What if a husband or wife in a traditional marriage has a gay orientation? The failure of many of these so-called "mixed orientation marriages" or MOMs have been a popular topic for those write about gay issues. For some, the existence of healthy MOMs is an affront to their opinion, and they have to relegate these claims to either "they must be lying" or "they are a weird exception and not relevant." Ironically, these are the same arguments used for years to discount stable same gender relationships. For others, the possibility of healthy MOMs give rise to unrighteously judging those who have gay orientations who are not in or do not desire to enter MOMs. The problem is that we have no good way of measuring how many stable MOMs there are -- because any data is subject to social desirability bias (see this article for examples of this bias).
Regardless of this, there are definitely many MOMs that fail. I wish to examine these. First, some of them fail because of deception on the part of a spouse -- a gay man lying to his fiance or even to himself about his orientation, for example. The other spouse can feel distress due to the deception and that can disrupt the trust in marriage and lead to failure. It doesn't have to, but it often does.
Second, a gay oriented spouse might get married to hide their nature or in an attempt to change their orientation. That's not a particularly healthy reason to get married. When the orientation fails to change, if the couple has not developed a healthier relationship, their marriage will almost certainly fail. However, even though the reason to marry may have been flawed, if the couple did develop a more healthy relationship in the intervening time, the marriage might still succeed.
Third, a gay-oriented spouse might find that they simply don't have the self control to avoid cheating, betraying their spouse. That kind of betrayal can be destructive to marriage, of course. But such lack of control exists among marriages between heterosexual partners, too, and can lead to just as much failure.
Fourth, a couple in a MOM might go through the normal stresses in a marriage, but they might blame the trouble on the gay orientation and not address the real source of the problem. That, in my opinion, is the most tragic reason for a MOM to fail.
There are undoubtedly many other reasons for such a marriage to fail that I haven't listed, but these are probably the most common. Understanding the common reasons can help a couple avoid the pitfalls and give couples a better chance of success. Again, this advice is for those who desire to have a successful MOM. There are certainly those who do not desire such a marriage. In this case, it would be irresponsible to enter into a MOM.