By Bonnie Kaye
Let’s discuss married gay men who won’t leave the marriage or for that matter, won’t leave the closet. This is a subject that can never be talked about enough because it seems to be a stumbling block for so many of us who can’t get our husbands to “come clean” with the truth about their homosexuality.
I received so many letters each month from women who are sure about their husbands but fear confronting them. But I also get letters from women who do confront their husbands with evidence in hand and get denials with distorted truths giving excuses such as “Those pictures belonged to a co-worker,” or “I have no clue how those websites got on our computer.”
For those women whose husbands eventually tell you the truth, count yourselves as lucky even though you may not feel that way at the time. No doubt hearing the word gay is devastating, but not hearing it is even worse. Ask a woman who is trapped in an unfulfilling marriage with a gay man.
These women know the truth. They have stumbled on it one way or another. It has smacked them in the face through hidden websites, email, pornography, letters, hotel receipts, phone bills, etc. And yet, their husbands just keep lying or denying. They are not ready to be honest--and may never be ready. Some men will never be ready to accept their homosexuality because it is too painful or embarrassing.
These are the men whom I call the “Limbo Men.” Their whole lives are lived in limbo. They are emotionally straight, but physically gay. They never feel totally comfortable in either world, but they are much more comfortable “passing” in the
straight world where they are accepted as part of mainstream society.
All married gay men go through “limbo” for a period of time. In otherwords, they are stuck in between both worlds hoping that
by wanting the straight world badly enough they will be able to “cross over” into it. They keep thinking that if they play the role long enough, they will become transformed into the part, not just play the part as an actor.
But the Limbo Men I place in this category are different from other gay men who eventually come to terms with themselves. They are even different than the gay men who are staying in their marriages but who acknowledge they are gay, at least on some level.
The real Limbo Men have no sense of remorse for what they are doing to their wives. In fact, they often feel as if they are the victims and strike back at their wives in an emotional or physically abusive manner. They blame their wives for their unhappiness and never have a clue about the damage they are doing to these women whom they promised to love, cherish, and respect.
They place the blame of their unhappiness on their wives, when in fact, there is nothing that their wives could possibly do to make them feel happy or fulfilled. Their wives are women, and they are gay men.
These are the men who will never leave their marriages. They will stay there until the day they die, leading a painful existence and sharing that pain with their wives. More specifically, pouring that pain upon their wives. We all know that misery loves company, and these men are happy to make you as miserable as they are.
So often, these “Limbo Men” husbands luck out. They have wives who are much kinder and more understanding than average. These are the women who will keep trying every little trick in the book thinking someday they will get their husbands hooked.
The women live an accepted existence, looking for the crumbs in the marriage while trying to turn those crumbs into a cake. It is truly a tragedy and waste of human life.
Limbo Men create a whole new category of straight wives—namely, LIMBO WOMEN. Limbo Women are the wives of Limbo Men who are stuck wasting years of their lives in unsatisfying marriages because they can never quite get the truth out of their husbands.
They know that something is wrong. They know that their marriages are lacking the ingredients for success—namely communication, passion, and intimacy. They have loads of little clues that all add up to homosexuality, and yet, because they can’t get a full confession—or even a partial confession—they are trapped.
By the time a wife of a Limbo Man gets a confession, it’s usually a partial, such as:
1. I’m not gay, but I like looking at gay pornography as part of a full pornographic fantasy show.
2. I’m not gay, but when I was younger, I had an uncle who molested me on a few occasions.
3. I’m not gay, but sometimes I call gay sex lines because the way they talk stimulates me sexually.
4. I’m not gay, but when I was younger, before I met you, I had a one-time sexual encounter with a man, but I only let him perform oral sex on me.
5. I’m not gay, but there are times I think that I am bisexual because I look at guys and find them sexually appealing. I would never act on it though.
6. I’m not gay, but sometimes the thought of anal penetration turns me on.
7. I’m not gay, but when I was in college, we would all get stoned/drunk and have big orgies where everyone was having sex with everyone.
8. I’m not gay, but I have a fantasy about both of us having sex with another man.
The sad part is that each one of these partial confessions always starts the same way: I’M NOT GAY, BUT…. And now the wife is more trapped than ever. How can they break up a marriage just on their own perceptions based on partial truths?
I have wives that write to me about the extensive research they do on human sexuality. They are looking for my stamp of endorsement for their discoveries that their husbands aren’t gay, just sexually “different” or “deviant.”
It seems if they can get my professional opinion that their situation is not like the thousands of others that I have worked with, they can learn to cope in their marriages and accept that life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. On the other hand, it’s not always a bowl of pits either. It’s actually a bowl of half eaten cherries with the pits still in tact—sometimes, anyway.
These women struggle more than those of us who are given our walking papers or as I like to call it, “freedom.” Those of us
riding the freedom trail may be hurting for a while, but ventually we can lick our wounds and start life over. We don’t have the shackles of homosexuality tying us to a husband who just won’t be honest with us or in many cases, himself.
Limbo Women have the lowest self-esteem of all of us because they do personalize that the lack of love that their husbands can show them sexually is because of their failings. After they’ve exhausted every trick known to womankind without any success or movement, they admit defeat.
