Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sex Every Third Day

Trojan, the condom manufacturer, sponsors a research company to conduct a sex survey every year. Appropriately enough, the survey is called the Trojan® U.S. SEX CENSUS.

The survey makes headlines each time it's published because it ranks various cities according to their sexual practices. For example, one recent headline was, "San Francisco Loses, Houston Wins in Trojan Sex Survey."

I found one data point in the survey to be very personally disturbing. But before I get to that datum, I thought I should share some of the dubious details of how the survey was conducted.

We all know that statistics can be twisted to say just about anything and that surveys are a common tool used to create misleading statistics. By carefully wording a question, or by asking a leading question first, you can influence people to answer a certain way. For example, 'Do you approve of President Obama's authorization to kill Osama Bin Laden?' followed by 'Do you approve of President Obama's performance as Commander-in-Chief?' versus 'Do you approve of the US government's deficit spending?' followed by 'Do you approve of President Obama's performance as US President?'

I can't comment about the exact questions used in the Trojan survey because they were not publicly disclosed. But this is what we do know about how the survey was conducted: "The Sex Census presented by Trojan® condoms is based on two studies conducted by StrategyOne [a public opinion research company] from March 15-21, 2011. The first, a national sample of 1,000 10-minute surveys were conducted online among U.S. Adults 18+. The results are nationally representative based on the U.S. Census indicators. With 95% confidence, the margin of error is +/- 3.1%. The data was weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures. The second is a study conducted online in ten major U.S. cities among Adults 18+. The cities are: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Washington D.C. Atlanta, and Houston. A total of 2,000 10-minute surveys were conducted. Sample size of 200 per city. With 95% confidence, the margins of error within each individual city is +/- 2.2%."

I'm no statistician but it seems to me that 200 people per city isn't much of a sample size. +/- 2.2% per city? Really? I'm skeptical.

The part of the methodology that most interests me is that "The results are nationally representative based on the U.S. Census indicators." I'm skeptical that nearly 40 women who are at least 75 years old took a ten minute on-line Trojan sex survey. They're only 4% of the sample group, but still, are the results truly representative of the actual U.S. population? It seems to me that there would be many more 20-somethings who would spend time on a ten minute Trojan sex survey than any other demographic. And doesn't the fact that it's a Trojan sex survey bias the results??

Anyway...the reason I'm bitching is because I don't like the primary result. According to the survey, the average American has sex 120 times per year.

120?!!!! Are you kidding me???! Once every three days?!!

Wow. At this point, I'd be thrilled to get laid once a month. I literally can't imagine having sex with my wife every third day, week in and week out, all year long. The whole idea blows my mind.

The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized...I'm 18 + 26...that means for the last 26 years I should have been having sex more than twice a week...but actually...I don't think I've ever had that much sex for more than a continuous month or two! Even when I add in my encounters with men and my FWBs, yes there were months when I had sex more than twice a week. But a whole year? Maybe one.

As I've thought about what I can do to make my marriage work I've wondered how much sex is enough. I'd be happy with once a month. My wife? I don't even know. I get conflicting opinions from her. She's been complaining that we didn't have sex often enough in our pre-Charlie years and yet now she says she's not really interested in me or Charlie or hardly anyone else. Of course it doesn't matter how much sex other couples are having, all that matters is that we're happy. But I'll say this...if a "normal" heterosexual woman wants to have sex every three days then I could never be married to a "normal" heterosexual woman. Three or maybe four times a month would be fun. Seven or eight times a month would be a stretch. But ten times a month, every month? I literally couldn't do it.

Now...what if I flip the question around? What if I had a male partner? Sex every three days, no matter what? No problem! That would be effortless...

Yes, I'm gay and I'd be happy to have regular straight sex with my wife - but not too much of it. The good news is that, although my low level of straight desire might make me incompatible with many women, I don't see it as much of an issue for my wife.

Mostly, the Trojan survey makes me feel like a big loser. Not just because the average person is having way more sex than me (not a surprise) but because even if I desperately wanted to be straight I couldn't do it.

One of the most common observations from straight wives after their husband comes out is that they knew something was wrong in the bedroom. Sometimes their husband can't perform, sometimes he doesn't seem very into it, sometimes he's robotic or "not present."

All of this makes me wonder what would happen if more women took the Trojan survey very seriously. We closeted men think we're so clever. No one would ever guess we're not straight. Right? Um, sure...until we have to actually perform like a straight man on a consistent basis.

I'm curious...especially about men who identify as bisexual...do you have sex with your female partner an average of 120 times a year? If not, could you consistently perform at that level? What if you only had sex with men? Would that be any different and if so, would it be a lot, somewhat, or a little easier or more difficult compared to women?

