Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ultimatum Update

I had an eventful week while on vacation.

Here are the significant highs and lows, in chronological order:

+ My wife and I had a major fight and didn't speak for nearly 24 hours.

+ My wife told me she didn't want to be separated from me.

+ My wife agreed we should go to therapy.

+ My wife was so enraged at me that she literally shook with anger for hours.

+ We have barely spoken in the last 24 hours.

Before I get to the details, I feel like I need to do a short recap because of a comment RB made. He said he was confused. He thought I was looking for an exit strategy yet now I've said I'm willing to go to sex therapy to win her back. Because Rob is a smart (and sexy!) guy, I figure he's not the only one who is confused. So, let me explain.

Although I'm gay I feel like I'd be happiest if I kept my marriage intact. But I want a real marriage, one with mutual monogamous commitment. When my wife and I agreed to separate in January, she had it in her head that I was doing so to relieve her of the tremendous guilt she felt because of her romantic relationship with her boyfriend Charlie. Actually, I was agreeing that we should separate because she wouldn't commit to me and I wanted to feel free to start dating men.

Because she recently realized that she was mistaken about my intentions, the whole question of whether she'd be willing to commit to me has come into play again. The possibility that I could meet a man, leave her and run off with him has always been one of her biggest fears. Now that it's a real possibility, she's rethinking whether she wants to let me go or not. It's a complicated situation and not an easy decision for her.

Our week alone together on vacation was the perfect opportunity for me to show her that I am willing to do just about anything to stay with her. In fact, I am so motivated that she could make a list of a hundred things that she wants from me and I would happily oblige. In return I want just two things: total commitment from her and for Charlie to permanently disappear.

It is very important that I do and say everything possible to try to make our marriage work. I have no desire to turn my back on her. So...if she wants me or us to go to sex therapy, I'll go. If she wants me to paint my toenails green and shave my head, I'll do it. Whatever it takes.

With that said, and for as much as I'm willing to dig deep and try anything, I'm also prepared to give up if it becomes clear that she can't (or won't) offer me the exclusive commitment I want. Should that happen, then I will start dating men. And this time I'll be much more motivated.

Now, as for what happened last week...it was a roller coaster ride, largely because of my actions.

We had two good days together but on the third day we made a huge mistake and rented a scooter for the day. Putt-putting along on that thing in the blazing heat was a miserable experience. The end of the day was the very worst because it was late and there were a ton of cars, other scooters and pedestrians to negotiate. The almost final straw for Gabbie was when I got us lost in a seedy-looking neighborhood. And the final, final straw was when we were nearly run down by some asshole in a delivery truck.

When we finally made it back to our starting point and returned the scooter, we both breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was glad the experience was over and I assumed that we'd focus on the night ahead. Instead, Gabbie laid into me big time. She went into a thirty minute tirade about the whole day, my ineptitude (driving, getting us lost, being cheap) and how I "ruin everything." In the past I would have done my version of "yes dear, whatever you say dear." But in this case I felt her criticisms were very unfair. I had given her plenty of suggestions for things to do that day and the scooter was what she chose. It wasn't my fault that she assumed that I wanted to do it because of the low cost. As I told her, I would have opted for a much more expensive taxi tour. But she refused to accept any responsibility for her decision and that sent me over the edge. When her tirade ended, I fired back and finished with the sentence, "I will never, EVER travel alone with you again!" I meant what I said and she knew it.

We didn't speak for the next 22 hours. I did my best not to be miserable but it wasn't easy. I was on a cruise ship filled with many young, happy couples. Many of them were busy cooing into each other's ears, or if not that, then holding hands or gazing into each other's eyes. Young, naive love! I thought. How many of you will be happy to be together in 20 years?

I guess I'm a crusty old cynic now.

The silence between my wife and I was broken when she apologized to me, which is something that almost never happens. She also confessed to being very hurt when I told her that we would never travel alone again. But best of all was when she said that she didn't want us to be separated.

That night and the next two days were really good. I felt like my plan to strengthen our bond before pushing her to make a decision was working perfectly. On Thursday night I decided to make my move.

I have to go back in time and explain that when we first arrived, our room was set-up with two twin beds. It was odd to see that happen and it wasn't something either of us had requested. Gabbie said at the time, "Let's leave them as they are but maybe we can push them together later in the week." That made me happy. In fact, I did the "I'm going to get laid" dance in my head and followed that up with a"Haha, fuck YOU Charlie" mental middle finger.

