Elbow: She

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I love my wife so much. She's the best person I know. She is more than exquisite and graceful. She is kind and her heart is good to the core. She shouldn't be with someone as messed up as I am.

When I first started this blog I was contemplating the feelings that I was going through as someone who suffers from homosexual tendencies but is completely attracted to his wife. Now the tables have turned and I'm inspecting the ways in which my wife doesn't have to suffer as much as she does because of my weaknesses. Will this all be over when we die? Will we have the perfect world and existence after mortality has ended? I can hardly believe that I will make it through this year, let alone the passing into eternity.


Blogger Samantha said...

You know, marriage is kind of an entity, in and of itself. It grows as TWO people develop and work together. It's not about fabulous sex, or having everything you've ever dreamed about (and by the way, I think your wife would agree with me--that 24-hour erection thing is really scary).

J. Allan Petersen said: "Most people get married believing a myth...that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship...the truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage; love is in people, and people put it into marriage. There is no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into marriage. A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, keeping the box full..."

Would your wife be happier without you? My guess is, probably not, especially if she chose you. The problems you perceive in your marriage are unique to you and your situation. If your wife were in a marriage with another person, problems of another variety would manifest themselves--and they would not necessarily be easier to deal with, just different.

Elbow, you are YOU, beautiful, flawed, tempted, loving, human...It would be INhuman to take that from your wife as long as she desires to have it, and as long as you wish to be with her.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Dave Walter said...

I agree with everything Samantha wrote in her first three paragraphs; it all applies to me and my marriage with my husband.

Elbow, for shit's sake, you need to get back into therapy and talk all this stuff out. Therapy sessions involving just you, and therapy sessions involving your wife as well.

Some possible answers to, and comments about, your questions and observations:

Sometimes I wonder if I've done my wife a disservice by getting married.

You did what you thought was best at the time, whether it ultimately turns out that way or not. Life happens. You go forward (underscore, forward), making the best judgments you can as go you.

I think I married her more for my sake than for hers.

Bullshit. You married her because you love her and you couldn't imagine spending your life with anyone else. You married a woman, because that was what you were taught you were supposed to do.

I mean if I really love her, why would I want her to marry someone like me?

Because you're smart, intelligent, good-looking, so you say ; ), kind, warm, charming, spritually compatible with her, etc., etc., etc. And you know that.

What kind of a life is she going to have with a man who wants to have sex with other men, and gives her low self esteem in the process?

Low self-esteem is by definition an individual's problem. You can't make someone have low self-esteem.

I'm feeling sad for her. I feel like I should maybe call it quits for her sake. I want her to be happy. She's an amazing woman.

Sad, and guilty. Of course you want her to be happy. You'd be one heartless guy if you didn't. You shouldn't call it quits for her sake, or for your sake. If you call it quits, it should be because it's what you know in your heart to be the right thing for both of you. (And I don't believe you know what's in your heart at the moment.)

I've been very good about making her feel loved and wanted, but sometimes it isn't enough. Maybe it isn't enough because…it's just not enough. Maybe she would feel this way even if she were married to a straight man.

Who knows? There's too much psychological stuff for you to delve into to come up with an answer to that. For example: Think about why you said "making her feel loved" instead of "loving her." Also, what is "enough"?

She shouldn't be with someone as messed up as I am.

Get un-messed up (therapy, sigh) and revisit that thought.

Do straight men do this in their heads? Do they look at other women who aren't their wives...

Most heterosexual guys love to look at good-looking women. It's just the way they're wired. Isn't that obvious, given all the T&A in popular culture?

...and do they feel incomplete sometimes because they can't express that sexuality with another woman? Is it normal for a married straight man to want to look at naked women most of the day?

You're obsessed with naked guys because you can't have them. I (and 99%?) of other gay guys were the same way when we couldn't have them, i.e., when we were still in the closet or otherwise were removed from the gay dating scene.

However, after we did allow ourselves to come out, date, and have sex with guys, the obessesion with pornography diminished (at least for most of us). We became like most heterosexual guys; we still like looking at porn occasionally, or stealing glances at hot guys on the street, but we ceased being obsessed with guys.

When I first started this blog I was contemplating the feelings that I was going through as a gay man married to a woman. Now the tables have turned and I'm inspecting the ways in which my wife doesn't have to suffer as much as she does because of my weaknesses. Will this all be over when we die? Will we have the perfect world and existence after mortality has ended? I can hardly believe that I will make it through this year, let alone the passing into eternity.

