Thursday, January 03, 2008


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!


Mike Kessler said...

There is a couple who lives in our apartment building, a man and woman who have been married for over 35 years. She knew long before they married that he is gay, and they are quite open about it with their friends (sometimes more open than even Buck and I feel comfortable with). For over 35 years they've been by each other's side and in each other's life, involved with each other's family like any other couple. Yes, once or twice he has confided that he sometimes wonders how it "might have been if..." But every day he tells his wife he loves her and he means it, and she tells him she loves him and means it. They have not slept apart in over 35 years. They both have said to us that they couldn't imagine what life would be like without the other.

I have known of several mixed-orientation marriages. Some work, some don't. From what you've written, I get the sense that, if you were in a same-sex relationship, you'd have some regret having missed being with a wife and kids, as in your opposite-sex relationship, you wonder what it would be like to have a same-sex partner. You sound reasonably content as you are, though questioning. Weigh your thoughts carefully and communicate clearly with your wife. I am in a same-sex relationship, married to another man for more than three years, often very happy and always content and secure. But for every gay man I know who is in a happy and committed relationship, I know at least one gay man who is in his 40's or 50's and alone and lonely. Coming out is important and fulfilling, but being out doesn't mean you'll find a partner. I definitely don't encourage gay men to get married to a woman in the first place, but as you are already married, and have what sounds like a long and reasonably fulfilling marriage, think about how rare and special it is to have someone who is so devoted to you and to whom you are devoted. The early years of a relationship are much about hormones and sex, but if you live to be 75 or 80, the last 30 years of your life will be about devotion and commitment, about knowing there's someone you can rely on, someone who you are grateful can rely on you. Either way, you'll always wonder "what if..." but as things are now, you =know=.

Abelard Enigma said...

her even asking the question in such a painful angsty kind of way demonstrated just how far we haven't progressed

Au contraire, I think her asking the question rather than stewing about it in private is huge!

Perhaps you could use this as a spring board to other 'gay' discussions. If you talk about it more then it might help to ease some of her anxieties. It will be awkward and uncomfortable at first - for both of you. But, I think it could do a lot of good for both of you as well.

Mike Kessler said...

I know I already posted the longest comment ever recorded, but I feel a need to make it clear: I am not encouraging any gay man to marry a woman. You'll still be gay, and you'll likely mess up at least two lives. My comment above was specifically for Beck, who is already married to a woman.

True love transcends gender and labels. In the words of the mayor of San Diego, "I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones — for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back, someone with whom they can grow old together and share life’s experiences." Find someone to love, and don't imprison yourself behind a label.

MoHoHawaii said...


AFTER sounds a lot better than BEFORE, so it does sound as if progress has been made. Would you want to go back to BEFORE if you could unwind the clock?

I know a compassionate, very gay-friendly marriage counselor in SLC. (He's a non-Mormon married heterosexual.) I think he'd be supportive of your goal of staying together. I'd be happy to give you his name if you think it would help. My bias, from my own experience, is to stay away from LDS counseling (bishop, LDS social services, etc.), even if you plan to stay married and active in the church.

One thing that I've finally learned over the years is that a relationship consists of two people. You're only half of it. The other person has his or her own issues and perspectives. You only control your half, and even then "control" is not really what's going on. (How much of ourselves do we actually determine?) For me, this meant that in the end I had to let go and realize that the course of the relationship was not entirely within my personal control. I found that to be a relief, but it was a big adjustment.

Warmest and best wishes,

Scot said...

"Are we progressing? I NEED FEEDBACK!"

Sounds like progress to me. I can’t pretend to know how one would work through all of what you and your wife are working through, but, if I was in a position of needing to know, you’d be one of the guys I’d ask.

Thinking on some of our past experiences, I'm curious if you thought the couple picked up on the fact that you and your wife had a special interest in the topic.

David said...

It's interesting to think about where my wife and I are with your before and afters...I don't think we've made as much progress as you have, although I guess we're a year behind you (coming up on 2 years being "out"). Some days I can't bear thinking of ending our marriage, and other days I can't bear going through the stress of staying together.

