Mar 1st, 2003
I am a bisexual married man who came out to my wife after 20 years together. My motivation was simply to be honest, and I have been since. We have three young beautiful kids and we love each other very much. I am in the foreign service and we love to travel, live abroad, and have so much in common that we are totally comfortable with our lives.
Since I came out two years ago — an agonizing process — my wife has been accepting and considerate of my situation. She was was even tolerant of the fact that I had a lover (who has since left).
Now my wife has suddenly found a divorced, sensitive man she thinks she wants to have a relationship with. She is torn because in the time she has allowed herself to think of possibly trying an open marriage, she now thinks she loves both him and me, but is not sure of the potential consequences.
We are seeing a counselor, and I accept, in objective fairness, that she is entitled to her life’s wishes as I have been of mine. But emotionally, I am devastated. I wonder whether our marriage can sustain this situation — me with some man, she with another man, and yet us remaining married, loving one another and trying to maintain the family for ourselves and for the children. What would be your your advice to us?
My advice to you: Keep going to counseling. Keep communicating. Never forget to use latex!
The security, comfort and fun in your marriage has made it worth staying together, but you have sought sexual connections elsewhere. Now your wife is seeking the same.
If you weren’t concerned about how your outside relationships would affect your children, why are you questioning it now? It seems to be an excuse to focus on the kids rather than look at your own feelings.
Right now you feel devastated, but your situation is a common challenge that many couples face when a spouse comes out. A husband comes out as gay or BI but wants to stay married. His wife is reeling from the news, turns inward to focus on the kids and adjusting to having new information. She consents to an open marriage, but has little interest in pursuing anything sexually right away. A year or so into it, she rediscovers her own sexuality which is reaffirmed in a new relationship, and it’s the husband’s turn to test his acceptance of a new situation.
Yes, your wife’s lover will complicate your marriage, but it does not mean your marriage can’t be maintained. She made a big adjustment when you came out and you are still together. It sounds like you are both committed to making it work and making sure that everything is handled honestly and respectfully.
While polyamory continues to be a heated issue — even within LGBT communities, and especially among LGBT parents — non-monogamy is common throughout the world and in all kinds of cultures.
An open marriage might not work for you. Individuals have varying degrees of acceptance and jealousy. Now it’s time for you to decide if you can feel satisfied with a marriage that is truly open for both spouses. (I’ve posted a few resources in the green section of this page, and hope that readers will suggest additions to the list.)
As for your children, start exploring resources that will help you know how, when, and if to talk to your children about it. Depending on their ages, they might already know anyway.
And it’s worth repeating: use latex. Parents owe it to their children to practice safer sex with all outside partners.
Wives of Bisexual and Gay Husbands (WOBGH) is an online support group for straight women who are married, separated, divorced or dating Bi/Gay men.
Loving More is a national organization and resource for people who who wish to live outside traditional monogamy.
Polyamory Resources: Books, articles, and links compiled by QueerTheory.com