'For Better or Worse' ... Really?
Today's column addresses some very difficult issues: namely, what does "for better or worse" really mean and can a person really deny their sexuality?
These issues were brought up by Jessie, who wanted to stay married to Chris even after he acknowledged he was gay and had had an affair with a man.
KAREN: I'm amazed at Jessie's naivete. Did she really think Chris was just going to stop having the kind of sex he enjoyed? The sex drive is too strong for someone to deny their basic nature for long.
JADEN: Jessie continued to have sex with Chris after she knew he was gay? How could she do that? Not only was he fantasizing about a different person, the different person was a man! I'm absolutely amazed that she or anyone would put up with that.
DEVON: Who are these people? They're dealing with a life-changing event, and she has one counseling session, he has none, and they have no marital therapy? She needs to be in therapy to figure out how she could have been so blind; he needs to be in therapy to understand why he lived a lie for so long. Wake up, people!
TRISHA: Is Jessie a control freak? A glutton for punishment? Or just kind of dumb?
LAURA: Jessie said: "Nothing had changed for him. He was still gay." Did she really think he was going to stop being gay?
Here's what I think was really going on: She considered divorce to be the ultimate failure, and she was unwilling to fail. This wasn't about loving Chris, and to be honest, it wasn't about staying together for the kids either. This was about not wanting to become another divorce statistic.
While I'm a big believer in the institution of marriage and I think a lot of people give up on it too easily, I do believe that sometimes divorce really is the only and best answer.
HARRIET: Here's the line that did it for me: "People can choose to be faithful. It doesn't matter their preference." Jessie, hon, you have this wrong.
Yes, people, gay and straight, can choose to be faithful. However, the person they're most likely to be faithful to is someone of the gender they're sexually attracted to. If your husband says he's gay, perhaps it doesn't matter to you whether he cheated with a man or a woman. You'd feel betrayed either way. But it matters very much to him.
MAISIE: The promise Jessie made on her wedding day, "for better or worse," applies to future, uncontrollable circumstances and is based on the premise that both parties are being honest to the best of their ability. Chris was lying from the get-go because he knew he was gay.
LILA: A marriage like the one Jessie wanted can only work if both parties are OK with a sexless marriage or a marriage where one or both parties is never sexually fulfilled. Someone is eventually going to change their mind.
When is it okay to break your wedding vows? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com. And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."