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Personal Stories – Out Together

A collection of stories written by men and women in mixed-orientation relationships.

These are stories of couples who stayed together after the husband or wife came out, an outcome that is possible but is too often overlooked. Although there are many stories available describing the experiences of spouses who separated after a husband or wife disclosed being gay, lesbian, or bisexual, few reports about couples who stayed married are readily available. Making their voices heard is the reason for this "Out Together" project.

From Anne (straight). I am 70; my husband is 69. We have been married 47 years; have three children and eight grandchildren.

I found out about my husband's attraction to men when we had been married about fifteen years. It was ten more years before I learned he had been active. We then were on a plateau until 2003 when he went on line. Two friends visited us, but my husband didn't talk freely about the whole situation until early 2005, when he was in the midst of chemotherapy for a recurrence of leukemia.

He clearly was better off for being able to be open about his entire self with gay/bi men. I realized I needed to also be free to talk to women like myself. I joined some online support groups. Now I've made it clear that I want him to be his complete self, whatever that takes. He makes it clear that he is in love with me, but needs dear male friends he can be with, mind and body. For the future, we will be married and in love with each other until death separates us.

From Barbara (straight): We have been married 28 years. He came out to me, after I asked. We were watching a movie, whose name I've forgotten, but it involved a couple where the wedding is cancelled because he's gay.

Something clicked and I asked. He'd been seeing a therapist for six months, unbeknownst to me, and was trying to figure out how to let me know.

I/we never belonged to a couples (support) group. I was on the one list for maybe a week and didn't like it. I went to a straight spouse support group three or four times, but didn't care for it, because it was for men and women, and much as I could sympathize with the men, at that point I just wasn't interested in listening to them. So, the reality is that for the past seven years I've met once a month with mostly the same two women. Others have joined us here and there, mostly new to the situation, and they mostly drop off after a few months. At this point the three of us essentially socialize!

As to how we made our marriage work, there's the obvious: lots of talking, each of us at our own pace deciding we wanted to stay married. It took my husband about three years to come to that decision. I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to work. It didn't take me terribly long to feel ready for him to start his gay sex life, maybe four months from his coming out.

The progression, from dating to spending the night away, to his having an acknowledged boyfriend, to my meeting that first boyfriend, was a gradual one. I couldn't even tell you how long he's been with his current boyfriend; I think it's been three to four years. The fact I can't remember exactly shows how much this is a NON-issue in our lives now.

In broad generalizations, I can just say it probably doesn't work for most people, but it may work for a LOT more people than anyone is aware of. I doubt if there's a set of "rules" to go by, and if anything probably the fewer rules the better. Once you truly accept your spouse's sexual orientation, and are open to change, without losing anything of yourself (in my case I think I gained a much stronger person), a stronger marriage can evolve. That's what happened to me/us.

From Cathy (straight): I am a straight woman married to a bisexual man. Nine years into our marriage, he told me that he was, and always has been attracted to men, however he had never acted on it. Ten years later (19 years married) he experienced man-to-man sex for the first time and there was just no going back.

He waited seven months before telling me that he was having sex with men and that he had made one very special friend in particular.

In the days and months that followed, we had to literally throw out all of our expectations for a traditional marriage. My husband and I then slowly started to develop our open marriage. Many conversations and tears later, we are in a very good place. He continues to see his special friend, who is also married and "out to his wife." The four of us get along very well and socialize often. My husband is not in a closed loop relationship, however, so he also has the occasional hookup. In the meantime, I have met a nice straight man whom I see once a week or so. We have what we call a friendship with sexual benefits. My friend is also married and he and his wife have an open marriage.

My marriage is more loving and I would even say more fun now that it ever was before. My husband and I have become more comfortable and confident in our individuality...something that had somehow gotten lost over the years. We do things without each other, but we continue to come home to each other because we WANT to. It is our desire to grow old together, raise our daughter, and finish this life on earth well.

If I could encourage anyone in a Mixed-Orientation Marriage (MOM) it would be to talk-talk-talk. Communication and the willingness to accept change, even embrace it - it is key to making your MOM work. Not Every MOM will work; face it - not all straight marriages work. There is no correct path to give you a healthy and satisfying marriage. If you love one another and want to stay together be willing to discuss any and every scenario that comes to mind and be willing to step our of your comfort zones.

