Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Straight Wives Think

This blog and most of the blogs I have listed on the right are written by gay or bi men who are, or were, married.

For the most part these men represent my social circle. We're a somewhat geographically diverse group but other than that, we're pretty homo(geneous).

A few months ago I wanted some opinions about my situation that came from a different perspective - straight wives. I found an open, anonymous on-line forum mostly populated by such, so I posted about my situation and asked for opinions. Boy did I get some!

Ever since reading those replies I have been fascinated by the straight wife's perspective. Because my wife preferred to pretend I was not gay when I came out to her, she and I never really talked about how she felt. And it's not like there are a lot of blogs written from the straight wife's perspective. Although I am very familiar with the man's point of view, getting an insight into what women really think has been extremely fascinating and very educational.

People and situations are different so I have to be careful here not to over-generalize. I'm sure that the reactions of straight wives to their husbands' coming out run the whole gamut from violent outrage to genuine joy. With that said, here are some common feelings expressed by straight wives I've come to know:

1. One of the biggest reasons married men hesitate to come out to their wives is because they fear being rejected because of their sexuality. I have learned that most intelligent, educated women (i.e., those that take the time to participate in a certain on-line forum) are not nearly so upset about their husband's declaration as they are about the lies that may have proceeded it. Lies are the BIG SIN not being gay or bi.

2. Timing is extremely important, but not necessarily in the way that first comes to mind. When you're in the closet and thinking about coming out, the tendency is to obsess about the exact circumstances as to when you're going to drop the bomb. Yes, exact timing matters. But what's most important to the straight wife is to be told AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The longer the delay, the longer you've lied and the more upset she is likely to be.

3. Closeted husbands tend to obsess about whether they will be rejected and sent packing just hours after coming out. Yes, that does happen, but far more often the straight spouse wants to preserve the marriage. In fact, more often that not, the wife will engage in a whole range of selfless behaviors in an effort to "save" the marriage. How the wife's efforts are received by the husband can have major implications for their future relationship, regardless of whether they stay married or not. Insensitive and selfish behavior on the husband's part soon after coming out is the best way to turn a cordial relationship into a multi-year nightmare.

4. The bi or gay husband's desire to be "understood" is often the most painful part of the coming out conversation for his wife. After keeping his feelings pent up for years, the natural desire is to engage in a few rounds of verbal diarrhea about the misery of being isolated and depressed while in the closet. It's easy to confuse "being honest" with "too much information." Although wives DO want to know where your penis has been, they're only interested in a heavily abridged Reader's Digest version of your suffering. The part of the story they are most interested in is...what does this mean to me????

5. After the initial shock of the news wears off and the wife is left to figure out what she is supposed to do with her life, the very biggest issues for her come down to the husband taking responsibility for his behavior. Stopping the lies is a key part of that but it is only the beginning. Taking responsibility means not blaming others (especially the wife; straight wives don't change our sexuality, they cannot be held responsible for the way we were born), to be man enough to wade through the inevitable shit that happens when the kids, family and friends find out, and to show some genuine compassion for the financial situation in which you leave your wife.

I don't know if others find the straight wife's perspective as interesting as I do. I hope some of you do because I have a few more posts in mind about them and also about remaining married after disclosure.


  1. Wow dude. That was a great post! I'm a closeted never-married, still-figuring-it-all-out guy, and I thought you did an excellent bit of detective work and reporting.

    Keep up the good work.

    (I'm sure you know who this is)

  2. Ditto, very good articulated posted that I think captures the very essence of how the deal goes down and the issues that need to be faced!

  3. As a straight wife, I think the most hurtful thing would be to know I've lived a lie. To know that the person I was most intimate with did not desire me...that would shake me to my core. Please be honest and kind and have compassion. While this may not be something you chose, your wife had no choice at all

    1. I agree with you 100%. They need to tell the truth, in the end so many innocent people get hurt. So selfish.....(While this may not be something you chose, your wife had no choice at all)

    2. Truth and honesty. After 20 years and 2 children he just left. No reason, excuse just left. I didnt find out for 9 years why i was divorced. He led a double life the last few years so it seemed all as good in my world. Its been 20 years since our divorce and he/she still maintains minimal contact with our boys. After many years of therapy, deep depression and still issues with trust for men i wish i could say I'm better. But Im not. The fact that he wanted to change sexes woild have shocked me but that would have given me an answer for the divorce. He now lives out of state and maintains minimal contact with his family and his children and grandchildren. My belief is honesty, no matter how hard is always best.