Back to our night after two good days together...Gabbie was happy and had a few drinks in her, so at lights-out I snuck over to her bed and started to warm her up. We haven't had sex since October, which was our last trip alone together. Periodically, when the mood seems right, I've tried to get her interested. Each time I've been rebuffed. Her best line has been, "What do you think you're doing?"

Every time I try, I hold my breath, waiting to hear her response, or hopefully, the lack of one. This time she was silent for nearly a full minute before she spoke up. She said, "We're separated. We're not going to do anything."

There was no sex. Instead, we had a long, detailed conversation about our relationship. I may write a post about some of the things we talked about because they are likely to apply to many mixed orientation marriages. For now, all I need to report is that she said dumping Charlie would be complicated and difficult, but, she'd be willing to go to counseling with me to see if we could work things out. MAJOR SCORE FOR ME!!!!!!

For another day or so, all I could think about was coming home and updating this blog with my big, happy news.

But that all changed after I made a few mistakes and the shit really hit the fan.

More about that in my next post...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Ultimatum (No really, this time I mean it!)

In my last personal update I explained how my wife suddenly "got" the fact that I'm gay. I'm still astounded by the depth of her denial, but it is what it is.

As you might expect, my "revelation" has sparked some discussions. Two, actually. In the first one, she said all the things straight wives say to their husbands when they come out. "Our life has been a lie." "You've been hiding behind me." "You're afraid to be who you are." Stuff like that. Honestly, I have no patience for that nonsense. She's known for 18 years! I had my chance to cut and run and I didn't. So, spare me the bullshit. That's basically what I told her.

Earlier this week we had the second conversation. This one was about my appearance. Back in October I started working out regularly for the first time in many years. I was not overweight (5'8", 156) but I wasn't in shape either. I figured that I'd look much better if I lost 10 pounds. I didn't think it was a big deal so I never told my wife that I was working out.

By the end of January I had lost the 10 pounds and I still wasn't satisfied. Also, after plateauing for a while, the weight was coming off pretty easily. I kept up my workout routine and now I've lost almost exactly 20 pounds, I'm 136. That sounds awfully thin, I know, but I have a small frame and small bones.

My wife never noticed my significantly improved body, even when I changed in front of her, until a few days ago. When she saw me half-dressed, she went ape-shit. "This is how it all starts!! Now you're going to be prancing around the Castro with your 25 year old boyfriend!!" And on and on.

Yes, one of the reasons I wanted to get in shape was because looks count for everything in the homoworld. But there was another reason - my father had his first heart attack at 49. I've always known that I had to get serious about being in shape. And I've always known that I'd have to start no later than my mid-40s. So although the possibility of dating was the immediate impetus, I had planned to do this anyway. I explained all of this and more to my wife and she calmed down, somewhat. But when she looks at me now she keeps shaking her head with disapproval.

What she's most upset about is that we're going on a Caribbean cruise together this week. In fact, this is a scheduled post. We're in the Caribbean right now. She's pissed that I look so good and she's afraid she doesn't. She's pissed that I've been spending time working out instead of making more money. Oh well!!!

I also expect that she can't shake her original complaint, which is that I'm moving on. Live with it baby! Actually, I took the opportunity to tell her in a very forceful way that I want to be with her and that I want her loser boyfriend Charlie to permanently disappear. We had some back and forth about that and she appeared to be giving the idea very serious consideration. She asked me if I'd be willing to go to sex therapy and I very enthusiastically replied, "Absolutely!" Then I added, "In fact, I'll do whatever it takes. I haven't sat around and watched this whole thing with Charlie for five years for no reason. If I didn't want to be with you, I would have left a long time ago."

One of the kids came in about then and our conversation ended. Although nothing was resolved I think it was perfect timing to have this conversation before spending a week alone together. She's had some time to consider her options and before we come home I WILL BE demanding an answer. It's me or him, baby.

Some of you may recall that I've given her this ultimatum before. She didn't take me seriously and it turns out that she was right to blow me off. This time, we both know things are different. She could, and probably will, try to avoid the decision and keep our situation status quo. But I'm not going to be complacent this time. I've found at least some of my missing mojo and any answer from her other than "Charlie and I are through" will mean that I will start dating men. And I'll be much more motivated this time.

Because I'm going to force her to make a choice, the big unknown is what she'll decide. Charlie is a complete loser who can barely support himself. I'm her husband of 21 years who does everything he's supposed to do. It seems like an obvious choice, but, we'll see.

