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Struggling to see way ahead after coming out to wife

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Highlander2, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. Highlander2

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    I came out to my wife of 15 years last weekend. I'd been struggling with my feelings for months and when she asked me outright if I still felt the same about her, I couldn't stop the words coming out that said I had feelings for men.

    Since then, her world has completely disintegrated. I am struggling to know what to do, what my feelings are for her, and we have two young children as well. Part of me wants to stay and give it a go with her, and try to get over everything. Another part of me recognises that something has fundamentally changed in the way I see her now having come out to her and I want to be with a man, although I am terrified at the change to my life it will bring.

    I have always felt attracted to guys, but I love my wife.

    I've met a guy at work and we get on really well. For the first time in my life I feel like there has been a click with someone of the same sex. The part of me that wants to stay with my wife sees him and thinks that the feelings I get from being with him, I wouldn't have with my wife and I know that's true. I am so confused and I don't want to hurt her any more than I have done. I also have my kids to think about (6 and 5) and how I could be a good dad to them if I leave. If I stay, will I just end up feeling that I've betrayed myself and will my wife ever look at me in the same way again.

    I'm still at home, but think it would be good to get some space between us. She is terrified of being alone and having the dreams she thought would be the future, completely destroyed. She is being very reasonable though, but it just makes me feel even more guilty.
     
  2. greatwhale

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    Hello Highlander2, and welcome to EC!

    You're right, of course, she will never look at you or think of you the same way again. You need to accept that.

    Consequently, I would counsel you to start making concrete plans for a possible exit from the family situation. It can go two ways: she may remain reasonable, and you can seek couples counseling in order to resolve the inevitable disagreements that will occur during the process. She may also not remain reasonable, in which case you need to have a defence planned out.

    A separation and a divorce are essentially negotiations. When one of the parties thinks "win-lose" that is a competitive negotiation, and you'd better be prepared to play win-lose if she approaches it that way. Nevertheless, reasonable people play win-win, so it will be critical to maintain that "reasonableness" as much as possible.

    Hence, communicate, a lot more than you're probably used to, listen more than you talk; it doesn't hurt to cry a little when she does, and to show, to really demonstrate to her that you are feeling just as bad about the tragedy of this marriage but that you want it to be as painless and as orderly as possible.

    Post here often, you are among friends who've been there or who are going through the same thing as you.

    I wish you the best of luck!
     
  3. Spaceman

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    Hi Highlander. Just want you to know I'm going through the same thing. I came out to my wife a week ago today and it's been hell watching the pain she's feeling as her world crumbles. She doesn't want me sleeping in the house, so tomorrow we'll be telling our two kids that I'm going to be living elsewhere... not looking forward to that.

    You and I are in the lowest of the low point right now, but I still believe it's a courageous, compassionate and ethical journey we're on. It helps me to know that the status quo of staying closeted and married was bad and could only get worse. And while coming out feels like crap right now, it can only get better.

    And congratulations on finding a guy you click with. No such luck here, but dreaming of the day.

    Stay strong and be sure to read and participate in the discussions here in the "later in life" section. There are some incredible people here who are generous with their advice and support.
     
    #3 Spaceman, Oct 19, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
  4. Highlander2

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    Thanks greatwhale and you too Spaceman. I swing between just wanting to stay and carry on with my life, but knowing that I'll need to hide who I truly am, or living alone and the financial impact that will have. I truly want to support my family through this and keep a good relationship with my wife and kids.

    The guy I have met has said he can wait. He has described it as 'falling for me'; he is a genuine guy. I get butterflies when I see him and speak to him. He says he's like a teenager when he's around me and we've kissed - I've never experienced anything like this before.

    But it's a huge thing I'm looking at doing. My wife would keep me here for the sake of the kids and because she still loves me and wants me with her. I could probably manage it - I still love her, although having been kissed by a man has confirmed the feelings I've had for years. I don't think these will go away, but I know I could still save my marriage by staying.
     
  5. palimpsest

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    Highlander2, these things will not go away. Being torn is completely understandable. Welcome to EC. Use this space to talk it out, think out loud, put questions and struggles out. Take care of yourself. I applaud your wanting to figure the right way out, that's where I've been for four months now. Just a word about honesty, it starts to move and change things, clarify and bring into focus a lot of stuff that was probably just below the surface for a long time. It can be heart wrenching, it can be liberating. The advice given by GW and Spaceman is all worth listening to. You are not alone in this, you are not a freak/the most selfish guy ever. There are a lot of us in really similar circumstances and we can really, do really, provide a lot of support for one another. So stay a while, take what time you need, and congratulations on a fine first kiss, I'm jealous :slight_smile:
     
  6. Highlander2

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    Thanks guys. Things have calmed a little this week. I'm going to speak to a counsellor later to try and work through these feelings that I've brought out into the open. The future is still really unclear, but I don't want to deny who I am by shutting these feelings away. It's really difficult to know what to do for the best.

