Friday, August 29, 2008

Ultimatum of sorts...


My wife has given me an ultimatum of sorts.


"I'm moving on with my life. You are welcome to come along with me, and I want you to come with me, but I'm no longer going to beg you to want to..."


I know she sees me pulling away from her physically and our intimacy levels have fallen off the charts like congress's approval rating, and she sees me becoming more upset about Church and becoming more distant spiritually from her.


Is this the beginning of the end, or is she just sensing me moving away from her and she's tired of the fight and is deciding she's waited long enough for me to make up my mind what path I'm going to take?


I have been drifting a bit. I have been allowing myself to not be intimate with her for some time... I'm scared.


We're going away together this weekend without the kids... I hope to find some rekindling spirit to show her I'm hers, but what if I can't?


Commitment has held us together. This "ultimatum" is making me rethink my commitments...


What do I have to do to show her my love? Why do I always have to keep proving myself to her? Why do I allow her to feel distant and insecure? I've been fighting this for 27 years of marriage... How much am I willing to fight to keep her?


Is this the "inevitability" factor kicking in?

26 comments:

Carter Niven said...

I think what most people want in life is a destination, not a journey. However, this is where we get everything all wrong. We assume if we "get there" we will be happy and content. The problem with getting there is that it is rarely the way we thought it would be and it is never enough to meet our needs.

It seems that your wife is looking to journey away from a destination, but the question is whether or not she has a destination in mind. I don't know where my life will take me ultimately - I'm working on multiple journeys simultaneously so that I never arrive at a destination that I think is where I am supposed to be.

Take the journey with your wife. As much as your paths have been entangled, you are still two individuals who will experience different things from the same road. Those that journey for the journey's sake can appreciate other travellers. Those who want to get to the destination will mostly work for their own needs.

Just my 0.02.

Kengo Biddles said...

Beck, I've e-mailed you privately about this...but you're in my thoughts over this weekend.

Edgy said...

This is the first time I've commented on your blog, and we don't know each other, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Considering what you've written (which I know is merely an itty bitty fraction of what goes on in your life), I don't know if she's necessarily giving you the ultimatum you think she's giving you. It seems to me that she may just be tired of sitting in the road, waiting for the journey to pick up and move on again.

Let me explain. My boyfriend has some relationship dynamic issues with his business partners, so I get to listen to him whine and complain and stew and what not. I don't mind this per se, but more than anything, I find myself irritated at having to endure the constant bellyaching. Finally, I had to tell him that I would take care of the conversations that needed to be had or he could man up and take care of the conversations that needed to be had. Regardless, the bellyaching must stop.

From my extremely limited perspective, I see something similar with your situation. Your wife sees you getting angry, stalling, pulling away. I wonder if she just isn't finally to the point of saying Make a decision, and let's go from there; let's not sit at the intersection any longer. I think that she wants to see you happy and she knows that you won't be happy until you actually do something. I don't think she's asking you to prove your love for her.

Again, I only know the little bit I glimpse here, so I could be totally off the mark. Regardless, I hope you have a wonderful weekend with her.

Damon In CO said...

Oh Beck-

It is a struggle and may always be. I might be going out on a limb here but I have a thought...

Perhaps it is not just the physical intimacy your wife craves and misses. I get the impression that right now there may be little emotional intimacy.

You need to both work on open communication about your sexuality. She needs to voice her fears on all fronts and then you both need to talk about them.
You need to voice your fears and then you both need to talk about them.

I would guess there are fears and pains on both parts that are being suppressed and not being dealt with. If you want to be successful, if you want to make this work...you're going to need to open up on lines of communication.

And I am a little confused by what she means by moving on? What does that mean exactly? That she's going to move on from your sexuality? Or that she's going to move on from letting it be an issue or, what? I guess that it isn't completely clear to me.

As always my thoughts and prayers are with you!

~Damon

Mark said...

