About a month ago my wife told me that she had decided not to leave me and our three kids.
I was a little surprised by her announcement; for the prior two years she had frequently threatened to leave. She often complained that she wanted to 'simplify her life' and only be responsible for herself.
The decision to stay, she said, is because the kids still need her. Also, it wouldn't be fair to dump sole responsibility for raising them on me.
I'm glad Gabbie decided to stay. But her reasons for doing so have not made me happy. Isn't she supposed to want to be with me?
I had hopes for much better news...
When Gabbie and I got married 20 years ago I knew I was gay. If I had not been pressured by her to marry so quickly I would have taken the time necessary to work through my very mixed feelings. Yes, I was sexually attracted to men but I also felt a very strong emotional connection to her.
Because I felt very pressured by her to get married, I eventually became resentful that I wasn't able to make the decision on my own. Two years into the marriage my resentfulness and too much time alone caused me to became preoccupied with finding a romantic relationship with a man. I found one very quickly. Within only a few hours of first meeting him, I left Gabbie to be with him and assumed my marriage was over.
But it wasn't. My boyfriend Jim was a great guy, a perfect guy, but after two months with him I realized that my emotional connection to Gabbie was far stronger than I originally thought. Entirely of my own free will, I decided to go back to Gabbie. It was a pivotal decision; ever since then I have been 100% committed to staying with her.
And that has been quite a commitment because the last year has been hell.
The quiet battle for Gabbie's heart that has been going on between me and unemployed, alcoholic Charlie is not something that I ever expected to end with a draw. I was always confident that she would either reject him and thereby become more committed than ever to me, or, she would leave me for him.
But Gabbie's decision to stay has really fucked with my head. What I want is a partner who wants to be with me. Normally that would be a man but my love for Gabbie has remained strong and true. She is the person I most want to spend my life with. To be told by her, in essence, that she wants to 'play house' and have a celibate marriage AND keep Charlie, well, it sucks. It makes me feel trapped and used and stupid.
Meanwhile, Gabbie feels much better about herself than she has in years. She barely drinks any more - in support of Charlie who is has been in AA for the first time ever - and she seldom goes out. From her point of view, she is now the dedicated working mother everyone expects her to be.
It's ironic that her return to normalcy has caused great despair to me. She likes the current status quo and I am tortured by it.
Clearly, we need to come to an agreement that works for both of us. And just as clearly, the need to make that happen is mine because she is content and I am not.
I have decided to wait until the first days of January to talk to her and to get her to recognize WHY I'm not happy and WHY she has given me no choice but to look for a new relationship.
About my potential relationship with a man, I need to explain a few things, as Gabbie understands them.
Gabbie knows that I label myself as gay. However, it's a very, very sensitive topic.
Dumping her at 2:30AM on a Friday night two years into our marriage created permanent scars. When we got back together I assumed that I could be open and honest. But I quickly learned that talking about anything gay was like sticking a sharp knife in her back. So, I stopped doing it. When she repeatedly asked if Jim and I had 'done anything' I lied. I would have preferred to be honest but clearly she could not handle the truth.
What all this means is that Gabbie believes I'm gay in thought but not in action. She thinks that my attraction to men is so weak that I'm too afraid to actually do anything about it. Um, wrong. I've had plenty of sex with men.
What is true is that in recent years I have realized that I don't 'need' sex with men. It's been nearly eight years since I've done anything sexual with a guy; hook-ups became empty and unsatisfying, 'friends with benefits' became more trouble than they were worth. I DO crave sex with a man, but only as part of a long-term, romantic relationship.
I've been pretty down for the last two weeks, in part because of the whole situation, but also because I haven't felt like the 'big' January conversation will not go well.
I feel like she will perceive my request to date men as undercutting our entire marriage JUST as she has recommitted herself to being a proper parent and partner. And as hypocritical as it might seem, I don't think she's going to think that my sexual relationship with a man is the same thing as her 'friendship' with Charlie.
I do not relish starting a conversation that I expect will go poorly, but I also feel that it cannot be avoided. I can't dedicate myself to a relationship when I know I am not genuinely wanted.
What I find most difficult is knowing what I want to say when (if) she reacts poorly. Do I back track or back down? Do I stand my ground or give her a Charlie-ultimatum?
It's all a mess in my head that I can't stop thinking about. And it's really, really weighing on me.