Saturday, February 25, 2012

When you said "yes" you really said "no"...



So... last week I sat on the front row of a Family Relations class with my wife at my side. The teacher, whether inspired or not, took my hand in hers and said something in front of the class but directly to me, staring me intently in the eyes - something that I've been pondering all week.

She said, referring to my wife: "When you said "yes" to her, at that moment, you also said "no" to everyone else, both MALE and female. You said "no" to other romances, needs, desires. At that moment, she became your romance, your need, your desire."

She then took my wife's hand, but still holding mine, and again speaking in front of the class, but directly to her, looked her in the eyes as intently as she had with me, and said: "When you said "yes" to him, you agreed to accept him completely and all that he is and isn't."



I was a bit shaken. I wasn't sure if she was inspired by the spirit to say what she said... but she summed up pretty precisely our relationship. Why did she say "MALE or female"? That sounded a bit odd. And why was my challenge to say "no" to everyone else and keep saying "yes" to my wife, instead of me being accepting of her? And why was she told to "accept" me for who I am, instead of saying "no" to everyone else?

In other words, she unknowingly cut us to the core, stripping all facades away. Maybe it was my fear of my "secret" being out that I felt like I was hiding behind a shear veil and everyone could see me for who I really am.

I am left wondering if I, forever, am to strip myself of my desires, needs, and attractions for men, and attempt to fill those needs instead with her. She, knowing of my desires, needs and attractions not naturally focused on her, is left, forever, to accept the real me for who I am. That is our lot in this life.

I'm struggling to put my desires and needs away neatly in the corner to focus solely on her, and yet, that is still my goal to do so. I have committed my life to be there with her, focused on her, focused on us. I don't always do that. I allow myself to drift at time, using means of "self-medication" to meet my boxed up needs. She knows, even if she doesn't fully understand. And for whatever unexplainable reason, she continues to accept me, the real me, and has come to accept that this is who I am, and for whatever reason, she still loves me just the same.

Now, those statements the teacher made could have been made to any couple. I understand that. We are not unique.

But, the uniqueness of our marriage, and its particular challenges we face together each day, hit home all the same.

And so it goes...

***

By the way, this is my 400th post! I'm quickly approaching the completion of my 6th year of blogging. At the rate I was posting in the first few years, I should have reached this point much sooner than now. At the rate I'm posting now, who knows if I'll get to 425 let alone 500 posts.

I have promised myself to continue to blog when I feel what I have to say is relevant to me and to this audience. At the moment, the frequency is down.... down, but still not out.

17 comments:

naturgesetz said...

Wow! Just wow.

Assuming she doesn't know, she must have been inspired, even though, as you say, the same words apply to every other married couple in the world.

Powerful encouragement to remain faithful. I don't think you (or anyone else) can strip yourself of your desires and attractions. I think all you can do is continue to say no to them.

Chris said...

I think that the comments of your instructor have succumbed a little to hyperbole (not at all uncommon in Church speech). No one person, even when sexual orientations are well matched, can meet every need of another person. If that were so, we'd find a mate and go off to a cave and sever all of our other relationships. Obviously no one does that. Each of us derives meaning from relationships with parents, children, siblings, friends, teachers/mentors, co-workers, etc. Each of these individuals meets certain needs in our lives, though usually they are only emotional, social and/or spiritual needs. Sometimes we have unmet needs or desires that are not met in any relationship we currently have. Moreover, needs change as well go through life. Our changing relationships, especially when it comes to friendships, also reflect this reality.

If the unmet needs in a person's life aren't too great (i.e., the glass isn't too empty), then I think that person is in a good position to have a pretty fulfilling and happy life. Mixed orientation marriages often pose a daunting challenge to this unmet needs problem. Unmet sexual, romantic and emotional needs may be pretty substantial in such relationships (on both sides), especially when we are talking about the span of a lifetime. Oftentimes flexibility in marriage structure is necessary to keep these marriages together, but orthodox Mormonism doesn't really allow this (especially for romantic and sexual needs). I'm just preaching to the choir, but being gay, married and orthodox Mormon can be a really steep and tortuous road.

Kengo said...

Beck, come sempre, grazie.

This bears application in my life. I think, really, it applies to all marriages just as you've said.

Brian said...

I had just read an article, "Top Five Questions Asked About Being A Bisexual Minister," on the Huffington Post, when I came across the blog you wrote today. [See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-janet-edwards/top-five-questions-asked-about-being-a-bisexual-minister_b_1280433.html?ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices].

I haven't looked at your blog for a while, so I can't quite remember where on the spectrum of gay to straight you identify yourself. But having once been in a mixed-orientation marriage myself, and knowing how difficult it is for church members to accept bisexuality in someone, let alone homosexuality, I thought this article had some good things to say. Although I'm very happy with my partner of just over 7 years, I was previously married (to a woman) for almost 26 years, and I still have happy memories along with some very painful memories of those years. Being LDS made it that much harder because there was no one to say, at that time, "you're just fine as you are!"

So much of my energy was wasted, back then, in attempting to change -- because I'd been told and had bought into the idea that even one's sexual orientation was amenable to change through the atonement of Christ. I no longer believe that; sexual-orientation, to me, is as morally neutral as being left-handed of blue eyed.

