Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More questions...

NOTE: This is my 300th post! I'm not as prolific as some. It took me 40 months to get to this post... that's 7.5 posts per month on the average or not quite two posts per week or one post every four days (consistent enough to remain constant, but not too excessive to be annoying - don't you think? (not to imply that one may be inconsistent or annoying) - or am I not frequent enough? Or too annoying?)... for what it's worth.

Anyway, we've continued the dialog. I've been taking it at the speed with which she is most comfortable, and Sunday night she opened up with several questions and we were able to open up to each other and discuss calmly and rationally without getting emotional or defensive. It was good. In fact, for the first time in a long time, we were able to put emotions and defensiveness aside and really try to listen and learn from each other on "this" subject.

NOTE: I want to correct something from the recent posts. I want it to be clear that my wife is sincerely and earnestly trying to understand what is going on inside me. I don't want to portray that she doesn't want to try. She does! The problem is: she can't understand why I feel the way I do, why I need guy-to-guy friendships for bonding and strength and acceptance and understanding. She does see that it is a terrible lot to go through life completely alone, or feeling alone in thinking that "I'm the only one who feels this way and has to go down this untrodden trail". But, she feels alone as well. So she gets that part and the importance of connection with others.

But, she doesn't understand why I can't focus more on my marriage and on her than on these relationships. She has no desires for any such relationships in her life. Sure, she has friendships and associations with groups and activities with which she's involved, and they support and give her "purpose" and "fulfillment", but none of these relationships are sharing emotional and intimate discussions about feelings and longings and wants and desires and hopes and aspirations and understandings and connections. She doesn't seek, desire or want such relationships with either another guy or another woman. She just wants and desires ME!

So, she asks: why can't I just desire her?

It's hard to explain it. At least I explained that my desires are not necessarily "sexual" in nature, which was a huge relief to her. She finds the thought of gay sex repulsive, which is to be expected, I guess.

It's also hard to explain why a gay guy like me needs to have these connections and bondings and relationships "outside" my marriage bonding in order to be better "inside" my marriage. I know it to be true (from personal experience - particularly when I shut myself off of all bonding outside of marriage and all it did was shut me off inside my marriage as well - for two decades I might add!). It's hard to explain that someone like me in a mixed-oriented marriage needs these friendships and relationships and one-on-ones with others that understand me.

When I say such things, she immediately does the reversal and says that wouldn't I think that if she had such encounters with another man, wouldn't I feel them to be inappropriate? unfaithful? wrong? And, of course, I would...

So why the difference? Why does the reversal not work? Why do I feel that it isn't the same? How do I articulate and explain the difference so that she understands and is not threatened by or scared of this need of mine? Is a gay guy supposed to never have connections with another guy, ever, if he is married? Is that his lot in life? Why should a gay guy in a MOM be treated differently? Is that fair? Is that right? Or is there really a difference? Or is it just asking for special compensation where none should be granted?

Does it all come down to sex? Is the close relationship with a guy wrong for my wife because of the sexual attraction possibilities? Is the close relationship with a guy wrong for me simply because of the sexual attraction possibilities? Or is it in that marriage is supposed to be only:

"Thou shalt love thy wife with ALL thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and NONE ELSE."

-- D&C 42:22

Can there be a marriage if one shares his heart with another in understanding, compassion, bonding? When does this cross into "spiritual infidelity"?


Coincidentally, there is an interesting article in the September 2009 Ensign entitled: "Fidelity in Marriage: It's more than you think." Though it addressed emotional and romantic infidelity of a heterosexual marriage, it is intriguing for me to view it in terms of a mixed-oriented marriage.

Toward the end of the article, there is a series of questions that one is asked to answer honestly about assessing relationships we might have "outside" our marriage. In the spirit of my "relationships" with my guy friends, including MOHO friendships mentioned recently in this blog, my answers are as follows:

1. Are you turning to your friend for comfort rather than turning to your spouse? Yes, to a certain extent I am, as my "friend" gives me comfort and understanding that she can't. But, it doesn't mean that I'm not turning to her as well in those areas that she can, particularly as we work on discussing these things more honestly, as hard as that has been in the last few weeks.

