Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lessons Learned - Part Two...



I’ve had second thoughts about whether or not to post this entry. I’m trying to be positive and dwell on the good (maybe to convince myself that things are getting better), and really they are (there I go again with the positive convincing!), but there is one lingering aspect of my current relationship agreement that is not going well and it’s eating at my core...

At my recommendation, I agreed, and in respect for her feelings and in trying to re-establish a sense of trust, to not meet with any gay friends in secret encounters of hikes, lunches, MOHO parties, apartment discussions, etc. without her knowledge – meaning, she didn’t want me sneaking around and going behind her back having “dates” and relationships that she didn’t approve of. She viewed such encounters as “inappropriate” for a married couple, and very hurtful to her. The hurt comes in the underlying feelings of mistrust that she has in my ability to lock away my heart just for her, and to not find such encounters leading me to attachments beyond our covenanted marital relationship rules of engagement.

This mistrust comes from several sources of pain that I feel responsible for, including:

1. Years of neglect, both physically and emotionally not bonding with her, and seeking to have any kind of physical connection with her. I shot down her attempts to connect, and shunned her for decades and this has left emotional scars for the both of us.
2. Those years of neglect (and neither of us fully understanding why I was pulling away from her physically) led to years of her self-esteem and self-worth being destroyed in the process. Was she not pretty enough for me? Was she too fat? Too old? Too ugly? Too needy? In reality, she was none of these things - it was me being so unsure of what was going on inside of me as to why I was not interested in her.
3. Years of turning my attention to other things (mostly work and career development, and church service… good things, but not necessarily great things when considering what she was feeling)and not on her.
4. And those years tended to focus my attention on connecting with other men, and particularly of men from my missionary past, and even more so with certain young men of the ward. I was seeking physical and emotional attachment outside the marriage (again not truly understanding why I was doing this – it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to hurt her or inflict pain – but it was a need, a driving force within, an unquenchable appetite for belonging and connecting with other men).


To add the MOHO connection to this mix, and to see two of my young men return to the ward and try to connect with me as we did in the past, all have accumulated into a package that she cannot accept no matter how hard she tries to understand. The past decades of neglect and damage and mistrusting and disconnection have led her to feel this way.

Thus, in response to her feelings, and with love for her and demonstrating to her that she means more to me than anything else, and in an attempt to restore trust and heal our relationship of decades of neglect and pain, I have offered to keep away from such connections with other men, to limit my time away from her, and even to avoid extensive hugging and talking and “bromancing” with my male friends. She never has insisted that I do so, nor has she required it of our marriage to go forward. She has been trying to put it in perspective and see the “needs” I have, but can’t get her brain around any kind of relationship that she feels draws me away from her.

So, I’ve pulled back. I haven’t had any “dating” at all for a year now!!!. I have pulled back from my “bromantic” encounters with Tim and Will. I have pulled back even from lengthy hugging, snuggling or other emotional encounters. I’ve tried to be a good boy and be happy and positive in the process.

For some in this community, this has been puzzling to them. And I apologize for any confusion or pain I’ve caused you. For Tim and Will, it has been puzzling as well. Each of them has noticed me pulling back from them, resisting their one-on-one conversations and being alone with them, or in simply hugging them or touching them or caressing them at all. It’s hard to explain why I’m doing this when they don’t know and I can’t tell them the reasons why…

The point being…

Despite all the good of the past post, I am feeling like there is a certain part of me that is dying inside. I am not feeling as spontaneous and open and gregarious as I once was. I am feeling parts of my personality being stifled and snuffed out and I feel like I am wilting away to a former self. And I don’t want to go there.

Therefore, how do I find a better way? How do I keep the confidence and trust and assurance and goodness in our relationship sound and building as it has been in so many ways, while still expressing myself and having an outlet of connectivity, animation, and bromance? How do I show myself trustworthy of her devotion and mine for her, while still reaching out in friendship and free expression that can keep me alive inside? I know I’ve asked similar questions before, but simply telling her this is a real “need” of mine doesn’t work. And after a year of “bromantic celibacy”, I still don’t feel she feels I’m a changed man.


I’m blossoming in so many ways, but in this one particular way I’m a withered malnourished vine on a hot parched summer's day.


Any composting nurishing words of advice?

46 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

This makes sense to me. I see her reluctance as evidence of insecurity rather than lack of trust. While trust can be rebuilt, insecurity is forever. It's just part of the equation given the who the two people in this relationship are. It's not your fault, and it's not hers either. It just is.