Beck,

I guess I'd be asking myself a couple of questions. First, "What does she (your wife) need in a relationship?" and second, "What do I need in a relationship?"

By communicating with her and drilling down to some very sensitive areas, you might find the answers for you both. But be willing to hear the answers. Be willing to admit what you truly need - not just the acceptable answer each of you thinks the other wants to hear.

This could be the beginning of the beginning of a different life for you both. If that's the case, embrace your fears and move toward them, not away from them. You may find they actually dissipate before your eyes as you take action.

It's hard, isn't it, Beck? You've been married so long (far longer than me) and you have history together, lots of great experiences, etc. But none of them, however great they were, negate the fact you're gay and she's straight. None of them can change that.

And you know that while God has given you a lot of support along the way, He's also allowed you to think, ponder, struggle and find within yourself some truths about who you are - including your gay identity. And he's not changing your sexuality one iota. You are who you are.

Whatever comes of your weekend, I hope you and your wife find the answers and solutions you're looking for. I hope that peace envelopes you as you talk and consider your future.

Best wishes to you both,

Mark

Philip said...

Beck,

I may be wrong but based on a few comments you've made I've wondered just how open you are with your wife about your sexuality. I get the impression you are less than forthcoming and she is for the most part in the dark. My deepest apologies if I am mistaken.

It is only a guess on my part but my experience is that many gay/bi husbands find it extremely difficult to open up to their wives for various reasons and many straight wives find it extremely difficult to deal with being shut out.

I have a friend who was ready to end her marriage to her bi spouse not because he was bi but because he had withdrawn so much from her that she no longer felt the marriage was worth continuing. She decided she was paying too big a price working on her marriage alone and for her own sake would be better off no longer married.

Once her husband realized he was going to lose her if he didn't open up then he figured he had nothing to lose and opened up to her completely. This did the trick. It took a couple of years but they worked through the many issues they had with his sexuality and are now in a very good place.

Of course, only your wife can tell you what is going on with her. But if this is what it is then maybe it would be a good thing for you to open up for your own sake, as well as, her's. I base this on my own experience.

Regards,
Philip

bravone said...

Beck,
My heart breaks for both you and your wife today. You have both invested so much in each other and the family you have created. I pray that the cruise will be a turning point for both of you. Don't worry about being physical this weekend. Spend a lot of time talking to, praying with, and holding each other. Enjoy the scenery and have fun together. You will be in my thoughts.

Dichotomy said...

To be honest, I have to admit that I'm just a little bit confused.

When I read your blog I see a man who is fiercely devoted to his marriage and who loves his wife dearly.

Your wife obviously doesn't read your blog because she sees you "pulling away from her physically" and "becoming more distant spiritually from her" and she senses you "moving away from her". She thinks that she has to "beg you" to want to "come along with [her]".

Obviously the "Beck" that we see on your blog is only a part of yourself. There's a lot of you that you don't put up here for the world to see. I've just barely realized, though, that you've nearly completely compartmentalized yourself. The "you" that your wife knows contains very few traces of the "you" that we all know as Beck.

I think that's tragic, because "Beck" so obviously loves his wife and family and wants so badly to find a way to make things work for them. If your wife knew "Beck" I don't think she would feel nearly as unloved or emotionally detached.

Of course, letting her get to know "Beck" also means letting her get to know the guy who sits in the airport rating the attractiveness of the men who walk by. :) I can understand that you would be nervous about letting her get to know that guy.

But again, based on my own experience (which is the only experience I have to go on), openness will win in the end. A few days after I came out to Serendipity I asked her if it would bother her if I commented that, for instance, a waiter was kind of cute. It did. It really weirded her out. But now we can sit and watch the men's Olympic swimming together and she'll tease me about which swimmers I think are the hottest.

What do I have to do to show her my love? Open yourself up to her. Take the example of Philip's friend. I don't know if you're to the point where you have "nothing to lose", but in my opinion you've got everything to gain.

MoHoHawaii said...

