The second blogger married for 25 years that I interviewed is Abelard Enigma. He serves in his bishopric, has children, and recently began working through his situation with his wife. Prone to writing very supportive and encouraging comments, Abelard is someone whose opinion I respect a lot. Like SG, I want his advice so that 20 years from now I?ll have the best chance of being where I want to be?still married and flourishing. Here is our chat:

You’ve been married for decades, and you’re still plugging along happily. What’s it like to be gay and married after 25 years?

Well, that’s the $1,000,000 question. Can’t you start with an easy one first? :)

Ummm… what’s your favorite color?

Blue.

I was guessing green from your blog. Which is very nice, by the way.

Green is my 2nd favorite color.

Gay and married? I guess it depends on what day (or even time of day) you ask. Some days I don’t think about it at all. And some days I think about it a lot. The subtitle I put on my blog is deliberate (“An exploration of what it means to be Married, Mormon, and Gay”). That is how I like to prioritize things. First and foremost I’m a husband and father. Next I’m a member of the LDS church. And coming in third, I’m gay. In practice it doesn’t always work out that way. But, that is my goal, that is what I strive for.

Well, maybe I shouldn’t make assumptions. Do you feel like your marriage is happy? Is it accurate to say you’re still “plugging along happily”?

Yes, my wife and I have always had a good relationship. She is not only my wife, but the very best friend I’ve ever had. We are very compatible in terms of interests, likes, dislikes, aspirations, etc. We, of course, have had our rough times. But, nothing really serious. This gay thing is probably about the worse we’ve gone through (I just told her last January). But, we have a strong enough relationship that, I’m confident, we’ll make it through this too.

Why only last January? Did you not really admit it to yourself before that?

I didn’t admit it to myself until last fall. When I first joined the church in college, I genuinely believed that God had cured me of my homosexual desires. I felt that way all through my mission and the first couple of years of my marriage. But, the desires returned, and I spent years being in denial. And, those years of denial came with a price, to the point that I even considered suicide a few times.

One thing my wife has noted is, since accepting this myself, I seem much happier than I have in a long time.

Do you consider yourself to be bisexual or fully gay? In terms of attractions, I mean…

Let me put it this way. If a cute couple walks into the room, and you later ask me to describe them. I could probably describe the guy in explicit detail, and then say “there was a girl with him?” In other words, fully gay. I love my wife, but I’m not sexually attracted to her, at least in the way that other men are to their wives.

So, how did your wife respond when you told her? How have things played out since then?

She cried a lot at first. and I mean a lot, more than I’ve ever seen her cry. And that made me feel like a slug. I never want to make her cry – and I felt helpless to do anything about it. But, after a couple of weeks, she was crying less. She has even gotten to the point of joking about it a couple of times. She once quipped “It occurred to me, if I see a cute guy, you’re probably checking him out too.”

But, then things got really crazy around our home with my son’s wedding, and it was pushed to the back burner. The wedding is over now and things have pretty much returned to normal, but we haven’t gotten around to discussing the ‘bombshell’ (that’s what we call it). I’m waiting for the right opportunity to say something. But, with kids home from college, it may have to wait until the Fall.

It seems, though, that things haven’t really changed. It’s just that you’re both more aware now. Has there been a feeling that things have “shifted” in some way or that there might be more consequences to come?

That’s hard to tell just yet. She has told me that, for the first time in our marriage, she feels insecure. I don’t really know what I can say to her to remove her insecurities. I am what I am. What’s important is that I’m the same person I’ve always been. She has shared that, intellectually, she realizes that.

After 25 years, you’re still together, after all. You must have been doing something right all that time. What have you done over the years to make your marriage a success? Do you think being unaware or “in denial” about your gay feelings has made things easier or harder in your marriage over the years?

Regarding how we’ve made our marriage a success: I’ve always supported her and made sure she has time to herself. I also support her in whatever things she wants to try – no matter how crazy. By support, I mean watching the kids, making dinner, doing laundry, etc. while she is off going to RS homemaking (or whatever they call it these days), working on a Masters degree, teaching classes (sewing, quilting, etc.), hanging out with her friends, etc.. And she does the same for me. For example, I have a G-scale train in our back yard – how many wives would tolerate digging up the garden for a railroad right-of-way?. We also share in the responsibilities. For example, even though my salary is our major source of income, she takes care of all of our finances. And, she doesn’t yell at me for leaving the toilet seat up :) We made a deal: I’ll make sure it’s up when I use it – and she makes sure it’s down when she uses it.

