I received a letter this week. Of course I receive a lot of letters, but this one was a particularly poignant one. It was one I wish I'd never received, but one I needed to receive because it reminded me (though I never really forget) that there is another side to the lives we married bisexual men lead.
The other side of our lives is the life the woman we love leads as our wife.
One of the biggest things we as married bisexual men have to adjust to is what our bisexuality is doing to our wives. Whether they know or don't know, our bisexuality affects them greatly. This is a great weight on the shoulders and the conscience of every bisexual man and it should be.
In most situations, our wives are innocent and unknowing participants in a relationship with us and the other men we think about or spend time with. We can put the best light possible on that reality in our own minds, but we can never shed the responsibility for the unintended consequences that accrue to our wives. Most of us actually come to some internal accommodation with this situation and that is good. But we should never get to the point that we forget that we have an innocent and unknowing passenger along for the ride with us when we act on our bisexual needs and desires. We have an absolute moral obligation to do everything in our power to act in a safe and constrained manner and to balance our own needs and desires with those of our wives.
We will draw that line in different places as individuals, but the line must be carefully drawn so that it protects us and those we love.
The letter I received this week from a wife of a "bisexual" man was difficult to read. There is no doubt it was even more difficult for her to write, and I thank her for having the courage to do it.
She began by saying: "My husband has been leaving hints for years."
She goes on to talk about the fact that because she didn't want to face the facts she deluded herself for years. But all pretense ended recently when she discovered she had contracted an STD from her husband.
The shock of learning about her STD made her feel ruined. She had only wanted to be a good wife, the beautiful ONE in his life. To satisfy his desires she had gone beyond her own comfort and performed the "kinky" sex acts he enjoyed. She put up with his "taking" and never "giving" in sex because it excited him; and because it excited him, it made her feel special.
I have offered to talk with this woman and answer as many questions as I can for her. At this time I have not heard back from her. Obviously, both she and her husband also need professional help. Absent such help they have no chance at all of a future together or even separately.
I have only heard her side of the story, but the passion and the hurt in her letter convinces me she is telling the truth as she knows it to be. One of the things I say to people all the time is that marriages are never an equal arrangement. One partner always gives more and one partner always takes more. Actually that is not a bad thing in and of itself. It can be the prescription for a very happy and solid marriage because the fact is some people are happy to give and some are happy to take. But as in all things in life, this "give and take" must be in moderation. Even the taker must give some of the time.
In this woman's marriage, it seems her husband has long sense stopped giving. It is also clear that he knows he's stopped giving. He understands he takes and takes and demands more while blaming her for not giving. It is a classic male reaction to his own guilt; and though he keeps it hidden from her, he is consumed by his own guilt.
Obviously, this is not a situation any married bisexual man wants to create for himself and his wife and child. This man will never be nominated for father and husband of the year; but at the same time, I doubt that he ever intended to get into this situation himself. It just simply crept upon him as he made one bad decision after the other until finally he was in such a deep hole, he could not get out.
I say all the time to guys I am trying to help that our lives are simply the sum of our choices and decisions. When we make good choices and sound decisions are lives are enhanced and broadened. When we make poor choices and bad decisions, our lives are eroded and narrowed. To the extent that we are happy and fulfilled in our lives is simply a high ratio of good choices to bad choices. To the extent that we are unhappy, unfulfilled and miserable is nothing more than a high ratio of bad choices to good choices.
Both this bisexual married man and his wife have made a number of poor decisions and choices over the years. I have said many times in this blog that my wife and I married when we were teen agers. I was 18. That meant that we started adult life with 2 strikes against us. There was really no reason for us to expect to succeed, but we did succeed even beyond our wildest dreams.
Add to the strikes against us my bisexuality of which she was not aware and our chances of a successful marriage and successful shared lives were zero! Yet, almost 50 years later, we are still married, happy beyond measure, blessed unendingly and hopeful for yet more years together.
All this did not just happen. We worked so hard in the early years. Looking back I don't see how we had the energy to work so hard. Between us we achieved four degrees after we were married and while we were raising kids. Working, raising kids and going to college is not a recipe for lack of stress. It was damn hard, but we simply did it. These were but 3 of the choices we made. Along the road there were thousands of other choices and decisions. Did we make wrong decision? You bet we did. But in the end, the ratio of good decisions to bad decisions exhibited an extremely high number of good decisions to a very low number of bad decisions.
As a professional psychotherapist and counselor, my wife cannot talk to me or anyone else about her clients. But after a day of listening to other people's problems, some of them heart rending and emotionally draining, she sometimes needs to talk in general terms about her stress which comes from hearing all about these miseries. People do not seek out psychotherapists to tell them about how good their lives are.
Recently, my wife found herself sad and concerned about a married couple who are very unhappy. They love each other. They don't fight about money. They don't fight about the kids. They don't even fight about sex. They just fight. They are always battling each other.
