“Gay, Mormon, and Married”

August 4, 2006 | 100 comments
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This is not the kind of article you see every day.

But I thought it was great. Ben Christensen–by being Ben Christensen and not Name Withheld–is blazing a path that I hope will give courage to others in his situation. His faithfulness is to be commended.

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100 Responses to “Gay, Mormon, and Married”

  1. An observer on August 4, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks for bringing our attention to this article, Julie.

    As a straight Mormon who has had discussions about homosexuality and Mormon faith and membership, I have been frustrated at how polarized the discussion tends to be. The stories and lives of these individuals who have come to individual conclusions of tremendous faith and dedication go a long way to making this dialogue richer and this scenario not as doomed to failure as it sometimes looks. These individuals show incredibly strong faith and a very moving relationship with God and His will.

  2. Kristine Haglund Harris on August 4, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    I hope someone does a follow-up article in 10 years–it will be interesting to know if the honest and aware model results in more lasting marriages than the marriages people entered into during the decades when deception and therapeutic attempts at “cure” were the more common approach in the church.

  3. mistaben on August 4, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Powerful. I read Christensen’s Dialogue article last year. It was about that time that I started developing a little bit of understanding of and empathy for people with same-sex attraction. An observer (#1) – I was among the polarized, judging even as I overlooked my own weaknesses. No longer.

    Ben & Jessie are wonderful examples of obedience to the Lord and commitment to each other.

  4. diogenes on August 4, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    I hope these marriages work out for the families depicted in the article.

    Despite Julie’s valorization of this approach, I cannot help but view this it as a very high-stakes gamble with innocent lives. It is one thing for the adults, knowing the odds against them, to enter these relationships. It is something else entirely to gamble with the emotional well-being of the children who are brought into the situation.

    I try to imagine the situation inverted — if I felt that the Church’s teachings demanded that I marry and sexually satisfy another man, despite my innate attraction to women and personal repugnance at even the idea of same-sex intimacy. I can’t imagine remaining in such a marriage for even a day, let along eternity. Under no circumstances would I subject children to that situation.

  5. Duane on August 4, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    Diogenes,

    It is one thing to talk about a personal choice you would make and another to make blanket statement on whether mixed orientation couples ought to bring children into the world. Here we hav couple that are living the commandments of God as given from the beginning and yet we still find reason to marginalize their relationship. There are many, many people in my stake whose relationships appear entirely unstable with little chance for success, yet no one has suggested they refrain from having children.

    Any time we bring life into this world, we are engaged in a high stakes gamble. If we limit that gamble to those who have the best odds most people would be unable to have children. Individual couples, of course, should realistically think about potential pitfalls and problems, but the rest of us should trust them to navigate those waters with the Lord’s help just as we trust the rest of the faithful couples in our wards. I believe the memberships’ attitude and treatment toward couples such as the Christensen’s will reveal whether we are serious about what we teach in regards to homosexuality or whether it is just so much lip service.

  6. KatherineF on August 4, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    I know of Ben through some mutual friends and acquaintances and have a great deal of respect for his decisions and way of handling his situation.

    Diogenes (#4): This may be a high-stakes gamble, but from what I know of this particular family, I trust that they made the best decision for them. I do, however, think that their willingness and ability to make the situation work is an exception rather than the rule–and understandably so. I also can\’t imagine feeling compelled by religious beliefs and social inclinations (which is, of course, an oversimplification of the factors at work) to enter into and remain in such a marriage.

  7. Ana on August 4, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    Diogenes, not even if you believed in your heart it was right? Not just demanded by the Church but ordained by God?

    Thanks very much for linking to this article. It gives me a glimpse what I hope the Church can become in regards to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters — willing to let them be who they are without necessarily requiring less of them.

  8. diogenes on August 4, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Any time we bring life into this world, we are engaged in a high stakes gamble.

    Not in the sense I am talking about. This is not a question of “people in [your] stake whose relationships appear entirely unstable.” This is a marriage that we know (and the partners know) is almost certain to fail. Even if it “succeeds” it will be “successful” on terms that many of us would find difficult, perhaps intolerable.

    And while I am not going to suggest that the people in your stake in unstable relationships should refrain from having children, I repeat that if I were going into a marriage where I knew that my partner and I were irreconcilably incompatible — for whatever reason — I would hesitate to subject children to that situation.

    And, certainly, I would hesitate to broadcast to the world the situation that the children were coming into — children almost never benefit from their parent’s “true confessions” to the newspapers, weblogs, etc. I’m still undecided as to whether bringing children into the relationship is irresponsible, but I am fairly certain that subjecting the children to public scrutiny over the relationship is.

    I believe the memberships’ attitude and treatment toward couples such as the Christensen’s will reveal whether we are serious about what we teach in regards to homosexuality

    And what exactly do we teach that you think we are to be serious about here? What Elder Packer taught twenty years ago? What the Handbook says this year? What it will say in two years, or ten?

  9. Kaimi Wenger on August 4, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    Interestingly, the New York Times just did an article about gay men who wish to remain in heterosexual marriages. See http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/fashion/03marriage_bg.html

  10. Julie M. Smith on August 4, 2006 at 7:25 pm

    “This is a marriage that we know (and the partners know) is almost certain to fail.”

    I know no such thing. Until you show me the stats on divorce rates for males with SSA who were open with their spouses and the world about their orientation before marriage and who have a strong philosophical commitment to heterosexual marriage and who have a track record of abstinence from homosexual activity, you know no such thing, either.

    I think you are overplaying your hand, diogenes, on the incompatibility card. Find me a couple where both members are heterosexual but have had an equal desire for sex over a period of decades and then we can talk.

  11. -L- on August 4, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Diogenes, I can assure you that my wife and I are far from “irreconcilably incompatible”. Nor do I appreciate the sentiment that you or anyone else “knows” that my marriage is “almost certain to fail”. Can’t comment more at the moment, but you’ve just reminded me why we’ve decided to stay anonymous.

  12. -L- on August 4, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Okay, did I inadvertently squelch the conversation? Oops. Please carry on. I will refrain from being indignant as these comments are all very interesting to me, whether I agree with them or not.

    Also, in case anyone is interested, I posted once on the odds of making my marriage work here: http://ardentmormon.blogspot.com/2006/04/aspiring-to-honors.html

  13. Buckeye the Elder on August 4, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    well, i wish the couples mentioned in the article the best. i wonder what the stats are like for non-mormon couples where one of the partners is either gay or lesbian. Can the power of prayer, and membership in the True Church overcome biology? I know of one non-mormon couple, (where the man is gay), where the husband is taking some kind of hormones to decrease his sexual activity – whether this works, I dont know, but, i wish them well. However, I wonder about how such couples will be recieved in most LDS Wards, where acceptance of people who are different in some significant way, doesnt seem to be a strong point.

  14. Beijing on August 4, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    I am a data point.

    I married my best friend, who was open with me and everyone else about his orientation before and during marriage. He had a strong philosophical commitment to heterosexual marriage; when he testified of how he knew Jesus wanted him to be married to a woman, congregations wept tears of amazed joy. (I only wept with joy from knowing he wanted to be married to me specifically, not just “a woman.”) He had abstained from homosexual activity and masturbation for five years prior to our meeting…plus two more until we married. He participated in a published case study along with others, in which he was presented as a success story for the therapy for overcoming SSA.

    The marriage lasted three years, two of which we were working our butts off in couples therapy. We were off-the-charts exceptional in terms of communication, trust, etc. But when it came to techniques for increasing sexual intimacy, we tried everything, but nothing worked. We had no children. Guess why.

    There are things I would like to say to the married gay Mormon man who laid his hands on my ex’s head and made promises about what our marriage would be like if my ex was faithful (which he was). But I certainly can’t type those things here.

    I’m not going to tell anyone else their marriage won’t work; I wish all the mixed-orientation couples the best. But I sure as hell would have appreciated it if fewer people had told my naive self of several years ago that my marriage would work as long as the two of us worked at it.

