, I'll say this: Yes, I DO think it's wise for a woman to withhold certain information from her husband, but it depends on the individuals involved. Some spouses would be able to deal with it, while other's would hold to a double standard. You also said, "I would suggest that while it might be easier on the man to keep this secret, most women are perfectly able to face hard truths and then make decisions that are best for them. Is that what you're afraid of?" I DON'T think THAT'S what anyone is afraid of. What they are afraid of is the irreversible tangible aftermath that could result. Forced estrangement from family [at all levels], friends, coworkers and possibly career. The absolute financial ruin that divorce can bring, along with all the psycho-drama that follows for all of those involved. That's what anyone's afraid of--that huge grey area that clouds being honest. Who needs or deserves it, and who wouldn't be afraid of it?

    I think what we need to consider is that no one is totally honest with their peers and family. [Look at all the people who can't be honest with themselves; we all know someone.] Consider parents. Once we're adults, do we really divulge to them ALL the personal aspects of our lives? [What turns us on in bed; that we were promiscuous during our teens; that we've had gay sex; where our fantasies go…] I doubt it; what's the need? Isn't it the same with a spouse? [Do men really tell their wives how they think of the next door neighbor during sex? Or women and who they fantasize about? How about masturbation? How many are honest about that? And just when does all of this cross the line into sexual addiction?] I think all it comes down to is that some of us can deal with our personal desires and adventures, others can't. It's guilt vs. honesty, and the way we're programed to be right up front about both of these things. Too many times, it's more trouble than its worth, and so let sleeping dogs lie. I think for most of us who were ever involved in a bisexual situation, we never intended to hurt anyone. Coming out to people who aren't prepared will do just that, and so it goes. Bisexual activity is one of those deeply rooted personal things that's so hard to deny personally, but even harder to proclaim publicly; a very slippery slope.

    I think most of the followers here are well into midlife years. I wonder if people in their 20s who are confronted with all of the life changing decisions of life, if they are able to be much more honest with each other than any of us were? [Namely marriage, CHILDREN, and sexuality.] If they could be, if they could ask about and explore all of this with their "soul mates", they would all be much better off. I think the whole approach to marriage has to change, and that people need to ask and reply honestly to all of this once they in a dating relationship. I also don't think it's going to happen.

  7. I might have made different choices had I known my husband was gay before we married. As difficult and challenging as it was for him to keep his life from me, from himself I am glad he didn't tell me. I glad to have married him, I happy to have the relationship we have. The pain I feel from finding out is awful now, but I know in time it will dissipate and the only feeling I will have left is the pure love I have for him.

    If I had a choice, my life would be different and there is no place I would rather be then where I am today, right now with my husband. I'm not a traditional woman. My feelings of finding out he is gay have been harsh, but I am supportive, and I will always be here as he needs me, as a wife or as a friend, I will be here for him.

    It's a personal journey, to tell or not to tell. Every woman's answer would be different. Some say tell, others say don't. I'm glad I didn't know.

  8. Wow, interesting post, as usual, and great comments. I particularly appreciated the two "parables" as they help to illustrate the complexity of the lives we all lead. Like you said, there are no black and white answers in life, just a lot of different shades of gray. So everyone needs to figure out their own path; however, it felt to me like you were painting your viewpoint with some pretty broad strokes leaving a residual message that it is better to remain on the down low rather than be open, honest, and fully authentic. My story would definitely fall into your exceptions to the rule category so I want to be upfront about that before I proceed (I'll let you check out my blog to read my story I won't repeat it here So I am sure to have my biases as well, that said . . .

    I believe that there is a difference between speaking the truth and living truthfully; however, in the long run there is more overlap between the two than not. If you can find a way to live authentically, remain married, and keep your secrets then bully for you. I would contend however, that, that is a very difficult balancing act and is most likely what contributes to "war" you mentioned that many bisexual men have with themselves. That tension or "war" comes from living inauthentic lives. It is my opinion that one of our purposes in life is to shed the layers of inauthenticity, the façades, the demands of Ego, and get as close as we can to our true selves. This is a life long process and doesn't happen overnight. We peel the layers off bit by bit and each of us needs to figure out how best to go about doing that.

    I won't argue the validity of bisexuality here in response to some of the comments. I still firmly believe that none of this labeling stuff would even exist if there wasn't homophobia. However, just like there are no black and white answers there is no one way to be bisexual or homosexual or heterosexual — shades of gray.

