Monday, February 13, 2006

Your Husband Three

Your Husband, posted here last week, continues to generate a great many responses.

I’ve asked one respondent to allow me to share her views.


Jefferson,

I've started reading your blog last Monday under strange circumstances.

I thought I would continue to quietly read your blog, but I decided to write to you. It was so very painful to read the post “Your Husband,” given my current situation with my husband.

My world came crashing down on me three weeks ago. My life changed in one moment.

I accidentally found out what my husband has been doing on the web while I was researching Paris, where we planned to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary in February.

I found out that my husband spent hours and hours on gay porn sites. He Googled male models and male actors' nude pictures. He visited m4m personals.

I went blank—I thought something hit me so hard that I could not breath.

I called our couple’s therapist (we have been seeing him for five years, on unrelated matters) and tried to tell him what I saw. I was probably not making any sense because he did not understand me at all. I hung up the phone frustrated. I was not able to communicate with him.

Thirty minutes later, I called my husband at work and told him that we would not be going to Paris. I cancelled everything.

I added, "Oh, by the way, I found out you have been looking at gay porn on web sites.” My husband came home right away and denied everything. He said all of the web visit history has been erased, so how do I know what he was really doing (?!). I told him not to insult my intelligence. I know what I saw and disputing the facts is meaningless to me.

The next day at our therapist's office, he admitted what he has been doing (up to a point—I think I still do not know the whole truth). He also admitted attraction toward men since he was a teenager. He always wondered whether he is bisexual or not as he is equally attracted to women. Our therapist said that this explains my husband's depression (which he refuses to recognize to this date). My husband has been keeping this big secret for so long . . . that is probably why he was not actively participating in our marriage.

I have nothing against gay or bisexual people. But I do mind if my husband is gay or bi and had not told me so and has been leading a secret life.

I was angry with him because he hid this secret so long and deceived me. He robbed our marriage. If he were honest with me about his feelings, I would have had a chance to decide whether to continue our marriage or not at a much younger age (I'm forty two). My reproductive years are over. He took away our (or my) chance of happiness. All I wanted was a happy family with children (well, I actually wanted more: I have to be honest).

At my request, my husband moved out few days later after this incident. He is now seeing psychiatrist individually as well as our couple’s therapist. He is trying to come to terms with himself.

Since then, I have been trying to understand my husband. I started reading Straight Spouse Network, Married Gay Men, among other sites (there are many).

I eventually ended up with your blog through various links.

Your blog intrigued me. Yes, it is essentially a sex blog, but you offer something more. Firstly you are a great writer. But more importantly, you posses great qualities as a person. You are a wonderful father. Your love for your children is undeniable. You also deeply care your friends . . . you are also an accomplished professional, a great cook (I think?), etc. I can feel and admire your humanity.

As a single man, you are now focused on pursuing your sexual desires to be fulfilled in every way. But it was very assuring for me to read that while you were married, in spite of the difficulties in your marriage, you were committed to your wife and you stayed monogamous.

I understand that you are now living out your dream that was not fulfilled while you were married. Nothing is wrong with that.

But why do you have to have sex with MARRIED men?

I thought that you respected the institution of marriage. So why do you risk destroying someone's marriage by facilitating his fantasy come true? Do you know what kind of pain his wife has to experience? Am I so thick or naïve that I am not seeing something very obvious to everyone?

While I do not know whether my husband and I will stay married, my husband insists he will do anything to repair our marriage and gain back my trust. I thought, from reading your blog, that my husband might have the fantasy of living like you. But he says he would not act out his fantasy if we decided to stay married . . . just like when you were married you stayed monogamous.

I think I have to open my mind: a bisexual man can be committed to his wife and have a traditional marriage. After all, I loved my husband for over twenty years.

So with this background (sorry – it was very long one), I was confused and hurt when I read your blog. It seemed your action was contradictory to your principle belief in traditional marriage. I know I cannot project my husband on you, but when I read your post I felt that I was betrayed by my husband again.

Edna

I was floored.

A writer can never be certain how his words will impact readers. I assumed that some readers might object to my posting about sex with married partners. (Bridget, for example, gave me an earful!)