I'm confused, too. Hasn't it always been clear what path you intend to take? As long as I've been reading your blog, you've been focused on strengthening your marriage while you come to terms with your sexual orientation. You've been consistent in telling your wife that you are not leaving.

The problem may be (and this is just speculation) that your wife doesn't understand that it will take compromise on both sides to deal with this issue. I don't blame her for this-- the Church lays it on pretty thick and makes it more than clear who's right and who's wrong in this situation. From the Church's point of view, the only problem is that one of you has a propensity to sin, and it's not her. It's not easy within the LDS framework to put the unproductive blame aside. Here's a concrete example of compromise-- what if you agreed on a less physical relationship and instead strengthened your relationship in other areas?

I know this has been discussed before, but is it time for counseling?

Serendipity said...

Beck, I just wanted to let you know that I agree with Dichotomy's advice.

The first few days after he came out to me, I wanted to find a way to ignore it, and then I would think about things that I didn't understand but didn't know how to talk to him about. Keeping those things to myself made me feel horrible. (Some of the thoughts were of course regarding our intimate relationship.)

One day in particular we were both keeping thoughts from each other because we were afraid that the other person was thinking something different. Finally, something slipped out from one of us, and it started a discussion that led to us being completely honest with each other. We both decided that day that it was best to share thoughts with each other when they first entered our heads instead of letting them fester first.

I think that is when the healing process became real for me. My attitude gradually changed from one of "poor me" to "look what wonderful blessings are coming into my life because of this."

I just want you to know that my prayers are with you. Also, as you pack for your trip, don't forget to pack some chocolate. Everything is better with chocolate. My recent favorite is Hershey's Bliss (I like the ones with meltaway centers.) Just a suggestion.

Have a great weekend!

Philip said...

Beck,

This may be way off base but I want to share something I learned from faciliating a gay/bi married men's support group.

Warning...lots of generalizing coming up.

It seems to me that for most gay/bi married men their sexuality looms so large in their minds that it never occurs to them to consider that their wives might have other issues than just with their sexuality.

However, in talking to straight wives I found that their husband's sexuality was often not the main issue; that deception and ongoing dishonesty were often much bigger issues.

So I have seen this interesting dynamic happen time and again. The husband for whom his sexuality is a dealbreaker anticipates rejection and misinterprets the wife's hurt and mistrust as signs of the rejection he so expected while the wife gets increasingly frustrated because her husband is not listening to her and often accusing her of rejecting his sexuality when she is not.

Now I am not saying that their husband's sexuality was not a major issue for these wives; only that it was often not the biggest issue. However, for some wives it really wasn't much of an issue.

So what am I trying to say?

Basically, to listen carefully to your wife and not let your fears get in the way of hearing what she has to say. If you find yourself feeling defensive then stop, take a breathe, don't say anything and just listen.

Actually I am feeling like a hypocrite right now writing this post because my wife and I are such poor communicators.

Regards,
Philip

Ron Schow said...

I agree with Mohohawaii, counseling would be a big help. If you want, I can recommend a counselor who has lots of experience with MOMs and she is in SLC.

If you're not ready for that yet, here is an interesting little activity counselors sometimes use that you might try with your wife. Suggest that she take a week and come up with a very focused list of the things she would like from your relationship. In the meantime, you do the same. Then compare lists.

-L- said...

I don't believe for a second in the inevitability of your situation. That said, there is an end to whatever road you're on, and it doesn't do any good to try to get to the end of a different road without switching roads. You might actually have to change lots of things if you want to stay with her, including things that you really don't want to change.

It's a choice, not inevitable. I second the previous comments that counseling would probably be immensely helpful for you both.

Silver said...

You said:
What do I have to do to show her my love? Why do I always have to keep proving myself to her? Why do I allow her to feel distant and insecure? I've been fighting this for 27 years of marriage... How much am I willing to fight to keep her?

