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January 10, 2022 5:01 pm  #1

We’re making progress, but still confused

We’ve been married almost 20 years, both my husband and I brought up in very conservative, homophobic religious communities. At engagement he told me he was being attacked with attraction to guys, but since teen years he had gotten reparative therapy from Exodus International (watch Pray Away on Netflix to see his counselors and be horrified!). Our Christian leaders told us God would remove the devils attacks on him if we both showed our faith by getting married. We didn’t like each other, but it was the height of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and all the religious hype to throw out your own plans and do radical things for Jesus.

Needless to say, they were wrong and it’s all proven to wreck our lives instead of bringing us a better, more loving marriage than anyone else,  like they promised. My husband was depressed and very abusive to me in his pain. Last year we got therapy and he started healing from Intimacy Anorexia (withholding love/emotional connection/touch from your spouse to cause them pain and keep oneself safe from being known). He also saw Pray Away, then showed it to me, then we heard a Straight Spouses podcast with a gay ex husband who described our narcissistic marriage abuse exactly as we’ve lived it.

Now, with therapy together and his own secular sex therapy, we’re at a truly loving, intimate place for the first time ever. He’s coming out of depression but grieving the way our lives were ruined by religious lies. He’s lost his faith and is angry, I’m going to a gay affirming church and finding a real loving God who’s not controlling or harsh. We had a sexless marriage all this time, as we’ve seen it defined as 10 or less times a year. He punished me and told me I was disgusting and wouldn’t have sex more than a couple times a year. But when we reached true openness and brokenness in our healing, he actually loved sex with me. He initiates and truly loves it now. We’ve realized he’s a very sexual person, more than me, but it was always starved before.

He’s always felt since age 8 that he’s Bi, not on either side. He really likes both genders but men a bit more. I’ve been wondering lately if I’ll ever be OK with him having sexual encounters with men without any ongoing relationship or connection. He says he really wants that, like on a vacation to go to a bar and get oral sex. Sometimes I think I’d be Ok if it’s just that and not a real relationship. But then it makes me feel gross and like my heart is exploding with pain. He’s willing to wait and see what’s best for us. He’s never done anything, being completely shut down and in denial until recently. But now he feels it’s valid and not evil or demonic, so he wants to do it.

The hardest thing is not knowing anymore what’s right or wrong. We grew up in strict religion that’s wrong in almost everything. But I hold to morals that he doesn’t share because I still have a new faith. It’s hard to know what I’m Ok with, since I’ve been an extremely submissive wife and he was very abusive on top of that. I had no adult life on my own, but married young to a man I didn’t like. Now we have young kids and I do love him. And he finally loves me. But it’s so complicated.

Last edited by LMM (January 10, 2022 8:01 pm)


January 10, 2022 7:52 pm  #2

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

That is a painful story to live.  I have only one practical word of advice. Get tested regularly for STIs if he is having sexual contact with men and also with you.  You must be vigilant until you cease sexual contact with him. I hope you can work out a path that works for you goung forward.


January 10, 2022 8:04 pm  #3

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

Hi, yes that’s a big deal because I have medical problems (my autonomic nervous system is damaged) and any illness gives me heart symptoms. That’s one thing he’s recognized as a big thing to figure out if he ever does anything with men. I saw that my post wasn’t clear about how he wants this new step but we haven’t decided anything.

     Thread Starter

January 14, 2022 11:42 am  #4

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

I think that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that when a gay or bisexual husband starts having sex with men he has a lot more trouble than before having sex with his wife.  It seems that the act of having sex with a man shifts his emotionality further towards supporting his sexual orientation.

If on the other hand he doesn't have sex with men then the tendency is to get badly depressed.



January 21, 2022 10:06 am  #5

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused


    I am so sorry you were conned by your upbringing and your church into thinking you could "heal" your husband's homosexuality, and that you were further abused by being told that the reason you were having problems was that you weren't sufficiently "subordinate." It must come as a relief to you now to know that the gaslighting and blameshifting being employed against you are the tactics of abusers, and that they, not you, were always the ones at fault.

 Only you know the extent to which you have been able to surmount this early abuse and training, but the way you speak about your situation suggests to me that you are still in the habit of subordinating yourself to your spouse.  Your post above is all about your husband.  It's about what he thinks he wants going forward, who he is, what his journey was. (The adage "you can take the man out of the church but you can't take the church out of the man" applies to women, too.)  And you seem to see your role as accommodating yourself to whatever it is that is working for him, even when your body cues you in that what he suggests--casual sex with men--repels you, even though you "feel gross" and your "heart is exploding with pain."  It's not your job or your obligation to "be OK with that."  It seems to me that your claim you are not as sexual as he is is part and parcel of this accommodation. How do you know sex is not as important for you?  It's not as if you've been in a situation that allowed you to become a fully sexual person. 

 As Sean has pointed out many times, and as many of us here on the forum have experienced, there is often with our non-straight partners a "honeymoon period" after the crisis when we are having sex and our partners seem to have made a 180 degree turnaround.  During this period we straight spouses are re-secured and re-commit to the marriage.  We think, as you do, that we are "at a truly loving, intimate place for the first time ever."  Honesty is like an aphrodisiac, but it, too, wears off, and the underlying mismatch in our sexualities, and the dysfunctional patterns it has engendered, reassert themselves.  

