Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm perpetually stuck!


I am intrigued and I must admit that I’m a bit surprised and I don’t understand it.

I tried to put together a list of really positive things that are happening in my life with my “lessons learned” series trying to demonstrate how a mixed-oriented marriage could survive and even thrive, and I get three comments from the community.
I then proceed to articulate about one item that isn’t working as well as the others and I end up receiving (gratefully I might enthusiastically add!!) tons upon tons of comments offering advice and support (the second most amount of comments in my 4+ years of blogging with only my introducing “Thomas” , my Italian more-than-friend , receiving more input and postings). Why is this? Is it the rubber-necking philosophy of life where we much prefer witnessing a train wreck about to happen than a train zipping by in normal monotony?


That noted, I’ve tried to group the advice I’ve received about my desires to still need male connection and freedom to express myself naturally and “normally” with other men, while still abiding by some sense of decorum within my marriage, and not being able to do so. I am at a point of blockage… I can’t seem to go forward or backward. I sense a stagnation of immense proportion. I am stalemated. I am stymied. I am stuck!


The combined wisdom of this MOHO blogosphere has produced the following. I have grouped them into broader categories:

NOT YOUR FAULT / OUT OF YOUR CONTROL:

1. Your wife’s insecurity is the bigger issue that you can’t control, not her lack of trust in you.
2. Stop feeling guilty about the past. It is what it is. Move on and stop dwelling on who did what or didn’t do what in the past.
3. Stop blaming yourself for the way she feels.

CONTENTMENT WITH HERE AND NOW:

1. Be content with where you are.
2. Enjoy what you have.
3. You need to have her “put up with” you verses you “sucking it up” and enduring and being okay with where you are.

HONESTY / ILLUSIONS:

1. Tell her how you really feel.
2. You are hiding your true feelings. Be honest!
3. Stop lying to her – she doesn’t get what it means to be “gay” because you hold back and don’t let her know what’s going on.
4. Stop protecting her. It’s cheap and unforgiving.
5. You’re living an illusion. The status quo isn’t good enough – it’s dishonest.

THINGS SHE NEEDS TO DO:

1. Your wife needs to try more to understand what it means to be gay.
2. She needs to accept ALL of me.
3. She needs to deal with her low self-esteem and self-worth and insecurity.
4. She needs to meet other gay guys to become more comfortable and less afraid of the situation.
5. Your wife needs to understand, even though it’s hard, that there is a place and need for you to have male companionship.
6. She needs to be willing to talk to another wife who is going through this.
7. She is jealous. This jealousy has led to her wanting “all of me” and not being willing to share. She needs to be willing to share.

THINGS I NEED TO DO:

1. Live life! Get on with it!
2. Stop feeling guilty.
3. Negotiate a compromise of some freedom and privacy that can lead to good things.
4. Seek a healthy balance.
5. Stop being “all or nothing” in your approach.
6. Need to find social connections of bonding – bonding with other men is essential and nurturing to the soul.
7. Get to the point where you can have healthy guy time verses seeking dating.
8. You need connections that are positive for both of you.
9. Take her away for the weekend and share this series of posts with her helping her to know how you feel.
10. Blog about it! Write! What do you really want?
11. Learn to have more trust in yourself. Build trust in yourself.

SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE:

1. Be alive without hurting the ones we love the most.
2. If you love, be willing to let go and set free and let fly. If it is real love, it will come back.
3. Find something between satiation and deprivation.
4. Don’t be so all-or-nothing.
5. We both need to worth for a common solution, not just one side giving and the other not.
6. Seek a healthy balance.

So… where does that leave me? What do I want?

What I want has not really changed much, but it has softened in the last year. I am happy, believe it or not, with much that is good in my life. I just want ALL of me to be happy, including the part of me that I feel I am holding back, hesitating to give expression, or denying the possibility of connection with others.


I want:

1. To be able to have a discussion about how I feel about my “needs” without it destroying her self-esteem or threatening her sense of where our marriage is going, or if I even still want to be married to her. This, I recognize, will require me to be more honest and having to face the fear of causing her stress and pain.
2. To be able to have her comfortable enough to be in a position where she sees good in my having these male non-romantic relationships. And I recognize that it is my duty to put these friendships in a way that they stay non-romantic (which will require me trusting in my own sense of propriety and boundaries).
3. To be able to have male friendships outside the stable ward family, even young guy friends, and gay friends and fellow MOHOs, which are positive, uplifting and mutually edifying.
4. To be able to have the freedom to explore these friendships without fear.
5. To do so with sensitivity to her and with honesty (not behind her back), but without a sense of guilt or mistrust.
6. To be able to express my emotions, affection, and need-for-touchness with other men without repercussion or interrogation. To be able to do so in front of her (not behind her back, or me looking constantly over my shoulder), but with sensitivity to her.
7. To be able to meet with these “friends” and not have it be considered a “date”.
8. To do all these things in a reasonable and semi-regular manner, but still placing priority to family and marriage.
9. To keep doing all the good things that I mentioned in the previous post about what is strengthening and sincerely improving our marriage.
10. To be able to do all this and find in me a deeper love for her in the process.


