NOVEMBER 2020 Volume 21,
Bonnie’s Mantra: LIFE WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE THIS COMPLICATED. PERIOD.
SAY HIS NAME, SAY HIS NAME—GAY HUSBAND
One of my readers asked me to address the issue of revealing her husband’s homosexuality to other people when he specifically asked her not to do it. I think the majority of our women have been put in this most uncomfortable position of “keeping his secret." Do we owe this to our husbands? Is it really our secret to have to keep? I say NO with a resounding thunder. Why? Very simple. It’s not our secret to keep.
I remember during my marriage how isolated I felt. Part of that isolation was because my ex-husband alienated so many people out of our lives specifically MY friends and family. It was almost as if he could keep people away from me, I wouldn’t “slip” and tell them the truth. Quite honestly, I was scared to tell anyone the truth because if my ex would have found out, I would have been vilified and punished. He was never physically abusive, but he was very emotionally abusive knowing how to attack every weak point in my ego and then some. He was also very volatile. As I’ve said before, he liked to “shout me down to shut me up.” And he was quite successful at doing so.
So you may say, but after the marriage….well, after the marriage wasn’t much better in the early years. He would be leading his gay life while warning me to keep “mum” so no one else would know it—except for the numerous men he was sleeping with. It was no secret to them for sure. And so I suffered in silence with people who were imagining where “I” went wrong in the marriage. To some he seemed like such a great guy—like many of our ex-husbands. They can charm a snake and convince people they are faultless for the breakup of the marriage. In fact, they are usually the victims. Why did they leave us? Because we weren’t supportive enough or we didn’t clean the house well enough. They usually never take the responsibility, do they? It’s so much easier to shift the blame over to us especially when they explaining this to their families. And their families who looked at us as daughters now look at us through faulty vision based on the lies they are being told by our gay husbands. It’s a no win situation. If we keep their secret, we come out losing.
In a world that now sympathizes with the brave gay husbands who have sacrificed their “authentic lives” to do the “right thing” by staying in their marriages until their families were grown up--while wasting years of their wives’ sanity and sense of self-worth--I don’t see any point in having to keep that secret any longer. Why is it our job to keep silent when they can live their authentic lives at our expense? That doesn’t make sense.
Keeping his secret hurts one person—namely YOU. First of all, it puts you in a position of telling a lie on his behalf. That’s the kind of lie that will eat your soul out and make you sick. In many cases, your husbands will deny that they are gay and claim that you are making it up to get back at them. I say tell it anyway. In time, almost all of these men will live the life they want to lead even if it’s behind your back or when you’re not looking. If they are gay, they are going to act on it. Maybe in the beginning it could be just looking at gay porn, but it time, it will be acting on those urges that won’t go away. If you think your gay husband isn’t having gay sex, well, then you are the one in a state of denial—not him.
I recently had a chat with one of our members the other day, and she insisted to me that her husband couldn’t possibly be cheating on her because she knows where he is at all times. I explained to her that these men can be with you at all times and still be cheating on you. I know that as a fact because I have worked with several thousand gay men over the 35 years that I’m doing this. Their stories are unbelievable.
For instance, one man I personally know told me how he always went shopping with his wife to a local national chain department store. She would go into the ladies department; he would tell her he’s trying on clothes in the men’s department. He would exit to the men’s department and meet up with someone in the dressing room (planned out ahead of the visit) and have one minute sex with the guy in the dressing room. This happened on multiple occasions.
Another man would tell me about his “dining experiences” in a large chain restaurant where he would go with his wife. She would be ordering dinner, and he would excuse himself to go outside to have a cigarette. He would meet up with a guy outside in the back of the restaurant, “relieve” himself, and go back to dinner as if nothing had happened.
One other man told me of his adventures in his HOUSE while his wife went shopping. He actually had men come over for what he described as a “quicky” in his marital bedroom and be done long before she came home.
These are true and validated stories. How does this happen? Easy. These guys have all kinds of apps to meet people for anonymous sex. They throw out the word that they are married men looking for fast fun—and they find it. And I know it works. A few years ago we had a healing weekend in Texas. We downloaded the app to try it out because we couldn’t believe it. We put out the word that we were a “married man” looking for fun with another man. Within five minutes, there were six responses ready to come to the hotel—no questions asked.
Getting back to my original point, you can feel free to tell anyone you want the real truth. You don’t need to keep a secret that is not yours to keep. Let people know the truth on why your marriage breaking up. It doesn’t take “two to tango” when you have a gay husband—it only takes one—the gay husband. PERIOD. Well, not exactly. This will take me to my next topic!
HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO BREAK UP A MARRIAGE?