Regarding my years of denial: She has told me on a couple of occasions that if I had told her while our children were young – she doesn’t think she could have handled it.

That’s interesting.

I guess, for us in particular, being in denial at the beginning of our marriage worked out best. But that’s not to say it would work out that way for everyone.

Those sound like some pretty typical strategies for a good marriage. You haven’t had to do anything “extra”? Do you feel like your situation has forced you to just, sort of, grit your teeth through your marriage, ignoring the unmet gay desires?

Intellectually, I know that for me, specifically, the most likely outcome of pursuing a gay relationship would be a life of loneliness and despair. It seems gay guys put a lot of emphasis on youth and beauty (myself included) and I have neither. But, I can’t ignore that there is a part of me that wants to be with a man. It’s not the sex, I want to be hugged and loved by a man. I want to be wanted by a man.

Yes, certainly that’s the issue. But, you’ve felt that way presumably for decades. Have you had to do something during that time to make it in your marriage? Have you had to “white knuckle” through parts of your marriage to resist running off to San Fran? ;-) Basically, I want to find myself where you are now after I’ve been married for 20 years. What can you tell me about that?

Before we moved to Texas, we lived in the Bay Area and used to go to San Francisco regularly. To be honest, it’s not that appealing to me :) But, your question is valid.

To keep myself focused, I believe it’s important to put my wifes needs before my own. Although, that is sometimes easier said than done.

There was one time I recall when our children were very young. She was off with the kids visiting her parents for a couple of weeks while I had to stay home and work. I was working a lot of overtime with a single guy who was, shall we say, very good looking (and, I suspect, bisexual). We spent several evenings working late at night where we were the only ones at the office. That was probably the closest I’ve ever been to being seriously tempted. So, what did I do? I decided to paint our living room and dining room – and I went out and bought a puppy (much to her chagrin when she returned home).


Do you have children?

Yes.

Children have a way of really bringing a couple together. You are united in a common goal.

And yet, I remember watching a Dr. Phil episode recently where the father would try to rescue their marriage by having another child. It seems that having children would have that effect, but I wouldn’t recommend having them as a way to strengthen a marriage that seems otherwise threatened (not that that’s what you’re saying).

I agree with that. Having children will not magically fix a troubled marriage. It’s analogous to getting married is not going to cure your gay feelings. But, I believe, children can strengthen a good marriage.

We have a close family. Our children are much closer to each other than either my wife and I are to our siblings. Our home was the one where our kids friends wanted to hang out. That is something we strove for. We’ve always tried to make our home a place where they wanted to be. Not a prison that they couldn’t wait to leave.

So, overall, what advice would you give to someone who is young and gay and LDS, and wondering whether marriage is an option for them?

Well, I agree 100% with the counsel from our Church leaders who say (paraphrasing): You should not get married in hopes of controlling your homosexual desires. I can attest that being married does not make the gay feelings any less strong. Some may argue that, at least, I get to have approved sex. That’s true, but it also serves as a constant reminder of that which I crave, but can never have. In other words, I don’t think being in a mixed orientation marriage makes it any easier or harder to be a homosexual in the church – it’s just different.
As far as what advice do I have? I believe a gay male should get married for the same reasons that a straight male should: Because you love her and want to be with her. Marriage isn’t for every gay man. But, I also believe you shouldn’t out right reject the idea either. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever would have married had I not met my wife – I just didn’t look at girls that way. And, you never know, one day, the right person may walk into your life. That’s what happened with my wife and I. We both instinctively knew that we would eventually marry when we first met – and she didn’t even like me at first.

But, I was quite the nerd. Picture this: mid-70s, maroon colored bell bottom pants. I wasn’t a member at the time and had hair down to my shoulders. Looking back, I don’t think I would have liked me either :)

Abelard’s blog, Mormon Enigma, is online at this address: http://mormon-enigma.blogspot.com/

Leave a Reply

10 comments

  1. avatar

    -L-

    She has told me that, for the first time in our marriage, she feels insecure. I don?t really know what I can say to her to remove her insecurities.

    I think this is a common theme. I know, much of our marriage has been spent reassuring our respective insecurities. It’s a lot of work, but I think we’ve come to a pretty good place with them now. Neither of us feel insecure about our issues, really. We’re open and still striving to deal with them.

    It’s interesting, though, to imagine how different things might be if after decades of marriage we had to re-evaluate everything that has happened in a new context. As you said, Abelard, you’re the same person. Perhaps she just wants to know that you’ll never leave her… since you’re the same person.

