Wedding Cake

It’s the one question we all cringe when we hear it.  The one thing that brings more resentment and anger than any other.  The one inquiry that if people stopped and thought about it before they said it, they might not even think to ask.

It starts with the obvious

  • How did you not know he/she was gay?
  • How could you not tell he/she was gay?

The there is the mildly accusatory

  • He/She must have given you signs.
  • Didn’t you always have a suspicion from the start?

To the downright shaming

  • I just don’t understand how a person wouldn’t know their spouse was gay.
  • Didn’t you guys have sex?  How could he/she have sex with you if they were gay?
  • You knew before you married him/her right?

Straight spouses are men and women who end up in a mixed orientation marriage.  For the vast majority of us, we had no idea that our partners were homosexual or had any gay tendencies.  There is a saying in our community.  When our spouses come out of the closet we go into one.  Many straight spouses don’t want to bring added shame and stigma to their kids.  They also don’t want the judgment for something their spouse did.  So most straight spouses don’t openly talk about what happened to them.  It’s estimated that there are about 2 million straight spouses in the United States.  It not that we were all so sexually repressed we didn’t know the difference, we just married liars.  Our sex lives started out normal, and became dysfunctional.

Would anyone think to ask these types of questions to someone who had a spouse who was a serial cheater?  Would they think it was appropriate to blame a person who married a charming and habitual liar?  Would they assume that a person somehow should have seen signs of a well orchestrated cover-up?

Another one we get is along the lines of logic

  • Well I just don’t see why logically he/she would do that
  • That just doesn’t make sense, no one would care if he/she was gay

When anyone uses logic in the same breath as human sexuality I have to laugh.  Did it make any logical sense for Arnold Schwarzenegger to cheat on his beautiful, well-connected wife with the family’s average looking housekeeper?  Did it make sense for Anthony Weiner to repeatedly send explicit text messages and images to women he didn’t know, AFTER he had to resign from congress for the same behavior?  Did it make sense for Rhianna to date Chris Brown again AFTER he brutally beat her?  When it comes to sex and relationships, people act illogically all the time.  Gay men and women who marry straight partners are absolutely desperate to live what they see as a normal and healthy life.  Deep down they hate themselves and will do anything to try to fix what they see as a major flaw.  In most cases, our spouses viewed us as little more than props for their illusion.  They might have cared for us a great deal in their own twisted way, but ultimately we were means to an end.

Sex is relatively easy for most adults to pull off.  If we felt like our lives depended on it, most of us could stomach having sex with just about anyone.  We probably wouldn’t really enjoy ourselves, but if the alternative meant losing everything we held near and dear to our hearts, we might be able to find away through it.  That is basically how a lot of our spouses compartmentalized sex in our marriages.  As harsh as it may seem, most of our partners admit to fantasy, imagery and role-playing in order to have sex with their straight spouses.  The entire time they really wished they were with a same-sex partner.  For some of us, our partners could only pull off the charade for so long until our marriages basically became celibate.  Some used excuses such as past sexual trauma, erectile dysfunction or lowered hormones.   Meanwhile most if not all of these closeted gay men and women were actually having some type of homosexual sex outside of the marriage.

What is even worse is the assumption that sexual orientation is always so obvious.  Not every gay man speaks with a lisp, swishes when he walks, or spends an inordinate time on his appearance.  Not every gay woman dresses in a masculine way, has a short mannish haircut or refuses to wear makeup.  In fact, very few gay men and women act like a two-dimensional stereotype. There are many shades in the sexual orientation rainbow.  For a lot of straight spouses, our partners would appear heterosexual to most people.

When my ex-husband officially came out of the closet, even his close friends were in a state of disbelief.  Some even thought I may have started gay rumors to slander him.  My ex was notorious for leaving our apartment in shabby clothing, cheap shoes and looking generally disheveled.  He also aggressively pursued me and had multiple ex-girlfriends.  His last was a long-term relationship with a stunningly attractive Asian woman.   I didn’t know until I was many years into the marriage that he had sexual dysfunction or lack of sex in all of his previous relationships.  I didn’t know until after our divorce that he probably had same-sex relationships or at least homosexual sex long before I met him.  My case is typical, not exceptional.  Most straight spouses really do have no sign that their partners are living a secret life.  Much like the spouse of a philanderer is often the last to know that their spouse has had multiple affairs outside the marriage.

Ultimately people want order and rules in life.  They want to believe that bad things don’t happen to people without a reason.  They also want to think that somehow if they were in a terrible situation they would figure out a way to get out of it.  Well two-year olds sometimes get cancer while a few horrible people live well in their nineties.  The wealthy are sometime the nastiest most undeserving people, while some with very little have no limits for love and compassion.  Bad things sometimes happen to good people.   A wife or husband might be betrayed by the person they most adore.  I know these concepts might seem fairly obvious but I honestly wish more would think of them before asking:

How did you not know?

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56 comments on “How did you not know? – The worst thing to ask a Straight Spouse

  1. Shaun

    I am a gay man that was in a heterosexual marriage. I think it would be wonderful if it would be possible for the “straight” spouse and the “gay” spouse to be able to write a book so that that both sides could be seen and not just a one sided perspective. This is a very delicate subject with many aspects to take into consideration. It is just not cut and dry. For me, I did fall in love with my wife even as a gay man and to this day I still love her dearly. I married because I thought it was the “right” thing to do and I was brought up Catholic, which in itself says why I did what I did.

    I enjoyed reading your article for the most part although there were some points in it that I was not particularly happy with. The statement where you said ” Meanwhile most if not all of these closeted gay men and women were actually having some type of homosexual sex outside of the marriage.” This bothered me because not once did I have any sexual encounters outside of my marriage prior to my coming out of the closet. The worst I had ever done was to have conversations via messaging through Facebook with other gay men. I felt terrible about that because I am NOT a bad person, I am just a gay man that was taught what was right and what was wrong and I did what I was told to do.

