Friday, October 16, 2009

Confused and bewildered

This is an appeal to the woman-folk who read my blog. Maybe you could help me understand an/or give me advice

On Sunday, I am going to a potluck dinner with the local chapter of Affirmation. I'm also bringing my copy of the Gay Christian Network documentary Through My Eyes for us to watch together. A few weeks ago I actually brought up the idea with with my wife of hosting such an event in our home some time. She said she wasn't ready for that yet (which I respect) and suggested I attend some of their functions to make sure it was something I really might want to do. So. it might be a stretch to say she is OK with me going - but she is, at least, accepting of it.

The person organizing the dinner contacted me saying that, at least, one of the people coming is vegetarian and asked if I might be able to bring something they could eat. After confirming that they do eat cheese, I decided on making eggplant parmesan (since I have some eggplants in the garden that need to be eaten). Yesterday I mentioned this to my wife; and, she immediately started a tirade saying that was way too much work and asked if I really wanted to go to that much trouble. This caught me off guard since I enjoy cooking - and she knows that; and, I wouldn't even consider it if I thought it was too much effort.

For dinner this evening I was planning on making Cuban Sandwiches. This morning I mentioned that I was going to come up with something else for dinner tonight as I thought Cuban Sandwiches would be a good simple meal for us to have for lunch on Sunday after church. She again launched into a tirade saying that we don't need two big meals on Sunday and do I really want to make Cuban Sandwiches since I'll be spending all afternoon in the kitchen making the eggplant parmesan. I protested saying it was just a sandwich and asked if it was wrong of me to want to make something for my wife? She then retorted saying that she didn't want me to do it because I feel guilty - she then said that we'll just eat leftovers after church. I pointed out that she never eats leftovers and would probably just end up making a PB&J sandwich or something.

I'm really rather confused with all of this. She is obviously not as accepting of me going as I thought she was. She seems to feel threatened that I'm not just going as a passive participant, but that I'm actively involved to a certain degree.

To my man-brain, I feel like I am being totally honest and upfront about what I'm doing, where I'm going, who I'll be with, etc.; and, it just seems silly to argue about what we'll have for lunch. But, this obviously a big deal for her woman-brain. So, help me to understand. What can I do to alleviate some of her fears? Should I not talk about it so much? Should I not go and stay home with her? Mind you, it's just the two of us now, and I'm not working; so, we spend a lot of time together. To my man-brain I don't feel like I'm ignoring her. She actually spends more time away from home than I do with her quilting group, etc. which I support her in. Every Monday she gets together with some other ladies who sew and they do a potluck lunch. To my man-brain it just seems fair that I should be able to occasionally do things without her, including a potluck.

I just want her to be OK being married to a gay man who goes off and does gay things once in a while - to my man-brain that doesn't seem too much to ask. But, am I setting unreasonable expectations for her?


Amanda said...

I really hate to criticize you or your situation, and I really hope you don't take this as trying to insult or anything like that. I like you as a person, and I know you're trying very hard to make this work, especially to make this marriage work, but I can see where your wife is coming from.

I don't think this has as much to do with the meeting as with the situation in general. Imagine being in your wife's place: the person you love and have been with your whole life has, in recent years, been coming to terms with the fact that while he may love you, it's not the same way you love him. Plus, the more he becomes involved in the GLBT community, the more likely it becomes that he'll decide to embrace his sexuality, leaving you behind in the process. It's not that you don't want him to go to meetings - it's that you don't want him to be in a place where meetings are a good or necessary thing in the first place. You're holding on to something that is very tenuous, and, in your mind, most likely going to break.

I can't say exactly how your wife feels, and i don't mean to put words into her mouth, but in my own mind, the idea of living with someone, fearing one day he'll probably leave even if he says he won't, is just horrible. It's unfair, and it's painful. And then you have a couple options - try to think about it only abstractly, or get out of the situation altogether. Obviously, the second has not been her recourse, which makes me think the first is more likely. It's easier to think of things in the abstract. An online community of friends, that's easy to handle. But an in-person community validates and makes concrete a situation that you just don't want to think about. It says that your partner is wanting to embrace his sexuality, which necessarily threatens your marriage. A marriage can't be on again off again. You can't play both sides of the fence. It's almost like cheating. Or at least it feels that way to the person who is making huge sacrifices just to accept you for who you are, rather than leaving you.

I hope I'm making sense. I'm trying to tread lightly. I can't tell you what you should and shouldn't do. From my personal point of view, I think you should go to the meetings. I think it's important for you, personally. But I also don't know that I can see how a mixed-orientation marriage like that can work out in the end if bother partners don't suppress part of themselves. Your wife is already making some big sacrifices. So I'd say it depends - which is more important to you? Being true to who you are, or keeping your marraige comfortably in tact?

Sorry again if this comment is offensive. I don't mean it to be.

Max Power said...

Why don't you take her with you?

mandi said...

Amanda, you are so right on target. As the straight wife, I see the necessity of gay Husband participating in things that he can identify with. I just cant get comfortable with it. It helps to take teeny tiny little steps and retreat when necessary. I don't like to be the bad guy and tell him what he can and cannot do- and obviously my comfort level is such that it becomes necessary to draw the line sometimes. I appreciate that you respect your wife enough to listen to her and desire for her to be okay with your actions. I assume that life will be a series of such situations.

Abelard Enigma said...

Amanda, Candor - I appreciate your candor. Your comments help me understand it more from her point of view. Although, it is kinda depressing to consider that this might be how it is from now on ...

Max - I have thought of that; but, I don't think she'd be comfortable. Plus, I thought it might be best if I scoped out these meetings first.

Amanda said...

Thanks for not taking my comment as an insult or anything. I really feel for you and your wife, and I have since I happened upon your blog a year ago. I wish there was a magic solution for you guys. :/

The Wife said...

I think Amanda has it right. It's not easy accepting that the person you married is not really the person you thought you married. It is easier dealing with it in the abstract. And yes, the more my hubby gets involved in this community, the more I fear he'll decide to embrace his gayness and leave me behind. Like Mandi, I do think it's good for my hubby to participate with people he can identify with, but it doesn't mean I am always comfortable with it. To keep a marriage happy--any marriage, really, regardless of situation or sexual orientation--there is always some give and take.

Beck said...

Welcome to my world!

Amanda is right on.

I was totally honest with my wife about meeting fellow MOHOs and my wife accepted those meetings as being helpful UNTIL I actually went and met someone one-on-one. The idea was okay, but my actually doing it was too much for her to handle.

The threat is real for the women in our lives, Abe. We may see this as being unfair, but in their eyes, it isn't just another quilting group we're going to. We are going to be with those that we might be sexually / romantically attracted to, and as such, it is a threat... and that is a scary thing for them.

I've come to realize that the tiny steps are still best. And, the better solution for me and my wife right now is to concentration more on each other.

I feel for you, my friend.

kythe said...

I'd have to agree with the rest of the commenters here. CJ and I have come to the decision that when we do "gay gatherings" (meet with friends, firesides, parties, etc.)we do them together and always try and debrief after as well, so that we know both of us are on the same page in where we stand on all things gay; which isn't always the same page...or even the same book at times, but at least we try.
So like Max suggests, take her with you, when she's ready. Until then be patient.

Anonymous said...

Insight from a woman-folk: your wife is pissed because her husband is gay. She is married to one of the least available forms of human beings possible. If I were you I would cut her A LOT of slack.