I am so excited because March marks the 11th year of the start of my monthly newsletter Straight Talk. I will be going back to the archives to share the best of my past advice via my newsletters.
This first article was written for the premier issue of the newsletter in March 2001.
Now, a decade later, I am repeating it for you because none of the relevency has been lost--none!
I hope you learn from this.
The Issue of SECRECY—Who Can I Tell?
Several dozen women have recently written to me about the issue of keeping the news of their husbands’ homosexuality a secret once they learn about it. Their husbands are very emphatic that no one should know about this—not family members, friends, co-workers or counselors.
I feel very angry when I receive these letters because not only are these wives expected to deal with their shattered lives, but their husbands also expect them to deal with it alone in isolation. Some women admit that they are much too embarrassed to tell anyone for fear of being ridiculed. Others are convinced that it would be some type of betrayal to their husbands even though they have been betrayed. Why do they feel the need to protect their husbands while they continue to suffer in silence?
I remember when I suspected that my husband, Michael, might be “bisexual” and suggested that we talk to a professional counselor. He strongly warned me that if I told anyone about my suspicions, he would leave me and never look back. At that time, I was in a beaten down state of mind, and the thought of his leaving kept me from seeking help and support. Eventually when I couldn’t bear to carry this burden alone, I turned to my family and made them promise me that they would never reveal my suspicions because I couldn’t bear to pay the consequences. I suffered greatly during those days because I felt so isolated and alone.
Gay husbands who demand this from their wives have most likely made sure that they have a support system in place. They have already gone to bars, meetings, and/or counselors to look for affirmation in their decision to come out. They have gotten the support they need, but fear that their secret will hurt their reputation with the family, friends, and business associates.
This to me is the greatest form of selfishness. I strongly encourage all women who learn this news to seek help and support immediately. No woman should have to deal with this devastation alone. The straight wives are the ones who need the support and help. It is their lives that are being pulled apart one strand at a time. One woman wrote me the following:
I have been married for 15 years. Three months ago, my husband revealed to me that he was homosexual. I was shocked and repulsed by this news. At first I couldn’t believe it. Here was a man whom I thought was my best friend for all these years. I believed we had no secrets between us. How could I have been so blind not to see this?
These last six months have been the most painful months of my life. My husband moved out last month with another man whom he claims he loves. I still love him very much in spite of the hurt. He has begged me not to tell anyone about the real reason he left. I have gone along with his wishes to protect him from the disapproval of his family. But in the meantime, I constantly receive calls from his mother and sister asking me why we can’t work on our problems in our marriage. Now they actually feel that I am the cause of the split because they think that I am not looking to go for help. Even my own mother can’t understand why I am not trying harder to put things back on track.
I’m not looking to hurt my husband, but on the other hand, I’m not happy with people thinking that I am the cause of the problem. What should I do not to compromise his request for secrecy but not to take the brunt of the blame?
This letter was typical of the many I received from women trying to protect their husbands while taking the blame for the break-up of the marriage. Honestly I don’t understand this need to continue protecting the husband.
I am not saying that the news should be shouted out to anyone who will lend an ear; however, no woman should have to endure the additional pressures of taking the blame from the family. Homosexuality is clearly the reason why the marriage is breaking apart. Why shouldn’t the wife be “allowed” to tell her family and friends who can offer her support? How much more selfish can a husband be to expect this news to remain his secret? It’s not his secret to the people he chooses to tell.
I remember after my marriage when I revealed this information to my friends. My husband became enraged yelling that it was not my place to tell people. This was his private business and I had no right spreading it around. But I told them anyway because I needed support and understanding. Those people around me were very supportive even if they didn’t understand the issue. They may not have understood, but they knew I was hurting and wanted to help me feel better. This is what helped me move through the readjustment period much more quickly.
Your husband kept his homosexuality a secret until he was ready to reveal the information. This does not mean that you are committed to keeping it a secret. This information should not be used as a weapon of revenge; however, women can certainly use it to enlist the needed support to cope with the changes that will come about from this revelation. His secret is now your nightmare. You have every right to find the comfort and support you need.