Thursday, December 30, 2010

What My Wife Wants

On Sunday, December 26th, my wife Gabbie spent most of the day out, shopping and socializing. The kids had new gadgets to entertain them. And I had little to do...except to worry about the impending conversation with my wife; the one where I was going to ask her permission to date men. As my previous post explains, I was certain it was not going to go well.

Too much alone-time had made me very melancholy by the time Gabbie came home.

Most of the time I can mask my mood if I'm down, but on very rare occasions, I'm so preoccupied with my thoughts that I'm afraid to open my mouth. I worry that I'll say exactly what's on my mind!

Gabbie knows me too well, however. She knows that the less I say, the more distressed I am. When that happens, she turns into an attack dog. She knows something really big is bothering me.

I wanted to wait until January, but we had the conversation.

It didn't go well. It didn't go poorly either.

The best news is that she knows it's her actions that have pushed me to this point. The worst news is that I don't know what else the conversation accomplished.

When I told her my primary complaint, which is that the only reason she is staying is because of the kids, she agreed it's true. "Without the kids, the three of us could work it out like adults." The 'three of us' refers to her, myself and Charlie.

She also said that she can't give Charlie up. I already knew that.

As you can see, we did well when it came to agreeing that my complaints are legitimate. The problem was, we couldn't agree on a solution.

She gave me a long lecture about why she shouldn't move out. The lecture was unnecessary, I told her. I don't want her to move out.

I tried to explain that I feel like an end-date for our marriage has been set and that I don't want to be 51 (my age when our youngest graduates from high school) and single. Her reply was that I shouldn't make any assumptions. I should take things as they come, one day at a time.

She added, "Don't you like that I'm home all the time now? Don't we enjoy spending time together?"

"Yes."

"Well, what's the problem then?!"

"I don't feel like I have a future. The kids will leave, you will leave and where will I be then? Old and ugly, just like my parents." We both agree that my parents, who are 64 and 63, have aged VERY poorly.

Her answer: "I'm as committed to you as I can be. No one knows what will happen in the future!"

GAH! There is no logical retort to that argument. Either I accept that logic or I argue that the future IS clear and therefore I MUST take action now. That would be pretty aggressive for me. So naturally, I said nothing.

The bottom line is, Gabbie thinks I should be content with the present and worry about the future when it happens. In the meantime, she loves me as much as ever and sex was never a big part of our relationship anyway. "It's just sex," she said. I wanted to argue that it is NOT just sex but...what's the point?

As you might suspect, based on what I've said so far, I never blatantly told her, "I want to date men." It was implied. It took a while but she eventually said that she'd support me, whatever I want to do. That meant: she wouldn't pitch a fit if I date others. Then, a short time later she asked me, in a very anxious voice, if I had "met anyone on the Internet?" I haven't, at least in the romantic sense she meant, so I said, "No." Clearly, she does not want me to date.

What she wants is for everything to stay as it is. We live in the same house, we sleep in the same bed, we never have sex - and we never will again. We're married and committed to each other, but she has her friend Charlie too, who she is in love with. Her accommodation to me is to keep Charlie out of our house as much as possible, and to be a present parent and spouse.

Is that a bad life for me? No. It's a pretty good life. I can do that on a day-to-day basis. So why should I object if that's what she wants?

The reason is, for purposes other than passing time, I feel like it's a farce. If we did not have the kids we would not be making this arrangement. She said that, not me. This means that if nothing changes our marriage has an end date, in seven years.

***

Now that I've had a few days to consider all that she said, the biggest question I have for myself is, can I let go of my worries about the future and be content with a day-to-day life that is focused on the kids and on my wife, who is present and who does love me? Also: can I feel secure that I'd have the same happy future if I start to date men at 51 as I would at 44? Or is there really very little difference?

And, of course, there is the 800lb. gorilla to consider, the kids. How can I ever say it's better for them if I start dating now, even if I do so discreetly?