From Helen (Straight) and Claude (Bisexual): We decided to live separately once Claude came out to me after 22 years of marriage. Initially, I simply needed some space to breathe.


We decided to live separately once Claude came out to me after 22 years of marriage.  Initially, I simply needed some space to breathe. Almost three years later, living separately still works. Our time together is quality and intimate. There is no one I would rather spend time with. I had issues that I was unknowingly his "cover" during the marriage.

Living apart, I feel more assured that is/was not the case. We are in an open relationship and I knew if I were to see other men, it would be difficult to explain a husband at home. The same applies to him. So far, the space and freedom we have allowed one another has helped me feel loved and connected in our relationship.


I became fully aware of my attraction to men in my late 30's after a series of sexual dreams about men. I made it my secret and didn't tell anyone, even after I started acting out about six years later. After four years of infidelity, Helen confronted me with an IM (Instant Message) to a chat room friend, and the truth began to unfold. I told my daughters right away and my family of origin about a month later. Both Helen and I shared our news with close friends. I don't think it makes sense to keep such stunning news secret, too big a burden not to voice.

Anyway, it became clear that we needed to live separately to try and process the reality of our situation. For several months, we had pretty limited contact. Then, we began to reconnect, both emotionally and physically. I found myself falling in love with Helen in this new relationship, even though there were plenty of ups and downs, especially in the first eighteen months or so. The decision to continue to live apart was difficult, but necessary for us to move forward in an authentic relationship. It is true and very satisfying to realize that the time we spend together is intimate and by mutual desire. After all, we have our own separate roofs to live under anytime. In my mind, the fact that we spend most of our weekend time together, travel together, and have a satisfying sexual relationship is testament to the love we feel for each other in our new relationship. I feel very fortunate and have a genuine sense of happiness and contentment at the life we have created since 2003. It's just another way to keep a mixed-orientation relationship where both partners feel they are number one and on equal ground.

From Irv (Straight): My name is Irv and 35 years ago, I fell in love with and married a wonderful girl.

We have two grown sons, four grandchildren, and a good home. We have survived and held together through good times and the bad. And the good far outnumbered the bad. But about eight months ago everything changed. That is when my wife came out to me as a lesbian, and all that we had created together would have to be reexamined and changed.

But the honesty of telling me that was all-important. That made it possible to go on.

But, the marriage was no longer the same.

But, a bad marriage would have ended there.

I was under no illusion that my wife had suddenly chosen to be a homosexual. No one would ever make that kind of choice. I understood that a very powerful natural part of her had been suppressed for 35 years. We discussed all aspects of what this meant and looked into each other's lives. This was not a person who had ever been confused about her sexuality. This was a person who was a normal woman in wanting children, a home, and a respectable life. And, as society demanded, and as millions of women have done for centuries, she found a good man and married him. And for 35 years, she lived in a home and slept in a bed, where everything must have seemed wrong to a very strong part of her basic nature, and tried to be 'normal'. I can't see that she did that to hurt me, or to ruin my life. She lived up to every promise that she made at the altar. I also understood that she should never have been put in the position of having to be there. I understood that no one comes out of that closet, only to find that everything stays the same.

Nothing about this was easy for either of us. My wife needed to reconnect with an important part of herself where only a woman could be, and sort out what that meant for her future and the home she had built. I needed to accept that the relationship that I had lived in for 35 years had never existed, and come to terms with the past. I had never felt that I was in the wrong place. We looked at our years together, how we felt about each other, how we felt about ourselves, and what we each needed from life to be a whole person, and took our time. And there was so much that we shared and wanted to hold on to together. So we mourned the dead old marriage, and built a new relationship of shared ideas and goals and looked to the future where we were both free to be whatever or wherever we want to be.

And we wanted to be together. For now. And only because in 35 years we have become very good friends and partners. Friends who had to throw out a lot of old ideas and inherited baggage in order to change for our new life. We can have sex because we love each other, in our individual way, and not because we have to. We are both free to leave the formal legal 'marriage' at any time, or to look for that special person that we might want to be with or spend the rest of our lives with. But that may just be each other. But it may not be. There are no guarantees anymore. Maybe there never was. Maybe there is no such thing in any couple relationship, heterosexual or homosexual.

We are a man and a woman who have managed to live and prosper in a 35-year marriage that in retrospect had no chance of survival or even to get started; who have come to be very strong individuals, and who will decide their own individual futures. Who have kept a marriage together longer than most. And who have decided that they do not have to hurt each other. And do not have to blame each other. Or be possessive or jealous of each other. And who have forgiven each other for the past and for what the future may bring. And insist on honesty in everything.

