There have been occasional comments underlining skepticism among by bloggin' buddies about how great my marriage is (or how selective I am in describing it!). The dogma is that gay/straight mixed marriages won't last, but I keep touting how great it is and how happy we are. And I stand by that. Marriage for a gay Mormon is no panacea, but it can work. Work, being the operative word there--it takes lots of work.
The issue of the week for us has been porn, but it could easily have been something else. Issues will come up with some regularity between couples, and dealing with them appropriately is the key to success and happiness. Last night things went south and we had a fight.
My wife and I have discussed pornography before on many occasions. I have always tried to be honest with her no matter how much it hurts. I have, once or twice, misrepresented things only to be prompted to come clean a short time later. But when we get into the issue it usually gets really sticky. My wife feels betrayed, rightly so, and becomes quite emotional. I feel misunderstood, and become defensive. Soon, we are acting not as if we are on the same side but as if we are bitter vultures gathering ammo for divorce court.
Invariably one of us will extend a reconciliatory olive branch in the form of validating the other person's feelings and listening without interrupting (despite the impulse to defend or correct every other sentence!). The other will answer in kind. We will slowly return to the point where we want to understand, work through, get back to being on the same team.
And that's pretty much what happened last night. I had been acting cagey while chatting with a gay Mormon friend, and she suspected that something was up. In reality, the reason I didn't want her to see the conversation was completely unrelated to porn, but that was irrelevant. We've long had the understanding that she can read my e-mails, my blog, or my chats any time she wants. She doesn't, as a rule, because she respects my privacy. But when I do something that seems odd, she is allowed to look, and look she did. What she found was my description of caving to the temptation to look at porn recently--an account of the incident that precipitated my last post. And then she read the post. And she felt betrayed because I had shared it with the blog but not with her. She felt shut out--as if I had been keeping secrets from her.
Ultimately, we sorted things out in conversations last night and through the day today. Her view is that I need to be willing to share with her--allow her to know what is going on. She worries that pornography can destroy our family, and that fear is certainly not without cause or precedent. My view is that I am willing to share, in fact, I long to share this burden. However, past experience has shown me that things become so dramatic afterward that it isn't particularly helpful to me. I feel judged rather than supported. I would rather share where the reaction is more calm concern.
So, the point is this: My marriage rocks. My marriage has bumps, just like anyone else's. Communication is a good thing and things may get immediately worse but will almost certainly then get better. Being one with another person is tricky to do, but completely worth it.