Is this possible?


I don’t think so.


The other night we were at a garden poolside wedding reception of one of my young men. He was a bit older and so, it was obvious that we would run into several of my other young men who were now married and moving on with their lives. And we did. At first it was a bit uncomfortable as three or four of them that I hadn’t seen for quite a few years now, came up to me one by one, and manhandled me into fierce and strong bromancy hugs! And all while my wife anxiously looked on as an uncomfortable observer. One of my young men (a tall and very strong one) grabbed me from behind and lifted me up off the ground and held me over the pool teasing me that he was going to drop me, all while I squirmed to be free of his grasp). It got to the point that my wife had had enough of this and left me to their horseplay and continued in the line, signed in the registry and moved on to the wedding party without me.

Once I got free of the man-vice body grip, and finished with the hellos and head slaps and special brotherhood handshakes, I caught her out of the corner of my eye way ahead, and I knew I was in “trouble”. I abruptly excused myself and worked my way through the line to where she was standing. Nothing was said, but it was obvious that she wasn’t feeling good about what was going on.


When we got to the bride and groom, I gave the bride a gentle hug and then slapped the groom in the head and then we warmly embraced. Afterward, I reach for my wife’s hand. Surprisingly, it was still there. "What?" I asked. We clasped but she said nothing. I could sense tenseness in her grasp.

"What was she thinking? Was I wanting to run away with the groom, or one of my young men and leave her and the bride behind?"


As we rounded the pool, she and I both spotted “Tim” and “Will” up ahead on the other side of the patio area. Tim and Will are well… I’ve blogged about them incessantly in the past, as they are the ones that helped me to see inside me for the first time, and opened me up to myself five years ago and needless to say; they continue to be a source of difficulty for my wife.


As we passed them from across the patio, I nodded slightly and winked at them in recognizing their presence. My wife asked me poignantly: “So are you going to go over there and start hugging them, too?”

“No,” I curtly responded, and I kept walking holding her hand and faking a smile. It was the way she said it, implying that I needed to be hugging everyone in the party, like that was something horrible to do.

“Do you want to have any refreshments?” she asked as we passed the patio of tables and food.

“No,” I again relied, “Let’s just go!”

So we got in the car and left. Nothing was said for a long time on the ride home. There was silence. I was feeling so upset that I find myself in this predicament. I did not seek any of this attention, hugging, or man-vice wrestling over the pool, etc. But, I really, really wanted to go hug Tim and Will, and their wives, and be social and free to do so without repercussions. And instead, all I could safely get out by way of communication was a wink and a nod. And that felt wrong.


“It isn’t fair!” I kept telling myself. “What have I done to get into this predicament?” I wondered as I drove impatiently down the canyon. “How can I get beyond this and back to a world of natural expression of affection and connection with my fellow men without feeling guilty or ashamed or embarrassed or worried about what she might be feeling or thinking?” And yet, I do worry about what she is feeling and thinking and I don’t want to cause any grief or pain for my actions… such an innocent thing, and yet, so poignant to me that I’m dying inside, unable to be who I am, who I want to be, who I know I am happier being than how I am now.


Thus, I am unable to connect the dots. I know what I want, but I don’t know how to get there from here. I can go back the way I was doing it in the past and do it behind her back, but then I become dishonest and mistrusting and I’ve gone down that road and it is a road to nowhere very quickly. I can be honest with her, but then all the feelings of hurt and anger and pain and insecurity and frustration and worry and guilt bubble to the surface and it’s too much to deal with and it adds so much unnecessary drama to our lives that it’s easier to just back off and say “forget the whole thing”, and then I go into the all-or-nothing mode of living – and in this case it is the “nothing” of having any contact with anyone in an open male friendship that isn’t with balding, fat and nearly dead high priests that are of no threat to anyone.


Where does that leave me? I’m like the hummingbird that was trapped in the vaulted ceiling of our bedroom yesterday morning. As much as we tried to help it escape out the balcony door swung wide open to freedom and survival, it resisted our encouragement, and kept flying in vain around the ceiling ridge with no way out, trapped and panicking. It could see the open door below and feel the air movement through it, but common sense was telling it that no way could there be success in flying down and out – the only way to freedom was to fly up! Yet there was no “up” - only the ceiling that held no trap door.