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the ability to consistently perform may be the best indicator of one's true sexuality. Thoughts?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Like No Other Gay?

There are certain events that seem to pre-sage a mid-life crisis for bi and married or gay and married bloggers. Most of these bloggers:

+ Grew up ignorant of or chose to ignore their same sex attraction in adolescence and early adulthood

+ Married at a young age and did not believe that they might be bi or gay at the time they married.

+ Have been married for about 20 years

+ Have kids

+ Have lived for years with either a weak or non-existent marital sex life

+ Are now in their 40s

+ Struggled for years before finally accepting their sexuality

(They're also almost all white, educated upper-middle class Americans. But those particular demographic similarities aren't relevant to this post.)

I fit the above description in many ways. And I suspect that my many similarities have caused some readers to assume that I'm just like everyone else. I'm not.

Unlike many others I have not lead a life of denial or repression. Nor did I wake up at 40, realize that I'm gay, and feel that I've been living the wrong life for decades.

Here are the fundamentally different ways my life has transpired thus far:

+ I came out to myself at 13 and fully accepted myself as gay at 15. I have never felt sexually repressed.

+ I have been out to my wife for almost 19 years.

+ When I came out in 1992, we split up. We both assumed our marriage was over. I had a boyfriend, she moved out, she told her parents and her sister. End of story. Usually.

My boyfriend was awesome. We clicked, he was supportive, we enjoyed spending time together. I had visions of us eventually moving in together. But despite all of the good stuff that happened between him and me, I never lost the connection to my wife. As the weeks of our separation passed, I found that I missed her more and more.

We got back together when *I* decided I wanted to be with her. My boyfriend remained perfect throughout and when I broke the news to him he was as kind and supportive as always.

+ I had my first gay relationship at 17. I had another at 26 (the boyfriend upon coming out) and I had three long-term friends with benefits situations in my late 20s and early 30s, including one that lasted seven years. I also had my fair share of hook-ups between the ages of 19 and 35. In addition, I've lived near San Francisco for most of my life.

All of my experience with men means that I am no stranger to gay life. I get it. I know what I like and I know what I don't like.

+ Most importantly of all, about nine years ago I realized that the emptiness I had felt my entire life, the emptiness that could only be temporarily sated by spending intimate time with another man, was never going to be permanently filled. This realization gave me the freedom to let go of the need to be with a man. I have no desire to hook-up and I don't daydream very often about what life with a man would be like. I've realized that I don't need a man to complete me. The inner voice that taunted me since puberty has been silent for nearly a decade.

What all of this means is, I see my marriage very differently than most other bi and married or gay and married bloggers do. Essentially I had my mid-life crisis at 26. Just as others are doing now, I had a permanent split and I started a new life. What is different is that I found that my desire to be with my wife trumped my desire to be single and free. That's ironic because it was an ideal time to split up. We were young and we had no kids. I had no reason to stay, other than my sincere desire to be with her.

I have taken a lot of well-intentioned criticism lately because I seem to be endlessly circling. You know, bitchin' but not really going anywhere.

Uncutplus has said he's stopped reading because I'm inept and incapable of making a decision.

Rob says that without a catalyst to leave I'll stay with the status quo.

Jim says that I need to accept the fact that because I'm gay I can "never be successfully married to a straight woman", and, I need to accept the fact that "things are probably never going back to what they were."

Well, my dirty little secret is that my mid-life crisis showed me that I can be genuinely happy as a gay man married to a straight woman.

My wife is a billion miles from perfect. I know all her flaws. But I've never met anyone like her and I can't imagine that I ever will. She fills me up in a way that makes me feel as whole as I've ever felt. No, I'm not complete, but I don't think I ever will be. Our bond is strong and our connection is real. She is a straight woman and I am a gay man. I realize it is possible that such a combination could be doomed to certain failure, but given all that I know and all that I have experienced, I owe it to myself, to her and to our children to do whatever it takes to make our marriage work.

If we are doomed to failure, I can accept it. I'm not afraid of a failed marriage. I have sincerely tried to make it work. Similarly, I'm not afraid of living as a single, gay man. I can be happy no matter what the outcome is. My responsibility is to give her every opportunity to make our marriage work. It's the right thing to do.

The endless circling and the inability to make a decision is not me, it's my wife. She is enough for me, I know that. But this is her mid-life crisis and she has serious doubts as to whether I am enough for her. I understand why. This is an important decision and it's hers to make, not mine.

