Married men with SSA - Should we be publicly open about it?

I am a joyfully married Catholic man with an ever-increasing number of children. From childhood, I have experienced a strong attraction to males, and this attraction has not ever really gone away. Unlike many men with SSA, I am also attracted to women, most particularly to my wife. :smiley:

When I married my wife, I was in a place of great freedom, in terms of sexual sin. I was open with her about my attractions and my past, of course. Nevertheless, only three people (immediate family members) besides her knew my story, since SSA is most definitely a sinful disposition that loves to hide. Over time, little by little, I fell back into a pornography addiction after we were married. My wife knew something about this, but I only let her in partly. My attitudes toward myself became completely covered in shame.

Recently, God has been pulling me out of that mire. I’ve begun to pray for an hour daily, and spend time with my heavenly Father. (Men with SSA, in particular, need one-on-one time with their Dad!) I have come fully into the light with a number of brothers and sisters in Christ who are not my family members. It is SUCH a relief and a blessing that I don’t have to hide!

But, in some sense, I still do. Among single people, there are an increasing number of people with SSA who are fully open about their struggles and their commitment to live chaste lives. (I’m thinking of people like Wesley Hill and Eve Tushnet, among others). These people have helped to show me that an attraction is not shameful, that there’s nothing wrong with being openly broken. In the meantime, however, I find that our culture – even, to some extent, Catholic culture – has only one category for me: since I am married to a woman and attracted to men, I must be a closeted homosexual that is wreaking havoc on my wife and children.

This social judgment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, I think. Society has a notion of you, and you live up to it.

But not when you have God’s light in your life. In God’s light, I have realized that my temptations are nothing to be ashamed of, and hiding them is just plain stupid. Ideally, I think, married men who struggle with same-sex attraction would be just as open with these struggles as married men who struggle with ogling women in advertisements. It’s not something you shout from street corners, but you would share it readily in the right circumstances.

As it is, I think there are testimonies out there from married men who struggled with SSA, but it’s always in the past tense: “I used to be attracted to men, but now my wife and I are the whole world to each other.” Yeah, right. (OK, maybe I’m cynical, but that just seems to neat and tidy an ending.)

I expect that some people will tell me something like this: Imagine you “went public” about this in some form, and your kids found out someday? Imagine how ashamed your wife and kids would feel to be associated with you? Do they deserve that shame?

But these objections miss the point! It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s a temptation, like any other. Would you be ashamed if your children found out that you once wanted to shoplift something? That you once felt a strong urge to strangle a driver who cut you off? What’s the difference between these cases and SSA?

Thoughts?

I am the wife of a man who is dealing with a chronic temptation. It is not SSA but he would be horrified if his children knew. Sometimes I feel like we should ‘go public’ because our testimony could help others. However, I feel this is best done after the kids are older so they won’t be scarred. Maybe you are feeling called to share now, in order to help other men. Have you spoken to a priest in confession or as spiritual direction? That is the sort of question that would make me run to my spiritual director; he has been so helpful with similar situations.

As it is, I think there are testimonies out there from married men who struggled with SSA, but it’s always in the past tense: “I used to be attracted to men, but now my wife and I are the whole world to each other.” Yeah, right. (OK, maybe I’m cynical, but that just seems to neat and tidy an ending.)

I tend to be skeptical but since I can look at this from an outsider’s perspective, I wonder if this is true. I have heard various priests over the past few months talking about people who deal with serious temptations to commit mortal sin, and even when that temptation is constant and they fall into habitual venial or mortal sin, they get past it. One priest said “I have never seen a person struggle with habitual sin and NOT beat it in the end.” Confess confess confess, even if you are just saying “I struggle with SSA and do not give in to the temptation,” because I believe any sin can be overcome with prayer and perseverance. Maybe these men HAVE moved past this sin and are now in a place where they feel comfortable sharing their testimonies. It’s always easier to share when something is in the past tense.