But a note such as Edna’s was completely unexpected.

My blog opened a window into her own fears about her husband’s activities. And it struck a very raw nerve—four weeks ago, Edna’s life was much as it had been for twenty years. Now, everything is changed.

I was moved by her story, and by her eloquence.

She gave me a lot to think about. I replied quickly.


Thank you so much for your note--and for sharing your situation. That is all so fresh, Edna, and still unfolding so fast for you. My heart goes out to you.

I'm glad that you found insight in my blog, and that you connected to our shared horror at having a marriage damaged by the other partner. It is a devastating feeling, as if the world has been torn out from under you.

But I'm sorry that my post was upsetting.

I don't know if I can, or should, defend my actions in knowingly meeting married men. In some respects, I know that in doing so, I am working out my own frustrations--I feel I was burned by remaining monogamous, and by sacrificing my sex life, only to see my marriage stolen away. I wonder: if I could go back, would I have acted differently? Would I have pursued a secret life?

I'm glad, though, that I can look back knowing I didn't.

I know how difficult it is to remain faithful to one woman when one is also attracted to men. But essentially, it is the same problem of being faithful when one is attracted to other women—that is understood in the marriage contract.

I'm momentarily at a loss for what to say to your very insightful note. I would be happy to continue our correspondence if you feel my insights are useful.

I'm very glad you had an established relationship with a couple's therapist you both trust. I'm not a therapist, obviously, but I've been in couple’s therapy, and I know it can help.

You are in my thoughts.

Jefferson

Edna was quick to reply.

Hi Jefferson,

Thank you very much for your note. I was surprised that you actually wrote me back.

I have not been able to speak about our true situation to anybody except with our therapist. Our friends and family know that I asked my husband to move out. But they only know the half (or quarter) truth; my husband told them he is addicted to porn, and that is why I'm upset.

He left out that the porn was gay, and he left out the other related activities.

So, almost everyone thinks that I am overreacting to the situation. They tell me stop acting prudish. They ask me why I am acting like a virgin. I don't even know how to respond to these people so I keep quiet.

I felt sense of relief when I decided to write to you – thank you for letting me speak about what I am going through. I am having a difficult time reconciling my feeling toward my husband. Even after such devastating event, I know I still love him. And that makes me angry with myself. I feel incredibly stupid.

We married very young and virtually all my entire adult memories, either good or bad, involve my husband. If we were to end our marriage, I feel that my past would become a phantom life.

Regarding your post, in my heart, I knew you are not to blame; these married men sought you out. If they had not met you, they would have had such affairs with different men anyway.

But I just did not understand why a decent person like you would participate in poisoning other people's life. From reading your response I think I understand your action. And I am very sorry to learn that even after two years, you are still hurting and going through the suffering. This really is a devastating experience.

My husband possesses the same wonderful qualities that you have. That is why I fell in love with him and I think that is the part of the reason why I find your blog intriguing. I'm afraid that I'm thinking as if your blog was written by my husband; this explains why your post hurt me so much. Of course, you did not have to defend your action. Who am I to ask such questions? But I appreciate you sharing your insight. That was helpful to me.

Please do know that my feeling was lifted when I read your comment about how you lead your married life and you are glad that you did not choose to have a secret life. You don't know how much that meant to me.

And thank you for your kind offer to correspond with me – yes, I would be grateful if we can do so from time to time.

Best regards,
Edna

I’m grateful to Edna for allowing me to share her story here. She reads the blog, of course, and will follow your comments. Anyone wishing to correspond with her privately may do so by sending your notes to me; I will forward them on your behalf.

My correspondence with her will continue offblog. If trading notes with me helps her through this, then she just got herself a new best friend.

Edna’s second note reiterates a point in her first: she truly loves her husband. That she says so now, when she is in a world of hurt and betrayal, speaks volumes about her character—and to her capacity to survive this blow.

It makes me think that while this is a devastating moment in their relationship, Edna and her husband are very lucky people.