[Minor soapbox: any attempt to view these issues does in terms of right and wrong is completely unhelpful. You both get to be the person you are.]

The only suggestion I have, and I have no idea if this would work, would be to take her into to therapy with you and work this through with the help of a professional.

I wouldn't expect a lot of change on her part. You have to determine if you are capable of doing it her way for the sake of the marriage. That's more or less the bottom line.

J G-W said...

I assumed this is why we didn't meet when I was in Salt Lake last week... I understood/understand completely.

I think you're right on target here, though I think in the long run, you will need friendships and community for your own personal growth, and to support your relationship. Maybe at some point, your wife will want to meet other gay men? Maybe first those who are in committed relationships (opposite-sex? maybe eventually same-sex?) so that they will be less threatening to her?

If she got to the point where she was able to meet other gay men, then you could find community/friendships but in a non-"bromantic" setting.

Scott said...

I don't quite agree with MoHawaii. People can change, and it's not completely impossible that your wife will eventually see things differently.

But if it does happen, it probably won't be because you want it to, or even because she wants it to. That sort of change usually occurs as a reaction to a life-changing event.

In the meantime, she "cannot" (as you said) understand your need for male connection and (emotional, if not physical) intimacy.

The question is, can you go without, for the sake of the marriage?

See, you can't "change" either. Your need for intimate male friendship is as much a part of you as her need for complete commitment and devotion. On this MoHoHawaii and I agree entirely.

The only possibly tenable long-term solution (in my opinion) would be a compromise, in which she "puts up with" your interactions with other guys despite the fact that they feed her insecurity, while at the same time you "suck it up" and limit those interactions to whatever bounds the two of you can agree on.

You won't get the level of intimacy you want/need, and she won't get the complete devotion she wants/needs. But (hopefully) you'll both recognize the other's willingness to compromise and that will (to some extent, at least) make up for what each of you is lacking.

You might be able to pull it off. I couldn't (can't). But perhaps my devotion to our marriage (not to be confused with my love for Sarah) is less than yours to yours. Perhaps you can make such a compromise work for the long term.

Another thing I agree with MoHoHawaii on: abandon the idea of right/wrong. There's too much self-incrimination and guilt in this post (for how you "treated" your wife in the past). Pointing fingers and giving (or taking) blame is not helpful. You are who you are: a gay man who is married to a woman (who therefore has certain needs that aren't being met), and she is who she is: a woman married to a gay man (who also has unmet needs). From my perspective, neither of you has done anything "wrong". Rather, you're both doing the best you can to maintain a relationship against daunting odds. You both deserve praise, not chastisement.

santorio said...

"As good as it gets"

Growing up in an "eternal progression" frame of mind (interesting, a phrase/concept hardly ever taught or heard from the pulpit anymore), we think that our marriages have to be getting better and better all the time (careful, I'm about ready to go into a Beattles mode here). Why not just say, things are okay; we get along most of the time, we enjoy each others company, we share a huge history with family, church etc., why can't we just be happy with a reasonable status quo. Hey, don't we have an eternity to sort through the details (assuming of course that you really do believe in eternity)?

I don't have to like every movie my partner likes, or share all his/her tastes in food and friends and how we spend every minute of the day. Back off and enjoy what we have.

Ned said...

Here's something that possibly works on paper, but who knows if it can work in reality? Just as people can agree to disagree, is it possible that you and your wife could agree that a certain additional level of privacy and freedom would benefit you both?

What if you could propose to her that you need some additional freedom and some additional privacy. I assume that you have freedom within your professional life to do as you see fit. You also don't have to share every detail of every work transaction with her. Already, you see, you have some degree of freedom and privacy. What if you could make the case that you need some more?

Sometimes you might use that freedom and privacy to create wonderful surprises for her. Other times you might use it to do what you think is best for you without having to return and report the details.

It's not like you're doing something behind her back, it's more like you're entering the men's locker room when you go to the Temple together. She knows it is a place she can't go, just as you know you can't go into the women's lockers. But it's OK because you both know you're only in there to do what you need to do in private and then you'll be together again very shortly.

You kind of do this already, don't you? She knows you blog, but she doesn't read your blog. You have the freedom and privacy to blog. She trusts you to do it in a responsible way. You trust her not to read it. Sure it's open for negotiation, but that's how it works for now.

So what if you and your wife could agree that say once a week or a couple of times a month, you can be away from the house for a few hours. You might just be working, but you might not. But she agrees to give you this freedom and privacy and of course you grant her the same, or perhaps some other gift you can offer her.

