In our new Men’s Vows series, Sex and the Married Man, we will take a hard look at the hot topic of sexual fidelity. The way gay couples “honor and cherish” can be decidedly different from the way straight couples do. Because, unlike straight people, gay men have, by and large, freed themselves from generations of moral judgment and the long-established demands of social norms.

We span the gamut from sexual libertine, who believes that sex is purely a physical exchange and by pursuing “free love” we are complying with our basic human nature, to the hopeless romantic who believes that there is one man and one man only that will satisfy every sexual need and desire.  The reality is that most of us fall somewhere in between. 

But, where you fall on this continuum as a single man will change once you look at it through the lens of marital fidelity. Aligning individual desires with joint expectations is simply down to defining and respecting boundaries. While the subject of sex in marriage can be decidedly more taboo for gay men, it should be like every other underpinning of your relationship, openly agreed to.

Boundaries are an inherent construct in any relationship.  Even when we don’t feel like they exist or we haven’t actively put them in place, there are parameters that when crossed are hurtful and destructive. Establishing the sexual permissions and limits that hold the relationship are predicated on honesty and intimacy. Whether you agree to being monogamous, monogamish, or polygamous you will both need to remain continuously connected and actively engaged in your thoughts and actions around your married sexual life.

No matter where each of you begins in the marriage, the realities of married life will bring about curiosity and even anxiety around your ability to maintain the level of sexual exclusivity and open communication you both commit to. So, explore your perspectives on fidelity, define the most extreme challenges to that fidelity, and establish mechanisms for avoiding those extremes. And, check in with each other regularly.

As gay men, we are all going to be physically attracted to someone else over the course of our marriage. In some instances, we might indulge in that attraction. And, that indulgence won’t damn or damage the marriage so long as we’ve honored both our vows and our boundaries, and avoided secrecy at all costs.

The only judgment we will render in this discussion is a simple one: “don’t ask don’t tell” don’t work. It isn’t the nature of the sexual escapade(s) that damages the relationship, but the secrecy under which they happen. Most professionals and long-standing couples alike will aver that secrecy is the sharpest wedge to introduce to a relationship. Dishonesty is the foundation of infidelity.

Beyond our above pronouncement, we are not going to approach this column with a pre-conceived notion of what’s right or wrong for your relationship.  We are however, going to explore and share stories and perspectives on different ways in which couples have addressed, dealt with and defined the subject of sex, fidelity and marriage.

We want to hear from you: Submit your questions, comments, struggles and successes on the topic of sex and marriage by clicking here.