There is so much more peace to the concept of which the Presbyterian minister speaks of, Jeremiah's statement that: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." (Jeremiah 1:5). And I agree with that. What we are - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex -- is perfect, as is, in the sight of God.

Beck said...

NATUREGESETZ: These are powerful words of encouragement to remain faithful to the marital vows. They do apply to anyone who is married, but they hit hard particularly to my and my wife's situation with the carefully phrased nuances.

CHRIS: Yes, it was "church speech" for sure, and it should be taken in the context of the setting and the audience, no doubt. I just found it interesting the way it was phrased and the way it applied to my mixed-oriented marriage.

Of course she did not believe that we need to live in caves or have no other friendships, social interactions with family and friends and associates. That wasn't the point. But with regards to the romantic side of things, she was stating it fairly clearly and it hit me hard.

I've allowed myself to venture often into the "bromantic" world of closer than normal friendships with other men, and have spent a great deal of effort in the recent year or so to curb those and restrain myself from those relationships, finding them pulling me away from my marriage and unnecessarily complicating family life. I have found my relationship with my wife improved with the focus (and work) of concentrating more on her. At times I do better with this effort and I see the dividends. At other times, I don't. It is an ongoing challenge of the mixed-oriented couple.

Flexibility would be nice and accommodations would ease the "effort" to make things work, but in this Mormon marriage, those accommodations are not totally possible. What is possible is increased understanding, acceptance, tolerance and love that can continue to be nurtured despite the mixed-orientation challenges.

Beck said...

KENGO: Grazie per avermi dato il tuo risposto! I am excited to see you still around and still following. I'm glad you are alive! And I'm pleased you can find some applicability from this post.

BRIAN: Nothing has been said about "changing oneself". I have accepted that I am a gay man married to a woman that I love. Thus, as my therapist pointed out, I am a bisexual man with gay attractions. I have accepted this.

I have posted several times in the past few years that I have had deep spiritual convictions come to me that I have always been this way, that who I am is essential and eternal, and coequal with God, even as an intelligence and pre-mortal spirit. Thus, I don't have a problem with needing to "change" as there is nothing wrong with who I am or the way I am attracted. And I have become quite comfortable with my attractions, thank God!

My wife has come to terms with it as well, and has accepted that I am who I am and that I am not going to "change".

What we ARE working on, and what this post is about, is the romantic commitment to each other and this, as you well state and know, is a challenging road to take, particularly in the confines of the LDS community.

I'm not implying that it is the way all mixed-oriented marriages within the confines of the LDS community should be. I'm not even implying that it is possible. What I am saying, is this is the road I am taking, having pulled back from other more free-ranging options, and so far I'm still somewhat sane enough to keep going... with a relative degree of happiness along the way.

Andy said...

"I'm not even implying that it is possible." I get that, I live that. So why do some of us insist on trying? I have often wondered lately if my "willingness" to make my marriage work is because I am not brave enough to chart a new course. Do I hurt my wife more by staying?

Bror said...

Yes, I said "yes" at a time when I thought the "no" could be changed. sigh

Beck said...

"So why do some of us insist on trying?"

I can only speak for me, but for me, I keep on trying because I have a firm hope in the Plan. I keep on trying because she keeps on trying, and as long as she keesp on trying I feel it requisite to try as well. As long as we're both willing to work toward that common goal, it's worth it.

"I am not brave enough to chart a new course..."

Oh, yes, I get this. I am definitely a coward to chart a new course. I do feel, however, that there are times when this new course-charting is more appropriate than others. Maybe even stating that is a braveless response. With kids and family dynamics, some times are better than others and for me, right now with those dynamics, I'm content to keep the course I'm on... call me a coward!

"Do I hurt my wife more by staying?"

That depends on our wives. As I stated above, as long as I see efforts and work and desire on her part to "stay" with me, I don't feel I am hurting her. I hurt her when I desire romance beyond her. If I do that and still want to stay, then I am hurting her.

Beck said...

BROR: I said "yes" when I couldn't even imagine that there was a possibility of saying "no".

I feel for you but challenge you to not "change" the no, but to confirm the yes.

*sigh*

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

Thanks Beck for your response.

Ned said...

When I asked her to the dance, I did not know how long the night would be. I promised her father that I would return her safely to her home. The night is not over. She's danced with all of our children and grandchildren. So have I. She has danced with extended family, school, career and church. So have I. She has not danced with any other women and I have not danced with any other men. But I have stood alone and watched so many others enjoying the dance. I have talked with a few other men off the dance floor. We have had some wonderful conversations. The dance is not over. My wife and I, although both distracted, are still on our date. My promise to return her safely to her father still echoes in my mind. Sometimes overshadowing even the best music I've ever heard.

Beck said...

Thanks, Ned. That was beautiful!

Ned said...

Thanks, Beck. Looking forward to your next blog. Thanks as always for inspiring me to think, to write, to complain and to count my blessings.

santorio said...

duh, of course she knows.

Sarah said...

Just stopping by. I haven't been here in a really long time. Hope you are well!