I guess in all this I am coming back to a quotation from Kahlil Gibran that I think I've shared with you before:

"...let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."

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

This post reminds me of Carol Lynn Pearson's husband in "Goodbye, I love you." Have you read that book?

Wyatt said...

Beck,

Live your life in big and expansive ways. Don't stifle who you are.

Celebrate everything that is inside you, even if it causes others pain.

robert said...

I don't believe that your wife actually accepts that you are gay. Perhaps she simply does not understand it at all and is insisting that the gay "side" of you stay in the closet where it belongs, and that is a reasonable expectation to her.


Is it a reasonable expectation?

Beck said...

MOHOH: It is an issue of "insecurity" for sure. She wants to be sure that I'm hers and that I'm not going to leave her. She wants to feel secure in our love together, our life together and my "needs" upset that sense of security.

Whether therapy will help or not, I don't know. I've tried it twice and it just seems like someone is listening but not doing much else. I've lost faith in the therapeutic process. But, maybe this stalemate requires something more than what we can do together ourselves.

Bottom line: I've done it "my way" without her knowledge and that didn't work for her and I was tired of feeling deceptive. I've now done it "her way" for this last year, and she is feeling better, but I'm feeling like I'm dying inside.

There's got to be another way!

J G-W said...

Have you told your wife how you feel, i.e. "dying inside."

If you are truly partners, this is her problem too... She needs to know how you feel.

Sean said...

I don't know what everyone else has said, because I don't have time to read all of the comments. So what I say might have already been said.

You are still not telling her the whole truth. You are hiding your true feelings from her. Didn't you want to be honest and open with her? You have been on certain issues, but now other issues that you have been hiding from her are coming up and causing you pain. You need to tell her how you are feeling instead of telling us.

That being said, after you tell her how you feel, you can be proactive and compromise saying you want a healthy balance. In fact, you need a healthy balance. Think of things you need to get yourself back to your old self BUT realize that you cannot let it go too far to let your wife go down the same road of suspicion, hurt, and pain again.

Again, you need a balance. Without balance, things fall apart. It's the old Chinese principle of Yin and Yang and many other religions around the world. There must be a balance in order to be complete and one with nature and/or God. In your case, there must be balance in order to be one with yourself and your wife.

Good luck and I hope this was helpful!

Here's a Sean hug from the east coast!

*HUG*

:)

Beck said...

JGW: I would have liked to have met with you, embraced you, and cried on your shoulder with you! I ache that we didn't have this chance together. But, I conscientiously chose to stay away from you this time... and it's not you - it's just the place where I am this year.

Yes, it would be great to get her more comfortable with gay guys, and even straight guys that she feels I'm attracted to, but deep down, I think she'd rather just hope that this all goes away for her and she doesn't want to internalize it.

She's not afraid of gay people. The other day she befriended a great gay couple that we met on the street and she connected with them for almost an hour in an engaging conversation! No problem! The problem is when she feels that I am attracted to them or feeling emotional or bromantic feelings for them - that's what she can't get over.

SCOTT: I know she "can" change her perspective, and in time, I think she can and will, but it will take an "event" of some kind to stir her sensibilities. Right now I've backed off and not pushed her, and she's allowed "it" to diminish - yet it's always there. We discuss it at times, but in this last year I haven't pushed her into an "event". In reality, I haven't felt the right situation or circumstance to push.

So, until then, it is a situation of compromise. I've felt like I've compromised a lot in her direction, and I'm re-evaluating that approach and feel the need to push back a bit. But in the end, it is a give-and-take, and overall, I'm seeing more value and joy in the relationship focusing on each other than in pulling apart for the sake of my "needs".

As for right-and-wrong issues: I do feel like I "wronged" her for years. I was insensitive from her and withdrawn. Of course, I didn't understand completely why at the time, and thus, it was done as a survival technique. The "guilt" is in the neglect that I allowed to happen, not that I was "evil". I am trying to make up for that neglect by being more attentive - and good things are resulting.

In the end, we are doing the best each of us can, and the odds are daunting... but sometimes the "best" isn't enough.

Beck said...

SANTORIO: This is along the lines of "compromise", that we don't always get what we want (or need) all the time. But we can enjoy what we have! I believe that. Eternity is a long time... and perfection is not instant. But, I've got to keep working at making it work - for the both of us.

