My wife has decided after 17 years of marriage, that she wants a divorce. She would not admit the reason for her wanting a divorce and came up with various excuses. Finally her attorney admitted in court that my wife is a lesbian. Since then she reluctantly admitted it to me, but not to our three teenagers.
Do I push her to admit her new lifestyle to the children? Do I fight for custody to shelter the children from this? We are taking the children to a therapist and he does not have an answer. He thinks we should postpone the outward discussion of this “until the time is right.” I don’t know when the time will be right. I would appreciate any help you can give me. It is difficult enough to grow up today as a teenager, much less to complicate their lives with this.
For families divorcing because a parent is gay or lesbian, there is never a “right time.” Divorce is hard, no matter how you look at it. It is critical that you have a counselor who is sensitive to gay/lesbian family issues. Don’t hesitate to leave the counselor you currently have to find one that is right for your family.
Gay and lesbian parents in divorce situations often do not come out due to the justifiable fear that they will be denied a relationship with their children because of their sexual orientation. Are you able to assure your children’s mother that if she is open about being a lesbian you will not use it against her in a custody battle?
Please consider joint custody. 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 their mother.
Finally, give yourself permission to acknowledge your own feelings. Part of your support for this can be found through the Straight Spouse Network. 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 process or feeling pressure to choose sides.