Today would have been my 26th wedding anniversary. Would have been, except my now ex-husband was gay. We’ve been divorced for a little over 5 years now. Since then, I have learned an incredible amount about myself, and continue to make progress as I deal with what was essentially two decades of neglect.
Let me just state clearly right up front that I am very much an ally for LGBTQ rights, and I always have been. In the 80s, several men chose me as the first person they ‘came out’ to because they knew I would not be judgmental. I long for the day when society gets over itself and stops imposing false moralities on segments of the population. Possibly even more so now–I am the living embodiment of collateral damage from society’s judgment. Because society made it difficult to be homosexual, homosexuals repressed themselves and tried to assimilate. They married. They had kids. And then they came out and wreaked havoc on their families.
I dragged my husband out of the closet kicking and screaming. He came from a blue collar family and was absolutely convinced they would not accept him. In fact, for over a year after the day in counseling where he admitted that he was gay (counselor: “Laura, why do you think things have been this way?” Me: “I think he’s gay.” Him: “I think you’re right”) I was not allowed to tell anyone. Anyone. So while my marriage was falling apart, everyone thought I was this hellacious bitch, leaving a perfectly good husband for no reason. Fortunately, for him, his family was accepting. And once the truth was known, opinions of me softened.
I had to deal with the fallout, and some of the weirdest reactions from people. The one that I found the worst was “How could you not know?” This, to me, sounded blaming, as though somehow it was my fault. I finally realized it came from a place of fear: if I didn’t know through 20 years of marriage that my husband was gay, it was possible that they also didn’t know if their spouse was gay. Still, that response makes me instantly on edge. Another response was “That’s so great! He must be so relieved to be out!” Well yes, I’m quite sure he is. However, for twenty years because he could not be a true partner, I felt as though something was wrong with me. I tried everything I could to get through the wall he built, but I couldn’t. It was devastating and damaging, although I did not realize it at the time. I gained a lot of weight. I fell into a major depression, from which I have not yet recovered. I felt stupid, betrayed, foolish, attacked, and used. The first thing I felt, though, honestly, was relief. The crumbling of our marriage had not been my fault.
Were there signs? Probably. He was the one with the elaborate wedding plans; I was never the sort of girl who played ‘bride’. I woke up two days before the wedding and my voice was completely gone–I’d been hoarse before, but never before (nor since) had I entirely lost my voice. (Indeed, in more ways than one.) And driving to the church, he and I ran over a black cat that darted in front of us. I am not kidding. (As one of my friends said “Did God have to hit you with lightning???”– evidently.) Right after the birth of our oldest son I found a gay porn video in a box filled with his college stuff. Overloaded with pregnancy hormones, I handled it badly-screamed at him, throwing things and demanding to know what this was. He swore up and down he wasn’t gay. I believed him. I really had no choice. However, now, he tells people that “I knew the whole time” in part because of that incident.
He was never affectionate, but he came from a family that is not affectionate. He was (is) a workaholic. I tried to engage with his hobbies–he did not want to casually ride bikes or ski, it had to be at his level and I could not do that, much less the kids. His isolation increased, as did mine. I tried countless times and ways to reconnect; he grew more and more dismissive. I lost a lot of weight–he pushed me further away. Ultimately, I insisted he see a counselor. And the truth came out.The first thing he said was “Don’t leave me, I can’t be alone.” I stayed for almost a year. It was nearly my complete undoing. I literally could not breathe in that house. I still get tight in the chest when I’m near the house.
We tried to remain friends. That quickly did not work. I did not deal well with getting divorced. Neither did he. He has a partner who does not like me and the two of them talk shit about me in front of my sons. They tell me. All it does is make my children unhappy with their father. I can’t help that though. I never say a bad word. No matter what I think, this is their father, and I honor that.
I cannot wish i was never married; I believe that God has a purpose for everything. I believe that our children were meant to be born. And I believe that I was meant to go through this. Maybe my words will stop a gay man or woman from marrying to hide. Maybe a straight spouse will see this and feel less alone. I dare to hope. Someday I hope that October 20th is just another day.
If you have learned that your spouse is gay, there is help. The Straight Spouse Network is available. Link here to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Straight-Spouse-Network-180124484371/?fref=ts