Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Not Yet Ex's, The Ex's And The Kids, part II

This series hopes to explore what our husbands and children go through when we decide to come out of the closet. We can't stop them from from being hurt, but maybe we can try to help them heal....
Click here for Part I

Now you have told him, he is probably angry, is certainly hurting, is afraid of others finding out and is completely confused about what to do next. We don't always know what to say or do ourselves. I can't say it was better that I divorced my husband before I came out, but I do believe it was easier on both of us in the end.

We were both still grieving our marriage ending, then after I came out to him, he still felt if he had been a better man I wouldn't be gay and I never would have divorced him and he even called me names in front of the boys. It didn't matter that he had suspected I was a lesbian all those years. Those feelings still surfaced. But he was forced to completely accept that there was no hope of me coming back. Because that was never an issue, he was able to move on rather quickly. He had already been dating another woman. He already knew there was a difference between being with her for a few months, and being with me for 18 years.

In some cases as soon as you tell him, he will file for divorce right away. He may not be willing to talk about it at all or is unable to deal with it and suddenly he moves out or asks that you do. You may have custody of the kids, or you both decide it is best that he does or you share custody. He may threaten to take custody and visitation away from you. Most, if any, courts WILL NOT take your children away from you solely because you are a lesbian. Or you both could decide it would be best if they stayed with their father. If this happens, most likely it will be a no fault divorce or irreconcilable differences clause. Same sex relationships are not seen as adultery by nearly all the courts in this country because most states require coitus for it to be even considered. You aren't going to have much time for talk if this is the case, it is best to hold on to your own ground and have someone to support you through it all. Try not to return his anger and bitterness with your own if there are kids or not. I guess the best thing is to be the bigger person.......

Usually he won't act so rashly, he will be angry, hurt and crushed, but won't want to cause more harm to the family. He is also going to hold on to the hope that it isn't true, it can't be true, after all you have been having sex with him for all these years. He naturally wants things to be how they were before you told him. He isn't going to want to tear the family apart anymore than you do. More than likely you married him because he IS a good man, try not to forget that, and let him know that you still know he is a good man.

If I am going to sound like a broken record, it would be to get him to at least look at the Straight Spouse Network. Support groups may not be his thing at all, but he can read other stories online and at least see he is not alone. They have wonderful advice for letting him come to terms with it, and even will give suggestions on knowing the best ways to handle it with the kids:
Process your own feelings as much as you need to, but please do not expose your children to these feelings. Your children deserve to process things in their own ways, rather than absorbing their dad’s/mom's process or feeling pressure to choose sides...

When children are “sheltered” (kept away) from the gay/lesbian parent, they internalize the message that the gay/lesbian parent was bad or evil, and build up a loyalty to the straight parent. Further down the line however, when the children mature and are able to form their own opinions, they often resent the straight parent for denying them a relationship with the gay/lesbian parent. Your children need to know that both their mother and father are committed to loving them unconditionally. In your case, part of that unconditional love is nurturing the relationship the children have with their mother or father.
There will come a time when he may enter into the phase of "Come back to him." Can't you just forget it and everything will go back to the way it was. We can work this out. You will get over it, please just come back. Let's see a marriage counselor together. I promise to be a better husband. He means these things. He really believes them and it is heart wrenching to hear. He is also going to continue to go through his grieving process, he will alternate between wanting you and hating you, he may be wonderfully understanding one day and ready to throw you out the next. His emotions are on a roller coaster right now and he can't always control them.

The best you can do is keep the lines of communication open, but also let him know name calling or screaming at you in front of the kids is unacceptable. Don't be afraid to let him know how hard it was for you to get to this point too, but that you do know it isn't all about you. Let him know you know how much it is hurting him and that it isn't his fault. Let him know you are willing to go to counseling with him if he wants to and make the appointments yourself. Suggest he read other straight spouses stories either from books or on the internet. If he is a religious man let him read sites like the "Letter To Louise" or "The Blue Book" or let him know about gay Christian sites like SisterFriends or the many other sites. He may not change his views, but it might get him thinking.

If you both agree to go to counseling together, find out before hand if they have real experience with this situation, and also make sure they are able to see both sides equally. It won't help him if they are all for you and just think he needs to get over it, end of story, he just won't go. If they believe your lesbianism can be cured, or it is all your fault, they give him false hope and hurt your self esteem no end. Don't be afraid to see several until it is a good fit. Your counselor needs to be able to help BOTH of you through this. Not just one of you. Your husband needs to come to a place of healing and understanding and he needs to see that you understand his point of view too.

You just may decide that you will give it a go and stay with him, or maybe you can wait until the kids are grown. Maybe now is when you start to discuss an open marriage. All of these choices are deeply, deeply personal. I think the best thing is to talk about all these things and their consequences, as honestly and openly as you can with your spouse.

Think about what it is going to do to your relationship now that he knows you don't love him the way a wife should. And if you decide to put off your feelings until after the kids are grown, can you really live with that? What are you willing to do for him to make sure is needs are met? What is he willing to do for you to make sure your needs are met? How will he react if you do end up having an affair? What if he decides to have an affair, how will you react?

If you decide to talk about an open marriage, can the two of you really handle it? How will you feel when he has a girlfriend? How will he feel about you being with your girlfriend? Will you two continue to have sexual relations? If you do how will there be a guarantee no STD's are exchanged? There are sites and books about open marriages, you might want to see what is required of one, and how others have dealt with it.

Even with counseling, talk and understanding, once the time comes that others find out, he is going to be bombarded with all kinds of advice, sympathy and hopefully even real support from his friends and family. And just like you, he will get to hear dumb things too:

Dumb things people will most likely say to your Ex or Not Yet Ex (they say them to us too) if and when they find out:
Are you sure? How do you know? When did you find out?
You’ve been married this long - think of the children. Can’t you just live together like brother and sister?
I know just the (counselor, clergy, doctor, best divorce lawyer in the state) who can fix this. You just leave it to me.
Hey you’re a lucky guy, that is SO hot. (wink, wink, elbow jab, elbow jab, and all the lewd comments that will go with this one.)
You’re not SERIOUSLY letting the children stay with her, are you?
You know she will burn in hell don't you?
Oh, we all knew (or suspected). What, you didn’t know? How could you miss this? Oh come on. You had to know.
You married a lesbian? What kind of man are you?
Just be aware that as he talks to his friends and family about this, he is hearing these things and they may reignite his anger, resentment and confusion.


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