When A Spouse Comes Out

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I found an interesting column by Garry Cooper  in this month’s Psychotherapy Networker.  

He reports that  Amity Pierce Buxton, founder of The Straight Spouse Network, estimates that as many as two million straight spouses will, often suddenly, traumatically,  and by accident, find themselves discovering that they have a gay or bi spouse. The article also reports that Joe Kort, an Imago therapist specializing in gay issues, has seen couples negotiate arrangements other than splitting.  Some agreed upon solutions have been allowing one or both parters to have relationships outside the marriage, allowing the bi/ gay partner to use porn and webcams but not meet sexual partners face to face, or the bi/gay partner agrees not to indulge in outside sexual behaviors or porn.

What a tough and painful situation for everyone involved…particularly where there are children…or the spouses still love each other…  What would you do?

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9 Responses to “When A Spouse Comes Out”

  1. mssc54 Says:

    Now this has always confused me.

    Although I do not believe that science has proven people are born gay/lesbian it completely baffles me as to how a person is “bi-sexual”.

    That just seems a little to convient to me. Where’s the committment?

    I”m no rocket scientist but it just seems that (especially) the bi-sexual lifestyle is completely selfish and one sided.

    Almost like a ping pong ball bouncing from side to side.

  2. psychscribe Says:

    Hi mssc54, I agree with you about committment, regardless of one’s sexual orientation. So the easy thing for me to say, coming from a straight perspective, is that the bi person ought to choose the lifestyle of the person they love and that’s it. But a person who truly identifies as bi might feel that they’re losing a part of their authentic self..I don’t know…I hope someone who is bi will join this discussion..

  3. lupusranting Says:

    Whether you’re gay, straight, bi or whatever, I see such a scenario as a betrayal of trust between partners. Everybody gets hurt and everybody tries to heal … it’s never easy.

    I don’t think there’s a right or wrong about how to work through and resolve this kind of situation. I’d be the last person to pass judgment on someone’s decision to leave or stay and adapt to a changed lifestyle.

    For me personally, I could not negotiate sharing my heart and/or my bed with the partner I love. If you don’t want to be with me exclusively, leave.

    Would that be a painful decision to make? Absolutely.

  4. vanessaleighsblog Says:

    Hey all: I feel compelled to respond on this one, and hope it may be of some help to all. I am not bisexual, I am a lesbian, but I know several persons who do self-identify as bisexual, and are open about discussing their orientation and what it means. It means that they feel an affectional/spiritual connection to both relationships with men and with women. It doesn’t mean that they cannot make up their mind; I don’t see it that way, anyhow. I see it as them being open to falling in love with and committing to a person of either gender, when the right person comes along.

    I know that science has not undisputedly determined that sexual orientation is part of our DNA, but there is some evidence to show that, and I don’t believe that it would need to be proven without a doubt to believe that it could be true. My lifestyle is the car that I drive, and what I like to eat for dinner or wear on the weekends; not who I fall in love with and commit to spend my life with. I feel blessed to have the partner that I do, and if we were allowed to legally marry here in PA, we would have done so……

    The whole thing about spouses that discover that their partners are gay is so painful for all involved; and my belief is that it comes about because of persons having to hide who they really are for much of their lifetimes; afraid to come out because of the pressures of heterosexual conformity. There are no easy answers with it, but I don’t believe that persons in this situation are purposely trying to commit some fraud…..

    Does that make sense? Did not mean to hijack this post, but I really feel compelled to share accurate information when I think it will be most helpful……

    Great topic psychscribe!!!

  5. psychscribe Says:

    Thanks for a great post yourself, vanessaleigh! Poignant, and beautifully written. Please come back and visit again.

  6. TruthandLove Says:

    Vanessaleigh, it is exactly because the gay/bisexual spouse feels they have to hide who they are, most often from themselves out of fear. And sometimes because they truly don’t understand their own feelings. After I stopped lying to myself that I was a lesbian, I divorced my husband and then came out to him a few months later, but his pain was no less at first, although he has come to understand and heal because he knows I lied to myself more than anyone. My girlfriend had shared her feelings with her husband and he encouraged her to “explore” her feelings, however was incredibly hurt when in exploring those feelings, she realized she was a lesbian, and not bi-sexual as he had hoped. She had been lying to herself as much as I had been.

    We both are in our 40’s and grew up in a time when homosexuality was considered a psychiatric problem that through electroshock therapy and other means could be “cured”. The day I look forward too is when being homosexual is no longer stigmatized so that no more “collateral damage” can be caused because of feeling the need to “fit in”.

  7. psychscribe Says:

    TruthandLove: what i really hate is exactly the situation you describe with your girlfriend. Her husband had encouraged her to “explore” her feelings hoping she was bi-sexual..was he hoping that because it was a turn on for him to participate? To watch? Was it really empathy for her, or all about him?

  8. mssc54 Says:

    How would you explain identical twins? One being gay/lesbian the other not?

  9. psychscribe Says:

    Well, studies of identical twins seem to indicate that the nature vs nurture debate begins in the womb. Hormonal environmental influences, for one, can vary and hypothetically influence each identical twin differently in regard to sexual orientation. I say “seem to” and “hypothetically” because I think that any study can be used for any purpose, depending upon the bias of the person either conducting it or relying upon the results. What do you think, mssc54?

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