Pages Navigation Menu

Personal Stories – You Are Not Alone

One of the most valuable things that people find upon reaching the Straight Spouse Network, is that they find the people here "get it."  Words can't adequately describe how alone most straight spouses feel upon learning that they are a straight spouse.

Hopefully the stories you will read will help you understand that you are not alone and show you some of the many paths forward for you at this time in your life.

Note: all of the stories below are true, however some names have been changed to protect individuals privacy.

We would like to add a section of stories of those whose spouses have come out as Transexual, Transgendered, or Cross Dressing. If you would be willing to share your story with us for this section please contact us using our Contact Us page.

You Are Not Alone

A collection of stories written by straight spouses that illustrate you are not alone. 

In the following stories, straight spouses share the different paths they took after finding out their husbands or wives were gay, lesbian, or bisexual. While all faced common issues, their situations run the gamut of circumstances: family composition, age, community context, occupation, and religion and the dynamics of their couple relationship.

Our hope is that these personal portraits will help other spouses to see the diversity of ways of resolving the profound questions and emotions that arise and to understand how long it takes to sort out one's needs, wants, and values in order to cope constructively and reach a positive outcome even in separation or divorce.

We hope, too, that other readers will gain a glimmer of the turmoil that straight wives and husbands experience and understand better their unique challenges.

Note: some names are pseudonyms to protect the privacy of those sharing their stories.

* Thank you, SSN support groups in Boston, Dallas, and Indianapolis, for graciously allowing us to use your name for this collection

From Liz. Ignorance is Not Bliss, or why you shouldn’t protect your children from the truth

For the last eight years, time has stood still. When I look back at who I was then, I see an ambitious single working her way up the creative ladder of the bustling film industry in Los Angeles. I was on my own in a brave new world full of endless possibilities, building a life that would take me on a great adventure. It was a life being built upon the foundation of everything I had learned throughout my childhood and all that I hoped to discover as an adult. Then the foundation crumbled.

I tend to use this analogy often in describing to others what my personal journey has been for nearly a decade. My foundation was my family. I always knew that no matter what choices I made and whether or not I was successful, I would be ok. I would be safe, loved and accepted unconditionally because of that strong foundation which my parents had laid for my younger brother and I. They taught us that we could be anything we wanted as long as we kept exploring the world, that our dreams in the clouds could be realized here on earth. That is what held me up until one sunny afternoon, when I received a phone call from my mother. Through almost inaudible tears she told me that my father was gay and that their thirty-year marriage was over. The blow was not soft and the shock was impenetrable. That was when the world stopped turning.

As a young child, I never imagined that my parents would ever be apart. I had friends with divorced parents and saw their struggles, but never thought it could happen to me. I certainly didn’t expect that it could happen right before my 26th birthday. Thinking about it now, the fact that my father came out really didn’t faze me. Being gay was not the problem; it was the lie about who he was and how it hurt my mother that broke my heart. It was broken for both of them, and to be honest, it still is.

For the first few months, as my brother and I tried to wrap our heads around our new circumstances, I considered whether this would have been more difficult if my father had come out when I was younger. I thought about how I might have reacted as a toddler, a silly little girl or a gawky teenager. Was it better to find something like this out as an adult? With a fully developed brain and a little life experience, would it be easier? The answer is no.

My story is not unique, but I feel it is often overlooked. As a child of a straight spouse situation, there are two things that have been unbearable for me. One is seeing my mother in pain, grieving for a life she never really had. The other is the overwhelming feeling of guilt I have for still loving my father. If my father had come out earlier in their marriage, my mother would have had more time to find herself again, or at least her hope for a happy future. I could talk about why my mother has lost hope, or speculate on how my father really feels. But the truth is, I 

will never really know how this is for them. It happened to them, not me. In the same turn, my experience is singular to me and to all the other children who have gone through the same situation. It is difficult for our parents to understand what we are going through because their pain is so great, so blinding. I do not blame them for this, for not seeing me. There is no simple way to navigate our feelings and all we can really do is be patient, be aware that each of us goes through a grieving process, and above all be honest with each other.

I know the urge to protect our children is fierce and often feels like the right thing to do, or the only thing to do. However, I can tell you as a child who never knew the truth, I really wish I had. Eight years ago, when my world went still, the momentum of my career, my relationships and my feeling of self worth were crippled and I am still trying to limp across the finish line. When the truth comes out no one is safe from the hurt, no matter how old you are. All I want is for my mother to be happy again; truly, authentically happy in her life. There is still so much to look forward to. I want my father to find peace with his past decisions and know I will always love him. We will never be the same family unit we once were, but the love that brought us together in the seemingly distant past will always be there somewhere.

To whomever finds this article relatable, my message to you is this: do not protect your children from the truth, no matter what. Teach them that honesty is all that matters in life. We all learn early on that it is best to tell the truth, to confide in our friends and to not hurt others. Honesty is not just for others though, it is more important to be honest with yourself and to be true to who you are. If we could all do that and embrace all that makes us everything, perhaps we wouldn’t feel so lost and alone. If my father had felt free to be who he was earlier in life, it would have allowed my mother to be free as well.

As children, our parents are our whole universe, they shape our world and make us who we are going to become. To see our parents in pain is too much to bear, because there is no way we can make it go away. Parents do not want to see their children in pain either, and that is why we want to shield them from the harsh realities of existence. We make decisions for our children and we want them to know that nothing is ever their fault, when it comes to these grown up issues at least. At the age of 10 I may have perceived that my parents split was my fault. Next week I will be 34, and guess what - after eight years and dozens of therapy sessions later, that is how I still feel most of the time. My father waited to come out until my brother and I graduated, had jobs and were settled into our newfound adulthood. Sometimes I think he waited to make sure we were secure before announcing such a huge shift in dynamics. I love him for that, but I am also broken by the lie. At times I feel like my whole childhood was falsified, that nothing was real and that who I am now has lost any and all meaning. Depression and anxiety over not being able to help my mother, trying to understand my father and the yearning to find myself again is sometimes suffocating. Honesty would have saved all of us so much heartache. All I can hope is that if anyone who reads this is working through thisstruggle now, please remember that honesty is always the best policy. Please do not protect your children - because you can’t, no matter how hard you try.

From Angel. The final chapter of my story begins with the ending: I am divorced after sixteen years of marriage and two children.

Two years ago, I heard bits and pieces of a telephone conversation my husband was having: "You think I look like Brad Pitt, really?!" and "Yes, I will make arrangements for us to get together again." I faced him. He told me he was involved with another woman, wanted a break from our marriage, and I was controlling him by spying on him.

He moved out of the house, but I still hadn't decided to divorce. After the girls and I returned from what was supposed to be a family vacation for the four of us, he called me, drunk. He was verbally abusive and threatened me with police action if I didn't let him see the girls. I hung up, paced around the kitchen, and called the police myself to file a report of harassment against him. Then I called an attorney and left a message to draw up divorce papers.