I must make a decision that gives me confidence that I'm doing the right thing. That's the only way I can move ahead and stop worrying. But right now my head is swimming and my heart is an anchor.

I have got to chart a course out of this mess. To sort through my conflicting thoughts I am making a list of all the possible alternatives. I hope that the process of making the list will clear my mind.

I intend to post the list. I think I need help crossing off some unrealistic options.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weighted and Down

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.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Dark Side of Imaginary Gay Dating

At a college reunion in June of 2009, a casual friend that I hadn't spoken to in years came out to me.

He had very recently divorced after twelve years of marriage. I felt tremendous sympathy for him because he has two young daughters, but his coming out left me speechless. I wanted to come out to him too but I just couldn't say the words.

The next twenty-four hours at the reunion were crazed. I never got the chance to pull him aside and share my news or ask him the questions I wanted to ask. What I most wanted to know was, how did coming out affect his relationship with his kids? And, how was he handling the transition into gay dating?

On the plane ride home I decided it could have been a mistake to come out to him. At the reunion he made a point of talking up gay pride at every opportunity. His zealousness made me nervous so I decided I would wait a month, then email him anonymously, and ask about his transition experience.

I followed that plan and we did exchange several emails. However he's a physician with a very demanding schedule because of his specialization. He kept promising he'd write something of substance but he never did. Eventually I gave up on him and instead did an Internet search for "married" and "coming out." That search brought me to blogging.

During the few months that I was waiting for his promised reply to my questions, I got bored and impatient. I started browsing gay dating sites like Gay.com and Match; I wondered if many men were divorced and looking.

Now, more than a year later, I think I have an addiction to browsing gay dating sites. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but given the fact that I don't want to meet or talk to anyone right now, why bother?

I'll tell you why: mostly, it makes me feel good about staying in the closet.

There are plenty of good looking guys out there. Many seem intelligent. And nearly everyone claims to have a diverse resume of interests and activities. The thing is, it's pretty rare that I read a profile that genuinely excites me - someone with whom I instinctively feel a strong, mutual connection is likely.

Within the last 15 months or so I've only read two profiles that have permanently etched themselves in my mind. With so few exciting possibilities it's easy for me to feel comfortable that I'm not missing much by staying in the closet.

I read the first guy's profile in July. Month after month I've checked his profile to see if it is still up and to see if he's made any changes. In October he changed all of his pictures and, I'm not sure exactly why, but I've convinced myself that he is now dating someone. Part of the reason might be because he never comes up automatically on OKCupid anymore.

I'm tempted to gush about him and explain why I find him so attractive. But I've decided not to do that because I'm embarrassed to act like Marcia Brady drooling over Davy Jones. (Too '70s for you?)

Last week OkCupid sent me three new matches. Now I have a new crush.

If I was a tennis racquet then this guy would be Andy Roddick; he could play me like a world class pro. The first time I read his profile I drooled so much I practically had to change my shirt.

Normally I avoid crushing on very good looking guys. I believe that relationships only work when both people are similarly intelligent and attractive. Dumb and smart don't work. Hot and ugly don't work.

Now, I don't think I'm ugly, but this guy is clearly out of my league. Normally I would dismiss him because he is too good looking. But practically every word of his profile made me swoon.

I read the profile four times before my fantasizing climaxed. It was a good fantasy, I assure you. But just like many real-life orgasms there's an emotional let down that follows the peak. This let down hit me hard.

The more I thought about it, the more depressed I got.

The least captivating part of his profile says, "I'm a professional fundraiser in the arts that spends a fair amount of time in the office and going to events, dinners, cocktail parties, and you name it. Put a glass of wine in my hand and I can talk to anyone about anything!"

Initially I thought, "Non-profit!!!!! Events!!!! And he has the same social talents that I admire so much in Gabbie!!!!" But later I realized...all I have to do is tell this guy I'm married and I have three kids and he'll never speak to me again.