    So, I guess the main point I am trying to make here is that in my opinion, at least for myself, I did not marry with any intentions of divorcing my wife and coming out one day. I married for life, but when I turned 45 and was very unhappy as was my wife I knew I had to do the “right” thing by coming out. I did it for myself as well as for my wife. I wanted her to have a heterosexual man to have a happy life with and I to have a gay man in my life to try and be happy. A lot of gay men, like myself, don’t know in what direction they should take and they may take the same as I did. Do I regret my decision to marry my best friend, NO, as we had three beautiful children out of our 23 year marriage.

    1. julietjeske

      This blog isn’t for you. I would rather have you not subscribe, please unsubscribe. And I don’t care that you were unhappy with anything I wrote, I have heard story after story and most men and women in your situation did in fact cheat on their spouses. You may or may not be telling the truth now. How would I know? People who lie to themselves and others for years aren’t the most trust worthy human beings.

      You caused your wife a tremendous amount of damage, you honestly have no idea. The suicide rate for straight spouses is three times higher than for spouses in a regular divorce. We suffer greatly. The only people who even give a damn about what happens to us, are other straight spouses. We are mostly a silent group who has to cover up what our spouses did to us.

      As hard as it is to be openly gay in the United States, at least there is a large organized community that is actively fighting for gay rights and acceptance of homosexuality. No one pats us on the back an congratulates us for coming out, but we do get a lot of judgment. There must be something wrong with us, we’re broken, stupid or naive. We get a lot of that, trust me. It has gotten a lot better for gays and lesbians in this country, and I hope things continue to improve. Hopefully in a generation or two, this won’t happen anymore.

      I have to deal with shame, stigma and judgment for something I didn’t even do. I nearly died from a massive depression, I was destroyed financially, I’ll probably never have kids, and I haven’t had a decent relationship since I left my husband four years ago. I flat out can’t trust anyone. So I’m not the audience for your plight.

      If you want to get your own story out, write your own blog…and deal with comments like yours. Please get off of mine.

      1. Shaun

        I really feel so sorry for you Juliet. You should really get some intensive therapy. I wish you the best in the future.

        1. julietjeske

          Just read the other comments on this thread. If anyone needs therapy it’s you. You really didn’t take much responsibility for the marriage you destroyed. You think it was 23 years of bliss, she probably looks back at 23 years of fraud. Have you heard of this thing called Narcissism? And if you don’t want a harsh response, then don’t go to a straight spouse and cry “poor me.” And please get the fuck off my blog. If I was onstage and had a mic in my hand, I would be far worse, you would get pure venom.

          And I’ll add this. It seems like you were looking for some type of forgiveness or acceptance. Perhaps you should seek that from your former spouse, not strangers on the internet. How do I know if you aren’t still living in a delusion of your own creation?

          1. Carl


            I am a straight man who has met a woman who was in such a marriage for ten years, and had four children. I consider her to be super human for having stayed INCREDIBLY sane, loving and beautiful through all the countless, ceaseless bullshit that that fucker did too her and perpetrated upon her psyche, her body and her children. I do NOT consider this sub human to be worthy of any psychological classification. He is a targeted weapon, a method of rape and warfare… not a human. Not deserving of sympathy. The first woman I’ve ever met (in50 years) that I would consider having children with, and this useless, spineless piece of shit robbed us of that opportunity, as we have now understood that there would have been a very great chance we would have met years ago, had she not been “married” to that thing. The thing is this piece of crap wants to dictate the terms of their divorce. He wants to say that she gets nothing if the children are not with her. I say he should be paying her back for every second he stole from her. Not only that, shouldn’t the support payments for the children account for inflation? Wouldn’t that be customary? It would be great to hear soon, because this is going to be finalized next week.

    2. Paula Scribner

      Really Shaun, STFU….give me a freakin break. Were you beating off while you were online chatting with other gay men or just thinking about puppies and dandelions? I’ve heard your Gay AMNESIA bullshit before. My Ex had Gay AMNESIA for 25 years, it an Epidemic! Call the CDC….just own it fully and stop trying to mindfuck your family and the world with this bullshit.

    3. Janet Nicolazzo

      Wow Shaun. So you didn’t know you were gay until you were 45? You probably knew by the time you were, say, seven. I think you should get a vanity license plate that says “Coward.” I grew up in the Catholic Church too, but figured out somewhere, pretty early on, that I didn’t agree with virtually anything it stood for. I’m even brave enough to be a card carrying atheist, now, and THAT takes a lot of real reflection. Your excuse is lame.

    4. Catherine

      I have to wonder why, if you genuinely intended to marry for life, your marriage could have deteriorated to the point at which you were both so unhappy that you felt you had no option but to finally tell the truth. You’d have been unhappy knowing you were living a lie, but why was your wife unhappy? If you’d intended to remain married for life, surely your first priority would have been to ensure that she never realized that you found anything lacking in your marriage? As very few women are made unhappy by loving husbands, logic suggests that you allowed your unhappiness, if not its real cause, to become far more clear to your wife than you either realize or are willing to admit.
      I could, of course, be wrong. But, if you’re going to join a discourse with straight spouses, particularly those still reeling from the discovery that they have been used, defrauded, and cheated on, I think you should be prepared to explain why a good person and a loving husband had such an unhappy wife.