How did I learn that my ex-husband was gay, when he wasn't being forthcoming with me about anything? I hired a private investigator. When the PI gave me information, I was devastated that not only was my husband having an affair, but it was with a man.

He has told everyone-our children, his family, friends-that he is gay, but he has never said, "I'm gay" to me. Why? I suppose I am the one person whose approval and acceptance means the most to him. It is harder to deal with guilt, an emotion we turn inward, than anger, which we turn outward towards someone else.

I was disappointed in how he told the girls. Rather than involving a counselor/therapist to help us tell them together, he showed them his new apartment and its bedroom for them, the second bedroom for the computer and games, and the third bedroom-his, the one he would share with his gay partner. Then he added, "Yes, he is gay." That's how they learned the man they met the previous weekend was their father's gay partner and would be living with them.

Learning this, I contacted a pastor at church for help. Somehow I had to explain to my girls that I already knew the truth and had kept it from them. I needed to know how they felt about him being gay and how I could help them get through this in a healthy way. When I told them, my older daughter was angry that I kept what I knew to myself.

Throughout our marriage, there was just always something that was not right. I thought our problems were with his alcoholism and did what I could to help him through that, to make him realize he had a problem and needed to quit. I sought help for myself to learn how to keep us safe when he was under the influence and abusive. One time we left, telling him we wouldn't come back until he decided whether he wanted alcohol or his family. He chose family, sought help, managed to stay sober for about one and a half years, and then started drinking again, in secret.

Sexual relations between my ex-husband and me became non-existent, and he blamed it on me and my weight. I used to ask him to be intimate. His response was to laugh at me and tell me to lose weight and then he would consider it. When I reached out to touch him, he would push me away. How do you go from having sex five nights a week to nothing? He blamed me and I accepted it. Turns out I didn't have the right body parts to entice him.

The Straight Spouse Network and the online "familee" are the most giving, supportive people you will find. They allow you to vent your anger, to laugh, to cry. They are right there with you because they understand, since they have been through it themselves. When I realized my ex-husband was gay, I didn't tell anybody because I was ashamed: Why hadn't I known? How could he have married me? How could he have had sexual relations with me if he's gay? How do you tell people this, how do you reveal to people the most intimate parts of your life without experiencing shame and guilt, being shunned, and thinking that people won't think there is something wrong with you because you didn't know or figure out your husband was gay? I found a home in SSN, a place where I felt safe to share my story and was not judged for loving a man who put me in a closet without my knowledge, without my permission.

Of course my faith in God has grown, changed because of the divorce, his being gay and everything related. Now I am working on the next chapter of my life, figuring out where I go from here. Number one is ensuring the safety and well being of my girls and number two is learning about me and who I am. So far I have learned that I can stand on my own two feet, move forward from this, and trust myself again.

From Duane. Patricia and I had been married for 21 years, but for some time our marriage had been had been on shaky ground. Neither of us was happy. Instead of talking about it we allowed it to fester inside, slowly eating away the love we had for each. Patricia would tell me that it was because she was going through menopause.

Patricia was my world, my life and reason for living. We had raised two wonderful children and she had stood beside me throughout my military career. I trusted her and believed that while my first career was ending hers was just beginning. I owed her the space and time she needed to find a new balance in her life. To say it was hard would have been an understatement. She was experiencing a new freedom. But instead of getting better, our marriage was crumbling even more. Patricia seemed so happy with her new life, but I was no longer a part of it. I was always wrong. I only wanted to be a part of her world, but Patricia interpreted my actions as an attempt to control her life. Daily, I asked myself one question: Why?

On April 3, 1997, my question was answered. It was our anniversary. As I opened my morning emails, I saw one from Patricia. I was listed as a bcc. Her words changed my life. It was a love letter to another woman expressing her deepest love and desire to be with her for eternity. For a moment, my world stood still. I was lost in a flood of emotions, while at the same time I was able to see clearly what just moments before had been hidden in the issues of our marriage.

As Patricia so simply put it, I was a man and there was no room in her life for a man. I had gone to bed the night before as a husband, a lover, and a friend only to wake and learn that I had been relegated from all the things I cherished in life as being solely a man.

It has been a long struggle. Because of my job I did not seek professional help for fear of being classified as mentally unstable. To the world, I appeared to have adjusted very well but inside I was lost and alone. To escape from the pain, I turned to drink. For over six months not an evening passed that I didn't look for answers only to discover that when the bottle was empty the questions and loneliness were still with me. As time passed, I concluded I was on a path of self-destruction. Regardless of the consequences, it was MY life and only I had the power to turn things around. I no longer looked to the bottle for answers but instead sought professional help. As expected, there was a price to pay, and I was placed on administrative duties.

Ten years have gone by and at times I still struggle. I gave my love and trust, freely believing that is the foundation of any relationship. Knowing what I know now, I often wonder if she ever loved me. The one truth I'm sure of is that she abused my trust. Patricia had known the cause of our problems but never told me I was deprived the freedom of choice. Her sexuality was never a major issue with me, but I still stop, look back, and wonder why she took the path she did for coming out. While the pain would have been deep, I would have preferred she hurt me honestly than to kill me with her lies.

I wonder whether I can openly give my heart and trust to another. I once read that "Life is a fairy tale written by the fingertips of God." My tale is still being written. I hope that when the final chapter is written and the book is closed someone can say: He lived happily ever after.

From Fern. I am one of those ladies who did not want to stay married to her gay husband, not just because of 'the gay thing' but because . . .

. . . the man I'd given my all to for a lifetime was not the man I thought he was.  I had to leave the marriage to find myself and grow as a person in my own right, rather than as a shadow of the dark cloud we lived under.

When I found out about "the gay thing," I was devastated. My now-ex had been cheating with men for over two-thirds of our three-decade marriage. I thought I'd die or at least live the rest of my life in misery, without my husband. Still, I still chose divorce. I just knew I could no longer live in the oppressive atmosphere he brought into my life.

That was over four years ago. In that time, I divorced, sold a house, moved, learned to know myself, made new friends, and tried support our kids without badmouthing their father. Recovery was not easy. It was a long struggle to get from the zero self esteem that our marriage had left me with to the contented woman I am today.

After the divorce, I spent months living with just me. I was happier living alone than I had been living with a man who was not really there. Next, I found other single women with whom I enjoyed doing things, and I learned that single women take care of each other much as my online support group does. Finally, I went from having nothing to do with any male to whom I'd not given birth to realizing that many men are not liars, cheats, or gay. Once I knew I could live without a man, I realized that I did not have to. It was a choice.

I began to date. I met honest men of strong positive character (and losers as well), who actually enjoyed my company and were turned on when I walked into a room, just by virtue of my being a woman-such a heady feeling after so many years of feeling totally undesirable! Some men became friends and one has turned into much more. I now understand true love between a man and a woman for the first time. Yet, I know that if this man were to disappear tomorrow, I would be okay. I lived through the hell many straight wives are in and learned that I can survive.