2. Do you find yourself thinking about your friend even when you're at home? Yes, most definitely.

3. Do you seek opportunities to be with your friend even when work doesn't require you to be together? Yes, most definitely.

4. Do you email and text your friend when you're not together? Yes, nearly every day.

5. Have you told your spouse about these messages? Yes, I have. It was hurtful to her that I would hide such things from her, and it continues to make her feel uneasy and uncomfortable, even "sick" to think that I chat with my "friends", but she is becoming more accepting of it.

6. Does the relationship with your friend take more of your time and energy than your relationship with your spouse? At times, but for the most part, no... most of my energy is spent in my relationship with my spouse.

7. Do you compare your spouse to your friend? No. There is no comparison. It is totally different.

8. Would you be uncomfortable introducing your spouse to your friend? Absolutely not. In fact, I've encouraged her to meet my "friend" but so far she's not ready to do that.

Depending on how you answer these questions, you may need to make some changes in your life. Consider an open and honest conversation with your spouse - being sure to focus on yourself and not the other person. If you find you have some real challenges to overcome, you may want to talk with your bishop. Well, I am not going to talk to my bishop. Some may think I'm robbing us of the priesthood inspiration we deserve and should demand in our lives. But for me and my house, this discussion will remain between us, and as we discuss my need for "friendship" outside the marriage, with increased openness and honesty, I think it will remain between us.

But, back to the question at hand: How do I explain the "need" I feel for these friendships, connections, bondings? How do I explain that they are necessary in order to stay married, not as a reason for infidelity? And is there a difference for a gay guy to have these things where a straight guy shouldn't, simply because the straight guy should be attracted to his wife? Is this a double standard? Is it wrong? Is this asking for a special exceptions? Can it not be equated with a straight relationship of infidelity? Or is there no difference? And if there is a difference, should it be required of my wife to accept the difference and accept such friendships within the bounds of marriage? And if so, can it be done without suffering "spiritual infidelity"?

Help me! I need help in answering these questions for myself so that I can explain it to her...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I lie...

I don't know if anyone is even tuning in and reading this tiresome stuff anymore...as the comments have dwindled to nothing... and that is okay... I'm tired of it, too.

But, I'm blogging because my original intent was to use this to help me through some difficult decisions - life altering decisions - and I find myself still needing this tool to work through things because I'm a slow learner.

The lesson for the day: When you lie, you've always got to cover up your backside.

I have been caught in several lies lately. My wife remembers things that "just don't add up" or "just don't sound right" and now the connect-the-dots exercise is coming to fruition and the picture is forming and she sees the string of deceit, deception, dishonesty, and disloyalty.

I lie to avoid conflict. I lie to avoid hurt. I lie to avoid confrontation. I lie to avoid pain... In the end, the truth slowly comes out and there still remains the conflict, the hurt, the confrontation, the pain.

Having been caught, I fessed up to numerous encounters with gay men of this community, and even to having attended once the Scott-and-Sarah monthly party full of gay men. Again, it wasn't so much the thought of doing those things that bothered and hurt her, but it was the string of lies and the lack of trust shown on my part - particularly not trusting her with the truth, or giving her the chance to handle the truth. By telling lies, I excluded her from these choices I was making, even if those choices were good choices, reaffirming choices, choices that focused me back to her instead of away from her.

Some may view her list of expectations (as noted in my previous post) as a "lock-and-chain" attitude, where no real agency can exist.

One anonymous commenter emailed me and said:

Here is one response (to her):
If marriage is going to be a lock and chain and I have no freedom to meet friends that I choose or write in the privacy of my own diary, then I can't live with that.
I promise you I will not break the vows of sexual fidelity, but I don't promise not to hug someone or be friends with someone. You have the same freedom I do. I am committed to our family and to you. And you simply will have to trust me. I am not going to be locked and chained around your ankle so you can watch me constantly.
You can tell me what you want me to do as you have, but I can't live with that kind of loss of my personal agency.

I see this viewpoint. I really do, and I understand it and the wisdom behind it. To make such a statement I would have to be trustworthy to expect trust in my choices, but so far my way about accomplishing these things has been anything but trustworthy. Thus, I also see her viewpoint that my shutting her out by not being honest has focused my choices on what is best for myself and not what is best for us.

