Married vs. Single
The central theme of this blog is male sexuality, men who are attracted to men. This particular discussion concerns bisexuality, which ranges from curiosity to a near obsession for an intimate experience with another man. For a single guy, bisexuality can be nature’s gift, aside from all he has to contend with concerning society’s established moral codes, religious dogmas and political agendas. Though he usually feels it best to be secretive, he shares intimacy with another man without feeling guilty about lying to a wife or a girlfriend. Conversely, the married bisexual man, and his wife, have real dilemma.
Effect on the Wife
Many husbands, when they tell their wives or she finds out some other way, feel like the focus is all about them: their feelings, their emotions, their needs, their right to be who they are without consequence. But, when he decides to make his confession, it’s not all about him. He’s not the one whose life has changed, other than the fact he suddenly has a wife most likely in turmoil. He dropped the bombshell. It’s her life that has changed; in fact she feels her life has been turned upside down; not to mention she has to deal with this revelation with a woman’s emotions, which are most often overwhelmingly complex and heart-rending.
First the shock: She’s been married to a man these many years and never knew who he was. She feels betrayed. He’s kept secrets from me all this time. He should have told me before we got married. She feels threatened: He’s not attracted to me. He will leave me for a man. She’s flooded with doubts: What’s he really doing when he works late two nights a week? Has he been sleeping with a man? She’s wary of what other people will think, how it will affect them, will they be able to keep their friends. If he’s been intimate with a man, she fears he may have exposed himself to STDs, and therefore has also exposed her. All of a sudden, nothing about her life is the same. The future is uncertain.
The husband should know this is a critical time if he cares about the future of his marriage. It’s important to focus entirely on her, to be sensitive to her emotions, to listen and allow her to get past the initial shock. (And trust me, no matter how well you know your wife, her perspective may be unpredictable.) What she needs more than anything is reassurance. This news was unexpected and will hit her hard; she doesn’t know what to expect next. She’s likely to think you are warming up to tell her that you’re leaving her for a man. Set your own emotions aside and assure her of your love and devotion, and that you want nothing more than to see your marriage endure. She needs time to settle into the fact her husband is bisexual.
No Two Wives are the Same
Yet, if the marriage is fundamentally sound, she will cling to her love and almost immediately begin the struggle to adapt to her new circumstances, though her husband typically sees nothing but confusion and anger. But, since women come from many different backgrounds with different perspectives, there are exceptions. Some women will have a far more positive point of view. Her husband’s bisexuality may even endear her more; his sexuality becomes something to share, even something to participate in.
As an author who has written a novel about bisexual husbands and the way it affects their wives, I receive e-mails form women who are dealing with this dilemma. Without condoning or reviling the wife who shares her husband’s bisexual experiences, I would like to explore her position. Call her liberal, or open-minded, or un-Christian; I don’t think we can realistically call her misguided.
She has identified a unique characteristic in her marriage as something positive, for her as well as her husband, something that can privately enhance their sex life in an unconventional way. She’s sharing everything with her husband, not simply accepting who he is. She’s not wondering what he’s up to because she’s there with him. Though intimacy alone with her husband remains rewarding and binding, she has the ability to equate sex, under certain circumstances, to receiving or giving a massage. After all, based on how the human body and mind responds to sex, it is part of our nature and our natural curiosity, and doesn’t necessarily have to be constrained because of a marriage … as long as it’s shared.
All of the psychological ramifications are in order and understood. There may be another man involved, perhaps the husband’s long term friend, or there may be another couple. Parameters are discussed and agreed on. Rendezvous are arranged. Man and wife share their bodies and their natural desires with another man or another couple.
However, the majority of women are guided by the mores of their upbringing or their religious convictions. They will never condone or participate in anything sexual outside of their marriage. More than a few have had his bags packed and sitting on the curb by the time he gets home from work the next day. (I believe, if the wife takes this position, there was almost always a fundamental flaw in her marriage, and that it was probably doomed with or without his bisexuality.)
The difference from one man to the next is as broad as there are men in this world. Their needs and desires vary. The degree of their attraction varies. The kinds of physical intimacy they desire varies. More specifically, some men want only the briefest encounter with another male, while others would like to have a full-blown, long term emotional and physical relationship that can be described as love. The Kinsey Scale, decried by a few sexologists as too simplistic, is what I believe to be a good way to understand a husband’s sexuality. There are seven defined levels, within which, by most estimations, relatively few men are either exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. I personally have defined myself at around level two.
0 Exclusively heterosexual
1 Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 Equally heterosexual and homosexual; bisexual.
4 Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 Exclusively homosexual
It’s helpful if a wife knows where her husband is at on the scale. In order to accomplish this, in order for him to feel free to talk openly and honestly, he must feel comfortable talking with his wife on this subject. If she goes into a rant, or gets depressed, or uses his words against him in the next day’s debate, he will either keep silent or attempt to tell her what she wants to hear.
