Friday, September 04, 2009

Touch celibacy...

I've been trying to focus on my wife and make her part of my daily thought process. Of course she is, but instead of just coexisting, I'm trying to make her "in" my thoughts and do things for her, little things that help her to know that I'm thinking of her, wanting her in my life, needing her with me.

I don't want this to sound mean, but it's work. It isn't as spontaneous as I want it to be. I have to actually work at it instead of just do it. Is that bad? Shouldn't this be more natural? Why is this so hard? Not in a bad way - just not as natural as I would want it to be.

For the most part, it is good...

But, this swearing off meeting / visiting / lunching w/ fellow MOHOs is driving me nuts. (NOTE: Do you realize how hard this has been to give these up? I've really found these connections worthwhile, helpful, life-changing in my attitudes about my inhibitions and insecurities - becoming more confident in myself, in who I am, even in my body image and in doing things that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing prior to these meetings - more on that later....)

I've told her that I will not meet anyone without her knowing and without her approval. As I'm trying to develop trust, and re-earn her faith in me (that I'm really not going anywhere, nor do I desire to leave her), I've decided that I will be a "good boy" and not venture out... and this includes no meetings / talks / hang out with straight guys, too, particularly those I'm attracted to... and this even counts no body-hugging or cuddling at church. (NOTE: Do you realize how hard it is to see Will in church and not stare at him, not touch him? And then to talk to him, even briefly in passing, and try to act normal like nothing is wrong, and still not stare at him, not touch him? not even rub his arm or his back? ARRRGGGHHH... I'm not sure that he even has noticed any change in my behavior - he was always so willing to hug me (even our infamous body hugs that started this whole touch celibacy thing I'm doing) - but like a typical straight guy, he's probably totally oblivious to anything going on at all, or the tension I'm feeling for not being able to touch him - and since I'm no longer initiating the physical contact and hugs, he's not initiating them either. I was always the initiator and he was the willing receiver. Alas, he's just a stupid straight guy - totally oblivious!!!).

None... nothing... niente...

It's been nearly three weeks since I've hugged another man... (not counting the three-tap-on-the-back priesthood hugs that my high priest group leader gives me) and so far so bad. I really want a hug today! I mean, I really, really need one! I really want to feel a man in my arms, just to connect, to breathe in the other person, to feel alive.

And yet, it's been good to realize how hard it has been for her to see this, to know this has been going on, and to be deceived by it... how hard it has been for her to know that her husband is attracted to men and now realize that he always will be... and how hard that is to know that her husband has been emotionally unfaithful and has been deceptive about it... yes, it has been very hard on her, too.

It's good that I'm working at this, but how long can someone like me hold on? Is this right? Is this fair? Some have suggested that this is wrong of her to ask this of me. Some have even said that she is not attempting even to understand my "needs" by requesting this cutting off all physical contact with guys. I ask you to hold judgment, to give her some slack, and to let me try to reconfirm our relationship and her trust in me... after all, it was I who lied / held back the full truth (while still telling the truth) and yet allowing omissions to make her think other than what really was going on. It is something I am trying to correct... and that takes some time.

But for how long?


MoHoHawaii said...

I don't see what good can come of having your wife control every lunch date you might set.

Your last series of posts kind of pushed my buttons, so I hope you'll forgive a personal rant. One of the things I find absolutely pathological about the LDS Church is its presumption that the homosexual spouse in a MOM is always in the wrong. This attitude gives the straight spouse a sense of entitlement that can do a great deal of damage to a marriage. Your wife feels very confident in making one-sided demands of you-- she knows that if this ever gets out to bishop or ward members that she will be the blameless victim and you will be the deserter. No matter what the facts actually are.

The fact that your wife is disgusted by gay people generally is a big part of the problem. Her discomfort with who you are is her issue. It's hurting your marriage.

Change is in the air. She can either hop on board and go with you (hopefully to a healthier, more secure marriage) or stay behind. Her recent demands are a discouraging sign.

I probably should not post this, but I hope you have enough history with me to take this rant in context.

Bravone said...

It seems to me that there should be some middle ground here. This summer, 3 or 4 of my gay friends have stopped by our house on their way somewhere. We have always hugged as they arrived and departed. My wife knows that I need it and doesn't feel threatened by it. She hugs them too. It is just a thing we do that seems pretty natural.