19 comments:

ThreeOliveMartini said...

i feel i have alot to say here .. but will refrain because i dont want it to end up a novel..

but this post reaffrims my very cynical look on life .. and just lets me know that sometimes love just isnt enough..

and sometimes we have to look beyond .. and sometimes we have to look with in to find the answers we need and not to others..

and lastly i will say this .. i found it very wrong of Edna to judge what you do in your life.. you have to live with the consequences of your choices just as she has to live with hers..

and if that is what you choose to do with your life.. where is it her place to tell you its wrong..

sorry rambling.. going..

rose said...

okay, i feel the need to add my two cents.

i don't find edna' response really judgmental. she was hurt, devasted, and not understanding her husband's actions. so she asked some questions out of her hurt and frustration. i've been in the "shocked wife" seat myself. it's not an easy place to be.

she asked some honest, heartfelt questions of jefferson. who, true to his caring, sensitive, understanding self, responded in a compassionate way.

edna ended up seeing or at least understanding jefferson's position. i think it's a wonderful thing that edna had the guts to write to jefferson. it seems a bold move on her part. she's looking to understand....and who better to help than someone who's been there.

and many kudos to you, jefferson, for responding with the care, concern and understanding that you did. i'm happy for edna that she found you.

Raven in NYC (aka Mark) said...

I started to write a full comment to this, but I realized I was going very long and decided to post about it on my blog.
Sorry to do it this way Jefferson!

Jefferson said...

Mark, my friend, you done good.

Stanley said...

Hm, Edna's position reveals a set of attitudes that many people have about their marriage, and which I don't find very useful. You know, "if I catch you doing so-and-so, our marriage is over (instantly)". For many people that includes having sex with somebody else. For many it includes even considering having sex with somebody else, or even just to be attracted to somebody else. And for some it includes looking at porn or subscribing to Playboy.

One could call it "commitment", and consider that one has promised each other monogamy, and that's what marriage is all about.

I call it "shallow". It is when one didn't really find out how to actually relate to each other, how to have an ongoing process of sharing each other's lives. Instead one holds on to a list of superficial promises. The moment one of them is broken, bing, it is over. Or, at best, one thinks somebody is "poisoning" the relationship.

It is very common, and probably the cause of a majority of broken marriages. One didn't really succeed in relating to each other. One tries to live by a set of phoney rules that one doesn't really believe in, and when one can't, one lies about it, because one's partner will consider some of them dealbreakers.

Of course it can be a big shock to discover that one's husband is heavily into gay porn, and you had no clue. But that it should be a reason for him to move out is a bit bizarre.

Sorry to be a bit judgmental.

Jefferson said...

No.

That will not do.

Look, friends. I want to lay low and let you vent, and talk, and all that.

Edna was warned to pay heed--readers have their own storires to tell.

But friends, please: take special care of Edna. This is all very new. Her marriage--and her future--is at risk.

Her marriage. Her future.

It isn't about us, kids.

Let's take care of Edna, can we?

Anonymous said...

You compromised in your marriage, offering up monogamy in exchange for the marriage; when it ended you felt betrayed. You compromised who you were for something that wasn't there in the end, you had sacrificed a part of yourself that you really should not have. It's like a Floyd song, "did you walk on part of that wall ....so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell? Blue Skies from Grey" We each define it differently.

Edna feels betrayed because she compromised on children and now this... maybe it would be more palatable if she had gained everything she needed/ wanted in this relationship? But then do we ever know what we need/ want? The bottom line is you can never compromise on what is important to who / what you are.

If there is anything I've learned through reading your blog it's about jealousy and defining who I am through a partner.

Why does love have to be so black and white? If he had felt comfortable to explore previously he would have either sated his curiousity or perhaps figured out if it were more than that. Honestly I cannot grudge him, either, Edna, you both were young... make it safe for him to talk and admit... you don't have to be part of the exploration, but you both have to heal to go on = together or apart.

As to anyone taking part with a married partner, it doesn't have to be a blatant sexual act... does it? Wouldn't you be just as mad if Jefferson met the same soccer mom for coffee each Monday morning? An intellectual affair... All participants should be equally responsible for their actions and Jefferson cannot be held responsible for married partners. If it wasn't J, well then dh would stray with someone else, righty-ho?