Sorry this is a little jumbled, I hope I made sense. Ultimately I would say this decision is between you, your spouse, and a spiritual director if you choose to seek one out, but I would not go public until I could either speak of it in the past tense, or at least didn’t have any children in the house.

I don’t think you should necessarily be “ashamed” per se, but I would not be open about it. What purpose does that serve? Maybe if you were in some support group, or someone opened up to you about their own SSA, then your struggles would be helpful to them.

The reason I say this is b ause of your wife and kids. I would be humiliated if my husband went around telling people he was struggling with his attraction to ANYONE else. I would feel that it reflected on me as not attractive enough, or womanly enough to have his complete adoration. And if I were his children, that would be even worse, because they will see it as a betrayal of their mother and they will feel like they have to take sides.

Now, if you can see that your son is going through the same struggle, then perhaps share with him a small portion of your issues (not the part about gay porn), but otherwise, what would be the purpose of sharing this information?

this :thumbsup:

Thank you for sharing. This is the heart of the issue for me. And the key phrase for me is “in the right circumstances.”

I think you are onto something about not cramming the temptations into the closet. The devil often works via the veil of secrecy. He convinces us our sin is too awful to share. He wants to keep us in secret shame so that we feel terrible. This in turn makes us increasingly likely to fall into those sins again and again.

That said, I also think we need to take care as to how and with whom we share our struggles. I have often been edified to hear of others going through struggles that I go through and knowing that I’m not the only one and that there is hope. I think that’s natural for us to identify with and be encouraged by such sharing of stories. But then, I do not particularly care to share my deepest, darkest sins/temptations with my children. Nor do I particularly want to know the deepest, darkest sins/temptations of my parents. I had a friend once say that kids have a right to a good image of their parents. That thought has stuck with me ever since.

Married men with SSA - Should we be publicly open about it?

No.

spare your wife and kids the ridicule your need to come out will provoke. for most men, knowing that a man is attracted to other men results in a different kind of response (disgust) than knowing he flipped off another driver (funny story).

you might not be ashamed (you may, probably, will lose some friends), your family will be ridiculed.

What an ego the world has given you! Do you seriously think that *any *man feels no temptation after he marries a wife?

We swear before God and before Man to “forsake all others till death do us part”. If that was so overwhelmingly natural as to not be subject to temptation then there’d be no need to swear it as part of the oath.

A man who is in denial about his temptations will be at high risk of being in denial of the sources of those temptations, and therefore will fail to avoid the occasions of temptation. - that is a sure route to failing to resist those temptations, and therefore failing to be faithful to His Wife.
The Psychology of many women is different in this regard, and many women do not feel this temptation while they feel nurtured and cared for by their husband. - it’s so very wrong to assume men’s brains work the same way - it’s just not true.

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most married men don’t admit, or advertise or brag or disclose or come out with this temptation in hopes that it will edify someone else. why on earth would a husband want to hurt his wife that way?

How rude! :mad: It’s one thing to feel temptation. It’s another thing to tell the world about it. The former is human. The latter is just mean.

You have my admiration for the way you seem to be trying to handle what must be a very difficult situation, I could tell you a story from my family that would help you solve your problem but I feel even with the anonymity of this forum that I would be in error to repeat it. Let me say from experience that going public will not serve your children well and I pray you won’t do it. Lending support to another who struggles like yourself would be a great thing to do, but that can be done in a private way. Like Joe said, it always helps to know that you are not the only one with an issue but I can see no reason to let the whole world know.

I’ll say this again:

I’m a man for whom OSA forms the vast majority of my temptation: but not all of it. I also feel occasions of SSA.

I am married to a beautiful woman, and wile I was not chaste before I met her… as a married man I live by the Grace of God to fulfill my Marriage Vows.

Remaining faithful to your spouse is not dependent on the gender of the other people you feel attracted to - Its dependent on not letting yourself get into the situation where a trifling temptation or attraction becomes a realistic possibility for infidelity.