I understand the need for trust, but bottling things up is partially what created the unhealthy situation in the first place. I love your wife, but I'm having a hard time with this one.

Beck said...

MOHOH: I do understand you and we do have a relationship over the years where I can take your "rant" in context! Don't worry about it. In fact, I treasure that you would feel so inclined to post and rant, because I know that you sincerely care for me and want what's best for me.

That said, know that this isn't a homophobic permanent ultimatum going on it. Some of it is a reaction to, and a healing process from the deception and dishonesty that has been going on (much more so than her "discomfort" with homosexuality). And much of this "touch celibacy" is self-inflicted, meaning, it is my way of saying that I recognize her pain and I want to show her that I am serious in saying that I want to focus on her right now.

Everything has a time and a season. We are making progress, and I would hope that someday soon, the repair can be made from the damage that my deceipt has caused and that in time, I can move into relationships and touch-openness, with integrity and honesty.

Now.... what I really need are suggestions of how to do that. What I really want are ways to invite her into my world of friends and fellow MOHOs and do so in a way that does not threaten her.

Any suggestions?

Beck said...

BRAVONE: Thanks, too, for your sincere concern and love for me.

I know the "middle ground" is where we will end up, at least that's the goal. I know that she is becoming much more comfortable with me "chatting" and "blogging" etc. and that was a stumbling block just a few weeks ago... so these things take time.

Part of my "touch celibacy" is to pay for my indiscretions... to ease my conscience and my sense of guilt. My therapist is trying to help me through my guilt and to rid my life of this guilt.

Innocent hugging and affection between fellow MOHO friends is one thing, and it's a beautiful thing, and I think she can see this and not be afraid of it or homophobic.

But, what about when such hugging and affection begin to cross the line into the realm of real emotional attachment and romance? Don't you think your dear sweet and understanding wife would begin to have an "issue" with your relationships at that point?

That's what I'm dealing with... I've got to find that line, that very fine line, that allows such relationships without destroying fidelity and trust in marriage, while satisfying a real emotional and even romantic need that goes beyond friendly embraces.

Do you understand better now?

Scott said...

You say that you've "told her that [you] will not meet anyone without her knowing and without her approval." The "without her knowing" is 100% absolutely and completely the way it should be. "Without her approval" is where things get tricky...

I don't think that it's right to go out and do things that my wife blatantly disapproves of... unless I honestly feel that my reason for doing the thing is better than her reason for disapproving of it. And when I make such a judgment, I have to tread carefully, because I need to trust that she will trust my judgment, and not see my actions as rebellion simply for the sake of rebellion, but that she will instead try to understand why I would go against her wishes and learn to accept my decision--even if she still disapproves of it.

Case in point: church activity... This may not be as big an issue as it was a few weeks ago, after our recent encounter with the bishop, but Sarah and I don't see eye-to-eye on several aspects of church activity (not limited to simple meeting attendance). I have made some decisions over the last few months that she has disapproved of or even been disappointed in, but that have felt like the right decisions for me. In making these choices I have tried to take her feelings into account, but I have also paid attention to my needs and my own emotional/mental/spiritual health. Sarah has demonstrated yet again what an amazing person she is as she has tried to understand the reasons behind the choices I have made, and--even when she has been unable to fully understand, and even when she has still not approved of those choices--she has supported me in them.

Getting back to you and your wife... If your wife expects you to limit your activities to those that she approves of, and refuses to attempt to understand that your needs or choices might not always align with what meets her approval, then yes, I do believe that she is being unreasonable. As MoHoHawaii has said, it's far too common and far too easy in our culture for the straight spouse to put all of the blame and all of the responsibility on the gay one, and unfortunately far too often the gay one simply accepts the blame and responsibility. I worry that that's what's happening here.

Yes, it's true that you were dishonest with your wife for a few years, as you hid from her your participation in the MoHo blogging community and your meetings with various MoHos. She feels betrayed and you feel guilty and both of those feelings are probably proper to some extent given the circumstances.