    As for Anonymous' comments and where women fit into the equation: being a white middle-aged male I would not even begin to presume what "most" women think, or believe, or would prefer regarding being open about one's bisexuality or not (again, there are too many shades of gray). What I would like to say is that I think one is being extremely arrogant to think that by keeping your mouth shut about your bisexuality is going to keep you from "blindsiding" or "hurting" your spouse. In any deeply intimate relationship over time the spouse is going to know, perhaps not know that you are struggling with your bisexuality, but they will know that something is being withheld. There are just too many subconscious messages shared between deeply connected couples. And to think you know what is best for your spouse and that you are best suited to make the decision for both of you does smack of paternalism. As hard as it may be to comprehend, we are not responsible for managing someone else's feelings, or life for that matter, even someone to whom we have been married to for many years. Sure, we should hold the intention not to deliberately inflict pain on someone; however, making the decision to keep a key component of one's identity a secret because you want to spare them potential emotional heartache may seem like a loving gesture, but is in reality a selfish act born out of a truer desire to spare oneself pain and suffering.

  9. Continued . . .

    It is my opinion that why a spouse feels blindsided or hurt when they find out that their husband or wife is bisexual is because the trust in the relationship has been severely undermined; and because the tightly grasped image they once held of their spouse and of their marriage has been shattered. The reality is that tightly grasped image was never real or solid to begin with, and the trust that was supporting these held beliefs was built upon a false foundation. I don't dispute that most marriages end within two years of a spouse revealing their bisexuality, but that shouldn't be surprising. I would argue it has less to due with the sexual orientation of their partner and more to do with what I have stated above. The sooner we all loosen our grasps on our illusory images of marriage/family (and sexuality for that matter) the less suffering there will be in the long run.

    Finally, it is my belief that the more we bisexuals keep ourselves hidden in the shadows the more we perpetuate the beliefs, misconceptions, judgments, and prejudices of the dominant hetero married culture. We are not going to move the needle of intolerance by keeping silent. I am not saying we all need to jump up and don a placard and march down Main Street (although that isn't necessarily a bad idea), but we each need to find our own way to live our truth as openly and as authentically as possible. Mixed orientation marriages can and do work. And I believe (and you and others have posted this as well) that there are more of us out there than people realize. That is why it is important for us to find each other, validate each other, and support each other — and STOP norming the dominant culture.

    Is this work hard? You bet it is. Is it often painful? Sometimes it feels unbearable. Is it healing? Unbelievably so, for ourselves, as well as, those whom we love even though at times it may seem otherwise. Do we have to do it alone? NO, that's why forums such as this are so important. But when it is all said and done the truth will find a way to bubble to the surface, one way or another. We just need to be accepting of it when it does. Just as our loved ones need to accept the changes that are always inevitable.

    Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. One of the roots to suffering is believing that things can and do remain the same. Another is living a life defined by another (even if that other is your spouse).

  10. i know this may be odd but as a married man with children.....being bi and i've not acted on it. I feel that I have already given myself a death sentance. I made a vow and i'm going to keep it. I have come to grips that I will never be happy and suffer the pain untill i'm six feet under. I had a major heart failer 2 weeks after given a bill of helth by our family doctor. My wife and have no sex life now. Its not that we can't, Its the distance between us and the torment of thinking why is it like this. Dont get me wrong, we love each other dearly. Since I can't get guys out of my head i decided i would simply live for them. to make her happey and the kids. This way I can sacrifice my life and happiness as a service to them so they don't ever have to endure any pain from my own personal demons.

  11. I concur with DMG on every major point he makes: the internal "war" of a closeted, married bisexual man does significantly affect his relationship with his wife; the hurt of being blindsided is less about sexuality and far more about the violation of trust, honesty and intimacy; what kills a marriage is the revelation that it was built on a false foundation; and, bisexuality is not well understood because too many bisexuals remain in the closet.

    Keeping those points in mind, I think Bob correctly identified the biggest fear that most bi-married men have. He said, "What they are afraid of is the irreversible tangible aftermath that could result. Forced estrangement from family [at all levels], friends, coworkers and possibly career. The absolute financial ruin that divorce can bring, along with all the psycho-drama that follows for all of those involved. That's what anyone's afraid of--that huge grey area that clouds being honest. Who needs or deserves it, and who wouldn't be afraid of it?"

    I have had a great many interactions with pissed off straight wives. Yet even within that group, the wives overwhelmingly want their marriages to work. I am often shocked by the sacrifices they are willing to make. Also, while it's true that men have much to lose if the marriage ends, women generally have the greater disadvantage. This begs the question: if both spouses want the marriage to work, what's the problem? The men. They cannot, or will not, do the necessary work to rebuild an authentic foundation of trust and honesty. They lie so often that their wives eventually realize that they can't believe anything they are told. Then they file for divorce.

    I wonder...are most bimm so ashamed of their attraction to other men that they "know" on a deep and subconscious level that they will never be able to be honest? If so, then the gamble they make with their marriage by cheating isn't much of a gamble. It's really the only workable option available.

