Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Hi Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I’m a loyal bisexual guy whose letter you answered some weeks ago.
My wife doesn’t know I am bisexual. I told you that I don’t practice or intend to seek gay sex. I only fantasize about men. When I found out about her past (which she lied about) I wanted to leave her. But you suggested I explore my violent reaction and even see whether my retroactive jealousy may have something to do with my bisexuality.
You may be right: her guy before me was so gorgeous, and I’ve seen the picture of his huge manhood (they were sending nudes on Facebook when they were on, and that’s how I discovered her past). The pain is more intense when I imagine how pleased she was to have sex with this person. It was so painful but I also enjoyed the thought and the act of fantasizing about it.
Is it necessary for her to know about my sexuality and that I fantasize about her ex?
a loyal bisexual guy (Jed)
Thank you for your letter.
We discussed fantasies in a column last year. In essence, fantasies are generally harmless, even beneficial, while they remain just fantasies, but can sometimes become problematic if they are acted upon. This does not seem to be the case here since you state you do not practice or intend to seek gay sex. So, in answer to one of your questions, you certainly do not need to tell your wife about them. The same is true about your bisexuality. You don’t need to tell her if you have no intention of acting upon it, but by the same token, if you want a stronger and more intimate relationship with your wife (see also our column on the Sternberg Theory of Love) this might be one of the things about yourself that you at some stage might reveal if you think that there is sufficient trust and understanding between you.
As for your jealousy and its possible connection with your bisexuality, could it be that because you feel attraction to men, you view your wife’s former partners not only as her past lovers but also as love (or at least lust) objects yourself? I fear these are murkier waters than I am qualified to navigate so I leave it to Dr. Holmes to discuss this question further.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. You ask if it is necessary for your wife to know about your sexuality and even about your fantasies about her ex.
The answer to both questions is an unqualified no, it isn’t necessary…BUT this will prevent you from helping to make your marriage the best it can possibly be.
There are many marriages where spouses share only aspects of themselves with each other. If that is so, then I hope they have at least one friend (preferably platonic) with whom they can share whatever is deepest and closest to their heart.
The ongoing Harvard Study on Adult Development, 84 years of research and counting, is considered the longest study on adult development. One of the most important findings in that study is that, by the age of 50 years old, the researchers can predict whom among the participants (Group A: Harvard graduates, Group B: Boston inner city dwellers matched for age, etc.) will live into their eighties.
While cholesterol levels, blood pressure, exercise routines, socioeconomic status, and current jobs may make contributions to longevity, what really matters is that those who live to their eighties have at least one friend whom they count on and who they know counts on them. This friend need not be their spouse (though on a personal and professional note, it would be so nice if the friend were)!
In other words, loneliness kills. Not only that, it keeps people from being as happy, content, and trusting as they could be.
Thus, while it is unnecessary to tell your wife anything more than she already knows about you, wouldn’t it be better if the person you promised to love and to hold, through sickness and health, were the person you also shared all that was important to you?
I know it can be scary to do so, Jed, especially if your wife is not a consciously strong advocate of LGBTQ+ concerns/issues. However, I feel it would be worth it.
First, my congratulations. Not many people can be as vehemently upset at their spouse’s past as you were and yet consider that your reaction may have had something to do with your own issues. Not many people can be hurt as much as you were by your wife’s behavior (including her not telling you the entire truth from the start) and yet realize the irony of your also keeping things from her.
I am hoping your wife appreciates how you overcame (quite quickly too!) your anger and realizes not only how this itself may have kept her from being as open with you as she could have been, but also how your own issues clouded your heart (and mind) from looking at all this more openly. I didn’t say a more forgiving heart because, in truth, there isn’t really anything to forgive, is there, Jed?
OR…one might say, maybe it is your wife who needs to forgive you?
Or, possibly even better when you open up to her, you will both realize that since we are all just fragile human beings, each with our own resources and vulnerabilities, trying to make our way into the world, we should keep from blaming each other and just help each other live the best lives we possibly can.
On your end, this might include sharing your fantasies and promises you’ve made about your bisexuality. This will free you from needing to keep this a secret and hopefully, also free her from having to feel like she’s walking on eggshells, worrying she might trigger you with a wrong word, look, or action. What joy this will bring, Jed.
Not knowing her, I cannot guarantee what your wife’s reaction will be, but from the way she seems to have accepted your past behavior, I feel she loves you enough to want to be together through any surprises you might throw her way. I hope that when you self-disclose and allow yourself to be vulnerable, she too will self-disclose (as research strongly confirms). And I also hope this will lead to a stronger, better, more loving bond between you.
All the very best,
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