Elbow, isn't apparent that your viewpoints change with great frequency? That what you say today will be different from what you'll say a month from now? Focus on getting to know yourself, on getting your bearings, today. Infinity can wait.

Just as I have chosen to be committed, and as soon as I have felt the blessings of a marriage led by correct principles…It doesn't make sense the way I think it should.

Of course it doesn't make sense! You're making decisions based on the way you think it should be, and therefore on incomplete, faulty information about your mind and your heart.

Get to know yourself. Know what spirituality really means to you. Know what religion really means to you. Know what sexuality really means to you. Know what marriage (straight or gay) means to you. Know if and how you're thinking is distorted by fear, guilt, shame, hopelessness, desperation, anxiety, stress, and/or feeling trapped. Have a professional take you through this journey, not me or a gay person in a happy mixed-orientation marriage.

I guarantee it: Nobody in the blogosphere, or even in your close sphere of friends and family, knows what will be the best path for you to take. You've got to figure it out on your own, and if you'd just get back into therapy, you'd find that, even if the answers don't come quickly, they'll come.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a great combination of post and comments. you three ought to team up and write an advice column.

just one disagreement:
dave said:
'You're obsessed with naked guys because you can't have them.'
there are a lot of things i can't have but am not obsessed with. the inability to have something is neither a necessary nor sufficient reason for obsession.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous A girl with experience said...

Dave Walter said:

"Low self-esteem is by definition an individual's problem. You can't make someone have low self-esteem."

I disagree with this. When a heterosexual woman senses that the man she is married to doesn’t desire her sexually (or that, while he may have some sexual desire for her, she is ultimately not what he desires most because she is not male), it can be incredibly damaging to her sense of self-worth.

If a married heterosexual man looks at other women and feels sexual desire, it is heterosexual desire. He desires women. While his wife might feel insecure, she also knows that she is the gender he desires. When a homosexual man looks at men and feels sexual desire, his wife knows that he feels desire for something she can never be. She is rejected on a fundamental level, no matter how much her homosexual spouse reveres and loves her. Over time, this can be very corrosive to her sense of self-worth.

I’m not saying that being married to a heterosexual man guarantees that a woman will feel desired and happy. Of course that is not the case. Nor am I negating your struggle and the pain it is causing you. But your desire for men will damage your wife’s sense of self-worth, because she will know that she lacks something she cannot do anything about. She is fundamentally female: fundamentally not the gender for which you feel sexual desire. Your struggle will always be present, and, as long as you stay married to her, she will sense your struggle, even if you don’t talk to her about it. Your desire for men will affect her sense of self-worth because, on some level, she will know that she is not what you most desire.

9:50 PM  
Blogger -L- said...

DW: You've got to figure it out on your own, and if you'd just get back into therapy, you'd find that, even if the answers don't come quickly, they'll come.

This is crap. (sorry DW)

You should get into therapy, and you should figure things out. But you shouldn't do it by yourself. Your wife is your partner and deserves to be a part of the process. I don't understand how you can try to anticipate everything that is good for her, what she wants, what she needs, without actually respecting that your marriage means you are a team in figuring it out. I don't know what the best thing for you and your wife is, but it's not up to you alone.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

L, Dave suggested that he do therapy with his wife in addition to individual therapy.

Not so crappy, in my opinion.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Dave Walter said...

To a girl:

You make a good point about heterosexual women having to deal with the fact that they can never be sexually desirable to their gay husbands. But what they need to realize, through therapy as necessary, is that it is not a reflection of who they are as individuals; it's not because anything is wrong with them.

It is Elbow's wife's perception that something is wrong with her -- not the fact of Elbow's being attracted to men -- that is causing her low self-esteem. She needs therapy to correct that perception.

3:31 PM  
Blogger -L- said...

Let me rephrase then, Chris.

Therapy: good. Couple therapy, individual therapy for self, individual therapy for wife, group therapy: good.

Thinking that decisions about what's best for marriage, what's best for one's wife, what's best for oneself are discovered through a purely introspective and personal journey: crap. Marriage makes 2 lives into 1, in every challenge and every triumph. Or at least, it should.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

What you are suggesting is crap is not, as I read him, what DW was suggesting to Elbow.

