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Questions About Staying Together

In this section:

  • Can a mixed-orientation relationship work?

  • What adjustments will we have to make for a gay/straight marriage?


Yes, gay/straight couples do stay together for many reasons, initiating a variety of rules. Each couple has to establish specific terms of their relationship. That can be a difficult task. Sometimes it works, but the average length of such an arrangement seems to be about three years. An essential key to remaining together is a strong commitment by both partners to be completely honest with each other, and to be willing to respect that each other’s needs.

Making rules

Many straight spouses find it helpful to make a list of nonnegotiable and deal-breaker rules of behavior. The lists include things like a promise of fidelity, or an open-marriage agreement, including rules such as “no extramarital activity in our home”, “must be home for birthdays” etc.

Issues which are important to you now, may change over time. Something that you found unacceptable in the past may become acceptable to you in the future. Likewise, you may have thought that extramarital contact would work for you, and realize after a period of time, that it does not. Don’t be afraid to voice concerns and re-negotiate when necessary. 


We strongly suggest that mixed-orientation couples wishing to stay together become involved in one of the support groups that allow both partners to be members. SSML-MOR (Spouse Support Mailing List for Mixed Orientation Relationships) is a Straight Spouse Network affiliated list where either or both partners can participate. 

 We also suggest that each partner participate in support groups separately, so that they can ask questions that they might not feel comfortable asking in a mixed support group.