Nothing they do makes it change. No diet, no breast implant, no sexy clothes, no new hair style, no new approaches to sexual satisfaction is going to move their husbands into the straight zone. Eventually, they admit defeat, but still don’t understand why everything they try is not working on anything in their relationship.
Some of these wives cope by developing their own “on-the-sides” personal lives. They meet some straight man on the Internet who can boost their self-esteem by telling them all the things their husbands should be saying but don’t say.
Sometimes these Internet affairs are lifesavers when women start giving up hope on themselves. Some of these wives cope by finding real-life affairs, going outside the boundaries of their morals, religious beliefs, and vows, making them feel better on one end, but worse on the other. And still other women cope by
popping pills that numb their minds and lower their libido just so they can keep living in the state of limbo.
And so life just keeps moving along, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, and year-by-year. Limbo Women attend family holidays, friend events like birthdays and anniversaries, and office Christmas parties of their Limbo Husbands. They stand like a trophy next to a man who needs a wife to show off to prove to the world that “I AM NOT GAY. HERE IS MY PROOF.”
The Limbo Wife allays the suspicions that everyone else has about the Limbo Man. It confuses the public at large who thinks it is able to identify people of a different sexual orientation because gay men don’t get married? Right? Or even if they do, they don’t stay married, right? Wrong.
Limbo Men stay married as long as their wives stay in limbo with them. Limbo Women are willing to fine tune their brains
not to think about what they don’t have. Rather, they try to focus on what they do have:
- I have a nice home.
- I have beautiful children.
- I have friendly neighbors.
- I have good in-laws who don’t find too much fault with me (namely because
you’re covering up the family secret for them.)
- I have a companion when I go on vacations.
- I have a good friend.
- I have a good friendship.
- I have a husband who won’t leave.
That’s right, Limbo Woman, he won’t leave. He’s going to be by your side forever and ever because a Limbo Man doesn’t leave. If he leaves, that means he might be dealing with whom he really is and what he does on the side might become front and center.
This would upset the balance in his life and throw him out of the sphere of being emotionally straight. And that’s a scary world that he just doesn’t want to have to face. Life as a Limbo Man is too easy for him. It’s also safe and secure.
Want to know something funny? Limbo Men think that their Limbo Wives know the truth—at least on some level. They think
that all of the little clues that they have been confronted on prove that you know the truth somewhere in their Limbo Minds. And believe it or not, they feel that for this reason, you accept who they are.
You can accept their little dalliances and dibs into that foreign world that neither of you really want to talk about. They think that your avoidance of the subject after a while is a
form of acceptance.
They don’t see you running anywhere, and they also see you accepting that marriage can be built on friendship. You’ve given them the biggest gift of all—the end of sexual pressure. You’ve learned how to live with them in Sexual Limbo—or abstinence.
Your Limbo Libido has gone off into the distance—either with someone else or out the door or body. Whatever. He breathes a big sigh of relief. You are now the perfect wife.
Of course, you’re not really the perfect wife. He still finds fault with you because you are a woman. And he is a gay man in disguise. It’s never quite the right chemistry. He’s never really happy living in between two worlds. He’s comfortable, but never really happy. And he’ll find ways to blame you for his happiness. It will be little things that make you feel stupid. After all, he thinks you’re stupid. He thinks you know he’s gay and you’re willing to live with it. How smart could you be?
And so the years will pass. Your best years will pass in front of your eyes. Yes, the best years—those years where you could
have been living a life without deceit, contempt, and sexual rejection. And before you know it, you’ll look around and realize that you can’t get back what you have lost. You’ll never know how far you could have gone in life because you never had a cheering team cheering you on.
You will never be inspired to write poems that have love and hope, but rather your poetry talks of sadness and loneliness. I suppose there is a market out there for poetry of the forlorn. Someone may be smart enough to publish a book on “Poetry for the Limbo Woman.” It’s sure to sell a million.
And so, my dear Limbo Women, my heart does go out to you. I feel as if you are walking in the valley of No Zone. Not quite here, not quite there. But the good news is that you can move into another time zone.
You can join the freedom trail and look at life as a new adventure, just waiting for you. You can make a decision that you’ve had enough of Limbo Land and want to spend whatever remaining years you have finding yourself and a new sense of enjoyment.
You can learn that life can be like a romantic comedy. You can laugh and love again no matter how old you are. Romance is never an age—it’s a state of mind. And even though living with your Limbo man has dulled yours, you can still take your life back and live it the way you want to. You may not win the battle, but you can definitely win the war.
Write to me at Bonkaye@aol.com if you want to get the support to do it!
Bonnie Kaye, M.Ed., the world recognized specialist in straight/gay relationship counseling for 24 years, is now available to work with you via telephone, a personal live private chatroom, instant messaging, email, or in person when locality permits. Bonnie is the "go-to" person when media news stories need advice. She was a resource for Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil, Montel Williams, and Tyra Banks. She has recently appeared as a guest on CNN, FOX News, and Women's Entertainment Network as a professional counseling expert in this field.
Write to her at Bonkaye@aol.com