I’m that trapped hummingbird. I see and feel the breeze of what I want, but I can’t stop flapping my wings and beating my head against the ceiling.

I’m stuck!

37 comments:

Wyatt said...

Everything you do, every thought, every wish, every action, every glance, every smile, every worry, every joy you experience has a vibration.

Right now, the frequency of your vibration is low. It's guilt, it's shame, it's worry, it's fear it's doubt and it's selfishly addicted to the wants/needs of your wife's judgments.

Whatever your choice, however you decide to "follow your bliss" do so with high vibrational thoughts and feelings.

Feel like the success that you're seeking. Feel like the joy that you are. Be in alignment with your higher self.

With every thought and choice, deliberately create love and trust.

Beck said...

So the way to get what I want is just to do it! Be what I want? Do what would get me what I want?

"Selfishly addicted to the wants/needs of your wife's judgments" may be a true assessment of my condition. Is it selfish to want her to be happy, and sheltered from all this? Is it selfish of me or am I just afraid to be me and let what happens happen? Isn't it ultimately fear, and my inability to do what I want?

I think it is fear. I'm afraid of being me. I give a lot of lip service to it, but in reality, I'm scared of myself... if you call that low vibration, then I guess we're on the same page.

So, what I call "love" is really fear. I'd rather hide this and call it love for her and her wishes, than to call it what it really is - fear!

Rob said...

There's enough in this post for probably 5 different posts that could generate lots of discussion individually. Far too much to respond to at length.

I think you got fewer comments on your prior positive one because human nature is attracted to drama. If it bleeds, it leads. If you're doing well, most people will figure you don't need their input.

As to the rest of it, I think your own comment just above in response to Wyatt pretty much sums it up.

Ned said...

Have I told you that I'm continuing lose my hair and gain weight? As a "balding, fat and nearly dead high priest" I hope that I will threaten no one, but nonetheless enjoy friendships that help me find balance as a Moho in a long-term MOM marriage.

MoHoHawaii said...

Part of the problem is that your desire isn't for simple friendship; it's for sexualizedfriendship, i.e. friendship that includes some level of romantic attraction. That's why you make the distinction between attractive young men and other men who might provide fellowship or brotherhood or who might explore shared recreational interests with you. You actually want something quite different: you want emotional intimacy and passionate, romantic feelings with young men you find sexually appealing. Your history of singling out certain beautiful young men is significant.

Of course, you want these relationships without ever moving past casual, "clothes on" physicality that can take place in public at church or at an event like a wedding. Bromance is not a bad word for this kind of sexualized, passionate friendship. But let's be clear: Bromance is not the friendship that J G-W was speaking of when he commented on your earlier post. It's absolutely not what most people are talking about when they speak of enriching their lives with outside friends. What you are speaking of is the intentional development of unrequited limerence, a permanent social context for flirting and courtship that is never intended to be consummated.

No matter what your next steps are, I think being clear to yourself that your hunger is for a kind of romance rather than simple friendship is really important.

I admit that my understanding of your situation could be wrong, so take what I say with the requisite pinch of salt. But if I am right on this, then you may well be at a stalemate. It is very hard to introduce outside romance into a relationship that already is dealing with profound insecurities about romantic loyalties. If you did want to go ahead with this anyway, a practical suggestion might be to take your "I want" list and change each occurrence of "her" to "you" and then give it to your wife. Say what you want. Have the discussion. She might say no, but at least you've started talking. Being this direct with your wife may not be a realistic option because the thought of disclosing your desires to your wife terrifies you, possibly with good reason.

I can see why you feel stuck. I don't see the way forward unless something, and I don't know what that something might be, gives way and allows change to occur.

MoHoHawaii said...

I want to leave one more thought. In the anecdote you related, you ended up angry at your wife for holding you back. This kind of cold rage has a way of turning into to permanent resentment. It can absolutely derail a relationship. You may not want to have the "fight" over how free you are to interact with your young male friends, but not being frank about this comes with its own dangers.

One of the things Mormons are terrible at is handling feelings of anger and resentment in productive ways. I spent a number of years overcoming my own cultural programming to be agreeable in every situation. In some cases "nice" is anything but nice.

(Again, take this with a grain of salt if it doesn't apply to your situation.)

Adon said...

This is what it has boiled down to with me. If I was to be totally honest and open obout my gayness with her, which I already tried, and expecting her to understand or "suck it up", could I live without her in my life? I'm not willing to risk it. Not now.

mandi said...