      You say that you were brought up as a Catholic, which in itself explains your deception — by which you appear to really mean ‘justifies’ your deception. I’m afraid that for me, it does neither. I was brought up as a Catholic as well, and in a time when the RC positions vis-a-vis various human realities were far more simplistic and condemnatory than they are now, and I managed to make up my own mind about them, not in spite of having been raised a Catholic, but because of it. The core of RC teaching, then and now, is that the final responsibility for any moral decision lies with the individual who makes it, because the final arbiter of any moral decision is the individual’s own informed conscience. In short, we answer to God as unique individuals, not as the member of some group or other, so “I truly believed X was wrong, but I did it anyway because my church said I was supposed to” is the excuse of someone unwilling to think for themselves.

      So to me, your reference to Catholicism, as it’s worded, can only seem self-serving. It wasn’t the Catholic church that chose to enter into a fraudulent marriage: it was you. And having been raised a Catholic, you had to have known it was fraudulent: any RC would know that by withholding information of such importance that your prospective wife/husband might choose not to marry you if they knew it, you prevent them from making a real choice about the marriage and that your deliberate dishonesty renders the sacrament invalid. It wasn’t the Catholic church that chose to take 23 years of a woman’s life for your emotional and social convenience: it was you. Perhaps you were genuinely frightened at hearing members of the clergy saying that homosexuals were going to hell, and while it’s hardly an edifying or comforting thing to hear, I can’t buy it as an excuse for deceiving someone who loves you: I’ve known too many men and women who heard that same assurance of damnation and chose to be honest, anyway, even when it meant losing or giving up a person they loved or estrangement from their families/friends/faith communities or losing their jobs or far worse. I wouldn’t presume to speak for God about orientation or anything else, but if He is what we’re told He is, common sense suggests that that kind of courage and integrity could not possibly offend Him. In fact, I expect that He’d be considerably happier with the rest of us if we followed that example.

      In short, anyone who managed to lie their way into and through a sacrament and then get up every morning and decide to continue in that lie — to someone who loved them, no less — for twenty-three years is self-evidently more than capable of ignoring the tenets of Catholicism when it suits them, so your saying “The church made me do it” is little less than absurd. Your claim to be a good person will be more effective if you simply acknowledge that you didn’t do the right thing because it would have meant giving up something you wanted very badly: that, most of us would understand because we’ve done the same on occasion, and at least you’d seem to be taking responsibility for your choices instead of trying to blame them on a religion that you didn’t even follow.

      Your last sentence, as written, may produce a less than positive response in a straight spouse. As I read it, you feel justified in having deceived your wife about your orientation and cheated her out of the time she could have had with a partner to whom she was not second-best because you have three beautiful children. You don’t say “we have”, you say “I have”, and while I don’t doubt that you love your children, I fail to see how your having three children makes up to your wife for all the years and all the choices that you, to put it bluntly, took away from her by not telling her who you were and what you really wanted. Unless you’re the sort of gay person who tells his straight spouse that wishing they’d known about his/her orientation before they were married makes the straight spouse a horrible person because she or he is wishing their children out of existence? I’ve heard it done, and to me, it’s just another way to avoid taking responsibility for the decision to lie. It’s possible to love your children, but to wish that their father/mother had been honest, even if in practical terms it makes it highly unlikely that they would have existed.

      I do commend you for getting out, however belatedly. At forty-five, your wife still has years of her life left in which to recover from discovering that her marriage was a sham and find someone who will be everything to her that she should always have had. I only hope that she will be able to learn to see your choice as your choice, and that it says everything about you and nothing about her, either as a person or as a woman, and make the very best of the rest of her life.

  2. Bryan R.

    @Shaun. My ex gay wife’s story was similar to yours. She knew she liked woman, but thought it was just a temptation. It took her 26 years to finally accept that she was a lesbian. She married me because she had never experienced real love with a woman, and the love she had with me was the “truest” love she knew. Part of the blame lies with her parents and community for confusing her about her sexual orientation. However, she also should have never entered into a life long committed relationship knowing she had these doubts, questions, and attraction to women. She should have figured herself out with out pulling me into the closet with her. Also, once she did experience real love with a woman, she continued to do so for a year before I confronted her and found out the truth.

    “A lot of gay men, like myself, don’t know in what direction they should take and they may take the same as I did. Do I regret my decision to marry my best friend, NO, as we had three beautiful children out of our 23 year marriage.” This is very selfish. If you did not know what direction to take, you had no right to drag a straight spouse into that confusion. Your wife deserved a straight lover, not a best friend for a husband. She deserved to be more than just a “baby maker”.

    “I did not marry with any intentions of divorcing my wife and coming out one day.” You may not have had bad intentions, but you denied her the best intentions that a straight marriage would have provided. I’m sure her intentions were not to marry a gay man, no matter how nice you are.

    1. julietjeske

      Exactly! And I know plenty of gay men and women who came out 30 years ago, when the world wasn’t as nice to anyone openly gay. They took huge risks in coming out, and many suffered for it. But they did it not just for themselves but the greater good. Hiding in a straight marriage causes so much harm.

      These things are never easy, but his ex-wife could have had a traditional marriage, she could still be married right now. Again, hopefully this will eventually stop, but it won’t until we comes to grips with the reality of these situations, they are hardly victimless crimes.

    2. Wanda Bernstein

      so glad there’s a straight man’s perspective reflective of the same hurt and pain the gay spouse provides….hiding behind the line “I did what was right” negates so much crap they’ve put in our heads….and imagine that the gay spouse doesn’t take any responsibility for the downfall of the marriage….geeze
      the closet SUCKS, especially when you don’t even know you’re in one or why the marriage is just “off”
      At minimum, the gay spouse knows they’re attracted to same sex….very early…getting into a marriage without divulging and pretending (even if you think its the best pretense on earth)….it’s still a lie….