  When the honeymoon period wanes, how is your marriage going to be successful given that your husband has already begun pushing for your allowing him to have sexual encounters with men?  Have you conveyed your discomfort to him about that, and what has been his response?  Is your idea, or his, whether overtly said or left unspoken, that you will accommodate yourself to it in time?  And if so, how is that any different from the pressure to sacrifice and subordinate yourself that you experienced when the Church was telling you to marry him and that you weren't subordinate enough in the marriage?  To be taught that one can control other's behaviors--and are therefore responsible for them--by means of our own behavior is a very difficult legacy to unlearn and leave behind.

  Another pressure that is going to re-assert itself is how your husband says he feels about your children.  He has said he does not like them and feels unconnected to them.  Is your husband in his new honesty going to own that, and to them?  And if so, how is that going to make them feel?  Or is he simply going to turn over to you all the parenting?  How are you going to feel when you are the parent on the spot while your husband is out having casual sex with men?  At some point you're going to have to factor in whether it is in your children's best interest to be raised in a family in which their father does not love their mother, leaves all the parenting to her, and is absent and disconnected, and their mother subordinates her own interests and wellbeing to his.  

PS: I don't usually post in the MOM section, but your posts in the other categories were made on other people's threads.  The only threads I saw that you originated were here, and I wanted to reply on a thread dedicated to you.

Last edited by OutofHisCloset (January 21, 2022 10:20 am)


January 21, 2022 10:57 am  #6

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

Thanks, OoHC for this. It reaffirms what my support group for abuse keeps saying, that the basis of everything tends to be submitting to him. Even though we’ve come out of a lot of that, what seems to me like I’m wildly independent is just a few steps in toward independence. Like, putting a need of mine first might have 5 “threads” of submission to him still in it, but it’s progress that I’m trying to focus on my needs in general!

I should clarify that he doesn’t want to do anything with guys at this point, and doesn’t know if he ever will have the courage to do it. But his sex therapist keeps suggesting that we leave all options “on the table” and then in a few years decide if anything should be actually picked up. It’s supposed to take the pressure off making any decisions now.

For me, it’s kinda scary to even have the feeling of everything’s on the table. Even if we say we won’t pick up things for years, and maybe never any of them, I know it gives the chance of disappointment and resentment. I don’t think I’d ever be OK with anything except monogamous marriage. That’s what I signed up for. So I don’t know if there’s a place for this supposedly freeing idea where we both decide together someday if anything’s changed. But I think the point of it is to acknowledge that people change. Just like my theology has drastically changed in 2 years as I let go of fundamentalist rules!

     Thread Starter

January 21, 2022 1:05 pm  #7

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

LMM.... You said... "I should clarify that he doesn’t want to do anything with guys at this point...."
... but THAT is not the point you should be thinking about. The point that MATTERS is the very important fact that he's THINKING about doing it

And you said... "But his sex therapist keeps suggesting that we leave all options “on the table” and then in a few years decide if anything should be actually picked up."
Omg he has a sex therapist?! I'll wager that therapist is LGBTQ

LMM... Find your inner strength. It's there, it's just been suffocated by the man who thinks it's okay that you think that he should be king of your world.

You said...."I don’t think I’d ever be OK with anything except monogamous marriage."
... So tell him that, tell him now, stand tall, look him in the eye and tell him "no I don't want this in my life" and be prepared for him to go silent, or emotional, or angry but know he's reacting that way to stop you trying to be independent of him.

You'll never "decide together". He wants to 'guide' you into agreeing with how he wants HIS life to be, not your life together

I reckon you know all this
We're here to keep you strong


KIA KAHA                       

May 24, 2022 7:58 am  #8

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

I agree with Elle. My husband of 24 years and I have gone through a similar situation. We were raised in conservative religious environments and thought his being gay was a choice, and that if he just chose to do the right thing, it would work out. We love each other, but there are some non-negotiables. First, I feel like I am worth more than a sexual release for him. If your husband wants something else, that's not going to change. He's using you for sexual pleasure. But are you on the same page psychologically? Truly? Don't surrender your values. Be true to yourself and what you feel is right and wrong. I KNOW it hurts. It's like having your heart torn to shreds. But, in the end, I want to be able to say that I did right by myself and my children. 


May 25, 2022 6:59 am  #9

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

Do what is best for you. Elle/Kia stays with her gay boyfriend and I left mine. It is a personal choice.


May 25, 2022 4:05 pm  #10

Re: We’re making progress, but still confused

Hi Linda, what a thoughtful honest post.  I think you are so right in what you say.  

It seems to me that when we are inside a relationship it is hard to see what is really happening, particularly with the gaslighting.

I chose to marry my ex but I didn't know the truth of him.  And then I stayed with him even though my subconscious was desperate to get away because I did not understand I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and could leave him if I wanted to, to me it was a commitment and not to be broken lightly.  

I wish someone had taken me by the hand and explained I was in a bad marriage a lot earlier in my life but I know that for the people who might have it was too much to look into my innocent deluded eyes and deliver the heartbreaking news. 


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