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December 24, 2016 9:09 pm  #1

Idea - Do This, Not That

Something Sean said gave me an idea about something I have been thinking about for a long time.

I am convinced that in the way many of us go about trying to find the truth, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot, without realizing that's what we are doing. I am specifically talking about that question: "Are you gay?"  It always brings forth a denial, and we inadvertently create another obstacle for ourselves - because in asking the question, we also alert our husbands/wives to our suspicions. And so it gets harder next time to ask the question. And the more we ask, the more defensive they become. And soon the gaslighting begins. And before long we're in the crazy spiral.

Sean, you said what seems to work better is to say it, don't ask it, and the way you described it makes complete sense to me. The question itself is a threat, and that's why it usually achieves the opposite of what we are looking for. This has been on my mind for a long, long time, but I couldn't figure out what to do about  it.

I saw in the blogs another guy who said pretty much the same thing you said; that he found it easier to open up to people who made it safe for him first, but asking it as a question typically shut him down and put him on his guard and made him suspicious of the person asking it. Someone asked him why her husband wouldn't come clean with her, even though he had come out to other people, and she was tossing out a few theories about him, and trying to psycho-analyze him, but the guy's answer was so obvious and simple: "Because he doesn't feel safe enough with you. If you already know, stop asking him and just say it." That made as much sense as anything; (I wonder if my wife felt the same way with me.)

Anyway, I did a very unscientific, no-where near comprehensive, and statistically not-at-all-valid query through these forums to see how many times the question came up in one form or another, vs how many times any of us just said it.  In other words, some version of "Are you gay?" vs some version of "I know you're gay."  I grabbed a few threads at random and counted whether it took the form of a question or statement. And this is what I discovered:

Made a statement such as "I know you are gay" to try to start a conversation

already suspected/knew      --- 5
had some proof to show      --- 2

Asked the question "Are you gay?" in some form:

won't "admit" it          ---15
want an "admission"       ---10
won't "confess"           --- 8
I need a confession       ---17
how do I confront him     ---25
That last one was especially telling, I thought. It's a natural enough reaction, but think about it. Why set it up as "how do I confront him/her?" vs "how do I get him/her to open up and talk to me?" (how many of us enjoy being "confronted" about anything?)
That's roughly a 10:1 ratio, asking the question (which leads to denial, gaslighting, crazy making) vs making a statement. Almost all of us go about it the way that doesn't work and makes it worse, because we don't know a better way to do it. But we have had at least two gay men tell us now, on this website, what they think might work better. I'm listening, and I am imagining two approaches:

1. For the straight spouse who is trying to get to the truth:

Is there a way that those of us who have already been through the worst of it, maybe with Sean's guidance, and using our experiences, can come up with something like a DO and DON'T list for spouses who are still trying to get to the truth? I sure was none too successful, but I was grasping about in the dark for answers without a map or a light. I wonder if I had had more guidance up front, "DO THIS, NOT THAT" when talking to her, if it would have been less damaging and caused less pain.

What I've learned, I've learned in hindsight, a lot of it on my own, a lot of it in these forums, but I'm willing to put it out there if someone else can learn from my mistakes.

2. For the gay spouse who is about to drop a bomb on the unsuspecting straight spouse:

It seems to me there could be a similar guide for the gay spouses who are struggling to come out to their straight spouses. "DO THIS, NOT THAT" for gay spouses. I am sure lots of us here could give input to that one. "When you're ready to come out to me, do it this way, not that way..." Apologize. Own it. Take responsibility. Move out. whatever...  I doubt anything like that exists out there anywhere; at least, if it does, I haven't seen it. We're the ones who have been through it, at least from our side of it, we lived it, we're the experts at our experience, so if we can't come up with it, who else is going to do it?

We won't know whether it works or not unless we try it.

"I have given you my soul, leave me my name!"  - John Proctor, The Crucible
"Question everything you've been told; hold fast to what is true and good." - I Thessalonians 5:21

December 27, 2016 11:21 pm  #2

Re: Idea - Do This, Not That

I asked my ex several times over the years, and I didn't get any committed answer.  But of course you know when you ask if he's gay and the answer is, "I don't think so, but I'll think about it", the answer is YES.