Let’s talk about marriage for a moment. Actually, let’s first talk about straight marriages. Now I realize that most of my readers have a difficult time talking about this because they haven’t experienced it—so let me be the one to tell you about it based on my own experience and the experiences of others that we know.
They say that 50% of marriages with straight couples end in divorce in this country. There are numerous reasons why this happens which include:
1. Marriage at a young age when you are unsure of who you are.
2. Marriage at a young age when you are unsure of what you want.
3. People aging and growing in different directions.
4. People getting tired of each other or just fall out of love.
5. Personality conflicts that develop more clearly.
6. Financial problems that break people apart.
7. Infidelity in a marriage.
All of this factors into the loss of a straight marriage. As I tell women I work with in this situation that there doesn’t have to be a good partner and a bad partner—a marriage may not work with two good people just going in different directions. In every marriage there will be problems, but it doesn’t have to come down to blame and stacking up who has more right and wrong points to justify the end of a marriage.
However, when it comes to being married to a gay man, all of this changes. It doesn’t matter how young or how old you are when you get married. It doesn’t matter what his personality is or what yours is. All that matters is one thing—he is a gay man and you are a straight woman. That is the recipe for disaster.
I hate when I first meet women who are internalizing what they did wrong in the marriage or what they could have done “better.” I also understand why they feel this way. Their husbands have been training them for years to believe that his frustrations and their problems in the marriage were the result of her—not him. Women start analyzing what they could have done differently in the marriage. This is where I have to “knock some sense” into them to make them realize that nothing would have changed the end result.
Men tell me a whole list of excuses for the failure of the marriage—not of which, by the way, is the gay factor. They say:
1. We married too young – No, it’s because you are gay.
2. We’ve grown apart – No, it’s because you are gay.
3. My wife isn’t supportive to me – No, it’s because you are gay.
4. My wife isn’t interested in sex – No, it’s because you are gay AND you’ve done nothing to make her feel sexually wanted (I have to add that)
5. My wife is always depressed – Yes, because you are gay.
6. My wife is always suspicious – Yes, because you are cheating on her.
7. My wife is always accusing me of being unfaithful – Yes, because you are.
The list could go on indefinitely, but you get the point.
True, I became a different person from living with my gay husband. I was a strong and independent woman when I married him. How strong was I? In 1970 – 1979,I was the a local leader and later national director of a of an activist/militant Jewish organization fighting against neo-Nazis and Nazi War Criminals. I spent ten years getting arrested, jumping barricades, getting thrown down steps, hit by bottles—yes, I was strong. When I met my gay husband, I was charmed by his good looks, sense of humor, intelligence, and charisma. His strength drew me to him because I wanted a man I could lean on. I came to learn that his strength was that of a bully—always having to get his way or screaming and shouting. It didn’t happen for a while. He didn’t display any fits of anger prior to our marriage. After all, he was an excellent actor. He had been performing his whole life pretending to be a straight man.
We married much too soon. He was desperate for stability, and I believed whatever little faults I had noticed could be “cured” by the love and security he was so desperate for. I had come out of a previous bad marriage and was looking for someone to love. He came from an unstable family and suffered as a result of that. He sure knew how to get me to feel sorry for him. He had that vulnerable side that always sucked me in even after I escaped his mistreatment of me long after the marriage was over. I think these men target women like us who are caring and compassionate knowing that no matter what, we will still be there for them when the truth comes out.
We were only married for a short time—five years--which produced two children. I suspected his homosexuality two years into the marriage, but by that time, I was pregnant with my second child and since he was adamant he wasn’t gay, I let it go. He was not adamant that he wasn’t bisexual. By year three, when he confessed to me that he had a “moment of weakness” with some younger guy, and after I went and vomited in the toilet for a number of days, I stated to him that I was willing to “bargain.” Here were my terms: If you could disappear once every six months and not let me know about it—and if you are willing to be with someone of age limit—I CAN LIVE WITH THAT. Silly me. Imagine bargaining with a gay man!! Well, at that time what I thought was a “bisexual” man.
Why bisexual? Because he was married to me. He had sex with me. Maybe it wasn’t much and maybe it wasn’t great, but it was still sex and that wasn’t something a gay man couldn’t do, right? Wrong. But no one was out there telling me that at the time long before technology had kicked in.
Did I change? Yes. I became suspicious every time he walked out the door wondering when that “once every six months” was going to be not realizing it would become more like once every six days. I would suspect the crime was being committed each time he left for any parts unknown. Was he always walking out to cheat on me? No—but I know that he was a lot of the time.
I began to recognize the signs. He would shave, dress up, wear cologne, and “look” like he was going out on a date—even when he was going to the “gym,” the biggest pick up places for gay men. Yes, straight gyms. Steam baths with other “straight” men who had male indiscretions—but they weren’t gay either. Gosh, I was so lost.