      1. julietjeske

        And the four casual friends of mine who went crazy on my wall today on facebook. One of them I openly dislike and she removed herself from my friends list…the other deleted one of her comments which is just so strange for me, and I’ve never been close to her AND she tends to cry homophobia over nearly anything. She was the one who wrote and I remember this…”It’s impossible for a straight person to be victimized by a gay person, but the plight of a gay person is so awful in this society”, or words to that effect.

        Honestly am I supposed to just accept that statement? Yes woman who is not much of a friend of mine…you are right…all gay people are absolved of all wrong doing to straight people because they’ve had it so hard. How is that not entitled? How is that not ridiculous and completely absurd. She also claimed that ALL of our relationships are nuanced, yet she has never been in one herself as she isn’t straight, she identifies as queer. So she knows a lot about our relationships…and then the last one was…well because I’m not the gay half of these sham marriages, I am not allowed to speak for them…well I wasn’t speaking for them. But I was saying and I will say it again, that many of them do follow patterns, they tend to have similar personality problems and they tend to lie, cheat and have issues with narcissism. I’m somehow a bigot and a homophobe for saying those things…there was also language along the lines of I needed to stop talking about this…because I’m hurting so many people…yet most of the comments I get are positive and I honestly doubt she was a regular reader of my blog. In her mind GLTBQ people are incapable of hurting a straight person…that’s completely batshit crazy.

  3. julietjeske

    Also how does anyone NOT know what makes them sexually aroused? I struggle with this concept all the time…I find it really odd that someone simply discovers this mid-life. My ex admitted he knew since he was 8, and then in the same breath said he didn’t know until age 41. No, he was just in denial…but he also had sexual outlets that had nothing to do with me which were GAY during our marriage. So it just baffles me, especially in men when there is clearly a physical reaction that cannot be denied. An erect penis, is not exactly subtle. Sure it’s graphic, but there is really no other way to describe it. I know erections can happen for all sorts of reasons, but if it kept happening over and over again in same-sex situations…and not in heterosexual situations…it’s just difficult to understand how anyone could convince themselves that they are 100% straight.

    I completely admit to not getting it, because I don’t understand, maybe I will one day but right now I don’t.

    1. Paula Scribner

      This is such a distasteful subject for most people to think about, never mind discuss with any real insight. No matter what category you fall into within the sexual spectrum, I believe at puberty you have an idea what arouses you and are at least subliminally fantasizing sexually. This doesn’t just hit you in your 40’s or 50’s like a lightning bolt. Years ago, gay/bi orientated people married straight to stay in the closet for fear of being ostracized or shunned by society. Until the advent of internet revolution, I believe there are many that were afraid to act on it for fear of being seen in the wrong part of town or adult book stores, etc.

      With all that being said, the most compassionate people I know have shut me out not long after finding out my husband of 25 years was gay and I filed for divorce. The cruelest words came from my own mother and sister. Words most of us have heard “JUST GET OVER IT”.

      My sister ended up in Psych Ward for weeks when she found proof her husband of 10 years cheated on her with a few women. My Mother was still crying over her first marraige almost 30 years later at a family function. She was married for just about a year to a man who was cheating on her with his first wife.

      So am I surprised at your former friend posting such a injurious statement that Straight Spouses can’t exist…..not in the least. I used to try to explain it and realize there is no point in trying to educate the ignorant.

      Their motto: From Ignorance our comfort flows.
      Our motto: The only wretched are the Wise.’

      Enough Said!

  4. Sara Smiley

    Juliet, I applaud your blog, and your response. Someone once gave me a guideline to define sexuality. Imagine yourself aged 12. Your first kiss, Or your first fantasy of a kiss. Was it a boy or a girl? Of course you know. You always know. I was married for 24 years to a closeted gay man. Looking back at our pictures, I can see some things now I didn’t know then. But then, I thought I was the luckiest woman in the world. My husband loved to travel, made me jewelry, was a great cook. He was a considerate lover, we had lots of friends, and were the envy of all of our social circle. He loved to dance, practiced foreign languages. And he told me he loved me often. He was my best friend so I didn’t bother to make friends.
    When my world fell apart, he took everything with him. Now he says he was never happy. He tells our kids “if I wasn’t such a bitch he wouldn’t have gone looking”. In order to justify his bad behavior as a husband and father he blames me. I now know he was looking at gay porn on the internet for as much as 6 years before I discovered it, and was into a love triangle when he came out.
    I am glad you told this spouse off because we have no public forum to express our pain. And when we do we are asked to give equal time to the gay spouses. Just like at the premier of “I thought it was forever”, the gay spouse hijacked the forum and made it all about their experience and the Defense of Marriage Act. Really?
    Good for you for carving out a space for us.

    Sara Smiley, Virginia Beach

  5. Andrea

    What many people, gay and straight don’t seem to understand is my right to make different choices, my right to a healthy straight relationship was STOLEN from me. I was in a marriage for 22 years that was based on a lie. I had my adulthood stolen, with no regards to the value of ME as a person. Who knows what my present would be now if I had known. If you respect your partner, you don’t hide truths, and you don’t take away their ability to make choices in their lives.

  6. Lynn

    Andrea, AMEN Sister! You took the perspective I have on being a straight spouse and put it so eloquently into words. Thank you!

  7. MNZ

    What these gay people refuse to take responsibility for is that they stole years of someone’s life. They committed fraud ny marrying someone under false pretenses. They doom the children to a broken family and they deprive their former spouse of the chance to form a teal marriage that might last and the lids a chance at an intact family.