Whatever it takes, we will help, respect, and look out for each other, no matter what will happen in the future. As best friends, who shared a good home and a long history, and who can now be happy when the other one is happy. And no one else gets a vote.

Love is not blind anymore.


From Jack (Gay): My wife and I are married 40 years. We are fifteen years post disclosure of my gayness.

I think the bottom line has been we both feel we are better off staying together in all ways. We love each other, but that love is no longer expressed sexually. We have 40 years of shared experiences that have been mostly positive. When bad things happened, we helped each other through those experiences. There is no doubt that economically we are better off together than separated. But I maintain two domiciles so that is not as great a factor as it might be for some couples. We do enjoy each other's company. We enjoy and do all sorts of activities together from movies, theatre, opera, concerts, continuing ed. classes at the local university, church, reading, and sharing good books. Post disclosure, I did immediately try to be gay celibate but that was not something I could achieve. I have a gay partner for nine-plus years. Kathy and he have met and shared a meal that he cooked for us in my home with her. They find the same faults in me and now join forces to get me to change. (They both steal the blanket and sheets from me at night.)

Making this all work requires work. Neither Patrick nor Kathy find my mixed-orientation bigamy satisfactory but prefer it to separation and/or divorce. How did we do it? Not sure, but we avoided ultimatums. Kathy was able to accept that once the gay thing (TGT) was out it could not go back in the bottle. I think some of the personality quirks that she found attractive were recognizable as part and parcel of my gayness. She, from the outset, understood that it was not a choice. While she felt hurt by my failure to disclose TGT before marriage, she was able to accept and understand that we were both victims of medicine's inaccurate understanding of homosexuality in its axiom that a man could be cured of his gayness by the right woman (WRONG!). I was a good partner for 25 years and a good provider. I had supported all her educational and career aspirations.

We tried opening the marriage for her, and she found the available pool of men unsatisfactory. Reassuring Kathy that I wasn't going to leave her was important. We developed assets for her in her own name so that she felt protected should I abandon her for my Mr. Right. Because of her bipolar illness, I affirmed my commitment to her. Had I not been able to express TGT it would have destroyed either me or the marriage or both. TGT is at the core and center of my being. To be me, I needed to express it and live it in some fashion; and that required gay sex.

From Liv (Lesbian): My name is Liv, and I was born a lesbian in a little town, fifty-four years ago, into a world where I was always a stranger, looking for myself.

I was Life's dirty little secret. I was a homosexual. All my life, all I wanted was to be just like everyone else, so I listened to my family, my church, my teachers, and my friends, and did what was the right thing to do so that I could be normal. I found a wonderful young man that I felt that I could love, and married him. And had his children, who had my grandchildren; and built a home full of love, and light. For everyone but me. I was in a small dark place, where something was terribly sick and wrong. So much of what I was had never been allowed to breathe, and was dying.

Eight months ago, I gave up my future, my family, my life, and my marriage, and told my husband the terrible truth. I was a Lesbian. I could not let this man, who had lived his life in my lie, go into the next day with this monster who had stolen his life. I would set him free to be where he should be. I loved him too much to be with me.

He didn't leave. He talked to me. He gave me a hug. He asked me what I needed to be happy. He told me that we - WE? - needed to find out how to go on, so that we could both be happy. ME? HAPPY? THERE WAS STILL AN US? So we ended the old marriage, and burned the faded wedding pictures, and stood in the wreckage, and looked around us. Just two people who could choose their own individual path to the future.

We looked at what we had built in 35 years. We looked at ourselves. We walked each other's lives, step by step. We looked at what our marriage had been, and found that that nothing there was so bad that it deserved to die. We talked, and talked, and never stopped. We set no rules. We read no books. We saw no therapists. We listened to no sermons. We just listened to ourselves talking to one another. And saw ourselves through the eyes of the other. And recognized the human needs of each other, and respected and validated them. We became friends who could accept each other for what we were; and live our lives, as adults, without the slightest regard for how others judge us.

And we are still talking, and living together and walking together in a place we both choose to call home. We are not children anymore. We are now the grown-ups, and we will set out own rules. And we are happy. And we are more than a couple. We are an adventure. Strange things grow from a scorched earth.



