“The hardest thing about this is that I’m not allowed to love him anymore.”
These are the words of a woman married forty years to a gay man. She had no idea. She found out he was gay at the same time she found out that he is having, and has had, affairs with men. The hurts are many. She enumerates them:
• So he never really loved me…not like I loved him.
• Every time we made love he was thinking of a man.
• How could he have lived with me all these years and lied to me like that?
• Why didn’t he tell me the truth when we were younger so I could have found someone new? Now I’m an old woman.
• I always felt so unattractive and inadequate because he never seemed to want to touch me.
• Some of my friends think I should be “understanding” and try to remain friends with him.
• Someone accused me of being homophobic.
• He is acting like a petulant child and can’t seem to see what this is doing to me.
• And worst of all, I still love him and don’t know how to stop. It’s so painful and counterproductive to feel like this but it’s not like a faucet I can just turn off. I feel like such a fool for feeling like this.
If I could be fooled like this, maybe nothing in my life is what I think it is. Sometimes I think I am having a breakdown.
When straight spouses of gay or trans partners find out the truth, whether their partner tells them, or they find out, reality itself starts to feel “unreal.” This is something that isn’t talked about as much as all the other, more immediate and painful concerns (where to live, how to separate, what/when to tell the kids). But when the dust settles, many straight spouses find themselves anxious and insecure in many aspects of their lives.
Any time we are deceived by someone close to us, especially someone we love and share a life with, we can’t help but question ourselves. “Was I blind?” “Did I not see it because I didn’t want to?” Spouses of mates who cheat ask these questions also.
I don’t think it’s a bad idea to ask the questions. Being honest with ourselves is important. But blaming ourselves is another story. I’ve said it before, “When someone is determined to deceive us, we will be deceived.” It’s important to repeat this and know where the blame/responsibility is.
Do we need to be smarter and more aware going forward? Yes, we do. We need to accept that people are not perfect. They do things that can hurt us whether they intend to or not. It’s our responsibility to have the courage to ask the difficult questions when we suspect something isn’t right (in any relationship) and not shrink from the truth no matter how painful we suspect it might be.
It’s our responsibility to own our lives and hearts and to safeguard them.
We need to remain open, but not the way a wound is open.