In 2008, my wife left me for a woman. That statement alone sends people into shock. They look into my eyes with a sense of pity, unsure of how to respond. If you’re going through something similar, you know those looks and you know the pain that you feel. I know that you’re hurting right now, but I can promise you, it will get better.
I had dated my ex-wife for six years and then we married. After two years of marriage, we moved 600 miles away from our home state and our friends and families for her job. This was to be a new life for us, full of fun and excitement, new friends and new experiences. Little did I know, new experiences were definitely to come.
Within six months, I discovered that my wife was carrying on a secret affair with a woman she met at work. I confronted her about it, we discussed it, and I asked for a divorce, something I never saw myself doing. I experienced shock, depression, shame, guilt, and a host of mixed emotions. This was someone I loved, someone I trusted, someone I truly thought I knew, inside and out. But I learned to cope with the pain and anxiety and have come out on the other side, happy and moving forward with my life. Here are some strategies for dealing with the issues surrounding a spouse who has left you for a member of the same sex.
Don’t Blame Yourself
It’s very easy to blame yourself if a spouse cheats, let alone if it’s with a member of the same sex. You may begin to question yourself, possibly imagining that you somehow had a hand in “turning” them gay. Get rid of this blame right now. Aside from the debate of whether homosexuality is a choice or not, the fact simply is that your spouse did make a choice; the choice to leave. That is the main issue here. The issue of sexuality doesn’t change anything. Your spouse is either confused or has felt this way the entire time and has repressed those feelings. You cannot “turn” someone gay.
Give Yourself Time
It’s tempting to try to rush things when under stress. This is a normal human reaction. You are trying to get distance between the stress, to relieve it. But don’t rush things. Right now is not a time to be making big decisions. Your mind is not in a good place and you may make decisions that you will regret. Take all the time you need to ground yourself again before moving forward. Also, realize that it is going to take time to process everything. The confusion you feel is not going to go away overnight (however, it WILL go away.) Allow yourself to go through the stages of grief.
Talk to Someone You Trust
It’s so very important to talk to someone when going through a situation like this. A family member, a trusted friend, or a counselor can be life savers. Be honest and open, as much as you can. It’s a unique situation and most people can’t understand it and/or haven’t experienced it, but the people who love you are there to support you and help you. Be aware though, that talking to friends and family can’t always offer you the objective viewpoint of a therapist. A therapist can give you advice based on experience, from their outside view, not from emotion or a history with you. You can also seek out support forums online and connect to others who are going through similar situations.
Try Not to Let Anger Control You
Anger is one of the biggest emotions I experienced when I discovered my wife’s secret. I was angry at her for not telling me, angry at myself for not seeing it coming, and angry at life for not delivering the normal life I thought I deserved. But my anger toward my wife subsided. I realized that she may have been faking her happiness for a very long time. If I truly loved her, wouldn’t I want her to be happy, even if it wasn’t with me? I let go of the anger that I had turned toward myself. I came to understand that, while everyone makes mistakes in a relationship, there wasn’t anything I could have done or not done to avoid her decision. I didn’t make her feel the way she feels. I also let go of my anger at the world. The idea of a “perfect, normal” life had been instilled in me since birth and when it didn’t pan out, I was confused and felt that my entire world had been turned on its head. I have, however, come to realize that my life is what I make it, it isn’t fair, and nothing is guaranteed. There is no such thing as “normal.” Normal is what you make it. Problems will arise in life and it’s our job to make the best of them.
This goes for normal breakups/divorces, but it’s more of an issue when a spouse admits to being gay. The reason is that you may be feeling insecure with yourself and you might rebound with another person in order to “prove” to yourself that you can satisfy a woman/man. This can lead to major problems and only complicate your life. When my wife left me for a woman, I got on a dating site and met a girl who was also new in town and also going through a divorce. We dated and in the end, it was a disaster. I fell in “love” and was blindsided when, after a year, she ended it. This only compounded my pain and set me back in all of the progress I had made. It may be a temporary fix, but getting involved with someone else before you’ve healed will only cloud the goal you need to be focusing on; healing yourself.
In the end, keep in mind, this is still a relationship ending. Treat it as such. Remember that the feelings you are dealing with are common to most breakups and while a broken heart is possibly the worst pain in the world, you will get through it. Communicate with your spouse and try to reach a mature conclusion to the relationship, try not to argue or fight, respect their decision, and deal with the pain in a responsible way. Do not turn to drugs or alcohol. Take the time you need, treat yourself well, rest your mind and your heart, and allow time to work its magic. Affirm to yourself, multiple times a day, “I’m going to get through this!” This is not the end of your world and you will have many, many happy moments to come. This is temporary and you will get through this!