Thursday, November 04, 2010

All is not well in Narnia / Seeking wise counsel...


Things have been going well, really well regarding my marriage. Our relationship has strengthened in the recent past, and getting away together has been a truly bonding experience. We've talked about it since returning, and we both have expressed how it feels like we've passed through that wardrobe into Narnia and back - that so many magical experiences and growth have occurred and we've changed so much, and yet, stepping back through that "proverbial closet", we see a world that is the same, no change, not even the passage of time, and our reality quickly returns with some disappointment or at least a bit of dissatisfaction. It's like we are different people in that other space and time. I am more open and free and expressive and "myself". She is more accepting and loving and comfortable with the real "me". And we can be ourselves and leave the worries of years of hurt and baggage and just be! And then we return home... and quickly, things revert back to where they were. The difference is that somehow, you don't lose your memory of the feelings of magical experiences and confidence in your relationship. You still take that with you, as you resolutely move on, carrying a hope that somehow, maybe naively thinking, things are different or slightly better.

Some wonder how a gay guy can continue to make a marriage work after all these years. Well, for me, it's a lot of work, but most things that are of any value at all require work and constant effort.

Some wonder how a gay guy can continue to pretend to be straight and live in a straight world, culture, marriage.

Yeah, I wonder, too...

I wonder why, if things are really going well in my marriage, why, for heaven's sake, would I now be feeling a desire, a need, a requirement, to have some good-ol male-bonding connections face-to-face and not just through this distant and detached media of blogging and chatting?

You see... I'm feeling the itch, the twinge, the prompting, or yes, even the temptation to rendezvous with some of you! Some old, some new! Some requests have come to me from old friends and a couple of new ones. For the record, I've been MOHO-visiting-face-to-face celibate now for nearly 14 months! In the MOHO lifespan of a few years, that's a good chunk of time - nearly eternity! :) I've done it deliberately as I've chosen restraint in my face-to-face encounters in order to "strengthen" and "focus" attention toward my marital face-to-face encounters.

And here I am looking seriously at jumping off the wagon of self-imposed gay-male friendship celibacy.

Should I take the plunge?
Should I be brave and do what "feels best" for me? Should I do so without her knowledge again and break a trust and hide behind my timidity? Or should I be confrontational and demand my independence from these self-attached shackles? I'm not seeking the standard answers of what works best for you in your situation that isn't mine. For those that have followed along and know some of me, I'm seeking what you think is best for me (and don't say that I'm the only one that knows the answer! If I knew, I wouldn't be asking, right?)

Should I be congratulated in my restraint and honored for my noble respect for her feelings? Or is it high time to stop acting so cowardly and disingenuous? What think ye oh wise mass readership?

Oh to be in Narnia again...

36 comments:

Neal said...

I don't think having MoHo face-to-face is necessarily bad, but I think it needs to be approached with caution. I think you need to be absolutely sure that if there is ANY attraction for the other guy - anything beyond platonic - you will discontinue that face-to-face immediately. I also would make sure the other party agrees to those rules BEFORE meeting with them.

I also think your wife should know you're doing this. That's an additional safety measure that you won't let things get out of control. It will make meeting the MoHos much more enjoyable, since you can do so "guilt free".

OK, I'm taking off my High Councilor hat now... :D

Beck said...

NEAL: I would agree with you IF there were no attraction. But what I'm saying is real or not, there may be (or I already know there is) an attraction... or there is the desire to be natural enough that the friendship could quickly be more than friendship...

so then what?

In other words, it isn't so sterile in my mind as you describe with your high councilor hat.

Abelard Enigma said...

We all have secrets we don't share with our spouses - for example, I don't tell my wife when I think our waiter in the restaurant is really cute; and, I'm sure there are things she chooses to not share with me.

However ... there are times when honesty IS the best policy.

Personally, I think male bonding is important for people like us (celibate gays). I know our wives aren't always comfortable with it - but it is a part of who we are. It is a need that we have. The only hope of your wife ever being comfortable with your male bonding is if you are completely honest and up front about it.

It's like when you hand over your keys to let your teenager drive solo for the first time. You're really uncomfortable about it and you may even worry the entire time they are gone - but, deep down, you know it was the right thing to do. And, your comfort level improves each time they come home with an unsmashed car :)

Just my 2¢

Abelard Enigma said...

As for attraction - I don't think that's a valid reason to not meet with someone. Where you need to be careful is in the circumstances of your meeting. Perhaps meet as a group with several people; hang out in public areas with other people around

Kinda sounds like the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet :)

Beck said...

