[Two Pronged] Married, gay, and unhappy
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I am 29 years old, married and still gay. On the Kinsey scale, I have a score of 5, which implies I am "predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual." Since I was a kid, I always knew I was different compared to any other guy in the planet. But I did not accept that fact. My parents are homophobic and at the same time, I also detest myself being gay. I always wanted to have a family, a child and to live a traditional life. I struggle a lot with my sexuality issues and did ALL, yes, all the best I can to suppress that feeling inside.
I met my girlfriend last Dec. 2006, I told her about my struggles with my sexuality, and she accepted me for that. We finally tied the knot last Dec. 2012. I liked her and loved her so much, I did some customary activities, like taking her out for dinner, buying her gifts and whisking her away for romantic weekends in other countries. I thought I found somebody who will make my life better, if not perfect.
After our wedding, we decided to live together abroad and start our own family. As a married man, I can say marriage is all about compromise.
There are things about her I wasn't aware of when we got married. Some new problems came up one after the other, and she started to air our dirty laundry in public, via her Facebook status. My ego and pride were intensely marred and I was greatly embarrassed. I discovered things I don't like about her to the point that I not only fell out of love, but hated her.
And in top of that, I am tired of hiding the truth and denying myself. Now I want to end our relationship and begin to live a new life as a gay person. Being homosexual is not a thing I am really proud of, but, I am not afraid and not ashamed of it either, especially now.
At this moment, she is 7 months pregnant. If I go back to her, its only because of two things. First, pity for giving her and her family immense shame and secondly, gratitude, for her giving me a baby that I've been dreaming of for years. I would like to emphasize that the fall of our marriage is NOT ONLY because of my sexuality, though it has a huge part of it. Like any other issues with heterosexual couples, there are other reasons, but I don't want to go into further detail.
I just want to ask if it's a wise choice for a couple to stay together for the sake of duty to parent a child, even if they no longer love each other? Or is there any other better option that will give three of us happiness in the long run?
Thank you very much,
Dear ECH (Ever-confused Homosexual),
Thank you for your letter. You stand at the crossroads of a monumental decision and face conflicting responsibilities: to your own sense of identity, to your wife, to your marriage, to your child and to parenthood. You cannot satisfy the demands of all of these and so you are going to have to make some decisions and some compromises.
Starting with what to me is the most straightforward of your choices, you should not condemn yourself to a lifetime in a loveless marriage just because there is a baby on the way. Children learn by example and bringing up a child in the sort of marriage you have described will simply give your child a very clear message of how the reality of marriage can differ from the idealized version touted by religions, the media, advertisers etc.
From your own account it seems that you wish to embrace the future as a gay man and so I would say that this is what you should do. After all, why try to live a lie if there is an alternative?
Meanwhile your wife, who by her own actions is undermining your marriage, seems to have forfeited any right to your emotional/psychological (as opposed to financial) support of what has become an empty marriage that is probably existing solely as an (admittedly important) legality. However, people will question why you think she has forfeited any rights to this and your strongly expressed negative views towards her are a potential obstacle to any easy settlement between you. I would therefore suggest that you consider mediation and/ or counseling, if only to prepare yourself for the task ahead.
In normal circumstances I would suggest that a straightforward divorce would be your best option. However as we all know the Philippines enjoys the dubious privilege of being one of the countries on earth that chooses to impose its majority religion's prohibition of divorce on all its citizens, regardless of their religious belief. How this squares with the constitution's separation of state and church is a matter only the country's admirably impartial justices could possibly explain, aided perhaps by an amicus curiae deposition from the CBCP.
This leaves you with two other options: separation and/or annulment. Gone, of course, are the bad old days when one could purchase an annulment. Now I understand that the process is more transparent but advice on these two options falls outside the scope of this column.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, reaching some sort of accommodation with your wife will be crucial but it is hard to add anything more in the light of your cryptic comments such as "There are things about her I wasn't aware of when we got married. Some new problems came up one after the other" and "there are other reasons, but I don't want to go into further detail."
If you wish to write again and clarify further what is going on, then perhaps we might have some greater insights into your situation and be able to make some other, hopefully helpful, comments.
All the best – Jeremy
Dear ECH (Ever Confused Homo):
Thank you very much for your letter. In your last paragraph, you ask “if it's a wise choice for a couple to stay together for the sake of a duty to parent a child, even if they no longer love each other?”
Psychology does not give definitive answers to general questions like this. At least, good psychology doesn’t….no matter how tempting it is to say “No, it is never a wise choice to stay together simply for the kids.”
Discussions with psychologists I respect, and my own clinical experience, support the above answer, but the devil is in the details, isn’t it? Not to mention the particular circumstances of the particular people involved.
As Jeremy stated in his penultimate paragraph, “but it is hard to add anything more in the light of your cryptic comments such as … 'there are other reasons, but I don't want to go into further detail.'"
While we respect and understand your desire for privacy, we hope you also understand that the depth and breadth of our replies depend on what you are willing to share with us.
Happily, you have, however, told us enough for me to make two more observations/suggestions:
1. Jeremy’s suggestion that you try counseling or mediation is a good idea, especially since both would encourage you to be careful when your strong feelings cloud your judgment. In addition, please remember that the kind of counseling, mediation, advice, professional help you get depends on the counselor, mediator, adviser and professional you get and, alas, not all are equal. They are unequal in terms of ability to empathize, to be objective, and to discern when their biases (which, alas, many of us have) threaten to overshadow their integrity. Thus, choose as carefully as you can, ok?
2. I strongly feel the following needs careful exploration: “If I go back to her, its only because of two things. First, pity for giving her and her family immense shame and secondly, gratitude, for her giving me a baby that I've been dreaming of for years."
Your above statements practically guarantee that, if your wife is really as vicious as she comes across in your letter, she will end up with President Theodore Roosevelt's proverbial big stick with which to beat you while you will end up with a mere twig.
I do not understand what immense shame you brought to her, and it is important you do since it will determine how far you are willing to insist on your rights as opposed to how soon you will buckle under to her demands because “it is the least you can do after the shame you brought her.”
Is this about your being gay? Because if you made sure she knew you were gay before you got married, how can there be shame in honesty like that?
I understand your gratitude for having a baby which you longed for, but please remember there are also other not only legitimate, but honorable and I daresay less expensive (in terms of emotional energy) ways than the one you chose. Also, she could be as grateful as you when it comes to having a baby, which is a good thing to keep in mind when negotiating for parental rights, etc etc. It is difficult to wield the big stick (Roosevelt suggested that you speak softly), when gratitude, pity and/or fear are thrown in to the equation, especially if there is no reason for any of those emotions.
I wish you both the best of luck in separating from each other and sharing the upbringing of your child with the minimum of rancor and the best of goodwill. All the best – Margie
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