So, how can I have both? How can I restore trust once it is lost? How can I have a free exercise of agency and freedom while not being self-centered and selfish? Is one exclusive of the other? Can I place my needs above hers? above what is best for us?

I'm tired of the facade. I'm tired of telling lies and covering my backside. I'm tired of hurting her as step-by-step she finds out more about my deception.

Is there any way that this downhill slide can turn around?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Connecting the Dots...

So, the saga continues... and maybe it continues more than it should...

I was struggling with my conscience regarding what happened in the previous post. It happened and it was just that. But that said, it was something that I was uncomfortable with and something that I didn't feel good about with regards to my marriage.

After a great weekend and amazing closeness with my wife, I was feeling guilty (as I usually do) of having my encounter that I had and keeping it, and those like that, from her. Maybe due to the fact that my therapist is making me track my "guilt" and "hiding", such feelings were easily at the surface and I struggled with how to tell her without her getting all freaked out about it.

Come to find out as I woke up this morning, she suddenly confronted me with the question: "so are you meeting these MOHOs?" She woke up last night in a panic. Obviously, she had "connected the dots" and came to the realization that I wasn't just "chatting" and discussing things with fellow MOHOs, but that I was meeting up with MOHOs for lunch, etc. and she confronted me on this "connect the dot" process going through her mind.

So I told her the truth...well, at least mostly the truth... I told her that I had met up with a few MOHOs at various times for lunch. I didn't tell her about the hike. I didn't tell her about Scott and Sarah's party. I guess I'm scared to bear it all, even though that would probably be easier. I told her that these encounters were positive and family-affirming and faith-affirming.

Her reaction was as expected. I could have predicted it. She was shocked and hurt - not so much that I actually was doing such encounters, but because I would keep such information from her. I told her that I didn't want to hurt her and that I wanted to avoid such confrontations just as we were having.

She broke into tears and became very upset. I don't blame her. I was expecting it. She said I was being insensitive to her feelings and that I was being self-centered and selfish. As much as I tried to explain that these encounters were good and uplifting and supportive of my decisions to stay married and to stay with the family and to stay with the church, she couldn't see that position... otherwise, why would I be hiding these things from her.

I guess I was hiding these things from her because deep down I know that there is something fundamentally wrong about a gay guy meeting another gay guy with the potential of attractions becoming the issue or at least the focal point of our meeting, even though there is no intent to "hook up" with one another.

She did the quick reversal of "what if I were having lunch with a guy that was just a friend, how would you feel about that?" As much as I wanted to justify that it wasn't the same, I couldn't and admitted that she was right. There are limits to what one can and cannot do when one is married and the other spouse doesn't know or doesn't approve. I didn't know what to say.

She asked: "So what else are you hiding from me?" Though I mentioned blogs and commenting on MOHO blogs and chatting etc. I didn't mention that I had a specific blog - until now... and now she wonders why I need to blog about our private life. I'm wondering that, too. Why do I do this?

She hasn't asked to read it yet, and I haven't volunteered, describing it as a private journal and being on a private "invitation only" readership. Still, the thought has now arisen that I just click the "delete key" and end Beck once and for all.

I asked her what she wants from me... For now (and who knows if this evening will be different) she has set down the ground rules that :

1. I don't meet anyone of you for any reason anymore unless she knows and approves.

2. I only blog or chat if it is supportive and strengthening and focusing on our lives and marriage in a way that is not self-centered or selfish.

3. That I start being more honest and trustworthy.
4. That I continue therapy, only if such therapy will support the above. (NOTE: I suggested that maybe we go to couple's therapy together to work through these things - she wasn't eager but didn't reject it outright).

It's hard to argue with any of that... but I feel like I'm on trial. I've blown it in the fact that I've kept this community from her... Then I blew it when I told her about this community but didn't reveal that I had been meeting with some of you. And now she has her faith in me destroyed. She doesn't trust me. She feels I have been unfaithful. She thinks I am too self-centered and I am focusing way too much on this one aspect of who I am and I am allowing it to consume my every thought and action. She likes that I am more confident, but now everything is suspect, including losing weight, working out, getting a sun tan, etc... if it isn't for her, then it must be for my fellow MOHOs... I can't win. I can't even argue that these things are all making me feel better about me and that I am accepting my body image and my persona for the first time in my life... none of that matters. I'm not attracted to her and so I'm not focused on her and so everything else is focusing away from her... AARRGGHHH!!!

