Mixed Orientation Marriages
The new “mixed marriage”.
“These men genuinely love their wives,’ said Joe Kort, a clinical social worker who has counseled hundreds of gay married men, including a minority who stay in their marriages. ‘They fall in love with their wives, they have children, they’re on a chemical, romantic high. Then after about seven years, the high falls away and their gay identity starts emerging.”
Dr. Joe Kort, Mixed Orientation Marriages: Katy Butler, “Many Couples Must Negotiate Terms of ‘Brokeback’ Marriages,” The New York Times, March 7, 2006.
One of my specialties is mixed orientation marriages which I call the “New Mixed Marriage” where one spouse is gay or bisexual and the other is heterosexual. I work with either the couple together or individually depending on the need of each situation.
Here are some questions that are explored most often in therapy for the mixed orientation couples with which I have worked since 1985:
• Can we stay together?
• Should we stay together?
• Why do gay men heterosexually marry in the first place?
• Do most gay men know they are gay when they heterosexually marry?
• Is it healthy or not?
• When and how do they tell their wives, “I’m gay”?
• How do they determine whether to stay married or leave?
• And who are the women that marry gay men?
My position on mixed orientation marriages and relationships:
For every one of these situations, the path is extremely personal and varied. You must do what’s right for you individually, and not what any therapist, friend, relative, or anyone else says you should. But for your mental and physical health and the welfare of your wife and any children involved, go forward with integrity, honesty, and informed consent on everyone’s part. Whether or not they stay together, I think that these gay men and their spouses are very brave individuals exploring how to proceed with their mixed marriage.
Our work together will help you decide individually and together what is right for you. It is not about what is right for your from other’s points of views but instead from your own–individually and relationally.
Is My Husband Gay, Straight, or Bi?: A Guide for Women Concerned about Their Men by Joe Kort, Ph.D.
10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Find Real Love by Joe Kort, Ph.D. with chapter on mixed orientation marriages entitled, “The New Mixed Marriage: When Three’s a Crowd”.
The Other Side of the Closet by Amity Buxton Pierce
When Husbands Come Out Of the Closet by Jean Schaar Gochros, Ph.D.
My Husband is Gay by Carol Grever
Bisexual and Gay Husbands by Fritz Klein
Mixed-Orientation Marriage Support Groups and Forums by Mark Rhealut