It really really sucks to have half a man as a husband, but sometimes we would shortsightedly rather have half a man than find out what that other half is like. If she can't handle what you are, you may lose her. She may decide that she really doesn't like the whole you and take off. Then again, she may get over her fears and insecurities out of necessity and come to accept you, as well as herself.
There are a lot of women (myself included- at times) who would rather go back to living in the dark, as the light is painful to live in. But all I have to do is to look at Husband and see how bright and calm he is and see that there is goodness in the situation, and that I can be a part of it.
Nobody can decide what you should do, or what she should do. Only you with the help of God can do that. Stop listening to any voice other than His. Only then will you feel calm and not stuck.
If she ever gets to a point to talk to another "put upon wife" I'm here.

Kengo Biddles said...

Your wife understandably feels threatened. She hasn't had as much time to get used to the fact that you have the feelings but are devoted to her.

Your wife is wrong, though. You're not going to up and run with your young men. They're married. They're straight, and they're not looking for that kind of relationship.

She would be righter to worry about you if you were hugging MoHo's with the frequency and volume you do your young men, but frankly, she needs to take it down a notch and TRUST YOU.

Adon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adon said...

I made my last comment before I read your whole post before heading for church. You have expressed my feelings perfectly especially the last portion, the “want” portion. Your explanation of the wedding situation and your feelings about it were very succinct. If you were interested in talking with here about it, although it may be risky, let her read it. Print off the portions that you feel are appropriate so she does need to see the blog if she doesn't know about it. I can so empathize with you. Maybe we can communicate by email if you would like.

Wyatt said...

1 - you love attention
2 - you love drama
3 - you're awesome
4 - you wanting male contact/bromances is not what you really want. What you really want is a romantic and sexual relationship with a man. Big difference.
5 - you don't have control over your wife's self-esteem and you never will. Only she can feel good about herself and her life. Don't take on tasks you don't have control over.

Beck said...

ROB: Maybe I dumped too much in this one post, but I just wanted to get it out and written down, and over. Almost like an attempt to get it out of the way and package it up and put it away back on the shelf... (as if that's possible).

NED: I wasn't referring to you. You're in a category all your own!

Beck said...

MOHOH: Okay... you've been studying me over the years, and you have a great capacity to accurately read between the lines.

Yes, the issue isn't just connections of being able to be comfortable with men, or play organized sports or go on bike rides with them. It is much more... The stuckness of it all is where I do desire a romantic sexualized friendship without the sex.

You're right. I do not desire simple friendships. I don't want just associations. I want more. I crave and hunger for more. That is why I use the "bromance" word and that is where the problem occurs within our marriage because my wife understands the difference as well. There is a difference. This appetite for romantic connections and physicality with guys with whom the attraction is strong is enormous, and my inability to deal with it properly is the "stuckness" of it all.

I have "friends". I have work associates, and neighbor and quorum brothers. But, I don't have what I hunger for... and I DO recognize this and know what I'm addressing here. I've always known the difference. And in my world, it is hard to be able to have what I crave and maintain balance in my marriage at the same time... thus, the all-or-nothing attitude.

As to what needs to change or happen to make such a change be more open or acceptable to both of us remains to be seen.

I'm afraid of myself. I don't trust myself. And as much as I recognize this within myself, I seem to gravitate back to just putting it away and compromising, and settling for less, and withering inside...

As for your point about resentment, and bottling up things inside, my anger (this is too strong a term - it's more frustration) does need to be addressed so that the resentment doesn't get the better of us. Again, you are spot on, and I appreciate your accurate insights and your wisdom and concern.

Beck said...

ADON: It does come down to weighing the risks and determining the return net value of exposing such raw feelings. Yet, I can say that keeping this all from her isn't the way to go either. But, just dumping it on her isn't the way, either.

As for printing off these posts and trying to have her read them... I'm debating the wisdom in that. But something like that needs to happen - maybe these posts, which I use for my own analysis in a raw form, could be edited and shared.

MANDI: As another "put upon" wife out there, I am grateful for your perspective. The term "half a man" cuts to the core and hurts. Yet, it helps me to see the other side's point of view. I've tried to be the "whole man" for her this past year. I really have. And again, in many, many awesome ways, we have connected and been better together and I have been "whole" for her. And it's been good... so I need to remind myself of the goodness that has come from my being more than "half the man".

But, it still is aching and gnawing at me that it's still not enough.

I'll keep you in mind as we have our future discussions and the need of other "put upon wives" to dump on comes up.

Ned said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ned said...

Beck: Thanks for the clarification. As so many posts here indicate, It is sometimes lonely but sometimes wonderful to be in your own category. We are all different from each other and unique, but also so very much the same with the same needs to love and be loved, to eat, to drink, to live, to die and somehow know that we matter.

Beck said...

