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Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Same Sex Divorce

Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Same Sex Divorce
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Dear Dr. Stanwix,

My husband and I have been together since 2011. We were one of the first gay couples to marry when New York State declared Same Sex Marriage legal.

We were looking so forward to getting married when the law came into effect. It was not only a celebration of our love but also a celebration of gay recognition and some form of normalization of our status by the straight majority. However, now married life doesn’t seem all it was cracked up to be.

The first year was absolute bliss; however, then the novelty of being one of the first married gay couples wore off.  Our marriage is now on the rocks. We are fighting constantly and I believe my husband is no longer being faithful. I have heard from some of my friends that he has been seeing other people.

When I spoke to him about this, he confessed that he was no longer interested in continuing our marriage. I am hurt and have asked him to see a counselor with me. He said he was willing to do so, but he is not sure if it will do any good.

I can’t understand why he is taking our marriage so cavalierly after we fought so hard for the right to get married. Now I am beginning to doubt whether this new right has been a gain or a loss for gay couples.

It just seems that after all of this clamoring for our rights that we are doing the gay community a tremendous disservice if we go through with a divorce. Should I be so sensitive about this issue? Are gay people really not able to stay married?

Sincerely,

Same Sex Divorce

Dear Same Sex Divorce,

I have never thought the definition of marriage should be limited to a man and woman and was quite heartened when our fair state decided to take the lead in this debate and declare same-sex marriage legal. Marriage is a stabilizing force in our lives and what much of our society is founded on. It is important that this status be available to all couples who love one another, regardless of their sexual orientation. However, as we all know, with love and relationships comes responsibility.

While heterosexuals and homosexuals have their obvious differences, all intimate relationships have the same things in common: love, commitment and responsibility. We must remain faithful to our significant others and we should do what we can to work through our difficulties. It seems that your relationship has hit a major stumbling block. Whether heterosexual or homosexual, relationships have their ups and downs. And, like heterosexual relationships, some simply will not last. Please don’t blame yourself or your sexual orientation for this.

The Same Sex Marriage Debate is by no means over. There is still a lot of bias toward gay people. Yet, despite some holdouts, we are living in an incredible time of acceptance and open-mindedness about this issue. However, that doesn’t mean you owe anything to the gay community. You should not put undue pressure on yourself to live up to standards that are impossible to achieve, standards that heterosexuals can’t live up to, either.

Think about it this way, is a woman who does not vote betraying all women because this was a right women fought for way back when? Would she be betraying women if she voted for a specific party that didn’t advance the causes of women? Women’s right to vote and gays’ right to marry were both too long in coming. Just because we don’t always exercise these rights “properly” doesn’t mean we don’t deserve them.

Whether our relationships last or not has nothing to do with whether we are gay or how much we fought for the right to marry. It depends on the two individuals who comprise that relationship. If that relationship isn’t working for you, then like any other, you should seek counseling. If that doesn’t work, then you may have to end your marriage.

Ending a relationship is difficult enough. There is no need to compound that difficulty by holding yourself up to impossible standards. You owe nothing to the gay community but to live your life proudly as a gay man. Everything else is between you and your partner.

Best of luck,

Dr. Michael Stanwix

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