I enjoy what I have at the moment, and if there is more good to come, great. If not, I now know that "broken hearts heal; empty lives don't." My life is no longer empty. Quite simply, I am happy. There is life after discovery, and it is good, really good. Yes, I still have things to work through, but I have come so far. I have grown from a devastated, sobbing basket case saying "How could this happen to me?" to a strong independent woman, wondering how I could ever have let a man treat me like my ex did, with such a lack of respect, honestly, support, and, let's face it, a lack of love, real love that encompasses all the things I naively thought we had since our married life was not all bad. Now, we do not share our lives. He is better living in his world, and I am better in mine.

Life takes strange turns for women who unknowingly marry gay men, but the results of these turns are not always as negative as they seem in the beginning. I found I could trust and even love again. Oh, I still have my moments, fears, and doubts, but the best thing I have is my recently earned confidence in me. My life is my own now and it will be what I make of it.

From James. In May 1990, I moved to start a new job, leaving the city I had run to shortly after my divorce from my first wife.

The end of that marriage had been traumatic. She remarried three days after our divorce was final and moved abroad a week later, taking my step-kids with her. One Friday, I was invited to a birthday party and met Lisa, who was the life of the party: pretty, outgoing, easy to talk to, and married. We flirted a little, and she taught me the electric slide. That was it.

Over the next few months, I would occasionally see her at work and heard she separated from her husband. That fall, I went dancing with a bunch of people from work. She was one of them. A few days later, she stopped by my office to ask if I wanted to take a drive to look at the autumn foliage. We had fun, decided to go together to a Halloween party, and started dating.

In December, Lisa told me she loved me. I told her I cared for her very deeply but would not say, "I love you," until I was positive I meant it, which happened the next year. Later, I gave her a ring and asked her to marry me, but I wanted to wait one year for her answer and asked her to think about whether she wanted to marry me. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several months after that, I told her that she needed to reconsider the marriage and I would understand if she no longer wanted to get married. Instead, she wanted to marry right away.

We married, and things were wonderful. Two and a half years later, we had our first son. While Lisa was pregnant with our second son, we moved to Delaware. We found a church, both of us became active in it, and Lisa took a part-time position there, where she met Nancy. Nancy and her husband also had two boys, and the two families started spending a lot of time together. In time, Lisa resigned her position at the church, as did Nancy, then the assistant pastor.

Lisa and I started having problems. For the first time, we didn't seem to be able to talk. She didn't want to spend time with me. The next year, the house next to Nancy's came up for sale. Lisa wanted to buy it. I agreed, and we did. Still, our relationship continued to deteriorate. She said she was frustrated and tired since she couldn't sleep because of my snoring. I moved out of the bedroom.

One morning, Lisa asked if I had time to talk. We sat at the kitchen table, and my world then fell apart. She said she had something to tell me, something she didn't want to tell me because it was going to hurt. I took her hand, and she told me about Nancy, how they become involved in a relationship and that was one reason she'd wanted to move. She didn't want to hurt me and was petrified I would be so angry I wouldn't have anything to do with her. She said she could deal with everyone else-church, friends, co-workers-turning away from her, but she didn't know if she could deal with it if I turned away.

I'm not sure I can put into words what I was feeling. A little bit, "Not again." A little bit, "I knew this was coming." A little bit, "How am I going to survive?" A little bit, "I need to make sure the boys will be okay." A little bit, "Why me, God?" But I looked her in the eyes and told her the one thing I could promise was that I would not turn away. Regardless of how things turned out, I would be there for her if she needed me. The next day at church, Nancy came up to me, gave me a hug and said, "I'm sorry."

My response was "Me too." I wasn't angry. I didn't hate Lisa or Nancy. I hurt, that was all.

We stayed in the house. A few weeks later, Lisa asked if Nancy could sleep in the downstairs family area. Her husband was doing some crazy things, and she was afraid. I said, "Yes."

That fall, we told the boys. Our seven-year-old basically said, "Okay, can I go play now?" Our eleven year-old had a lot more questions and is having a hard time adjusting.

After much discussion, we decided to share the house. We added a master suite for me and finished the basement as a playroom. Lisa and Nancy have the original master bedroom, and Nancy's boys split their time between their dad's house next door and here. We are still legally married but not in reality. She needs my insurance, and, since I will not get married again, it doesn't bother me.

What will happen in the future? I am the poster child for "Man plans, God laughs." I don't mean I am mad at God. I was, but I've reconciled those feelings. I live my life so that when it is over, I can stand before God, talk to Him, and be willing to accept the judgments He makes.

From Jane. As I write this, it has been less than one month since my husband of twenty years disclosed that he is bisexual.

I was completely shocked when he told me. I reassured him as he cried, telling him that it would be okay, that I still loved him and he was still the man I married.

We have been on an emotional roller coaster since the disclosure. I have been committed to continuing the marriage. I talked to Amity, joined on-line groups and spoke to the SSN representative in our area. We have two beautiful children and had an active, fun sex life and a successful business that we had built together. My husband fluctuated between being committed to our marriage and wanting a divorce. As was our custom, he left me sweet notes, and I did the same. On Valentine's Day, he brought me roses and a loving card, but I could tell he was emotionally distant.

The next day in therapy, he told me our marriage was over. I sobbed, shook, and got down on the floor to prevent myself from fainting. I was so hurt. He told me it wasn't just the bisexuality but other issues in our marriage that made him decide he wanted out. I know that living with another person can be a little annoying, but I had no idea that he held such contempt for me. I felt like there was a double-whammy: his disclosure and then saying he didn't want to be married to me even if he wasn't bisexual. He was gone that night and spent the weekend buying things to furnish his new house.

He left me so quickly and so completely that I know that I will never take him back, in the unlikely event that he would want to return. I could never trust him again, since I never saw it coming the first time. I feel as if the man with whom I spent twenty-three years of my life is dead and I don't know this new person who inhabits his body. I was willing to support him after he told me the deepest of his secrets, and he cast that aside.

My goal now is to not be bitter, hoping to live by the motto, "Living well is the best revenge." I have a lot of anger so that is not easy. I know we have some tough days ahead as we try to divide the remnants of a long marriage, but for me it is better than living with the uncertainty. I am seeking comfort from dear neighbors and friends, women in my Bible study group, and from a wonderful family. I also am cutting myself a lot of slack, allowing myself to grieve and take care of myself.

From Joe. I met my wife in college, and we married after completing graduate school. Our son was born two years later.

After we were married for about twelve years, my wife began a relationship with a woman she met on the Internet. Over the next several years, I read dozens of books on marriage, infidelity, anger, and homosexuality. I went to marriage, depression, and anger counseling. I regularly attended local SSN meetings.

My wife told me that despite my efforts and improvements, nothing would change the fact that she needed a relationship with a woman. She didn't want to end the marriage, but she put no effort into our relationship. She stopped doing housework. I generally slept on the couch. Our son fell two years behind in school. We had a completely dysfunctional existence. The stress was destroying me.