Beck said...

MK said: "But for every gay man I know who is in a happy and committed relationship, I know at least one gay man who is in his 40's or 50's and alone and lonely. Coming out is important and fulfilling, but being out doesn't mean you'll find a partner." That has been a reality check of mine. I know the odds are not good for those coming out so late in life. I know the odds aren't good even for those earlier in life... Love is a blessing and companionships should be cherished when found. I do have a loving companionship and I don't want to portray otherwise... But I must admit that it has crossed my mind that reality of me running to the arms of some beautiful gay man is highly unlikely in my world - it's so much better in the fantasy world of my mind.

Thanks for your comments! I appreciate your voice and encourage you to comment more. I want to learn from you and your experiences as you share of your relationship.

Beck said...

ABE said: "Au contraire, I think her asking the question rather than stewing about it in private is huge!" Yes, she is asking, but it's done in a way where there is hurt and doubt and fear behind her question and nothing I can do or say can comfort her in knowing that I'm not leaving her. It all comes down to communication... I don't know how to communicate with her about these things. I shut down. I feel uneasy being so open about it (I'm not like Mike Kessler's neighbors who talk openly about it). Why is that? I don't want to hurt her anymore...

Beck said...

MOHOH said: "Would you want to go back to BEFORE if you could unwind the clock?" NO! I would not go back... the life before, though silent on these issues, was not a life of love and compassion. It was spiteful and full of hurt. We now have great times together and are bound in love that is real - there just are moments when doubt and fear and uncertainty rise to the surface and we revert back to our silent modes instead of discussing our feelings. As for accepting my attractions, I am much happier now than before and I do not shun that I have these attractions, wanting to cover them up and bury them with guilt. I'm not guilt-free by any means but compared to "before", I'm progressing quite a bit - right?

Beck said...

SCOT said: "Thinking on some of our past experiences, I'm curious if you thought the couple picked up on the fact that you and your wife had a special interest in the topic." I don't know if they sensed it in us or not or whether they felt uncomfortable being the only gay couple in the mix and felt the need to be open about it. Either way, I was fascinating in watching them and observing the little things between them, and listening to their perspectives as they played off each other. I felt they were accepted by all without hesitation.

Beck said...

DAVID said: "Some days I can't bear thinking of ending our marriage, and other days I can't bear going through the stress of staying together." I can completely relate with this statement. I think all of us in MOMs can state the same thing! I'm at the point where I want to hold it together more than tear it apart, but I still know how those days feel when I just want to give it all up. David, thanks for posting. I really appreciate your situation and am very curious to know more about how you manage these issues.

Mike Kessler said...

On your wife's question, "Do you wish you were living with a man?" Perhaps a more honest answer might be something like, "If I were living with a man, it doesn't mean I'd be as happy as the gay couple at the party, or as happy as I am being with you. Everyone ponders what might have been, but we live in a world of what is, not what might have been. Where I want to be right now is exactly where I am." One friend of mine once said, "Wish in one hand and spit in the other, and see which one fills up first." (It wasn't till years later I found out the "real" expression doesn't use the word "spit" but my friend cleaned it up for me, and it still works.)

Kengo Biddles said...

I would say on the whole things are getting better for you, Beck, but I don't think that your deprivation of male interaction is necessarily healthy. I think that has been one of the things that has helped me the most, is being able to reach out to those men in my life and be friends with them in a way that I fill that void in a non-sexual, friendly way.

But otherwise, I think you've made some great strides forward. I wish there were a way to help your wife to discuss and come to terms with some of her concerns. I know that Miki wouldn't be against the idea of talking to someone.

Beck said...

MK: I appreciate that suggestion. I've thought about writing my wife a love letter explaining my feelings and addressing her questions of "what if" and I hope you don't mind if I use some of your words. Thanks.

KENGO: Good to see you around! I'm getting to the point of recognizing my wife needs someone to talk to. Now, if I can only explain how I know you/Miki etc. - that would be the next big step. I don't want to lose my blogging freedom of expression - if you know what I mean...

