THINGS I’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND—EVER
Over the past 29 years, I think I have learned about every possible situation when it comes to straight/gay marriages. I get it—no matter how I don’t understand some things—but I do get it. Most of the time—that is!
In fact, here’s a summary of what I do understand vs. what I don’t understand.
• I understand that most gay husbands (not all—but most) love their wives when they get married. They really are hoping against hope that marriage will change those attractions to men—but they don’t.
• I understand that gay men who get married really want to be straight. They are hoping a “traditional” wife/children family” will be enough for them—but it isn’t.
• I understand the need for most gay men to lead an authentic life at some point, so most of them need to leave the marriage.
• I understand that some gay men will live in denial for a lifetime pretending that they are straight while fantasizing and having sex with men in sneaky places.
• I understand that some gay men really believe they are “bisexual” because they have a wife to prove it. And if once in a blue moon, they can “perform” sex with her while they are frequently enjoying it with a man (men), they can believe in their own sense of denial that they are not gay but rather “bisexual.”
• I understand that some men will stay in a marriage forever because leaving it would be too “inconvenient” to them.
• I understand that when many gay men leave their marriages, some of their priorities change because they are now able to experience a new freedom. They are finding their way into their new lives and often make you and the family feel like you aren’t their top priority.
Now here are some of the things I don’t understand:
• I don’t understand why some gay husbands compromise their wives’ health by having unprotected sex with men and then their wives.
• I don’t understand why gay men are out there having multiple affairs before they can “believe” they are gay.
• I don’t understand how gay men marry a woman whom they supposedly love but mistreat her by making her think she’s crazy causing years of self-doubt and loss of self and sexual-esteem.
Okay, I admit I might be making some headway in understanding—not excusing, but understanding—how some of this happens.
But here is one thing I will NEVER, EVER understand. I’ll never get it.
In the past four months, two high-profile MARRIED “PUBLICLY STRAIGHT” politicians were caught having sexual relations with men. First, in August, you had Phillip Hinkle, a state representative in Indiana exposed due to text messaging he was sending to an 18-year-old male pretending to be 20. The news report said, “The Republican state representative had apparently responded to a posting on Craigslist’s “Casual Encounters” section, and he offered a young man $80 plus a tip to meet him at an Indianapolis hotel. Hinkle used his publicly listed personal email address to answer an ad looking for a “sugga daddy.” Of course Hinkle claimed he was not gay, and his actions were "stupid," but that he did not break the law. "I don't know what was going through my mind," he said. "I don't know why I did what I did."
Okay, so here an established, educated politician who is “straight” claims that he doesn’t know what was going through his mind. It reminds me of that commercial for Trix cereal. All I can say is Hinkle must be close friends with that “Silly Wabbit.”
Next, several weeks ago, a report in the news stated that:
A suburban New Jersey mayor who unsuccessfully sought a congressional seat as a Republican is being accused of paying for sex with a male escort and not following through on a promise of other gifts for the hustler.
The Burlington County Times reports that Medford, N.J. Mayor Chris Myers is being accused by the male escort of paying for sex during an October 2010 encounter at a California hotel. The man said Myers identified himself as a mayor from New Jersey and offered his township identification card and gold ID shield as proof during the early-morning meeting at the Fairmount Hotel in Newport Beach. He currently resides in his hometown of Medford with his wife of 15 years, Tiffany, and his two young children.
Okay, this is what I don’t understand. These high profile figures—with Hinkle involved in anti-gay legislation—are having gay encounters. Now I know that Ted Haggard—cut from the same mold as them—would call that “straight with issues.” I call it gay. You know my theory—if you want a penis, fantasize about a penis, watch gay porn, touch it, or have any sexual contact with it including masturbation or oral sex—it is GAY. I don’t care of you have a wife and children. It’s irrelevant to me. I don’t care if you have issues—if they are gay issues they are gay. Okay, you know my stand which never changes on this issue.
But here’s the part I don’t understand. How is it these men go and identify themselves to their young encounters bragging about their positions? They show them identification to PROVE who they are. They have to “impress” these young prostitutes that they are government officials. This is what I DON’T GET. Don’t they worry about the news coming out and how their wives and children will be affected? Do they think the 3,000 mile distance from home will never be discovered in this day and age of technology?
These guys are truly a disgrace because they bring public disgrace to their families. This is what I’ll never understand—a complete disregard for those who give them the most support in their lives—their loving families. It truly is an American tragedy.
My friend Annie responded to last month’s letter by A Reader. Here are her words:
Dear A Reader -
I know your head is spinning right now, we have been there. I know your heart is broken and shattered, we have been there.I am afraid for you, I don't want your relationship with your children destroyed.