Two years ago, she moved to another state. I felt an instant sense of relief. My son earned his GED and took some college courses. I worked to get my life back in order.

I attended the Florida gathering for the first time last fall and came home with newfound self-confidence and enthusiasm, ready to turn over a new leaf. From that point on, every day has been better than the day before. I have been happier than I have been in years.

I had gone to a straight spouses meeting a couple months before last fall's gathering. The woman who hosted the meeting described me to a friend as "a real mess" and that "even his issues have issues." A couple months after the gathering, she and I started dating and the past two months have been wonderful. After almost a decade of stress, I have found someone just exactly perfect for me.

From Julie. The first time I saw Nate, I was thirteen years old.

Someone had asked the high school choir to sing at my eighth grade graduation ceremony, and Nate, a high school sophomore, was the piano player. He was cute! When I began high school, I developed a casual friendship with him and had a secret crush on him. When he was in college, I took on jobs he had performed as a musician, both in high school and church. Nate returned to play the piano with me on major holidays, so we got together to practice. We began to date after my junior year. He was very polite and fun. He never tried to hold my hand or have any physical contact at all. I thought he was being quite the gentleman.

From that Christmas on, we were together a lot when he was in town. I asked him to accompany me to my senior prom the following June. He accepted, and I paid for his plane ticket. We continued dating that summer. We held hands and kissed, but no other physical contact. I knew about my own strong feelings for Nate, but doubted the strength of his feelings for me. Although I was in love, I started doubting this relationship was good for me. I started college in my hometown. Nate would call or write on occasion, but not enough to satisfy me. Much to my surprise, he came home in March and asked me to marry him, saying he loved me. I explained away all his lack of emotion: he was a gentleman, an absent-minded musician, shy, and inexperienced sexually. I happily accepted his proposal and began a three-year engagement.

We married and I moved to Chicago where Nate was finishing his last year of post-graduate work. I whole-heartedly enjoyed being with him and loved him with every fiber of my being. A soon-to-be-familiar pattern emerged. I wanted sex all the time and Nate didn't. He wouldn't come to bed, but instead watched late-night television while I cried myself to sleep. Things got better when we moved from Chicago and he got a job as a music director and I got a job as a teacher in a Catholic school.

In the late 1980's, our first child was born. We were so happy. I loved him all that much more for being such a good and involved father. We moved back to our home state and had two more children. Life truly seemed wonderful during this time.

Eventually, Nate began to pull away from the kids and the family. He cooked dinner for us each night, but, beyond that, meaningful contact became scarce. From time to time, I would point out his lack of attentiveness and things would improve. Our sex life dwindled to almost nothing. When we did have sex, Nate wasn't really all that interested in intercourse.

For the next ten years, I contemplated divorce and asked him to go to counseling, but he refused. After a lot of thought, I decided that I had married for better and worse and I couldn't divorce him because he was inattentive to my needs or because he was an inattentive father. The kids didn't seem to notice. They loved him tremendously. So, I decided that this is what life had to offer me, and I needed to live with it. I just let things be what they were.

The summer of 2006 started off pleasant enough, but after a birthday dinner for his mother, Nate came into the living room and just sat. I asked him if there was anything he wanted to talk about. He said, "Yes. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to tell you. I'm gay."

I was shocked. He told me that he knew he was gay from the age of thirteen and that he didn't love me and never had. He thought it would be best if he stayed with me and the kids for three more years while he started to network with the gay community. He assured me that I was his one and only and that he had not had gay sex. He seemed so happy and excited while he talked. He went to bed. I cried all night.

The next day, we told the kids we were divorcing, and I had Nate tell them he was gay. They were devastated. They thought we had a very good marriage because we never fought.

I made him leave the second night and contacted a lawyer, but let him return the next day and stay in another bedroom until we worked out our finances. We talked more in the next week than we had in years. He started talking quite a bit about the other gay married men's blogs he had been reading online and mentioned a guy he'd met locally who was mentoring him through the coming out process.

One night, I poked around online and ended up finding Nate's blog, which detailed the life of someone I didn't know at all. He had had several sexual encounters with men, the most recent the one night I made him leave. It seems the mentor wasn't mentoring with words only

It was about 1:00 a.m. when I found Nate's blog, and in a glorious display of pent up hurt and rage, I shook him out of bed and kicked him out. I called him names and used really appropriate swear words. You know how sometimes you're so mad you can't think straight and you think of all the great things to say fifteen minutes after the conversation is over? Well, I was not afflicted by this phenomenon that night. I said everything I wanted to say in just the best way to say it.

The basic facts are that Nate never loved me, he'd had affairs, and he'd lied, so there was no point in trying to stay married to him. I filed for divorce within a few days of him coming out.

Although I have been mostly logical throughout this whole process, I want to point out that this is the most terrible thing that has ever happened to me. I cried every day for the first four months and honestly would have committed suicide if my kids didn't need me.

Nate wants the two of us to be friends, but I don't think I'll ever be able to totally forgive him.

I'm starting to look forward to the future and still hope that I might find true love some day. For anyone reading this who is still in acute pain, I want to offer hope. What you are going through is terrible, and it's normal for you to be feeling horrible pain as you adjust to your new reality. But it will get better. You will survive and life will improve.

From Kelle. I am now something I never thought I would be: divorced.

I married my husband confident we would spend the rest of our lives together, raise a family, and work together towards our dreams.

I found out after four years that my husband has a same-sex attraction and had been intimate with a man during our marriage. The first blow was that he cheated, and then, as the shock wore off, I started thinking about the fact that it was with a man. Both became hard to swallow, since one big reason I married my husband was that I trusted him more than I had ever trusted anyone else and thought that I was all he ever needed and wanted.

In the beginning, I wanted to learn how to live with him and the gay issue, instead of learning how to live without him. Over time, I learned he wasn't being honest with me. Even after we had talked and talked and talked, things would still pop up and I would feel betrayed that they hadn't been disclosed. I lost the trust in him I had once had, and every blow made it harder to see that ever returning.

The complexity of it all completely blew me away. At first, he claimed it was just curiosity and didn't mean anything. Over time, he disclosed he had been visiting gay porn sites and that he was probably bisexual. I love this man and we have a daughter together. Now what? He claimed he would be able to commit himself only to me, but I thought that was what our marriage was about in the first place. He hesitated discussing the subject, and I needed to talk about it. Finally, he admitted to not knowing who he really was and needing to figure it out.

I filed for divorce, not because I wanted to but because I had to. I felt that, if I stayed, he would not release himself to figure out who he truly was or what would make him truly happy. I wanted "us" so bad that I thought I could ignore the gay issue, but something wouldn't let me. Something inside knew there was something deeper that needed to surface and I couldn't pretend, or it would just surface later and I wasn't sure I would survive later. I was barely surviving now.

Our divorce was amicable. We have joint custody and placement of our beautiful daughter. It is all pretty new and scary, but baby steps really do get you somewhere. I can't say I don't look back because I still cry about what I thought was true and what I wanted to be. But, more importantly, he is still in my life and we still are what I consider a family, just a bit different from the storybooks.

