DRY GAY HUSBANDS
On my radio show in July with my monthly last weekend co-host, Dr. Brian Hooper, a new thought suddenly dawned on me. Some of you are married to gay men whom I will call "DRY GAY HUSBANDS." This is a term that I have adopted from the AA group which defines a person who is not drinking but acting out in the same way as a "Dry Drunk."
According to an article on the Internet, "The term dry drunk is believed to originate from 12 Step recovery groups. It is used to describe those who no longer drink alcohol but in many ways behave like they were still in the midst of addiction. The dry drunk may be full of resentment and anger. Instead of finding joy in their life away from alcohol, they can act as if they were serving a prison sentence. The only change this person has made is to stop drinking, but in other respects their life remains the same. Friends and family can complain that the dry drunk is almost as hard to be around as they were when drinking. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they describe it as a person that hasn’t touched alcohol in years, but have not yet managed to get sober."
The article continues to say, "The individual has a low tolerance for stress. They easily get upset if things are not going their way. Such an individual can suffer from loneliness and lack of interest in activities to fill their time.
Denial can be as big a problem for the dry drunk as it can be for the practicing addict. The individual may refuse to see that their life in recovery needs to change. Due to this denial they may continue to live a miserable life in recovery indefinitely. Recovery is not as satisfying as they expected and they will feel cheated because of that.:
There are some similarities here to the men I now call "Dry Gay Husband." These are gay married men living with you who believe they are making the grand sacrifice for their families by staying with you. They aren't necessarily out there cheating, but they are fantasizing, watching gay porno, or masturbating--actually anything that isn't directly cheating on you. Oh yes--they still aren't having sex with you. Look, if he has to suffer and sacrifice his sexual happiness, why shouldn't you?
Some of you have told me that your dry gay husbands refuse to admit they are gay. Trust me--they are not doing this to "gaylight" you--they are doing it because they don't believe they are gay. Here is how their math goes:
Watching gay porno + fantasizing about sex with a man + rejecting wife = STRAIGHT!!!
How could they possibly be gay if they are not doing the deed? By why aren't they doing it?
Just as the article says about alcoholics, the same remains to be true for gay men in "recovery." They are staying in their marriages out of a sense of shame. They don't want people to know they "could be" gay. Maybe if you weren't there holding the tightened leash around their necks, they'd be responding to the ads on Craig's List. Maybe they would want to stay anonymous and answer ads on Grindr, the gay phone app where you put down your location and everyone within minutes who wants to "hook up" with a stranger answers. Maybe he would be satisfying those normal gay urges for gay men if he had the time to deal with his sexuality--but he doesn't. You have him on the "short leash" making him feel he can't do it.
Two good lessons can be learned from this. Let's compare.
First, the dry drunk.
The dry drunk may be full of resentment and anger. Instead of finding joy in their life away from alcohol, they can act as if they were serving a prison sentence. The only change this person has made is to stop drinking, but in other respects their life remains the same.
Let's compare the dry gay husband:
The dry gay is full of resentment and anger. He doesn't feel joy in leading a straight family life, and he acts like he is living a prison sentence. I remember my ex often saying to me, "I feel trapped." I didn't understand the meaning of those words. "Trapped how?" I used to ask him. It made me feel as if he didn't want to be with me. I never forced him to do anything he didn't want--and in fact--did most of the things he wanted to do. But he still felt trapped. I didn't understand it back then because I didn't understand gay back then. Now I do. I really do understand. When a gay man is living a straight life, he does feel trapped because he is living a life that isn't his to live. He can't be honest about it out of "fear" (#1 greatest reason why they don't tell you), "shame" (#2 reason why they won't tell you," or "love" (they love you too much to tell you). So instead, they will blame you for their unhappiness (after all, they are sacrificing their happiness for you), blame you for their failures (you are never supportive enough), blame you for the lack of passion in the bedroom (you are always thinking about sex--can't you give a guy a break?), and blame you for any other unhappiness they are experiencing that has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. They are gay men misplaced in a straight marriage. That's the only problem.
Oh, to sidetrack for just a moment--here is something I really hate. I hate when these dry gay husbands fall out of "recovery" and back into the gay world and meet someone. That's usually when I'll hear from the several hundred men who write to me or call me each year for help. They tell me how hard they tried for so long to be a good husband and a good dad.
They tell me most of those gay attractions they may have previously had were gone. And then one day--out of nowhere, a man comes into their lives and all of those doubts disappear. They finally feel whole again. They now know what they've been missing. And--they can accept the fact that they are gay.
Then they ask me what's the best way to tell you--the wife. The only strategy I know how to work with is the truth. Not, "I'm thinking that there might be something different about me," or "I'm think about it sometimes, but then the feeling goes away. I tell them: "NO!!! No false hope." I don't believe in dragging this out one day longer giving you a bigger chance to live in bigger denial by being a "better wife." No, not me. Almost all of the time I can get men to be honest--at least about being gay. But here is what I really hate. When a man says to me,
"Why do I have to tell her?" and I say, "Because it's the right thing to do," and he comes out with, "OUR MARRIAGE WOULD HAVE ENDED IN DIVORCE ANYWAY.
"Why?" I ask.
SHE WAS MUCH TOO...PUSHY, DEMANDING, SUSPICIOUS, OVERBEARING, NON-SUPPORTIVE...SEXUAL...NON-SEXUAL..OVERWEIGHT...UNDERWEIGHT...
AND HE EXPECTS ME TO BELIEVE IT BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BELIEVE IT!!!!
In other words, if you would have looked or acted better, he wouldn't be gay. UGHHHHH.
That's when I have to slap some reality into them, but they don't want to hear me.
Anyway, getting back to the second point about the dry alcoholic:
Recovery is not as satisfying as they expected and they will feel cheated because of that.:
Translation for the dry gay husband who is still living with you:
Living the straight life is not as satisfying as they hoped and they feel cheated because of that. Oh yes they do. Here is a typical statement from this kind of gay husband:
"I stayed with my wife for 22 years until the children were grown. I did the right thing by my family. Now it's time for me to do the right thing for me because I've been cheated out of the best years of my life. Look what i sacrificed."
The majority of these men may have stayed--but was it really the right thing? For those 22 years, how many times did his wife wonder where she was going wrong in the marriage? Why didn't her husband want to touch her anymore? Why did he always get so angry with her? Why couldn't she ever make him happy for any period of time? Why did he accuse her of all the problems she created in the marriage when she didn't mean things in the way he misinterpreted them? And now he's going to blame you because you were too suspicious...needy...possessive...jealous... Oh yes, jealous. How could you not be jealous knowing your husband would rather masturbate than touch you? I say PLEAZZZZZZZZE!!!!
Yes, there are a lot of z's!!!
I know that breaking up is scary and very hard to do. Been there, done that. However, living with someone who is so emotionally out of touch with you and verbally or even sometimes physically abusive is no way to live either. Living without human touch or emotional connections bring you down--they never lift you up. Don't tell me that you buy into your husband's words of, "Well, most couples stop having sex eventually." But after two or three years of marriage when you are in your 30's? I don't think so--unless they are gay. And straight couples have years of sexual enjoyment to remember. You don't.
Some of you really feel stuck. If you need support or help in getting "unstuck," then write to me at Bonkaye@aol.com. You can't save a marriage to a gay man--even the ones where he isn't cheating in person. Face the fact he is not the man for you--and there will never be a right woman for him.
There is no "break-up to make-up" as the song goes. Even when he comes running back to you after a few months with new promises of good behavior and love after his first boyfriend breaks up with him, he is just running scared after someone broke his heart just like he broke yours. Don't be lulled into that blanket of false security because as fast as you wrap it around you is as fast as he will yank it from you--and he will. Break up--and don't make up.
If you do, I promise you he will be a dry gay husband and only make you miserable and blame you for keeping him down. Been there and done that too!