Disclaimer: I have chosen to use the words “same sexual orientation couple” to refer to a couple whose sexual identity is open and matching. So any straight woman & straight man, any gay man and gay man, any lesbian woman and lesbian woman, you get the gist. I have also referred to “gay husband” and “straight wife” because this was the case with my experience and it just made sense to me to write from a personal prospective. Feel free at any time to replace with “straight husband” and “gay wife” and the content will be equally valid.
I have been asked that question a lot. Of course the wording changes. A well-intentioned, longtime friend told me:–You know, really my husband and I aren’t all that active in bed anymore. It wears off over time, are you sure it is so important to you?
The above is the nicest way that such question has been asked to me.
Let me start by telling you a thing or two about myself.
I am the woman who texted a boyfriend “Hurry home, I’ll wait naked”; I am also that woman who once in a while made an effort for her man even if I wasn’t in the mood; and I’m also the woman who said: “Please, please, tonight I just want to watch my favorite TV show and eat ice cream” (no, I do not make up headaches, because I have this problem, you see, I tell the truth).
So what kind of woman am I? Just average. Sexually healthy woman. At least I was before unknowingly getting married to a gay man.
Back to the “is just sex” instance.
People think that it boils down to being married to your Mr.Right minus sex. This is far from being the case. Sex within a couple is not a simple task of mutual pleasuring. It is a pillar of the relationship, without which all the others are unbalanced. It is how people get closer, naked (not only in the literal sense); it is a way of bonding, it is a way of creating trust, it is a way of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. If we do not let down our defenses and are never vulnerable with our partner, most probably our relationship is set for failure.
We do not refer to it as “sex”, we really refer to it as “intimacy”. This is how “intimacy” is defined in the dictionary: “Close familiarity or friendship; closeness/ The intimacy between a husband and wife”. Synonyms: closeness, togetherness, affinity, rapport, attachment, familiarity, friendliness, friendship, amity, affection, warmth, confidence”.
Research has shown how infants need to be held and touched. If the caretakers fail this physical nourishment, the baby literally stops connecting with them and could face a delay in growth.The need for physical touch does not end with infancy.
If your personal history does not give you enough experience, I’ll let you surf the internet to find plenty of reputable materials and literature about the importance of intimacy within a relationship, and how the lack of it keeps counselors first and attorneys then, in business.
Now, the differences.
If you and your partner/spouse of the same sexual orientation are at a stage in life where you agreed that sex isn’t all that important to you right now, it is great. I am sure that it takes a solid, open couple to be comfortable in that place. I am sure that you both will be just fine.
Things are different when you are a straight woman married to a gay man.
As the gay husband withdraws sex, the straight wife is left without any clue as per why this is happening. While you and your partner/spouse of the same sexual orientation might have agreed that work, kids and other daily challenges are taking a toll in your bedroom at the moment, the wife of the gay man is frantically dissecting every aspect of her marriage trying to find a cause that eludes her. Talking to her husband will not enlighten her further. In fact, most probably, confuse her more, because the gay husband needs to mislead her.
I was in the beginning of my relationship. I was pretty and young. So was he. We had no financial pressure and no kids yet. We lived in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities on earth and had plenty of time. Common interests, good friends.There was nothing that I could blame, except myself, which I did plenty.
While you and your partner/spouse of the same sexual orientation might have little to no sex, you most probably still have intimacy. Your trust in each other is not endangered. You laugh and have fun, and tease each other, maybe share a couple of innuendos even if you don’t really act on them.
The wife of a gay husband has learned to censor herself. She knows that initiating sex will be met with humiliating rejection, time after time, but she knows that even a joke of sexual reference will cause some sort of negative reaction. My husband would change topic, incapable of disguising his uneasiness. Or maybe remark that I was inappropriate. Picture it: saying to your husband that his biceps make you have naughty thoughts, accompany that with a lip bite or a funny wink. Response?“That’s inappropriate”. Try this one: your husband is in bed reading, you come in wearing your nicest lingerie. He keeps reading. You gently move the book away from him and put in on the bedside. Your husband gets mad for losing his page and says you’re rude.
Although you and your partner/spouse of the same sexual orientation have had very little time for sex lately, when it happens you are close, and into each other. It might not be your best performance – you don’t want to wake the kids up and it’s hard to relax because of that meeting tomorrow – but really are cuddling and remind to each other that you belong, you care, you are a couple. One of you comes up with an idea for a getaway to make up for the lost time. You’ll have a romantic weekend somewhere soon.
The wife of a gay husband knows that, if a getaway happens, it will really be about sightseeing, at best. While he complains during the ordinary days that he is tired because of his daily errands, and of course uses that as a reason not to have sex, he’ll complain during the weekend that he is tired because of all the sightseeing. He’ll say that he is tense and needs a drink, and then he’ll say that he has had one too many drinks.
I won’t start a list of the most common excuses. I’d like to bring your attention to what these excuses means: first and foremost, obviously that your you-don’t-know-yet-gay husband does not want you, he loathes physical closeness with you and he’d come up with any explanation, rationalization or plain hurt to avoid being with you; second, he creates expectations that he punctually disappoints (“we’ll make up for it during this weekend”; “not tonight, how about Saturday after lunch?” Then he makes sure to invite your in-laws to visit right at that time); last, it means that your trust in him gets to be compromised and subsequently broken forever: you get to see that he lies to you, breaks promises and doesn’t try or not enough.
Maybe you and your partner/spouse of the same sexual orientation too have been in a situation where sex had been anticipated but still one of you changed his/her mind last-minute. In that case, I imagine that there have been some “I’m sorry, I really wanted to, but [insert reasonable explanation here, “Mars isn’t aligned” isn’t reasonable] . It has nothing to do with you,and I appreciate your patience and understanding. Let’s do x or y to create some time for us soon”.
The wife of a gay husband gets to be blamed. Always.Sometimes it is open verbal abuse. I have spoken to women who have been insulted about their physical appearance or alleged odors and stupidity. Sometimes it is more subtle. My husband wouldn’t make a gross mistake like being verbally abusive. In the beginning, he preferred a complete passive-aggressive approach “It’s not you…” and let the infinite dots say that it was. Soon after he started to say that it was my fault indeed, but never quite said what it was that I was doing or not doing. He said that “if I could just stop talking about it”, or “just be happy”. And I tried, I tried to see it his way, and drop my requests for something so mundane and unimportant like sex, but guess what, it didn’t work, for all the reasons I mentioned above. Because it’s not mundane and unimportant. Because it was not “just sex”, and hell no, I could not “just be happy”.
In a same sexual orientation couple, at some point both get to be open and humble about their shortcomings. In turn, each will have something to apologize for, to work on, to meet the other halfway. A gay husband’s survival depends on façade, so he’ll never admit that something is wrong with him, for the next step would be to figure out what, and that is the big secret.
As a nice bonus, the straight spouse gets not only to be openly blamed, but she also finds herself at the receiving end of an inexplicable bitterness from her husband. Why is that? Some gay husbands hope, more or less consciously, that their wife will make them straight. When she obviously fails (and please do not believe that anybody can, or that God can turn a gay person straight, that does. not. happen: it’s science), he gets to be resentful and starts to be moody and curt for no reason. Also, more or less consciously, the gay husband sees his wife standing in the way to his real self, and for this reason he also resents her and also projects his frustrations on her. Rarely, the gay husband might feel remorseful, and for this reason be short with his wife and, if possible, more avoidant, unavailable and distancing.
So, tell me, now that I moved that drape a little tiny bit for you to see. Is it “just sex”? Think again.