She listened to my words. She tried to internalize them. She sympathized. She accepted the premise that my having gay friends and "connections" would be a good thing for our marriage.
I promised to be honest about such gay friends and "connections", no longer hiding and living in secret double-life encounters, and receive her permission-of-sorts to do those things which we both deemed acceptable and comfortable.
A "connection" with a gay friend was arranged with mutual acceptance and comfort, restricted a bit by what kind of activity was tolerable and reasonably accommodated by both parties...
But, when I ACTUALLY DID go forward with the said pre-approved "connection", the end result was nothing but hurt and pain.
"I know you were upfront about it and honest with me, but I didn't think you'd actually do it!"
"I'm confused," I stood there baffled and dumbfounded at the grief and pain I had unintentionally or obliviously inflicted on her, "I thought we talked about this and you were okay with it - otherwise I wouldn't have gone."
"I know... I know, but I didn't think you'd actually do it. Don't you realize the pain this is causing me watching you DATE other men? Do you want me to start DATING other men?"
"Of course not. But having good friends is a good thing, right? And, by the way, this isn't "dating"! I stated emphatically, trying to put my foot down on a huge misconception.
"Well, it feels like you're dating to me!"
"It was just lunch - it was like a business lunch."
"But what business do you have together? What is driving you to meet together? Isn't that you want to satisfy your attraction needs with another man?"
And so... there you have it.
As much as she wants to understand, as much as she wants to bend and compromise and allow my freedom to "connect", she can't get past the idea of my "dating" other men.
AARRGGHHH! It's not dating (am I?). I'm not courting him (am I?). I'm not courting anyone. I'm not trying to be romantic with him (am I?). I'm not seeking romance (am I?)... maybe bromance... but it's not the same, right? Am I right? Come on... tell me what you think!
Because right now, I'm feeling like one-on-one "connections" with two gay men on a semi-regular basis, from a wife's perspective, does sound a lot like "dating". And though dating behind the back seems immoral and full of infidelity, dating honestly in front of her, though not immoral, does seem a bit hurtful. Role reversals are great here, and yes, I'd say she would be "dating" if she had done the same.
But at the time, it didn't feel immoral or wrong or unfocused on my marriage. In fact, we ended up talking about our marriages and families and our desires to be better fathers and husbands. It felt good... nothing but good!
And then I go to Priesthood Leadership Meeting on Sunday early morning and endure all three members of the Stake Presidency speaking on "Fidelity in Marriage!" They wanted our suggestions for future discussions in quorums regarding this subject and I wanted to jump up and shout "What does a gay guy have to do gain trust in his wife such that having friendship connections with other gay guys won't be perceived as infidelity?" but, (heavy sigh) I didn't...
So, two steps forward and 1-3/4 steps back. I guess that is still 1/4 step forward, right? And at least now we are talking about it instead of hiding it. The dishonest behavior is gone, but if what is left is just hurt and pain - where's the progress in that?