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Sex, subjugation and socialisation

Date

Following last week’s blog and the response it generated, I felt it important to continue our discussion on mixed-orientation marriages, and in the interests of fairness, this time from the flip-side.

When a wife reveals she is a lesbian the dynamics are very different compared to when a husband discloses he is a homosexual, according to Psychologist Paul Martin from Brisbane's Centre for Human Potential.

“Due to the socialisation of women and socio-biological influences there are many differences,” Mr Martin said.

“Women are more emotionally attached to what is right for the family and the husband. They are often connected to other people’s needs more than their own.”

Mr Martin said women remained married, despite knowing they were gay, because they felt a sense of duty as a mother and a wife above any duty to themselves.

“Who they are is irrelevant. Cultural influences tell women they should not be as connected to their sexuality. Mothers are nurturing and submissive. They are not as assertive about their sexuality.

“Some women are very prepared to put up with things until the children get older. Men find out they are gay when they have sex. Women won’t go to toilet blocks on the way home. They form intimate relationships with other women.

“Traditionally in our society this is considered normal. So it is not until they touch another woman and are aroused by it that they relate it to being gay.”

Lucy* got married young. She has three children and three years ago, she told her husband she was gay.

They continued living together for the sake of the children while they both came to terms with what her revelation meant for the family.

“My ex-husband is a fantastic guy. He said ‘it isn’t right for us to be married’. Getting divorced was the hardest decision of my life because I was so caught up in being a house wife and I took my marriage vows very seriously.

“I wanted to find a way to make it work, but you just can’t make it work when someone is gay.

“I realised it’s not about the marriage, it’s about the relationship. It’s a tragedy for everyone involved.

“For me I felt like the bottom had fallen out from underneath me. I had never given any indication to my family that I was gay.

“I believe I did fall in love with my husband emotionally but not physically. It was like we were brother and sister.

“When I told him I was gay he felt completely rejected. It was devastating for me to hear how I had made him feel and that I was responsible for his pain.”

Mr Martin said husbands who learn of their wife’s homosexuality feel emasculated.

“It strikes at the very core of their being. They feel they weren’t good enough and didn’t perform well sexually. They feel defective," he said.

“Socially men are considered to have a curious fantasy about two women being together and being a lesbian has this social stigma at times of being ‘cool’. For some men this has made it easier to deal with.

“In our society it makes sense for women to be intimate with each other. Men being intimate activates a sense of disgust. Lesbians are often quite invisible, as is a women’s sexuality.”

Christine* has been in a lesbian relationship for 28 years, she has four children from an earlier marriage.

“My new partner has never tried to be a second mum. The children already had a mum and a dad and we worked very hard with the children to build a family,” she said.

“It’s very important to be true to yourself. Living a lie has a flow on effect to the whole family.

“I took vows ‘till death do us part’ and I was in a dead relationship and carrying the corpse around with me.  That is a very heavy weight to carry.

“It was freeing to finally be in a mutually loving and encouraging relationship.”

Mr Martin said wives who stayed married and ignored their sexuality often became resentful towards their husbands, which in turn lead to anger and then depression.

“If you’re always thinking of the other person, you are training that person to take advantage of you. Women are also trained not to show anger. This leads to resentment and depression which results in a sense of hopelessness," he said.

“Women do an incredible job reading, researching and learning how to deal with the children. They endure irrational levels of guilt.”

For support visit Straight Spouse Network.

For further information on mixed-orientation marriages visit Ambassadors and Bridge Builders International.

The Gay Christian Network offers support for gay Christian couples and their families.

You can follow Paul Martin on Twitter @PaulmartinPsych

*Not their real names.

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35 comments so far

  • Something has gone radically wrong here as it is not natural to be same-sex attracted and there is no such thing as a gay gene - given the lack of medical evidence.

    There would however be some deep-seated psychological and possibly spiritual breakdown in these individuals which might require a considerable amount of time and energy invested to resolve the issues. These people must be treated with sensitivity and compassion however and not hated because of their differences.

    Commenter
    Petero
    Location
    West End
    Date and time
    July 03, 2012, 8:17AM
    • Petero - go and take your opinions (there is no evidence to back up what your saying!) and shove it!

      I'd ask you when you chose to be straight, but then people with issues about their own sexuality usually have views similar to your own.

      Maybe you should do some research and stop listening to what anti-gay organisations (like the ACL) have to say on this topic!