ABE: Thanks for your 2cents.

I guess I should have talked to her before she went out of town for a week leaving me free to the rendezvous opportunities that are presenting themselves before me that could easily be done without her ever knowing... And I could go back to the way I was before, having fun exploring the options...

So now what? It's like she left the keys on the counter unknowingly, and I'm the teenager ready to go rev up the engine and go for a joy-ride, and as long as I return the car before she gets back, and do so in good shape, then what's the harm right?

I've re-earned her trust and now she's gone... so what she doesn't know won't hurt her (us), right?

The Wife said...

In my opinion, I don't think hiding anything significant from your spouse is healthy. If/when she finds out, even if nothing inappropriate happens, it will only hurt her and hurt your relationship.

Has she ever expressed interest in meeting other mohos with you? Chris and I have met several moho friends together, and it's been great! We have made some really great friends! And when he meets mohos at times when I can't come, he is upfront about everything. Although at times it makes me slightly uncomfortable, I trust him, and I know that having friends who understand him is important.

Neal said...

"But what I'm saying is real or not, there may be (or I already know there is) an attraction... or there is the desire to be natural enough that the friendship could quickly be more than friendship..."

DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!

You ARE setting yourself up if you're going into this with the hots for someone already! Maybe Abes group "meeting" ideas is best. And listen to "The Wife" - excellent input. Why do you have to do this NOW? Can't it wait a week for your wife? Maybe you just need a cold shower and a good service project to put your mind back in the right place...

Abelard Enigma said...

I guess I should have talked to her before she went out of town for a week ...

That's why God gave us telephones :) (I assume, of course, that she isn't on some deserted island with no cell towers)

Beck said...

TW: I knew you would give me that sound advice! It's not like I don't know the answer, but right now it just feels so convenient to "not tell" and just go do what I feel I want to do without her knowing... and yet, I know that that will end in blowing all the "trust" that I've been accumulating over the past year.

Does she express interest in meeting you fellow MOHOs. No! She doesn't. She knows you are out there and as long as you stay out there and she doesn't have to worry about you, then the better for her (us). It's hard to bring her along when she has no interest in coming along in the first place. And frankly, I don't know that I would want her to come along... so maybe that should be a sign that something's up in my mind.

When we've talked in the past, it is hard to get past the point that I MAY FIND myself ATTRACTED to whoever I'm meeting, and I've been honest to admit that that is a possibility - in which case, in her mind it is a road block that shouldn't be crossed... even if it is pretty innocent.

So, there you have it!

Beck said...

NEAL: "Why do you have to do this now?"

Don't you get it? The perfect opportunity has presented itself. A couple of people (separately)have come to request a meeting with me. She's conveniently out of down for a week. The desire is there and the will is up. It's perfect!

Next week things will be different. At least one person will no longer be in town (just passing through), and when she is back, the will to go is less (the temptation is down).

Do you get it? It's all about timing and taking advantage of the situation as the stars align...

Beck said...

ABE: "That's why God gave us telephones..."

Oh so clever you are! Now why didn't I think of that?

Of course I could call her and spring it on her long distance while she is consumed in a very important and stressful situation, crucial in her life! Some things aren't appropriate to discuss long distance...

And even if they were, why didn't I take the opportunity to tell her before she left this morning since this has been brewing for a few days? Huh? It's because I don't want to talk to her... I want to seize the moment and go for it!

So your job now is to either cut me off at the pass and say "no way pardner", or you're supposed to say "seize the day! These changes don't always align like this!".

So which one is it?

Quiet Song said...

I guess I should never leave my room as I've been known to experience attraction to both men and women. I don't buy that we are mere animals and that we cannot have friendships with people we are, might be or were formerly attracted to. Does this mean that since you are attracted to men that you should be able have women as your friends but not men. Sorry, I don't get it.

Beck said...

Changes = chances.

sorry about that.

Neal said...

Hmmm. Refer back to my "Danger" comment. Slippery slope...High Councilor hat back on.

Beck said...

QUIET SONG: Of course you don't get it. And neither do I! Of course we are attracted to others and nothing happens. We are social creatures and natural attractions are everywhere.

But explain that to a wife who is trying to figure out what her husband feels when he's attracted to another guy who is open to that attraction.

Yes, she's talked about me being more comfortable going out to lunch with another woman... with her, it's like I'm cheating on her, even if nothing happens, because the desire is there to explore the "what ifs" or "possibilities" even if that means just normal every-day friendship.