I did feel that the first post was a bit irreverent and in your face, but that's Jefferson... I would gander to say from what I've read, he's like that IRL too.

Prolly a good, safe place to explore some feelings about this... the internet has many facets ~Kits

srchngformystry said...

edna, i really sympathize with all the feelings you are contending with. i know that you are defined by your marriage. i am sorry, though, that you found out twenty years later that your husband has some inkling of being bisexual. im a bit confused. has he ever acted on it? i know that it would not matter if he had or not. fact is, it is a part of him, and unfortunately, you have to deal with it. and for this, i am sorry.

we are mainly defined by our sexuality, yet we remain limited by our urges.

your husband is a man, with tendencies that lean towards homosexuality or bisexuality. those are issues that he has to deal with that are apart from being a husband. first and foremost, he is a man.

i believe that some of us are dichotomous. for instance, i am straight, but i also am attracted to women. i value the sanctity of marriage, but ive slept with married men. i am catholic, but i struggle with the sinner/saint complex. i love the idea of love, but i am afraid to make that concept a part of my reality.

i have been following jeffersons blog for a few months, and ive read his previous posts. he seems like a great person, man, father, friend, and the testimony comes by through the words of his friends and admirers.

im glad youve sought out jeffersons help. he seems even-keeled amidst the turmoil of his daily life (see lucy blogs). i wish you luck, dear edna. i do not envy your position, but i do send out a hug to you.

Will said...

First and foremost, I'd like to say that some of the comments here have been pretty harsh. Edna has dealt with the situation pretty gracefully as far as I'm concerned. Keep in mind that most of us here are perverts posting on a pervert's blog. We're all good-hearted people, for the most part, but our ideas of sexuality are quite different from the norm.

With that being said, I'm not quite sure what Stanley's comment was about. You can't say anyone's rules or standards or ideals were phoney, because you don't know Edna. Sure, it would be fucked up if she said "you break this rule and its over," but obviously it's not over. They're seeking therapy and coming to terms with these issues. Edna is here, is she not?

From here on in this comment is directed towards Edna. I commend on your level headedness at this point in the game. You're dealing with the situation gracefully, all things considered. One thing that brazenly stuck out as I read one of your replies to Jefferson, however, was when you said that if he were honest with you, you would have had the chance to decide whether to continue your marriage or not at a much younger age.

He definitely owes you honesty. That's not debateable, but how would you have reacted if he had told you? When you're dealing with feelings society doesn't exactly smile upon, it's easy to feel ashamed. Perhaps he was afraid of losing you. While the choice most certainly should have been presented to you, can you say that you would've weighed your options logically? Is he not the man you fell in love with, despite these feelings he's harbored for so many years? You say you "have nothing against gay or bisexual people," but can you honestly say that he wouldn't have lost you? If he truly loves you, it's no wonder he acted illogically (by not telling you), for the idea of losing someone we care about makes us do crazy things.

There are all kinds of specifics that are important when giving one's two cents on this kind of situation. If he is indeed bisexual - all arguments as to whether or not a man can truly be that aside - then what's really important here is not a matter of his sexuality. It's a matter of fidelity. People usually have a way of confusing issues. He's having an identity crisis, at least to some degree, but is this situation any different than if you'd found secret correspondances he'd had with another woman?

There's also the question of how far has he taken things. I know it's hard to trust him at this point, but eventually you'll find out whether or not he's acted upon these urges. You give Jefferson credit for not cheating during the marriage, but isn't it possible that your husband's done the same? You've already painted so many parallels between the both of them.

I suppose the smartest thing to do right now would be to consider the contingencies. What will happen if your husband turns out to be gay? What will you do? If he decides that he's bisexual but wants to make the marriage work, what would you say to that? Perhaps - while he's coming to terms with himself - you might need to come to terms with yourself as well.

Will said...

* I commend -you- on you level headedness...

Viviane said...

Dear Edna:

My marriage came apart because of circumstances not at all related to yours.