  8. Shelly W

    I feel my life was hijacked. I married my best friend-I thought. Except best friends don’t use you like he did. He too didn’t want to be gay. He wanted to do what his family expected of him. He built a life he thought he could tolerate and he wanted a family. I deserved a man who truly loved me as a soulmate. Not a best buddy he could live with. I deserved to be cherished and desired. He made me feel like I was “lacking something”. Now I know what it was. BUT so did he when he married me. He made the choice not to be gay, but he didn’t give me the choice to be with a man who really wanted me for a WIFE and not a cover. If I met my soulmate tomorrow, I can never get back the years of building a life and children together. I won’t have a 30 year, 40 year, 50 year anniversary or share grandchildren with a man who had been my best friend/lover/confidant. Why? because I spent 25 years with a man who hid behind my love so people wouldn’t see who he was. I deserved my chance for a deeper love not a shallow friendship that wasn’t even that.

  9. Cathy

    I question every day was any of it real, I just can’t tell what parts of my life were real and what were a lie. You feel so stripped of your reality. Did he really love me? Did he desire me? Was this an act? You just go round and round with the questions and never get any answers that make sense. After a year and a half since finding out he was cheating in long-term gay relationships, I still can’t comprehend what has happened to me. At first, he blamed me for his cheating because he was unhappy in the marriage but then through therapy he began to come to grips with the fact that he was indeed gay and it wasn’t my fault. Being blamed just devastates you. At first, you believe you weren’t good enough or woman enough but after you go down that road a bit, you do come to accept that it really had nothing to do with you. This journey since his coming out, has been so difficult as I know you all know. Its hard to see that the damage will ever be completely healed and that life will go on. I like hearing from you more seasoned str8s, it gives me hope for the future.

  10. lsmith

    @Shaun I am a straight spouse and encountered a similar experience to the one you describe. I do not believe in making generalizations about how all people act in any given situation. I believed my spouse when he told me that he did not have affairs, and his actions through these last 4 years of separation affirm his honest, generous, and dedicated nature. I believe it is as wrong to say “how could he not know he was gay” as it is to say “how did you not know he was gay.” I do not regret my marriage and am grateful to continue to have a wonderful friendship with my spouse even as we create paths to new and individual lives.

    1. julietjeske

      Well that is your experience, and many others have shared very different ones here. I don’t believe anything my husband has said to me, he lied about so much for so many years. So we all have different experiences, but I would say with a good deal of confidence that yours would be the exception. Again just a casual glance at the other responses would confirm that.

    2. julietjeske

      I’d also say if you don’t believe me that most of us have a much harder time and deal with much more deceptive partners, go to my other article. On Being a Straight Spouse: Broken Memories and read the comments, there are like 40 of them. Most of them are along the lines of the others here. We don’t meet in a club and decide what to say, we don’t follow a script, we just happen to have very similar experiences. You were lucky, and I’m happy that you didn’t have to go through what so many of us do have to go through. Also read any number of the books out there about straight spouses, the vast majority of the stories are spouses who repeatedly lie, blame and refuse to take any responsibility. Some are far worse than mine, some of these men and women are downright pathological.

      1. lsmith

        Juliet, I never refuted your experience. What I did was speak the truth of mine. Shaun tried to speak about his experience and you inferred that he was a liar and told him that he wasn’t welcome to share his perspective. You can feel all the hatred you want, but what you can’t do is speak for every straight spouse. My experience wasn’t different due to luck, it was different because my husband falls outside the parameters that you set for every gay person who married. And, perhaps, because I chose to treat my husband with understanding, respect, and compassion.

        1. julietjeske

          I do think he is a liar, I think most spouses in his situation are liars, and most cheat. Some have sworn they haven’t cheated and then the truth eventually comes out. It just doesn’t make sense to leave your wife and kids over a feeling that you “might” be gay. Most men would at least try homosexual sex before destroying their families. Honestly it’s not so far of a leap to make on that one.

          I found the tone of the rest of his comment to be insulting and I wasn’t the only one. His attitude that he gave his wife 23 years of a marriage, well I would love to hear from her. Honestly. I’m sure she had a very different opinion about it. He claims he came out at age 45, well how old was his wife? How easy is it to date at age 45 or 47 with three kids? And what about his kids? Were they not harmed by this? The man just sounded like every other gay spouse that I have encountered. Nothing was his fault really, and he was a “good guy”. Well again, I would disagree, and I have every right to tell him off. I don’t want him on this blog, because he is likely to make more inane comments and I really don’t want to hear them. You might have had a different experience, but I have no way of verifying that, or if you are even who are, you say you are. But the vast majority of the stories I read here, on the straight spouse support network, on straightbook and in pretty much every book written on the subject of straight spouses…you are the exception. If it was so easy, we wouldn’t need support groups! Look this is my name, Juliet Jeske, I put my neck out on the line every time I write about this. I don’t hide behind an alias, and most of my life story is on the internet. I’m one of the few of us who can afford to do that, as I don’t have kids, and my job is not exactly going to be harmed by this disclosure.

        2. julietjeske

          And I will add, I have met a few gay spouses who admitted they were wrong and deeply apologized for what they did to their former partners and children. One man on a Huffington Post LIVE panel I was on repeatedly said that he greatly harmed his wife, he felt horrible for doing it and I quote, “caused her great damage.” I actually felt that he did understand the harm he had done. I can sympathize with some of these men and women, but Mr. Shaun still seemed in denial of the real harm he caused, he also seemed quite full of himself. And honestly I don’t care if he didn’t like what I wrote, he wasn’t the audience for it. The Worst Thing you can say to a Straight Spouse, is not exactly an article for Gay spouses who still think they did nothing wrong.

          I also find the concept of “not knowing” you are gay to be a complete farce. People know what makes them sexually aroused, they might try to bury it, or try to deny it but it is not suddenly a big surprise middle-age. Some of these spouses are extremely manipulative people and they will play us like a musical instrument. Well I’m not buying it. They just have excuse after excuse to not take responsibility for their own lies.