KENGO: As much as I do sexualize and romantisize the clingy needs of bromantic friendship that helps me to feel more alive and thriving, I'm not going off in the sunset with any of them, including MOHOs. But you're right that the MOHO connection may be more dangerous leaving the door ajar for that possibility where the YM have no such possibility.

It is a level-of-trust argument. Though I've shown a year of celibacy, the trust is still not there. The bigger point, however, is her insecurity in dealing with my hunger for something that doesn't focus on her, and may lead to my not wanting to ever focus on her again. Maybe living with "half a man" is better in her eyes than living with a "whole man" who no longer desires her at all.

WYATT:

1. Yes I do like attention. I hate to admit it, but I do. It makes me sound so needy and petty and immature... and maybe I'm all those as well as I've not been able to properly cope with the lack of attention in the manner I crave.

2. Yes, I guess I do, though it's painful to admit it. Maybe that's why I drag this out for eternity never reaching a conclusion because if I can't feed on the real thing, then "drama" is the next best thing?

3. Why do you say this? What makes me awesome? Especially when I'm refusing to embrace myself or my wife in living a vibrant life? How can you say that I'm awesome when I'm such a dunce at the way I'm living my life?

4. I don't accept that I want a sexual relationship with a man. I do accept that I sexualize and desire romantic physicality in a relationship with a man. Maybe I'm fooling myself and am making a distinction that is an undefineable fine line, but I don't think I crave "sex" with a man as much as attention, affection, and even romance. Is it possible to desire one and not the other? Or once a friendship is not just "friends" does the romanace, affection and attention lead naturally to sex?

5. Okay. So, I don't control how she feels and I'm not responsible for her esteem, low or high, but it certainly seems to me like I have a lot to do with helping her to feel better about herself instead of hurting that process, by what I do and say.

Gay Saint said...

This might sound weird, but have you considered counseling with someone who knows how to deal with these issues - both for you and your wife? It sounds like she doesn’t know what is appropriate for normal “straight” men to do, and blames you for having the exact same connections any two straight men would have because she’s afraid they mean more to you. It also seems like perhaps there is some truth to her worry.

I am in no place to offer counsel or advice, but I do know some amazing LDS counselors who work with MOMs. Email me if you want some contact info =).

Personally, I think this is just too big for you to work out on your own. Either you are going to end up being so repressed something will eventually explode, or she’s going to lose all trust in you.

MoHoHawaii said...

I'm impressed with how willing you are to look at this situation without flinching or minimizing what it is. Truly impressive.

You say: I don't think I crave "sex" with a man as much as attention, affection, and even romance.

I believe you. Here's the proof: you've been married for a long time and at no point have you had sexual relations with anyone other than your wife! You've never gone there. Yet, you have had a number of 'bromantic' friendships and crushes. Many of them over years, in fact. Bromance is your MO.

Beck, you have a lot to be proud of. You have made a real transition and have discarded many self-defeating attitudes. Take stock of this and appreciate the progress you've made. You may be stuck, but you're stuck at a higher plateau than you once were.

Scott said...

As I read your list of "what I want" the only thing that kept going through my mind was "he has no control over this. It's all about how his wife reacts, and only she can control that."

I was glad to see, at the end of the list, that you concluded that you "couldn't" have what you wanted--not "glad" for the situation (which frankly sucks), but glad for your understanding of the situation.

I worry that you've lost yourself... That your identity is entirely tied up in your wife, and in her happiness and emotional state. I don't believe that this is healthy or desirable.

We make a big deal in the church about "selflessness"--about putting others' needs (especially those of spouse and children) above our own. We believe that this is what God wants, since he told us to "love our neighbor as ourselves".

There's a problem with this. We all have legitimate needs (physical, emotional, spiritual) and we can't simply ignore these needs for the sake of others.

Speaking from my own experience: I was even more entangled with Sarah's needs and her happiness than you seem to be with your wife. I would be having a perfectly normal (and relatively happy) day, and then I would come home from work to find her unhappy (about anything--whether or not it had anything to do with me) and I would completely crash, emotionally. Any time she experienced any sort of negative emotion I felt like a failure as a husband for not doing something to prevent it.

I tried very hard to anticipate her needs, and I rarely let her do anything for herself. All she had to do was say "I'm hungry" (even just to herself) and I would immediately jump to my feet to fix her something to eat. I was never as good at fulfilling her emotional needs as her physical ones--but I certainly tried.

I never "hung out" with friends or went anywhere (socially, at least) without her. In the fifteen years of our marriage we have only been apart overnight a handful of times: a single business trip, two campouts with the boys in the ward when I was a Varsity coach, and a recent trip to San Francisco with just the older kids. Until recently, the few times I tried to do something without her--even just for an evening--I felt guilty for leaving her and for not including her in my life.