But I don't think that you need to allow her feelings of betrayal or your feelings of guilt to direct you into unhealthy behavior, and I don't think that this "touch celibacy" that you describe is healthy--either for you or for your relationship with your wife. All I can see resulting from a continuation of this situation is more frustration and perhaps a growing resentment toward your wife for withholding from you the male touch that you need.

There has to be a healthy way for you to regain her trust, and you can't regain her trust on your own--she needs to be a willing and active participant, extending her trust to you so that you have an opportunity to demonstrate that you are worthy of it.

As I see it, your wife is trying to understand, but she's trying to understand from a certain perspective, and she's already absorbed every bit of detail and information that she can from that position. If she hopes to gain any more understanding (and she needs to, for this relationship to work) she needs to change her perspective. IMO that means meeting other MOM wives, but if there's some other way for her to find a different point of view, that's fine too--but I think it will need to be something that brings her out of her comfort zone and shakes up her way of thinking a little bit, because as long as she's comfortable she can keep believing exactly as she currently does, and nothing changes.

I hope I haven't said too much. You're in my prayers. [[HUGS]]

Bravone said...

"But, what about when such hugging and affection begin to cross the line into the realm of real emotional attachment and romance? Don't you think your dear sweet and understanding wife would begin to have an "issue" with your relationships at that point?"

Absolutely she would! I don't want that to happen either. That is where boundaries come into play as I recently blogged about.

Our lives of 'deception' are very similar except for one very huge difference. My loss of faith in God and all things religious made it easy for me to 'cross the line.' Not that I would recommend it, but I skipped right past the 'bromance' stuff and went straight to sexually acting upon my feelings.

When I finally dropped the bomb on my wife about my past, we were forced to deal with some very tough issues and make decisions about what we both wanted for our futures. Maybe having my life filleted before the world, (close friends, 2 high councils, stake presidency, bishopric, etc.) made it easier to deal with than how you are approaching it.

For us, it was 'an event' that threw us full force into facing the reality of the issue. For you, it has been a slower process, easing into it a little at a time. I think, as difficult as it was, I would rather take 'the throw it all on the table approach.'

I don't know if that makes any sense. I am glad you didn't do the stupid things I did though!

Abelard Enigma said...

It's natural for her to feel discomfort with your male to male affections. My wife shares her discomfort. After all, having a husband whose into guys certainly isn't the storybook marriage she once dreamed about. But, as long as you are in this "no contact without her knowledge/approval" mode then things may never change.

When I was in therapy, my therapist once said that my wife may need to be desensitized so that she isn't as uncomfortable. That is, I may need to, bit by bit, approach sensitive areas with her so as to help her get over her discomfort. Unfortunately, my therapy sessions ended abruptly and I never got a chance to explore this with him. Perhaps this might be something you can explore with your therapist.

The tricky part is that you may need to approach desensitization without her overt knowledge of that is what you are doing.

Bror said...

I don't know that my wife will ever be comfortable with me touching any male for what ever reason. She has made it clear that the thought of me being with another guy is disgusting. I have never hid anything MOHO from her. She knows everything. She is the one who found this blog for me. I don't pretend that it doesn't bother me because it does. So really I am in the same boat as you and I have been totally honest from the begining. All the good chips for being a good boy all these years don't even bring her any comfort. Maybe it will take more time. I don't know.
I hope your hugger doesn't get to rusty while on your "touch celibacy..." :)

Beck said...

SCOTT said: "... unfortunately, far to often, the gay one simply accepts the blame and responsibility..."

Yeah... and so?

I mean, I am the one who wouldn't accept myself for years. I am the one who hid this from her for years. I am the one who moved myself emotionally from her for years. I am the one who took it out on her for years. I am the one who started hiding my "coming out" process from her. I am the one who hid this blog and blogging community from her. I am the one who started having "bromances" behind her back... I am the one who has dumped this on her and given her this heartache that spans decades...

Don't you think I'm the one to blame here? What has she done? How is she to be responsible for any of this? What did she do? Where is her responsibility for all of this?

I know you are saying we need to do this together and she needs to be more "understanding" and "accepting", but really, taking her point of view, what has she done to be blamed for or take responsibility for?

If you think she should be blamed or responsible, then let me know... otherwise, I'm sorry, but I don't see it.