The Road to Resolution
Beyond the initial stages of surprise, anger, frustration, doubt and contempt; beyond her undeniable right to express all of these emotions: beyond punching him on the jaw, the wife must eventually challenge herself to be neutral and understanding. Of course, she must allot time to her own emotions, and she has a perfect right to ask questions and express her feelings, but if she continues to be confrontational or accusatory, the result will most likely be a stalemate. She should allot time to listen, to try to place herself in his shoes, to open her mind to nature’s way of doing things. He did not choose to be bisexual, nor want all the consequences.
To him, his desire for a man is natural, something he was born with, something, otherwise, that is beautiful. Given a different social environment, he believes all men would have an intimate buddy, a relationship that society at large and his wife and family would not only accept, but celebrate. Consider the era before birth control, when the wives were tired of having babies, which prompted many of the straight husbands to take long hikes together in the woods. Though we’re not talking about sex denied by a man’s wife, for a bisexual male it comes natural. Basically, he would like to share this aspect of his persona with his wife, if in no other way than to be able to talk to her openly and have her understanding. He really is the same man she married–she just knows something about him that she didn’t know before. Odds are, the characteristics that make him bisexual are related to other characteristics she loves in him.
So why didn’t he say something before we got married? Because he loved you madly. He feared you wouldn’t marry him if you knew. He didn’t understand human nature as well as he could have, and believed this part of him would wither away. He might not have even thought about it, considering all he could think about was you.
Then why bring it up after we’ve been married twenty years? Even if the wife knew early on, the issue often fades away, then resurfaces years later. When we’re young and falling in love, nothing else matters; there’s no room in our minds to think about much else. Then we have to start our careers, which can consume a big portion of our energy. Then the kids come along and a whole new set of priorities develop. We’re simply to preoccupied with life’s other factors to dwell on what might be missing in our lives, all the while the phantom is breathing, waiting, eventually becoming restless. The kids are grown and no longer dependent. The careers have been established and are no longer as consuming as they once were. The man is comfortable in his marriages and has no real notion that that can ever change. All of a sudden our lives are redefined.
Odd as it may seem, most men believe their bisexuality is totally compatible with their marriage. He loves his wife no less than before she knew. He has no desire to leave his marriage and certainly doesn’t want to lose the one he loves; unless he is 100% gay and compelled to move on to a gay lifestyle, which will probably come as no real surprise to his wife. Then again, given the nourishing benefits of a woman’s love, even some completely gay men do not want to leave their marriage. So he’s the same guy the wife has loved all this time, she just knows him better. The more difficult point-of-contention is whether or not he’s been involved in a physical relationship with another man.
If he has, this is a different subject. This is more than him revealing his true sexuality, this is a sad form of deceit. The wife has to decide to either lump his transgression into the overall picture, or deal with it as a separate issue, one of lying and simple infidelity. It complicates the issue and makes the challenges harder to overcome. Will I ever be able to trust him again?
The fact remains he’s bisexual. It can’t be cured and his sexuality will never change. Before the marriage can begin to move on, the wife must eventually stake out her position and establish the parameters of her tolerance. What will she accept and what will she not? Will she allow her husband to keep his close friend (even if it’s nonsexual)? Can he still go out with the boys? Can he join a male social group (even if it’s a bunch of guys who get naked together in the hot tub)? Will he be allowed to have a boyfriend (maybe, but she doen’t want to hear anything about it)? Will she decide to jump in and share his left-field sexual experiences? Will she want anyone else outside the marriage to know about his bisexuality?
These questions must be decided, and agreed upon by the husband in order for the marriage to move forward. A single issue undecided, a single question mark, will only make the road ahead longer. Longer but not impassable. Marriages free of serious defects, free of personality clashes and separate agendas, have a remarkable resilience; they are a wonderful and fertile garden in which love can flourish. A husband’s bisexuality is a life-changing matter that rewrites the rules, but it can rewrite them in a mutually acceptable way. There’s every reason to believe, past the initial stages of anger and anxiety, the marriage can grow stronger.
There Are Many of Us in the Same Boat.
This issue touches my heart. I believe it affects far more marriages than any of us will ever know, including the husbands who have remained silent. I believe, inherent in most men, is a natural affinity for other men, whether it’s a desire to be physically close in the field of athletics, or a desire for the bonding and camaraderie of a poker game, or a desire for some level of physical intimacy. These things are related.
In my novel, Five Married Men, though it’s written to entertain and contains the dramas of a storyline, it is essentially about the emotional aspects suffered by bisexual husbands and the wives of these men. Fictional, yes, but people read it for a better understanding of themselves or their spouse’s perspective. For those who can’t have a bisexually book lying around the house, I have published the complete edition on my website at www.martinbrant.com. If you prefer the feel of a book in your hands, it’s available at Amazon.com in paperback and on Kindle. There are direct links on the front page of my website.
Please feel free to comment. You’re experiences or your perspective will benefit those who are reaching out and trying to understand.Pin It