Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mixed Orientation Marriage - Squared

By Madame Curie

Sometimes, my husband will understands me better than I understand myself.

Last night, Mister Curie and I had a long conversation about our marriage and the role that sexual orientation plays in it. I had been expressing the concern that, with the fluctuations in the Kinsey scale that naturally occur over time, there would come a time when the idea of kissing me would be repulsive to him. This seems to be a not-uncommon occurrence in many mixed-orientation marriages (MOMs). He explained that he had never been repulsed by me physically, although at times (particularly at the early stages of our marriage) he has been frequently less interested in love-making than I. He then flipped the question to me, asking what I expected the outcome would be if my Kinsey scale shifted rightward again. I started answering the question.

And then... it hit me.

I finally grasped what the "unknown fear" in my future was. I conceptualized what I was worried he would feel towards me.

Before I joined the LDS Church, I was exclusively attracted to women. And I was grossed out when I was physically/sensually involved with any guy. I had forgotten (blocked?) that from my memory. I had forgotten how repulsed and nauseous I often felt while making out with my ex-boyfriends. I had forgotten how those experiences weren't something I had looked forward to with men. They were things that I endured because it was expected, but I never liked it.

I had forgotten how worried I was in the early days of our relationship that I wouldn't want to kiss Mr. C (sorry, honey!). I remember that now. I specifically remember that I was consciously worried about his trying to kiss me when we went on our first road trip together to the Hill Cumorah Pageant, because I didn't think I could without being grossed out again.

Amazingly to me, I actually really liked kissing him - I was surprised by that.

I was also worried on our honeymoon whether I would suddenly stop desiring him. In the past, anticipating the sexual activity was always so much more powerful than actual kissing or touching with men - making out with my boyfriends was always either boring or nauseating. And when the real stuff started, I would always, always, always be repulsed.

Mr. C got an email last night from a fellow MoHo who has been following our blog, and in his response to him, Mr. C wrote:

Navigating our MOM is sure to be an interesting experience, although as I'm still coming out to myself I haven't had to think too much about it yet. Our MOM, while similar to other MOMs in many ways, may also be unique because my wife is lesbian. She describes her sexuality as being incidentally sexual, but from her stories she is essentially only attracted to females (had a girlfriend in high school) and has been repulsed by most men she has dated. I am her exception. She was a convert to the church in college and church dogma convinced her to date only men and she convinced herself that she was becoming more heterosexual. She did not tell me that she was attracted to women until after we had been married for some time...

She claims that she highly suspected I was gay while we were dating, but that it was confirmed to her within the first year of our marriage... She thought it was awesome because she had always wanted to be married to a gay man. Now she is facing the fear that when you marry a gay man, you also face the possibility of only being a "place holder" until the right man comes along. I am gay, but I am attracted to my wife (she is quite possibly my exception as well, or it may be that when I become emotionally close to a person, my feelings of attraction follow). I was never repulsed by
women, I just wasn't interested in them very much.
Have you ever had those moments where you are trying desperately to understand something about yourself, and then someone else explains you to you? This email did that for me.

I hope that he doesn't suddenly become repulsed by me. I hope I am truly his exception.


  1. Wow. You and your husband are pretty amazing. I did NOT know, or realize, that you both deal with being in a MOM in your very own unique ways. I have to say I am very impressed with your marriage and your relationship together. Thank you for the things youhave shared in this post. I learned a LOT.

    Happy day! :)

  2. So good to hear from you again, Mme Curie! Not so good to hear your (perfectly understandable) fears. Good to hear that you figured them out, though.

    Here's a question: When he found out you were a lesbian, did Mr. Curie fear that he was a place holder until you found the right woman?

  3. @EV - When I first heard about Mme Curie's high school girlfriend, Mme Curie explained it and understood it as she is incidentally sexual rather than lesbian, meaning that the specific person matters more than the gender. I wasn't worried about being a place holder.