Regarding eliminating activities, I think it is a natural reaction of hers after understanding that her husband has a bromance going on. As much as I don't want to eliminate my activities, I have a hard time seeing any other alternative UNTIL I can set limits and boundaries that we both can agree to as a way forward. But, this takes time... so for now, for the last few weeks, I'm in a "touch celibacy" mode.

I don't see this as "forever", but for a season, to pause, to reflect, and to reconnect... and then maybe re-establish connections outside of marriage.

As for changing her perspective - she's trying. But, in her current mentality, she doesn't see the need or desire to run off to the MOHO party or meet other couples. She's a very private person. She doesn't talk openly to anyone about our personal lives, not even to her sisters, or even her mother, let alone fellow neighbors or Relief Society sisters. So, it is not in her nature to do so with MOHO couples and strangers. This isn't a natural extension of her comfort zone. Again, it's a timing issue... it takes time to warm up to, and be desensitized to these things that have taken years to build inside her... I don't demand an immediate acceptance or immediate desensitization. Maybe that's my guilt and shame coming through. The more I think about it, I am still feeling too much guilt to take the high road and demand such acceptance from her when I'm still struggling with my own acceptance.

Beck said...

BRAVONE: Our "deceptions" might be similar, but our "events" are totally different. Yet, the hurt, the deception, the lying, the guilt, the deliberate misunderstandings are the same.

Maybe I'm a coward in not just laying it out on the table all at once. Maybe I was truly born without a backbone and can't do it that way. Maybe this piece-meal approach is more drawn out and painful (particularly for some of you to watch - like watching the drama of paint drying!) but it's the way I've fallen into doing it.

Beck said...

ABE: Thanks for commenting and finding me again over here in this "private" zone of the bloggosphere. I hope you can hang around a bit more. I miss you!

As for desensiting her, I think that is a valid approach. I think if she were to meet other MOHO couples and see the "normalcy" of others in similar situations (can I actually say that we in this community are "normal"?) that would help with the desensitized process. I think that is where Scott and Bravone are nudging.

Maybe Scott and Sarah and Bravone and his wife and my wife and I (and you and your wife when you just happen to pass through Utah or we pass through Dallas) can get together and hang out and be "normal" together.

There would be a need for an occasion where "couples who get it and are comfortable with the gay issues and with husbands having touching freedom and bromances on the side" can have a night out on the town together to desensitize my wife...but I'm not sure how to make that happen, as much as I love it to happen.

She isn't very social. She doesn't desire "other couples" to relate to in her life. That isn't a natural response of hers. So, I've got to overcome that tendency as well as the desensitized issue...

Yes, I'll bring it up with my therapist, but right now I'm not finding him very helpful. He is very sensitive to me, but doesn't give me tools to help her to be desensitized to her fears of the situation.

So what does anyone suggest? I'm meeting with him next week. What should I ask?

Beck said...

BROR: I've been a "good boy" for my entire life. I've never dropped my pants, but I have opened my heart. That is my guilt. I've allowed myself to be emotionally and even romantically involved, even if that has been more implied than real. She doesn't trust that I will be able to keep my emotions and romantic desires in tact. If I were able to demonstrate that I can, I would be more assertive. In reality, I don't trust myself either. In the right situation, I can see myself quickly slipping into an emotional and romantic attachment with a guy *snap* just like that!

It's just the way I am... so, all the brownie points for my good behavior don't amount to anything when I'm that vulnerable.


Beck said...

P.S. I refuse to get my hugger "rusty". It's just to natural for me to be touchy-feely. I have to reach out and touch - I will get my hugger lubricated up here sooner than later, I'm sure... :)

Abelard Enigma said...

If you think she should be blamed or responsible

Why does anybody have to be blamed or responsible?

Yes, you did keep this a secret from her - but let's be honest, you were also keeping it a secret from yourself for most of that time. And, once you did accept it for yourself then you needed time to process and figure out how to best proceed. Did you make the best decisions in that process? Perhaps not. But, it seems to me the only valid thing you can blame either yourself or your wife for is being human.

It is what it is - a woman and a gay man united in holy matrimony. It's certainly not an ideal storybook marriage - but honestly, does such a thing even exist in real life?

