Saturday, June 6, 2009

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

The thing about a lot of us that come out later in life, is that many of us are married and have children. The reasons we married are very diverse. I think we all really did, or do, love or are very fond of the men we married. Some of us also thought that we could make a real go of the marriage, that our attraction to other women was what every woman feels, you just don't act on it, or we knew exactly what it was and thought we could just learn to be straight, be good citizens and all that.

When it becomes unbearable to continue to live in the lie, and we decide to come out, it is often our husbands whom we tell first. It is scary as hell for us, but it is a full on body blow by an 18 wheeler to them. We know why we married and suppressed our feelings for other women, but our husbands rarely do. Many did not really suspect at all, most knew something was not right, but could not put their finger on it. Some, like my husband, suspected it for a long time, but hoped he was wrong, and some are completely clueless and are taken by complete, total surprise.

I know that when I divorced my husband, I hurt him a lot. And I know that because I didn't tell him upfront about being a lesbian, but told him months later, I hurt him all over again. I know that when he told the boys before I did, that it hurt them, some of what they felt was I couldn't trust them, that I was ashamed to tell them, and that I lied to them.

We may have believed it was wrong, unnatural or a sinful part of ourselves. Or some of us wanted kids, a husband and a family because that is how we believed it should be. Or we just didn't have the courage it takes to live a way that many feel is wrong, it goes against their beliefs so they just don't want to accept that it exists. Much of this was covered in How could I have stayed in the closet so long?

Whenever and however you do reach the point of coming out to him, your husband's self esteem is going to get clobbered. He is going to think he drove you to it, that if he was enough of a man, you wouldn't be a lesbian. His "libido" is going to shrink smaller than jumping into the Arctic Sea would make it. And it is going to take time for him to understand any of it.

After the initial shock, they may think you are joking, or they will be in denial. If you don't say you have a girlfriend, their first question will likely be have you slept with someone yet? If you haven't, they may be more likely to tell you it is a phase or fantasy and how can you be sure? A few will even find the idea exciting at first, a turn on, they may see this as a chance to live out a "threesome" fantasy. Most of them, once you convince them, are eventually going to be angry. Really angry. Even the most docile of men is going to feel this. Many will call you names, tell you to leave right now, if religious he may threaten to take the kids away from you, seeing you as a sinner, corrupting his children. And some may become physically violent.

Some will be absolutely understanding from the beginning and want only the best for you and the kids, they may even want to remain married, sometimes in name only, and have an open marriage. You would be surprised at the number of marriages in this country where one of the spouses is gay, and they have an open marriage. Most often the man is gay, and the wife stays for the sake of the kids and his career, but it is not unheard of the other way around. Or they may agree to an amicable divorce and work with you to ensure that the kids are really put first.

Believe it or not, a fair majority of the husbands eventually accept it, deal with it, truly want what is best for the kids and will always remain a part of your life. How soon they can get to that place depends a lot on them and a lot on us. It really helps if right away we let them know it isn't their fault and they couldn't have done anything different. It helps if they are open to a support group like the Straight Spouse Network or therapy with someone who has helped others in the same situation. (not the ex-gay ones, OK?) It helps if we can get across to them that we lied most to ourselves. And it helps if we do not say things like;

“If you loved me you’d understand I have to be me”
“If you were a better husband I wouldn’t have ‘experimented’”
“I’m not gay, I just love that person”
“I’m not asking you to forgive me, because there is nothing to forgive. This is normal for me.”
“After all, you’re the only man I’ve had sex with”.

Those quotes came from the Straight Spouse Network as the number one things our spouses don't want to hear. They do love us, but we are telling them we aren't who they always thought we were, it isn't their fault and we should never blame them, and somehow, the straight spouse can let go a little easier if they understand right off that we are indeed gay, they tend to hold on to false hope that it is only a phase if we tell them "I just fell in love with the person", sometimes though, I know, it is hard to even admit finally to ourselves we are gay. Oh, and there is a hell of a lot we have to ask them to forgive us for. And we should ask them for forgiveness, and allow them come to a point where they can. He may have been building a whole life around "us" and we just ripped it apart. And the "only man" comment is going to lead him again to hold out hope that you will grow tired of "the fling" and come back to him.

To be continued........
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