Well, it’s infidelity. Lies, cheating, deception and all that. Just like in REGULAR divorces. So just because your spouse has left you for someone of their same sex, you shouldn’t think you are any different from anyone else, right?
It is different. Way different. For the straight spouse, anyway.
When a man discovers his wife cheating on him with another man, he has a basic primal urge to beat up the intruder. When the other man is a woman, he has that same urge. But oops! Can’t hit a girl, you monster you. Well, just be more understanding and deal with it. Don’t express any anger, any hostility, any real feeling. Ah, drinking again I see. Well, just remember, if you’d been a better provider, lover, friend, housekeeper, father, etc, things would be different.
Now a man whose wife cheats on him with another man might own up to all the negatives in the last statement. He might own his part in the breakup of the marriage eventually, because as all counselors always tell us (or so it seems) “it takes two, you have to own your own issues”. But when a man’s wife has an affair with another woman he is left to wonder just what he could have changed about himself that would have mattered – because she’s gay and just not attracted to him really.
For those who think that having your wife involved with another woman is hot, consider this: How hot is it for most straight men to be nagged in stereo, or whipped by two women – and not be able to strike back or express anger because everything about being a man is viewed in the negative? How much of a turn on is that? It may be a staple of the porn world, but in the real world, it is not much of a turn on at all. How many straight women expect to come home to their husband after breaking up with the other man, and tell him the whole sobbing story about how they were dumped by the other man, or had a fight with him? Not many, but this experience happens with some frequency to men who are married to emerging lesbians.
Now lets talk about straight women and their gay husbands’ infidelity, or in many cases, infidelities. Along with straight women whose husbands are also straight, it certainly is possible that infidelity could happen because the guy married them for all the wrong reasons: money, position, appearances,baby making, mommy. But then there are the problems of the marriage that go with being unloved or unappreciated or devalued. She “lets herself go” and puts on weight. He tells her she’s unattractive. She’s a mess. She doesn’t do anything right. She’s depressed.
So they get divorced, they go to counseling for family issues. Somehow, her issues are the problem. The fact that he exposes her to AIDS, devalues her womanhood in subtle and not so subtle ways, and is on the “Down Low” or prefers anonymous bathroom nookie with a man he’s never met before to her love is supposed to be the same as if he cheated on her with a woman. That means she’s not worth so much after all. If he is cheating on her with a man who is the love of his life, that says to her that not only is her marriage over, but it was a total lie – and she is left to wonder if the problems with depression, unattractiveness, weight, housekeeping, etc are really her issues or if it was just a cover for him getting ready to discard her now that he’s done.
Yet, many gay husbands think that this means they are not cheating – after all, it’s not a relationship, or it’s not sex with a woman.
You never get a chance to work through what you could bring to the marriage to make it different, to possibly change the outcome if you choose to. No matter what you might do, your spouse is gay. You don’t have the equipment, and they’ve probably found ways to tell you how inadequate you are before they admitted the real problem.
You never get to own your own issues, because in many of these marriages you own nothing but the lie from the start.
Counselors need to recognize in working with mixed orientation couples that talking about the issue of homosexuality in the marriage IS working on the marriage, and that the straight spouse has legitimate reasons for bringing up their feelings in regard to this. Our need for affirmation at this time is often pretty keen, because so much of our own sexuality and personhood has been disaffirmed during the course of marriage.