Not very long ago, I concluded that this relationship was unhealthy--both for me and for her. I wasn't allowing her to be the best person she could be (because I was doing far too much for her) and I didn't have my own identity, independent of her.

I started making a conscious effort to be less attached. I started going out with friends (or on my own) and mentally rebuked myself every time I felt guilty for doing so, and as I did this the guilt gradually diminished. I started allowing her to take care of herself, no longer jumping at the slightest indication that she needs something (I will still gladly fulfil direct requests for help, and I do still try to find ways to serve her, but I also try to let her take care of herself much more than she has in the past).

I feel like a new person. I'm much more "myself" than I've ever been. And Sarah is gaining a new sense of independence and from all I can she she's actually more consistently happy than she used to be.

(cont...)

Scott said...

Here's my new take on "selfishness" vs. "selflessness"... It's good and desirable to put others' needs on the same level as our own--but we should never elevate others' needs above our own, such that we ignore our own mental/emotional/spiritual health in the interest of "selfless service".

You can't make your wife happy. Only she can choose to be happy, and your desires and actions can only impact that happiness to the extent that she lets them.

You can make yourself happy. But only to the extent that you are having your basic needs (physical, mental, emotional) met.

I've been lucky. Focusing more on my own needs has not bred (much) anger or resentment in Sarah, when it could easily have done so. But even if it had, that anger and resentment would be hers to own.

It's possible that re-focusing on yourself will breed anger or resentment in your wife. But it's also apparent that losing yourself is breeding anxiety and a bit of resentment in you, and only you can do something about that.

Stay within whatever boundaries you feel are appropriate. Avoid situations that would compromise your values and morals. But do what you need to do to meet your needs, and let your wife decide how she'll react to your choices. She may choose unhappiness, but if you have chosen otherwise, then at least one of you will be happy, and from what I can see that will be an improvement on your current situation.

[[HUG]]

Beck said...

GAYSAINT: I've tried counseling twice, but always alone, never with my wife. It may be time to have a go with it together, but that would mean we'd have to honestly share our feelings and survive that honesty. Still not sure if we're ready for that, but I do feel I am working above my pay-grade to work this out on my own. If I could feel some assurance that there was some "right" person out there that could pave a way to a reasonable solution / compromise, I'd consider it, but so far it seems that counselors are there to listen and listen and listen and not really say anything of substance in return. I want feedback and hard facts and proven paths of action. I'm not sure that such things exist out there in the psychology profession.

MOHOH: Yes, it's a higher plateau, and I can see above the fog, but there is still fog ahead. I appreciate your confidence and words of encouragement. At times, it is helpful just to be understood, and I feel you do understand me. I don't need or seek praise, but I do need understanding.

I do feel that I am in control of my actions (I'm not running off with the hottie down the street even if I say that I want to). I am able to function and be a good father, husband, provider, church leader, community player, etc. and do so with sanity, maturity and propriety. I am in a good place for the most part. We do have discussions and we are working through things much better than the past. Part of this assessment included the "good" that is happening.

I just always want more and that includes the freedom to "bromance" as my standard MO... If I could get back to that mode with good balance and borders established that she can live with without destroying her esteem, then things would be really good.

I'm not going to sleep around. But playing group sports doesn't meet the need either. It's definitely somewhere in between, and sometimes more 'sexual' than I've implied in the past. It's been a good step to realize that I need "sexualized" friendships and I openly admit that. That is what I'm addressing here.

So I'm at a plateau... I'll try to breathe it in.

Beck said...

SCOTT said: "... he has no control over this. It's all about how his wife reacts, and only she can control that."

I imagine myself being in control. By denying myself bromancing experiences, I am in control of my actions that maintains the status quo. But you're right... I don't control her actions or reactions, and I am responding to the path of least resistance in avoiding confrontation when it comes to relationships of the kind I seek.

I try to meet her needs, and I know when she's happy, the whole family is happy. Isn't that good? Who cares if I'm completely happy? So what if a part of me is dying inside? Can I really do anything about it? Not really. Not without traversing a path that is full of land mines and boulders.

And isn't it "selfish" of me to put my needs above the betterment of the family as a whole? And isn't it good to "sacrifice" something good for something better? Isn't that the real definition of "sacrifice"?

I see your independence from Sarah and Sarah's steps to become independent from you as a result... but I'm not sure that independence will lead to a good place for me and for my family.

Say I get to the point where I'm not making all my decisions based on what her response will be and that I'm doing what meets my needs. Say I do get to the position of having sexualized / non-sexual friendships - in the end, do they lead on a path to my marriage being better? Or do I lose one thing for the gain of the other?

