In response to my last post, The "Win-Win" Solution for Struggling Bi-married Men, Nick from Fort Wayne, Indiana said, "This is bullshit! This approach sounds one step removed from pray-the-gay away, I've tried both (your win-win above) - it does NOT stop the inner conflict, it may push it down for a period, again & again, but each & everything it comes back front & center, it returns with even more force than the last time, ultimately something has to give/break. Your win-win then just becomes a delaying tactic for the guy & the wife has been drug father down the proverbial rabbit hole, believing she has an influence over this own scenario."
Nick was not the only critic. Austin said that my advice fails to address the fundamental, underlying problem: a lack of sexual attraction. "I'd posit that many problematic 'bi' marriages seem to be based on the notion of 'I really care about her and love her, so maybe we can pull this off even if I'm not sexually attracted to her' - that's the original problem, and you're just suggesting they go right back to it as the solution."
Actually, I'm suggesting that they go right back to it FIRST. Soon I will be posting a Part Two to the "win-win" solution and that will (hopefully) explain how a struggling bi-married man can find enduring happiness even when the first step is a flop.
Like many straights and gays, Nick and Austin are skeptical about married men who primarily have sex with men and call themselves bisexual. The phrase, "bi now, gay tomorrow" comes to mind.
I'll admit that I can be very skeptical too. I've had plenty of now-gay men tell me that they once believed they were bisexual. The thing is, labels are irrelevant in the context of the "win-win." The twin goals are happiness, or, happiness. Labels don't define happiness, people do. So...with respect to implementing the "win-win" it doesn't matter what a guy thinks his orientation is. All that matters is that he be determined and sincere when doing it.
The most warranted criticism of the "win-win," at least as I've presented it so far, is that I did not offer any evidence that it works. Well, this post and the next several are intended to offer proof that it can work. I'll be sharing six stories, and my own, about men who did (or are) implementing the first phase of the "win-win" solution. Decide for yourself if they seem happy...
"Win-Win" Story One: Regret
What originally caused me to think of the "win-win" was my own situation.
My wife was never very clear about it at the time, but after we split up I learned that she felt very unappreciated and undesired by me. That made her feel empty and dissatisfied.
The only clue she sometimes dropped was to complain that I didn't pay enough attention to her. I never understood what she was talking about - we were always together! Too bad I didn't know then that "time" and "attention" cannot be substituted for true intimacy.
As for my own satisfaction while we were together, I found it.
Getting naked, being affectionately expressive and sharing an orgasmic high with another guy made me think that hooking-up is what made me happy. And it did, for a little while. But what I most wanted, what we all want, is regular, hot sex with someone who makes us feel special - someone who touches our soul in the deepest, most meaningful ways.
For many years, I tried to find that special connection with a man. Then, on one unremarkable Spring day in 2003, I realized I was chasing a fantasy.
Once I accepted that I was never going to get what I wanted, the need to hook-up faded away. Weeks went by and I realized that I was happier NOT hooking-up. It was a huge relief not to have to lie and hide and feel guilty. More than that, it felt good to behave honorably.
One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never tried to pursue the same kind of life-changing, heart-stopping emotional connection that I wanted with a man, with my wife. If I had tried, would she have felt fulfilled by me? Would she have put more effort into our relationship? Would we be happily together for the rest of our lives?
I will never know the answers to those questions and that makes me very, very sad. In spite of her many flaws, it is impossible to imagine that I will ever find a man who I will love more.
My story isn't exactly an example of why the "win-win" works (those stories will follow), but it should serve as a warning to others. If you explore with men, your marriage will suffer, even if there is no obvious conflict. Likewise, if you cheat but never pour your heart and soul back into your marriage, you will forever be at risk of losing the one person you always expected to be by your side.
Sometimes you get a chance to salvage what you had, but not always.
Sometimes there are no second chances.