Mitgefühl, compassionate love


There’s so much to spill and we can thank it all to angry husbands who comment feverishly about how their wives came out to them. Some women disregard her own feelings and stay deeply set in the closet for him, while others “Toss that heifer to the curb.” Wow, that’s love. Devotional, forgiving love. I hope you sense my sarcasm.

Love stories aren’t always about princes saving princess, REAL love stories are about finding someone who loves you wholly and unconditionally. The kind of love that looks at you in the morning with your bad bread, your jacked up hair and eye crust tangled into your eyelashes and kisses you anyway breathing a deep soft “I love you.” True love listens to your heart, says I hear you, I love you and I want you to be happy. It doesn’t pull away, it loves stronger. I can’t fathom not loving someone enough to want to see them happy, even if it means I’m not happy, that’s why I’m still here. That’s why I love him, because he loves me just the same if not more than the day we married.

When I came out the first of many times to my husband he said ” I will love you no matter what. If you stay or if decide to leave, what matters is that you’re happy.” I can bitch a lot about the guy because I know his every single flaw, but he knows ALL of mine as well and loves me anyway. I have not left because he is my best friend and didn’t leave me when I was at my most vulnerable. There’s a reason, aside from a woman’s desire to be with another woman that a lot of these ladies are leaving and it’s lack of that kind of connection. It’s the lack of a spouse that says “I want to walk through this with you.” They push her aside, negate her feelings and and wish it never happened, then they get surprised when she decides to leave because he never really paid attention to her feelings until it was too late. This is something I have witnessed time and time over.

How do you love someone authentically, while still honoring yourself? It is a struggle we all deal with in different varieties. It’s arrogant to assume someone should ignore their own feelings in lieu of yours.  I had a long struggle with what to say to my husband when I first identified my feelings towards women. First, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings or make him feel less of a man, because he is definitely not less than for having me. Secondly I was ashamed of how I felt and what that might mean. The implication that I’d have to go outside of my marriage, dissolve my marriage or change the dynamics of my life scared the shit out of me and still do to a lesser extent now, because of his support. Third, I was afraid of who I might become, of how I might grow and that I might lose him in the process. This was selfish but only because I love him so much and I didn’t want to lose that. I was frozen in fear of a loss, that might come because of me. Fourth, I was afraid he would hate me or not want to love me anymore. That terrified me. His love is so vast and giving, I didn’t want to lose it.

Lying to him was never really an option. I hid the truth for a while, but I didn’t feel it was lying. I was just processing exactly what my truth was, kinda like cooking something, it wasn’t fully formed yet so I couldn’t share it till I knew what I was giving him. Once I knew how I felt I brought to him, he listened and then he loved me and gave me his acceptance. It was a turning point in our relationship and my depression. We opened our relationship up, I was allowed to have girlfriends, so was he. We even shared one for a small while. It was surreal and fun. We both had small bouts of jealousy, but as soon as we addressed it, it dissipated. No one really could replace the other. We had no fear in losing each other. His longing for other women ceased, mine didn’t. I have a girlfriend now, kisses and flirting mainly. I think it may go there some day but I’m in no rush. He knows.

Schadenfreude is the joy or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. What is the word for joy or pleasure derived from the happiness of others? Mitgefühl, which means compassion in German, comes closest to it. We get so lost in ourselves we lose compassion for those closest to us. I have so much compassion that I sometimes lose myself in the needs of others. When men (and women too) feel wronged they get a sense of Schadenfreude when their partners disappoint them so then they want to see only bad things happen. I think this has to be the opposite of love. The real reason their partners flee, even if something could have worked, the insolence and anger created a house of resentment. No one wants to be where they feel unloved and unaccepted.

I have met many gay and bisexual women who have had a successful open marriages. Some have sex with their husbands, some don’t. Some get divorced and remain best friends. The sad ones, divorce and remain bitter. Those strike me the hardest because I feel as if they would never would have survived anyway. They lost sight of loving each other without judgement, either one side or both. They no longer were friends. We have a friendship that surpasses our marriage and even our children. Even if all else fails, I truly believe what keeps us together is our friendship.