  15. gomez on August 4, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    I understand -L-‘s desire to remain anon. Marriage and parenting is hard enough without having to live your life in a fish bowl. If you admit to being gay and married, I would imagine it becomes the scape goat for every little problem. That said, I admire the Christensen’s courage and wish them well.

  16. Samantha on August 4, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    I find the judgments of others, on things about which they know nothing, repugnant. I, too, am a data point. Married for 20 years and counting, three beautiful children, wonderful, if challenging, relationship with my husband. I am the same-sex attracted member in our relationship.

    All couples face challenges. All marriages might possibly end in divorce. All divorce hurts adults and children. The risk for me has been worth it. I can\’t speak for my husband, but he SAYS he loves me and wishes to remain with me…and I believe him. I believe my children would also agree that the risk has been worth it for them, as well.

    Will our marriage last another 20 years? Statistically the answer is no. In my heart, the answer is a resounding YES!!!

  17. MikeInWeHo on August 4, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    My fear for couples like these is the extremely high probability that somewhere along the line, the husband will slip up and have a sexual encounter with another male. It’s impossible to get good data on a topic like this, but anecdotally it seems to be the biggest problem. It’s the oldest story in the book, really. Keep in mind that a scant 50 years ago virtually ALL gay men married women. They typically took lovers on the side, with varying degrees of successful or disastrous outcomes. The marriages described in these articles seem so retro somehow. While I sure admire these guy’s honesty with the women involved, ask yourself this: Would you want your daughter to enter such a marriage? Somebody needs to do a longitudinal study of these couples.

  18. mark barrionuevo on August 4, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    This dialogue is fascinating to me for I can almost interchange the alphabetism “SSA” or the word “homosexuality” and any other worldy challenge we, as humans, are faced with here in mortality.

    The other day, my wife and I were discussing the issues of same-sex marriage and why the church is against it. It seems to me that it comes down to issues about this mortal state. We’re sent here with weaknesses, whether from nature, nurture, or from the beginning of our “intelligence” status. These weaknesses are basically any trait that will damn us or keep us from returning to Heavenly Father’s presence. That being said, homosexuality, or being over-sexed/fornicating heterosexuals, or alcoholics, or wife beaters, or too proud-to-serve-other hypocrites, or compulsive liars, or liars in general, or intemperant jerks, or constant backbiters, or a milieu of other weak people which we all are in one degree or another is just a reification of our cross to bear here on earth.

    I’m not saying this to minimalize the challenges experienced by different orientation couples and I’m not even implying that all homosexuals should try to “overcome their weakness” by marrying the opposite sex, but I do not believe that overcoming homosexuality is any more challenging than being a transitional character in a long (or short) family line of wife beaters or addicts or other people who faced/are facing an uphill struggle to Celestial glory. If it was not so, God and the Plan of Salvation, which states that a man cannot be saved without the woman and vice versa, would be a lie.

    I figure the Church realizes that and is less interested in condoning a damning choice than removing a possible additional stumbling block to our weak natures. God seems to be in the business of protecting us from ourselves, despite our logical, highly intelligent, impressively studied, deeply researched, expertly fleshed out, truly felt, and overall best intentions.

  19. diogenes on August 4, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    I know no such thing.

    Have you actually read the article you linked to? Read the first line. Even if you don’t know any such thing, apparently the subjects of the article do.

    Find me a couple where both members are heterosexual but have had an equal desire for sex over a period of decades and then we can talk.

    My, we are in fine form today, aren’t we? Are you going to threaten to hold your breath until everyone agrees with you, too?

    Like Beijing, I hope the best for the couples described in the article. But like Beijing, I have real concerns about believing that this approach is going to work for very many — if any — gay members — Julie’s conversational ultimatum notwithstanding.

  20. D. Fletcher on August 4, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    I think there are multiple roads to happiness in this life. These mixed-orientation couples have my blessing and support, as do same-sex couples and regular ol’ heterosexual married couples. People who find each other and commit to each other for a lifetime or eternity is a miracle to me — I can’t seem to do it, and I’ve tried very hard.

    And if for some reason, they find the road too hard, and they need to separate, my heart goes out to them and to the children. They already know serious pain, and they don’t need the added burden of my censure.

  21. diogenes on August 4, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    I think there are multiple roads to happiness in this life. These mixed-orientation couples have my blessing and support, as do same-sex couples and regular ol’ heterosexual married couples.

    The touble is, D., that not everyone shares that expansive view. I can already foresee a future where some of the participants in this thread want to know why don’t you get with the program and find a wife like that courageous, faithful Ben Christiansen? Now that he’s blazed the path, what are the rest of you waiting for?

    I also hope his relationship works out, but think we had better take Beijing’s “data point” more seriously.

  22. A Nonny Mouse on August 5, 2006 at 12:34 am

    Diogenes: “I can already foresee a future where some of the participants in this thread want to know why don’t you get with the program and find a wife like that courageous, faithful Ben Christiansen?”

    Having read the gay married bloggernacle for some time now, I have to say that I don’t think every mixed orientation marriage would work. That being said, I think there are many that do. Many more than just the three represented in the article Julie posted.

    I’m sorry, Beijing, that your marriage didn’t last, even though you both went into it with your eyes open, and tried your hardest. I agree, that I think it’s not necessarily a cure-all to do so. At the same time, there are couples, (particularly of note are “Samantha”, “L” and “Another Other”) whose relationships seem to be doing extremely well, after several years of marriage, and they all share the trait of having been incredibly open before and during courtship, and remaining so throughout their marriage. Once again, while that’s certainly not some kind of panacea for the Church’s view on homosexuality, I think it clearly is a strong indicator as to what the strength of a given marriage will be. Of course, that shouldn’t be surprising, since all good relationships are based on solid communication and a willingness to be incredibly flexible with one another…

  23. Jack on August 5, 2006 at 12:46 am

    diogenes,

    I sympathize somewhat with your “clinician’s” PoV. No doubt folks like you have seen too many failures on the part of those altruistic types who put their “true selves” on the altar.

    That said, as it relates to the plight of this particular couple, I hope (and I hope you hope) that you will be eating large amounts of crow twenty or so years from now. If not, well, you will have told us so.

  24. MikeInWeHo on August 5, 2006 at 1:28 am

    Essentially, these are marriages of social convenience. It happens in Muslim countries all the time too. It was the norm in the West before gay liberation. When practicing homosexuality carries harsh penalties, to survive homosexuals are forced to create lives that appear “normal.” The LDS sub-culture cultivates this; it’s quite an anachronism in the U.S. If Ben Christensen and his wife were secularized and living in L.A., they’d be best friends and co-parenting their child together, maybe sharing a duplex. Would it be that much different ?

  25. mullingandmusing (m&m) on August 5, 2006 at 4:46 am

    Essentially, these are marriages of social convenience.

    If you go back and read what Ben said, he married his wife because his heart and God led him in that direction. They are not living a life pretending they are normal, either…they are open about what challenges they face. It sounds to me like they are living what they want to live, not simply succumbing to some “sub-culture” for the sake of fitting in.

  26. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 8:36 am

    Re mark barrionuevo,

    Thanks for your comment; I agree completely. I wonder sometimes if people whose only experience has been (admittedly disastrous) mixed-orientation marriage tend to over-idealize ‘regular’ marriages. We all bring weaknesses and challenges to the table and I’m not sure why a partner with SSA would be categorically different than, say, a woman with an eye that strayed toward other men, or a man from a long line of alcoholics, or a woman with an abusive mother, or me–with my daily struggles against anger and laziness.

    All: I absolutely do not advocate marriage as a ‘cure’ for SSA and I would think it reprehensible for someone to hide SSA from a prospective marriage partner (just as it would be wrong to hide any other major life issue). The reason I applaud Ben in the article is that there are _plenty_ of people speaking the “I tried marriage and it was a disaster” line but many fewer telling us “I tried marriage and I am still trying it.” We don’t have statistics on this issue for the LDS community (that I know of, anyway), and I think it is important to hear these voices. For that reason, I’d like to thank all those who commented to that effect.

