Last week we had our third of four pre-martial counseling sessions with the senior rabbi that is going to marry us. The first couple sessions covered the mechanics of the ceremony and sharing personal history. This session she raised two very interesting and challenging questions for which there is no easy or right answer.
The first question was how are we going to define and deal with monogamy in our relationship? What would we do if one of us found ourselves attracted to another man? Wow! First, how do you talk about this in front of a married female rabbi? Early on we decided that our relationship would be exclusive and monogamous. Over time we have developed little rules such as “look but don’t touch” and “share what you see”. For fun, we are allowed to have a top five celebrity exception list. The rabbi’s question prompted E and I to have an ongoing discussion on whether gay monogamy is different then straight monogamy. I think it might be. It includes much more diverse agreements and understandings. Reviewing the gay bloggers in a relationship listed on my blog role demonstrates a variety from extremely open to very traditional. Joe Perez at “Gay Spirituality and Culture” has written several interesting essays on the subject. (1, 2). For us, the more traditional understanding of monogamy is what we are going to practice. But I think the key for us is to always keep talking about it and not keep sexual secrets from each other. I believe this will also help get us work through situation if one of us becomes attracted to another.
The second question dealt with our ex-wives. Have we repented or teshuvah to them for the sin of breaking our original marriage vows and the hurt, pain and disruption we caused? This is important for us because we will always be bound to our former spouses through our children. There will always be some sort of relationship with them as long as we have a relationship with our kids. Even as the kids become adults there will marriages, births and other important family events. E and his ex are having a much easier relationship then I am. They have moved to the rare level of “former lovers/best friends” stage. They are comfortable sharing information and activities. It is more like the relationship in a close extended family. Together, we have hosted and attended many dinners, parties and other events. Meanwhile, my ex is still at a hurt and anger stage. The ONLY reason she communicates with me is on issues regarding the kids. I doubt this will change anytime soon.