So now what do I do?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time...

There were two guys that met on line through a blogging community. Both were middle-aged, greying and balding, and nothing particularly spectacular about either. Both felt unique and different, somehow apart from others in their lives. Both were confused and isolated from the world around them, disconnected in similar ways from their religion, from their families, from friends, from associates. You see, both were faithful members of the LDS church, both were faithfully married to their respective wives for nearly three decades, and both were faithful fathers of young adult children... Oh, and both were gay!

These two guys met and found that they had a lot in common, and where one was weak in a certain area, the other was strong, and where one was strong, the other was not as strong and they found their similar circumstances, backgrounds, ages, strengths and weaknesses drew them together as they found their unique uniquenesses a source of joy and a foundation of a unique friendship.

Over time, this friendship developed into a sense of brotherhood. They were bonding and the connection with another person who accepted them for who they were, not the facade they had grown accustomed to living, made them feel more whole and complete, if not for the first time in their lives, at least for the first time in a long time.

This bonding brought forth a discussion of "boundaries" and what is appropriate for a friendship between two gay guys that are faithfully married, faithful to their children, and faithful to their religious covenants and belief systems. Just the fact that such discussions of "boundaries" were being discussed showed a level of maturity in their relationship. They were, after all, adults.

One day, circumstances being what they were, these two married MOHOs went off into the woods for a hike - not just any hike, but a life-changing hike. They were treading on sacred ground, and both knew it. The air was crisp and clean from a morning rain; the sun brilliant and invigorating. They opened up their hearts to each other, shared experiences, and commented on the uniqueness of events that brought them together. They embraced and snuggled together on a rock overlooking the valley below. There was touch, and a few simple kisses on the cheek that wouldn't be seen as abnormal or even unusual between two close friends in any other culture but the one they found themselves in.

As they descended the mountain, they wondered where this friendship was going? Was this just a bromance between two guys? What was the next step? Had boundaries been crossed? Should such a friendship exist and could it be maintained, nurtured and strengthened within the boundaries they had set between themselves? And could such a friendship become something that their wives could embrace and see as necessary and good and essential?

One might judge and say this is wrong, or this is playing with fire, or this is fooling oneself - that nothing good will come of it. Another might see it as a step of self-validation, a path toward authenticity and freedom from life-long held guilt. Still another might determine that such a relationship cannot or should not exist without explicit approval and authorization from the spouses. And still another might see a path less taken that may be of great value and significance. And each would possibly be right...

One might see this as just a silly, adolescent fairy tale of a wishful, dreamy-eyed but pathetically confused MOHO.

I wish it were a silly, adolescent fairy tale...

but it isn't...

It's true...

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Between the stress of the downturn in my work and the more open discussions of "the issue", it has been tense. A couple of weeks ago, I lost my cool and exploded and was rude to my wife. She said things that implied that she could no longer deal with my attitude and all that goes with "the issue". Harsh words crossed our lips and emotions flared and ultimatums spewed forth... It was like that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" where Jimmy Stewart come home all stressed and destroyed and starts taking it out on his wife and kids and Donna Reed starts to say something like: "why are you taking it out on me and the children? Why don't you... leave!".

Well, I left... I didn't pack my bags, I just grabbed a notebook and my cell phone and slammed the door and disappeared for several hours.... I headed to the mountain and hiked up to my rock where I've gone before for solace and comfort and peace, where I can look out over the valley, over my neighborhood, over the lake and desert horizon to the west. I wanted to be free of it all... free of everything! I wanted no connection with reality. I stripped off all my clothes and lay totally and completely naked on my rock for several hours (not a good idea on a sunny day... got a sunburn in places that haven't seen the sun before - ouch!). I transitioned from anger to frustration to hurt and pain. I openly wept.

My thoughts went to places that weren't pretty. I began to hear voices that hit me from every front... voices that EVERYTHING IS A LIE! My whole life is a lie! My marriage is a lie! My fatherhood is a lie! My testimony and the church are lies! The way I live, the facade I carry with me everywhere is a lie!

