Carol Lynn Pearson talks about mixed-orientation marriages in her book No More Goodbyes (pp. 9-10). She says:
I have gay friends who have married heterosexual partners. Most of those marriages have ended in extreme sorrow. A few of the marriages are still intact, with the partners experiencing some satisfaction along with significant difficulty. They believe this is the right choice for them. I respect that choice, and I wish them well.
Carol Lynn has had more exposure to mixed-orientation marriages than any person I know. Since her memoir was published in 1986 she has been sought out by countless LDS folks (hundreds if not thousands) who find themselves in mixed-orientation marriages. She is also a very wise and compassionate person. This all adds up to making her a very reliable witness.
My own experiences and what I've seen in others are consistent with Carol Lynn's conclusions.
Carol Lynn observes that "most of those marriages have ended in extreme sorrow." This is also what I have seen in the more than 25 years since I have been talking to people about this issue. (My own marriage was one of these casualties some 22 years ago.) Most of the mixed-orientation marriages I have been aware of over the past two and a half decades have in fact ended by now. (I think the general MOM divorce statistics are in the 90% range.) "Extreme sorrow" is a poignant and accurate term for these breakups. If you doubt this, read Amity Pierce Buxton's The Other Side of the Closet.
Carol Lynn says, "A few of those marriages are still intact, with the partners experiencing some satisfaction along with significant difficulty." Again, this exactly mirrors what I've observed. I know a few mixed-orientation marriages that have stabilized and are no longer at risk of divorce. (In all of the stable MOMs I know the spouses are age 50 or older.) Carol Lynn's characterization of these surviving marriages is apt: some satisfaction along with significant difficulty. (In contrast, I would characterize most matched-orientation relationships I know, both gay and straight, as having significant satisfaction along with some difficulties.)
Carol Lynn says, "They believe this is the right choice for them. I respect that choice, and I wish them well." I can absolutely relate to this. I also respect the choices that my friends in mixed-orientation marriages have made over the years, and I support them. Like Carol Lynn, I wish much success to anyone reading this who finds himself or herself in a mixed-orientation marriage and wants to stay there. You deserve our love and unconditional support. I do not doubt your devotion or level of commitment to your spouse!
The ethical dilemma I face is this: what do I say to young people who might be contemplating entering into a mixed-orientation marriage? I might be tempted, out of consideration for the sensitivities of people already in mixed-orientation marriages, to soft pedal my advice. Maybe the point of contention is whether I should downplay the seriousness of mismatched orientations as a problem for long-term marital satisfaction. Knowing what I know after all these years, I cannot in good conscience do that. I can think of no circumstance where I would advise young people to enter into a new mixed-orientation marriage.
I don't see it as contradictory to root for those who are currently in mixed-orientation marriages and at the same time to recommend that new mixed-orientation marriages not be formed.
If I have hurt your feelings during these discussions, please accept my apologies. I do support you and wish you well. It's possible that our life experiences lead us to different conclusions about what general advice should be given to young people who are not yet married, and that's fine, too. Mine is just one voice arising from personal observation.