      2. lsmith

        Juliet, I have been a part of the Straight Spouse Network for 4+ years and have used my true name there and here (just a simpler form here). In fact, I’ve responded to you directly on FB’s private group saying the same thing I’ve said here. You can disbelieve who I am and what I say, as well as others who share my experience, but that does not enhance or affirm your position in any way. It just means that when someone has a different story, you refute their very existence. Even if 99.5% of straight spouses have experiences like yours, it does not in any way dictate all situations. You emphatically stated truths on behalf of others that you can’t possibly know. To speak for yourself and your situation is honorable and loud and clear, but to infer that your feelings are the same as every other straight spouse is incorrect.

        1. julietjeske

          I don’t assume we’ve all had the same experiences but a lot of us have had extremely similar experiences and I’m not backing down from that statement. And no one really knows if another person is telling the truth or not, we can only take their word for it. So I’m glad you had a better experience than I did, but I would still say your experience is exceptional. Just look at most of the comments here, I didn’t write them.

    3. Paula Scribner

      May I call you Polyanna, I would spring for the PolyGRAPH for your Ex. REALLY. At least he was kind enough to have buffaloed you all the way to the end of the story.

      1. lsmith

        My gay husband, who is not my ex due to my need for health insurance, has no need to answer to anyone but himself. The vile responses to anyone who doesn’t have an untennable and wretched experience only serve to show me the flip side of the coin. You can fester in your loathing and misery as long as you choose to do so and keep on pointing fingers and making errant assertions until you’re on your deathbed. None of that will change the truth of myself, my husband, or our experience. Peace is made within yourself, not outside. Good luck.

  11. Bfg

    My experience was more like lsmith’s. Much of the process of separation was like surgery without an anesthetic but she struggled and suffered too. Having to reconsider your whole identity at 58 is no joke. We managed through several years to get apart enough to have our own lives but still stay connected in some important ways. I still carry around a lot of hurt but not so much anger. It probably helps that neither of us is in another relationship right now and we’ve both had each others support through some illnesses and loses. Also our grown kids live locally so we still operate as a family around important occasions. So the point is that we each have our own history and we come out in different places, although I think we do have a special understand of what it’s like to have your entire life flipped upside down by a two word sentence – I’m gay.

    1. julietjeske

      I’m finding this a little suspect considering I had several posts in a row with one perspective and now suddenly two in a row that are incredibly atypical. This is the internet, so I have no way of knowing you are even a different person.

      The sad truth is that even if your spouse swore up and down they didn’t cheat, and had no extramarital affairs you have no way of knowing if that is really true. I’ve seen so many cases of lying, that I really find it hard to believe that a person who just sort of guess about their sexuality and break up their marriage on a hunch. It seems incredibly far fetched, but it does let the person off the hook of some responsibility. That’s why it doesn’t ring as incredibly believable to be honest. Most straight spouses I know found out the hard way, not from their spouse having the conviction to sit them down and tell them. Sure it happens, but not very often. The vast majority of us find out through a text messages, porn on the computer, chat rooms, physically walking in on them, love letters, emails, their lover confronting us…etc. For the vast majority of us, and I’m not backing down from that statement, for the VAST MAJORITY of us we don’t have a nice tidy ending. We have betrayal, lies, deception and broken families. Some spouses are hell bent on ruining the lives of their partners even though they were the ones cheating, they were the ones lying. So yeah, we have different stories, but honestly I’ve heard so many that sound like the exact same one. It seems more like variations on a theme rather than a mosaic of experiences.

      Again, I encourage you to look through the comments on my article On Being a Straight Spouse: Broken Memories. They basically tell the same story on repeat. All of the comments were made over time, and I just went ahead and approved all of them, there was no censoring on my part or manipulation whatsoever.

      1. Janet Nicolazzo

        Amen Juliet. Everything you describe was my experience. And the experiences of most of the straight spouses I have talked to. My ex was especially hell bent, after I discovered his cheating, on completely destroying my life. I was literally an open wound for at least two years, and lost so much emotionally and financially. Because HE wasn’t blindsided…I was. And I wasn’t exactly in shape for War, but he was. I still haven’t gotten that sincere sit down “I’m SO sorry for what I did to you” talk with him. At this point I know it ain’t gonna happen, because it’s always been only about HIM, after all. You know, he would have hurt me far less, in the long run, if he had just broken it off with me when we were dating. Even without an explanation. Yeah, I would’ve been really sad and heartbroken, But eventually I would have most likely found someone else who I at least had a shot with.

    2. Paula Scribner

      BFG and Ismith, I suggest you start your own support group by yourselves somewhere in the land of OZ. You may want to change your statistic in your statement to 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999PERCENT of Straight Spouses do not have a happy fairy tale ending.

      If you had such a wonderful parting of the ways, why would you find the need to be on a blog like this?

      1. lsmith

        I am here for the same reason most anyone else is, I am a str8 spouse. Apparently, I might be the only one in existence! Oh, except I communicate with quite a few others in a different forum. Fortunately, it is not filled with animosity, disdain, and accusations made without knowledge or merit. Feel free to accuse me of being unintelligent, ignorant, or bamboozled all you want. It just reinforces my belief that not all str8s in the gay/straight marriage equation would be tolerable or preferabled to live with.

        1. julietjeske

          Look I think we can all agree that we have all had similar yet very different experiences. I’m not going to assume anything about anyone on this thread. So let’s not attack each other, lets just focus on the real problem.

        2. Paula Scribner

          Hmmmm…..your honest, faithful, husband must be a real consolation to you. Here is the paradox, why would anyone who advocates and chooses to stay in a relationship with a gay spouse full of understanding, respect and compassion belong to a Gay Spouse support group or be posting on here? Please share the name of the “Private” Group whose FB page you are posting on with Juliet?

