Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Marriage--specifically, mixed-orientation marriage

When I began blogging, this was something that greatly interested me. I wanted to find others in MOMs who were happy, as I was--people like me, who somehow, against great odds, had found fulfillment and joy with a partner of the opposite sex. I think this was important to me because my marriage experience was greatly different from opposite sex attracted married people. Maybe I didn't want to be the "only one". I think I wanted dialogue with people who understood my situation. Regardless, the topic was on my mind and I wanted to talk about it.

Once I began speaking, there were quite a few people who entered the conversation. I learned a lot--which was also something I was seeking. To my dismay, I learned that two camps exist on the topic and both of them have strong opinions and speak very loudly. Personally, I have a strong opinion about my own marriage, but I really don't have one about any other marriage. I'll talk about mine, but probably not yours. And I strongly resist joining either of the two camps.

Camp One: Mixed orientation marriage is unnatural and should be avoided (actually, I've heard the words "should not be an option" in the place of "should be avoided" more often than I'd like, and it bothers me because it sort of dictates who one must not marry--in the same way some states' laws do). It will ultimately end in divorce, which is harmful to any offspring, and also to both spouses, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Those who are in MOMs and who attest to successful marriages are being dishonest and their words should be disregarded.

Camp Two: Gay people choose their orientation. They have an agenda (no one's really sure what this agenda is, but certainly it is EVIL and will bring about ARMAGEDDON and the world will die because of it). The only reason they can't change is because they don't want to. If gay people meet the right person of the opposite sex and get married, they'll live happily ever after and never be gay again. Just like Samantha. We use marriages like Samantha's because it proves that gay people are imaginary.

Clearly these are extreme views. I don't really have extreme views about anything. Except, maybe, chocolate. I love it. Extremely.

Over the past decade, I have been approached several times to talk about my marriage and my life in different venues. Those invitations have come from several different sources, not all extreme, and some for very good reasons--reasons I support. However, in making a video, writing a brief essay, participating in a podcast, writing a guest blog, or being interviewed, I understand that once my words become public, they can and will be misconstrued.

People from camp one will mock my marriage, question my honesty and sincerity, accuse me of attention seeking, and wait for my marriage to fail. People from camp two will harm gay family members and friends as they press them to "change" or to date members of the opposite sex, or twist my words to prove that gay people are inherently wrong or evil. I have no interest in providing fodder for either camp.

I believe the majority of people are more moderate and really don't care about me or my marriage. I'm an oddity worthy of three or four seconds of perusal, and that is all. But even without the MOM aspect, my marriage is remarkable. The average length of a first marriage is 8 years. Mine has survived more than 20 years. That's a long time. And I suppose that's what I've been thinking about.

My reasons for finding other MOMs are no longer as important to me. What I've learned is that every marriage is unique and some have greater challenges than others. Being gay has not caused me as much stress, perhaps, as it causes others in MOMs. I've been more challenged by the abuses of my past than by my sexual orientation mix-match of the past two decades.

I've also learned that sexual compatibility can be problematic for anyone, regardless of whether or not they marry a person of the same orientation. Things that seem to guarantee longevity in any relationship are linked to common interests, ability to weather changes and crises, desire to remain in the relationship, willingness to work out disagreements and find common ground, enjoyment of each other's company, and intense interest in each other. Sex is a component of that, naturally, but one that can wax and wane based on age and health. Devotion plays a large part in marriage longevity.

That last paragraph is not advisory. I don't give advice. It's simply a list of observations I've made as I've researched and studied marriages over the past decade--including my own. Darrin and I have had our ups and downs (still do). But I believe, at the core, we both want to spend our lives together--and WANTING is a huge motivator.

So I've said no to the invitations to discuss my marriage in public (with one exception--Darrin and I were once on a panel about mixed orientation marriage, and in that experience I learned that my view differs vastly from views of others who share marriages like mine, and I've not participated again). What I have decided is that it doesn't really matter what people in camp one think about me. I'm happy. I don't believe my children are maladjusted or dysfunctional. In fact, they seem to be intelligent, open-minded, devoid of gender bias, and are some of the most non-judgmental people I've met. I like them very much. I see no reason to expose my marriage to those who will mock it or expect it to fail, and who attribute many of society's woes to people like me. I understand many of them speak from experience--but that is not my experience and I do not expect it ever will be.

And I would never, ever, provide fodder for people in camp two--those who do not respect the right of their gay family members and friends to choose for themselves. That right to choose, I believe, is God-given and irrevocable. Yet the people closest to us are often those who punish or ostracize if we exercise that right to choose and our choice does not align with what they wish for us. The hurt that springs from such pressure to conform, and the damage to the soul and psyche, are often irreparable and always avoidable. I do not need my marriage to become a bludgeoning instrument for those who think they can "make" someone believe, or choose, or become. That right to believe/choose/become belongs to the individual, not to the masses.

Which leaves me at the end of this train of thought. My decision to silently live and love my spouse, for me, is the right one. It does not nullify the importance of voices like my friend, Josh, who chose to tell the world about his experience with mixed orientation marriage. I support and applaud him. I believe he did what was right for him, and helpful for many people. As can be expected, the extremists used his words, and some people were hurt by them--but this was not, and never has been, Josh's intent. I believe he has a right to speak, even if there are those who object to or misinterpret what he says. But I also have a right to remain silent, which has a reflection only on me.

No comments:

Post a Comment