ABSTRACT Mixed-orientation marriage is usually an invisible phenomenon, but its frequency is not insignificant. The present paper describes and examines the experiences of 13 heterosexually married gay men, seven of whose wives were aware and six who were unaware of their husbands’ homosexuality. We take the insiders’ perspective as a point of departure to develop a conceptual model that may contribute to our understanding of the constructed reality of this relatively unexplored phenomenon. The findings show that life in a mixed-orientation marriage can be understood along a continuum running between two poles: splitting and integrating. This continuum corresponds to the fundamental question in the lives of heterosexually married gay men: Is integration between homosexuality and heterosexual marriage possible, and if so, how?
Cite this paper
nullBen-Ari, A. & Adler, A. (2010). Dialectics between Splitting and Integrating in the Lives of Heterosexually Married Gay Men. Psychology, 1, 106-112. doi: 10.4236/psych.2010.12014.
 M. A. Yarhouse, L. M. Pawlowski and E. S. N. Tan, “Intact Marriages in Which one Partner Disidentifies with Experiences of Same-Sex Attraction,” The American Journal of Family Therapy, Vol. 31, No. 5, 2003, pp. 375-394.
A. C. Kinsey, W. B. Promeroy and C. E. Martin, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” Saunders, Philadelphia, 1948.
J. Harry, “A Probability Sample of Gay Males,” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1990, pp. 89-104.
A. P. Buxton, “The other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families,” John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 1994.
S. S. Janus and C. L. Janus, “The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior,” Wiley, New York, 1993.
M. W. Ross, “The Married Homosexual Man,” Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1983.
A. P. Buxton, “Paths and Pitfalls: How Heterosexual Spouses Cope When Their Husbands or Wives Come Out,” In: J. L. Wetchler and J. J. Binger Eds., Relationship Therapy with Same-Sex Couples, Haworth Press, New York, 2004, pp. 95-109.
D. J. Higgins, “Gay Men from Heterosexual Marriages: Attitudes, Behaviors, Childhood Experiences, and Reasons for Marriage,” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2002, pp. 15-34.
R. B. Lee, “Psychosocial Contexts of the Homosexuality of Filipino Men in Heterosexual Unions,” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2002, pp. 35-63.
R. M. Berger, “Gay and Gray: The Older Homosexual Man,” University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1982.
E. Coleman, “Bisexual and Gay Men in Heterosexual Marriage: Conflicts and Resolutions in Therapy,” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 7, No. 2-3, 1982, pp. 93-103.
E. Coleman, “Integration of Male Bisexuality and Marriage,” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 11, No. 1-2, 1985, pp. 189-207.
D. R. Matteson, “Bisexual Men in Marriage: Is a Positive Homosexual Identity and Stable Marriage Possible?” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 11, No. 1-2, 1985, pp. 149-171.
J. J. Binger, “Working with Gay Fathers: Developments, Postdivorce Parenting, and Therapeutic Issues,” In: J. Laird and R. J. Green Eds., Lesbians and Gays in Couples and Families, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1996, pp. 370-403.
R. A. Isay, “Heterosexually Married Homosexual Men: Clinical and Developmental Issues,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 68, No. 3, 1998, pp. 424-432.
F. W. Bozett, Gay Fathers, In: F. W. Bozett Ed., “Gay and Lesbian Parents,” Praeger, New York, 1987, pp. 3-22.
Pennebaker, J. W. “Confession, Inhibition, and Disease,” In: L. Berkowitz Ed., Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Academic Press, New York, 1989. pp. 211- 244.
J. W. Pennebaker, “Emotion, disclosure, and health,” American Psychological Association, Washington, 1995.
I. H. Meyer, “Prejudice, Social Stress, and Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: Conceptual Issues and Research Evidence,” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 129, No. 5, 2003, pp. 674-697.
J. D. Latham and G. D. White, “Coping with Homosexual Expression within Heterosexual Marriage: Five Case Studies,” Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Vol. 4, No. 3, 1978, pp. 198-212.
M. A. Yarhouse and R. L. Seymore, Intact marriages in which one partner disidentifies with experiences of same-sex attraction: A follow-up study. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 34, 2006, pp. 151-161.
J. W. Creswell, “Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among five Traditions,” Sage, Thousand Oaks,. 1998.
Y. S. Lincoln and E. G. Guba, “Naturalistic Inquiry,” Sage, Beverly Hills, 1985.
M. Q. Patton, “Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods,” Sage, Newbury Park, 1990.
N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, “Handbook of Qualitative Research,” Sage, Thousand Oaks, 2000.
C. E. Moustakas, “Phenomenological Research Methods,” Sage, Thousand Oaks, 1994.
M. Barker, “Constructing a Polyamorous Identity in a Monogamous World,” Journal of Constructivist Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2005, pp. 75-88.
S. Jackson, “Heterosexuality, Heteronormativity and Gender Hierarchy: Some Reflections on Recent Debates,” In: J. Weeks, J. Holland and M. Waites Eds., Sexualities and Society: A Reader, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2003, pp. 69-83.
D. M. Anapol, “Polyamory: The New Love without Limits,” IntiNet Resource Center, San Rafael, 1997.
R. A. Heinlein, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” Ace Books, New York, 1961.
C. Klesse, “Polyamory and its ‘Others’: Contesting the Terms of Non-Monogamy,” Sexualities, Vol. 9, No. 5, 2006, pp. 565-583.
M. Bettinger, “Polyamory and Gay Men: A Family Systems Approach,” In: J. J. Bigner, Ed., An Introduction To GLBT Family Studies, Haworth Press, New York, 2006, pp. 161-181.
L. Jamieson, “Intimacy, Negotiated Non-Monogamy and the Limits of the Couple,” In: J. Ducombe, K. Harrison, G. Allan and D. Marsden Eds., The State of Affair, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associated, Mahwah, 2004, pp. 35-57.
A. Ben-Ari, “The Discovery That an Offspring is Gay: Parents’, Gay Men’S, and Lesbians’ Perspectives,” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 30, No. 1, 1995, pp. 89-112.