I was recently asked to give advice to a young woman in love with an admittedly gay young man who keeps asking her to marry him. Oh boy...
For starters, let me refer ya'll to an email I received a few years ago from a young woman (published with her permission - but name changed), and the responses several women in our group gave her.
"I just recently discovered the We Are Wildflowers web site and read several stories about incredibly strong woman and their gay husbands. I can't tell you the impact it had on me. I felt by reading these stories, I was seeing a preview of my own life fifteen years down the road. My name is Jeni. I am 21 years old and very recently graduated from BYU. My best friend, boyfriend and soul mate of the past three years, told me two months and four days ago that is he gay (it feels like so much longer.) He has been involved in gay relationships for nine months. I know that the magnitude of other women's emotions and hurt must far exceed mine since there were actually married but so much of what was said describes my relationship with terrifying accuracy. His incessant cycle of leaving and coming back, wanting to be together or not, claiming to be willingly to do whatever it takes and then backing out, is the roller coaster we live on right now. We were never officially engaged but we were supposed to get married in September of this year. We are currently living together as, probably, a very foolish way to become even closer and see if we stand any chance at all of being able to make this work long term. I love this man to the depths of my soul. He is very honest with me now about all the homosexual activities he engages in and I've even gone so far as to meet and spend time with some of his "friends" just to try and make things a little easier for both of us. We have even gone to counseling a few times together. He is at the crossroads of deciding if we can make it work together or if he needs to live the other life. I am at the precarious position of knowing as a result of numerous confirmations, that we were meant to be together and weighing this against the undeniable fact that he is actively gay. I love him. He is my best friend. I know him inside and out. I guess my one question is, knowing everything that you guys know and experiencing everything you've all been through, if you were back at the point in your life where I am now at, would you do it all again? I am very interested in talking to whom ever has time and is willing to share their experiences with me. From what I can tell, this group seems amazing and exactly the help and direction I've been frantically searching for. It is so hard to not have anyone who understands to talk about this with."
I would advise her not to marry him. She can be a good friend because in the end that is what he will be...either that or worse someone she will resent the rest of her life. Men who play the back and forth game will never be able to give her the peace and feeling of trust and security she deserves. I would tell her that if she loves him and wants to be a part of his life be his friend. If she marries him she will probably have an unfulfilled sex life as well as her emotional needs may not get taken care of either. So it is better that they remain friends.
The authorities of the church have counseled those with SSA [Same Sex Attraction] not to marry until the issue has been properly addressed and if he has been living an active gay life for 9 months he is not resolved. If I were to go back I wouldn't do it again and this is the first time I can say that without wondering. It is too hard. People say but you got your kids out of this. Well I believe I would have had them anyway. I may have just had a supportive loving husband here to help me and then maybe even make love to me in the evening after the kids went to bed.
Jeni, my only thought has been to add a different dimension to your thoughts. I think about my kids. I would NEVER DO THIS AGAIN for all the pain that it has caused them. They are about to both have birthdays and be 6 and 4. Two boys. They have been through so much and I'd never do it again to them. I'd go through so much sadness and pain and whatever I had to in walking away from the love of my life, my soul mate, my best friend, my whatever if it meant sparing children pain and struggles.
I didn't think about children really before I got married. I didn't know my ex was gay, but I did know he couldn't tell me that he loved me. He couldn't connect with me emotionally. We were everything else and he had "good reasons" and "explanations" why he couldn't connect the way I could. I only thought about me and thought that I'd just be fine, I'd struggle through it, I'd be able to change that in him, if I loved him enough and expressed it to him......I regret that I never thought about how his lack of emotional giving would effect our boys. That is one regret that I will always, always have. There is nothing I can do about it. I fight that everyday... the effects of that are devastating. And I would NEVER EVER do that again.
So those are my small thoughts for you. Sacrifice yourself is so much better and easier than seeing your children suffer each day. My boys are better than they were 2 years ago, but it has been such a hard fight and it will be a fight for their entire lives. I am sorry that I have done that to them.
You are so wise to be seeking advice and support at this stage of your relationship. And this is, without any doubt, the very best place to find it. Jim, my husband of 26 years came out to me in January of this year. We have 4 children, two boys ages 25 and 22, and 2 daughters, ages 20 and 16.
I would TOTALLY agree with everything that has been said up to this point about the pain and emotional disconnection and wreckage for your children. I have lived with depression, despair and loneliness for at least 20 of those years. My children have struggled, also, with depression and even drug/alcohol abuse. They are now struggling with a divorce, seeing their formerly ‘active’ LDS father no longer attending church, and sorting out what all this means to them. We have always been considered an active, dependable family in our ward, clear up until January. Then, in one weekend, that all changed forever. Like Colleen said, quoting Dr. Phil – this is our “new normal.” But it is NOT what I dreamed of. I have had to grieve my dreams and let them go.
Jim is truly my soul mate. I still love him and he tells me that I am the only woman he will ever love. But that was NOT enough. We both agreed that we had confirmation after confirmation that we were supposed to be together. I still am not sure what that meant. I DO know that it meant that we had a deep spiritual connection.
Would I do it all again? That is impossible for me to even think about now. Like Julie, I grieve for my children and what this means for their lives. It is one thing to love a gay man, and quite a different thing to have a gay father. Because he was living a double life in secret (20 years of casual encounters and 7 months now of a committed relationship) that secrecy and lies became a slow poison that killed everything good in our family. I always blamed myself for the pain and lack of connection. Now I know it was his SSA that stood between us.