Now for a man with a strong temptation towards SSA, there are situations which would be innocent and safe for “Straight men” which may pose a high risk of temptation - like the mens locker room or sauna. That’s an unfortunate additional burden they bear.

I understand what others mean when they suggest that this area should be “Taboo”. I however disagree.
In the right, supportive environment, it is wholly appropriate for men with this struggle t be open with each other in the pastoral context of mens groups where we support each other in a wide range of spiritual matters and resisting temptation.

In the wider environment we live in a world where the “Gay” lobby are pushing their agenda in an incessatn manner. It is only right that other views are heard - and most importantly that the Truth can be heard.

In this situation, I would advise that if a man with this cross is considering being public that he should discuss the matter with his wife first. - It has to be a family decision.

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It seems from your post, that you have not told your wife about this porn addiction, and perhaps over time, she has assumed that your SSA is not a problem any more, either, since presumably the two of you have a someone normal sexual life. You cannot go public about your struggles with SSA until and unless she knows everything about you, and you will have to pray about revealing everything to her. Will she accept you, or will she be shocked and distressed to realize that her husband is still attracted to other men? Have you been masturbating when looking at this gay porn? Or do you fantasize about other males while you are making love to her? You see, you may feel a sense of freedom when you “come clean” to others, but your wife will not have that same sense of freedom. For her, this will be shameful and threatening to her self-image.

I would urge you to talk to your priest about this issue, confess your sins, and pray deeply about sharing your struggle with anyone else, even your spouse. Unfortunately I think you could end up destroying your marriage and family by doing so.

Oh fer cryin’ out loud.

@anruari: Perhaps it is the difference between having temptations and discussing them publically? LaSainte didn’t say she would be incapacitated by such feelings, just that she would have them. I think that is being honest - - why can’t the wife be open with the temptations she might feel if the husband can be open about the temptations he might feel? Furthermore, such feelings in the spouse are not uncommon, see any thread on men viewing porn and the wife’s reaction.

Most seem to be in favor of keeping it quiet. I lean more in that direction, but allow me to offer something else to consider.

Homosexuality is a huge social issue in our culture today. The traditional Christian view seems to be losing ground every day. By and large, people are swayed into accepting homosexuality because of the personal stories and testimonies of gay people. However, who are the ones out in the open and sharing their stories? Those who disagree with the Catholic teaching. Those like the OP who struggle with same-sex attraction and want to live out the Catholic teaching mostly keep silent for a variety of reasons (e.g. they might be embarassed, or afraid of the backlash, or they just want to live their lives and not be sucked into that debate).

So I can see a definite need for us to hear testimonies from good Catholics who struggle with this. Right now the testimonies are mostly one sided (e.g. this gay kid got kicked out of his parents house or that gay person was discriminated against in applying for a job, etc.) And those testimonies are helping to shift the culture.

In an ideal world, we could lay out the logical arguments for the Church’s position and that would be enough. But stories are powerful tools. That’s why Jesus used parables. :slight_smile: I don’t think everyone needs to share their personal stories, nor do they necessarily need to share the full extent. But we could use some witnesses to show the culture that it is possible to experience same sex attraction and yet live out the Catholic teaching. Without those witnesses, people are going to assume it’s just not possible.

All very good points, but the OP must consider his spouse first and foremost in this situation. As far as I could glen from his post, he hasn’t even told her about his porn usage, and I wonder what her reaction to that will be, let alone his revelation that he is still struggling with SSA. It’s not exactly what a woman wants to hear - that her husband is attracted to other men. Before he even considered coming out to anyone else (he referenced telling others) he should have talked to her, because this could easily get back to her through someone else. And anything else he does must be with her consent. I suspect that he could do permanent damage to the life he has constructed.

Why would a man be talking about his sexual temptations of any sort? A married man attracted to a female coworker should not go home and tell his wife, “Hey, that new gal at the office is really hot! I’m really attracted to her!” Neither should he tell her that he is tempted by the new guy at the office.