    Recently we have been able to analyze things more in depth, and as the post illustrates, it looks like I am Mme Curie's exception. I haven't had time to fully process this, but I don't think I'm worried about being a place holder. I am confident that our marriage is wonderful and works for us. I'm not one prone to worry, so if things change in the future I guess I'll have to deal with it then, in the meantime I prefer to enjoy my marriage to its fullest rather than be paralyzed with fear.

  4. Here's to wishing you a long, happy and fulfilling marriage.

    I have talked to many late in life lesbians who were married to men but after they had their 2.5 children, the sexual desire for their husbands became low to nonexistent.
    I realize it is none of my business, but I wonder if reproductive desires entered into your relationship?

  5. slp- Thanks! Yes, we have a pretty exceptional marriage. Sometimes it seems a bit kooky, but it works for us.

    EV- One of the phrases we use a lot in our marriage is "I can only be as honest with you as I am with myself." I think this scenario is a perfect example of this. I knew that I was attracted physically to women, but I hadn't realized that I was also not attracted to men. I suppose I should have - the experiences were there. I guess I just figured that male attraction would come or that everyone thought men were just icky and gross physically. It was only Tuesday night when my husband walked me through these things that I realized there was this very obvious trend in my past experiences where I actually found being with a guy repulsive.

    Interestingly, since becoming LDS I haven't had many friends who are girls. Most of the girls I've known from Church have been really catty, and that really annoys me. So, a lot of that emotional attachment to women has decreased, which consequently made me think I was becoming more heterosexual. Added to that the fact that I had a lot of friends who were guys - well, gay guys - and you can imagine how none of it makes sense in my little brain.

    I am sure Freud would have a field day with our marriage.

    Suzanne- Thats a good question. We waited a few years before we had our son, and we actually aren't actively planning on having more kids, for various reasons. I've found that my sexual interest in my husband has actually increased in the last year. Not sure why. We have some theories that tie into all this buts its probably more information than most would like to know ;-)

  6. This is just a silly semantic point, but can you really call it a "mixed-orientation marriage" if you're both homosexual? It's more like a mismatched-gender marriage, isn't it?

    (Sorry in advance if this insight is not helpful...)

  7. CL - You make a good point, and one that I have thought about A LOT. Its not just semantics. In this case, we are choosing to adopt a label because it is helpful for us to change and grow. The Mormon MOM community online is real, and quite supportive (especially for my husband). Emotionally, I am going through a lot (I'm terrified of being a placeholder), and I am trying to figure out why and where I can find support. Unfortunately, I don't quite fit the MOM community - largely because I understand him altogether too well. My fears aren't at all motivated by a need or desire to have him "changed" straight. I like him just the way he is.

    I don't really have any issues with being lesbian myself, as I am attracted to my husband, and our marriage is everything and more than I ever expected it to be. But... I have experienced the same thing with a woman, and my husband has not experienced it with a man. So its hard to know what will happen going forward.

    Anyway, if you (or anyone else) knows of support groups for couples who are in similar situations, I am all ears. I have heard that it is common for lesbians to be attracted to gay men, so I know I'm not alone in this. I just feel isolated in that my husband is only know coming to understand himself.

  8. @CL - I think I would still call it Mixed-Orientation in that I am attracted to men and my wife is attracted to women. I guess it all comes down to the labels we choose. Right now the label works for us as it helps us find a supportive community. If there is a better label for a marriage of a gay man and a lesbian, please let us know so we can find a support structure that more closely aligns with our reality.

  9. I just wanted to say that I think your story is fascinating. Reading Mister Curie's accounts of self understanding has helped me understand a little better how my husband was able to hide his homosexuality from himself for so long. Thanks for sharing!

  10. @The Wife - I'm glad that my posts are able to foster understanding of your husband. I have certainly recognized myself in several of the posts on your blog as well. I'd love to hear more about his journey, as well as how you are making your MOM work.

  11. Frank Lee Scarlet24 January, 2010

    There is the possibility that, because of fluctuations on the spectrum of sexuality, you or your husband or both could move further toward the homosexual end. But isn't it equally possible that you or your husband or both could move closer to the heterosexual extreme? Just a thought.
    Hope you're both doing well!