In a stinging confirmation of my fears, I later discovered that he answered the survey question, "Would you consider connecting with someone whose relationship status is 'seeing someone' or 'married'?" with "No to both."

Ouch.

Over the next several days I got more and more down about my situation. Would any guy whose characteristics and values I admire EVER consider dating a quasi-married guy like me?

No.

What kind of guys would be interested in me?

Freaks. Freaks who can't get dates with single guys.

Thinking about this problem put a dark cloud over me for days. There is no easy solution.

Eventually I dug myself out and decided that I can't get my undies in a wad worrying about fantasy men and fantasy relationships. There are only two solutions: accept that my options will be extremely limited, or, get divorced.

For now, I don't see dating men as a reason to divorce my wife.

Say what????

Yes, it's true. If she wants to divorce me, I'm ok with it. But at this time, I think I'd rather be in a weird, sexless marriage than be single and flailing around trying to date men. There may come a day when I believe that the benefits of divorce outweigh the benefits of staying married, but right now, I don't feel that way.

Making peace with the idea that crushing on Guy #2 is pointless has not been easy. Ultimately, I decided that it is MY choice to remain married and I therefore need to accept the consequences.

Even if that means dating freaks no single guy would consider.

Or, more likely, remaining celibate.

Because I have not attempted any actual dating I don't know if my perceived problem with being sort-of-married will be realized. If it is...if I really do face a choice between marriage and finding a guy who can understand my relationship with Gabbie...it's going to be a very difficult decision.

Quite honestly, unless there are some real-life prospects out there who say they'd drool over me the way I drool over them, if only I was single, my gay dating career might be unexpectedly brief.

It's such a gamble to throw away a lifetime partnership based on the 'hope' you will meet someone great. When I was younger, I liked to gamble. But after losing way too often, I stopped gambling many years ago.

What are my odds for success in the world of gay dating?

Does anyone care to venture a guess?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Just Can't Do It

What I desire most is a happy marriage. A wife who wants to be with me, her gay husband, both romantically and sexually.

I drew the proverbial line in the sand recently when I said, "If sex is 'Never!' ... then I'll put myself on the queer market."

A few days ago I tried to initiate sex with my wife for the first time in two months.

Her response:

"What are you doing?"

A thirty minute conversation followed. Sex did not.

"I know you're taking this personally," she said. "You think I'm rejected you. But, really, I'm just not that interested. I get hit on all the time by guys at the bar and I'm never interested in any of them. There's hardly anyone who interests me."

Hardly anyone.

Not: "no one" - "hardly" anyone. I *so* wanted to push her for clarification about who would interest her...but then I wondered if I'd like any answer she gave. Probably not. I decided not to ask.

Whatever.

The bottom line is that by not being able to fuck, I'm fucked.

Over and over the words repeat in my head..."sexless marriage"..."40 years without intimacy."

I wish I could either be content to masturbate forever, or, be happy to find a friend with benefits to fill the gap. But neither will work in the long run.

At this point, I'd rather jerk off than deal with all the headaches of a FWB. That means the most appealing option is a life of celibacy. I just can't do that.

My other condition for a 'happy marriage' is that Gabbie be honestly satisfied with me and only me. She's not there yet, but she's making progress. She spends so much more time talking to me and making plans for our future than she has in years. I really should be thrilled because I feel like I've regained the wife I had for the majority of my 20 year marriage. Instead, I feel anxious. Obviously she's settling down and is ready to see our lives return to 'normal'. But the no sex thing...I just can't do it.

I have been extremely patient as Gabbie has worked through her issues but when it comes to resolving my own problems, I want clarity as soon as possible. Gabbie and I need to have one last "big" conversation. It's going to be extremely difficult for me to say the words but I have to do it. I have to tell her that the resolution she has chosen for her own crisis does not work for me. It fills me with guilt to say that. For the both of us to go through so much and then to have me throw it into chaos again...it just seems cruel. But I will do it.

