Divorce counselor writes in the Huffington Post that gay male relationships should be a model for straight ones considering divorce:
But not every extra-marital experience needs to lead to a divorce -- and that is a lesson that many gay couples could teach to straights. It's not that straight couples don't experience infidelity, nor are all gay marriages open ones. Rather, it is the marriage culture overall that demonizes the behavior and imposes an idealized notion of marriage that suggests that every breach of marital vows should result in a divorce.
The challenge is to face the truth of sexual exploration openly, and try to work out the underlying emotional issues that frame the behavior -- and not just declare it a "fault" and proceed with a blame-ridden divorce. And, even where a dissolution does ensue, take it from a divorce mediator who has seen it all: make every effort to move past the emotions of fault, and accept that the affair has a broader and deeper background and is rarely just one party's fault.
I don't think that an open relationship is the cure for infidelity, although it can be in certain situations. What I like about the gay couples I know is that they can at least talk about sexual desire outside of the relationship, which occurs in every conjugal relationship, without discombobulating.
Is marriage a threat to that sort of lifestyle? Obviously that's not an easy question to answer, but it does remind me of this passage from a much-maligned New York Times article a few years back that also quoted Frederick Hertz (I just noticed after I looked it up; he seems to be the go-to gay divorce expert):
I asked Marc and Vassili if it was wise for any couple to become engaged before testing their domestic compatibility. Why not live together for a year? The couple deflected the question with a you-must-not-really-understand-the-power-of-our-love look common to so many lovesick young couples. "We just know we'll be fine," Vassili told me, rubbing Marc's back. "We love each other, and that's all that matters."
"We know we're compatible," Marc said. "We've thought a lot about household roles. I'm going to clean, and Vassili is going to cook."
"I like doing laundry and ironing," Vassili told me. "He likes yardwork."
"I don't think either one of us is really going to be the wife, per se," Marc said.
Still, they insisted they would be "traditional" in one important way: they vowed to be monogamous. "I know that some gay couples who've been together awhile open up their relationships," Marc said, "but we're not going to do that. I mean, we wouldn't be getting married if we didn't plan on being monogamous. To me, that's a fundamental and important part of marriage."
It is for many young gay couples. Frederick Hertz, an attorney and mediator who co-wrote the book "A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples" and who has helped gay couples of all ages negotiate prenuptial agreements, told me that young gay men get the most impassioned when talk turns to monogamy. "A very common thing I hear them say in my office is, 'If he has an affair, he's not getting any alimony!' " Hertz said. "That's just not something I hear among older gay men, who often make a distinction between emotional fidelity and sexual fidelity. There's an emerging rhetoric around monogamy among young gay couples. In that way, they're a lot more like married heterosexual couples than they are like older gay couples."
And I'm reminded of this from the CNN exit poll done in California in 2008 after the passage of Prop 8 (keeping in mind the large margin of error in these polls):
Not being married myself, although I've been called everything from "a friend" to "a husband" to Alberto over the last few weeks, I wouldn't know. So maybe the married people out there could enlighten us: does getting married change one's opinions of what constitutes a marriage? Or is it just that people with more... traditional ideas are more likely to get married in the first place?