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Gay & Married. Is it Time to Come Clean? - Relationship Advice

Updated on August 18, 2011

Dear Veronica,

I read your piece entitled, I'm Gay - Advice on Coming Out. I really feel like it's time to come out but my situation is different. I'm 42 and I've been married for ten years. My wife has no idea that I'm gay. I shouldn't have gotten married, I know. I grew up in a very harsh home. You described what it's like when people will only love you conditionally. They don't love you, they love what they want you be. That's how I grew up. I wasn't ready to be alone. I knew they would reject me completely and I hid. No one knows. I've kept this secret and even go to this point after I turned 30 where I was just so used to being alone that I thought I could pull off getting married. I married this woman and wanted to just lose myself in this lie where everyone liked me. We have 2 children and a big house, everything she wanted. I went through the motions and I just kept lying to everyone. We haven't had sex in 6 years. Two things happened this year that make me think maybe it's time to come clean and end this charade. My son who is 8 years old asked me about a television show we saw that involved a gay boy being rejected by his father. He asked me if  I would still love him if he didn't grow up to be just like me. He looked genuinely scared. I realize he's very young and may not have any idea what exactly he was asking or why. But the fear was there. He didn't use these words, but he wanted to know if my love was conditional. The other thing that happened is my daughter, who is 7 drew a picture of the family. In the picture I have my eyes closed and I am frowning. My wife, son and daughter are pictured smiling with their eyes open, holding hands. I didn't ask her about it. It is obvious she senses I am unhappy and I am not part of the family they way the others are. I believe I am setting a horrible example for my children living this lie and I don't want to do it anymore. How do I do this? What do I say to my wife?


Dear Scott,

It's frightening how perceptive children can be.

I'm not going to pretend to understand what you're going through. But I am so very moved by the two events that you've pointed out as having such an effect on you. And I have empathy for everyone involved.

You all deserve a chance at an honest and authentic life. Your wife deserves to be told, and she deserves to be loved by a man that actually feels in love with her and wants to spend his life with her. You deserve to be yourself. Your real self. Not the lie that you believed you had to live, not the you within their conditions.

Your children deserve your honesty. They deserve to be able to look up to you, and to feel your unconditional love. They can't live full and whole lives if they believe you are frowning, eyes closed, not touching anyone. They can't thrive sensing your misery. A family that really loves you doesn't want you to be miserable. That isn't what love is.

If you have not slept with your wife in 6 years, she knows something is wrong. You didn't go into any detail regarding your wife or your marriage. Is she someone that shows prejudice, is she a friend, what have you two talked about, why does she think you don't sleep with her. No matter what the relationship has been, when you tell her, she will be hurt. She may lash out, she may yell, she may cry. These are all reasonable responses. She may feel some relief to finally know that what's been wrong in the marriage is not her fault. Of course years from now she will be glad you were finally honest. She will have moved on and felt freed and accepted, hopefully in a relationship with someone that is in love with her. But that's well up the road. Here in the now, it's not going to be so easy. The odds are it's going to be pretty hard. Often doing the right thing is.

All you can be is yourself. The people who love you will love you. And as you already know, the people who loved you conditionally aren't worth having in your life.

My advice for the tell is to do it privately. Send the kids to grandma's or a sleep over. Give your wife the time and space to react. If she wants to yell, cry, or break stuff, she should have that freedom without having to worry about the little ears that don't need to bare witness. As much as I am rooting for you, I am well aware that the lie you told her is a huge one. No woman wants to hear her husband isn't in love with her, let alone that he never was and never could have been. It's going to tear her world apart. It may make her question her ability to believe people, or trust in herself and her instincts. You have to prepared for that, you have to be ready to understand that once you come clean, this isn't just about you anymore. This becomes about her.

Ultimately all involved will be stronger and better once the truth is out. Try to keep that in focus as you wade through the difficulty of telling the truth. It's the right thing to do.

I'm very curious about what you were watching on TV that instigated your son to question the scene where a father rejected his gay son. Every decade, every year, the subjects of gays, sexual preference and acceptance infiltrate the living rooms through television and movies more and more. I realize we still have a long way to go. But the subject isn't the taboo inaccessible thing that it once was. Where I'm going with this is the living room you grew up in, to the living room your children are growing up in. I seriously doubt you asked your father when you were 8 if he would love you if you grew up to be different than he is. The last three decades have been significant ones. Keep that in mind as you speak to your children.

One more thing I really want to suggest to you, is that after you've told your wife and given her some space to lash out and react and absorb, tell her about those moments you had with your children. Let her know your kids are your priority and that you want to be authentic with them. You want to be an example for them. Please tell your wife that she is of course free to be mad at you. She is allowed to take this out on you and blame you and be angry. That's all fine. But to please be very careful with the words she chooses around your children.

Your son's expression of concern to you may have been a first awarity on his part that he's different. Some people will tell you he's too young to know. Some people will tell you he isn't. In either case, he may be sensing that he's different. To be only 8 years old and asking you what will happen if he grows up to be different than you are, that to me says something. Your wife needs to be very aware of herself. She can't lash out or say anything derogatory about your sexual preference.

She has to be aware that the words she chooses may damage him forever. Not only because she is speaking about his father, but also because he may come to realize he's gay and assume that she despises him for it. That would be horrible, and wrong, and painful. No matter what you and your wife can and can't agree on during this split, you have to agree to the best parents you can possibly be. You have to agree to make your children feel safe and loved. If she is showing hate and anger toward gays your son is going to pay the price for that. He will grow up like you did, feeling he will only be loved conditionally. That he can't be himself or that he can't be honest. Your wife can't let that happen. No matter how mad she is at you, she has to make sure she creates an environment for her children that is safe and honest, where they know they can grow up to be themselves, and that they will be loved and accepted.

