“It may have been our fourth weekend together. We were barely twenty, and madly in love. The period in which you find everything beautiful and interesting about each other, even the previous sex partners. We were in bed and had taken breakfast under the covers. We laughed and chatted and made love and chatted on. Of course we had already messed around with others, we both told each other. It was the obligatory topic that had to be brought up at some point, and our exes weren’t exactly lined up in rows. It was a safe subject.
“All women?” I asked. No idea why, I just blurted it out.
“No, two men too,” Emre replied without blushing.
“Cool,” I said. I really thought that. I was twenty, and nothing was crazy.
I often thought back to that conversation. Should I have drawn conclusions from it? I should have known better when he proposed to me years later and we started having children full of love and conviction?
Hardly a step further
I had kissed a girl once. Even once or three. Student humor. We were drunk, guys were shouting, ‘Kiss! Kiss!’ and we obeyed, shrieking with laughter, and took another drink. Nothing exciting, nothing that would ever make me doubt my sexuality. In any case, that line is thin, in women. However? You try on bras together, go to the sauna and the toilet together, sleep together in a double bed during a holiday. Such a kiss is hardly a step further if you are both convinced straight. It didn’t bother me.
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That’s how I approached Emre’s homosexual experiences. The fact that he had gone beyond kissing to oral sex kept me busy. It had happened in that boy’s room, still at his parents’ house. Not spurred on by others, not drunk, but because they both wanted it at the time. Very different from my situations, in my opinion, but Emre guaranteed me that it had really only been a matter of experimentation. He had never taken a pill again and I did. That is also experimenting with something you would never do again, he would object.
Our sex life was fine. We make love often and satisfactorily. Emre was always very focused on my pleasure. In retrospect, I wonder if he really liked it when I touched him. When I started foreplay with him, he usually preferred to have intercourse right away. At the time I did not look into that, because most men are not like that?
Emre and I were inseparable from the beginning. I still think he’s the nicest person out there, and he thinks mine. No one is happier, funnier, more caring and smarter than him. And he is a fantastic father. He looks just as fond of Max and Mila – now ten and eight – as when they were just born. Was always the one who woke up when they cried at night. Went to the clinic with them and still drives to sports clubs and friends when he’s not working – and brings me flowers on the way back too.
Nothing made me suspect that he was partly unhappy. Even when I look back with the science I have now. We still move through life like a couple of teenagers in love. Walking hand in hand, kissing, hugging. Anywhere, anytime. But we haven’t had sex for five years now.
We were supposed to have dinner with friends for an evening. Max and Mila were five and three, our friends’ children of a similar age. We had fed them beforehand and put them to bed together. That’s how we usually did, on those kinds of evenings. When we went home, we just put the kids in the car asleep or pick them up the next morning. But that night none of the children wanted to sleep. They kept coming down; there was no adult conversation to be had. The men were on a roll. Wanted to drink whiskey and play music without hassle. ‘You know what,’ I said, ‘go and enjoy yourself, then we will sit in our house with the children. Maybe they will sleep there. ‘ We lived a few blocks away, it seemed like a logical plan.
It turned out to work. Once in their own beds, my children had left in no time, and my friends’ children meekly followed. We opened a bottle of wine, and one more, and then my girlfriend left for home. “I’ll send Emre to you right away,” she winked as she left. “Mine can still work for a while.” We had to laugh. Ten minutes later my phone rang.
In bed together
She must have forgotten something, I thought when I saw my girlfriend’s phone number on my screen. But when I heard the vibration in her voice, my stomach turned. “My bed, Jos,” she said. ‘They were in my bed. They didn’t even realize I was coming in. ‘ For a moment I thought I misunderstood. Could they have fallen asleep drunk? That would not be surprising, given the quantities of whiskey they had already disposed of when we left. My girlfriend got me out of the dream the same second. ‘I could see everything, in all its glory. I’ll kick him out. ‘
Perplexed, I hung up. Could this be a drunken riot? Could she have misinterpreted it after all? Given the plasticity of her story, the latter seemed unlikely. I felt nauseated and confused. What did this mean for our marriage? Was this a one-off, or has it been going on for some time? What the hell was I supposed to do with this?