Regardless, I have big hopes that I'll finally have some resolution. With all our cards out on the table, there are no more excuses to be made. I hope to be able to post on Sunday May 29th with the news...whatever that may be.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Understanding Closeted Bisexuals

When a gay or a bisexual man gives me advice about my situation, he most frequently says something like, "Forget about your wife, go find a man."

Others have been more diplomatic. They say, "I hope you find happiness no matter what happens."

Then there is one man who stands alone, Ian. He has essentially told me, "You must pursue any and every option that could result in reconciliation with your wife." I get the feeling that he won't be satisfied until he gets a signed letter from the Pope stating that we are beyond help. (Actually, I wonder if even that would be enough.)

I sometimes get frustrated by Ian's unrelenting focus on reconciliation. He really is tough on me. But, in the end, I greatly respect him. It's not often that a man will stand up and doggedly fight for what he believes, especially when that is contrary to his own lifestyle.

Ian continues to amaze me and something he said recently really got my attention. He said, "Your being gay (if that's what you are) doesn't seem to stop you from being in love with her or wanting to have an exclusive sexual relationship with her."

Wow. Is he saying that I don't know my own sexual identity?

That possibility is somewhat astounding. I mean, I came out to myself at 13 and I've been very comfortable with the gay label (in my own head, at least) since I was 15. I've never wavered when it comes to calling myself gay, even after 20 years of marriage, and even after many years of practicing heterosexual monogamy. When Ian said that I really had to stop and wonder, am I a bisexual in denial??

It didn't take long for the dark clouds of doubt to clear and for my inner voice to reassure me that I haven't been in denial for all these years. I really am gay and not bisexual.

The process of questioning myself made me wonder: why am I so convinced I'm gay? I mean, he's right. I do love my wife and I have had a long-term exclusive sexual relationship with her. More than that, I am willing to give up men completely if she will fully commit to me.

The reason I'm certain I'm gay, is because it all comes down to pursuit.

On the one hand, it's true that if I was single I wouldn't reject a decent looking woman who VERY aggressively pursued me. On the other hand, I know that if I was left on my own I'd make no effort to ever have sex with a woman again - and I wouldn't particularly miss it. Men are an entirely different story. Even if I was sexually monogamous with my wife, I'd still be thinking about hot, sexy men whenever she wasn't around.

I have this feeling that the standard I use to define my sexuality, pursuit, is NOT the standard most "bisexual" men use. And that's what this post is about. I'd like to be enlightened. If you consider yourself to be bisexual, how do you KNOW that label is honest and accurate, especially compared to identifying yourself as gay? I would especially like to hear from men who have regular sex with men and have no or very little sex with women. I keep thinking that that lopsided reality must be difficult to reconcile with a "bisexual" identity.

A related issue that I wonder about, because I never experienced it myself, is the whole transition from straight to bi to gay. It's a cliche that bi is a stepping stone to gay, yet, that seems to be a very common occurrence. I can understand "confused" or "curious" or "uncertain" for a period of time, and maybe that's what "bisexual" means to some men, but it's weird to me that someone's actual sexuality would change several times. Can anyone enlighten me?

As I've pondered these questions about bisexuality, I asked myself to define what *I* think a bisexual is. So here's my opinion: a 'pure' bisexual is someone who literally cannot decide who they'd rather have sex with when offered two equally attractive options of each gender. In that situation, a pure bisexual would be frustrated that they were forced to make a choice. And, faced with two equally attractive specimen, the only way they'd feel comfortable choosing one would be to interact with them. Personality then becomes the deciding factor, not attractiveness, not gender.

I don't think many 'pure' bisexuals exist, but certainly there are some out there. I think the more common self-defined bisexual is someone who prefers sex with one gender but is not opposed to sex with the other. I find this definition to be lacking - it's too theoretical. I mean, I'm not opposed to learning to play a musical instrument, but I don't play one. Does that make me a quasi-musician? No. And the reason is because the possibility is not the reality. They're entirely different. So when someone says they are bisexual but they only pursue one gender I really find that puzzling. Possibility and reality don't match.

If I was going to set criteria for defining one's sexuality I would be very practical about it - I'd make you take a test.

In my test you would be shuttled to a room with 20 very attractive men and 20 very attractive women. Your job would be to choose which person with whom you'd like to have sex with first. Whatever the gender is of the person you choose first, that's your primary. The reason for this is that when all the options are equal you chose a woman over men , or vice versa.