As I calmed down, as I lay there naked allowing the sun and canyon breeze to consume me, I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't go on like this. There had to be truth somewhere in my life. Everything can't be a lie...

She started calling my cell phone. I didn't answer. I didn't want to talk to her! I couldn't talk to her! I was so tired of talking about it. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to go away. I contemplated sneaking back to the house, packing up things and driving to California. I wanted the ocean!

She kept calling... I finally answered. She was in tears. She was panicked. "Where are you? Have you really left me? Won't you please come back? I can't do this without you? I'm so sorry. What am I supposed to do? Can I come find you? Please answer me..."

I told her that I needed to be alone, that I wanted to be free of it all, that I wasn't ready to come home just yet, but I told her that I would come home at some point.

My heart ached. I had really hurt her and panicked her and caused her more pain for my actions, for my issues. I didn't want to hurt her. But, despite my hurt pride, it did feel so good to hear her voice and her desires to want me back.

I settled down. I didn't pack my bags and drive to California. I slowly got dressed and said a prayer and felt totally empty inside. I started down the mountain into a canopied grove where six... yes... six hummingbirds fluttered over my head. I looked up and saw the sunlight stream through the leaves and the birds buzzing around me almost looking at me and communicating with me, and I felt lifted... it wasn't really an answer to my prayer of where to go or what to do, but more a message of hope and assurance that I wasn't alone, that SOME things are a lie, but not EVERYTHING is a lie, that He is there and understands me and is mindful of me and will continue to be with me and with my wife and with this "issue".

We reconciled and we've started over. How many times must we go through this?
I shared this with my therapist. He was impressed at my journey of being "free of it all" and stripping naked. It was very symbolic of my burdens of the facade I carry, of the lies I live. He saw the hummingbirds as something very spiritual, very real and confirming. I don't think I'll be able to look at hummingbirds again without thinking of this roller coaster of emotions... ending with a sense of resolve and peace... definitely a "tender mercy".
More to come...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Therapy homework...

This has probably been the longest or nearly the longest since not blogging. I certainly have a lot of emotion going on and no lack of topics to write about, but I am really struggling to get it out of me and onto the page.

I told my therapist that I wasn't blogging anymore. He was intrigued with that new development and saw it as possibly that as I'm trying to internalize things more, I don't need "Beck" as much as in the past. However, he strongly encouraged me to continue writing and to blog and sees this as a good thing.

Speaking of my therapist, (and I really like him and enjoy talking and sharing my life and experiences and circumstances with him - and I'm super comfortable in doing so - though I'm still very skeptical that it will ever amount to anything) in my follow-up visit this week, he has given me three assignments:

1. I am to keep a "guilt log". Every time I feel guilt, I am supposed to write down the circumstance and how I feel and why I feel guilty. He is fascinated, it seems, in breaking down my guilt and trying to get me to realize that guilt is part of the "facade" that I've created around me and I need to break down those facades. I'm not sure of the "how" I'm to do that just yet, but I am being the "good student" and am faithfully keeping my guilt log.

2. I am to keep a "hiding log". Every time I hide something from my wife or others, particularly in being ashamed of being gay, or in doing a gay-type thing and not wanting her or others to know about it, then I am supposed to write it down. I'm not sure how he is supposed to use this information, as my entire life is an exercise of "hiding".

3. Take some of his suggestions for embracing my passions and wholeness and authenticity and try to outline steps of how to do this. I thought HE was supposed to tell me how to do this, not me. I mean, where is this magic pill that gets me to where I want to go?

He likes that I have already outlined my wants and desires and goals. He also is very impressed with my ability to deal with my homosexuality and my mixed-oriented marriage as well as I have and finds my life quite unique and commendable. I don't know if he's patting me on the back or what, because I don't feel unique and commendable in the least.

So, what do you think? Should I keep going to therapy? Is there a reason for this? Why can't I do this on my own? Why do I need him to listen to me? Don't you all listen to me? Isn't that good enough?


A lot has developed with my marriage as well... some good, some bad, some very ugly... I may decide to blog about these things, but not just yet... A week ago Friday was ugly - really ugly, leading to a discussion of divorce or separation. We reconciled later in the evening, but things are tense. More on that later...