Open about his feelings
Emre didn’t come home until hours later. It must have been four. I was in all states by now. Actually, at that moment I already understood what the problem was. But maybe I was wrong, I hoped. He was a mess. Had cried, his hair was messy. ‘Was it good?’ I said bluntly – exactly the opposite of what I actually wanted to say: that I heard him and wanted nothing more than for him to be really open about his feelings.
Emre pulled back a dining chair, lowered his head into his hands, and cried. I felt very sorry for him, but at the same time braced myself for what was to come.
“Talk to me,” I said.
I took him in my arms.
“I love you, I love you, I love you,” he said.
I have no idea how long we sat like this. But suddenly it seemed like someone was whispering it to me.
“Do you like men more?” I asked.
“Physically,” said Emre. “Because above all, I love you.”
I knew it was true.
‘Something I couldn’t give him’
We slept deeply entwined that night. It wasn’t that he had knowingly cheated on you. He had fought against his feelings for so long, given so much to me and the children. I couldn’t be mad. He needed something I couldn’t give him, never. I didn’t feel hurt, but I did feel sad. This was separate from me, from us, from our family. This was a piece by Emre that could be there too, and it broke my heart that he had closed himself off from it for so long. At the same time, I also knew that there was no room for me for that piece in a traditional relationship between us.
‘Before I knew it, I was passionately kissing a woman’>
Drunk man’s action
The lovemaking with our boyfriend was indeed a drunken act, it became clear over the days. Under the influence of the whiskey, Emre had told him about his feelings. That he was actually more sexually attracted to men, but had oppressed that all along. It was taboo, in his Turkish family – no matter how progressive it was. And above all, he did not want to lose me.
He had seduced our friend, he admitted. Something, we later learned, would cost us the entire friendship. Our friends blamed Emre for what had happened, broke up because my girlfriend could not live with her husband’s homosexual action, and looked to me to see that there was room for me for a different interpretation of our relationship.
We share two children. The love between Emre and me is immeasurable. It transcends the sexual aspect. Of course his feelings hurt me and I doubted a hundred times whether we should separate. But this piece is only a very small part of what is otherwise so very good and great between us.
I called in a sexologist and Emre went along without a murmur. We investigated whether there was room for our sexuality and that of Emre with another man, within our relationship. There was none for both of us. Emre didn’t want to make me feel like I can’t fulfill his sexual desires, and I didn’t want to share him.
We are now nearly five years on and we have never had intercourse again. There is, however, a lot of intimacy between us. We still take a bath together, we kiss each other on the mouth, we sleep in each other’s arms. We share an intense love for each other and, after some disappointment, are still very happy together. But the sex, we share it with others.
For a year now, Emre has had a partner with whom he always sleeps on Sundays. They also do fun things together. I had to get used to that, but I also see possibilities. I also have room for a man in my life. Emre’s partner knows about our relationship and respects it. I think it might be harder for a future man in my life to accept that Emre and I live together so intimately. It is not a socially accepted construction.
A witch’s cauldron full of gossip
Still, I am happy with how we manage to hold onto each other. Our children are now also aware of the situation. They don’t want it to be known and I understand that. Children are tough among themselves, and the schoolyard is a witch’s cauldron full of gossip and backbiting. We haven’t informed our families yet, except for my sister. Explain to your eighty-year-old parents that your children’s father makes love to another man, but sleeps in your bed six days a week. They would stay in it.
This works for us, for now. Although I don’t know how it will turn out when the children are older and I find a new man in my life. Chances are, Emre will one day want to build a future alone with his partner, and maybe I’ll want to do the same with mine by then. Or maybe we will buy a large farm and we will all live there. There is no shortage of love, and how rich are our grandchildren later with so many grandparents? “
This article has previously appeared in Kek Mama.
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