At the time of our conversation I was thinking about coming out to my kids, so we talked about that. We also talked about the reasons why many married men "on the down-low" have no desire to come out. On that subject, Helen realized something new:
You made me realize that my mother and my father's family wanted him in the closet at least as badly as he wanted to be there too. In fact, he might have felt he was doing the right thing by not living openly. He probably felt like he was protecting them.
On the subject of hiding same-sex attractions from one's children, Helen had this to say:This is a revelation to me, and I don't know why I didn't see it before.
I glanced at "[Another blog]," and couldn't help but compare the two of you.
The author of that blog wrote something to the effect that he hopes his kids never find out that he's a liar and a cheat.
He's kidding himself. The thing these guys don't understand is that it's better to be divorced and to have an open, genuine relationship with your children than it is to be married but lie to your kids every day for the rest of your life.
Helen has conflicted feelings about her father. She loves him but she also feels betrayed by his lies and cheating. Actually, when you think about it, she feels exactly the same way many straight spouses do, just less vehemently.I'm not unsympathetic. I know how it happens. People have been brought up to believe that their marriage and family are their real relationships, while their relationships with their lovers are secret and disposable. They're not real and therefore not important. That's how you end up with men who believe that "women are for romance and men are for sex." They've never seen a romantic relationship between two men really work. But they can and do work, and every gay person today (in most parts of this country) can pursue a genuine, loving, and public relationship with the person they love, if they really want to.Also, I think that all parents are guilty of forgetting that they're meant to be raising functional, independent adults. I only have a toddler, but even I have to remind myself that these days of high dependence won't last forever and that someday she'll be a grown woman. If I want to have a close relationship with her then, it's important to be as honest and compassionate as I can be now.
She makes the assumption that every kid will eventually learn the truth about his or her cheating parent. Yet, ironically, no man on the down-low ever expects to be caught.
I suppose that's the nature of the beast. If you expect to be caught, why bother hiding?
How many cheating spouses are eventually caught? No one knows. Many of them, certainly. Especially these days when it's easy to get tripped up in your own digital handiwork.
I've seen a number of teenagers post stories about how they discovered their father's cheating because they found some form of electronic evidence. Before the Internet, I remember when guys would talk about finding their dad's porn stash. Now that porn stashes are kept on computers and phones, I wonder how many teenagers go looking for their dad's porn and are shocked by what they find. I've never read a story about that happening, at least as far as I can remember, but I'm sure it happens.
Anyway, my point is that electronic secrets are not as secret as we think they are. Those very popular Apple products, for example, keep track of the apps you download. If someone in your family innocently syncs a new device to your existing Apple account....whoops, there's Grindr!
My advice to spouses with secrets is to expect that the truth will some day be revealed, and when it is, expect that your spouse won't be the only important person in your life who feels angry and betrayed. Yes, some secrets do make it to the grave, but mostly, they don't. For that reason, it's best to prepare for the worst.
What do you think?