What I want to say is this: Chris and I are each doing the very best we can to salvage the love and family that we want to continue to share. We are doing the best we can to remain close to God and to our Savior. We are doing the best we can to give our girls a spiritual and open environment where they can feel free to explore their own beliefs as they get older, but where we make it clear to them what we believe.
A lot of people have said that they've seen this situation before, and that it never ends well, never results in happiness for either of the parties. While Chris has already pointed out that we do know a few couples who have made it work pretty well, I agree that when a husband comes out of the closet, it rarely translates into a positive thing for the family.
I would venture a guess that because this situation is so personal to me, I have done more reading and research on this topic than most of you. From that reading, I've gained a bit of perspective as to why this is so. First, many husbands who have come out do so only when either their adulterous homosexual activities are exposed, or when the guilt stemming from those activities is so overwhelming they cannot take it anymore and have to confess. Many husbands struggle with their homosexuality alone and rather than include their wives as helpmates in this struggle, try to "get it out of their system" by exploring anonymous sexual encounters, or even real relationships with men unbeknownst to their wives. Beginning the conversation with "I'm gay, and here's what I've been doing about it" is not the best way to explore healthy dialogue regarding the future of the relationship, and leaves many wives feeling so betrayed and angry that there is no hope of a family.
Chris did not choose this path. He chose to begin the conversation by saying, "I'm gay, and I don't know what to do about it, but I want you to be a part of whatever comes next." He chose to remain faithful to the marriage vows he took until he is released from those vows. He chose to talk rather than act. He trusted me enough to know that I would be a partner in finding a way for our family to find the most happiness.
Second, even when there has been no infidelity, but especially when there has, many wives react to their husbands' news with disgust and horror. Many choose to cut off contact, to start their lives over and forget they were ever married to a gay man. Sadly, this sometimes includes cutting their children's father out of their lives as well. This can't be the way a family finds happiness.
I was blessed to have an immediate empathy for Chris, and during our first long night of discussion after he came out to me, I gained an understanding of homosexuality that I can only attribute to God. I believe He allowed me to ask the questions I needed to, and enlightened my mind with true empathy. This wasn't sympathy, as in, "This must have been so hard for you, tell me all about it, I'm sorry you had to do this alone, I'm your friend, I'm here for you." This was a completely real feeling of BEING Chris, of looking back on his life and heartache and actually feeling it as if I had been in his soul with him. I saw things from his point of view, I cried as if I had been the one traumatized by my self-hatred and fear of judgement. It was only one of many miracles given to me that have enabled me to not just "get through" the last nine months, but to grow from it and have a restored faith and hope in the future.
I did not walk away from the church lightly. I did not follow Chris out without considering my beliefs for myself. The first week after the coming out, I had such spiritual experiences that my testimony of God as my true Father was undeniably strengthened, and I felt Him holding me and comforting me in a way that I had never understood before. I knew He was there, and since the only way I had come to know Him was in the Mormon church, I wanted to find a way to make it work for me. In another post, I'll talk more about my spiritual experiences and my rebuilding of my faith. For now I will simply say that I asked in earnest of God how I could reconcile my newfound knowledge of homosexuality and my unshakeable witness that everything Chris had shared with me about his experience was true, with the doctrine the church has given on the subject. They were completely at odds. This struggle took me to Elder Oaks's article (which Chris referred to in an earlier post) and to various church-sanctioned sites such as Evergreen International, and took me to my knees, and took me to my ward, and took me through long nights of discussion with Chris.
I know that many of you will perhaps be even more saddened by what I concluded. I know that many of you will believe, and some will say, that there is no way the Spirit of the True and Living God would ever lead someone away from the LDS church. I know that many of you will decide that it is an evil spirit that pursuaded me of this, or that Chris's influence on me was too strong and I couldn't stand on my own. Our beliefs differ here, friends, and only I know what I felt and the strength I have gained from the Spirit on this topic. I cannot explain it. I cannot tell you why I was blessed this way. But neither can I deny it.
So my choice was not simply to follow Chris, but to follow God. My choice was to turn my path over to Him and allow Him to guide me, cautious step by cautious step, along the high wire that has been my life over the past year. My choice is to pursue the happiness that He has in store for me, in the only way I know how right now.
Matthew 7: 18-22:
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring
forth good fruit
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn
down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know
Some of you may not see the good fruit that has come for us in the past year. Some of you may view our decision to leave the church as proof of evil fruit from a corrupt tree. I respect that belief, and wish you the peace an happiness you are entitled to from searching out a path for yourself on which God will walk with you. From my viewpoint, every person this experience has touched, really touched, has been the better for it, and those are the fruits I see. Is it easy? No. Will it be easy in the future? No. But I believe Elder Monson once said, "That which is easy is rarely right." (Sorry, can't find the exact reference right now...) I am following the path I believe is right, but not easy, not by a long shot. So when you say to me that we're in for a rough time, or that the way will be hard for us, or that we have no easy choices, I say you're right. I embrace the roughness. It will polish me. I embrace the choices I am making, because I am making them with God.