Yes, temptations, and sins, ought to be discussed—with one’s confessor, no one else.

I am in my 50’s. When I was around 9 or 10, there was Wonderbra commercials showing women wearing bra’s without a blouse on. It embarrassed me. I used to leave the room. That women would show their undies on tv with my dad and brother present was immodest and as a young girl, I had that sense. Ladies should not parade around in their undies for the world to see.

We have come a very long way from that day, haven’t we? When adults protected the innocence of children. The Dick Van **** show with Mary Tyler Moore. (Good grief, his last name is bleeped out. This is what we have done to the language.) Sometimes they showed a scene were Dick and Mary characters were having a conversation behind closed doors in their bedroom. It was a comedy, and still, the 2 actors were well clothed, standing up (not under the sheets) and there were* twin beds* in the room. Stop and picture that. That’s how life was on tv back then, with some sense of guarding the innocence of children, and encouraging modesty, chastity, love of neighbor, with other virtues.

This culture has so desensitized us to anything worthy of praise, of honor, of virtue. Everything has been muddied. We have all been affected by it, but some of us remember a different day in the past. The freedom you feel by telling the world is a false sense of freedom. It’s like a couple of young people, not married, yet spending the weekend at the parents’ cottage having intimate relations meant for married people. They will indeed come home smiling and ‘in love’, but sin is like that. It can be intoxicating. But, it is outside of God’s plan, and can only lead to disaster and ruin.

Fill your mind with things that are pure, righteous, worthy of praise. These are the things to boast about, living with God and His kindness to us. Those other things, worthy of those daytime soaps, leave them alone. There is plenty enough in the world already without Catholics and Christians contributing their share.

God bless and continue to strengthen you.

My opinion is that you should not be open “to the world”. Most people will tell you to keep it a secret from your family and to do whatever makes you “feel good” or to get a divorce so that you can be “who you truly are” so that you can be happy. This is a lie.

My advice is the opposite. Depending on your relationship with your wife, you should tell her of your struggle. She is your partner. Just as you felt relief in telling a few close friends, you will also feel relief in telling her. Be clear that your telling her is to bring you closer together not tear you apart. You are telling her so that you are not “living a lie” with her. It would be much better for her to hear it from you than from someone else. Talk to a spiritual director first if possible. Treat it like AA, with support people to help you and your wife. It is most likely not a good thing to tell your children unless absolutely necessary.
Stay close to the sacraments especially confession and the Eucharist. A good spiritual life is the best defence against any and all temptation.

I’m not a professional, but I do have some experience talking to people struggling with SSA
Feel free to PM me if you wish.

Thank you for having the courage to post this. It is not easy to talk about these things we keep secret and I applaud you for doing so, as well as remaining faithful to your wife despite your attractions to others.

I think a good guideline here would be, “what do you hope to accomplish?”, followed by “can you accomplish that without causing harm to others?” If you wish to give hope to other men with SSA, what kind of hope is it? Is it the hope that comes from knowing there are others with it, or is it the hope that comes from showing that a man with SSA can remain faithfully married to his wife?

For the second question, here you really must think of your wife and kids. We can’t just think of social standards, and whether based on those standards the children would be embarrassed. By the time they’re grown the social standards may have moved on very much. We must also think of their own moral compass, and one of the terrible difficulties that comes with discussing sexual matters is that it may call to question other, more fundamental teachings. If discussed carefully, one can show how living with SSA, without yielding to the temptation, doesn’t prevent one from being a faithful Catholic living in a state of Grace. But it is too easy to misinterpret a devout and holy life as giving license to engage in activity based on SSA. You must be extraordinarily cautious in discussing SSA.

Perhaps the best first place to do this would be in context of counseling. If your wife knows and you can freely discuss with her, perhaps volunteering to discuss with and minister to other couples who are struggling with one spouses’s SSA would be a fruitful approach to help lead others to Christ despite their thorns.

I’ll keep your struggle in my prayers, brother.

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