If I can't have a traditional, happy marriage then I want a happy, open one. One that is 'open' to polyamory not just momentary sexual thrills. At this point, I have absolutely no idea how she will react when I tell her.

Thinking about this conversation has dominated my thoughts for days and it's really getting me down. Basically, there's only one response from her that will make me happy - "Go for it" and anything else will create a big problem...just when things have been going so much better.

It's torture to think about fucking everything up again.

But I'm still going to do it.

To solidify my resolve I've decided to have the conversation in the first week of January. That would be the soonest I would date any men and right now Gabbie is very stressed by family holiday pressures.

I also have this secret wish that Charlie will fall off the wagon soon and that Gabbie will be forced to decide if she wants to stay involved with him and his drama.

If she can't give him up should he start drinking again it would be so much easier for me to TELL her what I'm going to do, rather than to ask for her permission.

If any of ya'll have advice or fresh perspectives on any of this, I'd love to hear it. Feel free to post comments or email.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What I Want

Having sex with a woman goes against my natural inclinations. But when it happens I find pleasure and connection in it. Likewise, talking at length about 'what I want' goes against my natural inclinations. The difference is that, unlike sex with a woman, I DON'T find pleasure in writing about it.

What I'm saying is that I'd rather have a romp in the sack with my wife than write this post.

In several recent posts I have remarked that I'm tired of being on an emotional roller coaster when it comes to the fate of my marriage. A chorus of you have responded with the exactly same advice: the upheaval will not end until I decide what *I* want. This post is my response to your collective prodding.

Before I get into the substance of 'what I want', I should say that although I am posting this now I would have said exactly the same thing throughout the last eight years. None of this is new. The lack of novelty on the subject may be why I've never publicly outlined my wishes. I know what they are - do I need to tell everyone else? I guess I do!

***

What I'd like more than anything is for Gabbie to love me as a husband and for the two of us to remain happily married until one of us drops dead.

The 'happily married' part requires explanation. For me 'happily married' means that Gabbie feels fulfilled by me - no wanderlust and no need for an emotional or sexual relationship with Charlie, or any other man. 'Happily married' also requires sex. I'm gay. My hand and my dick are extremely well acquainted and have been for a very long time. It's a good match which I largely find to be fulfilling. The reason straight sex is so important to me has nothing to do with lust or with getting off, it's about the connection. When we lie in bed next to each other, that's nice, but there's still a separateness that eats at me. Only sex breaks the barriers and makes us one. To imagine many more decades of being together without sex - I can't do it. I can't take that kind of prolonged isolation.

A sexless marriage is hardly a novelty. "The solution is simple," you say, "Find a friend and have sex with him."

Been there, done that.

I've had three FWB arrangements and two were quite satisfying. All were with married men. You'd think the fact that I mostly enjoyed those relationships would mean that I'd be willing to consider another - but no, I don't want that.

A sexual friendship with a married man is a compromised relationship because wives are primary, as they should be. For me, sex and an emotional connection are now profoundly related. (Holy shit, I've turned into a woman.)

Perhaps I should no longer label myself as gay but as an 'emotasexual'. Share a deep emotional bond with me and you'll be the only person I want to fuck. And we'll fuck like bunnies.

FWB relationships have it all backwards. Sex dominates and emotions may - or may not - follow. Yes, a sexual friend could become someone who rocks my world, but honestly...how often does that happen? And more realistically - should I seek a FWB with the expectation that he will rock my world? Never. I'd have a better chance of winning the lottery.

Given the fact that I'm an emotasexual and all my emotions are wrapped up in Gabbie, I will not and cannot take any actions that might cloud my mind. As a couple we are clearly stressed and the answer is to figure that out, not to add to the mess.

