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May 19, 2022 10:02 am  #1

How to stay together without further harm or repression.

My husband came out to me as gay in January of this year. I am dedicated to staying together, and he is inasmuch as he is able to commit to anything at this time -- he doesn't even fully understand what his identity means for him. My honest, biggest fear at the moment, is that in staying together, exclusively with one another, we will undo any of the good of him coming out. We will inadvertently (possibly necessarily) force him back into the closet, back to the harmful self-image traps, the repression, the shame, and he will eventually burn out and need to leave later on, down the road, when he is worse off than he is today. I love him too much to want this future for either of us. At the same time, I love my family too much to willingly divide it up; there is suffering in all places, but together with acceptance and love, we might have a fighting chance. How do I support him, our family, our marriage, without him needing to repeat the mistakes of the last 20-40 years of his life?? How does he move ahead as a gay man in a MOM?

I know you don't know much of our story, but perhaps there is some help that can still be offered by the participants of this group. Thank you for what you can offer.


May 19, 2022 3:02 pm  #2

Re: How to stay together without further harm or repression.

My situation is a bit different, but I believe the only way a MOM can really move forward with each person living their truth is if you have an open marriage with no activity in your home. Ideally I think I mean a mixed orientation partnership, say to be life partners but not intimate partners, maybe not "married" legally but still living together for the family/financial sake. I did this in my 20s with my first husband who came out as gay when he was 22 and we stayed together for the kids for another 8 yrs. But over all, I can only see this working if you both understand that eventually, it is going to end. To set that end point and work towards each of you being ok when it does, financially, emotionally. In a way it's a true gift of love to do this for each other. But do be realistic in that love. My .02


May 23, 2022 10:29 am  #3

Re: How to stay together without further harm or repression.

I disagree with Grace in regard to an open relation as "the only way". Maybe this applies to her situation, but it's certainly not the case in general. In our MOM We went for the monogamous route, and it worked. Also being in a MOM doesn't imply a "sexless relation".  These things are choices people make, and some make other choices than others. It depends solely on the individuals concerned what path they choose in life and marriage.

In the same line of thought, there is no force that rules all. Like: "oh, when you're gay you must behave/do like the others". I do think that this believes acts like a self-fulfilling prophecy that can work like a trap. One has to be aware of the "scripts" that surround and influence us.  It's not easy to think independently, determine your own way forward, being stubborn and choosing a direction that goes against the main stream of thoughts. Mind you, this independent way of looking at things, is not only a hurdle for the gay spouse, but for the straight as well.
I think for most people it takes years to reach that freedom of thinking. For me/us it was no different, and thus it was a struggle of years to unlearn what we thought (subconsciously pressed upon us by culture/society whatever) and find/form our own path together.

Things like: when someone is gay, they can never be content in a relation with someone of the opposite sex. 
The straight spouse will never be good enough and is not really wanted/desired.
Someday it will blow up and the real nature of things will out.

Sure, these line of events can take place, but only if the whole situation isn't handled in a honest and open way. For repression and hiding aren't the solution. Neither when external pressure or wrong reasons (financial or circumstances like that) are the real base. If that's in it, things won't go right. And well, maybe love was superficial and truthfulness was never real from one side. When that's the case it's hard to accept, but it's better now than later to come out.
Saying that, the meaning of REAL LOVE, and understanding the concept of it is very important.
We just returned from a trip to the US, and heared the "I love you" is so fast and easily said, that the meaning of it somewhat gets hollow. It's become a phrase, not a conviction and certainty you can build on like a rock.

