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How important is "authenticity?"

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Fuzzy, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. Fuzzy

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    When you're a gay man or a lesbian woman in a heterosexual relationship and you're discovering your true sexuality, how important is "authenticity?" Is feeling "authentic" more important than other factors in a relationship? Is it selfish to want to be "authentic" over wanting to hold a family together? Is one's sexuality enough of a reason to split up a family?
     
  2. I'mStillStanding

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    Fuzzy this is a great question and one everyone has to answer on their own. What was right for me may not be right for you... I’m retelling my story under another thread so I won’t bore you with the details here. For me once I accepted I was gay, I had no choice but to come out. I felt that my ex deserved someone who could love her in every way a husband should, and I deserved to get to love someone that way...
     
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  3. I'm gay

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    I agree with I'mStillStanding that you will have to answer this question for yourself. Although we all have somewhat similar journeys, there are countless differences as well, making each one unique. Some things to consider:

    Is the family life harmonious now? As you increase your acceptance of your sexuality, will you be able to maintain that harmonious family? Often the gay spouse, who initially wanted to keep the family intact, begins to feel trapped in the marriage and resentful to the straight spouse. These feelings are common in this type of situation.

    I know from your previous postings that you are not able to make love to your husband in a fulfilling way for both of you. You should consider that each of you has sexual needs. You shouldn't discount those needs as being less important than your intact family. These needs are biological, and if you are not able to have sex with your husband, you are inviting frustration, loneliness, resentment and unmet needs for your husband, and for you. Masturbation gets old after a while. It's not enough, and simply not healthy for you both. Your husband tries to "fix it" by giving you more attention, but it's not what you want and is just smothering you at a time when you are already becoming repulsed by him as a man.

    This is from one of your earlier posts: "I don't want to mess up the family life I already have because of how it affects and hurts the people I love. It feels like if I mess that up, I'm being selfish, but if I don't mess that up, I'm shutting down a part of me." I think you might also want to consider how shutting down this part of you ultimately affects your family anyway. Even if you do the "selfless" thing and suppress yourself for them, is that actually a benefit to them? Or will you be less available to them emotionally because of your internal struggles? You should consider that even in your attempt to shield them from this, you may end up doing the same hurt anyway.

    Very few mixed-orientation marriages work. Unless you are both willing to seek sexual fulfillment outside the marriage, it becomes a difficult prospect to keep the marriage intact and harmonious. Are you willing to give up sex for the rest of your life? Is he? Probably not.

    As said before, this is an intensely personal decision, and one only you can make. I hoped to provide you some things to think about as you work on this, but ultimately I don't know you or your family, so you should do what is right for you and your family. The challenge, of course, is to figure out what the "right thing" is to do.
     
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  4. Contented

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    As stated above this is a highly personal question. For me once I acknowledged I was gay I had no interest in maintaining a for show heterosexual relationship. I have one life to live and I want to be happy. That happiness demanded I live as an openly gay man in a relationship with another man period. It might have been hard for others to understand but I had an obligation to myself first and foremost.
    My opinion is that societal heteronormative pressures keep many gay and lesbian people captives in loveless, unhappy straight relationships. We buy into the totally false and idiotic notion that embracing your homosexuality will somehow destroy your family, friends, jobs and undermine the very fabric of society. We need to move away from those antiquated puritanical ideas and be who we are, just as normal as the rest of society. Keeping moving forward!
     
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  5. DecentOne

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    There are counselors and support systems to help couples deal with all sorts of things which might stress the family, and increasingly the emergence of new understandings of sexual orientation and gender identity is making its way into therapist's training. No couple is without baggage (from previous relationships, abuse, family of origin, etc), and no one stays exactly the same as the day they got together. Counselors know this, and sometimes that is enough to help those who seek help.

    I think the reasons to disband the family would be because there is abuse, or dishonoring of self (or the self of the other). Listen to how you describe your marriage.
     
    #5 DecentOne, Oct 2, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  6. Beebee80

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    That’s exactly what I’m struggling with right now. On whether or not my family happiness is more important than for me to be true to myself. I fear my children will suffer and that what hurts me the most. I feel caught in a battle with what’s the right thing to do. I know my husband will be hurt but he’s strong. My kids they have already lost a lot in the last 3 years. So I been very terrified of causing them heartache.
     
  7. Fuzzy

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    "Is the family life harmonious now? As you increase your acceptance of your sexuality, will you be able to maintain that harmonious family?"

    Define "harmonious." Things are peaceful enough for the kids. We got our arguing and negativity under control, but we also avoid spending too much time together (or, I do at this point). It isn't difficult to maintain in the sense that we could stagnate in this pattern, but not happily.

    "Often the gay spouse, who initially wanted to keep the family intact, begins to feel trapped in the marriage and resentful to the straight spouse. These feelings are common in this type of situation."

    Yup. I'm feeling trapped. I remember what it was like for a relationship to feel right. I remember what it was like to feel both resentful, but hopeful that things could change. I remember what it feels like to not be resentful, but happy and like things are as they should be. At this point, things can sometimes feel almost right, but there's always a piece missing.

    "I think you might also want to consider how shutting down this part of you ultimately affects your family anyway. Even if you do the "selfless" thing and suppress yourself for them, is that actually a benefit to them? Or will you be less available to them emotionally because of your internal struggles? You should consider that even in your attempt to shield them from this, you may end up doing the same hurt anyway."