In1980, there was no realistic information at all out there even if you could find it. People believed that gay could be a choice you could make. I believed it. I believed that if I would try harder, clean better, lose weight, cook more, be more supportive, be less jealous (of nothing so he claimed), then maybe he could be a “better husband.”
I was a prisoner running around the “circle of crazy.” He was cheating on me regularly, but I didn’t confirm this until after the marriage when he told it to me in a joking, bragging way. Yes, he had many a conquest of “quickies” in convenient places from the gym to our bedroom when I wasn’t home. This man had no boundaries. If he gave me anything, it was the truth after the marriage was over. But not because I DESERVED IT, but because he thought he got away with something time and again. This is the sign of a true sociopath.
Getting back to my point, I did become a different person while living this nightmare. I didn’t know who I was anymore and either did my family and friends. I had been isolated from them by my ex who made sure to have a fight with me every time someone was visiting us for fear I might tell one of them my suspicions about his secret. They just didn’t want to come to see me anymore for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
I begged him to go to counseling with me, but he refused. He told me if I needed counseling, I could go—as long as I never discussed my “suspicions” with the counselor. If he found out that I did, he would leave and take the children. At that point, I was so beaten down. He had total control of all of our money. I rarely had more than a dollar in my wallet—another form of control.
It’s funny. My ex fell madly in love with a younger man, Billy, two years after we split up. I really believe he was truly enamored with this guy. It was different than all of his other hookups. He was obsessed. Billy stayed with him for a couple of years on and off. I had a number of interactions with him because the children would visit their father a couple of times a year. I found it so amazing that he treated Billy the same way he treated me. Not at first—but once he had him. This young man would commiserate with me about the way my ex treated him—the same way he treated me. Never believe these guys with personality disorders change even when they start leading their new “authentic lives.” They don’t. They can’t. They don’t want to.
Today, nearly 40 years later, things have changed. Women have access to information. The Internet is scattered with stories of women who have been married to gay men. I have had my website up for 20 years and had over 560,000 hits for information. Today when women want to learn about this disaster—it is out there. And yet, the truth is still so hard to believe. We still try to bargain with our realities. My heart aches each week when women contact me looking for some false hope that I can’t give them. When women with “bisexual” husbands ask me if their husbands can truly be bisexual and just not cheat on them, what can I tell them? I tell them maybe it’s possible, but in nearly 40 years, I haven’t seen it happen yet. That’s me—the voice of “doom and gloom” or rather honesty and tough love.
When I talk to women who lived with their gay husbands for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 plus years, my heart breaks for them. Living a life time of deceit and always wondering what you are doing wrong to create it is a painful way to live. Some women are beaten down like I was. They don’t have the courage to take their lives back. I was lucky that my ex walked out in anger leaving me with two babies and $50.00. I had no car, no phone, and no self-esteem at that point. He thought he would teach me a lesson so that when he came home, I’d be so happy to have him back that I would give in to his (as my sister calls them) SHENANGANS. Ah, no such luck. In that one week I didn’t weaken—I found my former inner strength. And as scared as I was to be broke with no job or minimal resources, I found the strength to say NO when he returned a week later. But being honest—if he would not have left for that week, who knows how long I would have stayed in that state of fear and hopelessness? Maybe I would have been one of those heartbreaking stories of suffering for another 20 years or more.
People tell me that I am one of the strongest women they know. Hardly. I am one of the luckiest women they know because my ex left me and after five years and gave me the chance to find myself again. I tell you my own story so you should never second guess yourself or blame yourself for staying longer than you should have. Never blame yourself for hoping against hope that you imagination was running away with you. Never beat yourself up for wondering why it took you so long to see the truth. We are good-hearted, loving women who try to find the best in the worst or at least the not-best situation. We need to stop blaming ourselves for any of the problems in our marriages. Any mistakes we made were directly due to the way we were treated and ripped down either passively or aggressively. We became different women than we were when we entered the marriage, and those traits that are husbands created were the ones that our husbands complained about. We were too “needy,” “suspicious” or “jealous.” I wonder why. We have nothing to feel ashamed about. No one has the right to judge us for how long we stayed or why we stayed. It’s bad enough we lived through this experience. No apologies or explanations are ever needed to anyone—including yourself!
MY HOLIDAY MESSAGE FROM 2016
I wrote a holiday message four years ago that I will repeat in this newsletter. The sentiments are the same. I know this is such a tough time of year for so many of our straight wives, so I hope this article will help you.
IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT….
Ladies, I’d like to wish you a holiday season. It would be a little silly to say “Happy” holiday season to the many of you who would feel I’m being sarcastic or insensitive during the worst months of each year.