The emotional roller coaster was really making me nuts in November because, at long last, the end of her crisis appeared to be in sight. Finally, I hoped, I would know if she shared my desire to be happily married or not.

The answer? Still vague. She's not moving out so that's good but what most concerns me are my 'happily married' requirements. So far, Gabbie's reasons for staying have not been about me. And although she has talked about saving for retirement together she also said, "we'll see how it goes" when the last kid leaves in 7 years. Also, Charlie's importance to her continues even though she seldom sees him.

Some readers have told me that my relationship with Gabbie is dysfunctional; Gabbie is emotionally abusive to me and I should get out. Other readers have said that because I'm gay, the relationship will never work; the best solution is to end it sooner rather than later. I have considered those opinions carefully and there is some element of truth in both statements. The thing is, I love Gabbie and nothing she has done has felt like a betrayal. Her whole relationship with Charlie was something that happened, not something she sought, and she's told me all of the essential truths about it, as they happened.

I don't feel any need to emotionally end my commitment to Gabbie and unless or until I do, leaving her is not something I would ever consider. I don't feel trapped or powerless. The reason I have been extremely passive is because this is Gabbie's crisis and if I try to impose my will on her that will not address her central problems. She needs to work things out for herself and the best thing I can do is to minimize the distractions so that she can figure her shit out.

Because 'happily married' is in doubt I have thought about 'what I want' depending on what happens. She's decided she wants to stay, so that is no longer in doubt. What I still don't know is, is she emotionally committed to ME and if so, will we ever have sex again?

The sex question is a lot easier to answer. As I said above, sex is essential for me. Within the next month I plan to push for an answer about this. If she's content to have sex even a half dozen times a year, I could probably live with that. Is that so much for a homosexual - I mean - an emotasexual to ask?

If sex is "Never!" that implies an answer to the emotional commitment question. Should that be her answer (and I hope it won't be) then I'll put myself on the queer market. I'll be in big demand:

Married guy, 44, lives with his (sorta) ex-wife and three kids in the suburbs - would like to meet a man for a full-time emotasexual relationship.

What a joke I'll be.

If sex is a yes but Gabbie's emotional commitment remains vague because she can't dump Charlie...well, that would suck. By choice, I will remain in limbo as I ever-so-patiently wait for her to kick that asshole to the curb - or do the same to me.

So there you have it. The very exciting summary of 'what Cameron wants.'

I'm sure it was a scintillating read. Now, go find yourself some porn.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your concerns and comments!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Decision

A month ago my wife Gabbie told me that she was going to move out and leave our three kids with me to raise.

In the two weeks that followed, she changed her mind on a near-daily basis. Some days she was going to move, some days she was not. By the third week I was getting impatient with her indecisiveness. I felt stuck in no-man's land with no idea what might happen next. If she was going to leave, I wanted to begin preparing for that. If she was going to stay, I wanted to be clear about my expectations. Unable to wait any longer, I decided to push her for a 'final' answer by the end of that week. Then, a few days later, I changed my mind because I'm not ready to start dating men yet.

I've been hoping that she would come to a decision without any pressure from me, and this past Saturday, that is exactly what happened.

She began the conversation by saying, "I don't think it would be fair to you if you had to raise the kids yourself."

Then she added, "I really think that Rose [our youngest and only daughter, 11] needs me now. She needs a lot of attention. And she'll be hitting puberty soon. I'm sure you don't want to go through that alone."

No, it wouldn't be fair for me to raise the kids alone.

Yes, my daughter would probably prefer that her mother coach her through her first period.

"So I've decided that I'm not going to move out." She paused a few seconds and waited for me to respond. When I didn't, she said, "That's it.... OK?"

"OK. Yes. That's good." I answered, somewhat dazed.