But that's not the end of the test. You have to keep choosing.

I'm not sure where I'd draw the lines between "primarily straight", "bisexual" and "primarily gay." I mean, if you're a man and the first 10 people you choose are all women, that would seem to indicate that you're pretty straight, so 10 seems like enough to be primarily straight. But I wonder if men who choose 10 men first would say that is not enough to define them as primarily gay? It's funny how 'straight' is likely to have a much lower threshold than 'gay.'

In the end I think many people, especially bisexuals, would say that labels don't matter. But here's where hard-core reality smashes arm-chair theory. If labels don't matter and if a married man seldom or never has sex with his wife but he has regular sex with men, why will he absolutely, positively, angrily and vehemently insist he is NOT gay when his wife confronts him about the dozens of incriminating emails she's found? It happens all the time. Labels don't matter and they like sex with both genders (although actions suggest otherwise) but they are unquestionably NOT gay. If labels don't matter wouldn't it be most accurate to say "I CAN be attracted to either but I PREFER men?" But married men won't say that when they're confronted. They say they're bisexual.

I sometimes wonder if accountability causes bisexuality. The logic goes like this: if a married man sincerely believes he is bisexual but he is only having sex with men, then his marriage and his life are not lies. But, the minute he accepts himself as gay, then he becomes accountable for a fucked-up marriage and a fucked-up life. I can see how avoiding that realization would make the bisexual label vastly more appealing.

Finally, I wonder how many men define themselves as bisexual because they have very narrow perceptions of what a gay man is. Limp-wristed? Feminine? Lisps? Wears women's clothes? Calls his male friends 'girlfriend'? There is a logic there. If those sorts of things define 'gay' to you and you are not those things, then how can you be gay? You're not. You're bisexual. It's a flawed logic, but I get it.

Well now I'm starting to ramble. I started this post with the intention of asking a question. But I see I have attempted to answer my own question. I guess what I should do is wait for a few bisexual men to set me 'straight'.

Is bisexuality about pursuit or theoretical sexual connections? Is the term 'bisexual' so loosely defined that it's easy to claim as your identity no matter what you do? How many bisexuals choose that definition because they think that being gay would require a major lifestyle change? And how many man are bisexuals simply because they don't see themselves as 'gay'?

Let me know your opinions and educate me, please.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Web Links for Married Men on the Down Low

Ever hear of the phrase 'misery loves company?'

It means that as much as it sucks to be miserable, it really sucks to be miserable AND alone. Therefore, if you can't avoid being unhappy, then feel free to cheer yourself up a little by spreading your misery to the people around you.

Bad day at work? Kick the dog when you get home.

Deep down, I believe that most closeted bi and gay married men are unhappy. The conflict we feel between what we want versus what our life is...it's a lose-lose situation. We cannot please the people we care about most and we cannot please ourselves. All we can do is manage the situation and try to maintain some sense of balance so that we don't turn into miserable SOBs.

We think we are so kind, so manly, because we shelter our family from our internal conflict. They don't know the baggage we carry and they're better off because of it.

Likewise, we think we have completely hidden ourselves -- only we haven't.

We are who we are and we leave clues to our state of mind all the time. Our wives might not know the reason we're stressed and edgy, sad and withdrawn, but they certainly see the effects of it. Most of the time, they're sympathetic too. They want a peaceful, happy household and if we're on edge, more often than not they'll use their extensive knowledge of us to adapt to our moods.

Outside of the home we try to sate our unhappiness by hooking up with men. But those are short-term fixes. Even 'long term' arrangements like fuck buddies and friends with benefits don't seem to last very long, especially when compared to the relationship with our wives.

Sex with men is not like life with our wives. One is fleeting and the other is enduring. We don't think about it often enough, but our wives are our best company as we struggle to maintain the balance between our secret life and our real life.

By staying with them we think we're being good to them, that we're providing for them and protecting them. We might be right about that. But there's a huge, gaping flaw in our logic: we never ask them what they want.

Would a wife want to be married to a man who secretly has sex with other men?

When we pat ourselves on the back for our chivalry, for our kindness, or for our ability to keep our lives balanced, we're only fooling ourselves. Unless and until we give our wives the opportunity to decide for themselves if they would like to walk this path with us, our self-congratulatory thoughts are nothing more than delusional rationalizations.