    The discussion could have gone in that direction when we had it, but it didn’t, so I just have to comment about it now. :-)

  2. avatar

    Max Power

    Abe,

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your blogs, and now I love you even more. I truly hope to some day find a wonderful woman like you have and raise a family.

    It’s good information to know that getting married doesn’t make you straight, it’s just a different form of being gay. It emphasizes the importance of finding your place in the Kingdom as a gay Mormon, and dealing with the daily temptations that are out there and not assuming that they will magically go away.

    Thanks for being a great example to us marriage hopefuls.

  3. avatar

    Rose

    I really enjoyed these interviews. L, well done. I’m glad that this blog is working so well. Three days ago, I got my divorce decree. My ex-husband has SSA. I would have to agree that selfishness often plays a big part to break a marriage. However, thankfully, we are not the one to judge one another because we couldn’t read other’s people’s mind, nor hearts and their intentions and whole situation. Perhaps we also have different maturity and understanding. Each one of us use different filter to view things. All we could do is to let go and forgive one another in return. I believe finding faults doesn’t serve us well. It would probably only help the bitterness find us more often. Only forgiveness and love could bring peace and joy back to our own life.

    Like I told my friends, SSA doesn’t really define a person’s value. Each one of us still child of God. Everyone has the same choice to make. Let’s say how many straight men is really happily married? You’ll be probably suprirse by the result. And also for those single members who don’t have SSA nor sex experience, should they feel misarable all their life because missing out the marriage opportunities? I love Abelard said first and foremost he is a husband and father. Next he is a member of the LDS church. And coming in third, he is gay.” To me, setting priority in life is really important. It will not only help us make choices, but also set goals and yield to the temptations. Of course, I know it’s not that easy to do. To me, I feel it’s like a mind setting game in our daily life.

    I also think it’s kind of part of human nature to feel that I’m entitled to do or to have… because of… But often we forgot that kind of thoughts often leads us to be selfish and would slow down or even stop our progress because we would get trapped in our own little world and couldn’t look beyond. Maybe that’s the reason when I was selfish and I might even notice sometimes.

    I like to say even straight married men face temptation everyday as well because they are surrounded by all kinds of beautiful talented working sisters daily. And here, you guys are facing very difficult challenges daily also. I know, nothing is fair. Don’t we all have different kind of challenges in life? But the end, it’s all get back to ourselves, who I am and who I want to be. I enjoy Michael Wilcox talks very much. Once he said there are many trees in the forest, don’t focus on the one you could not get and let yourself lose your many other opportunities to be happy. I’ve reminded myself often lately about that. Losing the most precious gift (marraige) that my Heavenly Father gave me was painful, but thankfully, there are also many things that I can do to be a happy as an individual instead of sitting home feeling sad or bitter. I am the master for my own very happiness. You probably also heard people said, I will be happy if I get married (I used to be that one). I will be happy if I get a good job, I will be happy if I have a kid….. but really, when they turly have met those dreams, are they really happy? in my opinion, if someone can’t be happy at his or her current stage and accept his or her current condition, it would be hard to find the happiness no matter when because he or she will probably always be not satisfied with what he or she has. I pray to be grateful for who I am and what I have been blessed with, only through feeling the grace and the love of God could help me go through my uneasy days.

    I’m very proud of you guys for who you are and what you are doing. I’m grateful for your good examples and messages for those who are searching the support and hope. And I’m grateful that Father has given me this opportunity to get to know many very special people through this special group. You are in my prayer.

    English is my second language, I hope it all make sense. =) Best wishes to you all.

  4. avatar

    Getting married doesn’t make you straight, but if you’re committed to it, and constantly striving to maintain the marriage, it will work. It has to be both of you, and you have to be committed to the idea. You have to foster the love between you and your spouse like you would any friend or family member, and frankly, even more than that.

    I’m glad to see what you’ve expressed Abe, and honestly, you’re my hero. I know that Miki is different than most wives since she knew from the get go, but she has moments of insecurity, and I’ve just had to make sure that I redouble my efforts to help her to know that I love her.

  5. avatar

    Three days ago, I got my divorce decree. My ex-husband has SSA

    I’m so sorry – for both of you. I know there must be a certain amount of bitterness, especially after reading accounts from other gay men who are trying to make their heterosexual marriages work. But, it seems you have found a place in your heart to forgive him.

    I am acutely aware that, statistically, a mixed orientation marriage is doomed to fail. I can’t even take solace in the fact that we’ve made it 27 years because there are so many stories of men who have left their wives after 20, 30 or more years of marriage. It is a constant up-hill battle, and some men reach a point where they just can’t do it any more. It saddens me. But, at the same time, I feel a sense of understanding and compassion.