NED: Proposing an alternative solution is easier said (or written on paper) than done. Maybe I don't have the stomach to fight for the added "freedom" and "privacy" I desire. Maybe I'm more willing to concede verses fight. Maybe it's easier to not be honest with my feelings. Maybe I don't want to rehearse the pain of the past... but you're right... there should be a way to find the comfort level for both of us to reach a point of freedom and privacy that works for the both of us. I need to take that step once I can put my head around how to take it.

Beck said...

MR CURIE: I've read "No more Goodbyes", but I must admit that I'm a bad gay boy and have not read "Goodbye, I love you". CLP and I have even had several email exchanges and I find her sincere. I have read the reviews of her book about her husband dying of AIDS, and am familiar with the biographical events of their marriage and post-marriage, but how do I remind you of her husband?


WYATT: I know I feel more alive when I am not restrained or stifled, but I also feel alive when I do things for others to ease their pain. A life of total "freedom" of expression without consequences of how they affect others seems a life of self-indulgence. There is a balance between what is my need and what is hers if we are going to make this relationship work - and dare I say - thrive.

But I know that neither of us can thrive if we are stifled to the point of withering on the vine.

Beck said...

ROBERT: She knows I'm "gay", otherwise she wouldn't be so aware of those to whom I'm attracted. But, you're on to something... she doesn't want to accept it. She wants it to go away. She wants me to just put it away, even though we've discussed how I can't do that. I've been clear that "it" isn't going away, or diminishing, but maybe it's better as I focus on her (her hope is that as I focus more on her, then the other attractions will be less bothersome - still there, but lessened in some sense). That is her "expectation". That is her hope. She's not in this to see me embrace my gay side or have my gay side have an disproportionate expression. She's tolerant and accepting of certain aspects of my gay-side and is accepting of my "differences" that she has come to love and appreciate. But, when it comes to the attractions to men and developing relationships outside of marriage beyond non-attractive friendships, there's a roadblock that we can't get past.

If that means she can't accept or won't accept that I'm gay, then, well.. that's where we are. Stalemated!

JGW: No, I haven't. I just bite my tongue and hold it back. That's part of the "dying" process I'm feeling. I'm not "dead", but I feel the regression - and maybe it's because I don't know quite how to confront the elephant-in-the-room discussion again, but I'm getting to the point where I need to... this is helping me to get my thoughts down... and put things together clearly in my mind where I can do it.

SEAN: Yes, I need to be honest with her about this thing that is a hiccup for me, yet also to be honest about all the good things, too. But I haven't been honest with her about these negative feelings - I've held back and resisted discussing it openly. I know I need to do that... but do that in a spirit of "balance" in all things...

Balance...

*heavy sigh*

Scott said...

She's not in this to see me embrace my gay side or have my gay side have an disproportionate expression. She's tolerant and accepting of certain aspects of my gay-side and is accepting of my "differences" that she has come to love and appreciate. But, when it comes to the attractions to men and developing relationships outside of marriage beyond non-attractive friendships, there's a roadblock that we can't get past.

From everything I've observed over two years of reading your blog and the email conversations we've had, you don't have a "gay side" (which would seem to imply a "straight side"). You're just gay.

Granted, you're a gay man who is making some typically straight choices. But that doesn't change who you are, it just changes how you're acting.

She can't just choose to accept and tolerate "certain aspects" of you. She's your wife, and your partner, and in choosing to remain married to you she is (implicitly) choosing to accept you--all of you.

If you, as a gay man, are unhappy in your current situation, then both of you need to work to find a solution to that unhappiness (just as you need to work together to ensure that she is as happy as possible).

Beck said...

SCOTT: I used the term "gay side" quoting from Robert's comment and playing off of his choice of words.

I intellectually accept what you are saying in that we are not made up of "sides" or "parts" or "pieces" that can be dissected or discarded or packaged up and hidden in the back of that proverbial closet! We are ALL of us. I get it...

But, maybe I don't permit that intellectual knowledge to translate into daily life.

That said, it's been a year... it's time for another serious discussion about our "happiness" together involving the "ALL" of us.

Thanks for a bit of catalyst to get the reaction going inside me.

J G-W said...

Beck - I guess my earlier question for you is: would it help you to socialize with other gay men in a setting where your wife could be present? Would that offer you some of the kinds of connections you need, in a setting that is non-threatening to your wife?

J G-W said...

The reason I ask, is because my own experience recently of socializing with other gay Mormons (and gay-friendly straight Mormons) was a real balm to my soul... It just made me so incredibly happy!