5:53 PM  
Blogger -L- said...

Well then, to the extent that's clear to everyone but me, I retract. Perhaps I should have quoted the line "If you call it quits, it should be because it's what you know in your heart to be the right thing for both of you."

I didn't see anywhere in DW's comment that suggested being honest with his wife and together addressing the relevant issues. It seemed a refrain of "worry about yourself"... which is good, but not the whole story. Sorry for the unkind terseness, DW, since your comment is really quite compassionate and filled with good advice, but I can't help but feel pretty violently adament on the topic.

Perhaps my ire should have been directed at Elbow himself for a post which speaks volumes of love and desire for his wife's happiness, while I can't imagine something so demonstrative of that love as actually sharing the truth of the burden he faces with her.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Dave Walter said...

L, I'm not going to debate you about this on Elbow's blog. However, to summarize key points that I think I made, for Elbow's sake:

-- Elbow is in desperate need of more self-discovery.
-- Elbow needs to see a therapist.
-- Elbow and his wife need to see a therapist together.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

Elbow: DW is right that your viewpoints change with great frequency. He's accused me of the same as well (and righfully so!). It's hard to worry about eternity when we're constantly shuffling our feet in inconsistency. How can we begin to take the steps forward up the hill to the top, to the lofty goals of eternity, when we're bouncing back and forth debating which foot to use for the first step?

First things first...

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Mike Kessler said...

My two cents: For the most part, I agree with samantha, Dave Walter, Chris and a girl -- primarily Dave. a girl is right, though, too -- read the "Being Scratched With A Stick" thing that I quoted on our own blog. That said, marriage is a collaboration. And one's mental wellbeing and the solution to confusion and angst is something one can't get do alone without outside help. No one can. That's why G-d invented psychiatrists and psychologists. If you were put here to do it all yourself, you wouldn't have needed to get married. We all need the help of different people in our lives -- a spouse, our families, our friends and whatever other support network we can cobble together. Don't scrimp. It's your life, and your wife's life, at stake.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that your description of your wife made me smile. I don't know whether mixed orientation marriages are beneficial or harmful, but I have found that they create a different sort of awareness in my gay friends of the women they have chosen to marry.

That can be a pretty precious thing at times.

11:04 PM  
Blogger johngalt said...

Wanted to say sorry for erasing your comment on my blog but you used my
name which I had unintentionally left at the bottom of one of my posts.
Tried emailing you about some of my thoughts but your email was returned.

As for all of the comments above, Samantha's rings true for me.

Sometimes (on a strong day) I try and look BACK on my life from the future. And then things become clearer for me. With perspective, the things that I'm missing in my marriage and my life (so many of the identical burdens you've expressed here), which feel gargantuan today, fade away while the reality of my children, the Gospel and the education and growth of my soul are all I begin to see. Perspective means EVERYTHING. I wish I could say I had it more often... I wish the veil wasn't closed so tightly... but that must be the only way, otherwise He would not have made it so difficult.

I remember 10 years ago walking the grounds of BYU late at night just before graduating, so alone, praying but not feeling any answers... struggling with my future, the reality of my attractions and desires, loathing myself and wanting to give up. After two hours, still nothing came. I went back to my apartment and fell asleep, hopeless, angry and un-consoled.

A few months ago I went back to Utah, for the first time in years, with my wife and 3 young kids. As we walked around BYU campus, my children running around like monkeys, the weather was beautiful. I started throwing the kids up in the air and playing around on the grass with them. I looked up and saw my wife laughing at us... she looked beautiful. At that moment, I literally felt the most overpowering emotions. Intense closeness to my Father and to my eternal self. More than I have felt in a long time. "This is what it was worth... this is what you have been given" struck my soul with so much love and gratitude and peace. It was the answer to my prayers 10 years ago, as I struggled desperately to find comfort and reason and hope on that lonely night. At that moment, I could see that boy wandering in despair, alone, searching for answers and strength and hope. I wanted more than anything to put my arms around him and tell him it would be OK... it is worth it. Tell him what was waiting for him, all that he had to look forward to. That he wasn't alone. That somehow it made sense.

Perspective means everything.

12:17 PM  
Blogger johngalt said...

i want to fwd you the email i wrote but couldn't get through. end it to savejohngalt@yahoo.com if you're OK with that.

1:17 PM  
Blogger johngalt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:28 PM  

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