From Len. In 1986, I married my best friend and the person I was to grow old with. The woman I had my children by.

The woman with whom I shared my innermost being with and whom I thought I knew better than anyone. Little did I know that I did not know anything...

The summer of 2000 went on as summers did, with me working and my wife having time off, since she drove a school bus. It was the perfect job because she could be there for the kids. This summer, however, things were amiss.

We were different... no, she was different. She was spending an outrageous amount of time on the computer, but I thought she was instant messaging friends and shopping. She was coming to bed later and later each night. I thought it strange, but figured no biggie; she is off for the summer and just doesn't need to get to bed when I needed to. One day, she mentioned she had found a friend online who had a lot in common with her and had three kids of her own.

"O.K.," I said, "That's cool." And so she and her newfound friend were hanging out, going out, and having a grand ol' time. (Oh, how dumb and foolish I feel now.)

One night, we planned to get together with some friends from church at a local restaurant that had a little band. My wife met me there, showing up with "the friend."

I was not feeling well and after dinner said we should go home. She told me to go home; she would stay. I went home, fell asleep, and woke about 2:00 am. My wife was not home, it was unlike her to be out that late, and she was not answering her cell phone. I feared something had happened.

I drove back to the restaurant as they were closing. I knew a guy in the band and asked if he had seen my wife. He went silent and then said he needed to tell me something. He then proceeded to tell me how MY WIFE, THE MOTHER OF MY CHILDREN had seductively danced, made out with, and carried on with her "friend."

I was sick and stunned. I went home and waited. When she showed up I asked her what the hell was going on and said I had spoken with the guy in the band. She broke down, said she was drunk and confused, and the friend made a move on her. I asked her what else took place, and she swore that there was no more than the kissing. I threw her pillow and blanket out of our bedroom, locked myself in, and went to sleep. That was August 15, 2000.

The next morning, I thought long and hard about my vows and the kids and everything we had been through and decided not to throw away 14 years due to a mistake. I told her how I felt and that we would work through this. "But," I said, "there is no way that you are ever to see or talk to that 'friend' ever again."

She agreed. As days went on, she tried negotiating various ways of allowing contact with her friend, via email or instant message, and I said no way. Her next step was to get nasty. She told me I had no right to tell her who she could and could not see. I told her, "Either you want to be married to me or you want to be with her, but you cannot have it both ways. If you want the latter, pack your bags and leave, but understand that once you walk out that door, you will never come back."

On September 1, 2000, she did just that. With no warning or chance to explain to our kids, she packed her bags, told them she was leaving, and asked them to do the same. They were, needless to say, shocked and stunned and crying. They refused to go with her (and for that I will be eternally grateful) and off she went. When the screen door shut, I realized that our lives had just changed forever.

My wife died that day. The person I married, who was caring and thoughtful and loved our kids, was no longer here. Her face and body were evident, but all shards of that woman were gone. She became erratic and moody with severe emotional swings, and her parental sense was completely gone. She was so self absorbed that she thought only of herself and her newfound life as a lesbian. Our kids were made to take it or leave it. Their first weekend with her she took them to the now-girlfriend's house.

I filed for divorce and began a four-year battle. She told the neighbors she left because I beat her. She called the police and said them same thing. She accused me of a gay relationship when I invited a man and his two kids to live with us after their home burned down and they had no place to live. She broke into the family home several times by kicking the door in, tried opening credit cards in my name so she could use them, and caused irreparable harm to both kids. My daughter has not spoken to her mother in over six years. My son sees her once a week for two hours. This is the extent of her relationship with her children now.

I am happy to say I retained custody of both kids -- unheard of in my conservative county where mothers are almost always granted custody -- and got to keep the house.

Now I am a 44-year-old single dad of two teenagers. While I would not trade this for anything, I am angered that I was put in this position. She walked away leaving me not only to pick up the pieces, but also to mend them and heal our children, try to be a mother figure in some form, and wonder what will become of my life now. I do not communicate with her unless it's necessary and related to the kids and only through email. I will never forgive her for what she has done to me but mostly what she did to two wonderful kids who deserved none of this.

From Louise. I'm sitting here on a very snowy afternoon, home from work because of the snowstorm. Times like these leave lots of time for reflection.

Times like these make me dredge up where I've been and what I've had to do to get to this point in my life. Times like these often result in tears or joy, depending on my state of mind. Often I find myself avoiding these times just to keep things at bay.

I write as a 54-year-old newly divorced woman who was married to a fine man for 32 years. He still is a fine man, and I can still call him my friend. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit the signs were always there. But you tend to push suspicions to the back of your mind to protect your current reality. If you rock the boat, you may tip it over. I wasn't prepared for that. So, we raised two boys and had a decent marriage.

My husband came out to me five years ago, after I finally flat out asked him what was going on. He was not happy, working every day of the week and avoiding any kind of meaningful conversations with me. I discovered he was spending late nights on gay websites, which confirmed my suspicions. I just had to hear it from him. I think his admitting it to me was the hardest thing he ever had to do. I wanted to yell at him to just spit it out, because I already knew what he had to say.

Even though you know, hearing the words caves you in. I felt like I'd fallen into a dark tunnel. This was something he was struggling with, but I couldn't help him. I could barely help myself. At that point, I was thrust into the closet with him. We live in a small town, he is music director for the Catholic Church, and geez, how stupid would people think I was to fall for this for thirty years? It's amazing the "poor me" thoughts that go through your head at a time like that. How would family, friends, church members, people at work, the community in general take this horrible news???? How could this possibly be happening to me? What are we going to do?

The revelation came just as we had gutted our kitchen for major remodeling. We couldn't deal with both crises at once, so the gay thing was put on the back burner. We lived as if nothing was wrong, but the tension kept building until we realized we were doing each other more harm than good. He was suffering from major depression, and I was wishing there was an easy way to say it was time to divorce.

One night, we finally talked through what to do. First, we got counseling, something I wished we had done at the beginning. I went three times, enough to get my feelings focused in the right direction and figure out what I wanted and needed to do. I also had to realize that this journey was mine alone and that he had his own journey to take.

The next step was to tell our sons, who were in their mid-twenties. I was terrified. Had we raised them well enough to be accepting and nonjudgmental? Would this be horrible news? Actually, it ended up amazing.

I moved out first. I'd always felt the house was his creation. He was the decorator. We filed for divorce together and used the same attorney. Thank goodness our kids were grown, so there was no arguing over possessions or children. We just got together and split things up.

I've been on my own almost two years. We live a block away from each other and meet a couple of times a week to talk or eat. I love living alone. I love not having to deal with secrets and lies. He has come out publicly. You know, if he'd known how much easier life is, I think he'd have done it much earlier. We've found that, sure, you're the top of the rumor mill for a while, but people are too involved in their own lives to be concerned about yours for long.