She uses the argument that the church (and some marriage counselors) use that you don't pair off with others of the opposite sex (or in my case the same sex with the same attractions) when you are married. You just don't. It's not healthy.

Abelard Enigma said...

you don't pair off with others of the opposite sex ... when you are married.

I think it is a mistake to take the standard wisdom as it applies to heterosexual marriages an try to twist it to fit into a mixed orientation marriage. When you add homosexuality into the mix - the rules change. It's like we're playing chess when someone pulls the chess board out and replaces it with a Parcheesi board - the old rules no longer apply.

You have a need for male bonding just as your wife has a need for female bonding. Fortunately, the church provides ample opportunities for female bonding. Unfortunately, the church doesn't provide the same for men as it seems heterosexual males don't have the same male bonding need as homosexual men do.

Consider the scenario where you had a lesbian in your ward. Would your wife avoid her for fear of possible attraction? Or would she embrace her just as she would any other sister? Is it really any different for us to embrace and lift one another up?

I agree that some things are best discussed face to face - but that train has already left the station. My personal advice is to either get the courage to talk to your wife on the phone or to take a cold shower and try to forget about it. I know that's a lot easier said than done - and I admit that I'm somewhat of a hypocrite as I haven't always followed my own advice (I usually do, but there have been a couple of times ...)

You've got my cell number if you need to just talk to someone

Sean said...

My advice is always being open and honest with her. Good luck bud! Maybe I'll get a chance to see you at Christmas time. Good luck!

MoHoHawaii said...

Let's try an experiment. Instead of me leaving a suggestion about how to proceed, I'd like to hear what you think such a suggestion from me would be. Just for a moment, pretend you are MoHoHawaii listening to Beck and then say "Well, Beck, ..."

Are you game to try this?

mandi said...

Um...

mandi said...

Okay- now I can type.
It is unfair of you to put these guys in the position that you are. By hyping up the secrecy and the "badness" of a simple meeting, you are ramping up your emotions and excitement to be something that doesn't need to exist between two casual acquaintances. Until you have your ducks in a row and can meet up with a man without stirring up marital and personal discord, I believe you should keep to yourself.
(in full disclosure to Beck's readers, my husband is one of the people Beck was contacted by.)

Beck said...

I've been around in this blogging world for a long time... Everyone that knows me knows that my foundation is solid. I remind you that I am NOT going to do something stupid. I think I have a pretty sound track-record on that front.

Though you may think otherwise, for a gay guy in a long and faithful marriage, despite it all, I continue to be in a good place with my marriage. I am in a good place with my life. I am in a good place with my children. I am in a good place with my career and profession. I am in a good place with my beliefs and core values. I am in a good place as a "functioning, responsible adult" in this community.


That said, I use this blog for raw, real and sometimes edgy feelings that come to me and need expressing unfiltered - coming from a side of me that is immature, adolescent in nature, and pretty much a down and out lost boy. I need a place to just say what's in my head. Maybe I should learn by now to preface my comments more.

That said, Mandi is right that one of three is her husband MNJ. (In full disclosure, MNJ and I haven't even talked about this - which makes me even more sorry for having brought it up in now dragging totally innocent and unsuspecting parties into the mix of my personal angst). Though I don't know him or Mandi, that isn't the point. There are no feelings or attractions (no offense) and this post is NOT about them.

This post isn't about any of the three. This post isn't about anyone in particular or anyone at all - other than me.

This post, may I remind you, is about me! It is about my pent-up feelings of being cooped up in a box within a dark locked closet that I'm uncomfortable living in. It is about having destroyed trust in the past because I wasn't man enough to face my wife with this community. It is about working very hard to restore that trust over the course of 14 months now. It is about the feelings of good that have come from meeting mutually decided upon guidelines within our marriage. It is about feeling a desire to move beyond "total isolation" and "meeting a man without stirring up marital and personal discord" without destroying that trust, and not reasonably being willing to bring up the subject again for fear of angst, pain, and worry on her part. It is about hoping to find a way to be confident in who I am enough to not be afraid of myself or my wife.

It has nothing to do with anyone in particular, and everything to do with my raw feelings of "personal discord" that I still feel because I haven't moved. You see, this post points out even more just how much I haven't progressed in the last 14 months.

These recent "invites", I very truly know, are relationships that will never be more than casual friendships - a good thing, as pointed out, even a great necessity for progress. But, such invites have served as a catalyst for the reaction inside me that "stirs up" the fact that I am eternally stalemated; I am eternally damned!

