National Coming Out Day is October 11 (yes, that’s the day this was published!), a tradition begun in 1988. Every year, lesbians and gay men find the courage to come out as homosexual, often to the shame and scorn of family and friends. Just as often, of course, they are supported and loved for their decision to share something so intimate and life-affirming. Sometimes lost in the mix, though, are the women who realize, within a marriage, that they are gay. Worse, sometimes the husband suspects, but is unsure … until she checks out of the marriage altogether or even asks for a divorce.
First Things First: Mixed Orientation Couples are Common
The first thing to acknowledge is that you are not alone. Mixed orientation couples are so common, in fact, that a support group exists for them. Whether you realize you are a gay man in a marriage or you think your wife may be a lesbian, plenty of support is out there to help you parse through everything you’re feeling.
Why Do You Suspect Your Wife is a Lesbian?
If you suspect your wife is actually a lesbian, think about why you have come to that conclusion. Several factors that make you notice differences from when you first married to now could be at play:
- She is no longer interested in sex with you
- She has friends who seem decidedly homosexual
- She behaves differently around you than she did when you first married her
- Your children take so much time, she has little energy for you or interest in being with you
Has She Been Faking Straight All Along?
The general mechanics of marital intimacy are, for a lesbian, vastly easier than for a gay man. She can, to be blunt, simply lie there and fake her way through sex with you. Were you a gay man, at some point the matter of responsiveness in sex may betray your inner conflict.
Rather than fake your happiness in your own marriage, experts say, dealing with your suspicions and your wife’s possible homosexuality is a better path forward.
Lesbianism within Heterosexual Marriage
Dr. Jack Drescher, a well-known psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author, and editor, writes extensively about psychoanalytic therapy for gay, lesbian bisexual and transgendered patients. He understands the straitjacket the straight spouse is in: “Feelings of betrayal are justified. The straight spouse must now adjust the perception of his, or her, life to a new reality.”
Do not waste time on retracing your steps, since your wife became expert at hiding her true feelings long before she met you; she may have hidden them even from herself, says The Spruce. Be comforted by their statistics, taken from The Family Pride Coalition:
- 40 percent of lesbians in America are married to a male partner
- 75 percent of lesbians have children
- 20 percent of gay men in America are in a heterosexual marriage
- 50 percent of gay men in America have fathered children
Heterosexual marriage makes many issues easier for lesbians and gay men hoping to navigate Virginia society while staying under the radar. The legal and emotional protections of marriage can help a woman deal with her lesbianism, but you as the unsuspecting husband may feel completely sundered.
Finding Peace after Learning Your Wife is Gay
The goal, in discovering or confirming your wife may be gay, is to disturb as little as possible: psyche, children, property, lives. You realize the situation is untenable, but you and your wife have to decide how to handle it … preferably, peacefully and without disrupting your children’s lives.
One option is to ignore the obvious and commit to a celibate marriage, as outlined by avowed lesbian Lindsay King-Miller in her advice column at Splinter News. “If you’re happy being celibate and married to your dear friend and co-parent, that’s a totally viable life choice.”
An open relationship is another, feeble option. Staying married, each of you could find partners outside the marriage. This has serious health risks and is utterly confusing to young children.
The best option for both you and your wife may be separation and divorce, since neither of you will truly be happy if you both have normal, adult human desires for sexual activity with the preferred partner of your choice. King-Miller recommends this way forward, for everyone’s sake.
Why is Divorce Better?
We have worked through the initial steps of suspicion, discussion, and confirmation that your wife is gay. We have explored options: keep on with the ruse; rewrite the terms of your marriage, or get a divorce. Why is divorce a better option for both you and your lesbian wife?
Your wife coming out as lesbian leaves her a victor (“She’s so brave to come out”) and you vanquished. As NPR points out, you are the victim of homophobia.
Divorce is a legal end that prevents either of you from pretending or ignoring a reality. You may harbor all sorts of bad feelings, but at least you need not harbor them under the press of keeping them secret from your children, friends and family. The divorce can also help your wife sort out her life.
Please give a call to The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contact us online, if you have concerns about your marriage, your spouse, or your children. As a Virginia law firm representing men only in family law matters, we can help.