We can't change our sexuality. We can't change the fact that we married someone and have a long history together. Most of us probably can't change the fact that we NEED to meet men for sex. But we can, at least, be honest with ourselves. The 'protection' we think we're giving our wives is a lie. If we truly wanted to protect them we'd give them the opportunity to choose to stand with us, or not. But we don't WANT to give them a choice. Instead we want to keep them locked into their commitment to us so that we're not alone. All because...misery loves company.

Had a bad day at work today? Go home and kick the dog.

Had sex with a man today? Go home and kiss your wife.

I could only write a post like this if I had lived the life of denial I describe.

By denial I don't mean my sexuality, I mean my sincere belief that keeping my hook-ups hidden from my wife was for her own good.

Wrong. Keeping them hidden was for MY own good.

I told myself how much I loved my wife, but I certainly didn't act that way. Love isn't keeping someone in a prison and taking away their choices in life. I never challenged myself or questioned my motivations. But now that I have put myself into her shoes, I understand.

I asked above, "Would a wife want to be married to a man who secretly has sex with other men?"

You might be shocked to know that many, if not MOST wives will accept such a marriage. They have their reasons and they're willing to make compromises to keep what they have. So, don't assume that giving your wife the freedom to run or stay will automatically mean that she'll run.

Here is a comprehensive list of on-line resources for men who are out, or thinking of coming out, to their wives:

Spouse Support Mailing List for Mixed Orientation Relationships (SSML-MOR)
A mailing list for heterosexual spouses and/or gay, lesbian or bisexual spouses in mixed-orientation marriages. The spouses on this list are trying to work through relationship problems after the coming out of the gay, lesbian, or bisexual spouse. The goal is constructive resolution of problems so that a positive relationship can be maintained or restored.

To subscribe to ssml:
Send a blank email message to ssml-subscribe@lists.ssml-mor.org
Note: Due to AOL security policies, we do not subscribe AOL email addresses;
Likewise do to recent changes at Yahoo, we do not subscribe Yahoo email addresses either; please get a gmail, Hotmail, or similar type address before subscribing.

Monogamous Mixed Orientation Marriage (MMOM)

MMOM is a support group for either or both members of a mixed orientation marriage or relationship working to remain monogamous..."Monogamous" means that the partners are sexually exclusive with each other.

To subscribe to MMOM:
Send a blank email message to mmom- subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit the web page at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mmom/

Making Mixed Orientation Marriages Work (MMOMW)
This group has been created for those who are in mixed orientation marriages. Straight spouses who are married to gays or bisexuals and also the married gays and bisexuals themselves. This is a support group only. A place where we can get together and discuss ways we make our marriages work in a positive way.

To subscribe to MMOMW:
Send a blank email message to mmomw-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit the web page at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MMOMW/

Spouses Out To Their Spouses (SOTTS)
SOTTS is an Internet mailing list for bisexual, gay, or lesbian partners in mixed orientation relationships who are trying to keep their marriages intact and for keeping the relationship positive for those couples who are separating or divorcing. The SOTTS List is not moderated; it is a closed list so that only les/bi/gay spouses will be members. The subscription list is private.

To subscribe to SOTTS:
Send a blank email message to sotts-subscribe@topica.com or visit the web page at http://www.topica.com/lists/sotts

Bisexual Married Men of America (BMMA)

BMMA is an unmoderated email discussion group comprised of bisexual and gay married men. Exchanges are by email. The discussion topics range from the spiritual, to sexual, to issues that all gay or bisexual married men face.

To subscribe to BMMA: Visit the BMMA Website and click on the subscribe link at the top left of the page.

Husbands Out to their Wives (HOW)
HOW is a moderated list that includes bi/gay members who are married, separated, divorced, or in the process of getting a divorce. Most are out to their spouses. Contact frazer.jones@gmail.com for more information.

Married Men's Group
The Group is for men who are, or who have been in relationships with women and who also have sexual feelings for other men. The group is an open, relaxed and highly confidential space that allows men to explore and talk openly and frankly about their feelings and experiences, without being judged or coerced into one particular direction. All volunteers and group members are in, or have been in, relationships with women so can understand and offer mutual support to other men in the same situation as ourselves. Webmaster's note: This group is based out of Manchester, UK.
Visit the web page at http://www.gaymarriedmen.co.uk/gmm/

For Couples Only:
Hope-Understanding-Growth-Support (HUGS)

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?