Dr. Schow's article highlights some of the limited information we have about "mixed orientation marriages" (MOMs), and offers some guidelines to help predict which marriages are likely not to end in divorce. Overall I really enjoyed the article and found a lot to agree with. But there were little nuanced things that bothered me, so I'm bringing them up here for discussion.
Why do so many marital relationships of this kind fail? Primarily because the homosexual attraction of one spouse creates a major difficulty, despite hopes that such attraction will diminish over time. In reality, the great majority of those who are homosexually oriented cannot fundamentally alter their feelings by desire, therapy, or religious practice.
The reality is that homosexuality is not a choice and, except in rare cases, is not subject to change.
It's no news that the idea that change is impossible is disputed by NARTH. I'm still considering the idea of reading Schow's and Byrd's books as a set to compare the disparate data they present. Regardless, I agree with the statement here except that I would modify it to say, "...In reality, the great majority of those who are homosexually oriented have not been able to fundamentally...". Per the APA's consensus statement there have been no scientifically rigorous data to prove or disprove the possibility of even Reparative Therapy as a viable therapeutic option, let alone other therapies that could be conceived and have never been tried at all. To say "can't" is what nearly everyone does, and is to overstate our collective knowledge on the matter. Resist, people, and keep a good balance between skepticism and an open mind.
Thus, marriage seems risky for homosexuals and even bisexuals since we presume that some will end their marriages without trying therapy and that those receiving skilled professional assistance still achieve only this level of success.
I'm in total agreement that marriage is risky (for heteros too), but perhaps there ought to be inquiry into the manner and quality of "skilled professional assistance" those in the different outcome groups received. I've widely publicized my initial biases on this matter throughout this blog. The fact that people so pig-headedly refuse to find a workable therapist (and it may involve trying more than one) irks me. Well, I said it. Now you all know what I'm thinking. :-)
One of the reasons so many homosexuals enter into such high-risk marriages is that they are encouraged to do so by many LDS counselors, therapists, and ecclesiastical leaders who are ill informed about the nature of homosexuality and the dangers of homosexual-heterosexual bonding.
The idea that leaders are ill informed on this topic is one I agree with. But I'm curious about the "dangers of homosexual-heterosexual bonding"... or is this in reference to the dangers of not bonding?
The vast majority of homosexual-heterosexual marriages fail. However, as Ben attests, some, with strong determination, choose to try and beat the odds. Such hopes of success are, in part, based on claims that some homosexuals have achieved successful marriages characterized by adequate sexual compatibility. Such claims, however, must be examined in the light of (1) the complexity of homosexual feeling as it manifests itself in individuals (the HH Scale); (2) the relative importance that individuals attach to sexual intimacy as an element in the marital relationship (strength of libido and capacity for sublimation of sexual desire); and (3) other important factors such as whether individuals have personal compatibility and maturity adequate to withstand challenges to the marriage which are far greater than average.
Here's where I'm lost. First of all, as Dr. Schow mentioned in a previous comment, we don't know how many MOMs fail, because the sampling is always biased. It's a privacy issue, a fear issue, a homophobia issue... whatever kind of issue it is, to say the vast majority fail is unfounded. To say the vast majority fail for those couples willing to come forward may be okay. To say the vast majority have failed for those who have written books, opined on blogs, or otherwise inserted themselves into dialog on the topic also might fly. But I'm not aware that anyone has managed to measure how many MOMs are out there plugging away unassailably. Do I think it likely that there are droves? No. But let's be precise so as to give people the best information possible with which to make life-altering decisions.
Also, in regard to this passage, I have some questions for Dr. Schow. Are these three characteristics "common sense" or have they actually been measured as contributing to the success or failure of MOMs? They sound plausible enough, but that alone is not enough to suggest they be used as a yardstick for making this decision. And here's why: you also say, "Much pain—directly and indirectly—results when these marriages fail," but you don't even mention the joy that those who were able to make it work may have achieved. Had I (a highly libidinous, Kinsey 6, man of average maturity) not married, I wouldn't be in the enviable position I am right now of being the happiest I have ever been in my life. I don't offer this to suggest that others can or will achieve the same thing by following the same path, but as an example of the perils of presenting only one side of the data (or patchy data or no data at all).
Using language like, "the odds are against him" bothers me a little bit too. Speaking of "odds" in scientific literature ought to be in reference to odds ratios or statistical measurements where the word has legitimate meaning. To use it as it is used here gives the impression that whether a marriage succeeds or fails is a matter of luck--where you land in that distribution curve is just a matter of odds. I couldn't disagree more.
Overall, the article shares some great information and an important caution about the dangers of hastily entering a MOM without a clear understanding of the risks. Many thanks to Dr. Schow for his tireless efforts to research these issues and help engender compassion and understanding within the church and society. Unfortunately, the repeated statements that adapting to heterosexual intimacy is impossible (sometimes with caveats, sometimes caveats omitted) and statements expressing opinions as facts (who "probably" should or should not marry) leave me disappointed that people will be misinformed on these points.