    Diogenes: There is a big difference between the article’s “the odds are against his marriage” and your “almost certain to fail.” And I’m sorry if you were offended by my tone, but I hope you won’t allow that to stand in the way of addressing my substantive point: the [presumed: how do we know that this isn't a good solution for women or men with low libido? And I'm only half joking here.] sexual desire mismatch between mixed orientation couples may be more extensive than that of herero couples, but it is hardly a unique challenge for a marriage to face.

  27. Duane on August 5, 2006 at 9:50 am

    MikeInWeHo asks: “While I sure admire these guy’s honesty with the women involved, ask yourself this: Would you want your daughter to enter such a marriage?”

    The most relevant player here is not the parent, but the person contemplating the relationship. Parents must eventually recognize and accept the autonomy of their adult children at which point the relationships their desires for their children become largely moot. Trust, respect and a willingness for a child to make his/her own way are much preferred to control and infantalization. Not to belabor the point, but I would have thought this would be patently obvious to you MikeInWeHo.

  28. Samantha on August 5, 2006 at 9:58 am

    \”Essentially, these are marriages of social convenience.\”

    Yeah, I\’d never enter a marriage like that, sorry. I\’m way too independent, career minded, and children were never on my agenda. Also, I love the gospel, I want to do the Lord\’s will, but I\’ve never felt compelled to conform to any social norms–ask anyone who really knows me.

    I got married to my husband because I couldn\’t imagine living a day without him, because I felt I was at my best when I was with him, because I really WANTED to become one with him–regardless of how difficult that would be, because I loved him and I knew he loved and accepted me. Call me crazy, but I just think that those are pretty good reasons to get married. But, being homosexual, perhaps I don\’t understand the reasons heterosexual couples get married. Is it all about having sex? No wonder some of them get divorced. Go figure…

  29. Kristine Haglund Harris on August 5, 2006 at 10:22 am

    Julie, if homosexuality were only about sex, then couples with mismatched libidos might be an apt comparison. But homosexuality is also about affectional orientation, and affects all kinds of intimacy, not just sexual intimacy. In a way, it’s a pity that we’re stuck with the word “homosexual” because it unduly emphasizes the sexual component of homo-social/erotic/intimate/affectionate desire.

    (And, just as an aside, it’s hard for me to see a huge difference between the statistical likelihood of mixed-orientation marital failure cited in the article and diogenes’ “almost certain to fail.” “Almost” does take account of the 2% (or whatever very small number it is) of mixed orientation marriages that succeed, doesn’t it? The rhetorical effect is different, but the substance is quite similar.)

  30. Gina on August 5, 2006 at 10:42 am

    28 – I don’t understand what you’re getting at here, Kristine. Aside from sexual attraction, I don’t understand how gender/biology influences other kinds of bonding or desire. Could you elaborate?

  31. slm on August 5, 2006 at 10:56 am

    What Kristine is saying is that people FALL IN LOVE with the same sex to which they are physically attracted. A gay man does not have a sexual desire for men, while falling in love with women on the side. Ben in the article said he chose his heart over his libido. Sounds noble, sure, but it’s wishful thinking. The two go together.

  32. slm on August 5, 2006 at 10:59 am

    Let me clarify that I realize that the heart and libido can be split between two different women, or two different men, but it cannot be split between the two sexes. Julie reduced the challenge of this marriage to a matter of different sexual needs, but it’s much deeper than that. Without being deeply, passionately in love, Ben and Jessie (and couples like them) will not have the same depth of emotional intimacy that same-orientation couples have.

  33. Samantha on August 5, 2006 at 11:42 am

    Wrong. Sorry–but you are. And yes, I feel absolutely qualified to disagree with you. I believe the emotional intimacy experienced by my husband and I is actually deeper than that of same-orientation couples, because we\’ve had to discuss pretty much every aspect of our physical, spiritual, and emotional bonding (how many same-orientation couples do you know of, who have done the same?). The understanding that must be extended by both parties requires an intimacy reaching far deeper than for those who \”naturally\” fall together through the pull of physical desire and infatuation. Because true bonding and deep love comes about through a lifetime of trials and tests, not through a random physical response, it is possible for couples like my husband and I to achieve emotional intimacy, to be in love, and to express that physically. We are, after all, intelligent beings who have control over our feelings and reactions, as much as the naysayers would like us to believe otherwise.

  34. Tom on August 5, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t know any couples who are “deeply, passionately in love” very often. From what I’ve seen, most of the time marriage is about learning tolerance and charity when stress and boredom replace passion.

    Sure, these mixed orientation marriages probably won’t be ideal. But neither are any regular old marriages.

  35. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Re #28–Kristine, I think your point is completely valid, but it doesn’t change *my* point: just like there are different libido levels, there are different levels of desire for what you call affectional orientation. (While I haven’t been speaking from experience on the rest of this thread, I can here, as someone with a very, very low need for affection.) And I don’t think a mixed orientation marriage is by definition doomed because of the likely mismatch in desire for affection/emotional intimacy, etc. Do you have a source for that 2% success statistic?

    slm writes, “The two go together.” And you are basing this statement on what exactly? You later write, “Without being deeply, passionately in love, Ben and Jessie (and couples like them) will not have the same depth of emotional intimacy that same-orientation couples have.” I dispute the notion that “deep passionate love” is the only basis for emotional intimacy, as I would imagine every single person who has ever had a really close (platonic) friend of the same gender would. I would further dispute that emotional intimacy is the sine qua non of marriage. I think Tom said well what I want to say here.

    Again, I worry that ‘regular’ marriage is being idealized–to no one’s benefit.

  36. slm on August 5, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    No one is idealizing conventional marriage. Rather, most of you are underestimating the cards stacked against this couple. YOU are idealizing Ben and Jessie’s decision as noble and spiritual, when you really have no more than a newspaper article to go on.

    Tom, I’m not naive. I realize that same-orientation couples are not in a constant state of emotional (or sexual) ecstasy. I don’t see how that fact in any way disputes my point, which both you and Julie have missed: There is not a mutual romantic love between Ben and Jessie.

    Yes, I KNOW that thousands of marriages that once had romantic love later break up, and I KNOW that Ben and Jessie share other forms of intimacy, which, as you said, are platonic. But the point is, a successful lasting lasting marriage has both of those things, as well as a committment to the values that will keep it together in down times. All married couples have romantic down times — when the heart doesn’t go pitter patter and the sex isn’t so hot. But those down times are punctuated (at the very least) by periods of emotional and sexual intensity.

    Romantic love is not a panacea for problems, but it is one of several bare essentials that bring and keep two marriage partners together.

    Homosexuals do not romantically fall in love – ever – with the opposite sex. I don’t see what’s so hard to get about that.

    Now, maybe it would be fine by YOU if your husband never found himself unable to keep his hands off of you, but it would not be fine by ME, nor most women who don’t wish to sell themselves short — and yes, I think Jessie is selling herself short. So is Ben.

  37. D. Fletcher on August 5, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    “Homosexuals do not romantically fall in love – ever – with the opposite sex. I don’t see what’s so hard to get about that.”

    I really don’t think this is true. In just one example I can think of, the love affair and marriage of Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland, he was completely out of the closet, having had several male lovers, before meeting her and falling in love. And he was devoted to her, by all accounts, though not ultimately able to keep the marriage going because of Judy’s problems (and not his own). When Liza Minnelli was born, a lot of people were very surprised that she was clearly Vincente’s offspring.

    I myself was engaged to a woman whom I love to this day, though she’s been married for 22 years to someone else. I think I made the right choice, for both of us, though I have often wondered what it might have been like (married to her).

  38. -L- on August 5, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    34 “Homosexuals do not romantically fall in love – ever – with the opposite sex. I don’t see what’s so hard to get about that.”

