Question received through the Internet:
20 years into our marriage, I “came out” to my wife and told her of my homosexual past. She said she would stay with me as long as I remain faithful to her (I have been & intend to). We love each other, but now live more as roommates than husband/wife. I know she deserves more and am saddened to see her so unfulfilled. My question is whether the most loving thing would be to divorce and let her move on to find a man who can be the husband she needs and deserves? [Note: I would not seek involvement in a homosexual relationship as I believe acting on my homosexual desires to be unbiblical.] Thanks for considering my question.
First, I applaud your honesty in telling your wife of your past. I also applaud her grace in not holding that past against you. Wonderful.
Second, I appreciate the fact that she is willing to remain in this marriage as long as you are faithful. Apparently, this woman believes in you and loves you. Again, wonderful.
Third, as to you consideration of divorcing her, wouldn’t it be her decision as to whether she wanted to be free to marry another man? If that is what she wanted, it would seem that she would tell you that is what she wanted. Be careful that you don’t let your emotions lead you to think that you know what she wants better than she knows what she wants.
You say that it saddens you to see her so unfulfilled, but there is a much better way to do that than to divorce her to set her free.
In the sexual response cycle there used to be five stages considered – desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Desire is wanting sexual intimacy or gratification. I assume that because you have a desire for same gender sex, you have little to no desire to make love to your wife. By that reasoning, you live together as roommates rather than sexual partners. Because you do not naturally desire heterosexual lovemaking, you seem to think that it either could not or should not happen. Maybe you feel that if desire is missing, any sexual contact between the two of you would be “dishonest” or unfulfilling.
However, in recent years most sexologists have modified the sexual response cycle to four stages – arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Notice that desire is no longer included. In many marriages, even those involving two dyed-in-the-wool heterosexuals, there are many reasons that desire may be limited or absent altogether. Stress, relationship problems, physical problems, weight gain, hygiene, and many other things can decrease or do away with desire. In fact, 20% of married couples in the USA have sex with each other ten times a year or less. Yep, that’s one in five that rarely make love to each other. No, these aren’t the old geezers. That statistic involves married couples between the ages of 18 and 59. Another 15% in that category have sex with each other between 11 and 25 times per year. The first group is referred to as “no sex” marriages, and the second as “low sex” marriages. About 1% of American marriages are unconsummated. They’ve never had sex with each other. So even if you were heterosexual, you actually are similar to 20% of married couples anyway.
Because of the decrease or absence of sexual desire in so many Americans, sexologists urge married couples to have sex with each other even if one or both doesn’t desire it. We have found that if each person can get aroused to the degree they can reach plateau and orgasm, it really isn’t important that they desire sex. Sex can be fulfilling without having desire for it at the beginning.
Arousal for a man generally means an erection, though a man can orgasm without having an erection. (The purpose of an erection in nature is to be a transfer tube to move sperm from one body to the other. It is not essential to sexual pleasure, though most men very much want it to occur.) For women, arousal generally means sufficient lubrication and ability to enjoy sexual activities. (There are much more scientific definitions for male and female arousal, but these should do for my purposes here.)
Plateau is the period of intense pleasure lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes just before orgasm.
Orgasm is the peak of the plateau and the point at which sexual tension is released. It typically lasts less than a minute.
Okay, so you already know all this. What’s my point?
You can give your wife sexual pleasure even if you do not have heterosexual desire. She can do the same for you, if you will allow. If you love each other enough to be able to caress, and give sexual pleasure to the other, she can have a fulfilling sex life and so may you. If you prefer not to have intercourse, oral sex from one to the other may be the best method. I write this with the assumption that you are not negatively affected by the female body or female sexuality. If so, you can still make this work. Even if you lie together side-by-side and each masturbate at the same time as you enjoyed the closeness of friendship and love, there can be a level of sexual satisfaction. In short, you don’t have to want sex with her, nor do you have to have traditional intercourse unless, of course, you can find that satisfying if not the most appealing manifestation of your sexuality.
Of course, each of you would have to agree to this approach. Each of you would have to understand the limitations that come because of your same gender desire. But you can fulfill each other to at least some degree if you both make an effort to do so. This would be a good thing from the perspective of those of us who work with marriages. Every time a human orgasms, oxytocin is released into the body both through the autonomic nervous system and into the bloodstream as a hormone. Oxytocin is a bonding chemical. The sexual release from orgasming with each other (it doesn’t have to be at the same time) and the resultant oxytocin release can lead to closeness and love no matter what your sexual orientation.
Finally, I admire you for living up to your beliefs when they contradict your desires. That, sir, is deep maturity. May God bless you.