Gabbie is a decisive person. She will not circle endlessly. She's pretty much made up her mind that she will never be satisfied with me, so I don't think this purgatory will continue much longer. But, however long it takes, that's how long is needed. Until she is certain about what she wants, I can be patient.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Gay Sex 'Ewww' Factor

My wife and I recently had an in-depth conversation about making our marriage work, or not.

What I have consistently wanted is a "normal" straight marriage. You'd think that a 44 year old woman with three kids would be pleased to keep her husband around. Especially one who earns a respectable living and does the majority of the work around the house and with the kids. But no.

Charlie, my wife's loser boyfriend, is not the problem. Yes, she's in love with him but even if she wasn't, she says she still wouldn't be interested in me. Why? The gay sex 'ewww' factor.

My wife has always been something of a fag-hag. We met at 20 and prior to me she'd had three boyfriends. Two of them were gay. Now she tells me that she thinks a few of her high school prom dates were gay too.

One of my wife's best friends when I met her was Dante. Dante was, of course, gay. He and my wife frequently went out clubbing all night in San Francisco. It didn't matter what kind of club they went to, as long as it had good music. Gay clubs, straight clubs, mixed clubs, she didn't care. They just had fun hanging out together and being wild.

Early in our marriage, Dante and his boyfriend Mark were our best 'couple' friends. We used to see them weekly to watch "Melrose Place" together. It was with Dante and Mark that we went on our first cruise together. That was 18 years ago; it was also post-disclosure and post-separation. Gabbie was pregnant with our first kid at the time.

In more recent years, two of Gabbie's very best friends from college have come out. One of those friends, Kyle, and his boyfriend David, are one of our best couple friends now. In fact, this coming weekend the four of us will be spending the day together eating, drinking, hiking and driving up the coast.

I could go on and on about all of the gay friends my wife has or had. She's had a few lesbian friends too. One of which made a very serious play for her a few years ago. But I think I've made the point - my wife is about as gay friendly as a straight woman could be.

But she has her limits.

From my point of view, she's known that I'm gay for 18 years. We've had plenty of sex. We've had a good, supportive relationship. We're middle aged and we're raising three teenagers. What's the big deal about staying together?

The gay sex 'ewww' factor.

The 'ewww' factor is how my wife describes what she feels when she thinks about (and she tries NOT to think about it) gay sex. "Two men putting their you-know-whats into each other's butts? Ewww."

My wife assumes that I've had sex with men. She asked me, years ago, if I ever had and I lied and said no. But she's made many rhetorical accusations over the years since then. Things like, "I don't even want to think about what you do at your office" or "I called you at work but you didn't answer. How come you weren't there like you're supposed to be?" She's made plenty of insinuations but she hasn't asked me directly. Perhaps because she's afraid that I might someday be honest.

The fact that she doesn't know for certain that I've put my you-know-what into a man's butt and vice versa has not stopped her from being affected by the 'ewww' factor. The mere idea that I might have done that or that I might do that at some time in the future - that's enough. The 'ewww' factor is so powerful that she seldom makes any effort to touch me. Just this morning she said goodbye as she left for work. I didn't get a kiss (and I haven't for a long time), instead I got two quick punches to my right shoulder. Gee thanks.

Asking anyone to get over their instinctive 'ewww' reaction to anything is not easy. I don't like blood and guts movies. I have no desire to see them and no desire to feel better about seeing them. Yes, I know that if I saturated myself in them I would become desensitized and they'd bother me less. But I don't want to do that. I *like* that I don't like blood and guts spilled all over the movie screen. I don't want to change how I feel.

And that leaves me wondering...is that how my wife feels too? Does she *like* that gay sex grosses her out and is she completely unwilling to be desensitized to it?

It's not something we've talked about in detail. But I get the feeling that she finds the 'ewww' factor an immovable roadblock. What's weird to me is...why haven't I heard this before after we've been together for nearly 25 years???

I haven't asked her that question. It's pointless to ask.

One question she did answer that I never asked was, "How can you be grossed out by gay sex yet have so many gay friends?" Her answer: "I try to never think about it. As much as I like Kyle and David...the whole idea of them...well, ewwwww...I can't even talk about it."

***

As a post script to this entry, here is a brief update as to where we are:

After desperately wanting to bash my face in about two weeks ago, Gabbie asked that I back off for a while, and I have. I think we've entered an extended period of silence about our future together. She's in that phase were she's mentally preparing herself for a decision and she just needs to be left alone so that she can adjust to what that decision means for her. I see that she is thinking and I know her well enough to know that I must leave her alone.

When she's ready to talk, I'm pretty sure that she's going to tell me that our differences are irreconcilable. That will be her final decision and I will accept it as such. It's as Austin said it was in January: staying together is like trying to make a shoe fit that never will.