Gabbie still had a lot to say. She told me how we'll "see how things go" as the kids get older; how she would never want to be married to anyone else - because she doesn't see any point in being married; how, even if we did separate, she'd keep me as the beneficiary on her life insurance and 401K (Gee, thanks.); how, if she moved out, Charlie - the alcoholic she's been having an emotional affair with - would assume they would be moving in together, yet, she didn't want that because it would be a one-sided arrangement.

About Charlie she said, "I could never live with him. Every day I would go off to work and what would he be doing? Maybe working, maybe not? He can't keep an apartment or a car now so what would be different if we lived together? All I would do is work to support him and that is never going to happen."

She spoke almost continuously for about twenty minutes. She paused sometimes, to see if I agreed with what she was saying, and mostly I did.

I was thrilled to finally hear conviction in her voice. At last, an answer!

And I knew it was a final answer because, well, I know her.

She delivered the news in her 'happy voice' which is always music to my ears. There's a certain lift in her voice when she's happy and unstressed. Good news always comes when she's using the happy voice.

And yet, her words did not fill me with much happiness.

Can you guess why?

She gave me two reasons for staying, both had to do with the kids. Not once did she say that she wanted to be with ME.

Also, in addition to the reasons to stay, she gave me a reason not to leave: Charlie would expect them to live together and that would not work for her, because he is so unreliable.

The more I thought about what she said, the more a certain phrase came seemed to accurately describe what she said.

A shit-filled Twinkie.

Have you ever heard of that?

A Twinkie is a sponge cake that comes with a tasty cream-filled center. Kids love them.

A shit-filled Twinkie is a euphemistic term that describes something that is delicious looking and sweet on the outside, but once you bite into it, you realize you've been fed a load of shit.

I took a deep breath. I wanted to keep my cool. And, regardless of how unsatisfying I found her reasons for staying to be, there was one crucial issue she had not addressed that I wanted an answer about, Charlie.

So I asked her, "What about Charlie? ... You know, I'd be perfectly happy to never see him again."

I had said exactly the same thing a month before when I began The Conversation about whether we should split up or not.

Of course, I've never liked him and I sometimes burn with an intense hatred for him. But dealing with him and the way Gabbie feels about him - there is no easy solution.

Some, including Gabbie's sister, say that the answer is clear: give Gabbie an ultimatum and obviously she'll pick me. But it's not that simple. First, Charlie can be a dangerous man. He's served time for a variety of offenses but the worst one was for involuntary manslaughter. He has never once backed away from a bar fight. He's physically very strong. And, Gabbie is the most important person in his life. Without her, he has nothing to lose. Is that the sort of man I want to anger? No. Restraining orders are wonderful things - if the cops get to the scene before the violence has been committed.

The second, bigger problem is that Gabbie loves him. Some people don't understand that telling someone not to love is not like waving a magic wand. Powerful emotions like love are not ruled by the logical mind. It's completely ridiculous that Gabbie should love a homeless, jobless alcoholic. She knows that. But she can't stay away from him, even when he says and does terrible things to her. The situation reminds me of Brokeback Mountain, when Jack says to Ennis, "I wish I knew how to quit you." When love hits you hard, quitting a bad situation can seem impossible.

Third, I see an ultimatum as a losing proposition. Because I will be imposing my will on both Charlie and Gabbie, I can expect to be challenged by one or both of them. I will win an initial challenge but that won't be the end of it. Keeping them separated is likely to require the police and is almost certainly going to create some nasty arguments. To this point, the kids have remained clueless about what's been going on. In a confrontation, I don't see how they could remain that way. So yes, ultimately she may cave and he might disappear but the kids will know what she has done. And then they will have no respect for her. When teenagers don't respect you, what do they do? Fight with you at every opportunity. Basically, the house would fall into total chaos with the kids on one side, Gabbie on the other and me trying to keep the peace. Some have said that my situation is dysfunctional. I don't believe it is, at least so far as the kids are concerned. But if they learn the truth, that will change. In the short run I might "win" but in the long run, I think we are all likely to suffer. Gabbie would not be able to handle the kids' hostility and she would leave.

