Father Tony

I Still Get Letters for the Confessional

Filed By Father Tony | March 02, 2012 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: finding a husband, gay relationships, open marriage, open relationship, relationship advice, same-sex marriage

Remember when I answered weekly letters to Father Tony's Confessional? They still arrive. I should remember to share them. Google-doodle-couple.pngThis one arrived yesterday and is classic:

Dear FT,

I belong to a very conservative church and am trying to weigh the options of either remaining single forever or finding a guy to spend my life with. 28 years is impressive, good for you. Since I hope that I can one day be in a stable relationship, I was hoping that you would be able to disprove the notion that gay couples are incapable of fidelity and that the only ones who stick together have found a way to work an open relationship. My guess is that if there is any truth to the statistics, that it is because same sex marriage was not yet legal at the time of the study. That, in my opinion, makes a big difference. So how have you managed to resist the urges (if there even are any) to not remain true to each other, or how have you made it work despite that?
Thanks,

XXX

Dear XXX,

Yours is an age-old question.

Because I don't know you, I don't know how well you know yourself. Before you go husband hunting, get that bit of work done independently, i.e., without the input of some church. Show your self-definition to a few close friends and get their honest reactions. Now you got some money in your purse and can go shopping.

Next, imagine whom you want to live with. Set personal standards of behavior for yourself and for him. Standards that you can be proud of. Realize that you won't always reach them. Neither will he. Realize that no one man will have everything on your checklist. Realize that the man who ends up as your husband may be nothing like what you imagined. Sometimes, it is best to simply say to yourself, "I don't know what I want but I'll know it when I see it." Be vulnerable, fearless and adventurous in your singledom.

Happiness and longevity happen when the two of you will continue to value and appreciate and delight and grow into each other. If I knew the secret to how or why that happens in some marriages and not in others, I would be a zillionaire. Be suspicious of any religion that says they have the formula for that.

I will zero in on your last sentence and your use of the phrase "remain true to each other".

You equate "being true" with sexual exclusivity. This is a premise you seem to accept, one that has probably been forced on you since early childhood.

Before you find the husband that I hope you will find, I hope you construct an image of marriage that suits the real you, whoever that is. I know couples who have been monogamous for years, some open for years and some who cheat on each other for years. I no longer judge their behavior. I do judge what I perceive to be their happiness. I also keep in mind that marital happiness and satisfaction are relative.

In the musical Oliver!, when Nancy sings about Bill Sykes "Oh my man I love him so" etc, she is a woman who compromises in ways that make many people want to shout "Leave him, Nancy!" She doesn't. The happiness we think we deserve is sometimes what we engineer for ourselves.

That is as deep as I will go with you in these waters where there are crosscurrents, undertow, sharks and tsunamis that will disprove the soundness of the small pontifical boat of recommendations I have built for you. Expect upsets in love, even after many years of it. The spills go with the thrills. Let me know what becomes of you.

T


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