          1. julietjeske

            She’s in the group, I’m in it too, as are about 460 or so other straight spouses. I’ll just take her on her word, as I certainly don’t know anything about her situation. I’ve said several times and I’ll say it again that her experience is exceptional. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that most of us had a much harder time. A quick glance at any straight spouse forum, or hearing testimony in any straight spouse group or even reading any of our literature speaks the horrible truth that is most of these fiasco marriages. I can’t speak for her, so I won’t but there are always exceptions to every rule and trend.

          2. julietjeske

            I’ll also add, that I’ve met a few straight spouses that are still deep in denial. I’m not saying she is, again I’m not going to speculate on her story, I’ll just take it at face value. But I did go on a date with a guy who I didn’t even know he was a straight spouse until mid-date and he was HORRIBLY in denial. Kept insisting his wife was bi-sexual and they broke up for other reasons. Meanwhile he was still financially supporting her somewhat, and she had left him for a woman. It was rather tragic, as in his case it was obvious he was still in love with her, and practically admitted it on the date. But I spent some time with him, so I feel like I can say that. As far as the other women posting comments on here, I have to assume she speaks the truth as she knows it. I don’t want to get into making any allegations about anyone on here. I’ll just say it again, she is the exception not the rule, and good for her. I know I went through hell, as have most of my straight spouse friends. I wish my ex would have been honest with me, but unfortunately he wasn’t. I’ll probably never have kids now, and I have no idea if I’ll ever have a decent relationship again…it’s a reality I have to live with every day.

          3. Paula Scribner

            I realize I am very lucky to have been able to freely walk away (I mean RUN). There are many I communicate with that do stay for all sorts of real or imagined reasons. None of them have ever justified or given thier spouses accolades, that’s why I found the previous poster suspect.

            I really feel for them, as in my opinion, nothing could be worse than actually living under the same roof once you have the knowledge that your husband is gay/bi. I just couldn’t do it and wouldn’t wish this sad situation on anyone. The only reason I got any kind of abbreviated confession was that I found irrefutable proof.

            I just saw your recent posts on dating sites….yeah, it’s a shallow pool out there. Hopefully I will get to meet you in Philly. The stories I have will spin your head!

  12. Julie

    People want an explanation to make everything right and just. I really think they ask so as to put some of the blame on us, because if we didn’t know, as we did not, there is no promise of safety- this could happen to them. They want an explanation, a surety that somehow we knew and accepted this relationship, otherwise they have to admit that it could happen to anyone. They want the protection of believing that bad things happen to people who deserve it. Not them. Unless you have had this type of lie perpetrated on you, you just don’t get it. We all have different stories with different degrees of lies and manipulation. A few have been treated with respect and love- but it still hurts. I love all of my straight spouse sisters and brothers. Thank you once again for telling our story and our truth.

  13. Barry

    Betrayal, lies, deception and a broken family…..that’s what I was left with. My ex was such a fucking liar that I had to hire a private investigator to find the truth. I once asked her point blank..” Has this relationship you’ve developed with your coworker developed into more than a friendship?” Her answer was ” absolutely not, I can’t believe you’re even asking such a question.” After she was busted by the P.I., she was furious with me for going to the extreme of hiring this person behind her back and not trying to talk things out with her.
    Shaun’s comment “I’m NOT a bad person” makes me want to punch something. My ex made that statement so many times I finally asked her to stop saying that because deep down you’re trying to convince yourself you’re not a bad person. I told her she would never convince me otherwise so she should stop trying. It’s not the gay issue that I can’t get passed, it’s the cheating, lying and manipulation.
    It’s has been emotional torture for me, but I’m doing my best to embrace my future and stop looking back at the past. I have an uncle who made the statement that in some ways I had it worse than he did. He was married at the age of 22 and his 19 yr old wife was killed in an automobile accident they were involved in on their honeymoon. That was over 50 years ago and it is something that never goes away. I know what I went through will never go away completely, but I refuse to let it keep me from enjoying the rest of the long life I have ahead of me.

    1. julietjeske

      I would agree with you completely. A couple of people thought I was too harsh towards him but honestly I had a very visceral reaction when I read that line. “I’m not a bad person” it immediately made my blood boil. Not every gay spouse who does this sort of thing is the same of course, but so many of them seem to have similar personalities. There is a strong narcissistic streak that goes through a lot of them. They never do anything wrong, they are always the victims and we are bullies for trying to defend ourselves.

    2. NestleAland

      I’ve been in the straight spouse community for almost two years, and I’ve spent a good deal of my recover time collecting the commonalities of our experiences. It wasn’t until today that I saw someone (Barry) repeat that bizarre mantra my ex used over and over … despite how odd it seemed at the time: “I’m not a bad person.” Yet as I look back at exactly what she was doing, it’s pretty darned inescapable. You can’t lie to your spouse about the lesbian affair you’re having with your married medical patient, break up two marriages, ignore the dangers of your actions on the mental health of everyone involved, and then after the husband grants you a rather quiet divorce, malign his name after he’s left town and STILL consider yourself “not a bad person.” Just doesn’t work that way.

      I don’t look for my lesbian ex (married 18 years) to ever take responsibility. She’s a narcissist, a high-functioning sociopath, AND a lesbian. I don’t want her apology. I don’t need a good post-divorce relationship with her. I wish she had died on our honeymoon so I wouldn’t have to know her for the bad person she truly was, is, and likely always will be.

      1. julietjeske

        Wow yes, it was some of that exact language that set me off. My attitude is that I don’t have to be responsible for forgiving random strangers, he should be looking for that forgiveness from his wife, not me. Your story sounds horrible, I’m so sorry.

  14. Andrea T

    Nothing….well almost nothing….makes me more upset than being told by someone that I am homophobic as a result of voicing my hurt and anger about unknowlingly being married to a gay man for 19 years. Somehow, people twist the feelings expressed here by Juliet and many others and turn what we say about how we were deceived and used and thrown aside, into us being homophobes.