Life puts you and your spouse in trouble, and you both have to deal with very strong emotions and feelings. No doubt about that, and finding yourself in a MOM highlight that to the max I would say. Probably one of the most challenging things a marriage can encounter. It means you have to really understand love, and what feelings mean, and what sexuality is, and how you relate that all to your marriage.
That is quite task of learning. And you have to communicate about it a lot! And help and support each other through it. It is a quest into the unknown and a demanding adventure like no other. Only if both are willing to undertake that kind of task, you'll have a fighting chance to get there.
But when you do, the reward is there also, for you'll know you've found and share real love. But it's no Hollywood story, it takes work and suffering to get there. Probably you'll have bruises and scares as a witness of the journey.
So BOTH have to want that, willingly and voluntarily. Because you love each other and want to be true for what you really are. 

Take notice of that last sentence. It means being authentic. 
There are two paths one can go by. Two interpretations of it, as you will. What means "being authentic" to you, to your spouse? For it is this conviction that forms the base of your decisions and way forward together.
Is "being authentic" just pursuing sexual preference, or is it pursuing what you deem to have more importance and the beauty of it (expressed in the other). When you find the latter, it tips the scale.
The sexual fulfillment is found for both, whatever (other) preferences also exist next to it. Which is also totally accepted and in the open. Not problematic, but rather the opposite. Even in a monogamous relation.

Last edited by Dutchman (May 23, 2022 10:41 am)


May 24, 2022 6:40 am  #4

Re: How to stay together without further harm or repression.

Hello. My husband and I have been dealing with this for a little over a year. It hasn't been easy. Like you, I was concerned about him WAY more than myself. It was hard to accept, and even harder to do, but I came to realize that I need to figure out what is going to work best for myself and our children. He cheated for the first time this last year, and because he longs for a fulfilling, gay relationship so much, he will not remain faithful. There's a lot of grieving to do, and if you have a strong bond, you may be able to support and understand each other as you work through it. But please see a professional to help you understand your needs. Our husbands are going to walk a path we can't follow. And that hurts, because we were in it "til death do us part." I'm trying to find my way to my own path too. It's scary, but if we hold onto the most important things, our friendship and our children, we can try to be gracious to each other. As you said, there's plenty of pain to go around.


May 26, 2022 12:14 am  #5

Re: How to stay together without further harm or repression.

My spouse came out as transgender in 2020. Dealing with their transition is literally one day at a time for me. I care about them and want to stay, but there are days when they make it a lot more difficult than it needs to be. For instance, this evening they insisted I stay and listen to Fresh Air's interview with a transgendered author, and while I tried to hear it I simply wasn't able to get the same insights out of it that they were getting. This made them upset with me and I left the room. Just now, it occurred to me that while they are claiming they are becoming the woman they are meant to be, they are still trying to exert male privilege and attempting to control me, as the wife in the relationship.

They cannot have it both ways. I would not have put up with that kind of treatment if my spouse weren't transgender. I shouldn't have to tolerate it just because they are.


May 26, 2022 11:09 am  #6

Re: How to stay together without further harm or repression.

Linda J,
it's not clear to me what you seek in this part of the forum. Do you hope and wan't your MOM to be succesful and are you searching for ways to achieve that, or is that route already a closed book for you? The same question goes of course for your husband.
Seeking therapy won't help much if you don't know what you're really aiming at. 
The therapist can't answer that question for you, You'll have to decide and set your goal together first. Not what others say, or how it's  "usually done", but what you want yourself. And what does your husband really want for your furture together. This is the central question. Both have to sit down and think and evaluate this question that is there in front of you. This may not be so obvious to your husband as you state and predict. But well, maybe it is, but then you have an answer too.

And... then find a therapist to help both to you achieve that goal.

Last edited by Dutchman (May 26, 2022 11:38 am)


May 26, 2022 2:21 pm  #7

Re: How to stay together without further harm or repression.

Dutchman, thank you for your kindness in your reply. I have been able to receive small glimmers of hope through all of this uncertainty, and your response to my post is among those glimmers. I especially appreciate your sentiments of thinking independently and being willing to forge the path that is right for only us, together. It will be a real challenge to find a community that will support what *we* want, regardless of how it appears to others. Thank you for voicing this concern -- I intuited its existence, but I'm not experienced enough to say it with confidence.