I was there, I walk the walk - I talk the talk. My daughter had suspected and her friends at college set her straight about "his friend" always being with her dad when he visited. They are the ones who put the idea in her head. To her, he was dad's friend. After all, I visited with friends (female) and it meant nothing. I had many conversations with her over this. I did not feel betrayal, I felt love and felt her confusion on what to do, she was caught in the middle of this whole blessed mess.
Her biggest question to herself was - Did she tell me? Is it possible I could hurt more than I already was? I thought what happened between her father and I was a woman, I had no idea of the truth. She was afraid for me to know because I was so fragile in the beginning and knew the day would come when I found out (unfortunately it was her college graduation day) and you know what, she was there for me. I can still feel her arms wrapping around me from behind (she ran to me from across the street seeing the look on my face) I can feel her hands on my shoulders, embracing me and hear her whispering in my ear, how much she loves me, telling me it will be okay and we will get through this together. I felt bad I was not there for her when she found out but am grateful she had friends for support.
My daughter is the product of her father as much as I. I did not want her in the middle of this. It was not her fight, it was mine. For all the things I could say about him, I will say and will defend him, he was the best dad. He was always there for her. Her father traveled with his job but it was always around her schedule and needs, as it should be.
I do hope in time you find the answers you are seeking, we all asked them a million times over. If they do know, there is probably a reason and when the time comes, you might have your answers, like I did.
As for close friends who knew and didn't say anything, I had two. We were close almost sisters, so they knew all my doubts, all my questions, the anger I felt at times etc etc etc. Why won't he make love to me anymore? What did I do that he looks at me with such contempt in his eyes. Why does he treat me like I have an incurable disease? Why do I have to ask for a hug? Why does he tell me no when I do ask? Ya Ya Ya - The list goes on. Again, in time you get your answers. I confront them, asked them why, got their answers and have nothing to do with them. Time is too precious, they are not worth my words nor my breath. To me, they died. I told them the same thing I said to gay husband, NEVER DARKEN MY DOOR STEP AGAIN.
I hope this helps. You can contact me anytime, I will always listen.
Annie - firstname.lastname@example.org
I just read your newsletter and thought I'd write to you about my experience of telling the children.
After I found out, and after I rejected his assertion that it was my fault he had an affair; after I refused to agree to his statement that it was only our business - no one else's therefore I shouldn't tell anyone; after I refused his suggestion that he stay in the house, lead his gay life and I would just be the housekeeper (this was supposedly "for the children's sake") - after all this, I did a lot of reading and internet searching, and came to the conclusion that the children should know.
- they already knew something was wrong
- kids really HATE being lied to (this was the biggie)
- there had been enough deceit and I wasn't willing to perpetuate it
- it just felt wrong to try and keep such a huge secret from them
This wasn't a toy for Christmas - it was something which would change their lives forever.
They were - boy aged 15 and a half approaching final year of high school, girl a month after her 13th birthday and in first year high school and boy a week after his 10th birthday whose teacher had been hit by a bus and killed, outside the school gates only a month earlier, so the timing was very poor for all of them. Still, I instinctively felt that they should know the truth, and that they would get any support they wanted from wherever I could get it for them.
After a lot of talk, GEH (gay ex-husband) and I agreed a time, place and manner of telling them. The next day he told the 2 younger ones while I was briefly out of the house (not agreed) so I insisted he tell the eldest as well that evening. We then talked to them together a few days later and I spoke with each one individually. At the time it was awful, mainly because he had told them all sorts of stories, but gradually they heard the truth. They each took it differently. The 2 older ones clammed up and it took some time, after counseling, for them to regain a sense of balance. They were both hugely angry at GEH, and spent very little time with him (not that he was available very much - too busy exploring his new candy shop). The youngest one's comment was "If it didn't matter before when you didn't know, why does it matter now?" I couldn't answer that then.
With their permission, I told a trusted staff member at each of their schools, who all agreed to look out for the children, and eventually the older ones each had regular counseling with a professional at their schools. It took a long time, and each has a relationship of sorts with their father - the youngest is rather a love/hate one (he is now 15, and has Aspergers & Tourettes syndromes so it's always going to be difficult). The older ones see through him more now, and do tend to use him a bit for their own convenience but that is between them and him. He doesn't really put himself out for them - most of what he says is for show and they realise that now.
If I were asked, I would advise telling the children the truth - of course it does depend on their ages, but I think that from about 8 or 9, a child can be told realistically what is happening. I would never ever condone keeping it from teenagers or adult children. It's hard enough for the wife as it is without having to keep his secret from their children and I don't believe that older children would thank their mothers for keeping the secret.