    You don’t mention if you have children. If you do, it is important that you both remain involved in their lives. Your children should know that you both love them and there are just circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from being a traditional family.

  6. avatar

    Rose

    Thank you, Abelard. I’m not sure if I should say we were lucky or unlucky that we didn’t have children because I’d tried so many ways to have children. I love children. But I also knew my ex wasn’t reado to be a father. We even almost adopted our foster son, but that was the time, he was overwhelmed with his SSA situation because he has found a “friend” that got his attention away and that was the time he told me his SSA and asked for a divorce. I didn’t agree at that time because I believed the marriage would still work even though he has SSA. We both just needed to get some help and learned more about SSA, so we could make it work. With six years difference in our age, like my marriage counselor also his SSA counselor said, I came into the marriage with much mature mind. So it would be really hard to have a balance marriage. In many ways, my ex still acts like a teenage. He said he wanted to do what Heavenly Father wanted him to do, but he didn’t want to change anything what he was doing either. When he saw me crying, he wouldn’t even comfort me in some way. I was like invisible person in the house. He often wanted things his way and he wanted it now attitude. To me, his biggest issue is not his SSA, he grew up in a very emotional abusive family. His dad was also grew up in a unloving family, in many ways, it contributed to his charactors and personality. His forgiveness is ingoring those persons and never contacting them again. His mom and I had tried many times to help him understand forgiveness, so could pull this family together. But instead of opening his heart to listen to the spirit we have been taught in the church, he called that was putting him done. He has a good heart. He is a very kind person. But his nature defensiveness has delayed the growth he could have. I knew he was hurt very much in his childhoold to adulthood. I’ve witnessed the impact on unforgiveness through his whole family situation. Bitterness is little a dictive drug to almost everyone in the family. They didn’t associate with their any cousins, not even close to their own siblings. And I know it’ would be really hard to change that. It’s sad to watch how depressed my ex was. Even his “friend” asked him to commit to his marriage, but he couldn’t. Through many prayers and blessings, I knew if I loved him, I needed to let him go. God has His timetable for him to learn and grow. I couldn’t force him to grow if he didn’t want to or wasn’t ready. So giving up my precious marriage, at least he wouldn’t suffer from both SSA and the marriage he couldn’t commit at the same time. He is so damaged in many ways. I would say he is the biggest victim of all this mess.

    After he told me about his SSA, I’ve studied about this subject more than he has. My compassion has grown to these special group of people. I introduced Evergreen and some married couplies who also dealing with the same challenge. I also encouraged him to go to the support group and talk to a SSA counselor, so he wouldn’t feel so alone. But ended of, the spirit at the conference made him ill. He left after at noon at the first day. I was there the whole two days with that “friend”. My ex was very upset when people have different ideas than people were born with SSA. Mostly, I thought he was afriad to change or commit to something he should do. And instead of hanging out with those married couples, he started hanging out with all the single guys that he met from the support group. Then he started coming home at 12:40am, 2am and 3:30am. And he also told me that I had no right to tell him when he should come home. I told himI hope he would come home by midnight. Not only he couldn’t spend more than 15 minutes to talk to me each day, everything I said he turned it into nagging or putting him down. He would yeild at me and be angry very easily. His communication skills has a long way to go I would say.

    Yes, I was very upset and felt unfair during those days. But I also told myself that I didn’t want to let him pull me down. I am such a positive and happy person. I didn’t want the bitterness to swallow me. I should love myself a little bit more. So finally,I decided to let go. He can be still my good friend, or even good brother, but not a husband. One week after we seperated and I had already told him that I would file a divorce, he wrote me an email and told me if I would like him to move back, he would only move back to the guest room and be a roommate until all our differences were solved. I guessed he was probably realized living at home was very nice because I provided everythng for the family. You probably wouldn’t believe that I laughed when I read that email because I knew I had made the right choice. My ex really had no idea what is about marriage. And he didn’t read my email nor pay attention to what I said. I was neglected for years. And SSA is just a small part of his challenges in my opinion. Now, he moved into an one bedroom bastment apartment with another single SSA he met in the support group. I saw them from time to time. We are still friends. I’m so grateful that the pain is gone when I near him. Thank God for His teaching. Without it, my life wouldn’t be so peaceful today. =) And I’m also glad that he is probably happier also.

