Some years back, there was a wonderful book about the misadventures a seemingly happily married woman had when she discovered her husband was gay. Pretzel Logic, by Lisa Rogak, described the convoluted twists of reasoning and rationalization we all experience in our marriages, tryng to understand and resolve our issues of marriage to a gay person.
The term Pretzel Logic describes a twisted reasoning that always brings us back to the same unresolved place, where we are the only loose end if we do not subscribe to the apparent logic before us. The end result is that we ourselves become twisted, and have a much more difficult time with our own recovery.
We encounter pretzel logic in discussions with our spouses, our family members, our friends (current and former) our clergy, and unfortunately, our counselors.
Here are some examples of pretzel logic – and a possible argument for each scenario:
- “It’s just the same as if I cheated on you with someone of the opposite sex. You should forgive me.” or “I didn’t cheat on you, it was just oral sex with a man, not intercourse with a woman.” No, it is not just the same. And yes, it is infidelity. It is extramarital sex.
- “If she’s happy, then the marriage will be ok, and I’ll be happy.” Unless you are ready for some non traditional arrangements from the beginning, are YOU happy with a wife who must have sex with anyone else in order to be happy?
- “I’m not gay, I just like having sex with men (or women, if a lesbian wife is talking)”. Again, is having sexual activity of any kind outside of marriage what you bargained for? Would that be an acceptable answer for heterosexual infidelity?
- “I’ve been honest with you, and your attitude is the reason this marriage is ending. You’re not willing to work on our relationship.” When did this honesty start? If it started recently, then no, your reaction to the deception is NOT the reason the marriage is ending. If you knew from the beginning that there was a history of same sex attraction in your spouse, you may not have realized how this would interfere with your marital intimacy.Gay spouses have had their entires lives to figure out that they are gay. You have been dealing with this reality for far less time.
- “I’ve changed. I’ll never do it again. You’re not being supportive.” Even if it were possible to change sexual orientation, there will always be a question of honesty and trust. When the support is there for “preserving the marriage” and “changing”, there is usually little to no support for the straight spouse as a human being. How will you cope with the lavender elephant in the room for the rest of your married life?
- Me being gay is not the only problem, look at you. You’re (pick one) a. fat b. insensitive c. not available d. narrow minded e. homophobic. Lots of people are fat and they stay happily married. It’s more difficult to embrace a new lifestyle than it is to embrace love handles. If the ideas proposed include open marriage, having it both ways, celibacy for one or both partners, closed loop relationships, then this is a lot for a straight person who thought they were in a monogamous marriage to be suddenly open to. Anger, revulsion, shame, and horror at discovery or disclosure that a spouse is gay or lesbian have nothing to do with homophobia.
- “You can’t tell anyone else. It’s wrong to out a gay person .” or “I’m out and proud and telling everyone we know, and if you don’t agree, you’re hateful and homophobic.” An individual’s sexuality is really no one else’s business except the people they have sex with. If a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered individual marries a heterosexual person, then it is the spouse’s business too. Coming out or staying in the closet affects the wife, husband, and children. The straight spouse is entitled to confide in family, friends, and anyone who will give them support for their healing, or for that matter, anyone they choose. They should also be respected if they prefer discretion among their family members and friends, or have concerns about children meeting a new partner while they are still coping with divorce.