I first learned of Jennifer Lee's memoir My Ex is Having Sex With Rex in a review on C.L. Hanson's blog. It sounded like an interesting book so I put it on my Amazon.com wishlist, but never got around to buying it until my brother got it for me this Christmas. It's a quick and entertaining read and provides an enlightening look at a mixed-orientation marriage and its aftermath from the perspective of a woman whose husband has left her for a man.
(As a side note, I always find it interesting when people talk about how the woman's perspective is generally ignored in the discussion of gay men marrying women, because the extent of what I've come across on the topic are books like this and Carol Lynn Pearson's Good-Bye, I Love You and Amity Buxton's The Other Side of the Closet, which are all about women who are divorced from gay men. Since the rise of the blogosphere I've seen a lot of married and divorced gay men blogging and a few lesbians here and there, but what I've seen very little of is straight women who are currently married to gay men, a lack I'm hoping to remedy a bit with the series of interviews I'm doing on Northern Lights.)
I admit to having a hard time, when reading this book and Pearson's, of taking these accounts of another person's experience as just that--another person's experience. It's too easy for me to read about Lee and her ex-husband and say, "Oh, that's just like FoxyJ and me" or "That's nothing like our relationship." It's too easy to look at others' experiences and see them as omens of things to come, to see the pain these women have felt as pain I will inevitably cause the woman I love.
At the same time, I'm bothered by statements Lee makes like "Bottom line: There's no hope of having a committed, connected, love-at-the-very-core-of-your-being marriage between a straight woman and a gay man." Really? Really? Have you based that statement on researched scientific data? I will never argue with Lee or anyone else who has come to that conclusion about her own marriage. I would not even argue with anyone who came to that conclusion about a potential marriage she chose not to enter upon learning her fiance was gay. But I have a hard time accepting such blanket statements made regarding all straight-gay marriages. This is not a matter of me defending my personal experience; I would have and did say the same thing when Foxy and I were separated with the intention of divorcing.
That said, I enjoyed My Ex is Having Sex With Rex. It's the honest story of a woman who was thrown unknowingly into a really crappy situation and is now in the midst of making the best of it. Quite admirably, she's concerned not only with making the best of it for herself but also for her children, her ex-husband, and everyone else involved. Even her conclusions about the impossibility of mixed-orientation marriages seem to be coming from her charitable attempt to view the end of her marriage and the pain it's caused her not as the result of her ex-husband's decision to leave but as an inevitable result of their situation. Ultimately Lee comes to a conclusion similar to one I came to this summer: it's not about whether she's happier now as a single woman than she was married to a gay man; she had a happy life as a married woman and she's made a happy life for herself now. In both situations there have been pain and joy. Lee's story is one of recognizing the past and possible futures for what they are and living in the present.
As for how it all applies to FoxyJ and me, well, that's for us to decide.