You never know what you believe until you start questioning everything.
So Open Marriage…
When I came across this concept, it kind of blew my mind. I mean, cheating on my husband seemed anathema to me. I was quickly educated that Open Marriages were not about cheating they were about communication. Everyone involved knew what was going on and agreed to the rules and activities. There were various levels of openness. Some couples just wanted to be able to casually date outside of the marriage. Some had regular lovers. In some marriages one spouse was sexually active outside the marriage while the other wasn’t. In some marriages it was a way to explore emotional intimacy with other people but not sex.
This is the kind of thing I’d only heard about in books and movies and then it was always portrayed as twisted and fucked up. It Never worked out. But again like with gay people here I am talking to real people who are actually doing this in real life and it is working for them. I had a really hard time wrapping my head around it.
To be completely honest this is when my husband and I should have divorced. This is the point in which I should have been the one to say our relationship wasn’t feeding me emotionally or physically and spiritually. If I had been less repressed emotionally and sexually I might have had the vocabulary at that point to ask for the divorce. Or I might have had the understanding at least of what was keeping me in the relationship wasn’t just love.
Make no mistake I did love him. But it wasn’t the kind of love that loves all of a person or that makes your heart grow with the ability to love more. I loved him with a love wrapped in duty and cultural expectations. I loved him because he loved me. I loved him because of our history together. I loved him because of our friendship. I loved him because of his kindness. I loved him because he was my husband. Our love wasn’t passion. It was endurance.
One of the key emotional touchstones of my ex husband’s and mine married life was formed at the altar. Not the marriage altar, but one hot sticky Sunday evening right before we graduated high school together. We were at the Sunday evening service at church. The Sterling Heights Assemblies of God was having a prayer service for all graduating seniors or anyone else that was wanting God’s guidance in their life.
I was down at the altar because of course I was down at the altar, I was Always down at the altar, hoping that this time I’d come away cleansed and made whole by God. That I’d finally be fixed the way he wanted me to be. So there I am praying for God’s guidance. I was praying hard asking the invisible man in the sky what HE wanted me to do. Its tight down there at the altar. There were 75 to 80 graduating seniors that spring. We were all packed in right down front. The pastors where praying. The whole church behind us was praying. There were hundreds of people in that sanctuary, all focused on one thing and that was us hearing from GOD about our futures.I’m standing there my eyes closed, face turned to heaven, my hands raised in a gesture of openness and supplication. I can hear and feel everyone around me doing something similar. That’s when I opened my eyes and looked around. My eyes met his eyes. I just blurted out “I’m going to marry you.”
You wouldn’t believe the joy that lit up his face. He took my hand and we left the crowd. We left the sanctuary, we left the church, jumped in his car and drove like maniacs while laughing and shouting. It had been God! God told us we would be married! It couldn’t have been my subconscious casting around for some way to get out of the emotional mess I was in when my eyes happened to land on my then boyfriend could it? Nooooo this Marriage was ordained by God!
So ten years later I’m married with all of the expectations of that Christian life laying across both of our shoulders while trying to navigate becoming this new person and still remain in this marriage because, God and love and society and family and I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The internet then hands me Open Marriage on a plate.
I was very aware of polygamy at that time. Evangelical Christians have been looking down on Mormons as a cult for a very long time. The early practice of Polygamy was part of the justification that was given. The many wives of the Kings of Israel in the bible were kind of glossed over in a “they didn’t know any better” kind of way. The same way slavery or beating your children for disobedience or God directed genocide was glossed over.
What I wasn’t as familiar with was the term polyamory which went along with open marriage. But again I knew people who were. And these people weren’t’ just on the internet. I knew them in IRL and could have sit a down conversation with background knowledge of whether or not something said was actually working and whether or not it was just bull shit. I could ask questions like, “What about jealousy?”, what about this or that or how do you manage time together?
My husband and I didn’t have one conversation about opening our marriage. Or maybe we had one conversation that lasted more than two years before we decided we would call our marriage open. It wasn’t an easy decision or one made lightly. We hashed out what we thought were reasonable expectations. We talked more about what each of us wanted from the other more than we ever had before. These were some of the most honest and love filled years of our marriage. But all of that is kind of mute to the central point that I was gay and married to a man.
I still hadn’t really faced up to that. I’d figured out a way that we might be able to remain married but in essence all it did was turn us into close friends and roommates who shared finances and future plans. It didn’t really fundamentally change _My_ main issue. In fact it exacerbated it.
Now I had the option of actually dating women.