Pretzel Logic. That’s the name of a novel about the straight spouse experience that was published a few years ago. Its also the term straight spouses use to define the statements of some of our gay spouses that don’t make sense to us.
Here are a few examples of pretzel logic:
I had to have sex with men/women because you didn’t give me what I needed.
Why didn’t I tell you sooner that I was gay? Well, I didnt want to hurt you. (after a long term marriage)
Don’t be silly. Everyone is gay. All men are curious. Something is wrong with YOU for thinking this. You are narrow minded.
Oral doesn’t count.
Its not cheating if its with the same sex.
I’m not a lesbian, I just fell in love with a woman.
We didnt get divorced because I’m gay, we got divorced because you are (fat, thin, ugly, bad housekeeper, too busy)
I’m not gay, I just like having sex with men.
Me gay? I don’t believe in labels.
Don’t be silly. Women always kiss their girlfriends (negating the difference between an affectionate greeting kiss and an erotic kiss)
You don’t understand. Those guys don’t mean anything. Its just sex. You’re my wife.
Some bisexual men do report that they feel intimate love with women, but their attraction to men is just sex, with no intimacy attached to it. However, to the woman who is committed to a monogamous marriage, “just sex” is still cheating.
None of these statements make sense when applied to heterosexual infidelity. What matters to straight spouses is our experience in the relationship – and our expectations. Its difficult to change those expectations suddenly. We expected that the person we married was sexually attracted to the opposite sex, like we are.
Many straight spouses recognize that being gay is not a choice, but being honest is. We also recognize that being honest is painful. For us, whatever might have contributed to the breakup of the marriage or relationship is clouded by the fact that our spouses are gay, and view us from that perspective. Nothing we can ever do to ourselves or the relationship will change that.
One of the primary needs we have from supportive family, friends, and counselors is affirmation. Its a double whammy when we are working our way through pretzel logic to resolve the relationship and move forward with our lives. Often there is no outside affirmation of us, just questions about our judgement, our motives, our perceptions.
The Straight Spouse Network is a primary resource of peer to peer affirmation and support. It’s helpful to connect with others who have heard many of the statements mentioned – and learn how they worked through it.