When I was finally told by my brother-in-law that my then husband had admitted  to him that he was gay, I came home and told my husband that I knew he was gay.  He said, "What? Noooooo. I told (BIL) that you asked me if I was gay, and....", and I cut him off and said, "I know. It's okay. Everything is going to be okay.  I know."  He didn't try to dispute that he was gay - only that he "could never tell me that". Said that he couldn't tell me that because that would mean that he'd stolen 16 years. That he'd ruined my life. I simply said, "My life isn't ruined. And we have beautiful kids that were made in love.  It is what it is. It'd be a great relief to know that all our intimacy issues were because you were gay - not because I'm repulsive. It'd give me closure."  And then he admitted it.

He was still scared. Mostly that him being gay would mean that my über conservative family would try to convince me not to let him see our kids.  I assured him that he would always be able to see them unless he was doing something harmful to them - which I didn't think would ever be a reality. He was right, by the way - my family DID try to get me to fight against letting the kids visit him specifically because of his "illicit lifestyle". But I kept my promise and he's seen them every time he's ever asked to. He has every right to see them, and they him.  I want them all to enjoy each other.

Asking never got me anywhere.  Telling him that I knew did.


Last edited by Kel (December 27, 2016 11:23 pm)

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

December 28, 2016 8:01 am  #3

Re: Idea - Do This, Not That

ok, let's see......

1.  How about just hand him/her whatever you found and sit down on the couch with a cup of coffee and let them rant or whatever, don't get upset and when they are winding down, say to them, "I have loved you for x amount of time, I know this is the truth....I know no one gets to decide who they love...so talk to me".

note: depending on the person this may or may not work...took me 4 tries.

2. Own it, be prepared for anger and bitterness, you deserve it. Apologize, until you are blue in the face and then apologize again. You just told someone that you have stolen their life and you can't replace it. Depending on the situation, you may have stolen their self esteem and self worth also. If you are a narcissist you probably stole their family, friends and income as well.

note: in a perfect world this would happen, I'm not holding my breath.

Go not quietly into that great, good night......Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

December 28, 2016 5:20 pm  #4

Re: Idea - Do This, Not That

So here's something that gay/trans spouse should not do: tell others before telling the spouse and talk to others instead of the spouse.  I just got back from an outing with my husband and my son to buy new phones; I met them there as I was out and about running errands, and after we wrapped everything up my husband said, "Could you take [our son] home, because I am late for a meeting with XXX.  Well, XXX is a woman friend of his, a person who also knows me, and with whom my husband explored his feelings BEFORE he talked to me.  For the past six weeks he has not been talking to me at all about where he is in relation to his transness--but apparently he's been talking to her again.  I cannot tell you how hurtful this is (oh, I guess I just did).   


December 29, 2016 2:05 pm  #5

Re: Idea - Do This, Not That

My understanding is that a women's sexually is better described as being on a spectrum and is fluid. While a man's is more yes/no or gay / not gay.  Not my opinion.   So starting off by saying I know you're gay may not be accurate or beneficial.

If had the opportunity and had told my ex 'you're gay and that's okay with me let's exit the marriage with minimal hassle and dignity.'  That would have been the best option.  Instead I was told I'm not gay and I want to save the marriage.  Two therapists said - she's not gay. 

I think at the end of the day it may not matter.  My marriage is over and there is little to be gained from knowing a truth.  Our marriage ended and the TGT was one of many issues. That said, it does mean it was terminal because of TGT.  I left thinking if only she'd found that out before marriage and kids.


December 30, 2016 10:36 am  #6

Re: Idea - Do This, Not That


I think that tgt may be part of the problem, but the real problem in my case anyway, was the lying and the cheating followed by the destruction of my self worth as a woman. I don't care if it's a man, woman or the purple people eater, it's cheating. It's breaking the vows and shattering the heart and trust of someone that the spouse swore "to forsake all others" to.

Go not quietly into that great, good night......Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

January 7, 2017 2:12 am  #7

Re: Idea - Do This, Not That

I agree. It's the feeling of not feeling worthy no matter what you do, look like, or anything. We are broken from the moment it starts. All we want is closure and the time we have left. 


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