I don't feel bad that I haven't made any progress since January. Actually, there has been a lot of progress - within our heads. Instead of feeling connected and saying that we're separated, we've revisited the whole situation and are about to come to a clear, shared decision. The whole process of doing this the right way makes me feel so much better about myself and the decision. If my wife decides that we can't reconcile then I will know that I have tried everything I could.

If staying together is not going to happen, at least I will have closure - and that will be a very good thing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Wife

"So, you're forcing her to make a choice between having a committed, monogamous, sexual relationship with a man who will do anything she wants and who would rather be with her than anyone else in the world and a sexless relationship with an unemployed, alcoholic rapist who also happens to be an illegal alien?"

What an awesome comment! Thank you Mr (or Ms) Anonymous for summarizing my situation so succinctly. I'm certainly not going to argue with what you've said. But my wife would.

In her opinion, the above comment is all wrong. For her it's not a question of me vs. the unemployed, alcoholic rapist Charlie. The problem is me. With all my flaws and all my short-comings, she's just not that into me. And she's not sure she could ever be into me again.

Maybe this will explain why she has big doubts...

With only two days left in our vacation, I was pretty pleased with myself. Earlier in the week I had stood my ground and turned a big fight into an apology from my wife. Then, I got her to admit that she wished we weren't separated. Then, and best of all, I convinced her that we should see a marriage counselor. With all that accomplished in the space of a few days, I was giving myself endless pats on the back. Good job Cameron!

But then good fortune turned on me, quite literally.

Gabbie was slow to get ready that day so for the first time all week I spent a few dollars in the casino. Well, ok, I actually lost $300. Gabbie was not at all pleased.

When I told her, her reaction was very subdued. All she did was ask in a very exasperated voice, "How could you?!!!"

Nothing else especially noteworthy happened that day, but believe me, that $300 hung over her like a very dark cloud.

The next day was traveling day; twelve hours from the ship back to home. It ended up being quite a long day, filled with mistakes.

Mistake #1: We did one activity in Miami that ended at noon. Our plane was scheduled to depart from Ft Lauderdale at 6pm. My wife was annoyed that the "whole day" was wasted. Why couldn't we catch an earlier flight?

Mistake #2: Because we had six hours to wait, I didn't see any reason to rush to the airport. Instead of paying $75 for a 35 minute cab ride, I thought it would be more interesting (and yes, cheaper too) to take public transit.

Ok, so what if took us three hours to get there? We got to see a lot of locals on our four different train and bus rides.

Gabbie didn't find the locals nearly as interesting as I did. And although she didn't look very happy throughout our journey, she didn't complain either.

Mistake #3: The plane ride was six hours. An hour before landing Gabbie decided she was very hungry and wanted to spend $7 for cheese and crackers. I told her, "Don't do that! Just wait an hour and we can stop on the way home and you can get something you really want."

Gabbie didn't especially want to wait but she didn't fight me about it either.

Mistake #4: The easiest way for us to travel from home to the airport is to take a bus. It's $20 per person each way, $80 total for the two of us, round trip. For $21 I can drive us there, park in a residential neighborhood, and take public transit a short distance to the airport. The only downside of my "cheat" is that it takes about 40 minutes to travel from the parked car to the airport and vice versa. I do that part alone because Gabbie would rather sit with the luggage in the terminal.

We arrived on-time, at 9pm. I got to where the car was parked at about 9:50. But something was very wrong.

No car.

When you know where you've parked your car and you go back to that exact location and the car is not there, there are only two possible explanations: either the car was stolen or it was towed.

I tried calling the non-emergency number for the local police but all I got was a message. What to do?

I decided that even if the car had been towed it was too late to deal with it. Gabbie was too tired and hungry; she just wanted to get home.

I called her to let her know that I'd be back at the terminal in 40 minutes and that we'd have to take the bus home. She was shocked and distressed; mostly she was worried about the car.

We got home at 11:45. Gabbie was too tired to eat so she went to bed hungry.

The next morning I called the police, and yes, the car had been towed. It had been left sitting for too long.

Gabbie was not pleased.

But I had even worse news for her: as the only registered owner of the car, she was the only person who could get the car released.

That was the last straw.

Gabbie had been annoyed with me for two days and had barely complained that whole time. But as soon as she found out that she was going to have to spend four hours claiming my car, on a day when she already had plans with friends and with Charlie, she went ballistic.

