I've been wondering what it would be like to have an open dialog with my wife about my attraction with men. Could we ever get to the point of being comfortable with each other talking about a beautiful man walking in front of us, both commenting on his beauty? In some ways this seems so strange and foreign to our relationship. In other ways, this seems fun and exciting to be able to be natural and open between us.
I guess anytime we have 'discussed' such topics, there was stress, uneasiness and jealousy. So, the natural reaction has been to avoid such topics and not draw attention to my distractions, attractions or infatuations with beautiful young guys.
I have been blessed (or cursed) with a very devoted wife who does not have the 'wandering eye' at all. She has shown no desire for other men and has been hopelessly devoted to me for our entire marriage. As strange as that may sound to some, it is true. That is why my 'wandering eye' is so hurtful to her. I don't mean to 'wander' to hurt her - I'm just very much attracted to these beautiful creatures that young men are! She knows this. She has known this from the beginning of our relationship. She knew it and observed it throughout our courtship when I was a teacher in the MTC and was infatuated with the elders. She knew it as I was YM president and worked with the youth. She has trusted me (for the most part) but my confession that I have this attraction has made her so much more aware of my 'wandering eye'.
That having been said, she still trusts me and wants to trust me.
The other day at Church we witnessed a very unique image that has been burned in my brain. It was after Sacrament Meeting and we had exited the chapel and were congregating with other Saints engaging each other in conversation as usual in the foyer / lobby. We share the building with three other wards (congregations) and so there are always many people from the other wards coming and going through the hallways. On the couch were a group of priests (boys age 16-18) sitting together. There were five of them. Four of them sat tightly shoulder-to-shoulder across the couch, a couple of them with their arms across the shoulders of their buddy next to them. The fifth boy was sitting on the laps of two of the guys with his legs straddling a third.
The funny thing was, they weren't 'acting weird' or 'being silly' or pretending to be 'gay' or any of those typical boy attitudes. They were just sitting together tightly, but naturally affectionate and close with each other, acting very natural and casual about the whole thing, talking in normal conversation.
Now, I've witnessed this in church groups with youths in Europe. I've witnessed this even with my MTC missionaries as they've grown to 'love' each other. I've experienced this with my companions as affection of the brotherhood of the gospel has taken hold and the borders and boundaries of culture have disappeared and the love of brothers has risen to the top and expressed itself in all its glory. There is such a thing as affectionate brotherhood among friends.
But to see it on the couch in suburbia America in 2006 homophobic Utah was quite the sight! It was wonderful! I don't know these boys. They aren't from my ward. I don't know anything about them. But, there was something inside me that jumped for joy and excitement seeing them being so natural and open and comfortable with each other in a very non-sexual but very affectionate manner. This is much in the spirit of what I have shared with HIM and others.
My point in bringing this up was that my WIFE noticed as well. She saw my eyes staring at them, taking in the scene. She didn't say anything at the time, but afterward, away from the children, she brought it up.
"Did you see those young men on the couch?" she asked.
I wasn't quite sure where she was going or how to respond. She had obviously seen me staring at them, so I had to answer.
"Yeah," I said, "quite something." I tried to not draw too much in my comments, waiting to see where she was going with it.
"Well, what did you think about it?"
"About what?" I questioned, playing stupid.
"You know, how they were sitting together and being so 'friendly'."
"Yeah, it was pretty strange."
"They seemed natural," she noted.
"Yeah, they were natural. It was a beautiful thing." I said. I wasn't sure how she would take that last comment.
"It was different, but natural," she commented again.
"I'm glad they were comfortable enough to be that way in the open like that," I pressed a bit.
"I guess so. It was different enough that I noticed."
"So, are you okay with me noticing?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'm okay with it."
Now, this isn't earthshattering or anything here and nothing amazing happened, but we had a conversation about my noticing affectionate guys and it didn't end with stress or jealousy or uneasiness. Is this the beginning of a breakthrough?
* * * *
Yesterday, as we were in bed together, in the quiet of the evening as we watched a dark storm rolling in over the Great Salt Lake, we cuddled. She suddenly said... "Do you wish that I wasn't so round and soft?"
I was stunned. I didn't know what to say again. Caressing her, I said: "I love you the way you are". (What else was I supposed to say in this situation).
"No!" she protested. "I mean... don't you prefer more solid and angular bodies? Don't you wish I were more muscular and ripped and angular instead of round?"
Now I really knew where she was heading and I didn't know what to say.
"Uh... I can't deny that I'm attracted to angular, muscular bodies, but that doesn't mean I don't love you the way you are."
"So, do you wish that I wasn't so feminine? So soft? Don't you want me to be hard?"
"I want to be hard!" I countered. "But you're just fine."
We ended it at that. I wish I had used the opportunity to open up more, to tell her how much I loved and appreciated and worshipped the male form in all its beauty... but I didn't.
The amazing thing was: We had two incidents where (even as small as they were) we were able to discuss my attraction issues without ramifications of hurt or pain.
* * * *
P.S. My rib is still bothering me and making it very difficult to sleep at night. It's an uncomfortable reminder to my wife that HE hugged me and wrestled with me. I can't hide it. It's there reminding me every time I breathe of HIM... every time she tries to hug me... What irony.