  12. Mr Scott,

    I'd first like to address and misconceptions about the decision to withhold information from a patient: Unless a patient has expressly designated a surrogate decision maker and informed his physician of that or the patient judged incompetent, or incapacitated it would be illegal in most states NOT to inform the patient of an unfavorable diagnosis. In real life, if the physician knows the patient and family ..he may chose to do something different but he does so at some risk to him or herself. And yes, I agree, there are circumstances where withholding the information may be appropriate but those case are rare and usually fit a specific fact pattern. Just as with the with the subject at hand, the person from whom the truth is withheld often already knows something's going on. They may just be more comfortable in denial.

    Most decently adjusted woman ARE perfectly capable of facing hard truths.If they can face the illness or death of a child, trust me, they are capable of facing this. It's just that you may not like the decisions they make as a result. You call the decision to end a marriage an "emotional" decision. It may be or it may not be. Just because a woman decides to end a marriage because SHE has reasoned it to be the best decision for HER and her children, does not mean the decision was arrived at "emotionally" or was not completely thought out. It may not be the decision the husband hoped she'd make and it may be a decision he feels is not in HIS best interest but that in no way renders it an "emotional" decision.

    A woman has a serious calculation to make when considering her options. Her age, her earning ability, the area of the country she's in, whether she has extended family, the emotional needs of her kids, the strength of the relationship with the spouse, how the truth was discovered, the recklessness of the behavior, whether there is any chance that trust can be rebuilt...and on and on. Just because a woman arrives at a decision that is counter to her husbands does not mean it's not the best decision. I would suggest that a man who's been caught cheating is just as likely, perhaps more likely, to make decision that are emotionally charged and rash...It's been my experience that after the initial explosion, most women are quite prepared to carefully consider their options. And that may be what men in this situation fear most.

    Two Lives hits the nail on the head. Once trust is destroyed the road back is uphill and most will never reach it. These guys have lived with this secret most of their lives. They have lied so much and so often and about so many things to so very many people that I suspect for a lot of them lying is habitual. Their wives will eventually understand that and have to deal with that fact. That's why honestly upfront is to my mind the best policy. Unless you are supremely confident of being able to take your secret to the grave, you stand almost no chance of making thing work if you get caught. Fessing up allows the best chance for the marriage working long term

    Once there is a long history of lying, once it become clear that your spouse has lived what amounts to a double life, I'd suggest that the breach of trust creates a far greater obstacle than sexuality ever could. Just like it would be to almost any husband on the face of the planet if the proverbial shoe was on the other foot...

    1. You know, this is going to seem like I'm dismissing what you have said. I'm not. Actually, I find nothing at all to disagree with concerning what you have written.

      Your points are well reasoned, well state and well founded.

      But, I still stand by my post too. I think what I said and what you said is a very good indication of the truth of this issue and my and perhaps your position. That is, the Devil is in the details. I can only speak for me. I can only decide for myself. You can only speak for you. Others have to think and speak and be responsible for themselves.

      Marriages can survive a man coming out to his wife. On the other hand, marriages, families, careers, etc can fall apart when a man comes out to his wife. Once the bell is rung. One can never unring it. The decision whether or not to ring the bell, regardless of the ethics, must be made carefully and thoughtfully.

      Thanks for a thoughtful comment.

      Jack Scott

  13. Jack, this post of yours has clearly triggered one of the most significant outpourings of thoughtful discussion about the Bisexual's Dilemma than I have seen in my almost two years of blog reading and writing. You have articulated from your own personal, deeply thoughtful and sometimes painful evolution what you feel was ultimately right for you and your wife. It took many years, but you finally disclosed a part of who you were to her, and your marriage survived.

    Just having someone you loved that much, and had a robust sexual relationship forever, now seeing you in a different way and having to adjust to was clearly one of your life's most difficult moments. But the two of you came through that, and this affirms there was a strong underlying love there that could withstand such a revelation.

    Yet you also say, powerful as that love is and now open about that lifelong secret as you were from that moment on, you still do not share the details and particulars of the sexual times you have had with your men.

    That makes sense, as the images of having someone we share our bodies and souls with having that kind of passion with someone else can be very disturbing. Are you protecting her? Yes, but I do not think this is "paternal" You have judged that the disturbance that "total honesty" can cause was likely harmful. And you did this out of love for her, not just to preserve the institution of marriage.

    Perhaps the dilemma for us men is similar situations is that we first could imagine, and then have experienced, that our inherent makeup and wiring allows us to have sexual intimacy with more than one person and we do not experience the need or desire to elevate one of those experiences above the other, or negate one of those lovers to appreciate the other. You cannot be truly bisexual, or pansexual, if you do not have the capacity and ability to share intimacy like that. The studies show that for a variety of mostly acculturated reasons, a much higher percentage of women than men can only imagine and embrace loyal monogamy as equivalent to enduring love.

