This Bi Life: My Monogamous Marriage
Sophia Burke Photography.
During the summer we pack up our gear, head out of the city, and set up a tent somewhere quiet. He’ll light a campfire, I’ll coat everything that’s not edible in bug spray. And then we sit. For hours. That is our happy place, together in the quiet with potatoes on the fire and s’mores on deck.
Other times we curl up under a blanket to watch shows about ghost hunters, drink whiskey, and talk about our cats.
I love my life: my husband, our cats, and me.
Image credit: SB Swartz
When I was young, boys asked me out. I liked some of them back, at times to the extent of a heady, all-encompassing crush. I would wrap myself in the kind of playful seriousness that comes with youth and hormones and discovery, all over a boy. I thought that meant I was straight.
In my twenties I met an out bisexual woman. An almost cartoonish lightbulb went off over my head: dating women was also an option. And I finally found something that fit my something just right: I was bisexual.
As I began to consider my capacity for loving more than one gender, my world opened beyond so many binaries. As friends explored polyamory, I scrutinized whether my long held connection to monogamy was a crutch. Was I unable to see beyond a way of life created by a society that insists a woman should belong to a man? Was my one-partner lifestyle as congruent to my best self as my one-gender sexuality had been?
So I stripped away all of the layers. Or at least all that I could. When I looked deep inside, I found that having one partner, and being that one partner for someone else is my most fulfilling life.
And then I found him.
Well, to be fair…I found her, and then him. And eventually, I found HIM. My husband.
I never had to come out to him. A fringe benefit of online dating. There it was, my truth right next to my carefully chosen handle: “bisexual.” When it came up in conversation, it was just part and parcel to the whole of me. He never questioned it. And when it came time to define our relationship, we’d already had conversations about what we were looking for. Both of us were interested in a monogamous relationship between two. And so we did. And so we are.
Partnerships have many benefits. He helps me slow down, not live in the future but not slip into the past, both of which I am wont to do. There’s a variety in life when you experience it through more than one pair of eyes. We encourage each other. We see the strength that is present even when the other person doesn’t feel it. He is the mirror for that which I cannot see. And I show him a world he might not have known.
I now have access to some of the privileges of being a straight white man in today’s world. He is waved through, promoted, encouraged on. As his partner, I am at times as well. My cishet husband does not experience the world in the same way that I do. As a queer woman, sometimes it feels like the cosmos are closing in on me. There is a presumed entitlement to my identity and my body enacted by those around me. It can be helpful to be able to lean on someone who is not impacted and drained by queerphobia and sexism in the same way.
There are other times that I need to be surrounded by my bisexual community. To be connected to others who know how it feels to be called an ally to a community you are actually a member of. And how important it is to be seen as all of me. I need to be able to talk to people who know how it feels to live out loud and just once have it unequivocally celebrated. How imperative it is to honor elation for interactions that for others might not even rank.
Finding community through social media has helped me combat the erasure of my bisexuality, has helped me feel whole. And when I wanted to make a video telling my story to support the #StillBisexual campaign, my partner wrote the music and held the camera.
People see who I love and assume who I am. To many, the reveal that I am not straight goes against the grain of what they take for granted. That I am a member of the LGBT community is a complete 180 for their thought process. Being my authentic self openly requires almost constant action. I often find myself preparing for the record scratch of realization and the time it takes for change of discourse.
I have the needs of a queer person, but am not considered unless I shout to be heard. There is a difference between knowing you should have a seat at the table and being welcomed to sit down. There is a toll between knowing you belong and having to ask to be included. I am not “and bisexual.” I am the B in LGBT. But the differences, the tolls, this is what life is like for me, a bisexual woman married to a straight man. And this is what life is like for many bisexual people.
Love is love and a bisexual woman being loved by a straight man without condition is what love can look like for a queer person. Many queer people, in fact. He thinks I’m funny and I think he’s cute and sometimes when we’re watching a movie we both think she’s cute and that is also love winning.
I am proud to call him my family. As I look around today–at our peaceful happy home, at this little family we’ve created, at the future in store–I can’t imagine a world in which this doesn’t come to be. It is my truth. He is my home.
To us, our best life is to be together in a monogamous, life-long romantic relationship. This is one way to be, and to be happy. There are so many.
Dear you, if you haven’t already, I know you’ll find yours.