      You should sort out your own "deep-seated psychological and possibly spiritual breakdown issues" and then get back to us!

      I'm quite happy with my life, stop bothering us and live your own life!

      Commenter
      iceyone
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 03, 2012, 11:49AM
    • From what I've seen of West End (Brisbane), Petero, your views would be a minority. Still, we're all entitled to think how you like, it's how you act towards others who don't share your morals that counts.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      July 03, 2012, 2:12PM
  • Petero, The LGBTI community probably welcomes your insistence that they be treated with sensitivity and compassion, as should all other humans.

    What they won't appreciate is your view that homosexuality is un-natural when in fact over 1500 animal species actually practise it and in fact one of our closest living relatives, the dwarf chimpanzee is entirely bi-sexual.

    Sex between males in other species is used to develop loyalty and create harmony. It is only our ridiculous species that insists on putting prohibitive labels on each other.

    Perhaps if we left our Dogma behind, we might actually progress faster along our evolutionary path.

    Commenter
    Rodney
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    July 03, 2012, 9:05AM
    • Bonobos won't like being called Dwarf Chimpanzees either. They are chimpanzees just like the common chimpanzee - separate genus. Pan Paniscus - Bonobo.

      Commenter
      Fernandes
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 03, 2012, 10:17AM
    • Actually, we prefer to be called Shetland Chimpanzees. And yes, we get our freak on.

      Commenter
      HunterSBonobo
      Date and time
      July 03, 2012, 3:40PM
    • Not sure what you mean by Dogma? but actually the recorded instances of homosexual behaviour amongst animals is pretty rare and is very much the exception rather than the rule.

      It is highly seasonal and totally dependent on fluctuating hormones which is a temporary condition - not a permanent so your argument is flawed from the start.

      Moreover, you seem to suggest that human beings are the same as other lesser animals and incapable of reasoned rational thought or ability to make choices and reflect on these - which I would suggest is also a flawed position to take.

      Commenter
      Petero
      Location
      West End
      Date and time
      July 03, 2012, 3:54PM
    • Not sure what you mean by Dogma? but actually the recorded instances of homosexual behaviour amongst animals is pretty rare and is very much the exception rather than the rule.

      It is highly seasonal and totally dependent on fluctuating hormones which is a temporary condition - not a permanent so your argument is flawed from the start.

      Moreover, you seem to suggest that human beings are the same as other lesser animals and incapable of reasoned rational thought or ability to make choices and reflect on these - which I would suggest is also a flawed position to take.

      Commenter
      Petero
      Location
      West End
      Date and time
      July 03, 2012, 3:54PM
  • “I took vows ‘till death do us part’ and I was in a dead relationship and carrying the corpse around with me. That is a very heavy weight to carry.

    He was the one who carried around a corpse. What you did to him was a lie and very unfair. I hope he found better.

    Commenter
    Pat
    Date and time
    July 03, 2012, 12:42PM
    • Cry me a river.
      "...More emotionally attached to what is right for family and husband...
      - An average of 75% of divorces are initiated by women.

      "Nurturing and submissive.."
      -Children in single-parent (mother-led) families suffer double the rate of academic underachievement, drug abuse and six times the rate of sexual abuse.

      "it is not until they touch another woman and are aroused by it that they relate it to being gay.”

      -Why is a wife doing this? Adultery is adultery. Cheating is cheating. Anything else is a rationalisation away of solemn marital vows.

      When it comes to "Lucy" and "Christine" - I feel the pain -of their husbands. I was one of them myself. That's right: my wife made exactly the same declaration.

      It is my view that they should leave the family. That's right: they should leave the family and leave the husband with his kids. HE didn't do anything wrong. HE married assuming it was for life. HE decided to make the family (which men do when they propose). Women in this situation are therefore free to hit the road as much as they like, but Dad keeps the kids. They are HIS. He PAID for them.

      It is the argument I had with my wife. She decided, in the end, to stay. Call me brutal, unfeeling, anything you like.

      The good Doctor there isn't telling us the whole story. That is, homosexual and bisexual feelings are felt by up to 25% of women, a throwback to the times we lived in herds like our primate ancestors. But we aren't animals anymore, and it is folly to rationalize this otherwise, as the press does.

      Commenter
      Spike
      Date and time
      July 03, 2012, 1:00PM

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