  14. Comments continued: According to the book "Sex at Dawn", both women and men in our early evolutionary stages pursued and enjoyed multiple sexual partners throughout adult life, even while bonding with one primary mate for the critically important function of primary child rearing and food sharing. The evolution of the nuclear family which competes for food and money and power with other families, and the demise of communitarian modes of living, by no coincidence brought forth strictures for women in particular to mate with one man for life, to be certain of the heritage of the children and the transference of knowledge, wealth, and values to them.

    How we evolved cannot be undone, but the truth is that it is NOT inherent in human nature that we emotionally need to mate for life in heterosexual couples, and that sexual activity with other adults threatens the sanctity of the family. These are learned responses.

    The true bisexual is asking a mate, and society, to accept a way of being that is counter to all we learn about the primacy of one type of adult human intimacy over all others. Jealousy, anger, fear of ultimate rejection, are all totally natural and expected outcomes when a man reveals his need for, or indulgence in, sexual intimacy with another person. That person being a man instead of another woman adds other layers of "projected outcomes"...he is really gay and finds me unattractive as a woman, he is going to ditch me for the new exotic love, he does not make me and our family and friends sufficiently satisfying a life so this is a dismissal of all I (the wife) stand for.

    Why would any woman NOT have this kind of reaction? And more than asking permission to have sexual intimacy with a man ( audacious enough, right?) the bisexual man is asking for understanding and acceptance that pursuit of sex with men IN NO WAY diminishes her love, her importance, her place, her future. If she cannot imagine or grasp that an adult human being can in fact share naked intimacy and emotional intensity and passion with more than one person at a time, then acceptance of her man's bisexuality is not going to happen.

  15. Comments continued:

    If the pop psch. idea of "Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars" provides some truth about our gender differences, then the Bisexual's Dilemma is the greatest test of planetary misalignment.

    Jack, if anyone could write the book to explain this better, it would be you. Perhaps it could be titled, "Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars, and Bisexuals are from a Pre-Dawn Earth". And I would argue that the connection between Bisexuals and Pansexuals is very close.

    One vexing truth is that human sexuality is fluid and situational, more than we want to admit, and according to some research, the Bisexual is particularly a "type" that may over their life and in response to certain events or opportunities find that their primary sexual and emotional thrill shifts. This may explain why so many married men begin feeling those "gay" impulses having once had what they thought to be satisfying marriages. And for a significant number of bisexuals for a variety of reasons, the trajectory is toward more homosexual as one ages. Bisexuality in jack's case seems to have been a steady state. But for many men, they are trying to also figure out if in fact this is a major shift to being predominantly gay - which is what I an grabbling with.

    I think it is not shame that keeps us from talking to our wives. It is much of what Jack already said, but for many of us we are also, in mid life or later, shaken to know we do not really know what our ultimate needs are after all. And until that is certain and we are "resolved" about who we are and what we need, opening up a conversation about our sexual fantasies in the moment is going to expose something perhaps even more alarming than sharing with one's wife that you are a bisexual. That would be sharing with her that you know you have strong attractions to men, but you honestly do not know where that will go.
    And with that uncertainty revealed, what woman would feel a secure basis for trying to adapt.

    Jack, you have stimulated such a great exchange here and I thank you deeply for this post.

  16. Gives me a lot to think about. Are you saying that it would have been better if you had not told your wife? Do you see now that perhaps you should not have. The salve of sharing and her knowing is not great enough, verses the damage done? I cannot seem to overcome the belief that it is her right to know and to weigh in, have the choice to participate or not. I am at a fairly early evolution of this, having told my wife and trying to formulate how we proceed from her.

    1. That is a very hard question to answer. I honestly am not sure.

      Telling her was tougher on her than on me. It did give me some freedom. I try to keep her from ever knowing when I meet my buddy but when that is not possible I can just tell her rather than lying to her face.

      I don't know for sure if there is really sadness in her eyes when I tell her I am meeting him or if I just imagine it. Either way, I don't like it.

      The 100% truth is in the latter years I got a little careless. She began to suspect something was out of kilter. I think if I had it to do over again I would remain guarded as I had for many years and never give her reason to suspect.

      That way I would never had to fess up and it would have saved her a lot of pain.

      I'm just thankful she does deal with it well overall. My sense of the matter and my observations of other is that I'm a lucky man. Other wives rarely deal with it well.

      Jack Scott

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  18. My wife knew I was bisexual before we married. This has meant that there has never been any breach of trust and I recommend it. I have read research which says that marriages in which there was disclosure before the marriage are statistically more likely to endure than those in which there is a disclosure afterwards. If you don't think your fiancée could live with the knowledge that you are bisexual then this is not the right person for you and you are not the right person for her. It is questionable whether you can justify withholding this important information from her about yourself in order to persuade her to marry you when you know or believe that she would not do so if fully informed.


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott