Friday, March 12, 2010

What is owed the straight spouse?

If you don't read this blog regularly, you might not realize that I often remind people that gays and straights shouldn't really marry each other, ESPECIALLY if either party thinks that straight marriage will change a same-sex-attracted person to be NOT GAY. If some want to knowingly enter a mixed-orientation marriage, then be forewarned that there are enough other stumbling blocks in relationships, that sexual mis-matches are ahead, with trouble and heartache to follow, and just remember, "Carol told you so."

Then there are the straight women, like myself, who unknowingly marry gay or transgender men, and they end up without means to continue their family life as planned. Often this is totally without warning. Other times it is the final result of dissonance that has been brewing for a long time.

Peterson Toscano's blog post (originally from last August), "Mixed Orientation Marriages–Fraud, Failures and Family"never gets too old to be discussed. My own blog entry is cited, and a wide variety of comments followed. Just a few days ago, Tracy had an EXCELLENT comment which came at the end of a long post/comments section
If only the family code allowed enough for a mom to carry on after staying home for years then one would not need to prove a tort case....These men are not as advertised and should pay to restore the life of their victims.

And I bring that question here: What is owed the straight spouse when the GLBT spouse can't continue in the marriage as was the commitment?

Gone are the days when a wife stayed at home tending the fires and washing the clothes. Most families are supported by two incomes, and it's a rare thing if only one works outside the home. HOWEVER, when one of those incomes is GONE from the family, and the remaining spouse is left alone, and it has nothing to do with fault on the part of the straight spouse, isn't there obligation to continue support for that straight spouse? In these cases, what should the obligation be?.

Aside from legal requirements, shouldn't there be monetary and property provision for the straight spouse? Shouldn't the GLBT partner willingly offer physical participation in raising the children? YES! (duh)

I'm often less-than-harsh toward the gay spouse, because I feel that coming out is honest. I feel that sometimes it can take years to come to terms with your sexual orientation, but most people say they "knew" years before, even if they didn't want to accept it. All that said, I think it is the RIGHT thing for him or her to keep helping the unknowing straight spouse, and I'll go so far as to say "innocent party," because that is how many of us feel. WE went into marriage in love, trusting for a lifetime of companionship, partnership, and family, and we end up alone. It's not fair, and we, as straight spouses, deserve, as Tracy says, to be restored.

14 comments:

Daniel said...

Absolutely, as a gay man who has never been in a straight marriage, I do believe what you are saying to be true.

If I were to have been married to a woman, and years and children later, I was to come out to her, I would want nothing less than for my wife to live as comfortably and as supported as I could, in all areas of life.

That being said, I do not know many straight spouses that are as supportive and understanding as you are.
I know a few angry and bitter ones. And to be honest, i think that is part of the equation ( and should be). But you have seem to be working through that pretty successfully.

Jarred said...

My own faith teaches that you are at least partly responsible for any situation you help create. Part of that responsibility is in taking care of whatever needs arise as a result of that situation. As such, I am in complete agreement with you.

Of course, I will also note that I think that certain segments of society have certain degree of responsibility in how they contributed to the creation of such situation, as well. When certain churches and organizations promote heterosexual relationships as not only the ideal expression of love, but the ONLY one and then encourage gay people to pursue that ideal in hopes that their feelings will change, those churches are organizations are also partly culpable for the pain and suffering caused to everyone when that ideal falls apart for mixed orientation marriages. Without excusing the gay men and women who have hurt spouses, I would also like to see those churches and organizations start to shoulder the burden of cleaning up the messes they helped create.

Of course, I'd also like to see more gay men and women to start realizing that those churches and organizations are making promises they have no way of backing up. It's time that we quit allowing ourselves to allow false promises and false hopes to become excuses for making bad choices that ultimately hurt ourselves and others.

Carol said...

Jarred - EXCELLENT point! If only those churches WOULD do that, so we have to keep pointing them in that direction. I haven't received any help from my church from any viewpoint. It would be wonderful if they would do as you say, and stop offering false hopes. Well said, Jarred.

Daniel, you are right about many bitter and hateful straight wives/husbands, but I also know of those who have been treated miserably, yet still can see the light for other glbt folks, and are supportive of them. I think you and I are on the same page. Thanks for your input.

Daniel said...

Yes,
That is what I meant by anger and bitterness being part of it.. and should be... I think it does have it's place in a situation like that.
ABSOLUTELY!

And I am sure there have been gay men and women who have been far from respectful and caring in such a situation like that.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as one of those angry and bitter straight spouses. I understand my husband had no choice about being gay. But he had a choice to marry me under false pretenses, start having reckless gay affairs 5 years ago and have unprotected sex last summer which led to him contracting HIV. Now he wants to walk away from a very long marriage at discount prices. I was a stay at home wife and mom for the majority of our 35+ year marriage and now my whole world is upside down. I'm living in a small apartment while he's kept the big, brick house in the suburbs. He has the vacation home and I have the pool at my apartment complex. He has a truck and a motorcycle and I have a car. He has 6 rooms of furniture and I have a futon, bed, dresser, computer desk, table and 4 chairs. And despite all that, he whines about not being able to afford to pay me alimony he agreed to in mediation. Maybe if he stopped living so high he could. Maybe it he stopped buying pot he could. Maybe if he quit going to gay clubs and paying for oral sex he could. I just have to remain hopeful that the legal system will hear my case and reward ME for the years I had stolen from me. And to be honest, I really wish my husband could come to better terms with his sexual orientation, get at peace with God and allow me to be as gay-affirming as Carol. He made bad choices, yes. But he could choose now to do the right thing.

Thanks for a great blog.

Steve said...

Hey Carol...

I want you to be healthy, whole, restored, and to have peace as well. I'd just add that it has less to do with your life with Ray and more with you being a cherished child of God with capacity to find healing.

Fifteen years past my divorce, I'm uncomfortable making mixed-orientation marriage and divorce too "special".

In the initial weeks of my engagement, I pleaded with God for clarity about my orientation. I didn't think I was gay, bi maybe, and I was head-over-heels in love with my fiance in every way. The answer I heard after much prayer was "Just Trust". I thought I was special, not realizing until years later that I hadn't heard the whole message. It was the mid 80s and I was convinced it wasn't possible to be both gay and normal.

There was much that was good in the life we had together. I could say that my love for my wife was more special than normal because it was intentional and deliberate, or because we did things together that most of our married friends didn't; I could say that it was less special because my libido didn't always match hers. But, I don't buy it... I had a husband's love for his wife, wanting the best with and for her.

When I nudged my way out of the closet 10 years later, saying "I think I might be gay, but I'm not sure, and that's why I started therapy," it was tempting to think that the circumstances were special. But I don't think they were. It didn't matter that I hadn't strayed from my vows, didn't even really know another lgbt person, and she was the 2nd person I confided in (after the therapist). It was still a betrayal, a crushing blow to her.

I think you get my drift... I know some gay folks have used coming out as the special ticket to guilt-free divorce, but most that I've known have had difficult, treacherous journeys through that part of life.

In my case, it wasn't special that I pressed for standard time with our kids, paid my child support, made sure they continued to have a stable life at home with their mom. It's just what dads do.

It also wasn't special that their mom used the courts and her church to put more distance between me and them, it was just what happens in contentious/ugly divorces.

The thought about "These men are not as advertised and should pay to restore the life of their victims" goes against the grain of what marriage is. Doesn't every person walk the aisle and stand at the altar a little scared that they won't live up to their own hopes and expectations, but determined to try with every ounce of their being?

To put it another way, would you be any less deserving of full health and restoration if the marriage had ended for a different reason?

Sorry to ramble on so long... I love the way your heart blooms in the words you write. Wishing you peace...

Wormwood's Doxy said...

As a straight spouse, I agree with Steve. I don't think my ex owed me something more or different just because he was gay. Most states split marital property evenly between the spouses in a divorce, so I'm not sure why it should be any different because sexual orientation is the cause.

The ending of a marriage is almost always terribly painful to BOTH parties, no matter what the cause. I don't think that heaping an extra helping of responsibility on a gay spouse is either fair or compassionate. My ex didn't marry me with a plan to hurt me and leave me. He was just as hurt and devastated by the failure of our marriage as I was.

I've discovered that most people don't change very much over their lifetimes. Good people tend to stay good. Selfish people tend to remain selfish. I'd love to know if Anonymous' husband was some kind of exemplary spouse before he came out. I doubt it--I suspect he was probably a selfish jerk when he was supposedly "straight," and now he's just the same person who happens to be gay. If she isn't divorced yet, she needs to get herself a good lawyer, pronto.