I don’t know what the future brings to my husband and I. The hateful men who write me can shove it up their ass. He’s here because he loves me and obviously gets a lot out of our relationship and says so every day. I’m here because I love him and want to see him happy. I may not be here forever, but I take it one day at a time. I honor him in all that I do. I can be completely honest with him. Can most of the hater husbands say that of their wives. Can she be honest with you and still be loved by you? Can she get naked and feel your protection and not your judgement? Are you her warm blanket or are you the wind, screaming in her ear as she freezes from her own self doubt? I am his warm blanket too. I love him unconditionally. There is no screaming, only truth. For some that is just too much to handle, but it isn’t for love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

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  1. theoccasionalman March 6, 2016 — 7:56 pm

    Love involves so much more than sex. I admire you for living authentically and not letting others determine the shape of your life.

    • You are very much my inspiration for that. You were the one who gave me “permission” to do what I wanted, that I didn’t have to leave. That didn’t have to be the only answer. Thank you. You are a better friend than you know.

  2. There aren’t many places for guys to go in this situation. The one everyone says to go to is full of very angry people. I get why, and maybe I understand the guy who posted here before. It’s pretty awful being told a marriage of more than a decade must end. It’s awful to think you are well past 30 and have never been loved. There is no way to get the time back, and so you find yourself with children and you fear you will see them half of the time at best.

    And the sense of just being unwanted. Of being humiliated. And completely isolated – guys in this situation do not talk to each other. There is a reason on Friends they had Ross be married to a lesbian.

    To find peace with this is hard – very hard.

    But your wife – well she has suffered too. She didn’t know – she really didn’t. It was a mistake – she is sorry – more sorry than she can say.She was quiet for years – and that makes you sad too. I am her best friend too. She could tell me everything – didn’t she know that?

    So we struggle on. What is love? Is is getting the hots for each other? Or is it knowing when to say even when you know she is wrong that she is right, and at another time to tell her she is in fact wrong. Is it saying the thing that you know will make the self doubt go away? Is it the joke you know you she will like?

    They will laugh at these questions 50 years from now. People won’t be scared of their feelings and these questions will be foolish.

    Wait – the two of you share all of these things, know each other better than anyone ever will, and you got divorced? How stupid is that?

    I wish your husband well. He is not alone. I read sites like this in hope of finding compassion from the queer one in the marriage. It gives hope. The truth is you haven’t always been so nice to your H – but that is your truth. As you say, there is a reason is still with you.

    Thank you for writing.

    • I have been selfish. I have been suicidal. I have wondered what makes a good relationship and what makes a lasting marriage. It’s forgiveness and compassion. We forgive each other our flaws. We love each other so much that for each of us the end goal is that the other person is happy. It doesn’t always work out the way you hope. I never thought that I would question my marriage or our sex life. I never thought that we could be where we are now. It’s not because of acting perfect and altruistic that my marriage is lasting as well as it is. It’s because I have been as honest as a woman can be about her sexuality without bruising a mans ego. There is a fine line that some don’t understand.
      I don’t go into this whole dilemma lightly. I don’t disparage my husband on here but he is more flawed than you know, BUT he is not here to state his side so I keep his story pretty clean. We are not here to judge his worthiness. This is JUST MY SIDE. I love him. He’s one of my best friends. He deserves nothing but good things. I may not always have been honest but that’s how I had to cope with coming out to myself first. It was harder than you can imagine. It was painful. In the end I’m still here, still trying to do the right thing, whatever that is.
      I’ll tell you something though, our relationship is better now than it ever has been. He knows me better than almost everyone, and while some angry folks will still judge me as some shitty person, at the end of the day they don’t matter. The only things that matter are that I’m not an utter mess anymore and that we remain friends through it all. We have never discussed divorce or even separation. I don’t know if we ever will.
      I wish that more people would be able to have the open conversations we do. I have loved him through it all, even the guy who REALLY DEEPLY disappointed me, made me so angry, and made me feel less than. He has been the bad guy, but I forgave him because we love each other and that’s what you do. He said that no matter what, he wants me happy. I can honestly say the same for him. It’s not about ego or blame, it’s just about love and sometimes thats enough.