Anyway, just my thoughts, feel free to use any of it if necessary or to forward this to anyone who is interested.
I am full of rage again today. I thought that was behind me. I divorced him six months ago, went to therapy, and recreated my life here in Florida. I contributed to Bonnie’s Straight Wives, Shattered Lives, Volume 2. That contribution was also a kind of therapy. But today I am raging, because my experiences today are so typical of the stories in that book! There is a pattern to this, for all of us in that book. Dealing with a gay man, whether you are divorced or not, is the same for all of us:
First, it is never about us. It is always about his life, his needs, his pathetic childhood, the torture he endured, the torture he continues to endure. In my case, he only exited the closet to act out his fantasies a number of years ago. He said he “Had no choice but to accept the love God was pouring down upon him.” But of course, he could not tell me because he didn’t want to hurt me!!
But also, in that time of accepting God’s love, he needed to share with only those he must share with in order to keep God’s love flowing. Today, he actually believes that he should continue that charade so that he can protect his sexual partner, who lives in the same town and continues to try to keep his marriage together. He is deeply involved with yet another man, but continues to live out the “my wife left me here in this big house and moved to Florida,” routine. And now all the widows in town are thronging around him in support, and to their faces he actually says, “I will not have anyone run my wife down. She is a good woman.” What a mealy-mouthed cop-out! They naturally all conclude that he is a saintly man who runs Bible studies, prays earnestly with any number of counselees, and got the royal shaft from the woman who divorced him for no reason at all. If they only knew that he not only has a married lover, but also a lover the age of his son! We spent part of this week finalizing the monetary division after the divorce. The conversation lasted an hour, during which I was able to say almost nothing. He ranted and raved about how “generous” he was by making his will and giving me everything when he dies. Yet in the meantime he is moaning and groaning about how difficult it is going to be to maintain his lifestyle on his income, which is actually more than what I get. But because he “has to keep this big house,” he is to be pitied. At the end of the conversation he said, “This has been such a good conversation, because we both agree on everything!” That is classic narcissism! It is the common thread to all the stories in this recent book. It represents a total lack of empathy for me, and for everyone who is in his immediate family.
Second, we do not deserve the truth. My ex-husband continues to decide what I can know and what I cannot know about his personal life. He tells the children, (who I forced him to tell before the divorce) and of course his most intimate male friends, that he is now seeing a man who is younger than his oldest son, but he has decided that I “am not ready to hear this bit of information.” Let’s see, how is this different than the entire scope of secrecy in our marriage? How is it different than the years since he came out to his male friends and started an affair, while treating me like a viper who invaded his house? How is it different than the repeated lies and absurd manipulation he treated me do during our entire life together? Yet today, still, after the divorce and the craziness of forcing him into the open with our children, he still is deciding what truth I should be entitled to hear!!! It’s because he doesn’t understand that I deserve the truth! I do not believe that these men are able to comprehend this simple, direct message. They just do not get it!
Third, these men all blame someone else for the difficulties in their lives. My ex-husband will blame his mother until he dies. She was a piece of work: She was also a narcissist, pathetic in her relationships with her children, never a nurturer. But I have noticed that most people I know have had a parent or grandparent who isn’t a nurturer. Lots of people have been emotionally abandoned, abused, rejected. Heck, I experienced that as well. But do you know what? I got over it!! My life is my responsibility, period. Blaming someone else does not allow you to move forward. My ex-husband, I believe, also blames me: I wasn’t enough of a wife to have made him straight!!! He wanted more than anything to be straight, and I failed him.
Fourth, I notice a pattern in these stories about how our marriages came about. There is never a direct and simple, “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Here is a ring showing how much I want you in my life.” No…. In my case there was never a ring. In other cases, it was an oblique discussion that resulted in a date set. In others, it just evolved into a wedding ceremony. The book shows me how a commitment from a gay man is never really there!
Finally, these men still expect the women in their lives to make it right. My ex-husband expects the women in our small town to pity him, invite him to bridge parties, make over him. He expects our daughters to pander to him as a pathetic, misunderstood, and now gay man. He expects me to contribute financially to his lifestyle, since his life style is more demanding than mine!!!! I can live simply and don’t have as many financial demands, but of course he must have his usual eating out experiences, his sports events, his experiences with his lovers. I, on the other hand, have never had excess needs. I live close to the earth, I have a simple lifestyle, so my financial needs cannot compare to his, and in the entire scope of our marriage, he deserves to have some of my income! Today, on the phone, he made it clear: He should have half of my income in order to continue to live the kind of life he needs.
Bonnie, thanks for this book. It helps me to get perspective. If I can ever help anyone else in my geographic area, please let me know!
