My husband and I have been together 12 years, we have four children and I’m pregnant with our fifth. My husband has just confessed to not only being gay but also having been unfaithful for at least the last year. I’m brokenhearted and in complete shock. Any advice on what to do next would be appreciated. Alice
I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now, Alice, and I wish I could reach through my computer screen and give you a big hug. Of course you’re in shock – the fall-out from such news can be devastating on so many levels. We answered a similar question to yours a few years ago, where you’ll find links to resources you can tap into right away, including the Straight Spouse Network’s online support group. If this has truly come as a bolt from the blue – I say that because some wives do suspect that all is not as it should be with their partner – then you may be feeling angry as well, at possibly being ‘duped’.
I talked to psychologist Jacqui Manning, from the Darling Street Health Centre in Sydney’s Balmain, about this. She, like many therapists, believes that most gay men who enter into marriage don’t do so with the intent of ‘covering up’ their true sexuality.
“I think a lot of the time it is unconscious and that a young man with such feelings may genuinely think he’ll grow out of it or hope those feelings will go away. Your letter-writer may be wondering why he hasn’t told her this news years ago, but he may have not been able to do it before. Perhaps he’s been putting it aside because of the children, and maybe the pressure has been too much all of a sudden, and for whatever reason he’s decided to come out. The grief, shock, anger and confusion must be immense and she should honour her feelings, while also remembering that he’s in turmoil too, and now isn’t the time for any big decisions. When you’re grieving – and that’s what this is, grieving for the life you thought was ‘real’, and the future you thought you’d have – the best advice is to take a year to process your feelings, get some support and make decisions slowly. Just talk. Talk to your husband about how you’ve reached this point, how you both feel, where you both want to go from here, what you’ll tell the kids and how you can make it work as parents – because you’ll always be a team in that respect.”
I want to add how important it is to be kind to yourself right now, Alice, and to reach out for all the support you need – not just from experts like counsellors and the online group I mentioned above, but by those close to you. I’d be a bit choosy about who you tell, though, as rehashing the news and dealing with people’s varied reactions may be emotionally exhausting for you. Instead, perhaps choose one or two friends or family members to confide in whom you trust implicitly, and know will be there for you in the coming months. Good luck to you, Alice – you’re in our thoughts.
Love, reality chick