It wasn't about romance or anything like that; I love Göran and am 100% committed to him. But those social connections I realize are far more important to me than I thought.

Rex said...

Beck, you seem like such an all-or-nothing guy. I know you're doing what you feel you must, but surely there's a middle ground of contact where you're respecting her feelings and still getting some of your needs met. I agree with whoever said here that some needs are going to be unmet on both sides. That's the way it is in my marriage. We both recognize that there are lots of things we both feel we need that we aren't going to get. Acceptance is the key to that dilemma. It's what we've chosen.

Some of it seems to be in the meaning you attach to it. For example, why does going out with a gay friend have to be called "dating"? If I thought of hanging out with a gay friend as a date, I'd probably want to avoid it too. Watched a movie with a young, single, MoHo friend yesterday at his apartment. There were hugs. There were emotions. There was love. I suppose if two people who were romantically interested in each other did what we did, it might be called a date, but it wasn't a date because it wasn't romantic. Surely there is room in your standards and boundaries for a little healthy guy time without you thinking of it as a date.

Question: How would it affect your relationships and your wife's trust factor if you changed the meaning you attach to your relationships with your friends? I was sad to read in the comments that J G-W didn't get some love from you. I couldn't imagine having someone I feel close to coming to town and not at least getting a nice, long hug from him.

J G-W said...

I should say, since Rex mentions me, that I never doubted for a minute your friendship for me. I pretty much understood what was going on, and I support you in what you're trying to do.

However, I am concerned about YOU. And when you say things like you feel like you're "dying inside," that tells me there's a part of you that is in trouble. Your relationship with your wife can't last very long if part of you -- the most vivacious, life-loving, joyful part of you -- is "withering away." What kind of marriage will that be?

You need those connections with male friends... Though I agree, they can't be romantic -- not if your marriage is to be kept intact.

Beck said...

REX: I guess I am an "all or nothing" kind of guy, and that's part of the problem. I'm either romantically connecting and bonding with someone who I'm attracted to or I keep myself from connecting at all. It's been very hard to find a comfort zone of balance somewhere in between.

My wife is not concerned about "friendships" as she is about "friendships with an attraction component". I'm not concerned with "friendships". I have many on a non-romantic level, but they don't nurish me as I need. Those that do nurish tend to go overboard. And the problem is, I like it! I want more! I feel alive and free! And therein lies the battle.

I'm not begrudging my choices, I'm only pointing out wherein lies the battle.

JOHN: I'm really okay! Really! Just needing to adjust some things that are making me feel "in trouble", and this blog is one way I am attempting to do that. I really am grateful for your friendship... you know how I feel about you!

Ned said...

I agree with Rex that terminology is important. I'm relatively new to hanging out with Mohos face-to-face, and have only had a few lunches, swims and a couple of hikes with members of this particular extended family. None of those would I consider dates.

This terminology and frame of mind stems in large part from my experience over the last decade or so in building friendships with straight married men. When I'm hiking, biking, swimming, walking, having lunch, breakfast, catching movie or a ball game with this small group of close friends, none of us would call it dating. Usually, but not always, these are just one-on-one, one friend getting together for a few minutes or hours with another friend. I guess someone could call it dating, but we certainly wouldn't.

So if a straight guy and a bi-guy like me hang out on a mountainside together and that isn't a date, why should it be considered a date if a couple of mohos take a hike?

I know, I know it's more complicated than that, especially when mutual attraction is involved. The thing I love about hanging with my straight friends is that there's little chance that my affection for them will be reciprocated in an inappropriate way for married men to interact. And maybe that's the line to draw. You and your wife agree that this is not dating and that while are with any friend, you will not cross any boundaries that that would be inappropriate for a married man to cross. So, for example, you hug each other to greet and depart, but probably not much if any hugging beyond that.

It's not easy, it's is complicated, but I do believe it is possible for you to work out something that works for both you and your wife.

Beck said...

NED: Least of all do I need to explain it to you! :)

The issue is me! I don't want to just have "friendships". I want to have "FRIENDSHIPS!" Get the difference?

And my wife knows and senses the difference.

It would be great if I could just go on hikes, or bike rides, or a swim! I would love to do that, and yet, I want more than that. I want something closer, something with a tingle of intimacy, an excitement that goes beyond the norm... need I say more?

Ned said...

Love your use of typography to make your point! So for me I guess it's all about the flexibility to have friendships, FRIENDships, friendSHIPS, and even fRiEnDsHiPs. But probably to avoid friENDships and FRIENDSHIPS.