    And you are so sure of what is and is not possible? Of what can and does happen? If scientists still disagree about the definition and components of homosexuality, how can you be so certain? If I recall, Ben followed his heart. Well, he must be a liar as his story doesn’t jive with your iron-clad assertion. And I must be confused by my own feelings as well. As I am apparently not in love with my wife, I will have to go look at some statistic to find out what exactly it is I do feel for her. But in case I can’t find it, I hope someone who has a smidge of data will save me the trouble by creating policy that will limit my freedoms and save me from myself.

    I’m always mystified by how people are so taken with statistics. Rather than assess the generalizability of the data, we just accept it at face value and start talking about limiting people’s autonomy or how irresponsible they are for the horrible future of their children.

    The marriages in the population sample that succeeded did so for a reason. As did the marriages that failed. Despite statistical terms like “odds,” it isn’t a crap shoot. And, yes, it’s highly unpopular to try to assess what someone did and someone else didn’t do and figure out what it all means. People’s feelings get hurt. But that’s the game I’m at.

    Before asserting I’m irreconcilably incompatible or almost certain to fail, I would think enlightened folks would want to gather a bit more information.

    (Sorry for the snarkiness. Surprisingly, I’m taking this conversation a bit personally!)

  39. Kaimi Wenger on August 5, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    One problem with talking about mixed-orientation marriages as a group (possibly a problem contributing to a lot of the disagreement on this thread) is that it is an oversimplification to focus on homosexuality and heterosexuality as a simple dichotomy. Much of the theory suggests that sexual orientation operates on various continuums, and that different people fall in different places on the continuum, not simply a gay camp and a straight camp. Thus, a person may self-identify as gay and feel no attraction to the opposite gender; another may self-identify as gay (not bisexual) but still be attracted to the opposite gender; another may self-identify as straight (not bisexual) but be attracted to the same gender; and a fourth may self-identify as straight and feel no attraction to the same gender. And to further complicate the matter, there are people who identify as bisexual or transgender. The simple gay/straight classificatory scheme conflates these groups.

    [One's self-identification depends on some mix of genetic traits and cultural norms. How much each contributes to the mix is open to debate; many queer theorists, for example, argue that sexuality is almost entirely a social construct.]

    Our ideas on the feasibility of mixed marriages probably depend on our experiences with gay friends, family members, acquaintances. But those friends will themselves embody different types of sexuality; there is no gay archetype. And so, one commenter may say “of course mixed-orientation marriages can work,” thinking “I’ve got a gay cousin and he still sleeps with women.” Another person may say “of course mixed orientation marriages _can’t_ work,” thinking “I’ve got a gay cousin and he is completely uninterested in sex with women.” There are many different types of people who identify as gay, and so there will be different answers, very much case-dependent, to the question “can a mixed-orientation marriage succeed?”

  40. slm on August 5, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    But how can you know that Minnelli was IN love with Judy Garland? I am sure her loved her deeply, but not in the way that two people of the same orientation do. And isn’t that the kind of love we want?

    There is much more to marriage than that, I realize. And what I said at the end of my last post may sound like I am focusing on the innate human desire to be desired — for its own sake, but really there is more to it.

    WARNING: Lots of cheese and corn to follow…

    Haven’t you ever shared prolonged eye contact with someone with whom you shared mutual romantic love? And while doing so, felt a depth and complexity of emotion that was beyond expression, in part because you understood that this same feeling was reflected back at you? Such is an experience of very real and necessary emotional intimacy — a kind of intimacy not available to couples like Ben and Jessie.

  41. D. Fletcher on August 5, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    I don’t know what went on in Vincente’s and Judy’s minds and hearts any more than you. But from the outside looking in, I don’t see why Vincente would love Judy, marry her and father a child, and keep the marriage going as long as he did without some serious interest in her that included sexual interest. He was a gay man, who had a successful life, and respect from the world. He didn’t need Judy to validate him in any way. He loved her, something he always said, and she always said. In fact, he probably loved her more than she loved him. Is that so hard to understand?

  42. slm on August 5, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    Kaimi, you’re right. There is a spectrum of sexual orientation and so many cases may not be cut and dry.

    L- I don’t mean to be insensitive to your specific situation, and as Kaimi’s post reminds me, I have no clue where you fall on the Kinsey scale. And I can’t tell you what you do or do not feel for your wife. However, (and I am asking for real) is it possible that you have never had a mutual romantic love with a man and that this is why the love for your wife is the deepest you have personally ever known?

    I love my brother deeply; we are extremely compatible in countless ways. But I haven’t the slightest attraction to him nor the desire to spen eternity with him, and if given the option between marrying my brother (or someone for whom I had identical feelings) or marrying a romantic love partner, I would choose the latter… and God himself could not persuade me otherwise, and would not, I believe, even try to.

  43. slm on August 5, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    I also want to clarify that I should not be lumped with those who have cited statistics or said that mixed-O marriages were doomed to fail, as I have said neither. I am simply pointing out an idea, a principle, that generally such marriages (when entered into by two righteous people with the best of all intentions) still have more factors working against them than does a conventional marriage (when entered into by two righteous people with the best of all intentions). Is that so hard to understand?

  44. -L- on August 5, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    42. I’ve twice had a mutual romantic love with a man (but never sex). But even that is not a particularly apt description. My wife knows them both and doesn’t hesitate to say that we were in love. I see it as… complex. It’s difficult to assign conventional labels to how I feel for the different people in my life. So, yes, I may not have a completely accurate assessment, but I find it hard to believe that yours is better.

    And you are not merely insensitive to my personal situation, you make far too strong of a conclusion from far too little data.

  45. Samantha on August 5, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    I have previously posted two different comments on this thread which were there, but now have diappeared…sigh… Since I didn\’t use offensive words, and my opinions were not necessarily any more controversial than anyone else\’s views, I\’m hoping it was a computer glitch, not an editing decision. So I\’m reposting and adding a third comment.

    Basically, this is what I said:
    1. Concerning being married for social convenience–first of all, marriage is NOT convenient, I believe many married couples would concur. Second of all, I had every reason to remain single. I had a promising career, supportive friends, active social life, and no interest in being a wife or raising a family. I married my husband, in spite of homosexual feelings because I found myself longing to spend every day, every moment with him–because he made me feel absolutely wonderful about who I was–because he knew everything about me, and loved me anyway–because I really believed I could commit to an endless relationship with him, I loved him, and I believe I could learn to express that love to him on levels that were emotional, spiritual, and physical. That explanation of my marriage differs from my concept of social convenience.
    2. Couples in a mixed-orientation marriage cannot feel the depth of love experienced in same-orientation marriage? I\’m sorry, but that\’s just not true. I believe my marriage experiences are necessarily more deeply emotional because my husband and I discuss every aspect of it in detail–emotional, spiritual, and physical. How many same-orientation couples can say the same? I believe there is very little about me that my husband does not know intimately. And simply because we were not drawn together initially, by a gut wrenching physical desire, does not mean that we cannot fulfill each others needs or experience deep, intimate love as we walk through life together. Love deepens as we overcome obstacles as parents, individuals and lovers. And after all, we are intelligent beings, who can make logical choices instead of being ruled by reflexive or impulsive physical desires.
    3. Homosexuals do not fall in love with the opposite sex? Well, I would have to say, homosexuals don\’t become infatuated with the opposite sex, I think that can be widely accepted. But love???? Deep love is fostered through years of commitment, working through harships that life brings, learning to communicate verbally, physically, intuitively, yearning to be with a person in any circumstance–negative or positive. And I have to say, that no matter how many women to whom I may feel attracted, that feeling cannot replace the depth of the love and connection I feel for and with my husband.

    Hopefully this entry will not disappear as the others did. But just in case it does, I\’m posting it on my blog. Yeah–I want this comment to be seen and heard.

  46. -L- on August 5, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    “I am simply pointing out an idea, a principle, that generally such marriages (when entered into by two righteous people with the best of all intentions) still have more factors working against them than does a conventional marriage (when entered into by two righteous people with the best of all intentions). Is that so hard to understand?”

    Well, in that case, sure. I agree.