From Michelle (Straight): I am 32 and live in northwest Indiana about 45 minutes from Chicago. My husband is Jay is 31

Jay considers himself bi-sexual and is interested in cross-dressing. We don't have children. I have PCOS, a hormone condition that causes infertility. What has helped us is that lately we have been talking more about our relationship, about him being bi. Recently, he told me that he has been interested in cross-dressing for a long time. When he told me, he thought that I would be upset or shocked. I told him that after finding out that he was bi, cross-dressing was not a shock for me. Now I know why he always wants to buy lingerie, not for me to wear but for him to borrow. I understand cross-dressing because I often wear unisex or men's clothes myself.

Jay told me that he felt alone, so I encouraged him to join online groups. He has joined two online support groups and enjoys talking to other men "like him" through IM (Instant Messenger). We talk together about topics on the posts he receives. I feel that this has really helped him be more comfortable with himself.

We have come a long way on our journey. It has slowed down from being a roller coaster to a long hike on an unknown path. There are hills that are hard to climb, streams to cross, and skunks to avoid, but it is much calmer than a roller coaster. I hope that things will continue to improve.

From Marianne (Straight) and Anthony (Gay): Our story from both sides.


I love my husband. I love him wholly and completely. I enjoy being with him. I enjoy the experiences we have together and I love seeing things through his unique perspective. I respect him. I like him. As his wife, I honestly want him to be whole and happy. Selfishly, I want the full potential of what he brings to our life together.

Through this, I seek not only to accept his orientation into our life together but also to embrace it fully. It is part of the "who" we are together. It is both of our responsibility to make this work and we both have the right to be happy and whole.

Our life together is based on trust and confidence. It is forged by commitment and perseverance. The communication is open, honest, and unadulterated. We are both willing to try, to fail, to try again, to succeed, to fine tune, and readjust again and again. The evolution never ends.


We realized that being in a mixed-orientation marriage and making it work would take a conscious effort on both our parts. We also realized that we would have to address every other issue that a married couple faces. To lay a strong foundation, we moved slowly with the gay issue and focused in the other issues.

We worked on our communication endlessly. We built trust by both doing what we said we'd do and saying what we meant. We stayed within negotiated parameters and renegotiated often rather than ever breach a parameter. We worked out our money issues. We worked out our time issues. We looked at each of our family of origin issues. We looked at career and education issues.

By the time we did all that, the gay issue was much smaller, we'd laid a good foundation for addressing big issues, and we had a large capital of successes to draw from. Lastly, we approached the mixed-orientation issue from a perspective of fun, adventure, experimentation, creativity, and innovation. We saw it as an opportunity rather than a liability.

From Pam (Straight): I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I am a 53-year-old middle school teacher who absolutely loves her job.

I have a 28-year-old married son from a previous marriage (high school sweetheart); a 20-year-old son in college, and a 17-year-old daughter graduating from high school this year. Yeah!! Can't wait for that empty nest!

Bill and I grew up together. We were, in fact, sweethearts in fourth and fifth grade! As a teenager, I can remember all of us wondering about Bill, but, of course, in the 60's, we would not have talked about it. We ended up teaching together where we truly became best friends. My ex-husband was a very domineering hetero who made me feel lucky that he had married me, and I feel in love with Bill because he truly treated me as an equal and had characteristics that I admired and that my ex-husband did not possess. We dated for three years after I divorced, and have now been married for 22 years.

I suspected that something was not right for a long time; Bill was not happy, and I didn't know why. He avoided or explained things away, but in my heart I knew. I finally found emails, confronted him, and he began to gradually tell me what I already knew. That was in July 2002. We opened our marriage the following January, so we are coming up on almost three years of an open marriage. Bill is not the hook-up type, though he does sometimes when he is out of town. He is much more the boyfriend type. He has had several long-term relationships, but his current one with Larry of "Larry and Cathy" is the longest. They've had their ups and downs, but the four of us have a blast together, and even if the intimate side of their relationship doesn't last, I feel confident that we will remain very good friends. We just have way too much fun together not to keep doing things together!!

