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Mixed Orientation Marriage - What to do?

by Anthony Venn-Brown

A mixed orientation marriage (MOM) is where one partner is heterosexual and the other is same-sex-oriented (gay, lesbian or bi-sexual).

The situation we find ourselves in was not one of intentional deception. (In some cultures, families and geographical areas this maybe different however, as it is a matter of survival). For most of us though, our marriages were the result of us conforming to a society, who at that time, believed homosexuality was crime, perversion and mental illness. We married thinking that it was the right thing to do and that it would help to change what we perceived was faulty within us. I know this was the case for me. I wanted to do the right thing. Having a wife and family was everyone’s goal. There are also a number of people whose same sex orientation did not become obvious or awakened until after they were married. You, I, and 1000’s of others are the products of an uninformed society. We are at the fault line and our generation is the one caught in the transition.

Had the current knowledge on sexual orientation been available to us growing up, our choices would have been different. If we were born 40 years earlier we wouldn’t have ever considered coming out. If we were in this current generation we would have realized our sexual orientation is natural and normal and wouldn’t have married to help fix it or felt it necessary to conform.

Making a decision about what to do, being gay or lesbian in a heterosexual marriage, is quite complex. It has many consequences that can include firstly our partner of course but also children, families, employment, business, finances, friends, church, faith. The decisions we make will impact several or all of these.

Living with the internal conflict (dissonance) will eventually impact us either psychologically (e.g. depression), emotionally (distancing and unable to have intimacy or strong friendships) or physically (stress related illnesses e.g. high blood pressure, insomnia, ulcers etc). We need to put strategies into place to manage the stress and resolve the dissonance.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is coaching?

Coaching is a one-on-one interactive process that helps individuals gain clarity, set realistic goals and make better decisions. Your self awareness is heightened. I create a safe space for you to think, reflect and create strategies. I also support you through the process in a completely non-judgmental environment which is free of any agenda except to help you gain the clarity you need.

Is coaching the same as counseling or therapy?

No. Counseling and therapy usually focus on resolving issues from the past. Coaching is not so much about your past as about the creating the right future. Its more solution-based than problem-based.

What will happen in the sessions?

We will talk. Actually you’ll talk more than me as I will use my skills and experience to ask the right questions, reflect back on what you are saying and the things you might not see yourself and summarise. I will walk you through exercises that will help you gain clarity about your situation and how to resolve it.

Can you advise me?

A professionally trained coach never advises or tells clients what they should do. I will be able however to share with you the information I have from my own experience of being married for 16 years, overcoming my sexual addiction, working with many clients in this area and the research I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. Most people find this invaluable but ultimately the decisions and choices are yours. I also have a bank of helpful articles and resources if you need them.

What outcomes can I expect?

Firstly, and most importantly you will get clarity to make choices. When I separated from my wife, I could only see two choices: stay in the marriage and try to overcome my attraction to the same sex or leave my Christian world and live as a gay man. There are actually seven different options we look at to help you decide which one is right for you. You will know what the right thing is for you to do right now. And that may be to stay in the marriage or put your decision on hold. Whatever you decide the internal dissonance will be greatly reduced. To date every client has found that they not only gained good outcomes, the majority got better outcomes than they expected.

How long will it take to sort this out?

For most clients who come to me for help specifically in this area, we work together for 6 weeks (one hour session per week). Most however do the 12 week ‘Dare to be your Best’ programme which takes a more holistic view of your life which includes resolving the current situation. It may seem like this only thing that needs sorting out but I’ve found this to rarely be the case. The dissonance experienced by people in our situation has often created imbalance in several areas. We determine what programme is most appropriate in the complimentary one hour consultation.

Should I have read your book?

Whilst my autobiography has been helpful to many people, it is not essential for you to know the whole story for us to work together. Reading my story though will certainly give you further insight into your own journey.

I don’t live in Sydney Australia, how can you help me?

I have successfully coached clients around Australia and in many parts of the world doing sessions on the phone or using free internet services such as Skype. Some people prefer to use the phone and not be seen. I leave that choice up to them.

Won’t my partner suspect something knowing I am talking to you?

Mostly likely not unless you tell them. My coaching company is called Personal Success Australia. This means invoices and payments will only mention personal, professional, business or executive coaching. It could be assumed this expense is about personal/professional development and not focusing on being gay or lesbian in a heterosexual marriage.


Anthony Venn-Brown is an internationally accredited coach, award winning author and twice voted (2007 and 2009) one of the 25 Most Influential Gay & Lesbian Australians. Anthony’s autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning’ has assisted 1,000’s to come to a point of internal resolution.

Formerly a high profile preacher in the mega-churches throughout Australia and overseas, for 22 years Anthony tried every possible means to change his homosexuality by psychiatric treatment, ex-gay programs, counseling etc. Although a happily married father of two for 16 years, he eventually had to admit that nothing had changed and since 1991 has been living as an openly gay man. For over 10 years Anthony has worked specifically with gay and lesbian people in heterosexual marriages, ex-gay survivors and those experiencing faith/sexuality conflict. His insights and genuine support will be invaluable in gaining the clarity you need to determine what is right for you.

Email Anthony confidentially for more information at

Call or text: +61 (0)416 015 231

Skype ID: avennbrown


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