If lowercase doesn't work for you and UPPER CASE DOESN'T WORK FOR YOUR WIFE, how about CaMelCaSe?

Rex said...

Beck: I hope you can find a balance in what you feel you need to get from a friendship. I'm a little different than a lot of people whatever you want to call the community of gay Mormon men married to women who are trying to stay that way. My friendships are very close and include affection, lots of it. Probably the most affectionate is with my best friend, who is straight and works in the same industry as me. Tuesday was a particularly trying day at work for both of us, so we met at a common place on the way home for what we've come to call "a quickie." A quickie is a hug without a lot of talking, because we're in a hurry. For us, a hug is a bigger priority than talking. Tuesday's quickie turned out to have both. By the time it was over, it was three hugs and a couple of kisses (on the cheek). So, I'm getting the need met of being really, REALLY close to certain other men while being faithful to my wife.

I guess I'm trying to say that even though you agree with my observation that you're kind of an all-or-nothing guy, you don't have to stay that way. I hope you find somewhere in between satiation and deprivation, not to be confused with depravation.

Beck said...

REX: What you are describing is what I desire and need! I once had it (the relationship with friends, even straight friends where hugging and kissing on the cheek were normal and nurishing - the "quickies" were essential and stabilizing), but I did them behind her back. Thus, the male-connectivity was good, but the marriage suffered.

Now, the marriage is doing much better and we are more focused on each other, but the "quickies" are gone - completely! And I'm now suffering the consequences.

How I can get her comfortable enough again to know that such "quickies" are not destabilizing or threatening to her or our relationship, yet nurishing and necessary to my sanity - well, that's the ticket... and I don't know how to have it signed, sealed and delivered!

So, I'm back to the all or nothing.

Rex said...

Beck, in answer to your "how can I" question, here is a link to an article that I have pointed a lot of couples to over the years, provided as a kindness to me by Mark Chamberlain, PhD. It is called "Rebuilding Trust". It doesn't exactly fit your situation, but I would bet there are still some things you could glean from it. I would say that you can't rebuild trust by completely denying yourself of your needs. How can you rebuild it by doing nothing? You have to be able to venture out and try things. I noted in one reply to me that you didn't know how to find a middle ground. It sounds like your own trust in yourself also needs some rebuilding. I believe you can do it.

Rex said...

...And how about this for a start? Maybe you could blog about it. If next year, you could reach the level of intimacy with men that you think would meet many of your needs and still be something your wife could support, what would it look like? What boundaries would you set? Which of your friends do you think you could trust to honor those boundaries even when you don't want to?

Beck said...

REX: You're doing a great job being my therapist! How much do I owe you?

I may have to blog about it to get it out of my head, especially answering those last questions. I've been over this and over this, I've tried touch celibacy and bromantic celibacy, and it doesn't work.

I guess it's time to re-establish "what I want" and what my ideal situation would be knowing where I've been and how this last year has gone (meaning not throwing out that proverbial baby with that bath water).

So stay tuned... please put your collective therapy hats on as I outline what happened on Monday and Tuesday that got me into this recycled funk...

Wyatt said...

You cannot and never will be able to protect someone else from feeling something. Only they can choose to feel sad or happy or elated. They may blame us for being a catalyst or for sparking the thought of sadness, but you do not have the power to think or feel for your wife. She is the only one responsible for her emotions. She is the only who can 'make' herself feel an emotion.

That being said - you're lying to her still. She doesn't get what being 'gay' means to you and what you want and what you desire passionately and think about constantly.

Don't hold her in the dark because you want to protect her. Your protection is cheap and unforgiving.

Thrive, Beck! Expand! Be you! Do you! It is selfish to think otherwise.

Rex said...

Beck, you owe me nothing. I wouldn't want to get in trouble for practicing without a license. :)

CiCi said...

Beck...The subject of your post is something my husband and I talk about incessantly! I can totally understand your wife's feelings of insecurity. I understand and feel her pain. Her pain is my pain.

BUT...I also am beginning to understand my husband's need for male companionship. This need, to him, is like his need for food and water. He HAS to have it to thrive and to be able to be my husband. I would be lying if I said I feel secure and fine when he goes hiking with his "boyfriends" or when he goes on a weekend trip to Colorado with them. I am not fine with it. Right now I tolerate it because I love him, and hopefully someday soon I will be able to be "fine" with his need for male bonding.

