I’ve been thinking about something Helen said in her comment to, “Okay, Here’s the Problem…” and her husband’s reaction to her proposal of an open relationship and, yeah, his reaction is what I’d call typical and I can never forget my own reaction when my wife brought it up. When you grow up believing in monogamy and the sanctity of marriage, it can be one hell of a hit to the crotch to find out that your partner wants to change things in a very major way and because she’s discovered (or hasn’t really forgotten) that she’s bisexual… and now she feeling the pull toward acting on her feelings.
That, all by itself, can be a low blow for a husband and one who has it firmly in his mind that his wife will never, ever, want to be intimate with anyone but him and because she’s not ever supposed to as long as they are married. Bisexuality and being in a relationship is really like mixing oil and water; you can get it to blend but, at some point, it’s gonna separate and require remixing and, dear Lord, the problems this can create are almost beyond description. Spouses are expected and required to deal with whatever happens – for better or for worse – but this can be complicated when “Keeping only unto yourself” and “Forsaking all others” becomes threatened due to – in this case – her sexuality.
And, yes, because there are a lot of men who are threatened by the thought of anyone else getting the wife’s goodies, everything can just blow up; he might be able to understand her, ah, other needs but he’s gonna be thinking, “What about my needs? What about what I want?” A wife is expected and required to have his wants and needs first and foremost in her mind and, as Helen very accurately pointed out, it sets the stage for a situation that will make him a happy camper… but might not make her as happy as she is now expected and required to set her wants and needs aside in favor of her man’s.
But is this the right thing to do? It’s a question I asked myself once upon a time and my initial answer was, “Yeah, but…” and because I was beginning to understand that being married was a lot more complicated than I could imagine. There are the vows… then there’s the responsibility and push to make everyone’s life as good as possible – which is never easy even without a sexuality issue being in the mix… but I had to ask myself if my objections to what the wife wanted to do were legitimate and if, as her husband, I had the right to deny her that which she needed. I found that I didn’t… but that doesn’t mean that some other husband wouldn’t say that he does have the right to kick her needs to the curb in favor of what he believes is right and proper.
You see the problem here, don’t you? In my situation, I realized that if I kicked her proposition to the curb (and as almost any other husband would do), I would have broken my promise – and invalidated my word – that I’d do anything for her happiness… and with the implied thing that, no, I wasn’t gonna go kill someone or some other crazy junk like that but, yeah, if I could do it, I promised her that I would. So when I got hit with this, yep, she called me out on this and I had a choice: Renege on my word and go all Old Testament on her or find a way to do it and without trashing our relationship in the process.
I found a way to do it and, yes, it didn’t make me feel good at all but I think I would have felt a lot worse had I not been bisexual myself; I’ll say again that my own sexuality gave me an advantage that most husbands don’t have (unless there’s something going on that the wife doesn’t know about yet) – I understood her needs all too well because they were just like my own needs and now it was a major exercise in problem resolution and some inner conflict resolution so that I could make the ill feelings I did have about doing some damage to our vows. Still, I realized that if what we were about to do was going to be successful, I had to put my bad feelings aside and work the problem because despite any of those bad feelings, there was one thing I knew for a fact: If I had put my foot down, she would have just gone and done it anyway. This is a wife saying that she doesn’t recognize her husband’s “authority” over her and, indeed, I’ve heard a lot of bi wives in this situation tell her husband, “You’re not the boss of me!”
How did we do it? We talked… a lot. She didn’t run right out to get a girl when I said, “Okay…” – we got into the deepest conversation we’ve ever experienced with each other and one that lasted for almost a year as we hashed out the new “rules” we would be operating under as well as getting into a very intense examination of our feelings… and that, my friends, was very painful to listen to; as a man, you get your ego put in check pretty damned quick to find out that you’re not ever gonna be enough for her emotionally and physically. No, it’s not that you’re not capable of getting the job done for her – she wouldn’t have married you if you couldn’t, right? – but, I dunno, it’s hard to get your head around that fact that this important thing she needs is something you cannot provide because, um, you’re a guy and, as such, aren’t qualified or equipped to handle this need no matter how good you are in bed.
It wasn’t easy for me to get my head into the place it needed to be… but if my overall duty was to make this marriage the best it could be for both of us, logically, it made sense for me to get my head into the right place and the sooner, the better; otherwise, we’d be circling the drain quickly and there was just too much at risk to allow things to go down the drain. The thing I learned was that when you’re told that being married is about sacrifice, ha, you have no idea how deep the rabbit hole really is when it comes to sacrifice and that refusing to make a sacrifice for (a) her sake and/or (b) the sake of the relationship is just downright selfish, to say the least. I could go on for hours about the negative emotions that I had to deal with and, ultimately, eliminate or otherwise suppress… and because I made a promise and vow to do right by her.
That’s how I looked at it and I’m guessing that any other husband with a bi wife who has allowed her to take care of her, um, girl needs, might have looked at it in a similar fashion. It’s about compersion – being happy because she’s happy and the concept we grow up with, i.e., if we love someone, there shouldn’t be too many things we won’t do for them – and now it’s a matter of one’s personal honor and, really, it’s about one’s perspective about marriage and what it means… and now I’m talking about all that stuff they don’t tell us about being married, the things we wind up finding out the hard way. Sacrifice gets redefined and you get a lesson in what compromise means and one that will take you very far out of your comfort zone. You get an understanding about personal growth and maybe you wind up being kinda/sorta like me and get a very disturbing understanding of how being married can be more hazardous to your health than imaginable when you realize that your ability to grow as a person has now be inhibited.
Yeah, I know – most husbands and wives would never agree with this thing that’ll make you go, “Holy crap!” (which is not the word I wanted to use). It’s easier to do nothing about this, easier to sacrifice yourself in favor of maintaining the status quo and not rocking the boat. To that end, no one would “blame” Helen for giving up what she needed in favor of her husband’s sensibilities and that it was the right thing for her to do but, holy crap, was it really? Is it just me or does anyone else find it interesting that she was filing to make a sacrifice of self that her husband was unwilling (or unable) to make? No, I’m not saying anything bad about the man or Helen’s decision to maintain the status quo… but I do ask if this really makes sense? And even if, intelligently, it doesn’t make sense, we’re still willing to do what Helen felt she had to do.
Finally, the caveat in all of this: If you can’t do something like this, don’t do it! It really takes some very serious out-of-the-box thinking and great intestinal fortitude to take such a step to make her happy with and in her bisexuality and, bluntly, it’s beyond the abilities and sensibilities of most people so, hell no, I will never “insist” that a bi wife lay this on her husband nor am I “insisting” that a man married to a bi wife has to be so accommodating. Short of giving up one’s life for their spouse this is, in probably just my opinion, the ultimate sacrifice and acts of compromise a couple can make for each other.
I just know that it can be done if it has to be done; I’ve learned there’s a difference between marital obligation and what it means to really love someone as well as what it takes to not say, “Baby, I love you and would do anything for you, but…” Marriage is conditional – but love isn’t supposed to be… and this is what I’ve learned being the husband of a bisexual wife. And I also know this is the reality that we’re not supposed to pay any attention to.
KDaddy23, Contributing Author