    I would say my insecurity while I was married I felt that I hadn’t never been my ex’s first priority. He has always put his family behiind, even his very own family because he didn’t want to deal with his own father. Some people might say since I don’t have a husband dealing with SSA anymore, I don’t need to hang around with this group. But I’ve grown so much compassion through this past year and made so many great friends who are also dealing with SSA. I don’t have the power to reduce their pain, but I can be their friend or a sister to love them and support them. That was the reason I volunteered myself to help design this site. I always feel very strong spirit when I around this special group. People are so willing to reach out to others to strengthen each other and help each other to hold on to the truth and fight with our temptations. Isn’t all the members should be doing the same thing? I know I’ve grown so much through the experience that I went through this past year. And I’m grateful for the growth. Yes, I still cry sometimes, but it’s ok. I know I’m truly blessed. =)

  7. avatar

    Rose, you amaze me! If more members of the church had the level of compassion you demonstrate then there wouldn’t be so much angst among those of us who are trying to reconcile being gay and Mormon.

    From what you describe,it sounds like your ex-husband’s SSA is just one of many issues he is having to sort through. It makes me that much more grateful for the loving family I grew up in.

  8. avatar

    Rose

    Yes, Abelard. Sometimes I even told myself I didn’t need to be that nice. But at the same time, I would feel guilty if I know I could be better and I didn’t do it. I also amazed myself sometimes. It’s quite strange to say that. I can only say that gospel has changed me a lot. I was a happy and fun person before, now, I’m even happier and have more compassion toward other people. Gospel has helped me set up my priority in life. At the same time, I have more responsibilities to continue being a good example. I can only try and do as much I could. And I’ll leave the rest to my Heavenly Father to help me. =)

    I often thought if more members of the church could understand SSA and reach out to the people who have SSA, maybe it will change the whole outcome of the situation. SSAers won’t be so isolated in a way is quite sad. At least, SSAers would feel more loved and supported from either male or female friends and their families. Currently, there was couple single guys in our ward might also have SSA, but I don’t care. I’ve invited them for my FHE group each Monday. They have become my good friends. SSA really doesn’t define a person’s value. They are just like others, my brothers and sisters. =) I always believe that love is much powerful than fear. And fear is coming from lacking of understanding most of the time. I would be glad to be Heavenly Father’s tool to help others learning on this very subject. To those people know my story, they often felt unfair for me. I told them not to because there was a purpose for me going through this. I invited them to love him and pray for him because he needs more help and love than I do. I could see the reasons that Father allowed me spending seven years of my life with my ex. My ex has good potentials. He is a good child. He needs time to grow in his own pace. God wants us to love one another and forgive one another. It’s not all that easy, but at least I will try my best. I wish my ex has a dad like you. It will be so much helpful for him understanding things. Now, I’m going out to enjoy the beautiful Utah weather. Even though I’m alone, but who says being alone couldn’t feel the joy, right? Enjoy your long weekend with your family. Remember to kiss your wife and tell her you love her often. =) Those little acts are the things touched girls the most. =)

  9. avatar

    Ron Schow

    -L-

    I appreciate your efforts in doing this interviewing and the two reports so far. I would like to do a short scaled type questionnaire of everyone on this blog with the idea to recheck the status every year for the next few years. Unfortunately, I don’t have the skills to create the questionnaire online and have immediate results posted, which I know is possible and would be wonderful. I have questions that have been used a lot and would allow comparison with other samples. Does anyone want to help me get it online?

    I went to Mormon Enigma’s blog linked above and read some of his wonderful poetry. I also read his description of the gay christian network where they have Side A and Side B gay christians. Enigma likes the fact that gays are charitable with each other even when on two sides of the issue and he likes that about the MOHO blogs going on now.

    I think it is wonderful that this Northern Lights site makes it possible for those on both sides of the issue to talk to each other and to share warmly those things we all have in common. Over the years as an active member of the Church I’ve gone to Evergreen firesides and conferences to hear the GA talks. Some at the meetings are friendly to me, but they often refuse to email with me and act like I’m an enemy because in my research I don’t agree with them on every issue. I agree with Enigma. It is important for us to dialogue with each other regardless of our position. When we are Christians or Latter-day Saints we should communicate across the divide that sometimes divides us.

    Rose has spoken above quite eloquently about this. I applaud her spirit of inclusion. I thank those on Northern Lights who have made me welcome here.

  10. avatar

    -L-

    I do hope someone with the expertise you are looking for will be available to help you out with your research. This blog, while a community, is not a discreet set of members and so may not be amenable to the type of participation you have in mind. The users are typically anonymous, and you might have some problems with selection bias, repeat users, pranksters, etc.

    Regardless, I wish you the best with your efforts to look into these issues scientifically. Feel free to correspond with me privately if you would like to discuss this further.