It isn't really a matter of trust for me. He has never done anything to make me not trust him. It is a matter of low self-esteem and insecurity for me. I have always been insecure, and this situation feeds my insecurity. I also am afraid that he will find someone he truly connects with and leave me. Or even worse...not leave me and be miserable for the rest of his earthly life.

As much as I want to be blind to his needs in this area of our lives, I can't be anymore. It is killing him. He has suppressed his need for bromance for so many years, and it's time for him to be able to have male friends and spend time with them without me "freaking out" (which I do occasionally). I know there isn't a lot of physical bonding going on with him and his friends, but I'm sure there is plenty of emotional bonding happening. I know this is so important to his well being.

I wish your wife would read these blogs just so she could grasp where you are coming from. Sometimes when I read them I am traumatized for awhile, but reading has helped me face reality. I wish sometimes I didn't know the truth, but I know that I need to for my husband's sake.

I wish I could talk to your wife. Do you think she might want to email me? I know almost exactly what she's going through, and I know it would help her to talk to someone. I need someone to talk to too.

I don't think you should tuck you needs neatly away in a drawer somewhere. My husband told me that when he is able to be with his friends, he is better able to cope with his "two worlds". I have to learn to deal with this if I want to be married to him. He is very mindful of my needs, and really does try to be a great husband. The least I can do is be mindful of his (within reason).

I hope your wife can someday (soon) start to recognize and accept this part of you. It's so hard, but she loves you and she can do it. It won't always be perfect, and she won't always be ok with "you", but most of the time she will be. I think you should be honest with her about how you feel. She will cry and feel bad, but she needs to know. She also needs to know that you love her even though you have these other needs. These needs don't lessen the love you feel for her. Make her understand!

I am speaking like I'm an old pro. I'm not, but my husband and I talk ALOT. I feel that we have a great relationship even though things definitely don't always feel like they're going well.

It's not an easy situation and there is no simple solution. I feel for both you.

Hugs from Cici (Bror's wife)

Sarah said...

I'm catching up on your last three blog posts. The one prior to this one made me jealous again, because the things you say you've learned--especially the random and simple physical contact during the day--are what I've wanted more than anything from Scott (and now I have just the opposite!)

I often feel so selfish about my situation and just think "poor me" and I forget (or have yet to completely accept or realize) that Scott is just doing what he inherently needs right now. I want to thank you for this post. It and the subsequent comments help me understand that Scott really is not trying to be a selfish jerk, but is doing what he needs to do to keep from dying inside.

Last week my therapist asked me, "looking back to how much freedom you've given Scott and realizing where it has brought you, do you wish you had put your foot down at the beginning and not allowed him to explore this side of himself?" I didn't even have to think about answering "no." Doing that would have made Scott so miserable, and would have ended our marriage faster than it already is, probably taking an even greater toll on our friendship.

I'm reminded of the quote "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn't, it was not meant to be." (is that how it goes? I'm sure you've heard it and get the idea...)

I have no advice for you. I'm just grateful for this discussion and the "wake up call" I needed to understand Scott's motivations and needs right now.

Meanwhile, hugs and prayers and best wishes to you and your wife. I hope you can both figure it out. Damn there being no easy answer for all of this!

GeckoMan said...

Beck,

These are a couple of really great posts, and the comments are very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

I'm with JGW, in exhorting you in a most heartfelt way to not 'die or wither within.' I agree with several others about abandoning the 'all or nothing' mentality and finding balance openly together.

And then CiCi's comment struck a chord in me... could you print out the last two blog posts, together with all comments, and hand them off to your wife? Plan an overnight get-away to focus on each other, and let this be the agenda of the 'meeting,' to discuss and plan and hug and make promises of how you can support and love one another?

And someday soon, you need to take her to your Moho friends and have lunch or a hike together. For that matter, come to Oregon, and my wife and I will take you both for a walk on the beach!

Beck said...

CICI: There is a simple solution! I just do what works for her and then she'll be happy and as a result I'll be happy... That's the simple answer. :)

In reality, you're right - it isn't that simple, and I sincerely appreciate your thought-provoking response. I would love her to talk to you or email you, and maybe she will once we have our "yearly talk" and get things out in the open again. But, I know I offered her to reach out to other wives before and she resisted so far... but, we'll see. I am grateful knowing you are out there and are sincere in your offer to help. That means a lot!

SARAH: No, it ain't easy, but that's what makes it interesting.

I, too, feel "selfish" in even discussing or concentrationg on MY desires or MY needs over OUR desires and OUR needs. That's why the previous post feels better and it has more potential for good as it is centered in OUR and not MY.

