Tuesday, August 01, 2006


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.

Small steps...

* * * *

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.


-L- said...

Did you go see a doctor? For crying out loud, go! Get some pain meds or something.

I completely agree that I have no desire for my wife to be more masculine. It's quite repulsive to think about, actually. This seems paradoxical in some ways, but it's most certainly true. And, although she loves me just the way I am, I'm the one who is dissatisfied with my own image.

My wife has occasionally teased me by asking me who I think is attractive, and then comparing notes. She's okay with discussing it, but I find it disconcerting. It sounds to me like your wife is looking for ways to open up communication. Maybe try saying what you really think and just ask that she help you process your feelings without being judgmental. Or, maybe try talking through the hard things in the presence of a counselor.

Chris said...


I think your wife is probably also feeling some confusion. In her mind, perhaps, she's thinking that if she were just more manlike you'd be more attractive to her. She no doubt feels some insecurity.

Of course, feminine or masculine, your wife is woman--and that's where the disconnect lies. I know KK went through a period where I think she just wanted to figure out how to bring more masculinity into our relationship as a way of preserving it. But in the end what I wanted was not a woman who could be more manly. What I wanted was a man. I think your wife is probably struggling to wrap her mind around that.

Beck said...

L: Of course coming from a doctor you'd want me to go see a doctor. And what will the doc do? He'll take an x-ray and say something like - "uh, it looks like you've got a broken rib. You should take it easy for a while until it heals. Meanwhile don't engage in any tackle football or wrestling." So what good would that do me? Of course, I could get some pain medication, but that makes my brain sloshy. So, stubborn me keeps limpin' along.

L & Chris: I think you've got my wife figured out pretty well. At least there is a slightly opened door for a dialog. But it's amazing how she thinks I want her to be masculine. I don't want her to be masculine at all. I love her the way she is. I'm the one that wants to be more masculine. I want to be more fit and athletic and strong. I don't want her to be. Chris, you're right on the money - she's trying to wrap her mind around it.

Meanwhile, I'm still not sure about the "checkin' out the guy" thing as a date agenda with my wife. But, it could be fun, right?

Samantha said...

Funny--my husband's never asked me if I wanted him to be more feminine--and, no, I don't want him to be. Not that it's even a possibility for him--let's see, balding (definitely not feminine), mesomorph (extremely so), hirsute enough that he could go naked and no one would notice, necessary to shave twice daily in order to be "clean shaven". Yeah, maybe that's why he never offered...he knew it was simply an exercise in futility...

I know...that wasn't really the point of your post, but still, the quirkiness of it all...I'm laughing...

-L- said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk. I've heard it all before! Everyone assumes they know what the doc will say before they get there, so they just keep suffering. You're probably right that there's not much to be done, but you're wrong if you think the only pain relief that can be provided will make you groggy. If your pain is really bad, you should probably still go. And if you have a broken rib ready to puncture your spleen or lungs, well, that might be worth knowing too. Moving along...

I talked to my wife about your post last night. It was an interesting conversation. I think maybe one reason we are able to be so open about stuff is that we don't really have a lot of "deal breakers" on the table. If I'm not attracted to her, I still love her. If I never change one bit from my gay self, she still loves me. There's no threat in saying what's going on because we're still 100% sticking with each other no matter what. Thanks for helping me think about it.

Beck said...

SS: Glad to see you around! And I'm thrilled to make you laugh (particularly with everything you've been enduring this week)!

L: Hey, I'm a confused, angst-filled closeted gay married faithful mormon guy...what do you expect? "Suffering" is my middle name!

Actually, I slept well last night and think I'm over the sharp pains. I think my lungs are getting used to the foreign object punched through them by now.

I'm glad I was able to get you and your wife talking. I wish I could have been a fly-on-the-wall to overhear that conversation! Your relationship is unique. I'm not there yet, and maybe never will be, but we're taking baby steps.

Samantha said...

Now that I'm done laughing (thanks, I needed that), Darrin and I talked about EVERYTHING, when we first began exploring being an "odd" couple. He had many questions (some of which I couldn't answer), and so did I. We've been married so long now, though, that Darrin can usually identify a potentially triggering situation, and he cues in on my discomfort quite quickly. He's pretty helpful in distracting me, or helping me remember what's REALLY important (him) and he rarely is offended or hurt if he sees me in one of those situations--just really understanding.

I'm not as good at those things when the coin is flipped, though--too self-centered, for sure.

Beck said...

SS: It's not that easy for her. She's jealous of the young guys that hang out with me at times. She's even more so now that I've tried to be open with her. She knows I'm attracted to them and is good at helping me be in check and control and has advised me not to be alone etc. with them... But the open dialog about HIM really still causes her hurt and pain and I could never be open to what's going on inside me about that - not yet. I wouldn't want to do that to her. That's why I've got to get to a safe place first, or I need to decide that I'm willing to pay the consequences of my actions or indifference to her feelings.

Right now to openly discuss general situations is possible. To discuss specific guys is impossible without huge stress and anxiety and pain.

Does any of this make any sense?

Samantha said...

It makes total sense...

It's much easier to feel comfortable discussing things when there's little danger or worry about rejection--she's still worried about that, with reason??

Anyway, you're stepping in the right direction by starting the dialogue, and I think that's a good thing.