I just don't think wallowing in self blaming is going to accomplish anything. Neither will trying to blame her. But, maintaining the status quo isn't the right answer either. Somehow you need to figure out how to move forward. And, your wife may not want to move forward - you may have to drag her along for a bit until she can begin moving forward on her own.

Something your wife needs to consider: Perhaps she isn't staying married in spite of you being gay - maybe she's staying because you are gay. Maybe it's your gayness that is the very thing she was attracted to in the first place and which she is still attracted to - she just wasn't able to put her finger on it or give it a name. After all, we do make the most fabulous husbands :)

btw, if you don't feel like you're getting anything out of your therapy sessions then find a new therapist! He may be a nice guy and all - but you're paying him to help you. If you're not getting the help you need then find someone else who can help you.

Maybe Scott and Sarah and Bravone and his wife and my wife and I (and you and your wife when you just happen to pass through Utah or we pass through Dallas) can get together and hang out and be "normal" together.

Sounds great. Let's see, the next time I anticipate coming to Utah is spring 2012 when my son graduates from BYU-I - shall we make it a date? :)

Philip said...


Just a jumble of thoughts...

Wasn't it Popeye that said "I yam what I yam"?

The way I see it the more I tried to be someone I was not the more difficult it was for me and, in the long run, the more difficult it was for our marriage.

On the other hand, the more I was myself then the more at peace I was and, in the long run, the better it was for our marriage.

Eventually, my wife came to see that there was a benefit in letting me be me.

For years my wife felt too threatened to let me be me. As the years went by, I felt more and more overwhelmed. The urgency to be me became greater and greater.

Ironically, separation saved our marriage. During that time I was able to form open and honest relationships with others and learn that being gay is so much more than just about sex. I realized being gay was mainly about who I related to best; about intimacy and love and friendship. I realized I could be gay all the time; not just when I was in bed with another man.

So now I can be me most of the time within certain limitations of course.

So yes being married means compromise but marriage won't work if you have to compromise yourself too much.

Another huge problem was guilt. I felt guilt because I was not the kind of husband I wanted to be.

But eventually I realized that I couldn't change who I was; not the big things about intimacy, not even the small stuff. What I brought into the marriage was still basically all I had to offer years later. Maybe a little more experienced but I am still the heterosexually challenged 21 year old my wife married.

The guilt didn't let up until I realized that "I thought she thought" I was not a good enough. Then it dawned on me that that was not for me to say; that decision belonged only to my wife.

And it turned out my wife, for the most part, was happy with her husband and over time had grown to realize that it was beneficial to her to accept the gay part of me as much as she could.

So what's my advice?

Be yourself as much as you can. Be sensitive to your wife's needs but respect your feelings as much as hers. Your wife should decide for herself what she needs/wants out of the marriage. You should decide for yourself what you need/want out of the marriage.

I am probably missing something obvious here but I will post again if it comes to me later.


Philip said...

Of course, as soon as I posted, I remembered the obvious thing I missed...

Your wife might be like my wife.

My wife did not get comfortable with my being gay until I took steps to get comfortable with my being gay.

First, I came to realize I had avenues for expressing my sexuality other than hoping into bed with another man.

I then was able to express my sexuality in ways that didn't threaten her.

Then, because I was able to who I am most of the time, I blossomed and she saw that there were benefits to her to letting me be me.

Over time she got more and more comfortable.

There is one more thing...there was a taboo that I think held my wife back. Once she was exposed to my gay friends, the taboo aspect went away. Basically, once the taboo was challenged, my wife realized gay people are just people and it went away.


Abelard Enigma said...

I then was able to express my sexuality in ways that didn't threaten her.

I am very much intrigued by this statement - please elaborate.

Beck said...

ABE: I want it to be clear that I am not beating up on myself as much as I'm trying to see her point of view and be understanding of the pain that she has endured through all of this turmoil. It is not so much that I am at fault or to blame, as it is that she has been innocent of blame.

I don't want to portray the picture that she is uncompromising or not willing to understand - for it is just the opposite.

Nor do I want to portray that I'm reverting back to the days of self-hatred and self-loathing. I am not. Let me be clear - I am not.

What I am doing here is trying more earnestly to see her side and understand her feelings as she grasps more of the picture of what is going on.