Interestingly enough, I just got off the phone with Jim. I read your letter to him. He sighed a big sigh, and said, “Tell her I just can’t see how it can ever work. He could never deny who he is for her. It [SSA] is too strong. It is who he IS. No matter how much I wanted to be ‘normal’ it just can’t be. “SSA is real. It does not go away. There are sites that talk about “reorientation therapy” or “healing homosexuality.” I believe that some people may be able to repress or live with the SSA and choose to be married or live alone. But when you realize that most people with SSA have known it was part of their live since before they were FIVE years old… what are the chances that it will drastically change?
All this being said, I get to your question of what should YOU do. Here is the answer… ready?,… NO ONE CAN TELL YOU. You have to follow your own path. But keep your eyes and heart open. One thing I can guarantee you is that you will have pain and grief, whether you marry him or not. It is part of life. But much of it is a choice. You have already made a choice that I think you are not happy with – to live with him. You have already started to give yourself away to him. KEEP yourself. A true relationship does not require one person to give up what they hold dear. And isn’t that what you are both requiring from each other? You are asking him to give up his yearning for masculine bonding, with the promise that you can replace it. You can’t. He is asking you to give up your hopes and dreams of a committed, faithful, worthy, mature husband. You can’t. You may marry him, but those dreams will still be written on your heart and will cause pain. You will see you children’s hearts broken. You will think you are making a difference, only to see it fall apart.
I would suggest a separation from him to see if you truly love him, or if it is a toxic dependency. To be a real separation, you need to have NO contact from him, and no contact with places and things that you shared together. Find a friend who can cry with you and has an objective viewpoint. Grieve, get angry, work out scenarios, talk it through without the rose colored glasses.
I haven't read anyone else's responses.
Here's mine "STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Be his friend, if you must, but DO NOT marry this man. Period.
Yes, there ARE exceptions. Statistically those who remain "married" fall into the less-than-one-fifth category. Yes, you could be one of the couples who beats the odds. But you have to truly ask yourself if you want him to stay married because he has been guilted into it?
I'm 53. My husband of 27 years told me he was gay in 1997. If I had known I would not have married him, particularly if I had been 19 NOW, in this climate that is thankfully at least a bit more exposed, educated and candid.
He is a gay man. He may want to be str8. Wishing (and praying) won't make it so. It is very much like eye color. He can want to be blue-eyed because everyone who is considered "acceptable" or "normal" or fill-in-the-appropriate-descriptor, is blue eyed. He can wear contact lenses to change the appearance. He may be accepted as blue-eyed. The truth is, he still has brown eyes. He knows it.
What it comes down to, I have learned, is TOUCH. It is the eagerness to touch and be touched. A kiss on the eyelids can be tenderer, more passionate, than "the act". We did not have that. My husband had the desire to be a husband/lover to me. It cannot be learned from a magazine or a video. It has to come from inside. It has to be instinctive. No wonder our sex life was so abysmal! There was no way he could ever be what I needed or what he needed. I was a virgin when I married. So was my husband. "Normal" for us, in terms of sexual intimacy was light-hearted kidding that I had the libido that he was supposed to have. I believed it. He was attentive. He was not passionate. He was dutiful, when necessary. He was actually fully engaged, it seemed, three times in those years. Why? Because he determined that it was time for us to have a/another child. This is NOT "normal." How do I know? Hindsight and real-life.
I belong to another support group for str8 spouses. (The Straight Spouse Network). Since I became involved with them, have met hundreds of str8 spouses in person, and corresponded with hundreds more via a private website. With very few exceptions, the stories are the same for both str8 husbands and str8 wives. Sexual intimacy was rarely, if ever, "equal." A good marriage is not about sex. A good marriage IS about intimacy. It IS about implicit trust. I don't believe that it is either fair or realistic for either of you to expect there to be complete trust if you go forward with this man.
Being gay isn't the problem, being closeted IS. Dragging some sweet sister or nice str8 priesthood holder to the temple hoping against hope that some miracle will occur is risky, unlikely, and wholly unfair to two otherwise wonderful people... before they have children. The legacy that this can leave for children cannot be described or measured IF the father/husband opts to behave in ways that are all-too-typical. (again, there are exceptions)
I won't apologize for the candor. You have the most extraordinary chance to NOT live our lives. Grab it. Embrace it. Be grateful to him for having the courage to tell you the truth.
Nothing you did made him gay. Nothing you can do or say will make him str8. Be his pal. You deserve something different. He will find his own way.
When I GREW UP I realized that there are many paths we can take in life--and one of the others would have been much healthier for ALL involved! Be his friend. Include him in your life. Get married and you and he can go out together with your spouses/partners. Now that I'm on the OTHER END--I see that friendship with him is so much better than marriage.
When it all comes down to it--as I said--I COULDN'T do it again--I can't even consider would I do it again--as this broke me. It does take everything you are--it destroys your life and it destroys the relationship. I might be friends with my ex now--BUT it is by far different than it was . . . I see that we could have maintained a close friendship and not had this huge burden of pain.
First, I want to just give you a huge hug because what you're going through is so tough. Now for the bad news. I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but I would have to totally agree with what the others have said. I didn't know my husband was gay when I married him. If I had..... I still don't know what I would have done. I might well have married him anyway. BUT... knowing what I know now I WOULD NEVER DO IT AGAIN. And it's not because I don't love him. We both agree that we love each other very much, but from this vantage point, there is so much missing from our marriage, so many painful, hurtful times that I didn't understand at the moment. We both would have been spared those. Not to mention the fact that after 15 years, it's not just about the 2 of us any more. Not only might my 4 children (ages 1 1/2-14) have to deal with the tragedy of divorce, but how hard would it be for my boys to have their dad "come out" to them right now, just when they are struggling through their own adolescence.
I wish I could tell you that love will conquer all, but it just doesn't work that way in this world right now. The wisest (and unfortunately most painful in the short term) thing for you BOTH to do is to move on with your lives. You BOTH will be happier in the long run.