Where am I now emotionally? It hasn't been easy, and there still are days when I find myself weeping for no reason and wondering why this had to be. But the journey continues.

Early on, I adopted an attitude of "choose joy." It's the only way I can survive. I can't live a life of hatred or blame. I don't regret my life with this man. I have two great sons and four wonderful grandkids. We say we are still a family, we just live apart. We take a family vacation each year and we two are able to have fun together with our kids. We share some holidays, and I have met many of his friends and can do so now without a lump in my throat. But we're definitely heading down different paths.

From Mandy. Like most Americans, my memories of 9-11-01 are vivid and intense. Yet for me, the tragedy we felt as a nation will forever be inextricably linked with an unrelated personal tragedy.

Less than one month after the Twin Towers fell, life for me also changed forever when my husband of seven and a half years told me that he was gay.

In the months leading up to the disclosure, I started to develop suspicions about my husband's sexual orientation that I conveniently and protectively suppressed. I was a devoted wife and mother of a beautiful, exuberant two-year-old daughter, and I was doing everything I could to help my husband fight the feelings of depression he had been struggling with for several months. I helped him seek the support of a therapist and psychiatrist, and I encouraged him to rekindle old college friendships, thinking these things might help renew his spirit and hope. However, he developed some new friendships that had me concerned, in particular, one with a man he had met over the Internet. Because he had spoken openly about this man and invited him into our home when he was in town supposedly on a business trip, I thought I was paranoid to see the relationship as anything other than a friendship. Yet in spending time with them, I saw in my husband's eyes what I had seen when he was falling in love with me years before. While that thought terrified me, I continued to desperately cling to the idea that I was crazy to see something that could not possibly be there.

Shortly after this man's visit came my husband's disclosure. I sat beside him on the couch in our living room, holding his hand yet feeling his being slipping away from me. I looked into his eyes, thought I could love him no matter what, and told him, "I forgive you," (not realizing that true forgiveness could not come until much later). I wanted more than anything to save our marriage and was willing to say and do anything to keep my beloved family intact. But in the weeks that followed, our lives became a living hell. We held things together during the day for our daughter's sake, but at night, the arguments flew fast and furious. The harder I held on, the more my husband pulled away. I was desperate to keep us together, yet he held out little hope that this was a realistic and life-affirming goal for either of us. Only after the intense anger passed did I realize he was right. Neither of us could live authentic lives under those conditions, and each of us would have to sacrifice who we were to make it work. We separated shortly after the disclosure and were officially divorced by the end of the next year.

In the early days of our separation, I had great difficulty coming to terms with the fact that my husband jumped right into a relationship with a man whom I viewed as the destroyer of our marriage, a man who had come into my home under the guise of friendship. My pain and rage were indescribable. Thankfully, I was surrounded by an amazing support network of family and close friends in whom I could confide and who ultimately pulled me through that awful time. In particular, my parents (who sadly have since passed away) served as amazing pillars of strength for me. Their confidence in me and their message that I had the ability to endure and rise above this experience are gifts for which I will always be incredibly grateful.

One of the first things I did after my husband's "coming out" was to call a priest who was in residence at my parish. As a practicing Catholic, the concept of divorce was not one I was initially willing to entertain. When I shared my story with this priest, telling him I wanted to uphold my marriage vows no matter what, I was shocked when he replied that he did not really see a way that a heterosexual woman could sustain a marriage to a homosexual man. He also referred me to a therapist. Unfortunately, the therapist was not the best match for what I needed at the time. She had an empathic ear, but she did not challenge me to examine what I could learn from this difficult experience on personal and spiritual levels.

Realizing that I was missing the spiritual element in my efforts to bring meaning to what had happened, I called the pastor of a church to which I used to belong in another town. He met with me immediately and continued to see me for about two years, during which time he walked me through the process of seeking an annulment through the Catholic Church. He guided me through my own "valley of darkness," gave me permission to feel angry (even with God), and helped me to move at my own pace beyond my anger to a point of healing and forgiveness.

I also joined a local SSN support group, which was immensely helpful in allowing me to realize I was not alone in my pain. Each month, I was amazed at the depths of deception that people had experienced, but even more amazed at the strength and grace they showed in the simple yet not simple at all act of getting through each day.

As time passed, I realized that the intense anger I was harboring, while an important mobilizing force in the early stages, was becoming self-destructive. Over time, the anger turned to sadness, then to a sense of accomplishment and pride that I had been able to rise above the pain and carry on, again with the help of an amazingly supportive network of family and friends. Over time, I also have come to realize that, although my former husband hurt me in ways I never could have imagined when we made our marriage vows, he too has experienced tremendous pain in knowing the suffering he caused me. Because he has still not come out to more than his family and a very select group of friends, I am writing anonymously. I feel terribly sad that he is not yet able to live what I see as a truly authentic life, due in part to his own issues but also to the prejudices that continue to exist within our society.

Two things were said to me following my husband's disclosure that I found amazingly helpful in my healing. During one of my first meetings with the priest who became my spiritual advisor, he said that no one, no matter how perfect their life may seem, escapes feeling pain, since pain is part of the human experience. What was most important to me about his words was realizing over time that I could make a choice in how to deal with this pain. That realization was the beginning of being able to let go of some of my anger. The second thing that was incredibly helpful in giving me perspective came from a wise family friend I had known since I was a young child. He told me that during a particularly difficult time in his life, he found himself sitting on a beach watching the waves. Before he knew it, hours had passed and the tide had come and gone. At that moment, he had a revelation that neither good times nor bad times last forever. Like the tide, both the joy and pain in our lives ebb and flow.

As a footnote to my story, I recently married a man who was widowed when his son was an infant. I now have expanded my family to include him, his four-year-old son, and a sweet, rambunctious dog. I never imagined at the time of the disclosure that I could ever open myself up to love and to trust again, yet with time and the loving support of family and friends, I did. The difference is that this time around, I have a deeper appreciation of the "good times," as well as the wisdom to know that the tide of life will continue to ebb and flow. My hope is that my new husband and I can draw upon our past experiences and pain in ways that will strengthen each other as well as those around us.

From Mary C. I met Ken when we were thirteen and belonged to a church group for teenagers. We dated through high school and college and decided to marry a few years after graduating.

We worked hard to buy our first home, had two children, and were the "perfect American family" for 25 years, working through good times and bad, but always together. We rarely argued and usually agreed on most everything from what car to buy to how to discipline the children.

Ken came out to me in January 1996, but our story goes back decades. In 1978, while visiting his brother in San Francisco, we went to a party attended by 25 or 30 gay men, but left after an hour because I was uncomfortable. The next year, while cleaning, I came across some gay books and films. Ken explained, "I just want to understand my brother and his lifestyle more." This made sense since his twin brother had come out, so I dismissed his answer as the truth.

In 1995, I began to wonder why Ken spent so much time seeing clients on weekend nights. When asked, he replied, "I have to be available when they want to see me." He also joined a gay bike club. I snooped in his briefcase and found a notice about a weekly support group for men and "How to make it through the holidays." I did more snooping and found notices about events at a gay center in NYC and a book, "Is it a Choice?" Inside was a note to Ken and our children, saying, "When the time is right," signed "Chris."