  47. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    slm, eternal marriage is not about cheese and corn. It is about creating a faithful home in which to raise children. It is entirely possible to have that without weak knees and googoo eyes, whatever your or your spouse’s orientation. The mushy stuff might help a couple overcome the trials, but it is not necessary.

  48. Samantha on August 5, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    Okay–now my comments are back. Good thing I posted them twice. Redundancy at its best.

    So only the last part of my latest comment is new…

  49. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    slm, no one here has said that a mixed orientation couple isn’t adding a challenge to their marriage, but some of us think it is not an insurmountable challenge and not necessarily of an order of magnitude greater than the challenges other couples could face.

  50. Kaimi Wenger on August 5, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Your strongly down-with-love comment is just too good not to sidebar, Jules. It had me laughing out loud.

  51. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Kaimi, didn’t you just return from your tenth anniversay trip? I was all weak-kneed and googoo eyed after mine, too. You’ll be surprised how quickly it passes. . .

  52. Kaimi Wenger on August 5, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Samantha,

    Our spam filter places all new commenters (“new” being defined not-having-at-least-one-prior-comment-under-that-name-and-e-mail) into moderation, automatically. This prevents us from getting hit with spam. You’ve triggered that feature a few times in a row by entering in slightly-different e-mail addresses (possibly typos) for your comments. If you post with a name and e-mail with at least one prior comment that has been approved, your comment should go right through. (Does that make sense?)

  53. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    Samantha:

    We just learned this week that due to a bug, new posters will often see comments they have made that no one else can see. Later they won’t see them–but no action was taken by T & S. I am pretty sure this is what happened to you and I’m sorry.

  54. Kaimi Wenger on August 5, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    (continued)

    In other words, you posted some comments under one name & e-mail. As a new commenter, your comments were held for moderation. They were fine, and were approved.

    Your next batch of comments were under the same name, but the e-mail was one letter different (it dropped the “d” before the @, probably a typo). WordPress saw that as a new, unapproved e-mail address, and held those comments for moderation too.

  55. slm on August 5, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    “slm, eternal marriage is not about cheese and corn. It is about creating a faithful home in which to raise children. It is entirely possible to have that without weak knees and googoo eyes, whatever your or your spouse’s orientation. The mushy stuff might help a couple overcome the trials, but it is not necessary.”

    By including my warning, I was hoping to avoid just such a sarcastic comment from the ever-angry, ever-lazy Julie M. Smith… now I’M the one guilty of wishful thinking.

  56. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    slm,

    I wasn’t being sarcastic. And a preemptive warning about cheese and corn doesn’t exempt your comment from critique.

    Angrily and lazily,
    Julie M. Smith

  57. slm on August 5, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    #56 Obviously.

    But my warning about cheese and corn was an implied acknowledgement that the ideas I was expressing, if interpreted incorrectly (i.e. through the eyes of either a cynic or an adolescent), would indeed come off as mushy nonsense… which is exactly what you — with the sarcastic terms “weak knees and goo goo eyes” — unfairly reduced the intimacy I described down to.

  58. slm on August 5, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    BTW Julie, I struggle with anger and laziness, too .. seriously. And I laughed, goodnaturedly, at your last signoff, if you can believe that.

  59. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    slm, I’m not sure how to read #57 without concluding that you are calling me a cynic or an adolescent. I think one can be neither and still maintain that romantic love is not the be-all, end-all of a marital relationship. I wonder if marriages that are low on the romance to begin with don’t actually have an easier time when the romance ebbs than do couples who had it in spades to begin with.

  60. slm on August 5, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    I took your comment as cynical, Julie, that’s all.

  61. Beijing on August 5, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    “eternal marriage is not about cheese and corn. It is about creating a faithful home in which to raise children. It is entirely possible to have that without weak knees and googoo eyes…”

    Julie, I don’t want to have to spell out the birds and bees here, but it’s not possible for the woman to bear children if the man does not feel a certain level of sexual attraction toward the woman. I feel sure that you’ll draw an analogy to infertility or e.d. here to assert that heterosexuals have dealt with this before. But the difference is that my spouse was sexually attracted to very nearly half the people he saw (prolonged abstinence tends to up the numbers), but never sexually attracted to me. At least married men with e.d. don’t get a reprieve from the dysfunction when they’re around people other than their wife. At least infertile couples get to enjoy the other aspects of intercourse besides procreation.

    I do want to thank you for being willing to address an exception in this post, rather than stating a rule and letting the exception address itself. The rule presented by the modern prophets is that married couples should revel in the God-given joys and relationship-strengthening opportunities of marital sex even when procreation is not part of the mix. The mixed-orientation couples who purposely entered a marriage where they found themselves unable to revel in marital sex (such as my ex and I) are clearly an exception to that counsel.

  62. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    Beijing,

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your willingness to talk about your own situation as one data point; the article presented a very different data point (i.e., the man who was initially repulsed at the idea of having sex with a woman but later felt otherwise). I suppose the difficulty here is that I would imagine a person with SSA would have no way of knowing which data point s/he will be after marriage. . .

  63. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 5, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    Any time we bring life into this world, we are engaged in a high stakes gamble.

    I’d have to agree, especially having hit snake eyes one too many times.

    That is life.

    People who find each other and commit to each other for a lifetime or eternity is a miracle to me

    One of the greatest miracles I know.

    Angrily and lazily

    I’m more sleepy and grumpy … ;)

    The mixed-orientation couples who purposely entered a marriage where they found themselves unable to revel in marital sex (such as my ex and I)

    That is an interesting perspective. Bless your heart.

  64. Melissa on August 5, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    Julie,

    “I would further dispute that emotional intimacy is the sine qua non of marriage.”

    I would submit that only someone with a “very very low need for affection” would say such a thing.

    I agree with the obvious statement that passionate sexual love is not necessary for emotional intimacy. Women are often deeply emotionally close to and warm with other women without any sexual attraction between them. I disagree strongly, however, that intimacy is not the sine qua non. Although our opinions on the matter are merely subjective judgments, to my mind emotional intimacy is the zenith of any relationship, most of all the marital one. Almost nothing is more magnificent then when the emotional interdependence of two mutually adoring souls finds ecstatic expression in passionate physical union. Still, sexual intensity can wax and wane without threatening a marriage. On the contrary, if the emotional bond does not continue to grow the marriage will be less than it could have been and may fail altogether.

  65. Beijing on August 5, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    “I suppose the difficulty here is that I would imagine a person with SSA would have no way of knowing which data point s/he will be after marriage. . .”

    Precisely. Prior to marriage, my ex and I had each received some of the clearest and most profoundly moving revelatory experiences of our lives in terms of what our marriage was going to be like. So we thought we had a way of knowing that today, we would be the success stories in articles like the one you posted. It was a real testimony-killer to experience the reality of how it turned out for us. Emotionally, we were still very much in honeymoon phase; whenever we were in public, we made people sick with our goo-goo eyes and inseparability. But sexually…. Suspending the law of chastity for 48 hours during our engagement would have been enough to tell us which category we were in. But we wanted a temple marriage, of course, so that was not an option.

    People considering mixed-orientation marriages need to know that love and hard work are necessary but not sufficient; there is an X factor of what your brain and body will allow to happen. The straight spouse, especially if he/she is as inexperienced as most Mormon newlyweds, is especially unlikely to fully comprehend that prior to marriage. Not being the one whose brain and body is at issue makes the straight spouse especially unable to make an informed decision as to whether to take the risk. People considering mixed-orientation marriages need straight talk about what best-case and worst-case scenarios are really like on a day-to-day basis and what the odds are like.

    If our friends who were in what I consider a best-case mixed-orientation marriage (gay spouse close to the middle of the Kinsey scale, great communication and commitment, lots of support from the gay/Mormon/married online community) had been more honest with us up-front about exactly how tough the tough times were and exactly how rare and fleeting the good times were, we would not have come away with the impression (as you have from the article, and as we did when we they were sugarcoating it for us during our engagement) that mixed-orientation is just as tough, and no tougher, than a heterosexual marriage.