Pax,
Doxy

ajoyfulcry said...

my ex has always viewed our divorce as me punishing him for telling the truth. He seemed to forget the years of blaming all our our sexual dysfunction on the fact that I am a survivor of sexual assault.
I wish we could stay friends. I wish we could parent together, but his self loathing (thank you Catholic Church - which he continues to support, though having a partner) is projected on me. Six years later it is still acrimonious and I am exhausted. thanks for talking about this - it helps to not feel so alone.

Standing on Sand said...

I am so happy to find your blog. The comments from straight spouses as well as gay spouses and individuals provide various perspectives.

As a straight spouse, who chose to divorce my husband of 28 years, I can honestly state that the pain my family including my children and I as well as other family members have been through is truly unbearable. I am 55 and for years was rejected by my ex sexually. More so towards the end of the relationship but he flat out blamed his rejection squarely on me - telling me I was fat, old, ugly. Come to find out, he was having unprotected sex with men - many men. Unbeknownst to me, he had gay encounters prior to our marriage. I married him because I loved him, and wanted a good family life. This nearly broke me spirtually, financially, and logically but after 3 years of divorce, I am still rebuilding my life piece by piece. When I met a man who I truly felt loved me and whom I felt I could love - he asked me to marry me. My ex cruelly stalked me as soon as he found out I was engaged and then sued me in court to overturn our divorce agreement and sought full custody of our daughter - who he had virtually stopped seeing after two years. He told friends he wanted to stop my marriage and the drama had that effect. I am so tired. Some days I feel so much hope as my life takes a positive turn and I experience some peace. Other days I seem to realize that I spent my life loving someone who would not love me back. Someone who knowingly used me as a front to keep his secret. I was a prop in his "pretty" life. I keep praying and reaching for the positive and express gratitude each day for every person and blessing but a part of me is broken.

Stacy said...

Standing on Sand...
I am right there with you!!! Been separated for 4 years (not divorced because I am staying on his health insurance because I have some pretty bad health issues and cant afford private insurance even though I am self employed, I dont make enough)
But he only keeps me on his insurance because he knows people would hate him if he took me off, knowing about my health issues... so of course he is saving face by keeping me on.... and thats the only way his superficialness is working in my favor.
We dont have kids, some say luckily but I also never got to have kids because he never showed too much of an interest over the years and me, trying to be a good wife, believed that he was all I needed in life... and since he didnt seem interested, I didnt push the issue. Now Im going to be 40 in 3 weeks and pretty much lost all chances to have children. Besides, Ive been so depressed, what kind of mother would I be now? I am a totally different person... I used to be happy, always smiling... and now, I cant remember the last time I genuinely smiled. I spent Christmas alone, in my PJ's, on the couch with my dog. He proposed to me on Christmas eve... and we split up years later, 3 days before Christmas... so I have nothing left to celebrate that holiday.
Anyway, I feel that him knowingly entering into a marriage with me as a gay man, and me having no idea.... should be punishable by law. He conned me just as a con man would con someone for money.... why is stealing money illegal but stealing someone's LIFE and YEARS, not? To me, that time is worth much more than any monetary value. I can't get back the 15 years I lost... but someone can get back their money.
Its unfair that these men (and women) can do such things and its treated like a regular divorce. With a straight couple... at least 9 times out of 10, they both can look back on things and see the love and know that it was based on love regardless if it went bad. In my case (and yours), we dont have such luxury... we get to look back on what we THOUGHT was love and re live all those memories as deceit and lies and humiliation and then have people forever say, "Did you know he was gay when you married him?" and "Didnt you see the signs?" and "We knew he was gay? How did you not know?" and the best one is, and mostly this was said on the few dates ive had in the past 4 years, "oh so you turned your husband gay? snicker, haha, snicker"
Hence why I dont date any more. Its humiliating and devastating and no one...not ONE person I am close too, will ever understand. I mean, usually, when you break up in a relationship, your girlfriends are there to support you and they have all been through the same thing so they know how to help you.... but in this case, they have NO IDEA and to hear them try and stack it in the same column as any of their failed relationships, is just another slap in the face.... so after a while, with no one to talk to, you sit alone and cry. What else is there to do? Ive been to counselors but it gets so tiring to hash out the same crap over and over to yet another counselor because the last one was far from helpful. So, I give up. Ive become angry, bitter, hateful and want nothing to do with my once very social and fun life. I dont leave home other than to work, I dont date and I am just waiting for the end of all of this so I can be done. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me, and it takes every bit of strength I have to not end my life.....and I am (or was) a strong person. always could handle everything and have been though a lot in my life prior to this (abusive childhood, abusive boyfriend when I was younger, mom died in my arms, brother dropped dead, grandmother and grandfather brutally murdered, a lot) and I was able to pick myself up after all of it.... but now, I just cant. Anyway, sorry, didn't mean to depress anyone. Thanks for listening.