    Let me ask anyone out there who is heterosexual and has never been married to a gay person, if they’d like to try it. Any takers? Would you like to marry someone of a different sexual orientation and try to make a go of it? NO??? Ok, so that must make you a homophobe.

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  16. Nymariarya

    The important thing for people to realize is that we are not hurt by our spouse’s homosexuality or same sex attraction, we are hurt by the lies and in some (not all) cases, cheating. A big challenge is the fact that our spouses have been working REALLY hard at even convincing themselves that being married to the opposite gender is the way it should be. They not only lie to us, they lie to themselves. Many straight spouses go through a roller coaster ride that cycles between finding proof and being met with such well-thought-out denial from our spouse that we are manipulated into believing that we were mistaken. We love our spouses and find ourselves believing what they say, despite what we’ve discovered.

    I do believe that some of the gay/bi spouses really do feel that they’ve found real love when they find us. In some of those cases, when they DO find that uninhibited romantic love with the same sex, the light goes on and the fog lifts. Sure, they still love us the way they always have, it’s just that now they know there is something more perfect for them. Conversely, I believe (and feel this is true in my own case) that some of the gay spouses in adamant denial really do know they are only in love with the idea of marriage and knowingly marry us for image control. Intentions may be noble, but that certainly was not the case for me.

    Not many of our gay spouses come out gracefully. It’s rare since those who come out gracefully aren’t typically ones who feel the need to marry the opposite sex in the first place. A large portion of the gay spouses continue to be in denial even beyond divorce. Whatever fear put them in the closet often keeps them there.

    I think it’s horrible that any person would fear rejection on any level to the point that they’d intentionally marry a person they are not intrinsically attracted to, simply to avoid that rejection. It’s a shame that anyone has to create a web of lies to maintain image control and trap anyone else in that web.

    1. julietjeske

      I had someone who identified as queer, dismissvely say that we don’t suffer, and that our relationships are much more nuanced. Well sometimes they are, but we definitely suffer. Everyone suffers in these situations, they are tragic. And just because we are straight it doesn’t mean we immediately bounce back or don’t look back at the years we spent with our spouses as wasted time. Hopefully one day this will stop…

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  19. Randee

    I wish that there was away for these gay spouses to feel, actually feel the pain that we feel upon discovery of such deception.
    Be it reason of shame, or their own denial, to have married someone to take vows, knowing in their hearts they have not told the one they promise to love place above all others, this one so important truth about them self is beyond horrible. to continue, like my ex did 22 years of marriage, having a family, supposedly making plans of retirement. to not come out of the closet so much sooner is crazy. to lie day after day, to live a pretend life, fooling the one person who loves you the most I can’t even imagine doing that.
    my ex lived in his closet all those years and to this day still lives in his closet. why I don’t know, fear, shame? he stated one time fear of losing his job. I doubt that would happen maybe people would be surprised, lose any respect from his son that I don’t know maybe because you lied to his sons mom.
    what really pisses me off is all those thInga he has caused to happen to me.

    he lied as to the cause of our divorce, putting the blame on me. he told my children I was crazy, drunk suicidal homicidal drug addict making my words of any kind of explanation of him being gay is why I’m having problems right now, he has handle our finances so bad, blow is so much money on his married lover and his cover girlfriend. he works in sales people forget he’s a wonderful salesman.
    I quit my job as I couldn’t concentrate anymore and was making too many mistakes. I feel so much anger at the unfairness of it all. I feel like hIs gay crap took away my past and now it’s stealing into my present and my future.
    its like someone going around telling people that not crazy which makes them look for crazy.
    sometimes it scares me how much hate I feel sometimes because I wasn’t born, I wasnt put in life to be somebody’a means totheir F up ends

  20. Andrew

    Thanks for the article Juliet. Thank you for being a voice for our cause. As I learn to get my feet back under me I find my voice to spread the word that this isn’t just about the “bravery” of the gay spouse to tell the truth. Living with a gay spouse and constantly wondering what the hell is wrong with me that my wife won’t have sex with me is causes tremendous damage to a soul.

  21. Catherine

    Thanks for posting the article. I’m a straight spouse who, very fortunately, didn’t have to cope with infidelity as well: when my spouse reached clarity, I was the next to know. In my spouse’s particular case, the repression was very real, but age had a great deal to do with it: back in our day — nearly sixty years ago — if you made certain statements as a child, someone would simply tell you to stop telling stories and if you persisted, smack you ’til you stopped. Believe me, you got next to the idea that there were some things you didn’t say very, very quickly, and orientation was only one of them.
    That being said, I identify wholeheartedly with the spouses who feel angry and defrauded. If you tell someone flat out “I’m gay” or “I’m bi” and they want to try a mixed orientation relationship, fine, because they know exactly what they’re getting into. But when you won’t tell them the truth about yourself because you don’t want to have to cope with the consequences of openly acknowledging who you are, you’re simply a coward who is making use of someone who cares about you — and that’s not something you can do to someone and then say that you’re a good person or that you love them/they’re your ‘best friend’. If that’s how you treat your best friend, I’d hate to see what you’d feel free to do to your worst enemy.
    When something you have comes at someone else’s cost, you owe them a debt you may never be able to repay. It takes courage to acknowledge that you owe that kind of debt and to live with knowing you owe it. Ime, rather than face that, most people simply tell themselves they were entitled to do whatever they did, to cause whatever damage they caused. I suppose it’s only to be expected: “I had to be my authentic self” sounds a lot better to the ego than “I helped myself to years of someone else’s life because I didn’t have the nerve to face what would probably happen if I told the truth”.

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