I Think My Husband Is Gay?

Here’s a love-life problem that can be painful. A couple get married and at some point, perhaps after a couple of kids, the wife finds out her husband is gay. I have treated a person or two with this love-life problem over the years. Treatment essentially helps the wife grieve the loss of the relationship, make a healthy separation, divorce, and life of her own.

From the wife’s perspective, what happened? She thought she was marrying a heterosexual man. Did she see the signs? Were there any? Did she ignore them for her own reasons? Was their sexual relationship different from what she expected? These are the kinds of questions that might provide a few details to help her understand what happened in her marriage and how she was involved in its co-creation.

As a doctor, I think the real problem is an aftereffect of ‘being in the closet.’ There are still people, even more so in previous generations, who could not declare themselves ‘gay’ for fear of reprisals or judgments. Staying in the closet and presenting themselves as heterosexual men, even to the point of marrying a woman, became a way of seeking acceptance or approval. This kind of fear based decision making usually lasts for just so long. Middle-age is the most common time period for men in the closet to start feeling the loss of freedom more directly.

They either start constructing a ‘double life’ (heterosexual by day and homosexual by night) or they force themselves out of the closet (with or without psychotherapy) to practice living true to themselves in the real world. In the latter scenario, the person ends up leaving his marriage for a homosexual lifestyle or marriage. Had the man lived openly as a homosexual from the beginning, a marriage under false pretenses, marital breakup, and family conflicts and pain would have been avoided.

From the husband’s perspective, this kind of love-life situation can evolve in different ways. Some men are not directly aware of their homosexuality when they marry. They may have an inkling. However, their family of origin resistance against acknowledging their homosexuality may have been so strong it contributed to the suppression of whatever awareness they were forming earlier in life. For these individuals, the fact that a closet even exists is their first awakening. The point is, it ends up feeling like a ‘surprise’ to everyone, including himself, and especially to his wife and kids.

Regarding the effort to force fit oneself into a heterosexual life, I have come to learn how excruciatingly painful this kind of thing can be for a person. To deny yourself your true self and do it indefinitely. Most men in this kind of bind end up having a midlife crisis of sorts. It’s really an effort at liberation couched in the language of sickness. When it works out, they emerge from the closet, in shock and fearful at first, but in most cases eventually recovering.

They get to find out who really loves them as they really are. A project well worth any time and effort put in. This of course includes his love relationships from that point forward. The point is, with a little initial support, gay men get healthier physically and mentally once they step out of the closet.

By far the most difficult situation occurs when a husband fully realizes his homosexuality but tries to construct a ‘bisexual’ lifestyle for the true purpose of hanging onto his wife. The reason for wanting to stay in the marriage has a lot to do with security. If he’s been married awhile, with kids to boot, leaving may not be so easy. There may obviously be a bit of emotional and financial dependency there. The hardest part of this is his wife’s need to have a whole man in the marriage.

This kind of ‘bisexuality’ is basically infidelity. It doesn’t matter whether an affair is with a woman or man, whatever. Most wives in this situation will have a harder time separating and divorcing due to the husband’s resistance. You could think of this kind of outcome as a partial exit out of the closet. Half in and half out. Of course, we’d have to leave the real ‘bisexual’ issue up on the board for further discussion and consideration. But that’s for another post.

The bottom line is, whether we are talking about the wife or the husband, this love-life problem is an aftereffect of using ‘closets’ to deal with questions like: who am I? In this case, the husband is in the closet and the wife is the co-dependent to the husband’s closeted existence. Co-dependency meaning, supporting the existence of something by covering for the person involved. In this case the wife has helped her husband construct a closeted lifestyle that is fundamentally unhealthy for both of them. Have any experiences to share with my readers? Love to hear from you. Dr. T. Jordan




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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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