I am a woman married to a man who identifies as gay. He was out and proud when we met 12 years ago, and was confused to find himself very attracted to me when he is not normally attracted to women. He eventually pursued a sexual relationship with me, basically couldn’t keep his hands off me, even more than any straight guy I’d been with, and after three years we got married. So we’ve now been married 8 and a half years and things have been cooling off a little. I am really not sure what to do. We love each other and want to stay together. I don’t know if this is normal for a 12 year relationship or if it because he is gay. I asked him if he thought his being gay was causing a problem in our relationship and he said “yeah, cuz you get upset if I check out guys in front of you.” I explained that his being gay is not the problem. Obviously men are going to look at people. I had been upset when he was openly disrespecting me and drooling over someone with his gay friends right in front of me. Any woman would be upset by that behavior, whether the guy is checking out men or women or whatever. I do not care at all if he is attracted to men as long as he is attracted to me, and as long as he is polite in public about it. Anyway, I have had lots of conflicting advice from different counselors about our situation. Some think he is just a normal guy and if I treat him as I would treat any straight guy, things will improve. Some say he is gay and will never be fulfilled by me. We think both those views are extremist and inappropriate for us. Any thoughts/advice?
I do have some thoughts on this matter but I don't know if it's what you want to hear. First let me say that you have to understand I am a long-time gay activist whose message has always been that it's okay to be gay, and that the whole point of Gay Rights and an acceptance of homosexuality is that gay men should be with men [to be true to their natures] and lesbians should be with other women. Therefore, I have never been a proponent of "mixed marriages" between a gay man and a straight person [or a member of the opposite sex, regardless of their sexual orientation.] You might say, well isn't gay rights about people being free to be with whomever they choose? No, for me it was about men being free to be with men and women with women. Mixed marriages generally come about due to the unhealthy needs of the two parties involved. The gay partner somehow needs to be seen as straight by society at large [which is where the wife comes in] and the straight partner simply wants to ignore the realities of the situation -- their partner's true sexual orientation -- out of their own, sometimes self-centered desires.
It seems a little odd to me that you say your husband is/was an "out and proud" gay man at one point, when many today would assume he was bisexual. If this is not the case [and without getting into the fact that "bisexuality" can on occasion be a completely false identification, political correctness be damned] then the relationship doesn't seem to make much sense. Why on Earth would you want a gay husband, and then have to play "policewoman" when he's out in public? If he's gay he's going to be attracted almost exclusively to guys -- this is something he simply can't change. It seems you've set up a tremendous burden for yourself by marrying someone who plays for the other team.
I also have to question his motives. You say he was "Out and Proud" but you may not fully understand what that means. There are, sadly, men who are openly gay but who are still full of guilt and shame and for some reason desire a heterosexual relationship. Women who marry guys like this sometimes suffer from self-esteem issues; they feel they can't do any better. So instead of being good friends to these guys and encouraging them to accept themselves, they marry them!
I'm going to be very, very blunt now and wonder just which of you is paying the bills? I don't like the way your husband tries to sort of sidestep the basic issue of his being gay by making it not about his sexual orientation but about your objecting to his flirting with men in your presence; it's a bit disingenuous of him. But I also have to say that your attitude of "I do not care at all if he is attracted to men as long as he is attracted to me, and as long as he is polite in public about it" is completely unrealistic. Even borderline homophobic. Why not just let this guy be gay and find a perfectly nice straight guy -- they do exist!
I have to agree with those who say that a homosexual man can not be completely fulfilled by a relationship with a woman. I have met and known many homosexual men with wives and sometimes families, and while these men may love their wives as best friends and companions, they can feel no true romantic passion for them. Often they fantasize about men while they are engaging in sex with their spouses. If this guy openly flirts with guys in front of you, you have to assume he's hooking up with them as well. One-night stands can lead to affairs can lead to long-time relationships. [I also have to say that I'm bothered by your use of the terms "normal guy" versus "gay," as if I have said anything over the years it is that being gay is not abnormal. Women who think they're somehow "saving" their men from homosexuality are way off the beam.]
I have made it clear in other posts that I have always been sympathetic to women who inadvertently marry men who are homosexual. I have also maintained that women who marry gay guys -- men they already know are attracted to men -- in the hopes they'll change, stay on the straight and narrow, or somehow magically transform into heterosexuals are asking for what they get. Which, invariably, is disappointment.
My advice is to turn your husband into a friend, and look for a genuinely heterosexual man to have a completely fulfilling relationship with.
It's not the twelve years -- it's that your husband is gay.