We have a precious few family members and friends who know and are supporting us on this journey. We have faced this boxing in first hand with a few of our family. Those whose primary support is of my husband can not conceive of a future for him with me. He's gay. He obviously can't stay married to you. (They have not said this overtly, but their expressions of support absolutely convey this message.) Pressures are everywhere. Questions and second-guessers are vocal. I even at times wonder if he will find full acceptance in the LGBTQ2S+ community while he remains with me; he already feels like a freak enough on his own, because of his own self-accusing voice. He doesn't need more boxing in, exclusion,  or judgement -- much the opposite.

I think it's true that so many people who have needed to walk this path have arrived here by means of very serious manipulation, violence, harm, trauma, and heartache. The stories are heart-rending, and I've debated whether I even have a voice here. He has not been unfaithful to me; he has not, up to now, been badly harmed by anyone, (He does have harmful theology to unravel and his spiritual pain is very profound.) But he didn't spend years living a double life, or lying to me. The trauma inflicted on me was his coming out. Nothing more, nothing less.

His own trauma is the result of years of repression which developed into self-hate and layers and layers of shame and a very real sense that he is worthless. Like most of the spouses in his situation, he has hidden this pain very well.

Which also means he has lived most of his journey up to this point by himself, without me as a partner, supportive or otherwise. (We are right now working hard at being invitational toward one another into more and more areas of our lives to help undo this "solo" approach to self-discovery.)

Please understand that, just like everyone reading this, there is more to our story than what is presented here. But to be general, in so many ways, we have a fighting chance. All the same, I am shattered, and both of us are falling apart, completely unravelled by this.

Authenticity is exactly what he seeks. This journey of self-discovery and healing will hopefully help him know who he is and what living authentically really means. I pray that the latter definition is what he finds to be the most rewarding and truthful, as that is where our future together would be.

Dutchman, I deeply want to continue the conversation. May I ask how long you are into your journey with your significant other? Thank you again.

     Thread Starter

May 27, 2022 3:52 am  #8

Re: How to stay together without further harm or repression.


we're married (almost) 37 years, it was 17 years ago when my wife discovered she was lesbian (we were arround age 40 back then). The first couple of years after that were very hard. And like you I was searching for info on how people coped with it, and mostly it were solutions that were not what we wanted: either divorce or open relations. (although there was some mention of people that continued the marriage, but without further decription how they did that and how it turned out)
Very close friends whom we told about our situation, respected our choice to want to stay married, but I think they actually doubted whether we would/could make it. Well, now they know different But I can hardly blame them, for they also only knew the mainstream stories that revolve arround gay coming out of the closet and finding happyness after years of repression in a seperate life. Not to mention the horror of conversion therapy, pray the gay away, and how this can lead to a lot of dissapointment and missery.
It's very much "either this or that", black and white, opposite camps. 
However, I think a balanced way holds the answer, at least so it is to us. On one side very real acceptance of self and each other, on the other side being faithful to our marriage vows and the value we find in a comitted mariage.
These two principles are not mutualy exclusive. At the same time this isn't directly that obvious, all kind of feelings and emotions that come up show the internal obstacles that exist. This is a difficult process, it takes time to work through it. 
It's unavoidable it feels like a struggle uphill, but ultimately towards a situation where both get above the clouds and find happyness. Looking back it's clear it had to be dealt with, and it was a painful experience, but at the same time the best that could have happened.
You possibly read enough stories where it all goes very wrong, reading it creates a lot of fear, stress and doubt where it's heading. Lets say it's useful to know that it can turn out this sad way, but set your focus on possitive stories. It could help if you get help from a therapist, but only if he/she alignes with the goal you have. It's not always easy to find someone suitable.

A couple of years ago I wrote about our story on this forum,

My wife (samanthaNL) also wrote about it from her viewpoint.

Although every story and situation is personal and different, you may find it useful to read.
I look forward to your reaction.


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