It is not always, as some might think, a simple question to answer for a married man. Single men often have a great deal of trouble facing the reality of their homosexuality. Even in this relatively enlightened era, accepting one's homosexuality is a life altering process.
For men who are already married when they begin to struggle to face their own personal realities, the struggle is magnified a thousand times. In addition to acknowledging the changes facing reality will demand in their lives, they have to deal with almost unbearable guilt. It is a witch's brew of necessity, despair, guilt, anger and indecision which is often soul crushing.
As one young man who was very much in love and about to be married told me, "I don't want to be homosexual!!"
My heart went out to him because decades ago as a young married man, having no one else to talk to, I screamed at God almost daily, "I don't want to be homosexual! I felt all the despair, all the guilt, the smoldering ceaseless anger and the indecision about what I should do for years and years while seemingly, God just laughed at me.
There is no doubt wives and girlfriends have a very difficult time of it when they are confronted with the reality that the man they love is not heterosexual. Most men may not know if they are homosexual or bisexual, but most have known all their lives they are not heterosexual. They simply cling to hope like a drowning man clings to a piece of driftwood that it will all turn out right in the end.
I need to apologize to those of you who are regular readers. It's been just over a week since I posted. I like to at least once a week. But the truth is I've been very much involved over the last 10 days with family and friends. My wife and I got away last week to one of our favorite places in Texas. We met some old friends, and for three days we just took it easy with absolutely nothing on our schedule. We talked, we ate good food and we drank wine and margaritas and beer. It was a wonderful few days.
When we got home, the grandkids came and spent three nights and four days with us. As is always the case they ransacked the house, demanded constant attention, not to mention food, and generally had a good time the way kids are prone to do. It was all good. They shake us out of the normality of our lives and force us to adapt to their world. It's a good thing, a very good thing! My wife and I both know that their impeccancy will not last much longer. It is something to be savored and enjoyed now before it is gone forever.
It occurred to me this morning that in all of this there is a good indicator for the married man concerning his sexuality. As a guy who has talked to hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of guys each year for the last two decades, I hear many individual stories. But all the stories boil down to one of two basic circumstances. I am in no way casting judgement in describing these two circumstances. Both are valid circumstance. Both can be turned into something good and life fulfilling. The two circumstances are these: I meet the guy who genuinely loves his wife, feels guilty about what, knowingly or unknowingly on her part, he is putting her through. He and his wife are lovers. More often than not he feels she is his soulmate. His world is built around her and their family even though there is this part of him that remains raw and needy.
And then I meet the guy who feels trapped in a marriage that has none of the attributes of a real marriage. There is no sex, there is no sense of "us" in the marriage. More often than not, the couple live separately together in the same house. When they do get together it is usually to fight bitterly. The husband speaks disparagingly of his wife and often sees her as a stumbling block in the way of his happiness. The wife is withdrawn and seemingly uncaring. Both are miserable in their own way.
It occurred to me that Luke 12:34 recognizes these situations. Whether or not one is a believer, the Bible often has sound philosophical advice on many of the common problems of life. This is such a case. "... where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
My own life gives proof to this insight from the Bible. Before I was married, I felt that my sexual play with men was just a substitute for the real sexuality between a man and his wife. I thought that with a beautiful woman who loved me in my bed each night, the old ways would fall away and a wonderful new era of real (heterosexual) sexuality would begin. I was partly right. Sex with my wife was wonderful from the very beginning and it got more and more wonderful with the passing of time. I loved my wife and sex with her rocked my world.
But I was partly wrong as well. As good as it was, sex with my wife still left this aching need within me for something she could not give. With no one to talk to, it left me confused, bemused and scared. Is simply did not know what was happening to me. Sure I had sex with guys, but I loved the sex with my wife. I couldn't be homosexual could I? It was a question with seemingly no answer.
Finding the answer took decades for me. It began to be answered when I learned there was indeed a sexual orientation known as bisexuality. My study of bisexuality began to unveil the mysteries of me to myself. Bisexuality explained to me the questions that had heretofore had no answer.
I understood the best way to handle my bisexuality would be to ignore it. I also understood that thinking about ignoring it was much easier that actually ignoring it. Logically, I concluded that if I could not ignore it, I had to deal with it in a way that was unlikely to expose those I loved to danger and I had to deal with it carefully and quietly. I did that successfully for almost 15 years.
But humans are complicated beings. Though I was dealing with my bisexuality successfully, the fact was it was the only secret I kept from my wife. Over time that began to gnaw at me more and more. Ultimately, I decided to let the secret out. I was a fortunate man. My wife is a highly educated woman. As a Psychotherapist who does marriage counseling and sexual counseling, there is nothing she has not seen. And she is well aware that our sexuality is not a choice but rather the product of nature influenced by nurture. I knew I could tell her without destroying the life we had built together, the life I loved.
For a couple of my friends who were on the other side of the equation as homosexual married men, resolution was a little more difficult. Both had tried for years to play the part of bisexual men. It had simply not worked. Their most common interaction with their wives was fighting. Both saw their wives as impediments to their happiness. Both recognized that their wives had some good qualities, but they simply could not help but concentrate on the qualities that were not good. I came to know both women well. Like most humans each woman had good qualities and bad. Like most intelligent women their intelligence was combined with a well developed intuition. I am certain both women knew well that their marriages were flawed. I suspect deep down one of them knew why. I know for certain that the other had not a clue as to why. But the result was the same in each case. Like their husbands, each was bewildered by the recognized fact that their marriage was not what it should be. Each recognized a gulf between them self and their husband. And the fact that the gulf could not be bridged but just became wider and wider left them increasingly bitter and withdrawn, the exact same thing that was happening to their husbands. The result was the constant bickering and fighting, the increasing tendency to live separate lives in the same house.
One man, had grown children whom he loved. One man had young children whom he loved deeply. In fact their children represented to them the only good thing to come from his marriage. Both men wanted to spare their children the hurt of a divorce. The man with older children eventually came to see that he owed it to his wife to tell her the truth and to give the two of them a chance at real happiness. He realized his kids were grown and would have to deal with the issue as individual adults.
The man with younger kids came to understand that his kids were not unaware of the unhappiness of their mother and father. They were certainly not unaware of the constant fighting. He came to see that he needed to let them know why there was such a lack of harmony at home. He knew that the one thing he and his wife had accomplished well was to raise kids who were intelligent and well adjusted. In spite of everything they were secure in the knowledge that both their parents loved them. This man was greatly surprised to learn that his oldest was even aware of his father's homosexuality and had been for some time. But he loved his father anyway. He proved to be invaluable in helping his younger siblings to adjust to the news.
The man with the younger children was not as lucky. His wife fought the separation bitterly. He took the blows stoically and remained resolute knowing divorce was the best chance of happiness for them both. Like the other man, he had considerable assets. He felt the fairest thing to do was simply give up his share of their assets and leave them to for his wife and family's benefit. He walked away literally with just the clothes on his back. He left everything behind. In addition he sends monthly checks to pay educational expenses for his kids and to maintain the home they have lived in all their lives.
The financial sacrifice for him has been substantial. But in the end, it has all paid off as he had hoped it would. He and the other man have both found partners whom they love. Each is living the life they had always dreamed of living. The financial cost for each has been great but each is happy for the first time in their lives. And each wife is happier too. They get together on family occasions and the fighting and bickering is a thing of the past. In many ways they are more of a family than they have ever been. Each man embraced the treasure of his homosexuality and in the doing recognized where his heart was and just as importantly where it was not. It's not the traditional fairytale ending, but it is a happier ending for all concerned than could have been, had they each chosen to keep living a lie.