Is it worth it to "vibrate" (quoting Wyatt) at the risk of all else? Is all else worth it to counterbalance less vibration? I guess that's what I need to evaluate.

Adon said...

Geesh, this so complicated. When I read all of these comments, I twist one way and then then other.

I can feel and understand everyone of your emotions while he you wrestle with this. Although I don't always feel that part of me is dying inside, I do get so hungry when I see some young guy at church or elsewhere. I want to see his naked body and touch him...But I feel I made a promise to someone I deeply love, a commitment, to my wife.

I cant do what Scott says, " We all have legitimate needs (physical, emotional, spiritual) and we can't simply ignore these needs for the sake of others."

Yes we can!! We just have to "man up" as they say. Or at least I do.

I am basically happy in my marriage. I just get "hungry" for some other things sometimes. If I go after satisfying that hunger at the price of my marriage, I will acomplish two things.

(1)I would no longer be living the life that I am now living, meaning a part of me would die.

(2) I would spend the rest of my life looking for a different kind of happiness which might not be available or attainable. I would would be chasing a phantom dream of finding a lasting loving relationship with the type of man that I am "hungry" for. People spend lifetimes searching for "special someone" that fits their needs. I already have. I married her and I have made commitments that I can not break because I want something "more". I think I would live to regret it.

But I still get the "hungries".

Beck said...

ADON: I don't think we are that far apart. I am not seeking a relationship that will find me going off into the sunset with a guy in my arms. That isn't it. I am happy and committed to my marriage and to the covenants I've made and have promised myself to my wife. This is not in question.

What I'm after is being able to have the freedom to express my emotions and feelings and affection for male friends without feeling guilty for doing so, and with her understanding and acceptance... that's it! I'm not after some romance that doesn't exist and I'm not seeking the end to my marriage. I just need to be able to be free to express myself as I feel comfortable in doing so, and feeling a bit alive in my small way.

I know it's complicated and I almost wish I never brought up the subject. I should have left good enough alone and posted only on the good things. But here I am muddying the water, unable to articulate clearly what I want. It's as confusing as tax reform legislation...

I don't want either of the situations you describe. They seem to have no future of any hope in either scenario. I should be grateful for the bounty that is mine now and be satisfied, and deal with the "hunger".

I'm sorry I stirred the pot.

ARRGGHHH!

playasinmar said...

So you're stressing that you can't control your wife's insecurity?

The insecurity you created?

Is that about it?

Beck said...

PLAYA: That's about it! You got it!

Adon said...

Don't feel bad that you muddied the waters. When you get this many comments on a question then it's apparently a hot button issue. Lots of different ideas floating about. Just pick out things that may help with your particular issues and toss the rest. Each situation is different. Your posts are very articulate and show that you are a caring person. Don't beat yourself up about things. Don't worry yourself ragged, losing sleep, etc. I know, easier said than done. On a selfish note, it's good for me to realize that I'm not the only one to get the "hungries".

Beck said...

ADON: I would like to believe that I've moved beyond beating up on myself. I used to do that a lot more than I do now. If you go back several years in my blog, I hope you'll see that I've grown in that respect and I've become more comfortable with myself.

I like myself. I like who I am. I like that I get the "hungries" and I can't imagine not having those "hungries" every now and then.

I'm angsty a bit about the current place where I find myself right now, but I'm eating and sleeping and functioning at work. And family life and married life continues as I hope it will.

There's just room for improvement and I'm seeking ways to improve the situation for all.

Thanks for being out there!

Sean said...

I don't know what has been said, but first of all, I love you brother! Here's a big Sean hug for you!

Second, I really think the both of you need to go to couples counseling to a counselor who knows about MOMs and deals with MOMs. Otherwise, it will always be like this. She will be uncomfortable and lacking confidence in herself and you will feel like the trapped hummingbird. There are some deeper issues that she's not telling you and some issues that you've obviously not told her. You both need to work this out together.

PS I'm sad I really didn't get a chance to say goodbye to you when I left.

Beck said...

SEAN: You're sweet! Don't worry about it. Thanks for caring about me. Yes, I am getting close to feeling the need to return to counseling to help me get past this roadblock I've encountered.

I am so grateful for our friendship. Take care of yourself and keep seeking your passions. I keep praying that the doors will open for you and you'll obtain all you desire in your quest. Your vision is not lost - just a detour or two along the way.

Ned said...

I realize you've already given your take on Wyatt's Big Five, but here's how I see them:

1 - ATTENTION. Almost everybody loves attention. Some get it by causing trouble. Some seek fame and fortune. Some get it whether they want it or not by virtue of their callings as instructors and leaders. Getting it, giving it, needing it, having too much of it, wanting to hide from it---these are all a part of being human, or feline or canine for that matter.

