When ‘for better or worse’ can destroy a marriage
By Cheryl Lavin November 12, 2012 7:44AM
Updated: December 13, 2012 10:27AM
Today’s column addresses some very difficult issues: What does “for better or worse” really mean, and can a person really deny their sexuality?
They were brought up by Belinda, who wanted to stay married to Colin even after he acknowledged he was gay and had an affair with a man.
KAREN: I’m amazed at Belinda’s naivete. Did she really think Colin was just going to stop having the kind of sex he enjoyed? The sex drive is too strong for someone to deny their basic nature for long.
JADEN: Belinda continued to have sex with Colin after she knew he was gay? How could she do that? Not only was he fantasizing about a different person, the different person was a man! I’m absolutely amazed that she or anyone would have put up with that.
DEVON: Who are these people? They’re dealing with this life-changing event and she has one counseling session, he has none, and they have no marital therapy? She needs to be in therapy to figure out how she could have been so blind; he needs to be in therapy to understand why he lived a lie for so long. Wake up, people!
TRISHA: Is Belinda a control freak? A glutton for punishment? Or just kind of dumb?
LAURA: Belinda said: “Nothing had changed for him. He was still gay.” Did she really think he was going to stop being gay?
Here’s what I think was really going on: She considered divorce to be the ultimate failure, and she was unwilling to fail. This wasn’t about loving Colin, and to be honest, it wasn’t about staying together for the kids either.
This was about not wanting to become another divorce statistic.
While I’m a big believer in the institution of marriage, and while I think a lot of people give up on it too easily, I do believe that sometimes divorce really is the only and best answer.
HARRIET: Here’s the line that did it for me: “People can choose to be faithful. It doesn’t matter what their preference.” Belinda, hon, you have this wrong.
Yes, people, gay and straight, can choose to be faithful. However, the person they’re most likely to be faithful to is someone of the gender they’re sexually attracted to. If your husband says he’s gay, perhaps it doesn’t matter to you whether he cheated with a man or a woman. You feel betrayed either way. But it matters very much to him.
Trying to keep him as your husband, and wanting him to have sex with you and you alone — after he’s told you he’s gay — is an exercise in futility. You’re asking him essentially to deny who he is and live a lie.
MAISIE: The promise Belinda made on her wedding day, “for better or worse,” applies to future, uncontrollable circumstances and is based on the premise that both parties are being honest to the best of their ability. Colin was lying from the get-go because he knew he was gay.
LILA: A marriage like the one Belinda wanted can only work if both parties are OK with a sexless marriage or a marriage where one or both parties is never sexually fulfilled. Someone is eventually going to change his or her mind.
When is it OK to break your wedding vows? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to cheryl firstname.lastname@example.org.