    Is it possible for a gay man to live a happy life with a woman as a married couple, and shut away the desires that he's had to shut away since he was a teenager? It feels really selfish all of a sudden to want that over the happy life I've had until these feelings started pushing through stronger than ever.

    Appreciate you can't tell me what to do, but it's helpful just to write and get it out here.
     
  7. tommyj

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    Highlander, I'm also interested in your question and hope that people that have gone through something simular will chime in.
     
  8. Choirboy

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    I've asked myself some similar questions...I came out to my wife 6 weeks or so ago. We're still living together, still sleeping together, having good days and strained days. In my case, she also has some emotional problems that had basically pushed me to the edge even before I really came to terms with being gay, and this hasn't helped any. Far from pushing me out of the house, she has gone so far as to suggest that we divorce so I can "get on with my gay life" but continue living together for the sake of the kids. (Which means, realistically, that she wants to continue to have someone to pay the bills, cook meals, do dishes and all the other stuff she manages to avoid doing.)

    There are guys who come out of the closet and then jump back in for reasons of their own. Personally, I would have a hard time with that. First, because being gay has really percolated in the back of my brain for a very long time before I finally owned up to it, and I think I would have a very hard time turning it off at this point. Second, I can say honestly that when wew got married, I had feelings for guys that I did not understand or accept, and had every intention of burying them forever so that we could make a life together. The "lie" of loving her wasn't really a lie at that point, because I was really convinced it was truth. If I were to go back into the closet now, after telling her, that would be the real lie, because now I know what those feelings are, and exactly what they mean. I don't think I could tell her I was going to bury them again, and expect her to believe me. And I wouldn't feel honest about it in my own heart if I tried.

    I understand the worries about the kids. Mine are 12 and almost 16, so I am much closer to them being adults than you are, but it's still a long ways off. We're still trying to determine how to work all this out. I keep coming back, though, to the fact that if I had all these unresolved feelings, I wasn't as happy as I truly thought I was, and she wasn't as happy as she might have been with a straight guy. The "happiness" that you had before might really have been much more safety and security and preductability than real happiness.

    I wish you the best. There are so very many of us guys in various stages of the same thing you're going through.
     
  9. pennydreadful

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    Hello Highlander 2


    Listen I can give you advice but in truth I just came out to my wife of 7 years and I am still trying to figure things out for myself . I can offer you a friendship and a sounding board .If you want to talk pm me love , I am here off and on all day .
     
  10. Luther

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    It takes courage to follow that path, I am only contemplating that now myself after accepting I'm gay I now have to admit it to others.
    Good luck on your journey
     
  11. Electra

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    Hello Highlander2
    Although like you I too have only come out properly later in life, I have never married and have no kids and I can only begin to imagine how painful it most seem to fear the hurt you may be causing your wife too. I hope and trust she has good friends who can support her as she deals with what you have told her. I guess she must go through whatever she has go through and do whatever she has to do. I feel that all you can do is be consistent and clear and not run away (I mean by that not run away emotionally - you may move out and live separately to give her space to find her new reality?). I sense that whatever happens you want to support her practically, financially and share the upbringing of your kids. But you are gay and not straight (you have not said your bisexual?) and so whatever you do you must stay authentic. Telling her was a courageous thing. That is why it is painful? Being vulnerable and honest to ourselves is painful. Is a lot of that pain - pain being released from the past? For me it is about letting go of all those years of procrastination and shame and doubt and guilt...of leading one life, but knowing that in truth you were in some respects someone else. God that's bound to be painful when we at last accept all that.

    Now you have spoken that truth, trying to 'unspeak' it or imagine that you can go back in someone way to what you had before (as if you never said it) i believe can not work in the end.

    When we at last come out we have to steadfastly remember that we are worthy good people. We are not 'coming out' in order to hurt others, but instead to reclaim the true, loving person underneath that society has made us hide and shame for so long.

