Far more common the you'd think
Charley and I spent three years exploring what we thought was a mixed orientation marriage. We belonged to several online groups, and we attended two 3D gatherings for mixed orientation couples. We even met Amity Buxton, quoted in the article.
But there was a difference for us: I had come out to Charley as gay before we started dating. Most men and women in MOMs either haven't come to terms with their orientation, or they hide it out of a desire to change it or to lead normal lives. It was at the second gathering, which was like a retreat in many ways without being explicitly religious or spiritual, during some personal time together, that Charley, who was female-bodied, was able to come out to me as transsexual. I was flabbergasted. I had never thought of that as a possibility.
We are probably the rarest of combinations, a gay man married to a female-to-male transsexual. We found that most of what the article relates is true. Most marriages in which one member "comes out" break up within three years of the announcement, many immediately. Of those that continue, many find alternate arrangements than traditional monogamy. It's my belief, having shared so much with so many couples, that as long as both partners agree to such arrangements -- and one is not forcing the other to accept them -- there is nothing wrong with it. But it is also my belief that very few of those open marriages thrive in the long term. Often the strain on one of the partners, usually the non-gay person, is too much.
I personally think that God created us to be in relationship with another person exclusively. To me, that is the ideal. When I say this, I don't intend in any way to stand in judgment over those who practice polyamory or who have mutually decided to open their marriages. The deeper problem in society is that because gay men and lesbians are not allowed to be themselves openly they often seek what they consider a "normal" life in a seemingly heterosexual marriage. Often the gay person is in deep denial of his or her own orientation. This can bring a life of pain and depression. Interestingly, most of the people in mixed orientation marriage whom I have known sincerely love each other. They share years of history which often include children whom both of them love. Had they been allowed to express their true orientation, dated people of the same sex in high school, and married in due course, a lot of this suffering would not have taken place.
Couples in mixed orientation marriages need the church to minister to them with love and acceptance of who they are as people. Counseling, both individual and couples, is extremely helpful in allowing them to discern the path they should take. Often there is a lot of hurt on both sides of such relationships that need healing, both mental and spiritual. Charley and I, who have remained commited to staying together and faithful to our original vows, have found counseling indispensable.
Pastors should acquaint themselves with what services are available in their communities and who the qualified counselors for such couples are. One or both members of a mixed orientation couple often discloses first to a member of the clergy when looking for help. Clergy aren't expected to be mental health clinicians unless they have the training for it. They need to be like EMTs, first responders, however, assuring these people that God loves them, and that as difficult as it seems, such relationships can be worked out with love and grace, whether the end result is separation or growing in to a new reality in their marriage.
I feel very strongly about this, having spent the last five years in that growth process. Mine was the unusual situation. I learned that I had been living for 30+ years with the man of my dreams. I think it is a one-in-a-million outcome. Most face the pain of separation, but those who face their realities with honesty and love, often remain friends for life and can co-parent their children with grace.
Please take these people seriously. There are many more of them than you think. Try not to judge them. They need our support as they find their way in their often perplexing relationships.
When you can transform the war and violence in yourself, then you can truly begin to help others find peace. Thich Nhat Hanh