Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Review: When Husbands Come Out of the Closet by Jean Schaar Gochros, PhD

By Mister Curie

I have been posting recommendations in comments across the MoHosphere for people in Mixed-Orientation Marriages to read this book since I got it from the local LGBT library.  Now that I've finished it, I figured I should just do a book review blog post on it.

I think this book should seriously be required reading for both partners in a mixed-orientation marriage as well as for any MoHos considering a mixed-orientation marriage and their prospective partners.  It would also be a great book to share with friends and family who know about your mixed-orientation marriage and form your support network.  It has something for everyone.  Madam Curie has already agreed to read it and I am looking forward to discussing it with her.

From nearly the first pages, the book spoke to me.  I recognized my marriage in those pages, I saw myself in the descriptions of the husbands, I saw my wife in the descriptions of the wives, and conversely I saw myself in the descriptions of the wives when it came to Madame Curie's sexual orientation.  And when the author began to describe the types of experiences spouses have when their husband comes out of the closet, I saw our experiences clearly mirrored in the book, with quote after quote from other couples that were nearly verbatim from our own mouths as they described our situation.  The author then analyzes the different types of experiences wives have when their husband comes out of the closet and suggests reasons for those experiences.  In each instance that mirrored our own experience, her analysis was right on

I think the book offers a lot to the mixed-orientation marriage couple. (1) You will recognize your marriage in the descriptions, providing relief that you are not alone in this struggle and feel like someone understands you.  (2) You will find insight into why certain aspects of the coming out have gone over well and why other parts have been . . . rocky . . . (3) You will find simple, yet convincing, suggestions on how to improve the inevitable rough spots that mixed-orientation marriages go through.  (4) The book is written from a very supportive viewpoint that mixed-orientation marriages can succeed and that more of them should be able to succeed than currently do with tons of advice gathered from interviews with over 100 couples in mixed-orientation marriages.  For me, I think the most useful parts of the book are the several chapters of suggestions gathered from interviewees.

Although written in accessible language, some readers may find the book a little too academic, however that spoke to my scientific nature.  I also recently read Amity Pierce Buxton's "The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families" which I also recommend, although not as highly.  I felt like Buxton's book focused so much on the details of the personal narratives that I didn't really recognize my own marriage in those stories.  Furthermore, Buxton's analysis is disjointed and gets lost behind all of the stories.  Gochros, on the other hand, maintains a very strong voice throughout her book, using small excerpts and selected quotes to illustrate her analysis, rather than presenting an exhaustive narrative for each interviewee.  I also felt that Buxton presents the problems and issues, but fails to offer many suggestions, whereas Gochros offers very clear suggestions on how to improve the situation in mixed-orientation marriages.  Gochros also has a Q&A section to her book with common FAQs that felt relevant to me.  Ultimately, I felt that Gochros offers a view of hope for mixed-orientation marriages with practical advice on how to achieve success, while Buxton describes the train wreck when mixed-orientation marriages fail (speaking of, Buxton's book should probably also be required reading for MoHos considering a mixed-orientation marriage and their prospective partners).

Have any of you read either of these books?  What do you think of them?  Did they help you (and spouse, if relevant)?


  1. I've read Buxton's book. I haven't really recommended it to others for the same reasons you mention-- it's short on analysis and solutions; long on personal narrative without seeming to arrive anywhere.

    I'm interested in reading Gochros.

  2. @MoHoHawaii - I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Gochros book. Sorry again about having to cancel on you. Next time!

  3. I haven't read either, but my shrink had recommended buying The Other Side of the closet for my ex. She said she read the first few pages and was disgusted by the stories and had no intention of reading it, but when she moved out she took it with her. I have no clue of she's ever read it. Maybe the first book would have helped way back then, but I doubt it...

  4. I'm going to check out the "When Husbands Come Out" book.

    Have any of the wives of Mohos read this? I'd really like to hear your feedback.

    @MoHoHawaii: Ditto on Mister Curie's comment about your thoughts on the Gochros book.

  5. I'm on the last chapter of this book now. I *loved* this book. It described my relationship with Mr. C and my reactions to his various disclosures perfectly. Its a great book. I'll be doing a post on it on my blog soon, but all in all I would call it a must read for wives of homosexuals.

  6. Sorry, I should clarify - My comment about is in reference to When Husbands Come Out of the Closet."