Basically, I see an ultimatum as a way to blow the whole situation up and make everyone miserable. The only alternative, therefore, is for me to be patient. Charlie is a loser and a mess. It's only a matter of time before Gabbie gets sick of him and kicks him to the curb. At least that's what I think.

Back to my question to Gabbie: "What about Charlie?"

"Well, uh, what about him? We're friends and that's it. That's all he will ever be, I've told him that."

"Uh huh."

"He's doing really well you know." She was referring to his pledge to stop drinking. Charlie is 50 years old. His father was an abusive alcoholic who gave him his first drink at 9. Charlie has been drinking ever since. The only times he has quit drinking have been involuntary - he's been in jail. By coincidence (or not) Charlie went to his first AA meeting ever right before Gabbie and I had our breaking-up conversation a month ago. He's been on the wagon ever since, which is quite an amazing feat for a man would drink at least 20 pints a day, every day. I'm not sure exactly where his motivation to stop drinking suddenly came from, whether another alcoholic encouraged him to go, or whether being evicted from his apartment at the end of October had an impact, or maybe it's an attempt to win Gabbie over. Whatever the reason, Charlie has been 100% sober for a month.

Although his sobriety and friends-only status should make him less objectionable to me, a Charlie I never see again is the best kind of Charlie I can imagine. Gabbie knows this and so, in the last month, she's gone to great lengths to minimize his presence in her life, at least so far as I am aware. She seldom talks about him. I used to hear the two of them on the phone multiple times each day, now I might catch one brief conversation every other day. And best of all, I hardly have to see him. I think I've seen him four times in the last month, which is a huge improvement because I sometimes would have to see him four times a day.

What do all these details about Charlie mean?

They mean that Gabbie has told me she is not going to done with him any time soon.

Gah!!!!

In fact, what Gabbie's decision to stay actually means is that absolutely nothing has fundamentally changed in our situation. She staying for the kids, not me. Our future after the kids is uncertain. And, she's not giving up Charlie.

Give me a fucking break! You mean I'm supposed to be happy she's staying so that everything will stay exactly the same as it has been????

Clearly, I am not happy with her decision. But to what should I object? That she's not going to dump the kids on me? Or that she has a friendship with a recovering alcoholic?

***

Now that it's been two days since Gabbie told me her decision, I've calmed down - somewhat.

I feel like we've entered a trial reconciliation phase. Gabbie stopped leaving me at home every night a month ago and she's been trying to adjust to being a 'normal' mom ever since. It feels like she's trying too hard to make it work so it remains to be seen if she can stay domestic in the long-run.

Charlie's commitment to stop drinking seems destined to fail. He's not someone with a lot of self-discipline. I wonder: if he stays sober, does he become more appealing to Gabbie and therefore harder to get rid of? I tend to think, yes. But I don't worry much that he'll stay sober. Gabbie told me that she's not going to have another year like the last one; if Charlie starts drinking again she says she's done with him. I'll believe that when it happens.

Another big issue for me that Gabbie and I haven't discussed, at all, is sex. If I'm going to be married, sex on a regular basis must be part of it. The fact that I'm gay means my straight-sex expectations are low so it shouldn't be a huge issue for her. However, if she tells me that she's not interested in sex or not excited by me because I'm a fag, I will bluntly tell her that I'll be looking for someone else who is interested.


I don't think this trial phase is going to last too long. A few months at most. Within that time I think we'll both know if our destiny is to be a romantic couple - or a platonic one. In the meantime, I will continue to make myself more aesthetically pleasing to the gay world.

You might notice that what I want is conspicuously absent from this post. Actually, it's not. Here and in other posts from the last several months you can deduce what I want if you look at what I choose to talk about.


For those of you who are prefer a less cryptic answer, I will be explicitly stating what I want in the next post.

Thanks for reading.


Comments are both welcome and greatly appreciated.