But somehow, we were unable to recognize certain aspects about oueach other, and our (unspoken) agendas shifted and changed. For us, 9/11 was a demarcation point.

Seems to me that if someone is intent on stepping outside their marriage, they will do so. It doesn't matter who satisfies it. So taking Jefferson to task will make you feel better but makes little difference.

I am struck about your statement about what your husband told your friends and family. I know you are unable to speak about it to anyone but your therapist. Perhaps, with time and therapy you will eventually be able to tell them, and give them your side of the story. How can he be honest with them, when he cannot be honest with himself?

You've opened a dialogue with Jefferson. I don't know what your experience with blogging and bloggers is, but know that with all blogging you only see what the writer wants you to see. Jefferson is a good person, and this blog is one of his passions, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.

I hope there's some way you can funnel this dialogue back into your therapy, to help you somehow open up some lines of communication with your husband.

You are in my thoughts.

Stanley said...

I must say I'm very impressed both with the fact that Edna chose to write to Jefferson, openly and honestly. And with how Jefferson responds with great understanding and sensitivity. And that despite that Jefferson at first glance would be "the enemy". But he's also clearly a warm and empathic human being. And he's both been monogamously married and been a roving pervert, so maybe he's indeed the very best person to ask.

And Jefferson is very right, it is probably the wrong time to harp about what's wrong with marriages in general, or to scold Edna for the same. She needs sensitivity and understanding. And somehow, strangely, she probably came to the right place.

Edna said...

Jefferson,

I saw your updated post this morning. I know I agreed to have my notes posted, but it was rather embarrassing to read it on your blog. But I'm glad you've decided to do so. And thank you for your kind words.

I am moved to see comments from your friends and readers. Our opinions may differ, but you can tell lots of thoughts went into their comments. Some of them, such as Mark, took trouble to go into deeper in the issue and shared his experience on his blog. I am grateful that I had a chance to read the experience from the other side.

I have a busy day today, but just wanted to acknowledge and thank you and your friends for their notes. You are indeed surrounding by wonderful friends and thoughtful readers.

Edna

Eye Roller said...

Let's remember, Jefferson, though seemingly a man with a wealth of experience to various degrees, is no marriage counselor.

Bibydays said...

I just found this blog and this exchange through Raven and it has stopped my day. Trying to avoid a novel, here is my piece.

While my wife has known that I have bi tendencies for ever, two weeks ago I admitted that I have been actively pursuing them for the past few months - with other married men - so much less complicated and safer that way. After much debate, angst, discussion of what it means being bi and what it means being faithful, I decided that being faithful is more important than being bi. My wife believes I'm well meaning but thinks me foolish for not realizing that ones nature is not easily changed.

Which brings me to your posting - the original posting - I could have been that husband - that's okay; the thing is that with all my talk and postings as I read yours I found myself wishing I was the husband walking through your door. My wife is right - I have things to work through.

Blondie said...

Jeff and Edna :)
I think your ability to share you life with us is amazing. I am unable to share stupid little things with friends in fear of judgement.
Edna if you have been reading Jeff's blog long enough you will know some of his readers like tom are generally judgmental and neg. don't take it personally. You honest and rawness in sharing what you are going through only deserves respect.
I hope everything between you and your husband works out. It seems as though it was the lie that bothers you more so then the actualy attraction to men. If that is the case then you will prob. be able to move through this. If it is actually that he is attracted to men then that is something you will have to decide if you are ok with.
This is a personal question. Do you find women attractive, or do u have any fantasys that you have not told your husband about? I think we all have our own kinks. Just because you may be into a certain fantasy doesn't mean you have or ever will act on it.
All you can do is decide whether or not you trust your husband and if you do move on from here and grow stronger, if not then you should move on alone.

Josh Jasper said...

I have been married, I'm engaged to be married, and my partner knows I have sex outside of our relationship. I know she has sex outisde our relationship. In fact, since we've been involved, I've know enveryone she's been involved with, and vice verse.

It's not going to restrict your ability to have hot hookup sex if you limit yourself to people who's partners are OK with it, unless you get a thrill out of being sleeping with someone who's in a relationship, and is keeping you secret.