"You ruin everything. You ruin every vacation. You're so cheap. You're such an ass. How dare you tell me when I can eat? How dare you tell me that you'll do anything for me when you treat me like dirt? Do you know anyone who travels like we do? Do you know anyone who's had their car towed because they were too cheap to take the bus to the airport? Do you know anyone that drags their luggage on four different trains and buses to get to an airport because they won't pay for a cab ride? How can you tell me that you value me when you so obviously don't care how I feel!"

I got what I deserved, I guess.

It took three hours of driving and waiting to get the car released and throughout that time Gabbie raged. After nearly 25 years together I thought I had seen everything. But no, I had never seen her that angry. She literally shook with rage the entire time. You know, hands tightly clenched, teeth grinding, face flushed and with a look her in eyes that said, "I want to smash your smug face and keep beating you until I've hurt you as badly as you've hurt me."

$116 for the parking ticket. $240 for the tow. $120 for the weekend pick-up. $75 for one day's storage (after sitting for seven full days the car was towed only 6 hours before I arrived to drive it away.) All told, I had cost us $851 in two days with nothing to show for it. Well, nothing other than a wife seething with fury.

The grand finale of the day was the ten minutes we spent together waiting for the car to be delivered. We had just learned about the $435 in tow company fees. Gabbie said to me, "Do you have any idea how mad I am at you? I have never been this mad at anyone in my entire life. Do you see the steam coming out of my ears? Well, I'll tell you this: I hope you do this kind of shit to whoever ends up with you next. Or maybe you'll find someone just like you - someone who thinks he knows it all but is really just a fucking, cheap asshole!!"

That ended all conversation between us for more than a day. The car was released and we each drove a car home. Only Gabbie didn't come home. She already had big plans for the day. Plans with her friends, plans with Charlie. Even if she didn't have plans, the very last thing she wanted to do was to spend another minute with me.

I spent the day catching up on things, like blog posts, and I hung out with the kids. The whole time I was wondering what to make of our week together. She said she didn't want to be separated and she agreed to go to counseling. But her last words expressed a whole new attitude, whoever ends up with you next. Did I cross the line with her and now she's done with me?

I don't have any answers. I don't know what she's thinking right now. All I can say is that I will bring up counseling again, but I have to tread lightly for a while.

***

Late in the afternoon of my first day back at work, as I was thinking about what had happened and what I should do, I realized something important. Yes, my wife was pissed off about all the stupid and inconsiderate things I had done, and she was right to be angry and disappointed, but her anger was so much worse than anything I had ever seen before. Was $850 worth that much anger? Or was she really venting about something else?

Ding, ding, ding. It all clicked.

I realized that as pissed as she was, her extreme anger was coming from somewhere deep within.

What is she so pissed about?

That I'm gay. And actually, she's not merely pissed, she's enraged.

Straight wives become bitter because they feel betrayed and used. This is how my wife feels. She's no saint and she'll readily admit that, but my admission is a monumental betrayal her in mind. I understand why she feels betrayed but I don't understand the intensity of her fury. Even with all my flaws, I've been completely dedicated to her and every effort I've made has been sincere. I just don't get it.

But it is what it is.

***

This is a long entry already but I'm going to add a little sunshine here at the end.

My wife has been best friends with Linda since high school. Linda is a good-looking, fun, outgoing "girl." But OMFG is she a mess. She's 44, single with a three year old, works for daddy for maybe 25 hours a week, and basically, can't cope with any responsibility or stress. Her mommy has bailed her out of every problem she's ever had.

Well, her mommy has been pushing Linda to marry the father of her child. The two of them have had this on-again-off-again thing for about 5 years now. Finally last September Linda proposed to him, he accepted, and Linda has been planning a ridiculously huge wedding ever since. But the problem is that Linda and her would-be-husband Stan really don't get along. If they hadn't had their "oops-baby" they would have broken up long ago. In recent weeks, Linda has been having seconds thoughts about marrying and last week she actually canceled the wedding.

My wife was giving me the latest Linda-story yesterday and at the end of it she said, "I think Stan really needs to grow some balls. After all these years and all this back and forth he should say to Linda, 'Either be with me, or don't.' I mean it's ridiculous, what's been going on."

I could not stifle my huge smile.

Grinning like the Cheshire Cat I said, "Oh really? Is that what Stan should do? Get some balls and say, 'Either be with me or don't?'"

My wife looked at me funny for a second, then she got it. "You're not funny Cameron. And don't try to start any shit with me today. Just leave me alone for awhile."

"Ok, I will. But I am definitely going to remember your advice for Stan. I like it. 'Either be with me or don't.'"

She gave me a dirty look.

You can be certain that I will be reminding Gabbie about her advice for Stan very soon.