This "touch celibacy", by the way, is self-imposed. No ultimatum has been issued from her lips as much as my willingness to do so on my part to show my seriousness and intent to be honest and trustworthy.

Beck said...

PHILIP: Your comments vibrate inside me. They make sense. They are striking a chord of understanding!

I need to have her become comfortable with my being gay as I become comfortable being gay. I think I'm still uncomfortable (due to social / cultural / religious reasons) with embracing this. As much as I say I am, I still hesitate and am not confident in myself.

But as I become more confident and comfortable, and as she sees me embrace myself and the gay parts, even with gay friends being part of my life, and the magic of touch coming back, and as she sees it as good, the better it will be.

So be myself! Don't allow circumstances to put me into a "touch celibacy" and "retreat" pattern. I get it.

But, like Abelard, will you elaborate on how you were able to express your sexuality in a non-threatening way to your wife?

For, for me, this is still a major source of threat for my wife.

Please be more specific in HOW you were able to do this...

Thanks for your comments and constant great insights!

Kengo Biddles said...

I have to say I get frustrated at Miki at times because I feel like I can't have any sort of interaction with anyone without her possibly construing it as me philandering in some sense of the word.

She's gotten a lot better as our marriage goes on. She knows that my touches to anyone are not anything more than me being touchy.

Philip said...

Abe and Beck: will you elaborate on how you express your sexuality in a non-threatening way to your wife?

I'm having trouble organizing my thoughts so I'm going to do a brain dump.

First, nowadays I am gay all the time; not just when I sneak off for a couple of hours to a gay support group or a gay bar once or twice a month.

To feel gay all the time is wonderful and all I had to do was to go from totally closeted to not closeted at all.

And it only took me about twenty years to do that.

The first ten years or so I made extremely slow progress yet I dismissed any suggestions that I come out any more than I already had.

I didn't see what good being more out would do.

I didn't realize I was in survival mode.

Than I separated from my wife and had no reason to not come out more so I came out a little bit than a little bit more than a lot.

And I made tremendous progress in a few short years.

So Lesson #1 is if you want to make quick progress to being gay all the time then you have to come out enough so you can get out of survival mode and join the rest of humanity.

Second, once I was out more, I realized the gay me was pretty much the same as the straight acting me except so much freer.

So Lesson #2 is that you are not going to morph into anything weird.

Third, once I was out more, I realized that overwhelming urgency that I always felt was not for sex but for male intimacy.

So Lesson #3 is being gay is much more than just about sex -and- that means you can express your sexuality in many ways not just one.

Specific non-threatening things I have done is do things with gay friends; form close relationships with other men; do charitable work in support of the gay community; be there for other gay/bi men and women.

Fourth, what is non-threatening is really up to you and your wife and some negotiating will probably have to go on.

For instance, somes wives are OK with their husbands kissing other men while my wife is only OK with me hugging my friends (initially she was only OK with handshakes).

So Lesson #4 is that monogamy is whatever you and your wife define it to be and every couple probably defines it a little differently.

Fifth, once I was able to express my sexuality in non-sexual ways, the urgency stopped being overwhelming.

This doesn't mean I don't have my days.

But I can say it's a lot easier though not easy.

So it's counter-intuitive but Lesson #5 is that your wife will start to see the benefit in supporting your sexuality instead of fighting it.

I am getting tired so I'm going to do just one more...

Sixth, my constant confusion and inability to sort out my feelings made the internal conflict I was in so much worse.

However, once I was able to interact openly and honestly with others, I started learning things about myself that my peers had learned way back in their pre-teen and teen years.

So Lesson #6 is that, besides the many other reasons, coming out is important because the closet short circuits your socialization and coming out allows you to learn the many things about yourself that can only be learned by interacting openly and honestly with others.

Once the confusion started to lift, a lot of the conflict resolved itself and I started to blossom. Again, my wife saw the benefit in supporting rather than fighting my sexuality.

Good Night!


Philip said...

Abe and Beck,

I would be remiss if I didn't say that I think age plays a factor.

Monogamy was be a whole lot more difficult in my 30's than in my 40's and near impossible in my 20's at the height of my sex drive.

Actually this is a note for the 20 and 30 somethings that might be reading what I just posted.