Tell me about it: Picking up the pieces after spilling the beans about my gay husband
A Looking back, you probably wish you hadn’t let your secret spill out on a boozy night, but your impulse to “come out” to your friends shows your need to share it. I’m sorry that your friends hurt you with their unhelpful and judgmental responses, even if they meant well. None of us wants “pity and distaste” from our friends. Your husband seems to have got more sympathy from them than you have.
Even on the simplest level, STIs, they don’t seem to realise that heterosexual husbands could easily get HIV if they were unfaithful through casual sex. The stereotype that to be gay is to be diseased expresses, as you have sensed, their disapproval.
But you say you have a loving relationship with your husband, who cares about your needs and your children’s welfare. This makes it all the more painful to address the issue of his sexuality and where it might lead.
You are convinced “deep down” your husband is gay. However, I sense that you haven’t openly discussed his sexual orientation with him, so how do you know for sure?
Psychotherapist Maggie O’Haire advises you not to make assumptions: “There may be several signs that point in that direction, but until she knows for sure, do not assume. She will be putting unnecessary strain on herself, family and friends.”
But you have asked me to look at this from the perspective that your husband is indeed gay. You have made all kinds of accommodations, on the most intimate level, to remain married because of the emotional and, perhaps, financial security it gives you and your children. Healthy mutual reliance tips into co-dependency when one partner supports the existence of a relationship by covering up for the other person.
In your case, this means enabling your husband to remain “in the closet” by presenting a traditional heterosexual marriage to the world. On this point, your friends are right to be concerned, though they shouldn’t blame you. You have adapted as many women have and would in your situation.
While it may be difficult to hear, O’Haire believes: “The bottom line is an after-effect of using ‘closets’ to deal with questions such as ‘Who am I?’ In this case, the husband is in the closet and the wife is the codependent to the husband’s closeted existence. The wife has helped her husband construct a closeted lifestyle that is fundamentally unhealthy for both of them.”
It is difficult to see a situation as “fundamentally unhealthy” when you have invested so much in it and when it has many positives, but are you sure all your needs are really being met?