Marriage is a divine institution, created for companionship and procreation. It is a union of man and woman in holy matrimony.
Marriage is about growing up in all spheres of life: physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, sexually, socially and spiritually.
It involves balancing two fundamental forces of life: the drive for separateness and the drive for togetherness.
Separateness propels us to be on our own, to chart our own course in life and create our own identity.
Togetherness pushes us to be part of a group, to connect with others and experience things only relationships can provide.
When these two life forces are expressed in balanced, healthy ways, meaningful relationships are created where both members develop into better people.
There are cases in which one of the two partners is homosexual. Just what can one do at the discovery that the husband is homosexual?
Our African culture does not take kindly to homosexuality, but over the past decade, Africa has become more Western in their language, dressing and practices.
A union between a heterosexual woman and a homosexual man is called mixed orientation or lavender marriages. Mixed orientation marriages have a high probability of failure.
While the situation is more common than most people realise, the trend of men coming out to their wives seems to be increasing especially in this part of the globe where gay marriages are culturally forbidden.
Often, husbands deny their feelings. They want a traditional life with a wife and children. The majority are not duplicitous.
They love their wives and hope their sexual attraction to men will go away. Being gay and being a family man are, for the most part, mutually exclusive in our society.
While many tend to hide their orientation from their spouse, others might tell their spouse before marriage.
Research shows that some people are identified as exclusively heterosexual in behaviour and fantasies before marriage, but grow toward a more homosexual orientation during marriage.
Gay husbands do not want to lose their wives and children, not because they are a front, but because they love their families.
But some people still look cross-eyed at this. They can’t understand. These couples are normal ordinary people down the street.
Heterosexual wives of homosexual men who did not know of their husband’s sexual orientation may feel deceived or blame themselves for not having known.
Fear of social disapproval or ostracism often makes it difficult for them to seek support from family and friends, especially in a set up where homosexuality is seen as a taboo.
Research suggests that heterosexual wives struggle less with the homosexuality itself than with problems of isolation, stigma, loss, cognitive confusion, dissonance, lack of knowledgeable, empathic support or help in problem-solving and many more.
Gay men get married for a variety of reasons. Some men only discover their sexuality after marriage. One day they wake up to their same-sex attraction after years of marriage. Others—mostly those from strong religious—hoped that marriage might “straighten them out.”
A few men always knew they were attracted to other males, but preferred the social status heterosexuality provided. And a certain few are bisexual—open to sexual relationships with partners of either gender.
Women who feel used or deceived by their husbands are likely to have a very different reaction. That is healthy and expected. The man making the disclosure will want to take that into account.
Some men have a tough time realising the effects of their disclosure on their spouse. They are deeply in denial. They might have imagined that if their new self-understanding was positive for them, then surely their spouses would not stand in the way of their happiness.
But the wives might see things differently. They might feel that their marriages are a sham and feel they have been sleeping with a stranger during their marriage.
Is divorce inevitable for gay men who come out to their wives? Not necessarily. Paradoxically, the option of staying married is more available as homosexuality has lost much of its stigma over the past decade or so. Being gay doesn’t seem so perverse or exotic anymore.
In marriages where both partners are deeply committed to their relationship, flexible in their approach to each other and where both are willing to do a good bit of work, staying together may be a viable option.
Self-deception is not a good way to go through life. Coming out is almost always the key to physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Staying in the closet has been shown to correlate highly with increased risk for depression, alcoholism and other health concerns. Coming out often takes a great deal of personal courage and resolve.
Going through the process alone is very difficult and painful. Support groups are available. Individual counseling is often very helpful.
Some pain in life is inescapable and some losses in life are necessary. Avoiding pain is sometimes not an option in this world.
Choosing how we respond to difficult situations can make all the difference.