As for whether love is in giving one freedom to go and see if he comes back - well, maybe, but what about love is putting another's needs first over one's own needs? You say you're doing that for Scott. Well, isn't the same principle valid for me. Shouldn't I be putting my wife's needs over mine? And isn't that love?

The magic is when both sides do it to the other and somehow the needs of both are met somewhere in the middle... at least that's the theory.

I don't have the answers either. But thanks for your continued love and hugs. They are a sustaining influence that I crave right now.

Beck said...

GECKO: Your suggestion is intriguing. I like it. I need to create the right time and situation. There needs to be an 'event' to bring it out, and I'm not sure exactly how to do it just yet.

But the idea of sharing the good and the bad of the 'lessons learned' of this last year makes sense... kind of like a companionship inventory of sorts.

Thanks for the invite to walk the Oregon beach with you. I've been there recently and loved the seascapes of the Oregon Coast. Don't know when we'll get back, but I'd love for you to share it with us.

Beck said...

WYATT: I am lying to her! Or maybe lying is too strong a word... at least I am holding back my feelings of what "being gay" means to me and how it makes me feel in our situation together. I do keep these inner feelings from her. I don't want to burden her with these things. I need to find a way that doesn't destroy her esteem by expressing these "needs" of mine, and I'm not sure how to go about doing that exactly where she can understand without feeling like she is losing me, or that she is losing her self-worth because she doesn't meet my every need, and therefore there is something wrong with her.

But my getting my needs met is not as important to me as is our relationship and life together and her needs being met.

If that keeps me from "thriving" and therefore not being able to meet her needs and we are caught in this endless circle of misconnections, and if the only way for me to "thrive" is to have my gay needs being met, and she suffers the consequences... I don't see the win-win.

There's got to be a win-win combination, a compromise that allows us to be us while selflessly compromising for the other.

No?

Wyatt said...

You don't have the ability to protect anyone, not even your wife, from a low self-esteem. That is solely her jurisdiction and hers alone.

If she chooses to disregard her own self-worth because she doesn't meet your every need, then your relationship appears to be entirely about the staus quo and not about complete honesty and trust.

Your relationship with your wife seems to be an illusion. Perhaps a safe and guarded illusion, but an illusion nonetheless.

Do you (meaning: live your life, be amazing and expansive and authentic, trust yourself, live in the now and live to quench your thirst for adventure and bliss... ie 'do you').

Don't worry about what anyone else is doing... not even your wife. She can't depend on you for her self-esteem just like you can't depend on her for yours.

Beck said...

WYATT: Didn't you know? It's all a grand illusion! Someday I'll wake up and realize it was all a big joke.

But, until then, my wife is real, my kids are real, and our lives together are real. So, I should get real and be realistic and face reality and stop lying, I agree.

It's just easier said than done...

Wyatt said...

dramatic...

Adon said...

It won't help you, but you and I sound like we are in the same place in our marriages. I hope there is a way to lose the "dying inside" feeling without hurting the ones we love most. Also, I must say that your post where you spoke about the power of touch was right on.

Beck said...

WYATT: What do you expect from a "drama queen" like myself, huh?

ADON: Thanks for discovering my blog. I've recently discovered yours, and have quickly come to realize that though our stories are different, the place where with we find ourselves in our marriages and lives is very, very similar.

I don't have the answers... that's why I still blog after all these years. Though some here may not see progress, I do feel progress is being made, but it's a lot like two steps forward and 1-1/2 steps back...

I haven't got my head around where I go from here and what I do next. I'm blocked. I don't see an easy way forward, and I'm not sure I want to take the hard way.

Anyway, welcome to the "MOHO community" and please keep blogging and telling your story, and thanks for being out there still trying to make it all work!

Mister Curie said...

Beck, the part of "Goodbye, I Love You" that your post (and the follow up comments) remind me of is a scene between Carol Lynn and Gerald (her gay ex-husband) after he has AIDS and has come to her house to die. As Carol Lynn is holding Gerald, she asks him if he couldn't have simply stayed and denied his gay self, then he wouldn't have AIDS and be dying. His response is that he would still be dying, but it would have been his inner spirit rather than his physical body that was dying by denying himself. I highly recommend you read the book, I think you will recognize yourself and it might give you some insight into the situation. It is a very quick read.

Beck said...

MR. C: I promise I will get a copy and read it! I've been meaning to for some time. Thanks for the push to do so.