Beck:
She is asking for YOUR attention. She needs to know that SHE is worth fighting for. She wants to know that YOU still find HER to be beautiful. She yearns to know that YOU still notice HER, cherish HER, want HER, adore HER.

To show her that you love her, you need to fight for her. You have to keep doing this because she must know that she is important to you, that you value her deeply, that she can count on you.

Why "do" you allow her to feel distant and insecure? Are you angry? Do you blame her? Are your needs being met? What do you want or need from her? Are they needs that she can or should fill? If not her, who?

How much are you willing to fight to keep her? What are your other choices? Are they better or just easier?

I hope your weekend was terrific. When we "get away from it all" we are still good together. I hope you found that to be true also.

Anonymous said...

Dear Beck -

From having been married 17 years, I've learned that what wives want about as much as (or maybe even more than) anything is security - a feeling of safety that they will not be neglected or discarded or forgotten or misunderstood. They want the surety that their family relationships will endure and not fall apart. And they might even be minded to use destructive, manipulative means to hold on to that security.
Men, on the other hand, tend to have a greater tolerance for adventure; security is not at the top of their list of what matters most. And men might even be minded to use silence and emotional distancing to maintain that sense of adventure.
So we all have our blessings and curses.
All I can say for sure is that the more you find you must stifle your gay identity, the more it will feel like you're holding your breath under water and that you must come to the surface for air just to save your life.
What your wife doesn't want to understand is that you holding your breath your whole life long could be deadly.
Your relationship may be due for some major restructuring. It will hurt, but the lives you both save will be your own.

Forester said...

I honestly don't know how we are all going to make it (those of us in the same situation). You've done this twice as long as me. I guess it doesn't ever get easier. Maybe this is why I haven't told my wife yet. I don't want her blaming all of our marital shortcomings on me being gay. I wish I could handle this better. I wish I could be a better person. All I know is that I want to be with my wife and family now and forever, and from this, things seem to fall into place.

bravone said...

Forester,
It is good to hear from you. I was worried because you haven't posted for a while. You don't know me, but I have read your posts and feel that I know you. I hope all is well with you.

Beck said...

Where do I begin to respond to these comments?

CARTER: She's after the journey and wants me to come along at her side. We're working on getting on the same boat.

KENGO: Thank you for worrying and for your advice. We're okay. We've just got bumps that sometimes seem like road blocks. I'm finding that if I keep her in perspective and a priority, then the perceived road blocks become tolerable bumps.

EDGY: Thank you for commenting. You're right. I tell a very limited view of what is going on. This isn't my whole life nor my whole story, but just a slice. That having been said, your right with the observation that she does want me to be happy, but she wants me to make a decision and move on. By her saying that she's moving on is encouragement for me to do the same and get on with life, to stop brooding and worrying about things all gay, and just be happy with our life together.

DAMON: Yes we need to communicate better, but really, she wants me invested in her emotionally, physically, spiritually, intimately. She doesn't want a husband half-vested. In that sense, she wants it to be a marriage of all or nothing - this half-way approach isn't working.

Beck said...

DAMON: I didn't answer your questions. Yes, she wants to move on from the debate about my sexuality. She wants to accept it for what it is and now get on with life. She doesn't want it to be the controlling factor of our relationship. She is willing to work with the physical intimacy shortcomings and struggles - but she wants to know that I still want to be with her and need her in my life without a constant debate about where she fits into my struggles. Moving on means that she's ready to support me and be with me, but if I'm not ready to do the same, she's prepared to move on without me. It's an effort on her part, I think, that is a push or spark to get me off of dead center.

MARK: I know I am not changing. I know that I am who I am. But, if I'm to stay married and committed, I need to get on with it and do so. To keep myself constantly wondering of the "what ifs" leaves her feeling out in the cold, not needed or wanted. Neither of us thinks it's going to change, but our commitment to each other can change and be made better and her statement is an effort to get me to realize she needs me to see her as being an important part of her life, and that I need and want her in my life. She has endured much in our 27 years together. She is prepared to endure much more, but she needs to know that we're in this together, otherwise she's going to move on without me.