  4. Nice post. That is one hell of a subject to have to research, and I'm interested in your findings!

    Keep plugging away at dating Cameron.


  5. This post was such a great service for those many of us who do have no idea about how our wives might feel, or have a misinformed idea. Your impulse to be analytical and look for better sources of information about how others might look at a situation are great instincts, so thank you.

    Now Cameron, I just hope you can put equal energy into finding out more about how wonderful loving gay man view suburban gay dads like you as potential friends, lovers, or soul mates for life. You are so good at trying to help others and find evidence based knowledge to guide them. Can you now help yourself feel more optimistic about your own situation.

    There are an estimated 27 to 30 million adult American men who admit to wanting sex with another man, having done it already but not ready to call themselves bi/gay, or doing it and proclaiming themselves bi or gay. This is 23% of the US population, and maybe more in the Bay Area. Do the math and get some hope and be systematic in finding the best routes to connect with a man who would treasure a guy like you.

  6. The point that's seldom made is the most obvious, and the most humane: every individual has the absolute right to know what kind of relationship they are in, so they can make an objective choice about whether it's what they really want, or if it's in their best interest. Take a person's right to choose and you take away their power: UNFORGIVEABLE.

    Gay/Bi people who stay closeted in "straight" partnerships assume they should make that decision for BOTH partners, based on their own selfish needs. This absolutely enrages me. I'm a straight-identified female who would not, under any circumstances, tolerate the kind of arrangements that I keep reading about: the kind that dupe women into partnerships that accommodate the various needs of men, while keeping women stupidly in the dark. We only have ourselves to be diligent.

    1. Finally you spelled it out for them! I think they are so delusional that they just don't get it, so I will cut and paste......every individual has the absolute right to know what kind of relationship they are in, so they can make an objective choice about whether it's what they really want, or if it's in their best interest. Take a person's right to choose and you take away their power: UNFORGIVEABLE.

  7. It is nice to know someone out there is interested in what the straight wife is going through. That is much more than I can say for my husband who is in denial and stuck on making me feel insane rather than owning up to his actions.

  8. My husband just came out of the closet, although I had suspicions I asked him about, he continued to lie. I think i could have handled the actual sex acts but he and his partner were involved for 6 years and very emotionally attached. He brought his partner into our family as a friend from work and our sons established an "uncle" relationship. That kind of danger he brought into out home made me sick. Went for my first HIV test this morning, a real kick in the stomach. We're still together but I'm scared about the future. I can't let this ruin my kids.

    1. wow I am so sorry, This is exactly the selfish acts that give honest open gay men a bad name.

  9. My husband of over 20 years pushed me into an open marriage at a point when my self esteem and self worth were at their lowest. As the worst lie I could commit, I agreed to participate. While we did not swing often, he became obsessed with the different websites and forums about multiple partners eventually deciding he was bi-curious, and pushing me to be the same. No amount of saying no convinced him that I was not curious at all. He held out hope (often changing my 'status' to bi-curious). A few years ago he began to pull away from me emotionally and physically. I felt he no longer desired me and held me in contempt as a person.

    I turned to another man for what was missing at home, a boost to my self esteem. We were in similar situations with our respective spouses and gave each other something we both needed. this was NOT the right answer in the long run. I have found out that when my husband was pulling away, he was feeling inadequate about getting it up and keeping it up. What I assumed was a lack of desire was a lack of ability because we were not communicating. I no longer see the other man and recommitted to my marriage.

    Then my husband tells me he is not just curious but us bisexual. And, he expects me to participate with him and almost lead him through this journey. I told him he needs to figure out what exactly he needs/ wants so I can figure out how I can deal with that. He has told me it is not just about sex. He needs to be friends with the other man...have a relationship as it were. Having had an affair and knowing the effect it has on a marriage, I do not see how this can work, without me losing myself again. I do not want a divorce. That is my LAST choice. But how do we go forward? He expects me to read every forum he reads and deal with this the way he does. I can't go back to being the stupid little 'yes' wife that I was for so long. But how can we go forward with him having relations with other men? I am trying to stay open minded, but we have 4 kids to think about also. This is not JUST about him. Many more of us are sucked into this.

    He swears he will never 'cheat' on me without me there. But that has already been proven false on one occasion. Is it possible more has happened that I don't know about? Am I lying to myself? Is it saving my marriage or completely destroying it to let him go out for experiences? I feel like he is being SO selfish and obsessive with this focus on HIS bisexuality.