She needs to understand that if she's mad at you, she needs to make sure the kids understand she's mad at you for lying, not for being gay. 

I hope you will do this, and report back to us and let us know that you're all OK. Namaste. 


Submit a Comment
  • profile image

    Cristina Kuiper 

    7 years ago

    As a straight wife of a marriage that lasted 23 years I wish my husband would of been honest with me from the start about he gay affairs and attraction to the opposite sex.

    I struggled for so long trying to comprehend why he couldn't make love to me for most, if not all of our marriage. It was over 16 years (since our last son was born) that we had sexual intercourse.

    I fantasized for so long wishing to be touch and ravished like a typical heterosexual couple would. I was envious of my friends who's husbands would be playful with their wives and tell them how sexy and beautiful they were. I watched strangers interact (man and woman) from the distance, to help fill up my hungry needs inside.

    I managed to move through life accepting all of these empty holes, needs, wants and desires. After all, I was in this marriage for life.

    When I discovered the gay porn, when I realized all those trips to Portland included late night evenings at the gay clubs. When I realized the long nights after work were for meeting his "fellow friends" at the beach. When he pack his lunch it was for reasons to include meeting others at the parks, I was in shock and suffered a deep dark depression like I never experienced in my life. It's last for several years. The life I had or thought "died" and yet, he was still there. I felt like I was just a cover up for someone else's selfish needs. All the emptiness I felt all those years was real and this was painful to comprehend. He denied it all then confessed. Then he went back to denial and remains back in his closet.

    So when I read how gay men stay in a marriage and feel like their not getting their needs met, trust me, neither is your wife. It's an empty road, no matter how much she loves you or you might love her.Is that fair?

    One of the toughest things is realizing after 23 years of my devotion he didn't cry or shed a tear when I said I couldn't stay with him. My therapist explain that it was because he had been detached from me long before. That was painful to accept. i thought I was more deserving for all I gave, poured and provided. All my adult life time too.

    I was a wealthy woman when I met my gay husband. I look back and think that maybe that was the only reason he married me. After he left me, he tried to make me look like I was greedy asking for support and a bad person to our children. Little did they know that he was hiding cash, financial accounts and depleted all assets we ever had.

    Now, he has found another woman and will keep his dark little secret inside. She too has financial wealth and I sometimes wonder if I should tell her. I feel sorry for her because she will be a target of just his use. Just like I was. Yet, I tell her, what happens next? I can't get mixed up in is life. It's his and I now have mine.

    If I had a wish, I tell you and my ex, to be open and honest. Listen to your instincts and who cares what other thinks. Life will go on.

    I read above and other post where men say they are happier to live with a woman yet will remain attractive to the same sex. What I really think, in my opinion, is you don't know how to fit this all in with society's pressure. However, you can believe what you want, yet at the end, you hurt the one who was innocent and cheat yourself about who you really are and whom you truly sexually desire.

    If you spend your life in denial about your sexuality, you become in denial about everything you are and do in life. If you choose to hide (in the closet) you will hide other things too (money, friendships, lovers, where you are and what you like, etc..)

    Just to clarify, I am not oppose to homosexuality, all I wish as a soon to be ex wife to a gay man, get on with your life and be yourself and give your wife what she deserves...the truth and some day again, her happiness and yours.


  • profile image


    7 years ago

    What an excellent, well thought out answer!

    I agree staying together isn't necessarily the best thing. The day I came home from school to have my Mum tell me Dad had left and they are divorcing was such a relief. It was the hellish year before that of constant yelling and fighting every night that really traumatised my childhood, and still affects me now at 41.

    The way the children are picking up the vibes in the family is really interesting too.

    Hope it works out alright for them all. The husband seems perceptive and intelligent and will do the right thing.

  • profile image

    cristina kuiper 

    7 years ago

    Your wife deserves the truth and so do you. After being in q marriage with a man who remains in the closet I deserved the the truth. Yet I discovered the gay poem and male callers. My soon to be ex can't even accept who he is. He only knows how to lie. I would of honored him had he been honest but he struggled to do any of he is fooling another woman and then there might be another... After 16 years of no sexual intercourse ..I was hungry. That ruins a woman...I am Almost 50 and lost most my adult lice on denial of what a woman deserves. So be honest and teach your children that being who you really are sets you free... I admire men lime you. At least you have the courage to set your family free....I wish my ex would of been bra e enough. Even his sister is a lesbian. These things run in families. We never know....peace

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thanks for the comment Debbie. I'm watching Dr Phil right now, and he just said, "Children would much rather be from a broken home, than to live in one." Very very true.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Wow this is a really sensitive article. My parents were miserable and hated each other but stayed together for us kids. It wasn't because of this issue but whatever. This gave me chills because that drawing that the little girl made sounds like something i would draw when i was little. Now I never speak to my dad and I see my mom once a year at christmas and that is it. I wonder what was so great about staying together for the kids. i think it harmed us all. I hope the writer of the letter to you listens to your advice Veronica.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thanks Sa'ge!

  • Sa`ge profile image


    8 years ago from Barefoot Island

    good advise here on all counts! Especially on the children, I fully agree with you! ~aloha~


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