PHILIP: We haven't been very open when it comes to the sexual needs and desires I have. We need to do a much better job at that. It is difficult for me to be completely open to her for I feel it would hurt her too much. We've used this last week to reacquaint ourselves with each other physically. In reality, she doesn't need to know my every desire, as she needs to just know that I desire to be with her.

BRAVONE: Yes, we did all that you have suggested here. And it has helped to heal the wounds. We're doing better as I include her in my life. She just needs to know that I am still wanting her to be a part of me in this journey together. Sometimes it takes getting away from cell phones, jobs, kids, worries, to see that we are truly wanting to be together and we still love each other and are in this for the long haul together. Thanks for your prayers.

Beck said...

DICHO: I don't mean to confuse you or mislead you. As you state, I am more than "Beck" and this is just a slice of me. She doesn't know "Beck" as you know "Beck" and that is my fault for keeping that side of me from her. As I divide myself or compartmentalize my life and keep sections or portions from her, she senses it. She sees and notes the confused allegences within my conflicted sides and knows I'm withdrawing from her even though parts of me want her more than anything else. Yes, it would be easy to open up and share her all that you see of "Beck", but what I really need to do is to let her into my life and make her welcomed, needed, wanted, comforted, assured that I still want and need her on this journey. Again, I'm sorry to confuse you. The dynamics are hard to filter into a blog comment. Thanks for your example of how to include your wife instead of exclude her.

MOHOH: Yes, my path has been clear and there is nothing new here. I don't mean to imply that I'm getting a boyfriend and going a separate way. The point is, when I desire or even crave such things, even subconsciously, I also pull away from her and the sense that I'm no longer wanting her comes through the unspoken words. No, my goals haven't changed, but the feelings and desires that flare at times do seem to put distance between us. Your advice to strengthen other aspects of our relationship, compromising on the intimacy, is something that we are both willing to accept. Counseling is still something we both are hestitant to accept but we may be coming closer to accepting the need for extra help.

DIP: Yes, everything is better with chocolate. We found a fudge factory on our trip and indulged. It was good and healing. Yes, there are blessings in this. Thanks for your prayers... and keep pushing me for openness and increased communication.

PHILIP: Your comments are really helpful. I think you're right. My sexuality seems to be the biggest thing blocking our relationship. Yet, for her, it is just something to deal with. She just wants to feel love and security and desire to be a part of each others lives coming from me, despite my sexual orientation. You've given me much to think about.

RON: Let's talk off line about counseling opportunities. Meanwhile, I love the suggestion of making lists for our relationship and comparing them. It would be intriguing to see how they are the same and how they differ. I do this with my clients all the time in designing their dream house from lists of needs and wants and it's always interesting to note that the husband and wife who think they know exactly what the other wants finds out they really don't and it takes some sorting out to get on the same page. Excellent suggestion!

L: It is a choice! I know it isn't inevitable. I've proven that over the course of many years. It is my choice. She just wants me to choose her. Can I blame her? And you're right, in the process, I need to leave some desires aside as I choose her.

Beck said...

SILVER SAID: "She is asking for YOUR attention. She needs to know that SHE is worth fighting for. She wants to know that YOU still find HER to be beautiful. She yearns to know that YOU still notice HER, cherish HER, want HER, adore HER.

To show her that you love her, you need to fight for her. You have to keep doing this because she must know that she is important to you, that you value her deeply, that she can count on you."

YOU REALLY DO GET IT!!! YOU TOTALLY UNDERSTAND. YOU COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER. THIS IS EXACTLY HER POINT. YOU'VE HIT THE HAMMER SQUARELY ON THE NAIL.

So, I've got to just do it.

Beck said...

ANON: At times I'm not breathing above water - I'm drowning. But, it is possible to still tread water. She may not understand that what she wants I many not always be able to provide, but to include her, to show her I need her and want her in my life is still doable. Restructuring? Possibly. I'm still willing to bend for her. She's bent for me so many times. We can still do this... and I'm willing as long as I can still breathe.