    It's damned if I do and damned if I don't. Either scenario results in difficult emotions.

    "Very few mixed-orientation marriages work. Unless you are both willing to seek sexual fulfillment outside the marriage, it becomes a difficult prospect to keep the marriage intact and harmonious. Are you willing to give up sex for the rest of your life? Is he? Probably not."

    He's actually the one more willing to give up sex. I don't want to seek sexual fulfillment outside the marriage because I am not interested in a purely sexual relationship and I don't see a polyamorous relationship working. He's willing to just be celibate because he wants so badly to keep the marriage together.

    I miss when things were mutual... He still sees us as being highly compatible and in a lot of ways we are, but things just don't feel right anymore.
     
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  8. Broccoli

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    I don't have any answers - I just posted in the other 'authenticity' thread to say as much - but I think they are really important questions you ask. Once children are involved things just aren't easy, and I think it's important to accept that life is messy and there often isn't one 'right' answer to be found, we just have to do our best. I know that's useless as far as advice is concerned but I think the kind of person who asks the questions you have posted is the kind of person who will work out a way through. I respect the way you so obviously care about your family.
     
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  9. Spaceman

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    Hi Fuzzy,

    You are correct that there are no easy answers. Four years ago, I took the plunge and came out as a gay man to my wife of 16 years. Our kids were 8 and 11 at the time. My coming out did result in the end of the marriage. There has been a lot of heartache and guilty feelings, but also a huge sense of relief.

    For years later, I'm now married to a man and my ex wife is engaged. We share custody 50/50 and the kids have adapted remarkably well. I know they wish the family was still together, but they've been accepting of the new adults in their lives, they're doing great in school, and have good groups of friends. My youngest is totally open about having a gay dad. The older one is more guarded about who she tells. Neither have faced any teasing or bullying that I'm aware of.

    My ex still struggles with anger and bitterness and our relationship isn't as close as I would have hoped by now. But she knows it's important for the kids to have a good relationship with me and she does her part to make it happen.

    Whatever choice you make, there will be a price to pay. I hope knowing a bit of my experience will help.
     
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  10. FooFight54

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    @Spaceman,

    Thanks for your share - I'm in a mixed marriage and my wife is struggling to ACCEPT me as a bisexual man.
     
  11. Peterpangirl

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    Can you find a "right" feeling again with your husband? Can you be at peace without experiencing an intimate physical AND emotional relationship with a woman? Look deep inside and keep breathing. Just because you aren't acting on your same sex desires does not invalidate them.
     
  12. justaguyinsf

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    I will join the chorus that it is really a personal decision that depends on various factors. I think if the marriage can be harmonious and warm if not passionate then it's generally better to stay together if you have kids. I think kids pay a very high price when their parents divorce if the marriage is working, despite how many voices try to downplay the effects of divorce. However, if it's just not possible to live a harmonious life with your spouse and the household is really unhappy then splitting up may be better. I'm not sure how "authenticity" fits into this, as I think that word is often used as an excuse to brush aside real concerns about kids, etc., that deserve very serious consideration. I also think that everyone is being authentically who they are at every moment, even when they are keeping some parts of themselves private; being "authentic" just for the sake of unloading private concerns on others is not something high on my list. With that said, if your sexuality is causing significant problems in your sex life with your spouse and that's creating other problems then I would think that telling your spouse is probably required. Having been in a mixed-orientation marriage (although I've come to think I'm more bi than 100% gay) myself and never having come out to my wife, I would have stayed in the marriage had it not been extremely dysfunction in ways that were not obviously related to sexuality. You should also keep in mind that coming out (if that's what you mean by being "authentic") will not act as an escape from all of your challenges; while there will be clarity there will also be new problems to deal with. Some people feel that clarity (authenticity) is paramount; I'm not one of those people.
     
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  13. baristajedi

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    I only have answers for me, and everyone has a different journey, so only you know what’s best for you. For me it came down to realising that not only did I have a right to find a partner who I could connect to intimately, emotionally, romantically, sexually and to have a chance to experience my natural sexuality in my life (I’d not had that chance before), but my now ex husband has a right to have a partner who feels that kind of emotional, intimate, romantic and sexual connection to him as well. So yes it’s enoigh to split up a marriage, or at least mine. Is also believe my daughter has a right to have happier parents and to have the model of choosing a hard path that feels more real and right rather than being stuck in a dead marriage.
     
    #13 baristajedi, Oct 3, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  14. Fuzzy

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    Peterpangirl, the answer to your questions is "no." I cannot feel "right" with my husband again. I can feel "almost right," but there's always a missing piece and I cannot bring myself to have a fully intimate relationship with him.
     
  15. SevnButton

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    My answer for myself is that I aim to be authentic and remain committed to the well-being of my family. Being authentic *must* be congruous with my other values. How this is all going to play out, I don't know.
     
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  16. Fuzzy

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    I guess the thing about authenticity is that inauthenticity means chronically shutting a part of yourself down, resulting in chronic low grade stress that builds up or numbs you over time.
     
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  17. Peterpangirl

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    I really empathise. About a year and a half ago I wrote the words "I cannot be the woman I would rather be". It is like I am both the same as I always was but also very different. Very difficult emotions surrounding it.