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July 23, 2019 5:15 pm  #1


Could we make this all the more confusing?

I’m starting to prepare for my divorce filing, and my wife is starting to get a bit more twitchy about how this will cause many more people (particularly at her work and with customers) to learn about her affair with a woman that is ongoing.  She’s become more defensive about being “labeled” with regard to her sexuality.  Here’s what I have heard over the last six weeks.

“I’m bisexual”

“I might be gay.  I haven’t had time to think about it.”

“I’m straight.”

“I’ve had thoughts about women for the last 15-20 years.”

“I never said I had thoughts about women for the last 15-20 years!  Where did you get that from?!”

“I’m pansexual.”

Is this typical?  It really messes with your head.

 

July 23, 2019 8:43 pm  #2


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

It's not uncommon. Others here have reported the 'admission of the week' or even of the day. Like a metronome - back and forth. Maybe they don't know what they want? Maybe they do but don't want to admit it? Maybe they just want to string you along with some false hope? In the long run you have to decide where to swim rather than tread water in shifting currents, waiting to see which way it drifts.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems she is more concerned with sexuality labels than being labelled a cheater.

Hang in there.

 

July 23, 2019 9:27 pm  #3


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

As I see it they have spent many years denying that they were gay.   As a result, it is not surprising that they don't want to embrace the label lesbian, they have been rejecting it for so long.   My STBXW says she is attracted to women and is no longer attracted to men (including me)   I said well that is a lesbian and she replied that she doesn't  like the word.   The concept of fluidity gives them a lot of flexibility and us a lot of confusion. 

Last edited by itsabouther (July 23, 2019 9:28 pm)

 

July 24, 2019 5:44 am  #4


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

I can’t comment on the verbatims but my ex waffled for 16 months during our separation.  The reality is setting in of giving up the straight life and all of its implications.  I considered reconciliation once for the kids in spite of the damage but she wouldn’t give up her girlfriend.

 

July 24, 2019 7:22 am  #5


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

Yes. Mind messing. When I started seeing the confusion my husband created as a kind of manipulation or abuse, it really helped me. Whether he intended to harm me or not, it was still manipulative, and it DID harm me. It is one thing to have a moment of seeing that, and another thing to live in it constantly--because living in the confusion makes it harder to see clearly all the time. This is especially so because we want still feel love toward our spouses, and we still want the dreams we had, and we still care about our children and yearn for that dream we had of an intact family, etc. So: faced with all the confusion daily, I have to keep reminding myself: the only consistency is inconsistency. And ultimately that is the answer: she is just not that into you.

Recently on Chumplady, someone paraphrased a counselor who has a lot of videos on YouTube: Patrick Doyle of Veritas Counseling. He has a really no-nonsense delivery, and he gave validation to this insight I had come to on my own, and I just really find it helpful these days to find “official sources” that validate my sense of things, especially with all the confusion of the straight spouse experience.  Doyle says that consistent confusion in a relationship is a sign you are being manipulated.

BB: Since your letter was highlighted a few weeks agoon Chumplady, I have been thinking of “schmoopie” and how that relates to the straight spouse experience.  I have thought how--with our spouses, every path is just our spouse choosing a schmoopie. An actual affair? Schmoopie. Deciding to stay married to us? Also a schmoopie—just more subtle, and also much much more damaging:  in choosing to stay with us, if it is them in denial, they might really pledge they are bi, and that they want to really be with us, and they pledge to be monagamous, and we might really want to return to that monogamous relationship and reconcile--they have not had an affair with a real person in this scenario.  However, this is never about us.  This is still about them, and their love with not just their closet--but with the lack of reality that the closet represents.  By pulling us into a confused and unstable and false reality, they are denying our importance as real people who should be able to know what their lives are.  I think this is different even than the "cake" on Chumplady, although cake is a part of it for sure.  It is all about their self focus, and they are betraying us by caring only for themselves to the point that we do not even live a real life.  It is totally crazy making.  They love their schmoopie false reality most of all--that is not monogamy even if it looks like it.

(I guess if the spouse is honest and open, then maybe there is a different thing going on, but the confusion--eeek.  Run away.)

The “bi” thing is especially hard. Like “ hey there. Still an option dude!”

Last edited by OnMyOwnTwoFeet (July 24, 2019 12:19 pm)

 