FORESTER: You are hanging on and that is significant. Keeping those goals of marriage and family in the forefront do help. We may be deceiving ourselves, but I don't think so. I am very happy. I love my life. I love the 27 amazing years we've had together. This last week has been incredible. We still love each other. She hopelessly loves me. I worry so much about my struggles. She is willing to see past them as we go on together. It is possible. Don't give up. I feel like sometimes we, the gay guys in the MOMs feel like our sexuality is the source of all the problems. It isn't. But as it distracts us, and keeps us unfocused and confused and struggling and conflicted and doubting, all other aspects seem to suffer.

Though all these comments, it is clear that we are all different. My situation with my wife, though typical, is still uniquely mine. Yes, I need to work on communication and openness with her and bring her into my life better than I do. She wants me to. She wants a husband who is willing to walk beside her, be with her, want to be with her, despite his sexuality. Our relationship can be better because of this.

Forester, please don't read into my hiccups any fatalistic thoughts of the inevitability of marital disaster. I don't believe those fatalistic views as long as I'm willing to keep trying to include her and make her a partner with me in this journey!

Silver said...

Beck:
I almost retracted my previous comment because I thought afterward that it was too bold and perhaps preachy. I'm glad I was close to the mark, but I'm more glad that you had come to the same conclusions on your week away.

I was talking to a friend at lunch the other day. I mentioned that I had assured and promised my wife that she could count on my fidelity and that I would not be sexually involved with any other.

He pointed out that although that is important and critical; it may in fact be secondary to her. He pointed out that women are emotionally driven more than we men who are sexually driven. Perhaps what is more important to her is that she has my heart and that I am not emotionally distant from her. That has given me several days of thought. I think he nailed it for me. What she wants isn't always what I think it is...

Good to have you back Beck. I missed you.

Beck said...

SILVER said: "...women are emotionally driven more than we men who are sexually driven. Perhaps what is more important to her is that she has my heart and that I am not emotionally distant from her. That has given me several days of thought. I think he nailed it for me. What she wants isn't always what I think it is..."

You've nailed it. That is the issue for her. She wants my heart. She wants me invested in her emotionally. She wants me to include her in my thoughts and wants and wishes and journey! I'm caught up in the sexual attraction disfunction and she can deal with that hiccup so much better than I. When I let it allow my heart to stray in my thoughts and devotions, that is what kills her.

Silver, you've got it figured out. So now what?

Silver said...

Now what?

Well, now you look for balance in your life.

You can't just focus on her alone and her needs. You have needs of your own too. You have man needs. Men can fill needs in us that women can never fill. Living our lives for one person, one relationship cannot fill us. We have to achieve a balance of relationships that fill those needs.

For me, it has meant developing close, even intimate relationships with men, but those relationships need to be balanced also without being emotionally dependent and without robbing my wife of her place.

It's important to maintain boundaries and confidences so that she may not be completely aware of my devotions or attachments to my male friends. It's a tough line to walk and for me it's new. I have to gaurd against becoming emotionally attached or having a "charge" with the men in my life.

I have to remember that that level of attachment and commitment is reserved for her. Sexual involvement and activity is reserved for her.

My relationships with men should have a Jonathan and David quality to them. I can deeply love a man and hold him dear. He can be a truly valuable part of my life, but not a sexual partner. If it starts going there I have to step back, examine and see what I am seeking. I have to look at where those needs are coming from and deal with the root causes.

It is very hard work. I don't always succeed. I'm just learing.

Anonymous said...

Beck, I am trying to reach you but so far unsuccessful. I also have emailed Carol Lynn Pearson because I am struggling with exactly what you are and trying to decide. She is the one who gave me your blog site and then emailed you with my email address. Please contact me as I feel we can be a support and help for each other. Thanks, Ken