    Your wife, your kids and you will all be alright in the end, because you are all good worthy people. Hope EC continues to offer you some support? I know it will. Post often especially when you are 'wobbling'.

    I have also personally gain much strength by joining a life coaching group for gay men and by seeing a (gay) therapist to help me to keep focussed on the light through bumpy and dark times.. There is a lot of support out there is you look for it
     
  12. Highlander2

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    Thanks everyone. Wow, I really appreciate the time you've individually taken to respond.

    As time passes, I become more clear in my mind, as if the fog is lifting. It could just be that the panic and emotions of the last 10 days or so are beginning to subside and I'm starting to come to terms with what is happening. My wife seems calmer too and much less up and down emotionally. Our children aren't playing up as much either as we're not in a constant state of upset and talking in separate rooms from them.

    I don't consider myself bisexual - I appreciate what a good looking woman looks like and will happily take in her looks, flirt or chat but at no point would I see myself having any sexual contact with her. I don't know if that's because I've been married for so long and have a loyalty to my wife (that's questionable now though) or whether they just don't 'do it' for me anymore? The feeling I get when I'm with the guy I met is totally different. He makes me feel like a teenager again and I am completely attracted to him both physically and sexually. When he kissed me it felt the most natural thing in the world. I've never been unfaithful to my wife, and I struggle with what's happening now but I cannot stop how I feel. I can't sleep with him while I'm with my wife - I still love my wife but I feel deep down our relationship has changed totally. I don't have the urge to tear her clothes off and make made passionate love to her. With him, I have to control myself. I think that pretty much tells me what I've known for most of my life, and confirms that I'm gay.

    I'm not really sure what the future holds. I can afford to move out and get somewhere close by so I can see my kids every day if I can, and my wife for that matter. It's just a HUGE step to completely change the course of your life in one decision. A month ago I was happily married - I take on board the point about stability, safety, predictability - and that's probably true. I longed to have a man hold me, kiss me, touch me, make me laugh, make love to me or me with him. I know that if I stay all of these things will not go away and the trust that existed with my wife will be eroded as she'll always be wondering what I am thinking or if I'm happy.

    I just need to grow a set of balls and make the next most difficult decision of my life.

    Thanks for all the kind words and offers of support/friendship.
     
  13. Lindsay11

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    Highlander, I admire the courage it took to come out to your wife. You probably had a good idea of how she would react, but it had to happen.
    However, I would advise you to put your children first and do whatever is best for them. They won't be young for long and they don't deserve to be hurt by your decisions. I know that you love them as you love your wife. Protect them as best you can while being true to yourself. If that means waiting to live out of the closet for awhile, please choose that. When you are older you will cherish the time you have with them and if you hurt them now they will not forgive you then. I've seen it happen.
     
  14. Highlander2

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    So, an update on my journey. I am still at home with my wife and kids. I have been to counselling twice and she is just about to start seeing a counsellor to talk about the situation and start to talk about the loss of her parents over the last couple of years.

    I am still in the spare room, and it's like living with a friend. My feelings towards her have totally shut down - I still love her and worry about her and feel sad about the way I feel, or don't feel about her, but I can't seem to find a way through to make myself "love" her again like a husband should.

    I am starting to identify with myself as a gay man - I see attractive women in the street and I am consciously checking to see if I feel anything sort of attraction (why?!) for them, which I don't. Yet I see a guy I think is good looking and I can't take my eyes off him. It's as if my sexuality has just exploded and burst out of me and there is no way it's going back into the box again.

    I struggle with the hurt and upset I've caused her, and there is a part of me that wants to stay and stop her feeling like that, and because I don't want to leave my kids. But the other part of me just thinks that I'd never be able to truly feel on fire as I have done with the guy I have met. Just thinking about him makes me burn inside like I've never done before. There isn't any guarantee he and I will get together if I left, that we'd stay together (which terrifies me about being on my own) and that it would be long term. But I get to thinking, he's not unique - there'll be other guys that drive me to the same feelings of desire that I have for him I'm sure.

    I really want to stay part of my wife's and kids lives if I move out - to stay nearby and see them regularly and support them - but I can't get away from the fact that the touch, kiss, smell, and hold of a man that turns me on is something that is so powerful that I can't see a way around it to get over the feeling sufficiently to stay where I am and be a faithful, loving and sexually fulfilling husband to my wife. I will always feel like I'm keeping a major part of me suppressed and unfulfilled.

    It's just about managing the process now until into the New Year and being there to support her and let her know that she won't be on her own and that she doesn't have to be scared, just as I am about the future.