Surrounded and blessed by all the good things in life that many would kill for they just fight. They didn't start out this way. They are simply another example of people who just drifted into a deep hole and now can't get out. It's sad, very sad; and to my wife who sees so many couples in real trouble it was upsetting to see this couple throwing their relationship away over petty little things. They have simply made a very bad choice.
Like my wife and I, any couple in which one partner is bisexual and one straight starts off with at least one strike against them. There are thousands of chances to screw up and make the wrong decision. One of the wrong decisions the husband of my letter writer made was to have promiscuous sex with other men. By doing so he increased his chances of contracting an STD many fold.
The sad thing about it is he more than likely made that decision for what he thought was a good reason. Most men think of love as love. By that I mean they think love is a severely limited commodity. If they love their wife, they can love no other, and they do love their wife. So, strapped with a desire they cannot shake for sexual play with another man, they opt to have sex with strangers they know nothing about. In their mind, if the sex is just anonymous and without strings, there is no chance of them falling in love with a guy and falling out of love with their wife.
It's a bad choice. In all of the thousands of men I have talked to over the last 20 years, I have never ever talked to a single bisexual man who left his wife and family for another man. Not one.
On the other hand, I've talked at length (years) with many married gay men who ultimately leave their wives for another man. In most of these cases, both the man and his wife end up happier after the divorce.
One of the complexities of life is that we can make poor decisions by refusing to make a decision at all. This is exactly one of the poor decisions that the husband of my letter writer has made. He has purposely chosen not to make a decision as to whether he is bisexual or homosexual because he is scared to find he is homosexual. By failing to know himself and recognize himself, he is ruining his life, his wife's life and more than likely his child's life.
One has to remember that very rarely is a man absolutely straight or absolutely gay. He is somewhere along a continuum between these two extremes. The middle of these two extremes is bisexuality, but not many men are there either. Most are to the left of the middle along the long continuum or to the right of it along the continuum. It is probably clearer to me than to this man that he is left of the middle very close to the homosexual extreme. He is straight enough to have sex with a woman, but not straight enough to be fulfilled by a woman or enjoy having sex with her. She is just an object, a substitute, for the male/male sex he is compelled towards. His wife feels like an object because that is exactly what she is to him.
That does not mean he doesn't love her. It simply means that he cannot love her, is not capable of loving her, as she needs to be loved.
I was able to finally tell my wife about my bisexuality because I knew beyond a doubt that our marriage, our relationship, our love for each other was strong enough to withstand it. I was also absolutely sure after many years of self analysis and study that I was a bisexual man - not a gay man.
I was right and the marriage did survive and remain strong. But that wasn't all it took. It took me opening up and talking with my wife for hours and hours about things I didn't particularly want to talk about. But I had to keep in mind that she was dealing with something new and shocking. She was now dealing with something difficult to understand that I had been dealing with for years and did deal with for years before I understood it.
I had no right at all to think that I just could tell her, "Oh, by the way, I'm bisexual." and expect to leave it there. It would take her a long time to understand and I had to be willing to talk to her about the core of my being and help her to understand. Keep in mind that she is highly educated and a professional psychotherapist. She knows that homosexuality and bisexuality are part of the natural order of human sexuality. In addition to baring my soul to her I had to support her in going to a therapist herself to get help from another angle in dealing with what I had laid on her. It took a while, but in the end it all worked out for the good.
Unfortunately, my letter writer's husband has clammed up. He refuses to talk to her except to blame her. There is no hope for him or her in this relationship except a miracle. Miracles happen. I'm living proof, but they are rare.
If you are a married homosexual or bisexual man, you cannot change your sexuality. But you can make good decisions about how to live your life. Most of the time, those good decisions will be hard ones. One big clue to a bad decision is if it seems easy, its probably a bad decision. If you are a homosexual man, most likely the best decision for you is to admit it to yourself and your wife and get a divorce. The likelihood or either you or she ever being happy in your marriage is nil. If you are a bisexual man, you have more choices but none of them are easy. If you are going to have sex with both your wife and men, then you are absolutely obligated to do it as safely as possible and not bring an STD home to her. You are also obligated to keep her as the main object of your love and desire. If you find she is loosing that status to another man, you've more than likely incorrectly identified yourself as a bisexual man. You're gay!
Of course there are other factors that can enter into all of this, but to discuss all of them would take a book. I hope you'll give real thought to your situation and live up to your responsibilities as a married man. If you can't, you need to get out of the marriage. If you need to talk about your particular situation, I'd be glad to talk with you.
My thanks to my letter writer. This is not a pleasant subject to talk about. Human misery is never an easy subject. But it is a subject that is appropriate to talk about. It has to be talked about.
To my letter writer and to those of you who identify with her, the good news is, it is never to late to change your life. It just takes good hard decisions. The easy bad decisions? You've already made those. Honestly look around your life and see where they have gotten you. Are you ready to begin making the hard decisions?
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.
I look forward to hearing from each of you.
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.