  66. Julie M. Smith on August 5, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    Melissa writes, “I would submit that only someone with a “very very low need for affectionâ€? would say such a thing.”

    I suppose that statement is true as it stands, but I think it important to keep in mind that our idolization of emotional intimacy is something our pioneer ancestors–not to mention virtually every human being who lived during the great swaths of history when marriage was primarily about economic and pragmatic necessity–might join me in the mushpot on this one. I would rate my own marriage as in the top 20-30% for emotional intimacy based on what I know of my friends’ marriages, but I still think that when the rubber hits the road, I’d give away the emotional intimacy long before I’d part with a long list of other things (such as: my spouse’s being a good father, a faithful priesthood holder, a reliable wage earner, having a good sense of humor, supporting me in my endeavors, etc., etc., etc.)

  67. pjj on August 5, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    I have more personal experience with this than I’d like. My FIL was gay, so I got to watch the last twenty years of their 46 year marriage. I suppose that it might have ended up differently if my FIL had been honest with her from the start, but her self esteem was destroyed by it. She knew about his homosexuality for at least 30 years before her death. His children did not know what was going on until she died. (Although I already suspected– at first I thought my FIL had another woman, but then it became clear it was a man). The children were left wondering why their parents seemed so angry at each other. Both of them stuck it out in the marriage to keep up appearances. They were well-known in their Utah community, and FIL had various church leadership positions. (He was not faithful to her, and she knew about that.) While I have to admire people who are willing to give this a try despite knowing the truth, I am pretty cynical about the chances of success in the marriages, and I too would like to see the followup article in 10 years. I think that the folks who enter into these marriages are probably somewhat naive about what they’re dealing with.

    For a different perspective on staying in a marriage that involves same sex attraction, with genuine love and affection between the partners, see:
    http://www.ldsfamilyfellowship.org/newsletters/reunionissue18.pdf
    I think the account extends to the next issue too. See the part written by Steve and Allison Gates Dunn.

  68. MikeInWeHo on August 6, 2006 at 12:55 am

    re: 27 Of course you’re right, Duane. I was just trying to make a rhetorical point in my earlier post, not imply that a parent’s opinion should weigh in.

    re: 37 Oh, D., you are just the best person on planet Blogglob. Thanks for making me smile. But you forgot the obvious: ALL gay men are in love with Judy Garland. Perhaps not the best example to validate your point. ;- )

    re: 39 Great point. There are true bisexuals out there. My first boyfriend back in grad school was bisexual. We evolved into best friends over the subsequent 15 years. He’s now engaged to a fantastic woman, and I will be the best man at their upcoming wedding. My partner and I are close to both of them. There’s no secrecy about the past, and lots of laughter and joy when we hang out as two couples. We’re all so thankful for how things turned out.

  69. Matt Evans on August 6, 2006 at 1:08 am

    Great article, Julie. The only weakness I see is its designating these couples as being “mixed orientation.” In fact, EVERY marriage is between partners of mixed orientation. Sex researchers abandoned the binary categories long ago, and it’s unfortunate that the public discussion (e.g., journalists) still relies on simplistic terms. The journalist who wrote the Trib piece should have explained what the Kinsey Scale is, for example, when their interviewee mentioned it.

    Not only is each person’s sexual orientations unique in regards to sex of partner (Kinsey Scale), number of partners, and necessary emotional intimacy, each person’s orientation is dynamic and fluctuates over the course of their life. It’s important for everyone to recognize that each marriage combines partners of different orientations: to help “normal” couples identify and address the issue openly, and to benefit couples like those in the Trib story to know that their problem is only one of degree.

    A high percentage of marriages (don’t know how many) must navigate the partners’ mixed orientations of only one of them being sexually oriented polygamously. And while a significant number of these marriages fail because of an inability to overcome their mixed orientations, it would be a grave mistake to discourage couples with mixed orientations from marrying altogether. Instead, we should encourage all couples to discuss their sexual orientations so they might understand, and recognize, the challenges they face. They are the only ones who can know if they are up to their particular challenge.

  70. mullingandmusing (m&m) on August 6, 2006 at 3:17 am

    If our friends who were in what I consider a best-case mixed-orientation marriage (gay spouse close to the middle of the Kinsey scale, great communication and commitment, lots of support from the gay/Mormon/married online community) had been more honest with us up-front about exactly how tough the tough times were and exactly how rare and fleeting the good times were, we would not have come away with the impression (as you have from the article, and as we did when we they were sugarcoating it for us during our engagement) that mixed-orientation is just as tough, and no tougher, than a heterosexual marriage.

    Bejing, I also appreciate your willingness to share your experiences here. They help provide balance, showing that there is a continuum of possible success with the marriages described in this article.

    That said, I think it’s important to acknowledge that there ARE people here who have put a marriage like the one you tried to the test (some for more than one decade) and have found great satisfaction and success.

    Also, I think there are plenty of people in heterosexual marriages who could easily say, “I wish someone had told us how HARD marriage really is.” I felt that way about a mission, about marriage, and about parenting. Some say that such realism and openness really can’t help until someone experiences the difficult for themselves.

    There is no way to comprehend the pain you have experienced, and I’m truly sorry for that pain. But can we really put a meter on a marriage and say that any one situation is harder or easier than another? Assuredly, having a partner who is gay in a marriage is tough from day one. There are unique challenges that test a marriage in difficult ways. But I have a hard time with this idea that somehow that’s harder than other people’s marital struggles, which are also heart-wrenching and also sometimes end in divorce and broken dreams and disillusionment. There is plenty of pain and struggle to go around, in every facet of marriage. Again, I realize that your situation was so devastating. And yet, there are plenty of heterosexual couples who could, I’m sure, share their own struggles and devastation — some leading to the end of a marriage just like yours. Hard is hard, no matter what the specifics are.

    ANY marriage WILL have its opposition, and definitely, there should be an eyes-wide-open approach especially when there is a given trial from the get-go (such as with marriages when one partner is gay), but I still think that such realism should be tempered with the understanding that marriage is just plain hard for a good chunk of folks. That tempering doesn’t temper the effects of your experience on you, but I think it’s important to remember for the sake of discussion that not all experiences will be that way, either. Balance is needed in both directions, ya know? I really appreciate the fact that you have provided balance for those like me who get really excited to read articles like this, perhaps tending to think too optimistically and not realistically enough. But I struggle to hear the weight of pessimism that seems to leave little room for the reality that this really can work for some people. We have heard such testimonials here in this discussion, and I tend to hope that maybe, just maybe, those in this article can find happiness and success, too.

    Once again, my heart really goes out to you. Sounds trite, but I really feel saddened by what you went through. I hope the future holds bright blessings for you.

  71. howller on August 6, 2006 at 4:50 am

    On the one hand, we could say that it is black and white: \”Simply get with the program and keep the commandments. After all, the Salt Lake Tribune article proclaims that it is possible.\” On the other hand, we see something of a complex issue, with Kinsey Scales, degrees of intimacy needs, and exceptional cases. For me, there was an overriding factor, the whisperings of the Spirit. Or initially, maybe it was a gut feeling that something was simply missing that I didn\’t pop the question to the woman I had dated for several years. (I was in denial, after all. Truly I believed that my heterosexuality simply hadn\’t yet blossomed.) Later, living in a same-sex relationship, every time I questioned the situation in prayer, the answer I always received was that I was right where I should be.

    I have to trust and be true to personal revelation and my innermost spiritual convictions. Perhaps there is no cookie-cutter Plan of Happiness.

  72. danithew on August 6, 2006 at 8:59 am

    I wonder how helpful it would be if the Ensign were to do positive and practical article on this topic and these marriages. Maybe they already have and I’m not aware of it.

    If there is open frank honesty in a relationship before marriage takes place, I don’t think that it’s wrong for a person who experiences same-sex attraction to marry a heterosexual. Obviously they should be informed about the potential challenges that lie ahead for them. Still, if they love each other, understand those challenges and are ready to make that commitment — that’s great.