July 24, 2019 9:23 am  #6


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

     I also experienced a form of this, although my now-ex declared he was trans. I observed that in the initial phases, he went to the farthest extreme, in his case, "I'm a woman in a man's body and I am going to transition and live as a woman," which would, I guess, be in gay terms, "I'm a lesbian (or gay man)."  He eventually moderated that initial view and those initial plans to "I'm a man trapped in a man's body but I wish I were female, and I'd still like to live as a woman but I'd make a very unconvincing one so I'm going to stay in the closet and only act out my desire to be a woman and my sexual pleasure in myself when I act like one at home."  The analog for gay people, especially for those who've been acting on their same-sex attraction, might be "I'm bi" or "I want to remain married but find a girlfriend (boyfriend)," or something else along the lines of what people have reported here. 
   In my estimation, that pattern is not unusual, and, at least in my case, I think there was both general confusion and searching ("I'm a woman in a man's body!  Wait--that's scientifically impossible. Oh, here's some research on people who feel like me and a researcher who also feels what I do has come up with the idea of us being 'a man in a man's body who wants to be female and a woman.'").  
   However, this genuine internal confusion also translated into behavior, and that's where the problem really lies.  Because as he went back and forth and up and down about who or what he "is," any possibility of which upended our marriage and the basis for it--whether he was a man in a woman's body or a man in a man's body who wanted to be a woman and would live like one if he could pass easily--he consistently failed to understand that this did upend our marriage.  
    Further, although what he was telling me completely changed the basis for our marriage, he expected me to continue in the role that I had always occupied and act in relation to him as a loyal wife despite the fact that he wanted to not to act in his role or in relation to me as a husband.  He laid down new rules for our sexual life ("I want to be punished.  I'm a masochist.  I want to act the part of a woman.  I want to be penetrated.")  He wanted me to listen to him talk about his feelings about himself, and even upbraided me for not being of better help to him ("I don't know why you can't help me with this; gender is what you do!" [I am a former director of women's studies at our college].   
  And that, my fellow straight ones, is where I think the real problems lay.  He changed, but he expected me to continue on in the same way, as the supportive spouse, who would at the same time accommodate his new understanding of himself.  He was unable to imagine the position he put me in and the distress, confusion, and hurt I was feeling. His new understanding of himself and his sexuality was non-negotiable, but I was expected to change the way I thought of myself and to compromise on my sexuality (to go from a heterosexual couple to a lesbian one). He wanted me to continue to be the loyal spouse and act as his safety net and his shock absorber, which was not fair or just or charitable or loving--it was inconsiderate, of me, my feelings, and the blow he had dealt me and our marriage.
    
      I personally think that after disclosure many of us want to help our spouses, or support them, and that we get caught up in that, to our own detriment.  We don't protect ourselves, to say something along the lines of, "You clearly have to figure yourself out.  But you are going to have to do this by yourself.  I can't help you with this, and it's unfair of you to ask me to be your safety net while you figure yourself out. So we're going to separate, legally, while you do.  And while we're separated, I'm going to do some thinking of my own. Because I have to figure out what is acceptable to me and what I want."   That speech, or one like is, is one I wish I could give as a script to all new shell-shocked straight spouses.  
     I say this because as we've seen, our spouses are quite willing to cling to us or to string us along or manipulate us.  When they feel uncertain or hesitant about or afraid of how the consequences of what they're saying will play out in their lives and affect their futures, they pull back and cling to us and their lives with us.  And that is unfair of them. Understandable, but still unfair.  Taking away that option from them forces them to come to terms with themselves, and it spares us the the destructive dynamic of our hope-despair-hope-despair caused by their "push away and pull back," plus the hurt of knowing what they are willing to inflict on us and our seeing how little we now seem to matter, even as they tell us they love us.

   
 

Last edited by OutofHisCloset (July 24, 2019 9:51 am)

 

July 24, 2019 2:08 pm  #7


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

OutofHisCloset wrote:

   We don't protect ourselves, to say something along the lines of, "You clearly have to figure yourself out.  But you are going to have to do this by yourself.  I can't help you with this, and it's unfair of you to ask me to be your safety net while you figure yourself out. So we're going to separate, legally, while you do.  And while we're separated, I'm going to do some thinking of my own. Because I have to figure out what is acceptable to me and what I want."   That speech, or one like is, is one I wish I could give as a script to all new shell-shocked straight spouses.  
 

 
If only we all had that speech at that moment.  It’s a perfect template for setting boundaries.

ADSJ

 

July 25, 2019 10:48 am  #8


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

     What I most regret now is that my initial, self-protective, correct response to my then-husband's trans bomb drop was "I do not want to be married to a transwoman, so we'll have to divorce," but that because I did not insist that one of us immediately leave the marital home I was there in the house and available to be subjected to his abuse and manipulations, and to fall prey to them--which I did.  Physical distance, I think, would have saved me much subsequent pain and three years.  Every day I stayed compounded the grieving and psychological work I've had to do since leaving the marriage.  
  If I could give just one piece of advice it would be this: "Although this advice may go against your instincts, I urge you to put physical distance between you and your spouse.  You will think more clearly, be free to consider what course of action will be best for you, remove yourself from the temptation of actions motivated by a false hope or of trying to help, and make it more difficult for your spouse to manipulate and otherwise abuse you."
    
 

Last edited by OutofHisCloset (July 25, 2019 12:53 pm)

 

July 25, 2019 12:42 pm  #9


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

I think that is a good practice for other boundary setting needs as well.  ( Not divorce per se, but separation of some kind until the party whose boundary is crossed has some time to get off their back foot, think, and respond with clarity). 

It appears that those of us here and on Chump Nation are not as effective at communicating our boundaries ( or maybe even knowing them clearly) as we need to be for our own health.  When they are assaulted we are not prepared to respond and then accommodate at our own peril and the peril of the relationships.  There’s an old saying “ good fences make good neighbors”.  Ambiguity serves no one well, in any relationship.

As a side note, my ex and I physically separated within 4 months and then took fourteen months to negotiate the divorce.  I don’t think I could have sustained the cognitive dissonance that you sustained OOHC over three years. I believe it would have irrevocably damaged me in some way.  I still struggle to understand it if I think about it - so I just move on.

ADSJ

Last edited by a_dads_straight_journey (July 25, 2019 2:02 pm)

 

July 25, 2019 5:10 pm  #10


Re: Could we make this all the more confusing?

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Last edited by Duped (August 23, 2019 1:26 pm)

 

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