2 - DRAMA. Almost everyone loves drama. A lot of people like to get their drama from movies, books or the news. For some of us, it just happens to be in our personal lives instead of on the big screen. Sometimes we're just fine without it but other times it's just the way John and Paul sang, "Oooh and I suddenly see you, oooh did I tell you I need you, every single day of my life."

3. AWESOMENESS. You are indeed awesome, absolutely no doubt about it. You are special, just like Fred Rogers says. And the amazing thing is that so is everyone else of this planet, all 6.6 billion of us. We are all unique, even identical twins, and yet as members of the human family there is so much we share. Which is really what Wyatt's Big Five is all about, IMHO.

4 - CONTACT. You want meaningful relationships, but not only with your wife and children and extended family. Not only with your neighbors and work associates. You want some sizzle in your friendships, too. Well welcome the the club. Not just the gay club, the club of human beings who acknowledge that we can and do love many people in many ways. We can even love many people in many appropriate ways, and still have a happy wife and a Temple Recommend. At least that's the way I see it.

5 - INFLUENCE. We don't have control over the way other people feel about themselves. But we sometimes do have quite an influence on others. There's a huge difference between control and influence. You don't control me, dear Beck, but you do have an influence on me especially because I'm open to your influential ways. You're a good example to me. Not that you're perfect, but you are perfectly human---a man with passions and principles, dreams and drama, loves and laughter, health and heartache, talents and tests---miracles, muscles and miles to go before you sleep.

Ned said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beck said...

NED:

ATTENTION: I love attention! Why do you think I blog? :(

DRAMA: You're right. Our lives thrive on it.

AWESOMENESS: Yes we're all unique but does that make us awesome?

CONTACT: Of course I huger for sizzle! Who doesn't? And no, this isn't a dramatic plea for awesome attention to get the "woe is me" comments to sooth my pathetic, unique, dramatic attention-getting situation. I'm just stating that I want some sizzle and want it without having to extinguish my uniqueness and want it without having to hide the "real me" from her or from anyone else to get it - and yes, all in the card-carrying appropriate ways.

INFLUENCE: Thanks. I really don't think I've been as great an influence on you as you do, but we'll just have to agree to disagree. And muscles? I wish!

Anonymous said...

“It isn’t fair!” I kept telling myself. “What have I done to get into this predicament?”

What you have done to get into this predicament is to live a lie. For three decades you have deceived yourself and others.

And you don't want to take responsibility for it.

1. Your wife’s insecurity is the bigger issue that you can’t control, not her lack of trust in you.
2. Stop feeling guilty about the past. It is what it is. Move on and stop dwelling on who did what or didn’t do what in the past.
3. Stop blaming yourself for the way she feels.


No. Blame yourself for the way your wife feels. You courted her, proposed to her, married her. By your own admission, you lied to her--for decades. You rejected her--for decades. You are responsible. Live with that for a while, and then do your best to make reparation. If that involves leaving the church and your marriage, and making the hugest alimony payment possible so that she gets some of her life back, that's what you need to do.

I can't believe you are selfish and deluded enough to imagine that you are not responsible for your wife's feelings about your failed marriage.

Beck said...

ANON: I don't know who you are or how familiar you are to my blog, but if you read the last 4-1/2 years, you'll see that I am NOT selfish or deluded enough to not realize what I've done to my wife. If anything, I take full responsibility and people like Scott and Wyatt think that I take way too much time worrying about what I've done to her.

In the comment you quoted of me, I was referring to the patience and total celibacy that I've self-imposed in the last year, not seeing anyone with whom I have emotional feelings. I have kept myself away from even emotional hugging of all kinds for the sake of my wife... And when I say "it isn't fair", it is stating that I need to have just some kind of outsource for these emotions, and I "haven't done anything" implies how I've tried to keep that all bottled up again to the point of distraction.

If you would take my whole story in context, I would hope you'd understand from where I am coming... Am I delusional? I'd be the first to say, yes. Amy I selfish? I don't think so... not in the way I have sacrificed for her. Is she selfish? Not in the way she's sacrificed for me. We mutually accept these sacrifices but still need to work to see that each other's needs are being met.

I'm interesting in your insights and appreciate your comment. I recognize I need to get out of the past and on with life. She does too, but leaving the church or leaving each other isn't in the cards. We both willingly and voluntarily choose to stay together. I just need to do a better job of helping her to know how I feel. Hiding from her is the mode of operation that may be the selfishness on my part - or is it selfless? I don't know.