For those of you who are still suffering in your marriages built on illusions and mirrors, there is no real happiness to talk about. Your future is in limbo, and you know that any moment your husband walks out the door some shoe can fall on your head.
For those of you who are newly divorced, this will be your most difficult year yet. All of those holiday traditions you celebrated together are no longer there. And as much as people like me advise you to “start new traditions” and give you “tips” for getting through the holiday, let’s be for real—it’s never, ever that simple.
For those of you in the early years of Gay Husband Recovery, memories of what you thought was yours forever will do the dance of the sugar plum fairies in your brain—no pun intended. They just make you wonder on what was real or not real for those years.
For those of you who are further into your recovery and still struggling with “issues” that create residual feelings of PTSD when certain triggers remind you of what you had, lost, or never had and lost—this is the time to expect those feelings to rise to the surface.
No matter what phase you are in, we are all struggling in this game of either GIVE ME BACK MY LIFE AS IT USED TO BE, or when you realize that won’t happen--TAKE BACK MY LIFE SO I CAN MOVE AHEAD. Unfortunately those pictures being shoved in our face every day and everywhere of families living out our fantasies that we believed to be our realities really tips our boat over making us feel like we are drowning or tilts the pin ball machine in our brain with bright lights until we are screaming “Tilt, Tilt.”
Personally, I think the holidays are a time we don’t have to be happy or even pretend to be happy. We’re not going to fool ourselves for sure. Maybe we can fool others around us, but do we need to do that? Do we need to pretend that our feelings aren’t really that important? Do we need to feel any more “minimized” than we already do?
Being in or ending a marriage to a gay man—whether he is open, in the closet, or somewhere in between—is a traumatic life event. Your investment of time and love into a no-win situation is your reality. In most cases, knowing that your husband was “exploring” his sexuality while lying next to you while he was lying to you and blaming you for the mishaps along the way is something you have to process. In over 20% of the cases of women who come to me, they have the received a gift from their gay husband’s indiscretions that never goes away—namely an STD that will last forever in some cases. And if that isn’t enough to kick you in the gut, people are praising him for being “brave” for coming out. Hello….what about us??? Is anyone praising us for the years we devoted to our family trying to be superwomen in hopes that our husbands would want us? Is anyone marching on a special day saying, “We are proud to be Straight Wives”? Do we get a special day of recognition or a movie about our pain?
And what about how we are portrayed by the media? First we had Brokeback Mountain that portrayed the two wives of gay men as idiots. Now we get a Netflix dramoedy with a real-life older out lesbian playing a straight wife. Oh—we also had Fran Drescher playing Nanny to her gay ex-husband on their double dates and a few Mormon women on TLC talking about how they are happy to marry their gay boyfriends. Is it any wonder that our ex gay husbands are the heroes? There is nothing real about how the media portrays our struggle—we appear as stupid bimbos who should have known better.
Yep. I’m angry. But I’m not bitter. There’s a line that separates them. A few people call me bitter—but that’s not the case. My life moved on, and I am living happily ever after. I’m angry because too many of you still suffering. Bitter would mean that I’m encouraging our women to stay angry. I don’t encourage it at all—but I do acknowledge it. I will validate every raw feeling that you have and make sure that you take absolutely NO RESPONSIBILITY for the demise of your marriage. I will not accept any man telling me, “Well, it wouldn’t have worked out even if I were straight.” That’s what I call denial. They just don’t get it because gay men don’t think straight. They don’t get that the way that you act is in response to the way they treat you.
Most of our women are wonderful women who want to be wonderful wives. Yes, some of us come from situations where there were “issues,” but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be wonderful wives—if we have wonderful husbands to nurture us and help us thrive. When we live a daily life of lies, confusion, and blame, we become different people. We become fearful, co-dependent, and suspicious because we are living someone else’s lie. This is the true shame of the holidays when you are a straight wife.
So, my message to you is to “just get through it.” It’s going to be a rough time until mid-February when all of those loving holidays are finally gone. Until then, it will be one reminder after another of what you thought you had but don’t have.
One of the reasons I get bummed out around this time of year is because I do know what’s ahead. I know that within the next 4 weeks or so, I am going to be meeting dozens of new women who will be hearing the news they never wanted to hear. This is the time of year that many married gay men wait for to tell their wives. They don’t want to louse up the holidays for the family, so they hang in there until January 1st or shortly thereafter. No comment. I’ll just be waiting for them.
Maybe it’s not the best time of the year for many Straight Wives—but it is a psychological time of renewal when January 1st comes along. The worst of the holiday season is behind us so things can get back on track. I was going to say “normalize,” but that would be misleading, wouldn’t it?
To all of my straight sisters, I wish you pleasant holidays. I am here for anyone who needs support. Just email me! I’m here for you!!