Mixed Orientation Marriages: Are the Kids Alright?

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I joined this church a year and half ago, knowing full well the church’s stance on gay marriage, but knowing full well that Heavenly Father loooooo-ooooooves my family more than I could ever understand. And always has. And put me in this family because He trusted us enough to take care of each other.

But I also joined this church thinking I was the only one from a mixed orientation family and that I’d be solely responsible for telling and defending my story. It felt like a lot of pressure (even if I was the only one calling myself to this task), and instead of being graceful and grateful with my self-designated responsibility, I was resentful and angry. Any lessons or discussion or presentation of “the family” felt like a deliberate attack against the fact that mine was different. I thought that it was obvious to everyone around me that “the family” didn’t mean mine.

And then there was Ty, Josh, Ashley and Lindsay.

Mixed orientation marriages, or MoMs as I learned this evening, are all the rage right now in the bloggernacle. Maybe not so popular to be in one, but it’s definitely trendy to talk about them.

On one side of this discussion, the conveniently sweet stories of Ty Mansfield and Josh Weed, two gay LDS men married to straight LDS women, are being propped up by members as success stories for praying or marrying away the gay. These men are being held as bright and shiny examples of obedience and “overcoming same sex attraction.”

On the other side of the discussion, we have Ashley, a straight LDS women married to a gay LDS man who, through her marriage, understood that gay does not go away. That no matter how straight the marriage, it doesn’t make your spouse less gay. We also have the ongoing series over at FMH, exploring and discussing mixed orientation marriages.

When I read these articles, I see men who are trying so hard to stick with the Mormon script and learn the lines their world and wards handed them and I see women who are skipping to the last page and mourning the loss of the life they were hoping for. I see these men trying hard to endure to the end, and wait for the blessings they were told would accompany a commitment to their temple marriage. I feel the pain of these women who are denied access to fulfilling sexual and emotional relationships. I read all of these articles together and my heart breaks for a culture that forces these men into marriages they cannot sustain, and a culture that essentially supports the dissolution of marriages for the sake of tradition.

The hardest part for me is the glaring absence of the children’s stories. Are we okay in all this? I feel a strong bond with these kids I don’t know, but because of our circumstances, we share an identity and a family history that many will never understand.

And in my head, things get even messier. I’ve been battling big questions in my head lately, and I feel stuck there. I am stuck between two worlds that I feel like are asking me to eradicate the future of my identity as the child of mixed orientation parents while also begging for validation and tools to honor that history.

Let me explain.

As a human being, I long for the world where children are born to families who choose them. I pray for the world that my future gay and straight children are free to love the lover they choose for themselves. I resent the world that forced my parents into a marriage they couldn’t sustain. As a human being, I know that encouraging (either directly or culturally) a gay man or woman into a heterosexual marriage is harmful, hurtful, dangerous, and wrong.

On the other hand, I’m the product of that kind of marriage. I am sure that had my father grown up in a society or church that let him figure out and be who he is, instead of shuffling/shoving him along the path to marrying my mother, I probably wouldn’t be here. Others have disagreed with me, but I can’t shake the feeling that my life is a testament to and product of this harmful shaming and secret keeping.

I feel that by supporting gay rights and teaching people about the blessings of gay families, I am, in effect, erasing my own history. Me, my story, and my people will become extinct. And I kind of want them to. But I also mourn that loss. AH! Being inside my head is conflicting and weird.

I will never stop defending the right of men and women to marry the person who brings them the most joy, who fulfills them, who loves them. I will never stop fighting for a future in which children can be born to families that love them and that want them and are ready for them.

For now, my heart and mind are a little swirly. I don’t know that there is a neat little package with a pretty blue bow in which I can present my feelings. I don’t know that there is one clean phrase to help me understand where and who and why I am. In an effort to change the future while honoring my past, I am standing in a place where the thing I want the most is to tell my story.

And for others like me to tell their stories.

For us to tell our story.

So much love,

The LadyMo

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5 responses »

  1. Lady MO,

    I’m taken first by your courage…..the courage to follow the truth and join this church, knowing that there were going to be conflicts that you had to work out…and the courage to face these issues with boldness and faith, for only then will you be able to reconcile the conflict and find the theological and emotional answers you seek. I don’t know the answers. As a caring, compassionate Christian, I, too, have confusion, and seek the answers with faith. I’m not comparing my experience with yours – that would be foolish – but I, too, have to believe that somehow there is a reconciliation, an understanding, a key to the truth that awaits those of us who seek honestly and with trust that the answers will come. In the meantime, I, too, have compassion for those who are shocked to find that through some irony of creation the promises of the dream of the heterosexual temple marriage was not meant for them. I do not carry that burden. I cannot have empathy. I can, however, have sympathy. Although I do not share all of your own conclusions mentioned in this post, I admire and appreciate your willingness to share with others so openly. And I can pray for you to find your answers.

  2. Scott- I’m always grateful for you. I always learn a lot from you, and while we differ on some things, we always get to the same place. We are called to love and love enormously. Thanks for loving.

  3. I feel like I have this very conversation on my mind all the time. I often have to say to myself,”okay! Time-out!” because I have that exact sensation of going around and around like some terrible freeway loop that never seems to have any exits that lead to the places I’d like to go. Why can’t one of the exits be labeled “this All Makes Sense Avenue”? Eventually I have to just stop driving the loop and get of at the “Time to Feed the Kids” exit. I am waiting. And hanging on to the things I know are true until somebody comes out with a better GPS system. That road has got to be there somewhere. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s about a half a mile past “You Just Kicked the Bucket Boulevard”. Love you! Can’t wait to see you!

  4. Thank you so much, LadyMo, for this generous and courageous invitation to see into what it’s like to be you. I understand the confusion and anger about the role of shame, but I devoutly hope you do not carry that shame as yours. You are the antithesis of shame, you are PRIDE in who you are! I hope you remember that. You spring from Truth, which is not always comfortable or fair, but you can always hold your head up when you know you shoot straight from the heart, as you do. Your family, for all its atypicality, is totally real, and you are a treasure, and much loved.

  5. Hi Lady Mo. I am a daughter of a secret mixed orientation marriage, and have been unbelievably affected by this experience. The amount of pain and shame I have absorbed is devastating, for living in a culture that has such rigid social norms and judges anyone for falling outside of these norms. Furthermore, the amount of compassion that I feel for my parents devastates me, as if I myself am a gay person living in a homophobic world. I wish to tell my story too. Some of the greatest solace I have found amidst my own confusion is to search online for kindred spirits like you. thank you for sharing your heart.

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