One huge thing that happened this year was that I did finally talk to my daughter. I have "known" that she knew about her dad for a long time, but it seemed something she didn't want to discuss. One night I finally pushed the issue, and we had the most wonderful conversation. Her biggest concern, of course, was my happiness. I think Bill and I have convinced her that we are truly happy and not just pretending. She seems much more at peace these days, though occasionally she will say that it is going to take her a while to get over the resentment that she feels toward her dad. At least she is open enough to say that to me, which I feel is healthy. The younger son in college knows because his sister does, but she has told me that he really doesn't want to "know." I guess we'll leave that one alone for now. I don't know if it is a male thing, or a personality thing. The older son lives in Seattle and wouldn't handle it well. He may have suspicions, but I think it would just be negative, and I don't think it is something he needs to know.

Bill and I are happier than we have ever been, and we have done more things and had more fun in this last year than in any year of our marriage. Things are truly wonderful here in Atlanta. The boat gets rocked every now and then, but it keeps us all on our toes. Complacency is the worst thing that can happen to any relationship. I know longer take anything for granted, and I live and love in the moment that I have been given. Everyone's home for Christmas, and we've been laughing and playing all week. Who could ask for more?

From Patricia (Straight): David and I had been married 35 years when I discovered that he had been contacting men on a voice mail service during the previous year for casual oral sex.

I was utterly dumbfounded and in total shock. He was 62 and I was 60 at the time of the revelation. My first thought was that he would want to separate, but he assured me that this was not what he wanted. He had always lived his life as a heterosexual and had no desire to take on a gay life style. He said it was just about sex and not about relationship, that I was his soul mate and that he would love me until the day he died. In short, I cried for three years almost every day. If there had been any absolute in my life, it was that my husband would never be unfaithful to me. Ours had been a soap opera romance. I had been married at 20, having come out of a pretty unstable nuclear family.

When David and I met, I had a two-year-old daughter. I divorced my first husband and we married twelve days after the divorce was final. David raised my daughter and we had two more children. David was a university professor and I, a high school teacher. At the time of disclosure, we had been retired for five years and were living "the good life." We had enough money to do pretty much anything we wanted. We traveled the world, went to the theater, volunteered in our community, and spent time with family and friends. We were perceived as leaders and a perfect couple with perfect children.

David was scared to death that someone would find out and was adamant about my not sharing the situation with family or friends. He saw his whole life and persona collapsing if he were discovered. My way of handling problems is to process them with my children and my close friends. Keeping his secret was very painful for me. I ultimately did disclose to several close friends, but was dismayed that two persons thought that I should leave immediately. I did go to a therapist who, along with two good friends, provided wonderful support for me. What the three of them did that was so helpful was to listen to me and validate my feelings whatever they were as I reeled through a roller coaster of emotions. My two good friends knew David and liked him very much for the remarkable person that he is. My therapist believed me when I described to her what a lovely man David was. The kind of support they gave me without judgment was so valuable for getting me through the hard times. David wanted to do anything he could to make our relationship work. He saw several therapists, none of whom he believed was helpful to him.

He attended and worked a twelve-step program for Sexual Compulsives. He and I saw a gay therapist who seemed to encourage us to leave one another and said that the biggest reason we were staying together was fear of what would happen if we separated. After our last session with him, we were both left sobbing for hours.

David struggled with his urges for years after the disclosure (and is still struggling I suspect). I tried to entertain an open marriage at least for him, but only ended up being able to say to him that he certainly could do what he needed to do, but I couldn't move past monogamy for myself. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't emotionally handle multiple casual partners for him. I had to accept that about myself. He said that being with me was the most important thing in his life.

We are almost five years past disclosure at this time. We have a deeply affectionate marriage, but we have not had sex in two years. I believe that David has not had sex for a year. Even though I am 65 now, this is a very sad thing for me. I am also sad that we cannot share this issue with our adult children whom we brought up not to be homophobic. I feel that they would accept their Dad, continue to respect and love him as they do now, that he would be more accepting of who he is and that the whole family would profit from the honesty and authenticity. But I continue to honor his wishes because I do not walk in his shoes. I continue to have an occasional bad day, but believe that our history, our compatibility, and our deep love for one another are way too much to give up at our age.

In two months, we are moving across the country after living in the same town for 40 years. We are leaving our deep roots in the Midwest for mountains, ocean, and an artistic community in the Northwest. I know that our leaving has something to do with the issue. I know that we are looking for a new life. I know that we take ourselves and who we are as a couple with us. I don't know how it will turn out. I am sad about leaving friends and family and I am hopeful and excited about the future and our life together.

From Trill (Straight) and Dennis (Gay): Our Story.


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