Our relationship deteriorated. When I asked what the problem was, he said there was none. When I asked why we no longer were intimate, he said, "Everyone loves in a different way." I accepted his answers because I wanted to believe them and didn't want to lose him or my marriage.

One Friday evening in January, the weather was terrible. When I finally reached him on his cell to see if he was okay, he said, "Yes, I'm out with friends who enjoy the same things as I do and no one is going to make me feel guilty about doing this."

The following weekend, he went with some members of the bike club to scout out hotels between New York and Boston for an upcoming spring event. When he returned home, I asked, "What is going on?" He broke out in tears and said, "I'm gay and we need to talk."

Neither of us got much sleep that night, but we talked a lot. The one thing Ken said then and still says was, "I don't know where this path is going to take us, but I do know that somehow I want us to always be a part of each other's life."

After that night, we took life a day at a time. I went to work and never mentioned anything to anyone, thinking, "How stupid could I be, not to have known this," embarrassed because, of course, no one else out there was going through any of this. My doctor gave me tranquilizers and a blood test and recommended I see a therapist, who recommended, "Divorce and move on." Divorce was not in the picture, so I stopped going and handled it on my own, mostly keeping quiet and by myself, telling no one, fellow workers, friends, or family.

Finally, I told Ken we needed to talk to our children, by then 19 and 24. When we did, they were both concerned about what would happen to the family. We assured them the family unit somehow would stay intact.

Soon afterwards, I found rental receipts for an apartment in Manhattan. Ken said he needed some space of his own and would be spending some time in this furnished apartment. He then came and went on no regular schedule. He took our son and me to see the place and gave our son a key so he and his friends could stay there if they were in the city. A week later, I took the key, went to the apartment, and looked around. I found a small box on the coffee table with notes inside, "from Ken to Chris" and "from Chris to Kenneth," one saying "Finding love for the first time in my life," (Ken to Chris), others about places they had been.

When confronted, Ken finally admitted there was someone in his life. He began to spend more and more time in the city, three or four nights a week. I became more and more confused and upset. Eventually, he gave me two months' notice that he was moving to the apartment permanently and would share it with Chris. Ken wanted me to meet Chris, saying, "When I move, I can spend more time here because he will be able to come with me." I said okay and he arranged our going to dinner.

As he left to pick up Chris for dinner, he said, "By the way, Chris thinks we're divorced and I live in Ft. Lee," not Wyckoff, where we lived. It was difficult to get through dinner because if I mentioned anything about our home or our son or his school, Ken kicked me under the table.

The lie that Ken couldn't bring Chris over to his house because our son was living with him went on for months. Finally I had it and told Chris the truth, that the kids had lived in our house through high school. "You and Kenneth need to talk, and he will explain."

Our life continued pretty much the same for the rest of fall and winter, and I assumed Chris had been told the whole truth. We spent the holidays with our daughter in New Mexico and everything was friendly on the surface. The following April, I called a local PFLAG group which led me to Straight Spouse Network and Amity. Amity pointed me in the direction of two support groups. One fit me better than the other. (Eleven years later, I still go to it when I can.)

From the support group, I found a wonderful therapist, who helped me process and accept all that I had been through on my own. Ken and I had three joint sessions, too. At one, she asked him, "If you had to decide right now, who is number one in your life, who would that be?"

Without hesitation, he answered "Chris." It was the first time I heard those words come out of his mouth. I cried all the way home on the subway, but it was a turning point. I could focus on ME and move forward.

I sold our family home and moved into a townhouse, my own space to decorate and live in rather than the house of memories with Ken. Then we divorced. After I was laid off from work some months later, I became Ken's Office Manager/Bookkeeper, work I'd done informally for a while.

We keep our personal and office lives separate, but maintain the family as we wanted, sharing vacations, birthdays, and holidays. On a recent vacation, all of us, including Chris, went to a gay piano bar with entertainment. At one point, the emcee went around the lounge, asking, "Are you gay?" When I answered, "No," he called me over to find out why. I told him about the importance of family to us, whereupon he turned on the mike again and announced, "This woman is here with her husband and his partner. She knows where they are right now. Does your spouse know where you are?" Everyone laughed - except me, thinking of the wives who didn't know.

Our relationship continues on a very positive note, different from what it was eleven years ago in that we don't spend as much personal time together. He has his life, and I have mine. But we are there for each other whenever we need one another. I don't foresee this changing any time soon.

From Rudy. As I sit here reflective, preparing to write about those dark days at the beginning of this journey and the times since, one thing is overwhelmingly evident, I AM here, just as Marty promised at my first SSN gathering.

Miles and years of steady baby steps later, I have reinvented and redefined my self, my life, my perspective and most of all, my peace of mind.

During early 1999 my work involved traveling all over to prepare computers for the impending doom of Y2K. Little did I know that while I traveled, my wife (then 39) stayed home with the kids (boys, ages 15 and 17) and discovered herself with her seventy-year-old girl friend. I was 41. We'd been married 19 years.

My new job involved working at home, and I thought that this would be my great chance to right things and get closer to my wife. What I found out was how deeply involved she was with her girlfriend. On October 28, 1999, she told me she was gay. My immediate reaction was relief. At last, everything that happened over the previous ten months instantly made sense. It was like having a solution to a math equation suddenly become clear and sensible.

I walked around for three days relieved; then I had to face what she was asking of me. She wanted to be gay and have me as the front man guarding the closet door. Everything would be like normal, except she'd leave every night and return before the kids got up.

This horrible secret festered. My counselor and I started working on the root of the problem. Bottom line: I just couldn't stand guard at this post; it wasn't in me, no matter how much I wanted my marriage to go on. Once I reached a point where I couldn't stand it, I forced the issue. She came out to the kids and then moved out of the house.

There's a three-month blur of the most difficult time ever in my life. I can't remember ever crying so much. I showered a lot so the kids wouldn't know. I couldn't sleep and was taking medicine that made me shake so badly I could hardly put food in my mouth. Later, I changed to a milder anti-depressant and started riding my bike daily. My salvation was face-to-face contacts with other straight spouses and the Str8s online list.

I found a girlfriend, who introduced me to Buddhism. Something clicked and made sense. I opened my mind to something special I'd gone my whole life in search of. The lessons were exactly what I needed and right on time for the situation. Although the girlfriend didn't last, I'm still a Buddhist.

The next year, I attended my first Florida gathering of Str8 spouses, my first exposure to a large group of Str8s and all that a gathering is about. There was cooking and drinking and even laughter. The fellowship was something I hadn't experienced since the Army. I started corresponding with Sandy, whom I met at the gathering. We went to another gathering and had an excellent time. Later, we decided we liked each other and began a relationship. In 2001, she moved next door to me, and I started divorce proceedings.

