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My name is Bonnie Kaye. I am the former wife of a gay man and a relationship counselor specializing in straight/gay marriages for more than twenty years. My vast experience has led me to conclude that these “ex-gay”marriages inevitably end in failure — even if the participants are well intentioned and love each other. In my work, I help people who have been emotionally scarred and wounded by the false notion that marriage is the answer to making a gay person straight. Such marriages can lead to heartache and cause people to waste precious years of their lives that they will never get back.
I can appreciate all of the reasons why gay men get married. In almost all cases, they love their wives. In fact, they are hoping that if they love their wives enough, those nagging attractions to men will magically disappear. I also understand why some people don’t want to be gay if they think they have the option of being straight. Living gay in America can often be a challenge under the best of circumstances, especially when you get repeated messages that “Gay is NOT okay” from society, religion, and family.
These messages also include the false notion of “choice.” Out of ignorance, some people or religious institutions promote the notion that gay is like picking a flavor of ice cream. Or, they say that even if you are gay, you can have self-control, like going on a diet. “Okay–you’re gay–but you can be strong and not act on it.” With these self-defeating messages, it’ understandable why gay men often think that the only viable option is heterosexual marriage.
My personal life and counseling practice has taught me that accepting oneself, being honest and living a life of authenticity is the only genuine “choice” that offers a possibility of long-term happiness. The chances of a gay man achieving a lifetime of fulfillment married to a straight woman are negligible. Even if you love your wife, it doesn’t take away the need or desire to be with a man. You will only come to resent her in time because you’ll either feel “trapped” or see her as your vehicle to unhappiness. Furthermore, this is not an issue that can be “prayed away,” no matter how devout one may be.
If you elect this path, you will likely march like zombies through the years together with one foot “stuck in the muck” while the other foot wants to fly out the door. This is not the quality of life that either of you deserves. Your wife will know that you are unhappy, and she may blame herself. It will strip away her self-esteem and sexual esteem until she loses sight of who she is – just existing day to day instead of living. This is not fair to either one of you.
You can force yourself to lead an unsatisfying existence by conforming to the wishes of other people and suppressing your natural desires. But why should you have to throw away the gift of sexuality and the majesty of life because of intolerance? Be true to yourself and learn to accept who you are. You are a beautiful person, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. And, if you need help with self-acceptance or support after a spouse comes out, I’m always here for you with a large support network that will help you and your wife.
Just write to me at Bonkaye@aol.com.