Mandi, I'm sorry that this has stirred maybe some animosity toward me. This certainly wasn't my intent. This has nothing to do with anything but my pent-up voiceless frustration over my current situation and has nothing to do with you or MNJ.

I apologize for giving it voice, and will proceed to go back under my rock and "keep to myself".

Beck said...

MOHOH: "Well, Beck...

You're in an understandable predicament as a man in your situation and I want you to know that I love you and admire all the good you are trying to achieve in your life.

You know, however, that this won't get better until you either 1) face the facts and talk to your wife about your pent-up feelings that are keeping you so self-suffocating, or 2) be content to not progress and live this angst-filled existence for the rest of your life.

I suggest, if you have not been or are not able to discuss this openly with your wife, then please sincerely seek after someone, a counselor or other trained professional, who can help facilitate the dialogue between the two of you that is long overdue.

Meanwhile, I do not condemn you. I commend you for being raw and real, and think it is good that at least you have this blog with which to vent some of this angst. Best wishes, my friend..."

There. So how did I do? Please correct me as you see fit.

Beck said...

SEAN: I appreciate your advice, and know your position as you've voiced it in the past with welcomed reception on my part.

I hope to be able to be in a sound and mature enough situation by Christmas that such a "meeting" can be handled in an above-board manner, with no imagined "badness" or "ramped up emotions".

Take care, my friend, in your new adventures!

MoHoHawaii said...

Love it. You do a pretty good MoHoHawaii. :- )

That's pretty much the advice I would have given in 2009. For 2011, I want take it to the next level. Recognizing the progress you've made over the past several years, it's time to shake it up a bit. You might say something like the following to your wife:

"Honey, I have decided to meet some of my online friends from time to time. I know that this freaks you out, and I understand where you're coming from 100%, but I've made my decision on this.

You don't need to worry about infidelity or that I will "go gay." When I went to therapy last year, I could have chosen to work toward separation. We were both deeply unhappy at that time. Instead, I chose to work on strenghening our marriage, and we've made real progress since then. I feel closer to you than I have in a long time. I also have made a commitment to you and to myself not to do anything behind your back. I intend to keep that commitment as well as my temple covenants.

I'll let you know what I'm up to, and in fact you are even welcome to come along and meet some of these friends and get to know them and even meet their wives. If you don't want to do this, that's fine, too. I don't expect that I'll be doing this very often, but having the freedom in our relationship to have these social connections is something I feel strongly about.

We have been married a long time, and in all those years I have never been unfaithful to you. I don't plan to change that now. You can choose your level of trust in me, and the more you trust me the happier and stronger our relationship will be. I want your blessing, but I'm prepared to proceed without it."


How 'bout them apples?

Abelard Enigma said...

MoHoHawaii - I agree with the spirit of what you're saying; but, the tone comes across as confrontational.

Abelard Enigma said...

oops - clicked 'publish' to quickly on my comment

How about something simple like:

"Honey, just wanted to let you know that I'm meeting a friend for lunch today."

Is she's like my wife, she'll respond with something like: "one of your 'friends'?" [using a voice inflection] to which I'll respond with "yes"

Is it really so important to distinguish our gay friends from just being friends?

Scott N said...

Sounds to me like you've kept the lid on the pressure cooker too long...

I agree with Mandi: meeting guys in this state (when the excitement and anticipation are so hot) is probably not a great idea.

Meeting guys in this state behind your wife's back will almost certainly destroy all of the trust that you've built with her over the last year.

I don't think you should "abstain" from meeting MoHo friends. I don't think it's emotionally healthy--long periods of abstinence will result in situations exactly like the one you're experiencing.

I agree with MoHoHawaii that you need to inform your wife (as opposed to ask her for permission) that you are going to meet friends for lunch (or whatever) every once in a while. I'm not sure that his proposed statement was "too confrontational" (ala Abelard) because it needs to be a clear statement of fact, without any hint of "asking" (based on your wife's discomfort with such meetings in the past).

My suggestion: don't meet anyone this weekend, unless you're willing to call your wife first to tell her that you're doing so. If you do meet anyone, make sure it's in a public place, and meeting two or more guys at a time would be better. (It's not that I don't trust you to behave yourself--it's just that putting yourself in a situation in which you have to exercise such rigid control is a form of self-torture that should be avoided).

