Last week my wife of 27 years told me she was a lesbian, is having an affair and is leaving. Everyone — our gay friends, straight friends, her coworkers who know and my coworkers who know — all believe she is a lesbian.
I don’t think she is. We had great intimacy. We were truly best friends — or so I thought — and so she said. We loved each other in the truest marital sense — not just the sex.
I never thought there would be anything but us. I am angry about the affair and betrayal. She was going to counseling. I knew she was struggling with several issues: chronic back pain, weight gain, and high blood pressure. I have offered to help in whatever way I can.
Isn’t it possible this is something we can resolve together? She still says she loves me. I don’t know what is real. I am so confused.
Learning that a spouse is gay can be confusing and devastating. You obviously care for her a lot and she for you.
Married couples where one spouse is gay often have very strong relationships with each other outside of sex, and sometimes even including sex. Many still refer to their ex-spouse as their best friend. I believe that it is because the gay person, whether conscious of it or not, was not focused on sexual attraction so they chose a spouse who they connected with deeply in other ways — goals, values, and dreams.
There are few models for a “successful” divorce. The societal assumption is that an ex-husband or ex-wife is someone to be despised, or at best, tolerated. But what I have observed in many gay spouse/straight spouse divorces is that the end of a marriage does not necessarily mean the end of a friendship.
You have just learned life-changing information. You both need time to think and reflect before any major decisions are made. Ask your wife if she would be open to couple counseling — not to “fix” her, but to help you two develop strategies for preserving your friendship if you decide to divorce.
My immediate concern is that you take care of yourself. Please make some time to check out the Straight Spouse Network. Connecting with men who have gone through similar experiences can help you sort through some of the confusion.