Today is the day - our third anniversary of "the big coming out". We've made it through three years knowing the proverbial elephant in the center of the parlor at least has a name. Yet, that elephant is still sitting there in the center of the parlor three years later...
So what, if anything, has changed?
BEFORE: We hardly spoke to each other beyond superficial conversations. We had drifted apart. She became lonelier and lonelier and would cry herself to sleep. I knew why she was crying (even though she took great steps to hide it from me) but felt powerless to do anything about it. AFTER: We have opened up more to each other about our feelings, being willing to at least address the struggle that is between us, but sometimes getting too close to the real issues are still painful, and oft times, result in her shutting down and refusing to discuss. But now when she cries, I am there to comfort her and she accepts my comfort.
BEFORE: We had evolved into a non-sexual marriage, with even little touch or cuddling and kisses were quick perfunctory pecks at night. I would work late into the night to avoid such intimacy as there was always another deadline to finish. AFTER: I no longer work late into the evenings (for the most part) and we are committed to go to bed together and share that quiet time together. We have rediscovered sex (especially within the first two years - it has leveled off now) and the joy of kissing, cuddling and holding each other - and in being companions at the end of the day. I still don't naturally desire to do all that she would want of me in this context, and thus, my hesitancy or lack of natural desire continues to make her doubt my commitment or her self-worth, even whether I feel "stuck" in this relationship. As our intimacy has leveled off (though it is much higher than BEFORE) more doubts have manifested themselves in her eyes. She implies from this that if I do not desire her, then I obviously desire someone else. I don't know how to get past this one.
BEFORE: I spent a lot of time focused on young men and hanging out with them, openly desiring their company. AFTER: I spend no time with young men or any men (except in Priesthood meeting). The occasional visits (such as recently with Tim and Will over the holidays) are rare and our time together is spent in a spirit of trepidation and guilt. Some may view this is a good change. For our marriage, it has been good to show her my commitment to her. But in the end, it raises my angst and increases my hunger for male companionship that she cannot comprehend or wrap her mind around without going into her own personal angst. And if I do meet with any male friends in any kind of setting, it is done with a sense of guilt or secrecy. This isn't good. I wish I could get her to the comfort level that I can have male companionship without destroying our marital companionship. Is such a thing possible?
BEFORE: We only did things with the kids - it was our family commitment that was keeping us together. AFTER: We have focused on ourselves, on increasing our interests and relationship between the two of us - for sometime soon, the kids will be gone and then there will be just us - and then what if we don't have that romance and sense of commitment for each other? I have tried hard to be "spontaneous" - to take her away on retreats and romantic weekends, on trips with me (instead of me happy to be away from her) and these have increased our flickering flame a bit. But, it's a constant task to keep the flame burning.
BEFORE: I rarely told her I loved her. AFTER: We confess our love to each other daily.
BEFORE: I refused to discuss these things with my Bishop. AFTER: We have not found it necessary to bring the Bishop into this corner of our lives.
BEFORE: I never knew other guys were in my situation and had no one to talk to. AFTER: I discovered the queerosphere and the sense of community and support that comes from this blogging world. Yet, she still doesn't know of my blogging. I don't think I could be so open and use this as a vehicle of therapy if she were an active participant in the blogging community - still the secrecy between us continues - but it continues because of trying to work to keep our relationship going and honoring marital covenants, not in efforts to destroy the marital covenants.
BEFORE: I hated myself for being gay. AFTER: I like myself for being who I am, gay included.
BEFORE: I was attracted to guys in a big way, but would always push away such thoughts and deny that I could be oriented "that way". AFTER: I am still attracted to guys - even more so - and I don't find myself nearly as willing to push away such thoughts or to deny that they exist. I accept them, even cherish them, but still beat myself up at times for doing so.
On New Year's Day, we went to a party at a friend's house. This is an annual event and the group of friends has stayed constant for nearly two decades now. We celebrate the new year with good conversation and sense of renewal. This year, there was a new couple at the table... a gay couple. They sat across from myself and my wife. We engaged in a variety of topics, including the Church and gay relationships. Needless to say, it was a different discussion at the party than in times past.
On the way home, we discussed their "partnership". I told her that I thought they were very nice and I support what they are doing. She asked me with tears in her eyes: "So, do you still desire to have what they have? Do you wish you were living with a man?" I had to tell her "No, of course not..." but she knew that denial was obligatory. I mean, I couldn't say that I longed for a physical and intimate relationship with another man even if I do have those tendencies and desires. My desires are still to love her first and to make this marriage work. But, her even asking the question in such a painful angsty kind of way demonstrated just how far we haven't progressed... she is still waiting for me to announce that I'm leaving her for another man... and she lives her life in fear of that moment.
Are we progressing? I NEED FEEDBACK! I don't know what I'm doing here... I think we still have a long way to go - but at least we are working to keep together all the good that we share.
Happy New Year!