Getting asked "I'm married and I'm gay. What should I do?" or, "My husband is gay...What should I do?" are two of the hardest questions I am asked. Sometimes it's a married and closeted gay man, and sometimes it's from a wife who is straight, newly learning her husband is gay. I've met wonderful people on both sides of this question, and I'm not convinced there is only one right answer.
Multiple books are devoted to how others have solved their questions. (see insert below) Counselors address authentic living and self-acceptance. Fundamentalists insist that there ARE "no homosexuals, only heterosexuals - with issues." (my own punctuation for emphasis). Bloggers share their viewpoints and offer free advice. Needless to say, I cannot answer for anyone else besides myself, but I've tried to share my heartfelt emotions (on MY blog) as I've adjusted to the fact that I loved and married a gay man. So far, I don't have a book to sell. I only have my life and my opinions, and even those are subject to change.
When I'm asked that desperate question of "...what should I DO?" - I wonder how my answer will affect people. I've discovered that others will come to different conclusions than me. I've talked to couples who recognize that one partner is gay and they want to work things out and stay together monogamously. Others decide to open their marriage - and yes, some can do that and deal with the emotions that come with new definitions of marriage. Still others divorce, whether it's with contempt of with ongoing friendship. The choices are all new when a couple examines the value of staying together versus separating.
One thing that I believe is that once there is loss of trust in the relationship, re-establishing that trust is going to take time and effort. It may be that being gay was hidden from an unknowing spouse. It can extend to horrible unfaithfulness (and the lies that go with it) that break down the framework of married life. No matter where it is lost, trusting one another again is critical to go forward. And whether it's trusting a partner enough to honestly "come out" or proving trust is there enough to raise young children together - whatever the situation - deciding what to do is going to take all the "good emotions" that you might not know you had: love, patience, trust, acceptance, honesty, generosity. And that's just the short list, and it goes for both partners.
So far, I've been one of the lucky ones. I've come through divorce with my own home, grown kids, and the ability to choose whether to go back to work. Some women have young kids, or never have the chance to have kids. Some wives lose their home, and others have to find ways to support themselves from the ground up. Sure, there is a lot that I miss. On the other hand, I don't have to cook or clean after anyone but myself. I come and go as I please, and I never argue with myself over money! (keep it positive!) Yes, I've lost a lot, but I've discovered a lot of self-confidence. My shaken faith is re-building. I've learned to accept others without judging (on-going effort), and I have some true friends that I can't do without. Through this all, I still have my best friend.
So, really, What to DO when one spouse is gay, remains something only you can answer. My advice? Be honest. Live with authenticity. Decide how you want to live, and what is most important. Finally, let the good emotions prevail.