Carol said...

Hi Stacy - You are writing some gut-wrenching truth here. I know you aren't alone in how you feel, because sometimes I am right there, too. LOTS of times I am! It's gotten a bit better, but I know. Really know how you feel.

I wish I didn't read these comments early in the morning, because I have plenty to say. I just have to get to work, and must leave early because we've had a blizzard yesterday and the snow is bad. At least my driveway got plowed out yesterday, so I can get to the road. I hope the highways are clear.

Hang in there, Stacy.
hugs,
Carol

Anonymous said...

Selfishness.
Taking 22 years of someones life is ....very....selfish.
Really ? I poured out my energy, youth, effort, into a marriage that I thought was normal. oh, and included in the youth part....no sex. I lived a sexless life because I was faithful. This was all taken from me because of a deceitful person !

David said...

I am a straight spouse and a man. Maybe I'm different, but I feel a lot of empathy for my X and I have not had any trouble dating women. In fact living with a closet gay woman for 19 years probably has made me more intuitive to womens needs and by far a better communicator. I find that it is so much easier to get along with straight women.
I do get a lot of the "did you know" comments, of which I answer "no". Also at times I do feel cheated and betrayed, but I know that she may feel the same as well. We also had a very good sex life. She reciently told me that she would never want to be with any other man than me. That really helped me move on and realize that the marriage wasnt a total waste and that I have many good memories and a wonderful son from it. I do believe that God has used this experience to teach me about love and grace and that he is preparing me for a wonderful straight woman to share our lives and His glory with for the rest of my life.
I think that if she had left me for another man that it would have been harder. Hopefully your gay X will have the compassion to tell you the same and that you can see the good things that have come out of your marriage .

Anonymous said...

In May 2013, my wife came out to herself and to me after 33 years of marriage. I'd insisted that we went to a marriage therapist, since I had long been highly frustrated by our very low-sex relationship. My wife says she wants to stay with me, that she's not looking for another relationship, and she wishes that I could settle down to a no-sex friendship together. Like many men, I guess, I have tried to fix the problem, bought and read a host of books, spent hours on internet fora. I have been and am immensely irritated that ALL the books are by women, str8 women married to gays, or married lesbians. The books give our stories as afterthoughts almost. And I've found not one straight man married to a lesbian on the web who is making a go of their relationship. So I feel terribly alone. The only ones I hear from are either celibate or have an open marriage.
I live in Switzerland, and have found no support groups for face-to-face meetings. Our therapist, who is something of an expert locally (thank God) with LBGT relationships and people says she's never dealt with a couple like ours: MOM trying to stay together. All very discouraging.
Death would, I think, be far easier to handle. I'm mourning a relationship, a marriage that was a lie, while trying to create a new workable relationship with the same person.
Faith was an important part of both our lives (we're reformed Protestants), active in the church and working for a faith-based NGO. My wife's SSA and her long unanswered prayers have pretty well destroyed her faith, and my own has been deeply shaken by this experience. I'm on antidepressants, and seeing a therapist. I'm also seeing a church minister friend to struggle with the faith-related problems and questions. How to discern God's will, when it/He seems to have led me magisterially astray? Do I just have to mourn never having been desired? Or should I leave and try to find a new partner who can give me what I have never had? Do I have right to happiness and wholeness? Can I build a new and satisfying relationship with my wife when she says that she has absolutely no desire for me? We are good friends, share many interests, but currently more like brother and sister. No intimacy for over a year now. And how can you even try to be intimate with someone who says that they have no desire for you?