This blog is from the heart, informed by having been married to a closeted gay man and understanding how that experience changed the trajectory of my life, both as a woman and as a psychotherapist. Please add to the conversation and "Follow" if you're so inclined; all voices are welcome!

Monday, October 7, 2013

A gay husband's story

Larry is someone whose friendship and counsel I have come to treasure over the past year. He is also a gay man. A formerly married gay man. The enemy, right?

Not at all. As Larry and I have gotten to know one another, I have spoken with him often about the straight spouse issue, and even dragged him along to a showing of the documentary "I Thought It Was Forever." While I think much of it has been eye-opening for him, I have also experienced his willingness to understand "the other side." He truly had no idea of the damage done to so many people.

Our Str8 experiences have been the same AND different. As one person very eloquently described it, "It's a death. Some are car crashes and some died in their sleep." Some of us have experienced absolute emotional and financial torture, and others, like Larry's ex, have experienced caring and genuine remorse.

So, fellow Str8s, I am asking you to read Larry's guest blog post with as much objectivity as you can muster. He is not the enemy. And his experience might help inform ours.






“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do.
The hard part is doing it.”    -- H. Norman Schwarzkopf

I met my wife at work.  We had a pretty instant connection.  By the time I proposed all of our co-workers knew we would be married, they were just waiting on us to figure it out.  Our wedding ROCKED!  Our friends and family still talk about how much fun that day was, and how much joy was shared.  I still count it as one of the two best days ever in my life.  We waited 5 years to start our family; taking the time to build our relationship, and enjoy life as a couple.  The birth of our daughter is the other best day ever in my life.

Yes. I loved her.  Genuinely.  Affectionately.  Deeply.  And honestly.  There was absolutely no deception.

So…what happened?  

In the fall of 2003, I met Mark.  He was engaging, smart, sophisticated, educated, and he made me laugh.  I loved making him laugh because he had this amazing smile that would also light up his eyes.  We talked about religion, politics, social issues, pop culture, the works.  I wanted to be around him as much as possible.  In short, Mark is the first man I fell in love with.  And I fell HARD. 

How did I fall in love with another man?  Why?  Why at 38 years old?  Why did I not feel that kind of attraction before?  What do I do now?  I could only answer the last question:  Therapy. 

I started seeing a counselor very quickly.   Couples therapy?  No.  I knew the problem wasn't with our relationship, it was with me. I’m practical that way. My wife didn't know what the problem was at all, just that something was wrong with her marriage and her husband.  But a couple months after I started therapy, she asked me, “Would it be OK if I saw a counselor on my own?”

Yes.  A thousand times yes.  Of course she should be able to speak with someone.  Why should anyone be forced to suffer alone?  I immediately gave her the insurance information so she could call for a referral to a therapist. 

Married men make a lot of different choices when they get to this point.  Some try bury the experience as a ‘one-time thing’.  Some will continue to explore their same-sex attraction on the side while still trying to uphold the façade as a married man.  For me, both of those options would be deceitful.  That’s something that my wife didn’t deserve, and I couldn’t live with. 

We were in the family room one night sitting on opposite ends of the sofa; dinner was over, the dishes cleaned, and our daughter had been tucked in for the night.  I picked up the remote control and turned off the television.  I turned my body so I was sitting cross-legged sideways to face her.  “I know you’ve been wanting to know what’s going on with me,” I said.  I was ready for disclosure.  But before I could get the next word out, she spoke up and said, “Yes.  But I’m not ready to hear it yet.”

It would be another two months before we had the conversation we both knew was coming.  What I would discover later is that her counselor had her running through scenarios.  “What if your husband _______?”  Then they would discuss what possible outcomes might be.  One of those scenarios was in fact, “What if your husband says he’s gay?” 

Our separation and divorce were not unlike many others in the same situation.  I will say, however, that the journey we both went through, although painful, may have been mitigated because of the help my wife received BEFORE I made my announcement.  My pronunciation was not the utter shock experienced by many wives.  Oh yes, there was hurt, there was grief, there was stress, there was shame, there was a sense of loss, and there was anger that would manifest and surface years after our separation.  But the road we traveled was much less rocky because we BOTH were prepared for the journey ahead.

Every married couple who faces this situation will face circumstances that are unique to them.  No two people are the same, and no two married couples are alike.  Your journey through this pain is real, and unique to you.  But if I may offer experience as guidance, I would say these two things to any gay spouse considering coming out:

First, it’s not all about you.  You’re about to make a significant change in your life, but if you think it only affects you, you’re delusional.  You had better be considering his or her feelings and the emotional toll of your actions.  While it’s easy to get lost in your own issues, the fact remains that you are also only ½ of a partnership.  One is not any more important to consider than the other. 

Second, be as supportive of your straight wife/husband as you want them to be of you.  Do not walk away from his/her hurt in order to focus solely on yours.  You are only hurting yourself more in the long run when you withdraw and isolate yourself from your spouse.  You may not yet be able to come out, but you CAN, and should, converse with your spouse.  Tell him/her that you’re unhappy.  Tell him/her that you’re discussing it with your counselor.  Tell him/her that you’re not ready to reveal the issue, but promise you will.  And encourage him/her to reach out for support if they feel it would be beneficial.

You still have a responsibility to fulfill.  Recognizing that fact and facilitating support for the other half of your relationship is simply the right thing to do.

To you, the straight spouse, I offer the reassurance that you are not alone.  I did love my wife very much.  I tried to do the “right thing” as much as was humanly possible.  I did not always succeed.  It was not easy.  But seeking out help and support was absolutely the key. 


Whatever comes your way, whatever your outcomes, I hope all of you in a mixed-orientation marriage will find genuine peace and happiness.  

**Please visit our GoFundMe page at www.gofundme/kintsukuroi.com to see how you can help support personal growth and empowerment weekends for straight spouses. Thank you!

To schedule a face-to-face or FaceTime session with Kimberly Brooks Mazella, LPC, please go to my website at www.straightforwardcounseling.com.  For information on our developing program of personal empowerment weekends for straight spouses, visit my Facebook page, Kintsukuroi. I can also be reached at kim@straightforwardcounseling.com.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good. Thanks for sharing. Difficult to believe that he didnt know he was attracted to men before he fell in love with one, though. Good to hear he understands some of the impact on the str8 spouse. Good to hear he is living an authentic life now. I hope his ex wife is faring well. Too bad that the majority of str8 spouses dont have an honest and understanging gay spouse.