Monday, December 9, 2013

Non-Monogamy Saved My Marriage

The most devastating part of Jake's transition was the impossible decision: Do we stay married--essentially living the rest of my life as a lesbian--or do we end our marriage and settle for being best friends?
Not sure which option is worse.

Option 1: The Gay Way

Jake (soon to be Jasmine) knew, even before I could admit it to myself, that lesbianism was not a viable solution for us. At first I fantasized about us staying together faithfully forever. I would propose to her post-transition, we would renew our vows, and live the rest of our lives as a shining example of true unconditional love. We could be the great American LGBT love story. I had read about wives of trans women making it work. They either decided they could live without sex, or were flexible with their sexual orientation. For me, it would simply be the power of our love and rock-solid marriage that would defy all odds.

Let's get real. I am far too horny and straight for that.

I am a sexual being; I consider sexuality part of my core as a person. I was born with a monstrous appetite and it's always been directed toward one particular gender. Although I've never been attracted to women, I am adventurous enough to explore intimacy with my new wife. However, I simply cannot fathom giving up men. I love men. Big, strong, hairy men. Getting married so young, it was hard enough coming to terms with only having sex with one man for the rest of my life. Now, at 31 years old, how can I resign myself to never again enjoy the body of a man?

Jasmine has desires too. As a bisexual, she wants to enjoy romantic and physical relationships with men in her new female body. And I want her to have that experience. So even if we try option 1 for a while, it would inevitably degrade into option 2.

Option 2: The Friends Zone

I can't bear the thought of being just friends.

I don't want to be best girl buddies, who talk about the men we're dating, as we slowly drift apart. Until Jake came out as trans, I thought I had the perfect marriage and a dream spouse. I can't just throw that away. I want to go to bed with Jake every night and wake up with her* every morning. I want to hug her and kiss her. I want to stay life partners, teammates, family. I want to stay married. But given our undeniable physical needs, that's just not realistic.

So in the end there was really only one decision: Rip off the band aid and dissolve our marriage swiftly so we could both start rebuilding our lives ASAP? Or stay together as long as possible, running the risk that I'll have missed my child-bearing years by the time I move on and start dating again?

Option 3: The Alternative Lifestyle

But then we discovered a third option. One that we hadn't thought of, because it was barely part of our vocabulary. Polyamory. Consensual, loving, non-monogamy. With polyamory, one partner doesn't need to meet all your needs. So if Jasmine and I can have passionate girl-on-girl sex, awesome. But if it doesn't feel right to me, or if she winds up preferring men too, no problem. We can still remain married in all the ways we want to be married, without compromising our other needs and desires.

With polyamory we can affirm our commitment to staying primary life partners, without the anxiety of wondering if we will work romantically and sexually post-transition. With polyamory we can each create whatever sex life we dream about, without negating our precious marriage. With polyamory we can have it all.

I was wrong about my options. There is only one that makes sense.

I am poly.

*A note on pronouns: Jake asked that I continue to use "he" while he's in guy mode, and only use "she" when presenting as Jasmine. I switch back and forth between names and pronouns, sometimes mid-sentence, depending on whether I'm thinking about my past/current husband or my future wife. I know it's confusing. But so is gender identity during transition.

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