Mixed Orientation Marriage – Getting Past Blame

Nearly all marriages that end in divorce go through a blame stage. Many times they get stuck there. Years later, each party still claims how the whole thing was somehow the other spouse’s fault. Even when one ex does step up to the plate, they can’t seem to resist throwing in a but. “Well, yes, I did burn down the house, but that was only because my wife exploded my Beemer!” Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.

Nowhere is this tendency more pronounced than in a mixed orientation marriage, or MOM. Truth be told, it really does seem like a cut and dried case, right? The straight spouse innocently walks into the gnarled web of deceit spun by the gay spouse. When he or she discovers the truth, they become the victim. Since homosexuals continue to be discriminated against in our society, it’s easy not to look past this point for clarity and balance. But is that really the whole story?

Taking the gay persons’ position, society itself is to blame for his or her decision to marry a straight spouse in the first place. With gay marriage not an option, lack of protection laws, and general homophobia still in abundance in our society, it’s not too difficult to see why a homosexual might not want to follow his or her natural sexual inclination. In addition, some religious doctrines continue to claim that homosexuality is a choice. That leaves the door open for gays and lesbians to choose to enter a traditional marriage, a straight lifestyle, with the blessing of their church. It is an interesting irony. However, if we are to listen to the vast majority of homosexuals–and who should know better than they who walk the mile–there is no choice. It is simply an integral and natural part of their persona and can never be changed.

So, where does that leave us with the question of blame? Each party, when viewed from their own perspective, does have a point. The answer is simple: it really doesn’t matter and needs to be let go of. Blame is a dangerous and self-serving tool that needs to be laid to rest by each party in order for them to move ahead. While this is true in any situation, it is vital for people coming out of a MOM.

For the straight spouse, continuing in blame can lead to depression, anger and bitterness. For those who allow themselves to get stuck at this point, it is not a pleasant existence. It is a mental state that blocks emotional growth. Blame does not facilitate the composure of spiritual peace we all aspire to in life. Unfortunately, there is plenty of support available for those who choose to remain in blame. Friends, family and some social support systems encourage the straight spouse to continue to feed the fire. They offer continued sympathy and righteous indignation, not realizing they are harming rather than promoting healing.

For the gay spouse, blame is just as destructive, but is aimed at society rather than the ex. Living at odds with dominant cultural values leads them to depression, anger and frustration. Additionally, unlike the straight party, who will likely receive sympathy for their plight, the gay community is more likely to express disapproval that the individual ever chose to marry in the first place. The gay spouse also risks losing friends and family during a forced coming out process, which is a common consequence of ending a MOM.

So, how is it accomplished? How do we move past blame? The obvious answer is to take responsibility for yourself–not only your actions, but also your thoughts. Realize that blame is a crutch that holds you back from achieving emotional freedom and growth. One tool to accomplish this is reverse perspective. Imagine yourself in your spouses’s circumstances. What would you do? How would you feel? It is a basic exercise, but sometimes not used because it is a painful experience.

Another idea is to accept responsibility for other areas of the marriage that may not have been ideal. With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, chances are yours may not have made it anyway. In addition, the going statistic is that 20% of MOMs do stay together: the fact that one spouse is gay is not necessarily the only deciding factor in divorce. Try to diffuse some of the blame away from the gay issue–take a hard look at other negative aspects of the marriage you may have contributed to. It’s not easy, but it will definitely help move you past blame and into a brighter space!

©2007 Patricia Cheney

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