We must get well

While it might be debatable, just whether, to what extent, and in what order of events homosexuality is a mental illness, I think it’s quite certain that our marriages were very sick.

Living with a gay man is not an easy task, or a pleasant one. The first manifestation of this is a dearth of physical affection and intimacy. It’s highly revealing that one of the first things ex-wives want to talk about, when we find one another, is sex. Rather, the utter lack of it. It’s as if we’re grasping for reassurance:was my experience unique? is something wrong with me, or did you go through this, too?

One woman told me she could count on one hand the number of times she and her husband had sex – although they were married for more than seven years. My own husband would flinch if i demonstrated the most benign and nonsexual affection by resting my hand on his shoulder or his arm: “Don’t do that!” he’d explode. “You know that bothers me!” When he would condescend to hug me, it was done gingerly, actually touching me as little as possible, as if he were afraid of catching something.

For a woman who is as affectionate in nature as I am, and who came from a family of very affectionate people, that hurt terribly. It hurts all of us.

We were ignored, rebuffed, as companions as well as lovers. Our husbands didn’t mind talking about their work – a topic in which they could dominate and control the topic and our participation was severely limited, but they didn’t want to really communicate with us. Our husbands have used a lot of mechanisms to shut us out, from television to workaholism to spending all their spare time with their buddies …

And did you know your husband’s friends? Because I never met mine. They were “some guys I know through work,” but I never met them, or learned their names, or anything else about them. He never liked the men we went to church with. He complained they were snobs, while I thought they were terrific fellows. Now I realize that he – so many gay men – have to cut others down because they’re so insecure in their own tenuous masculinity; the men in our church, straight men, were a threat; through them he might be found out for what he really was.

And, of course, for so many of us, all these issues had to be our fault.

We’re women – we are created to adapt and to yield. When we are said to pour our selves into a relationship, it’s true: we adapt to fit the mold we’ve chosen. So when the “mold” kept changing and pushing us away… what’s wrong with me? became the relentless cry of our hearts.

Discovering our husbands are gay doesn’t quiet that cry, as noted by the point, above, that we seek reassurance from one another that our situation was not unique, and therefore was probably not our own fault.

So now we must take stock, recognize that it’s not us – if we’d been perfect, it would not have been enough! – and begin the process of recovering our own serenity and wellbeing.

4 thoughts on “We must get well

  1. I would just like to add that almost everything you describe about your relationship can apply to self-loathing heterosexual misogynists too, like my ex-husband. I’m left wondering not what was wrong with him or our marriage, but what was wrong with me for ever choosing him in the first place. That’s been my recovery process for the last 3 decades.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your perspective on a topic that so many don’t know anything about.

  2. momor- the difference is that while feminists often like to label heterosexual men as “misogynists”, their biology and hormones mean that the normal heterosexual male will never be truly misogynist- and while he may restrain his wife for his safety or the safety of the children, he will NEVER deliberately attack her or divorce her. It takes somebody under the influence of a mental illness to do that.

  3. Ours was not a marriage without sex thanks to his porn addiction and desire to have children. The marriage was, however, totally devoid of affection. You know how books like HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS, recommend talking about what your spouse does that you value? Well, it took me several years to wise up that every time I praised mine for something that made me feel loved, it would be removed. ASKING for any form of affection would result in him flying into a rage and verbally thrashing me until all I wanted was for the abuse to stop.

  4. I often wondered what was wrong with me during our marriage. Also, I wondered why an effeminate young man kept visiting my husband while I was at work.
    Another visitor towards the end of our marriage was an older gay man with teenaged children. This man’s wife had recently committed suicide, and he was coaching my husband to drive me nuts so I’d do the same. That way no expensive divorce or property division… My babysitter told me.
    Gay men have a lot of issues…truly, they are just not very kind people under their apparent friendliness.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog. It’s helped me, and I’m sure many others, to come to terms with the end of a painful and confusing marriage. 🙂

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