    Thanks for reading.
     
  15. D43054

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    Highlander, thanks for sharing. I am planning to come out to my wore very soon and your courageous story is definitely helpful.

    As I've come to terms with my situation I see no way other than leaving my family. I'm really struggling with the guilt, but know its best for us all in the end.
     
  16. Chip

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    Hi, and a (belated) welcome to EC.

    If you haven't already, I'm going to strongly suggest you get a copy of Joe Kort's "Ten Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real Love", which has almost nothing to do with finding real love, but everything to do with understanding yourself and coming to terms with accepting who you are. There are a couple of excellent chapters that specifically address heterosexually married gay men, and one of the most interesting pieces is that Dr. Kort has found, over 25+ years of therapy, that in nearly every case, once she got past their initial anger, the wife comes to realize that she had suspicions/signs/questions about her husband's sexual orientation, but that she basically (and often unconsciously) conspired with her husband to keep the matter "under wraps." Which means... it isn't solely your fault. She likely contributed.

    ANd that's a really powerful understanding, that can be really healing for you. You still made a mistake, but she contributed in keeping the lie going, and so where things are now is in a way, something you both co-created.

    It sounds like you deeply care about her, and one of the things that often (but certainly not always) happens in these situations is the couple, after going their separate ways, remain close friends. And perhaps, in your situation, that can be the case, and will help her adjust.
     
  17. Tightrope

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    Why do I believe this? Wow. Considering some women can be extremely suspicious and grill someone on their life's chronology if single for longer than usual, whatever usual may be, I'm at a loss for why some didn't question the situation when the manifestations are more obvious. For some, it's probably more about the security of the marital state and a lesser need for physical intimacy. In many cases where it seems like this is the situation, I have seen that the woman has the stronger personality and the man suits her to keep the alpha-beta equation in equilibrium, so it seems like it's a control issue. What I've seen.

    Welcome Highlander2.
     
  18. Choirboy

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    BINGO!!!

    My wife was perfectly happy for years without me pawing at her, except when she wanted to use that fact to make me feel bad, for whatever reason suited her. The kiss that I gave her when leaving the house would never be reciprocated, the kiss goodnight was always given by me (and she often barely turned her head enough for me to kiss anything but the side of her head), and despite the complaints, if I DID try to initiate sex, it went nowhere unless she was 150% in the mood, which was basically never. (I used to remark that if there was a night where she was not sick, tired, cranky or angry, and actually WANTED to have sex, I would immediately have gotten dressed and bought a lottery ticket, because we were sure to win.) The gay speculation was often there, but used only as a control device to get me to prove myself.

    Now that I have confirmed her suspicions, of course, she has tried numerous tactics to regain the control that she lost by my coming out to her, without any real success. The latest tactic is vague little implications that she will harm herself and "no one will care", such as by not taking her meds, or not avoiding foods that she has a (minor) allergy to. Or the whining complaint that I will probably be out and dating, but she will "never be able to trust a man again because my track record is so awful" (mind you, I have been loyal and caring and supportive for 20 years despite the fact that her worst moods runs the gamut from childish to batshit crazy).

    Power, no doubt whatsoever. She knew damn well I was "different" and it suited her needs. And when all is said and done, I'll bet her next relationship will involve power and control as well, although perhaps not with a closet case.
     
  19. Tightrope

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    Wow, Choirboy, and I was just thinking of 2 or 3 cases where they are textbook examples of this, though in 2.5 of 3 cases, I think the husbands are straight but really passive. It's more like that .5 case I'm thinking about. I won't go into the details, but more than a few people have made comments about the husband. I just listen to the comments and have my own opinion of the husband - which is the SAME as everyone else's!

    Sometimes the next relationships are not that easy to come by. This is even the case for straight women who have exited straight marriages, albeit with a lot of drama. Most people don't want all the drama they drum up. However, some get sucked right into that vortex.
     
  20. ukguy

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    Hi Highlander. I can identify with all that you say. I am in the same position - want to be near the family to support them but knowing also that I can't 'ungay' myself. I too have met a guy who I am fond of. Terrified like you of the upheaval I am triggering. I cant afford to move out at the moment however and so my wife and I are living day to day - fairly amicably but it is a strain. For the moment I am going to have to stay - my wife does not want the children knowing or friends knowing and does not want me to see guys in case word gets out. Not sure what the future holds really-difficult to plan or see ahead.