When couples get divorced there is the obvious hurt, confusion and anger. What will it be like living alone? What will you tell the kids? Who is the other woman or man? These feelings become more complicated when your spouse falls for someone of their same sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 4,000,000 women have been involved with men that have had sex with other men. Not to mention, according to the Family Pride Coalition, 20 percent of all gay men in America are in heterosexual marriages.
There are couples that deny their sexual preference, stay in heterosexual marriages and raise healthy children. However, it is not easy. Many times when couples are splitting due to falling in love with their gay lover, the partner left will usually admit there were signs, but they ignored them due to fear or to preserve the unity of the family. As with any type of affair, it is not the actual reality that is most damaging, but the “cover up” and lies that kept it in place.
Clues that your partner may be gay:
- Little interest in sex with you.
- Homophobic: they view homosexuality as negative because they are afraid it will disrupt their denial.
- Sudden changes in their behavior especially with dress or style.
- Looks at men and give them eye contact more than women.
- Unexplained absences.
- Secretive computer time, and they become upset when someone unexpected catches them.
- His parents are surprised he is married.
- An uneasy or awkward feeling when he kisses you or is intimate with you.
- Romance with a gay guy is weird because even though they may want to share dinner, vacations, or their life with another man, they are married and therefore share their life with their wife and kids. Most women can feel their ambivalence even though they may deny it.
If you are dating someone or you are suspicious that your spouse may be in love with a same sex partner, it is wise not to act on assumption, but try to explore further. No straight person can understand the depth of shame or feelings of disappointment that may go along with “coming out.” It is also important to understand that your partner may, and most likely does, love you, but they may not feel desire toward you. Belittling your partner will only make them feel more shameful and remorseful that they told you the truth. Most likely, you aren’t guilty of anything other than being the wrong sex.
For couples going through this dilemma, one of the most difficult aspects is how to begin the conversation. Beginning this talk should be done in the privacy of the couple’s home and at a time when neither is stressed. For spouses who have suspicion or an awkward feeling in regards to their husband’s or wife’s same sex relationship, this script may help you get started. “I am not sure why, and feel confused, but I am uncomfortable with the way you act when you are around _____.” This “I statement” sentence is respectful, direct and non-accusatory. It reminds your partner that it is not them who makes you uncomfortable, but their behavior around a specific person. If you are married to someone you feel no desire for, due to your sexual preference, then I advise you to once again talk to them in private when neither of you are stressed. Tell them the truth of your feelings. Make sure they understand it is not their fault, and you cannot change how you feel. It will hurt both of you badly, but nothing can compare to the hurt they would feel if you never told them and they self-discovered you had lived a lie for years.
Prognosis for mixed sex couples
The majority of mixed sexual orientation couples ends in divorce. Approximately one third of them end right away, another third try to make it work for several years but go on to divorce. The final third is mixed, but more and more of these couples are working it out especially if they are older than sixty years.
To be able to live an authentic life is important for all of us. Quality of life scales include this measurement to determine one’s overall satisfaction with life. Denying your sexuality preference chips away at your ability to be authentic in all areas of your life and, depending on your actions, it can put your spouse or significant other at risk for disease. If you haven’t been honest with your spouse, then opening that conversation could be the very best thing you could do to deepen your relationship. Leaving your partner is always devastating. Leaving your partner because you have never been the person they believed you were, and you can no longer live with the lie, is the first step when walking towards an authentic life.