  73. Samantha on August 6, 2006 at 10:34 am

    I’ve said quite a few things on this thread about love and marriage between mixed orientation partners. But I just feel I have to add one more. I get the feeling that my posts have given a “if you just work at it and talk things out, you can succeed” impression. The truth is that an LDS homosexual usually carries a great deal of emotional baggage–guilt for feelings not sought, frustration that heterosexual feelings aren’t natural, conflict between what feels normal and what is taught in his/her religion, agony at an inability to resolve any of those conflicts and feelings. All this may or may not be complicated by pornography addiction, past sexual abuse, poor or weak relationships with one or both parents, and/or alienation from parents/family members.

    I mention this because I want be certain that any reading this understand that none of the men in the article entered marriage as a way to solve any of those problems (and neither did I). Those must be disucessed with appropriate and competent professionals who can help with finding resolution–often time this counseling will continue throughout the lives of those of us in mixed orientation marriages. The marriage, itself, is a different challenge, not a band-aid. I believe we have entered those marriages with our eyes wide open, knowing they will be different from the picture displayed by mainstream marriage.

    That being said, I also have to add, because we are well aware of our deficits, and also understand where help can be found, there is a good possibility we will be able to address and deal with problems that crop in our marriages more readily than those in same-orientation marriages who might be surprised by such issues as losing the “honeymoon” feeling, having to cooperate over matters such as finances or parenting, lack of sex-life during a prolonged illness or after the birth of a child, impotence or prostate removal later in life…. these are all examples of the unromantic realities of marriage for which we will be absolutely prepared fbecause of the necessity of complete cooperation and communication which commenced before our marriages began.

    I’m just saying, I think we have a chance, and I have a 20 year marriage to back that statement up. Do you?

  74. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 6, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Prior to marriage, my ex and I had each received some of the clearest and most profoundly moving revelatory experiences of our lives in terms of what our marriage was going to be like.

    Kind of like deciding to have Courtney in our lives.

    Interesting, would make an incredible post all on its own, not just a comment on someone else’s post.

  75. -L- on August 6, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    Prior to marriage, my ex and I had each received some of the clearest and most profoundly moving revelatory experiences of our lives in terms of what our marriage was going to be like.

    I wonder if we sometimes misinterpret the revelation we receive as indicative of what things “will” be like rather than what they “can” be like. And I have no idea why there would have been a difference in your case. Even suggesting the possibility seems to imply you are somehow to blame, but I don’t mean to be accusatory.

    While I resent somewhat being called naive (to you who did so I ask what particular information you would like to share with me that I don’t already have), I recognize that I’m idealistic. Despite all the stories I’ve heard over the last week about failed marriages, false promises, and unrealistic expectations, I still believe that ultimately my marriage will be what my wife and I make of it. And we know what we have, we know what we are likely to have in the future, and we fully intend to make the best of it all. Together. Forever.

    To those several who refuse to be persuaded that such a thing is possible (even after examples have been given), I can think of nothing else to say.

  76. mullingandmusing (m&m) on August 6, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    -L-
    God bless you. I am grateful to you and others here who have shared their own personal stories of hope.

  77. howller on August 6, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    Now that we have these “personal stories of hope” shall LDS bishops return to counseling gay members to marry?

  78. Beijing on August 6, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    “I have a hard time with this idea that somehow that’s harder than other people’s marital struggles”

    m&m, I would never DARE compare the magnitude of trials with anyone. I was saying the sexual difficulties in a mixed-orientation marriage are *different* than the sexual difficulties in a same-orientation marriage. (Julie was asserting that they are basically no different.) There are heart-wrenching *aspects* of what my ex and I went through that a same-orientation couple will never go through. They may experience things that are just as heart-wrenching or worse (as you say, who can compare?) but *different.*

    You also seem to have come away with the impression that I was saying all mixed-orientation marriages will end like mine did. You must have skipped this part of comment 14: “I’m not going to tell anyone else their marriage won’t work; I wish all the mixed-orientation couples the best.” And you must have missed the part of comment 65 where I said I have friends in a best-case mixed-orientation marriage. In any case, for anyone else who missed it, I believe mixed-orientation marriages *can* work.

    But there are other things that *can* work. For example, a wonderful single parent *can* raise a child marvelously. Or two wonderful same-sex parents *can* raise a child marvelously. Yet when articles are posted about happy families experiencing those possibilities in their lives, the reaction is more like, “hmm, yeah, it can work, but let’s emphasize how NOT IDEAL that is.” When it comes to mixed-orientation marriages, the reaction is more like, “hmm, yeah, it might not be ideal, but let’s emphasize that it CAN work.”

    If emphasizing the wonderful possibilities of mixed-orientation marriage becomes ingrained in the church culture, you’re going to see an increase in mixed-orientation marriages in the church. Even the successful couples in the article admit that the odds are against marriages such as theirs, meaning that more of those marriages are going to fail than succeed. Of course it’s impossible to predict whether a particular marriage will fail or not, (I’m sure everyone on this thread in a mixed-orientation marriage will be a long-term success story) but you can look at a huge cohort of marriages and see what the odds are. So if mixed-orientation marriages increase, you’re going to see a lot more couples like my ex and me (or not see us…since we no longer attend), and a few more couples like the ones in the article. Those are just the odds. But you know what? I encourage your optimism. I’d love to see an increase in exmormon straight guys divorced from LDS lesbians. Such a guy and I would have a lot in common, and hey, who knows, it might even lead to marriage. :)

  79. Julie M. Smith on August 6, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    “but you can look at a huge cohort of marriages and see what the odds are”

    I want to quibble with your certainty here because in the past, mixed orientation marriages did NOT usually involve telling the straight partner about the other partner’s SSA before marriage. I think pre-marital openness about orientation is a relatively new phenomenon, and we simply don’t yet know how those marriages will fare. My guess is that they will be somewhat better, because now the issues of betrayal and hurt and false expectations are off the table. Which isn’t to say all of them will succeed, but is to say that we just don’t know yet. Again, I’m not predicting ‘happily ever after’ for people who know beforehand, but I am predicting somewhat better outcomes.

    howller asks, “Now that we have these “personal stories of hopeâ€? shall LDS bishops return to counseling gay members to marry?”

    I hope not. If I were in a position to counsel anyone, I would encourage them not to contract a marriage (whether they were the straight or SSA partner) without a fairly specific personal revelation that that was the Lord’s will. Then again, I’m pretty sure NO ONE should marry without that, so I may be being redundant here. :)

  80. Beijing on August 6, 2006 at 9:30 pm

    I want to quibble with your assertion that because the gay spouse has informed the straight spouse of the SSA that the issues of betrayal and hurt and false expectations are off the table. My spouse expressed near-perfect certainty right up until and including our wedding day that we could make it work. Three years later he expressed perfect certainty that it would never work. Do you seriously think I did not experience betrayal and hurt and false expectations?

  81. Julie M. Smith on August 6, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Beijing: fair enough. Again, thanks for sharing your experiences here.

  82. obi-wan on August 6, 2006 at 11:41 pm

    For example, a wonderful single parent *can* raise a child marvelously. Or two wonderful same-sex parents *can* raise a child marvelously. Yet when articles are posted about happy families experiencing those possibilities in their lives, the reaction is more like, “hmm, yeah, it can work, but let’s emphasize how NOT IDEAL that is.� When it comes to mixed-orientation marriages, the reaction is more like, “hmm, yeah, it might not be ideal, but let’s emphasize that it CAN work.�

    This is what has been puzzling me.

    The Church currently teaches that sexual relations in marriage accomplish two things: creating emotional intimacy between the partners, and procreation.

    The anti-SSM types (e.g., Lynn Wardle et al) claim that SSMs are defective because they can accomplish only one of these — emotional intimacy — but not the other.

    It would seem that mixed-orientation marriages would on this standard be viewed as equally defective, as they can accomplish one purpose — procreation — but not the other — emotional intimacy.