Going forward, talk to your wife at the earliest convenient moment, giving her something like MoHoHawaii's speech. She will be disappointed. She will be hurt. You will feel guilty for causing her discomfort. Do your best to move forward despite the guilt, and actually make meeting MoHo friends a regular occurrence.

With time, it will get easier in many ways. You'll be less angsty. The buildup of pressure will be eliminated so you won't have the tension and excitement that a meeting this weekend would include. You'll start to trust yourself more, and be more confident in your ability to be appropriate, and your wife will also (hopefully) come to see that there's no harm in such meetings, and that in fact they are good for you (and by extension your relationship with her).

It's entirely possible that continued meetings with MoHo friends will cause you to question your choices (more than you already do). It's possible that you will want a little more as time goes on. That's okay--each of us constantly evaluates our lives to determine whether or not we're on the course that's best for us, and that's particularly true for those of us who aren't being who we naturally want to be. If anyone is dedicated enough to his wife and the life he's built to get through this ongoing self-evaluation, it's you.

[[HUGs]] and best of luck in whatever you decide!

Neal said...

Oooh, I love what MoHoHawaii wrote. You nailed it!

Ruby Tuesday Williams said...

You know you want to meet them- hell, you're already slobbering all over them. Just get it over with.

robert said...

Just kiss the guy already...enough talking and hand wringing...maybe you'll find the gentle kiss and caress of another guy will inform your heart more than anything else about "next steps". I could and would go on, but it gets really steamy, sweaty and hot from here on out :)

Invictus Pilgrim said...

I'll held off commenting because I'm so new to this - but wanted to offer this thought, Beck. As a further embellishment on what MoHoHawaii said, perhaps consider telling your wife this: that not meeting with MoHo's as friends is making the situation for you worse, not better. That you need that contact in order to keep things healthy, which will make you a better person and a better husband. Just a thought ... One that I'm considering in my own situation.

Lois said...

I could offer advice, but really, I want to know-what did you decide???

Beck said...

MOHOH: Thanks for your well-thought and caring words. They have given me much to think about.

You're right. My answer was from a year or two ago. Your answer is more appropriate.

Now it's finding the appropriate opportunity with maximum potential acceptance of the message.

ABE: I agree that confrontation is not what I'm seeking, but it's gone beyond the compromise stage where it's "my way or no way" attitude that I've been willing to try to live under. So how do I get the point across that MOHOH so eloquently outlines without sounding confrontational?

Beck said...

SCOTT: I didn't take your advice. I didn't have time and the situation and opportunity didn't allow for more flexibility.

So now I've got to get through that one. But your point of "informing" is a good one to a point. I agree that I need to "inform", but shouldn't the message be one where she "understands" instead of one where she is left along the highway standing on the curb as I gun the engine and take off into the sunset without her?

Am I really ever going to have the confidence, courage, and guts to take the next step? Avoiding conflict has been my standard mode of operation. You say it gets easier, but does it really? And you say that maybe I'll find myself re-evaluating other aspects of my life? These gradual steps are not what I want to take... steps AWAY from her and into the new me! I don't want to take steps away from my life and marriage. I just want to have an occasional connection with others who really do get me and accept me... that's it... no other big steps to change anything more.

Is that too little to ask or expect?

Beck said...

NEAL: I love what MOHOH wrote as well... just maybe toned down a notch.

RUBY: Sorry to disappoint you but no slobbering occurred and emotions stayed in check. Read my next post.

ROBERT: A quick kiss and hug, yes... Something more steamy? Well, a part of me may certainly have wanted to, but the mature and proper me took over. Maybe some day I'll truly understand "the next steps" and whether I truly want to take them or not. At this point, BECK wants to! But do I? Yeah, I do, too... but will I? Probably not. Sorry to disappoint.

Beck said...

VIC: I understand that concept. I've discussed it before in detail (about a year ago) with her and she didn't buy it. She couldn't see how my being in contact with guys that I potentially am attracted to and they me, could be a "good thing" a "healthy thing" for our marriage.

I've still got to figure out how to say that the connection, in the right (public / open / "sacred") setting with her knowledge can bring me healing and peace and affirmation without endangering our marriage, our relationship and our future together.

Finding that magical "fine line" is what I want to discuss in a near future post.

But thanks for your kind words. Your new blog is incredible and I've enjoyed tremendously in getting to know you better in the last couple of weeks. I pray that you can find that "fine line" with your wife, and get her to that point of understanding that I think we are both seeking, and then you can tell me how it's done! Deal?

LOIS: Still interested in your advice, but as to my decision and what happened, read the next post...