When my husband of 21 years disclosed that he was “one wife short of gay” almost 16 years ago, I seriously thought our marriage was over.  I could not see any path that led to a conclusion other than divorce. The sites I found on the web for the first four years after disclosure caused me to look at my husband through a lens of hate, betrayal and suspicion. This felt wrong since I not only loved him, but also felt empathy for the pain he endured hiding his true sexuality for so many years. Then I found Alternate Path and realized that not all mixed orientation marriages end in divorce – just the ones you hear about. Alternate Path introduced me to a group of women who are using love and compassion to create great marriages with their bi or gay husbands. We might be in the closet, but we are still married; happier in the light of truth; and working together every day to make each other’s lives as whole and fulfilling as we can.

After 47 years of a good marriage, we have far too much history to just throw away.  These past eight years since my husband came out have been so much better it is hard to describe.  My husband’s boyfriend of seven years has also enriched our relationship by widening our horizons, our friendships, our appreciation of our city, and our own emotional responses.  We have never been happier or more committed to one another.  When my husband first came out I had no idea that our life could improve to such a degree.  I stay because I love him and because we both give the other the most important things we need:  love, security, humor, and truthfulness. I feel quite certain that I made the right choice to marry him and know that I would have missed out on so much if we had not married.  I have not one regret, only love and compassion for this very dear gay man who I am proud to call my husband.

The fact that my husband desires sexual interaction with men does not mean he feels any less for me. He sincerely desires and appreciates our partnership and the depth and width of our relationship.  When I remember how deep our relationship is, I shift my focus from the details of his thoughts and actions to the richness of what we have as well as my own inherent worth.

Conscious concern and love for yourself and your partner are essential to figuring this stuff out authentically.  Maybe your dreams don’t have to be over. Maybe this doesn’t have to be the beginning of the end of your marriage.  Maybe this could be the end of “one way” of being together that you now realize was limiting and painful to him and therefore to your relationship.  This could be the beginning of a new togetherness, one in which there is space to explore your authentic selves individually and as a couple. If we are able to see that SSA does not have to be painful to the straight partner, there is SO MUCH space for joy and beauty. As humans we flourish best when we are able to be fully ourselves

I am the same sex attraction partner in our relationship and non-monogamy deeply violated the norms I was raised with. But I came to believe it was not about following norms. It’s about fearlessly finding a way to live your life with joy, integrity, and love.  In our case, that meant honest, caring non-monogamy. We were lucky to have an excellent counselor who supported us in thinking outside the box. We are both very very happy and approaching our 35th anniversary. I think I am humbler, more patient and more compassionate.   I am less quick to judge others for having walked this path.

I have heard it said that nothing good comes without effort.  So the effort we have expended to make it through that first painful year post-disclosure has resulted in many good things.  We have found our way to a better, closer, more REAL marriage 6 years out. Our marriage is more solid than ever, and is based on love, honesty, transparency, and forgiveness.  We truly feel safe being ourselves with one another.

The last year has been crazy with both tears of pain and tears of joy. There have been secrets and lies but also unbridled honesty.  And through it all, there has been love. This love means we accept each other totally for who we are. But most of all, our love means we don’t want to change one another to suit our selfish insecurities. We stared down the barrel of divorce. It was the easy thing….the thing that made the most sense so that we could stop hurting each other. But nothing in life worth doing was ever easy….and so we chose each other. We don’t have all the answers but we have made it this far and we will make it through whatever comes next.

Alternate Paths is a safe place where you can learn to navigate the strange terrain of mixed orientation marriage. No matter where you are in that journey, know that it is okay. You are right where you are supposed to be. There is no timetable for grieving, adjusting, accepting, or finding a new normal. Be patient and kind with yourself.  When we work from a basis of love, commitment, and compassion, almost anything is possible. What is most important is that we be kind, gentle, and compassionate to each other.

For many years, I felt very lonely in my marriage. Things weren’t quite right, but I didn’t know what it was. Even though I loved my husband dearly, there was a distance between us that I couldn’t seem to close.  Once he came out, that distance began to close, and I began to see the caring and tender man I had dated so many years ago. Today he and I are closer to each other than we have been at any time in our marriage, and I no longer feel so alone.

My gay husband and I made the decision to stay married because we truly, deeply, love each other.  In turn, we allow each other the freedom to be who we need to be to find joy. This is about becoming one, being partners, and having a real marriage.  Choosing to stay married and to live in a MOM is a personal one. Each one of us must do the work, make the choices, seek the answers, and do the best we can with the situation we are in. We will all choose different paths.  We can encourage and support each other on this journey.