The Myth of Openness and Secrecy in Intimate Relationships: The Case of Spouses of Mixed-Orientation Marriage

Adir Adler, Adital Ben-Ari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The phenomenon of mixed-orientation marriages, in which one of the partners is straight and the other is non-straight, is invisible, yet not insignificant. Focusing on gay and bisexual men who are married to straight women, this article was designed to explore one of the essential themes in their relationship: the dynamics between secrecy and openness regarding the men’s sexual orientation and gay practices. Based on the phenomenological paradigm, 38 men and eight women of mixed-orientation marriages in Israel were interviewed and shared their subjective life reality. Six patterns of secrecy and openness were identified, including complete secrecy, conspiracy of silence, initiated concealment (of the husband and wife), disloyalty/violation of the agreement, selective sharing, and complete openness. The findings challenge the idea that secrecy is detrimental and openness is beneficial in the context of mixed-orientation marriages. Findings are discussed within the framework of the dialectical approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-824
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Volume64
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Taylor & Francis.

Keywords

  • Bisexuality
  • gay man in heterosexual marriage
  • intimate relationship
  • mixed-orientation marriage
  • qualitative
  • secrecy and openness
  • spousal communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Gender Studies

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