As I read through this last newsletter, I could feel the emotion and pain in the betrayal and lies that these women were going through. It sure brought back some memories of just how raw and painful being in this situation is.
It brought back the year 2000 ...all the suspicion I had that 'something' was wrong... the sleuthing I did to find the truth ... the lies ... being told something was wrong with me for even thinking such a "disgusting" thing ... convincing myself I just had an overactive imagination ... the sudden sex phase probably to convince me it wasn't true ... that gnawing feeling that something just wasn't right ... being told it wasn't him, it was me ...the anger ... the pain... being lied to again ... and then, finally... getting the truth that I desperately needed ... and my world collapsing around me.
I remember that pain. I wish I could hug everyone going through it now.
When I think of all the time I spent with those images in my head of what he was doing... and thinking what a fool I was the whole time ... trying to look back in the years in my head to see what clues I had missed ... I realized I had spent years of my life dealing with the aftermath of loving someone leading a double life and giving myself the strength to "un-love" him. I had to un-love him. I couldn't love him anymore, even though part of me wanted to. It was literally killing me emotionally and physically.
Fast forward to 2011. I am whole again. I have been whole again for several years. You really DO get through it. No way to go 'around' it... you have to go right through the middle of the storm and feel the pain before you come out on the other side. And you have every right to be MAD AS HELL, - don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Anger is part of getting through it. But it does happen. There comes a day when you realize it's him, not me... and you start to find your way back.
My ex died in 2008. But, I buried the pain of what he put me through long before that. I pray that all of your readers let themselves know and accept the truth and absolve themselves from any responsibility for it. I hope they all dig deep and find the strength to get through it and find themselves again -- the person they were before this deception entered their lives. It does happen, and I wish them all well and I hope they know that they are not alone on this journey, many are walking the same road. I am so thankful for you, Bonnie. So thankful for the help and support and love you have given me over the years. I am in awe of what you do so selflessly for others.
In understanding and love,
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support over the last three years. It has been an incredible journey, one that should have never happened and one that would have never turned out the way it did without the support over your monthly newsletters. I have felt that every one of your newsletters was speaking exactly to me and my situation. They really helped changed my thinking from being paralyzed with fear to “what am I going to do to make my life better”.
My ex-husband and I were married for 28 years. For most of it, I knew things were not right. It went to having sex once a week, to once a month, once a year and then about 9 years ago, not at all. The rejection was debilitating to me. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough, sexy enough, skinny enough. Maybe I wasn’t doing enough for him? Looking back, I can’t believe I wasted so much energy focusing on what was wrong with me.
About three years ago, I noticed that he was spending a lot of time on the computer. I bought spyware to figure it out. Sure enough, the evidence was laid out in front of me. At first I was mortified and terrified. Then it went to extremely sad and then I was angry. Angry that he heard me crying myself to sleep after another rejection and he knew the answer. Angry that I put so many years into a marriage that was doomed from the start. Angry that our kids (now 26, 22 and 14) lives would be changed forever. Angry that at 49, I had missed out on the best years of my life with a man that could never love me like I should have been loved. Angry that he wanted to stay in the closet and therefore was holding me hostage.
Today, I am happy to say that there is a bright light in my future. After keeping silent for 2 years, I started to tell a few close friends. Their reaction was so different than I thought. They were supportive, understanding and truly wanted what was best for me. I got to the point where I didn’t want to live another year, another month, and finally another day feeling the way I was feeling.
Last spring, I asked my husband to leave and he did. Although being a single mom and financially maintaining my own household has been difficult, I’ve been able to keep the house and am committed to doing so until my daughter graduates from high school in 3 years. The split was shocking to our children, and without my ex admitting the truth, there has been some blame thrown my way. However, even if my ex does not face his truth, someday I will be sharing it with them.
And, as it turns out, I am pretty enough, thin enough and loving enough. Just recently I started a relationship with a man who adores me. What a difference to be in a relationship with a totally heterosexual male! I didn’t even realize what I was missing. He can’t keep his hands off of me. He is affectionate, loving and sexual. He is totally present whenever we are together. Even after rambunctious night in bed, he can’t wait until I wake up in the morning to make love to me again. Life is grand!
So, Bonnie, thank you and all you do to support women who have gone through the experience of being in a relationship with a gay man. Even though for many years I was stuck and didn’t move forward, I was reading, re-reading and absorbing the information in your newsletters. At times I felt like nothing was ever going to change for me, but it did, and I am forever grateful.
Sue in Washington.
Thank you, my women, for sharing with others. You give so many thousands of people validation each month. If you would like to share a letter with our readership, please feel free to write one. I always ask first before printing it, and you can do it anonymously.