Tuesday, May 3, 2011

For Married Men on the Down Low

Here's a story, told from a straight wife's point of view.

He came out, said he was bisexual but preferred men more. After several months he said he missed his family (I had given birth to his son while we were separated), and that he was going to change and be only devoted to me and to the kids.

I said, come on back...I was very young, living with my parents, and had no idea what to do, having two tiny children to care for. I believed him.

He put up a good foil, appeared to be taking care of his family and changing his ways. But what was really happening was that he just got better at hiding.

For 16 years, I didn't trust him, and rightly so. He would disappear for long periods of time and always have an excuse. He would be distant.

Then the rejection of me physically and absence of any sort of desire for me wore me down. I would ask him point blank if he was seeing some guy, and he would look me in the eyes and tell me he was done with that.

After a lot of years, I didn't trust him OR believe him. Then I found the gay porn on the computer, and he had an excuse for that too. He went to a counselor "to help get over the guilt of what he did to me all those years ago." It didn't help. I don't even know if he actually went.

There was still the rejection, impotence, and disinterest in sex. I started seeing the glances and eyes meeting with other men when we were at the grocery store. He was late coming home from work many, many times and said he missed the train.

I felt trapped in a sham of a marriage, but he said he wasn't seeing anyone and never would.

He said these lies until he couldn't - a life insurance blood test revealed he had HIV. Even after that, he continued lying for another year. He said that he had gotten the virus from a man he had been with 16 years earlier. Even after I confronted him with the emails on craigslist, he laughed it off and said he never really acted on them, it was just talk.

After he disclosed the HIV, I gave him one last chance, and said I would try sex with a condom, but if I was too fearful I would stop. It became evident that night that he had absolutely no care to protect me from being exposed, and I stopped.

The whole truth came out a year after he disclosed the HIV. I found a secret email address, profiles and naked photos on gay websites, countless requests for hookups near his work and orgies on business trips.

Eventually he told me more of the story - that he had been promiscuous for our entire marriage and that he thought the HIV virus came from a stranger he met on the bus once, but he couldn't be sure.

A year after he left, as part of the divorce proceedings, I was given his financial statements during one month. In that one month alone there were several visits to gay bathhouses, massage parlors, and gay adult stores.

I know for a fact he hates condoms. I know he states he is clean on his gay website profiles. I don't believe his intent is to deliberately spread HIV for any specific purpose. It's more that he doesn't think about anyone but himself, and in so doing, has satisfied his own desires while spreading HIV. He thinks that he'll never see that man again, so who would know it was him?

I still don't think I have the whole story, and I don't want any more.

I suppose there are women who are dedicated enough to sacrifice having their own life for someone who isn't happy being with them, but I honestly haven't seen a lasting mixed orientation marriage ever. When the trust and belief are broken in the relationship, it just doesn't come back.

I have questions for women who suspect their husband is secretly meeting men for sex: What do you want out of your marriage, out of your future? Do you want to have to always question him and then wonder if he told you the truth? Do you want to have to continually wonder if he is being faithful? Do you wonder what he is thinking about when you are intimate with him? Do you feel trapped?

That's not what marriage is supposed to be about. It's hard, so hard. But you are the only one in that relationship who is looking out for you.

Sobering, isn't it?