My husband and I have been married for 23 years and have two children. At 17 years into the marriage, I found evidence that pointed to the discovery that my husband is gay and had cheated on me with men. Our first thought was that we would have to get a divorce. We had no experience with a MOM (Mixed-Orientation Marriage) and had never even heard that term referenced before. But the day that we were to list our home on the market to sell so that we could proceed with the separation and eventual divorce, I called Dennis and asked him if he really wanted to do this. He said NO! He just wanted me to be happy. I felt the same way, and so we decided then and there to find a way for us to remain married and work out the issues we faced or at least to try. It was not easy; we had years of marital neglect to overcome along with trust that needed to be rebuilt. Many of the issues we faced had nothing to do with the gay thing.
At six years post discovery we are still married and have found happiness as a mixed-orientation couple. We have redefined our marriage to allow for both of us to have sexual relationships outside the marriage. Our commitment to one another is to hold our marriage as our primary focus. If one or the other in our relationship decides that the open marriage is not working, then we will renegotiate the agreement. I have found that once the fear that my husband would leave me to seek out a male partner was removed, that I was comfortable with polyamory. Webster's Dictionary defines polyamory as "participation in multiple and simultaneous loving or sexual relationships." Dennis and I have added to this definition to incorporate our own personal desire to be each other's primary love focus. We respect each other and we keep our lines of communication open. I do not know if we will be together forever, but I think we will be. And at 23 years as a married couple, I think we are now at our happiest.
This March (2006) will mark Trill's and my 23rd Anniversary. Add a year and a half of living together, several more months of a close relationship, then subtract the past nearly six years that she has known I am gay. Well, it comes to a long number of years that I deceived her. For many of those years, I was very successful in deceiving myself. You see, I knew just the kinds of lies/truths to tell myself, to make it sound the way I wanted it to sound.
I have a clear recollection from around 1990 of driving up to a house to meet with a gay couple, and telling myself I was doing it solely to determine once and for all if I WAS gay. Afterward, I was guilty, miserable, unfulfilled. All in all, I had not enjoyed it overall, so I must not be gay. Not sure I can explain why I felt the need to test it every several months.
By 1995, when we moved to Ohio, Trill and I were drifting in a "comfort zone." We were always there for each other but things just weren't completely right. I was having more and more opportunities to "test." By now, I had stopped questioning the Why of doing this. It was just something I needed to do, and telling Trill I had been deceiving her was just not in my comprehension at the time. I had opportunities to "come clean" but always backed away, afraid of the consequences i.e., losing her. In retrospect, it seems obvious to me that I never wanted to lose her and what we had together, mutual love.
In this light, Y2K, year 2000, that fateful day in July, was a good thing for us. It forced BOTH of us to review what we had. At first, it was disastrous; we "knew" we had to divorce.
But days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and we came to an agreement to stay together...monogamously. My gay expression was to be satisfied only by the Internet. This went on for a few months, tumultuous due to Trill's shattered trust in me. It was somewhere in there that Trill proposed the idea of opening the marriage. I was in agreement, but I would have agreed to anything to try to keep us together. It was a long uphill struggle from that point as each of us dealt with the consequences of that decision. Trill had the added burden of battling with her tendency toward jealousy. Of course, I had to deal with that same jealousy (hers). For me, jealousy was a minor consideration. Her happiness was the primary one.
So now, four-plus years into this arrangement, we are in a very good place. Sure, there are still pitfalls. I, for one, have to constantly remind myself that we must always be working on making the relationship, the marriage, better. It's easy to get lazy, to get "too busy" with work or other interest, and forget to give Trill what she needs: assurance that I still love HER, first and foremost. As I tell men that I meet when they ask about my "availability status." I AM and intend to STAY married to a woman who is ONE in a MILLION