  3. I wrote this comment before certain comments appeared in another thread here. I don’t apologize for describing the pain of the husband of the gay wife. I know the pain involved. But I do understand the pain of the gay wife as well – about that you are wrong.

    But that pain can only justify so much – and when the person descends into misogyny there can be no defense.

    I have come to understand the dilemma when compassion and truth become incompatible. Each of us want the other to be happy. I want to live authentically (this became important after TGT for me as well, ironically). So what do I say? Yes, it is OK to have a girlfriend. I say this because I want her to be happy. I understand her need, and the importance she places in my understanding and compassion. But do I tell her the truth? Because the truth is I am not right with it at all. The truth is I am jealous. And embarrassed.

    The truth is I want her to chose me.

    Her happiness is best served by my silence about these things. This I do out of love. But it is not really honest. And when she begins a new relationship I see her floating on air. So happy. It was so scary the first time. I would think: TGT has made my wife full of joy and me invisible. She learned. We both have. I do not have any interest in another relationship (it would be easier for her if I did in way, but that I will not do). We would not make it if our sex live was not full and rewarding (that got better post TGT, go figure). She always sees me – and like you I think she always honors me.

    We are not divorcing. We are not separating. She has convinced me neither needs to nor will ever happen. When people go through Trauma together, and TGT is certainly that, it can bring people closer. You find out what the other is willing to endure for you. You find out about their values, and how you fit within them. My wife always said we will both find Joy. She found it earlier than I, but she is convincing me that it can exist for both of us.

    • Dear Bill, All you can do is try to be your authentic self and give each of you the forgiveness and love you deserve. We can push aside our needs to love another but we can only do it for so long before it starts to tear us apart. You deserve happiness just as much as she does, just as much as my husband does. The rub is where is the middle ground? What are willing to sacrifice to make the other happy? How much of who we are will we give up to maintain each others happiness? There is no perfect answer, only shades of grey. The only answer I know is to be honest, to mindful of your partners happiness, and to forgive yourself when you fail and love yourself anyway.
      You are on the right path, but do not rely on her to make you happy. Men, for some reason, tend to do this more often than women. You don’t have to cruise a bar scene to do this. Find things that make you happy and then do them. Invite her to do them with, but only from time to time. She wants you to be independent. She wants you to be happy.

  4. I hope you will still write on here about what goes on in your life, if only so the people who subscribe to you can ask you how they should act when they have identity crises — not just orientation, but how to love someone, how to know someone loves you. I’m told that my first girlfriend never loved me, which is hard to understand when I would say “I love you” and she would say “I love you, too.” I blame myself up and down for her leaving me, especially for my losing a job shortly before the relationship came to an end.

    I am trying to come to the realization that you’ve reached: that being bi-curious and acting on it is not necessarily telling the world that you are gay and that your marriage is a fraud. Some gay people believe it because they came out to themselves long before they got married, and got married to an opposite-sex mate for the sake of appearances, or (worse) because the opposite-sex mate truly loved them. To me, it sounds like you and your husband truly love one another, having built that love up through countless tribulations.

    The friend whom I mentioned in an earlier letter married a man who truly loved her. He was relieved when she told him it would have to end because she was lesbian at heart. He loved her enough to let her go, I think. He was able to fall in love again (as was she), and remarry to a woman who loves him dearly. She also found a woman who loves her dearly and married her.

    A lot of people aren’t nearly that fortunate. I don’t know if my ex ever found love, although she’s been married for over 21 years. I think her husband found a real winner, but I still worry that she’ll leave him. My second ex has also been married for a little under 7 years, but I worry that he will get a lot of grief from her the way I did. I know I have never found love and I’m a bit desperate — have been for a long time. I don’t let myself fall for a woman for fear she doesn’t love me.

    I’m also realizing that your orientation means that you want to fall in love with a woman, not experiment, not move around from one woman to another as men often seem to. I hope I’m that way too. I think your husband is your best friend and is cheering you on to find happiness. My author friend has never told me that her ex-husband cheers her on, but I know she cheered him on and I am willing to think the same for him.

    Take care, bless you and hope you will write more.

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