    I’ve hesitated to post this question, since I don’t want to turn the discussion into another SSM thread. But it seems to me that if you think SSM is unacceptable, MOMs should be no better — or is it that they can be no worse? — than a SSM.

  83. MikeInWeHo on August 7, 2006 at 12:58 am

    But obi-wan, since SSM is off the table as an option vis-a-vis the Church, your point (however correct) really doesn’t matter. This cannot be about debating the relative plus-and-minuses of these various combinations. The MOMs exist only when the SSMs are ruled out. Can’t imagine too many secular Ben Christensen’s out there in a liberal urban environment. In Manhattan, they’d be Will & Grace. (Or my friend Drew and his best friend Linda and their son Elias)

  84. It's Not Me on August 7, 2006 at 1:04 am

    For what it’s worth, I am in a heterosexual marriage. And for good reason: I am heterosexual. My relationship with my wife was never based on “goo-goo”. I recall speaking with my bishop before we got engaged, expressing to him my concern that, despite having received fairly strong spiritual guidance to marry her, the differences in our intellect might come back to haunt us one day. Sixteen years and one hysterectomy later, we’re still together. Faithfully. She has no desire for sexual contact anymore and cannot tolerate (physically) sexual intercourse. We manage (I’ll spare you the details). Our intellectual span has not narrowed, but I maintain an absolute commitment to a marriage which I know has the approval of God. One day I hope to experience a deep, abiding love for her. I do not think I have it now, but we are committed to each other and our adopted children, and have a very good marriage. My point: my marriage appears to be similar (to a degree) to Ben and Jessie’s (both marriages have their challenges, but God’s approval). I have no reason to believe their marriage has any less of a chance to endure successfully than mine does.

  85. It's Not Me on August 7, 2006 at 1:12 am

    I should add that, while my wife will never read this, she is actually a wonderful and very talented person. I don’t want it to sound like I’m stuck in a dull marriage with someone I have no real connection to merely because God told me to do it. I have a wonderful life with my family, and wouldn’t trade anybody.

  86. It's Not Me on August 7, 2006 at 1:34 am

    “For example, a wonderful single parent *can* raise a child marvelously. Or two wonderful same-sex parents *can* raise a child marvelously. Yet when articles are posted about happy families experiencing those possibilities in their lives, the reaction is more like, “hmm, yeah, it can work, but let’s emphasize how NOT IDEAL that is.â€? When it comes to mixed-orientation marriages, the reaction is more like, “hmm, yeah, it might not be ideal, but let’s emphasize that it CAN work.â€?”

    Perhaps the reaction is because the Plan of Salvation involves a man and a woman being sealed together in the temple to each other and having children born in the covenant or sealed to them. The Church, as a vehicle in the Plan of Salvation, will never emphasize the benefits of single parents or same sex parents, precisely because those arrangements don’t bring exaltation. Perhaps from a social standpoint they can work, but the gospel is ultimately not about social or temporary standpoints. It is about eternity. While the “ideal” arrangement is not always available to everybody here, it is still the ideal for a reason. The challenge is to recognize that a failure to promote these alternatives is not, in and of itself, a condemnation of such.

  87. MikeInWeHo on August 7, 2006 at 2:10 am

    When an organization spends millions trying to legally block or otherwise penalize “these alternatives” it’s understandable that many would interpret this as condemnation.

  88. lex on August 7, 2006 at 3:58 am

    what ever happened to 1st corinthians?

    7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they remain even as I.
    7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

    sounds like such unnatural unions would be discouraged, no (since there\’s nothing to \”contain,\” i.e. lust)?

  89. obi-wan on August 7, 2006 at 8:19 am

    The MOMs exist only when the SSMs are ruled out.

    The question is why aren’t both ruled out?

  90. Chris Williams (hurricane) on August 7, 2006 at 9:46 am

    Homosexuals do not romantically fall in love – ever – with the opposite sex.

    I was in love with my wife for many years. It was perplexing to me, because I’ve never loved another woman and have never even really been attracted to another woman. But it worked with her and for awhile it was magical. Not all mixed orientaion marriages are marriages of convenience or fear. Some of us gay men marry women we genuinely love. Sadly, it doesn’t work out for most, me included.

    I wish the couples in the SL Trib article all of the best and I think the openness that they have in their marriages will serve them well. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that their example will do much to help gay Mormons who do not choose heterosexual marriage or those, like me, who choose to end their mixed orientation marriages. I fear that they will be held up as examples of how it should be done–and that doesn’t do you average gay Mormon much good. Nor does it help the couple.

  91. bbell on August 7, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Wow,

    I am surprised that this Brother came out like this to the SLTRIB.

    I have no idea how this will turn out and neither do you. I do not feel like its the ideal situation. If I was the wife’s parents I would be very concerned.

    I am getting tired of Gay SSM threads

  92. MikeInWeHo on August 7, 2006 at 11:04 am

    Me too, bbell (although apparently not tired enough to shut up! : ). The SSM threads remind me of the threads on the israel/palestine issue. Both inevitably go round-and-round-and-round but never really go anywhere. Has anybody else noticed the similarity? Why does this occur?

  93. Ken on August 7, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    “I am getting tired of Gay SSM threads.”

    Me too. We need more Hetero SSM threads around here.

  94. CS Eric on August 7, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Several years ago, I was assigned as a home teacher to a family where the wife had recently been excommunicated for having a homosexual relationship with another church member in our small district. If I remember it right, she was the other lady’s visiting teacher, and was called to be the District Relief Society President before her court.

    Our families became friends, and this sister became my wife’s best friend. We even traveled with them when she had her temple blessings reinstated. They served in the Young Women’s presidency for a while, until a combination of the District President’s learning of Church policy that sisters excommunicated for similar reasons cannot serve in the Young Women as soon as she had after getting the temple blessings restored and a series of nasty anonymous letters about both of them drove them out of the Young Women’s program and then apart as friends.

    I don’t know who thought they were doing the girls’ families a favor by anonymously revealing both her and my wife’s darkest secrets, but it even got to the point that her husband asked me if I were concerned about my wife’s spending so much time with her. I don’t know what it did to her two kids, whose friends’ families all got copies of the letter warning them about their mother. It is tough enough being a teenager in the Church without your mother’s ambiguous sexual orientation thrown at you. That cowardly condemnation of these her and my wife’s struggles was also was a big reason behind both our families’ moving out of state within a couple of months of each other.

    This wonderful woman and her husband decided to stay together, even though she admits feeling attracted to other women. I grieve for her struggle, and I grieve for the loss of friendship that her anonymous “outing” cost all of us.

  95. Seth R. on August 7, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    I don’t see why marriage has to be perfect.

    “I can never have an ideal marriage” seems like a poor reason to blow it off. Lack of sexual intimacy is likewise no reason to dismiss marriage. It is about so much more than the sex. It’s about shared goals and respect.

    If you have those two things, you can get along without love. I’m not saying it isn’t hard. But it can be fulfilling. Who cares if it doesn’t match-up with Hollywood.

    If I can’t have committed love, I’d settle for committed friendship and mutual respect.

  96. Steven B on August 7, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    Eric, This woman is being treated like a sex offender. Her orientation is notated on her church membership records. The men mentioned in the Tribune article will be likewise treated by the church. It is a matter of church policy. Unfortunately, the church leadership still seem to see homosexuals as preditory. Does it surprise us that the Church continues to oppose SSM?

  97. MikeInWeHo on August 7, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Ben Christensen will be put on some kind of list (or his church records notated and his callings restricted) because of the Tribune article? That is kinda creepy. Maybe they should put a little pink triange on his TR.

  98. MikeInWeHo on August 7, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    (triangle)

  99. Kaimi Wenger on August 7, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Eric,

    I don’t know what to say, except, that’s awful. Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m sorry that you and your wife (and friends) had to suffer through that. I think most of us would hate for our own own struggles to become the subject of nasty anonymous letters. God bless you and your family.

  100. Julie M. Smith on August 7, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    Well, time to close comments. Thanks, all, for an interesting discussion.