“Why I Care” was the very first article on Straight Spouse Connection, posted on May 19, 2008. It launched this blog with an outline of my own experience as a straight spouse. The site’s purpose? “To explore topics relevant to mixed orientation families and particularly to other straight spouses.”
Through the ensuing six years, most regular readers have been heterosexual women whose mates were gay. The articles and reader comments were from the straight female partner’s point of view. Recently, that trend has shifted a bit. More stories and questions are surfacing from straight men with lesbian wives.
One such reader, who identifies himself as “Brassyhub,” agreed to write a guest post to describe his efforts to keep his mixed-orientation marriage together. Here is his story.
As good as it gets?
Perhaps this is as good as it gets. After all, what is a successful mixed- orientation marriage? Next month we will come to the first anniversary of my wife’s coming out as a lesbian. And we’re still together, still exclusive and faithful to each other, and intending to continue that way.
What a year of trauma it has been, mostly for me, but some for her too. The “D” word has been spoken, divorce. We’ve looked at all the other options: an open marriage, one side or both. Perhaps we’re going for the hardest option, or perhaps it’s the easiest, the one involving the least change. We both felt too old to start new lives. After all, there’s no guarantee of finding a better, more compatible partner even if we separate. We’ve invested a lot, most of our lives, in THIS relationship. And there’s a lot of good in it. We like each other; we talk together; we do things together (and apart). But we’ve never had much of a sex life, and now we have none.
We’ve agreed on a weekly cuddle, on a fixed time and day, and being the eternal optimist that I am, I can’t help hoping that this may become a little more. But I think that for now, my wife simply isn’t able to give any more. Her 30-year struggle against her lesbian nature and attractions left her asexual. So there’s very little intimacy that for me is such an important part of a marriage--the total giving and opening up, the vulnerability, the no hold-back, the closeness, the desire for the beloved other. We’re both mourning this sexual component of a loving relationship that we’ve never known and will never know if we stay together as we plan.
However, there’s a very deep connection all the same. She trusted me, she shared with me her deepest struggle, her darkest secret. We are friends and perhaps even lovers, but without the sex. Can this be enough for me? For her? We’ll see. But it’s already a lot. I have to learn to live in the present, with what I have, rather than dreaming of some future and improbable miraculous change. This can be a good day, with lots of good things in it, even without sex.
Perhaps this is as good as it gets, and this is success, not the miracle that I have searched for on the web, trying to apply someone else’s experience to our situation, our relationship. I wanted some magical way of arousing a lesbian who has no desire for me at all, but who has a lot of tenderness and affection all the same. There are no secrets, and there is trust. That’s a pretty rare and precious gift too.
There are no guarantees for the future--but that’s true of every marriage. Ours is just lived with a far greater realism about the fragility of all relationships. Brassyhub
Brassyhub’s account raises several questions that each couple trying to remain together might ponder. Among them: What are their realistic options? How strong is their mutual connection? What are the felt needs of each partner? Which of these needs are absolute, without which they must separate? How much change can each tolerate? What is each willing to give up in staying together? Perhaps most important, do they still love and trust each other, even after their secrets are revealed?
Brassyhub’s clarity in assessing his unusual situation is laudable. As he realistically points out, there is no guarantee of permanence in any relationship. His intention to stay in the present is good advice for us all.
Comments are welcome, particularly from other men in similar situations. What is your experience as a male straight spouse? How did you address your situation? Do you have advice for Brassyhub?