I don't see any way for you to make good choices and continue doing what you're doing.

Alex said...

Wow! I find it hard to comment since everyone here seems to be so experienced and advanced. I will give it a try and give my two cents for what it's worth....

When one is overcome by grief it is hard to be rational. After all, we don't choose grief. It is a feeling. Feelings and facts are different things. People might want to condemn Edna or to absolve her for what she has said. The truth is that she is entitled to her feelings because she can't help them, and she is trying to come to terms with them.

Rationalizing this, and setting feelings aside for a moment, I think that bi married men who have sex with men cannot be judged as harshly as married men who are unfaithful with women. It might be tempting to hold them to the same standards as a straight married man, but it is not fair. A bi married man (or he might be closeted gay) has most likely always had to repress his true self because of society and his "sin" of sleeping with aother man is not as severe as a straight man sleeping with other women. Let me tell you why I think that...Let's say that a straight married man is in a sexless marriage, he's unhappy and lonely and that's why he seeks a lover...that's his reason for stepping out.... But he has never had to repress any attraction for the same sex as the bi man has. The bi or gay married man has to deal with a double issue: a sexless marriage and a same-sex attraction. Even if hhe is not in a sexless marriage, when you repress your own nature we are talking major internal suffering. At least the straight man is not having to repress his nature.

I read such liberal comments on here! Like the guy who knows his wife's sex partners and the wife knows his. This is all opening my eyes! The bottom line is that, if nobody's getting hurt, and if there's honesty then there can be happiness. A bi/closeted gay man has a tough choice because if he tries to be open he risks total alienation and rejection. (Not all of the US is as open as New York City!) So, put yourselves in the husband's shoes, he has to pick between:

1) Being true to his sexual identity and "free" in a gay culture that is dominated by infidelity and where your value as a person starts declining ever year past your 40th birthday

or

2) A life of companionship (wife and kids) yet with a repressed sexual identity

Given those two choices, I think that being a bi or closeted gay man can be one of the most unhappy and painful situations one could ever experiece.

I that vein, Edna, and other wifes of bi/gay men....you are entitled to your grief. You are right to be very sorry and sad, and need all the support, friendship and consideration that you deserve...at the same time, perhaps you will find compassion one day, for the guy who broke your heart, because his has been broken for years before yours

Paul said...

This post blows me away. So much insight. So many people that don’t even know each other are showing real concern and understanding. It’s obvious that the appeal of Jefferson’s blog far exceeds the thrill of the porn.

I am that bi married male in a sexless marriage. Not a faceless statistic, but a real person.

I’ve always known that I got erections seeing ANYONE naked. The other guys in the showers during gym class. And the gorgeous centerfolds in Playboy. And during the few years as a bachelor after college, I explored my sexuality as much as possible.

I soon met the girl I would marry. We had incredible pre-marital sex. Spontaneous and often. Then came the marriage, the commitment to the career, the kids, and the minivan. Sex definitely wasn’t as good as it used to be.

One morning my wife she said she didn’t want to have sex for a while. Well, that was a long time ago. Years later, still no sex. No kissing. No handing hands.

In proposing to her, I made a life decision. A commitment to live together, and to support each other, forever.

So, what am I supposed to do?

Masturbation’s fine, but lonely. Plus it’s only about me, and never you! I want to feel and taste your body. Online hookups hide behind too many secrets. Bathhouse sex offers no emotional connection.

I have been able to compartmentalize my homosexual experiences. It’s not extramarital sex. I feel that since I’m not having relations with another woman, it should not be a threat to my wife.

I wish I could have sex with Jefferson, or with Marcus. Through this blog, I know them as people. Fathers. With a love for family and friends. Great respect for moms, dads, brothers, ex-spouses and in-laws. They’re concerned, thoughtful individuals. Well-educated, conversationalists. (Hell, even if this is all fiction, I love these guys.)

Jefferson and I both have a love of the arts. We’re about the same size. I love bourbon. With Jefferson, I feel that we could have sex – hot steamy sex at that - without him condemning my marital status. And that’s what I need. I just want a fuck buddy.

- Paul