Trapped In A Straight Marriage—Or Are You?
GayRVA.com recently asked me to write a column on gay marriage–not man-to-man—but man-to-woman! The site received an anonymous e-mail from a man in such a marriage, who doesn’t know how to get out. I have worked with several gay men in this situation.
For those of us who grew up when being gay was more taboo, it was assumed that they would marry and father children. Some married out of fear that their identity would be condemned by others–and their inner selves. In rural areas and small cities, they might not have known a single gay man. Men who grew up in fundamentalist churches were often told, repeatedly and viciously, that homosexuals would go to hell. And men married women because they thought this was the only way to have a family.
These men suffered extreme loneliness, within a family that was supposed to offer companionship and love—something which may indeed have existed. But there was that nagging feeling that something was missing. As men came to accept their gayness, they feared losing the good things that marriage—and children—provide.
For men who have had the courage to come out, reactions have been mixed. Some men and wives are determined to make the marriage work, particularly when there are children involved. Regardless of whether the husband or wife is willing to stay, there will be an emotional toll on the family.
On the other hand…. One of my clients, Eddie (not his real name), came out years ago to his fiancée as bisexual—which she turned out also to be! They raised their children together, and maintained a monogamous relationship, and, though my client experienced sexual and emotional stagnation in the marriage, things went on as usual–until his wife discovered his extensive use of internet pornography. She was furious!
When Eddie began working with me, he expressed dissatisfaction with his vocation, as well as his marriage. He longed for a physical relationship with a man, and, during the course of therapy, came close to having one. He came to realize that he could no longer live with a wife who was controlling, regardless of the issue of sexual orientation. Eventually, with my support and that of our therapy group, he divorced his wife, and secured joint custody of their children. Of course, the children were disturbed by the breakup, but they seemed to do better outside the “combat zone!” And my client felt much freer. He came to realize that, for now, raising his children is his calling.
And now, back to the fellow who contacted GayRVA—I invited Kevin, the editor, to give him my contact information, but he never called back. He may have reached out all that he could at the time. I hope he reads this article and has the courage to take the next step!
Jonathan Lebolt, PhD (“Doctor Jon”) is a licensed clinical social worker, psychoanalyst, and group psychotherapist specializing in relationship issues. He lives with his partner of 14 plus years, Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, and their princely pooch, Cocoa. Robin and Jonathan are proud grandfathers of a beautiful one-year-old girl, Juna. Feel free to contact Doctor Jon at his website.
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