Neal said...


Parallel and I have been working on a similar situation with his wife. If you would like to discuss, e-mail me.

Best Regards,


Loyalist (with defects) said...

It has been ages since i last checked up on my friends. like you and Abe this January has also been an aniversary of coming out to my wife.

has it been hard. I cant begin to tell you...but do i regret it? Not one single bit.

do i still struggle. Yup. and its worth it.

your wifes internal stuggles sounds a lot like my wifes. with my wife there is a lack of "belief" within herself or in other words her self definition is rested in something other than the inner core. (does that make any sense?)

Beck you are one of my heroes

luv to you and your family

GeckoMan said...


Happy New Year to you, my friend. My prognosis is you're doing progress, good solid progress. I agree with Abe that you have made huge steps forward; don't be dismayed by some steps backward--they are preparatory for future growth, invitations for change and improved understanding.

All of relationships are cyclical. I see my wife and I going up and down in regular ways in my own marriage. Lately for me, we seem to be on a low side, where there is more distrust and angst from her, even though there has been greater openness in the past. Of course we have other financial and life concerns at the moment, so there is greater insecurity surrounding us than normally. But do I go back to secrecy and unspoken frustration because our life is not what I hoped for? No, I still feel we're on higher ground than before I pushed for more understanding and acceptance of the unique forces at play in our marriage.

Part of the equation of your marriage that I see from a distance which appears unbalanced is fear. She veils yet speaks her truth, rational or not, that she has more to lose than you do, should you decide to walk. She rightly knows she has little control over the deeply personal decisions of your life. Her fear of being abandoned is hinged on emotional and physical support, for maintaining the family and seeing the kids into normal productive lives. She doesn't know what the outcome could possibly be without you, but it would be impossibly hard and worse off for sure. And then there is the fear of her self-image without you, all that you mean to her, and why isn't she good enough for you--these are huge fears that go down deep.

I think writing her a love letter is a wonderful idea. Say what you really want to and polish it in beautiful word choice. Get one to her before Valentines, so it's not regarded as 'obligatory,' and then follow it with another and another.

I wish my wife were willing to open up to other women who share common fears and frustrations in MOMs. We know how talking among ourselves has helped define our own persona and sense of confidence. Utilizing the resource of blogs or personal connections would be expanding for her and provide themes to talk on and gain insight around, together.

But like you say to Kengo, this opens you up to a more full disclosure of your blogging world, which has been a balm and a respite for you in the challenges of a convoluted life. You have legitimate fear of being found out and then misunderstood. 'Beck' is not necessarily all of who you are or want to be; he is an exploration of thoughts and feelings, not all of which are appropriate to your wife. So keep Beck private. My wife knows I have an email account that is for my SSA talk to friends I've met online, and that she is not invited to read that private part of my life. I hope she honors that request from me, and simply has to trust that I am behaving myself in this, my personal space.

I hope you have loving success in unfolding your common lives together. I hope you can open up to her in deeper trusting ways that are comforting and reassuring of your love and commitment to her, as has been frequently expressed in your blog.

Beck said...

NEAL: I haven't had time to read all that is transpiring w/ Parallel yet, though what I've seen is very intriguing, and I'm not ready for my wife to be part of "this blog world" yet and I'm not sure what I desire my next step to be. But, any advice, privately if you wish, is gratefully accepted.

Beck said...

LOYALIST: It's sooo good to hear from you and to know you're still kickin' around. I appreciate your visit and encourage you to comment more. I miss your advice and friendship. I hope all is well with you and your family.

I don't regret it either, despite the struggles, the ups and downs, the self-doubting etc. It's still very much worth it and worth the fight!

Beck said...

GECKO: Fear is a big part of it on both of our sides. She's afraid I'm going to leave her for another guy. I'm afraid discussing these things with her is too painful and distructive. So, neither of us inquire into the other's thoughts or feelings very deeply when it comes to these fears.

My thoughts of writing her a "love letter" is solidifying and your encouragement may be the push I need to actually face my fears and do it.

Thanks. I know you are struggling and my prayers are with you!