A few months later, I was laid off from work and launched my real estate career, which I'm still doing. This was a huge decision, one that my old life and ex-wife would never have allowed. It's something I've found I have a gift for and the most enjoyable job I've had since training soldiers.

Last year, Sandy and I pulled off our surprise wedding at the by now annual Florida gathering. It was magical for me-a sign that I really do have a new life and I'm sharing it with a wonderful woman, something that I'd not thought possible. My life today is because my former wife is a lesbian and Sandy's ex-husband is gay.

From Sam C. It's been a while since my journey started. Rather than trying to recall, I'll use my words from that time, a compilation of my posts to an online support group, almost a journal

January
My name is Sam, I'm 49, married with two kids, 14 and 11, and a computer professional. My wife came out to me last September and to herself last spring. It was a complete surprise.

We have been married for 18 years and dated 3 years prior to that. She told me when she came out that she had always found herself falling in love with women she had known (never acted on it, they were str8). She had compartmentalized and suppressed that part of her and truly believed she was not gay. About 10 months ago, she became depressed for no apparent reason and spent a lot of time on the Internet, new for her. Through that, she became friends with members of the local lesbian community. She delayed coming out to me because she feared I might kick her out and take the kids, a fear unfounded, even she had to admit. For now, we both desire to maintain our marriage. I believe I can handle it. I'm fairly open-minded, know this can't change, and harbored no prejudice for gays and lesbians prior to the current situation. She, on the other hand, is quite straight-laced and is probably having more trouble than I am. She is intent on remaining in the closet to friends, neighbors and acquaintances since being "out" would be difficult for the kids, among other things. However, the signs are there. She continues to get depressed on and off, says she feels disconnected from both family and lesbian life, and implies this would not have happened had I been the perfect husband.

She had to admit that as a husband, I've been better than most, but I suppose that doesn't cut it in this case. We have had issues, as does every married couple, going back to early in the marriage.

She tells me that if there was a pill or therapy that could "cure" her orientation, she would take it in a minute. I am reconciled that my wife will never change and, for the time being, I am doing my best to accept and live with it. She has no desire to destroy our family. She claims that, although she has had and tried to suppress fantasies about women all her life, she truly believed she was str8. How it will work out in time I don't know.

May
As a stay-together (for now), I've been feeling a huge amount of anger. And I have been lucky. I have not been lied to, deceived, or inconsiderately thrown away.

I spent over 18 years wondering what was wrong with me, why *I* was not enough of a man to please P, why we seemed so compatible and yet I found it so difficult to be intimate with her. Her lies were to herself, not to me; yet it's my life that's screwed up. A path not of my choosing.

As this is an unconventional situation and others are involved besides P and me, an unconventional solution must remain an option. But I don't like being forced down this weird path, and I'm really ANGRY about it. Yes, I have several options; I'm not being forced in a particular direction. But I don't like any of them.

Time will tell how my relationship with P is restructured. We communicate well most of the time.

One thing that makes this experience so hard is that the person I fell in love with still exists to some extent. The problem is that what I fell in love with was a half-truth rather than a lie. The other half, the gay thing, was suppressed and hidden till it was too late. When it comes to the forefront, it can make the person seem like an entirely different person. But the whole truth still contains the half-truth I loved.

June
A few days ago, I came home early, went up to the bedroom to change, and noticed the strange perfume in the bedroom. It was most concentrated on the bed... on my side... P's usual was there too, on her side. I noticed this last week too. I guess she is having afternoon delight with her g/f in our bed.

The weird, scary part is that I don't feel anything. I'm not jealous, mad, upset, or regretful. I'm not even insulted it's in our bed. The only thing I feel is that this is out of character for her: what if one of the kids came home unexpectedly? What if came home for lunch (which happens, though rarely)? This lack of feeling worries me. Is it really over and I just haven't admitted it? Do I really feel indifference toward her? Is it some defense mechanism? Will it hit me later?

I haven't confronted her. I don't see the point.

September
Here it goes... Now she's not sure she's a lesbian.

Says she actually enjoyed sex with a man; none of her friends do/did. She says she is very confused. This coincides with my decision and acceptance that our marriage will eventually end, for many reasons. I strongly suspect the gay thing has a part in most of them, she vehemently denies it.

Now the blame game starts in earnest. There is nothing "wrong" with her now, maybe never was. But I won't take any responsibility (read, blame). She has always been threatened by any outside support system I have, i.e., family, my friends as opposed to mutual friends, and now my therapist and the straight spouses I have gotten to know. In the past, she successfully isolated me from these systems, driving away all my friends and severely limiting my contact with my family (in subtle ways, making it too much trouble most of the time). She can't do that any more and is reacting badly.

Looks like the other shoe has dropped, but it's not what I expected.

November
I now feel anxious, impatient to move on. Before, I was accepting it would eventually happen. P's continued hostility is one big reason. Finding what life could be like without the gay thing is another. I still worry about the kids and am impatient to tell them the real story. One thing I'm sure of... I don't wanna be married to a lesbian. It's bad for me. It hurts me. I will always love her, but I don't want to be stuck to her. I don't want to be her cover, window dressing, doormat, the evil one who made her gay. I don't want to constantly worry what she thinks.

My marriage vows are sacred, so these thoughts are totally alien. I do not take them lightly. For my own sanity, I see no other way.

December
What a year it's been.

My original bio is embarrassing to read. I gave my name, age, and profession and proceeded to write about her. She was my life; I had none of my own. I could not have imagined what a year this turned out to be. Just being able to communicate with people in my position saved my sanity. I felt I was about to lose it when I joined the online group.

My wife and I are now pursuing our own non-Mixed Orientation relationships, and she is a lesbian "again." I am uncomfortable with the idea of an open marriage, so the current situation will be short-lived. Next year will be devoted to the legalities of dissolving our civil union while hopefully being attentive to the kids' needs. My journey is far from over.

Epilogue

The story does not end there, of course. There have been many ups and downs since then. We separated a year later, and divorced a year after that. We remain friends. The kids now know and seem fine with it; it now makes sense to them.

But "the gay thing" is no longer a major part of my life. It will always be there in some way. It is something that happened, something that changed my life radically, and something I have learned a great deal from

This is just one story, all are different, and how they turn out is greatly dependent on the individuals involved.

From Suzanne. I joined Straight Spouse Network (SSN) in December 2002. One month earlier, my husband told me he could no longer suppress his desires for men. I was numb.

I had walked in on him two years earlier while he was watching a gay porno DVD. He said this was normal for guys. I didn't want to believe otherwise, so I pushed the possibility that he might be gay to the back corner of my mind, so much so that I didn't think of it again until he told me. This time, I just sat there in a dumb silence.

He said he loved me but needed to be with a man-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He assured me he had not been with one yet, but couldn't deny his urges any longer. My head knew this couldn't be fixed, but my heart was willing to try anything. I even considered an open marriage, figuring that I would not be jealous that my husband was with someone else.

He begged me not to tell anyone. I agreed. I did not want to let go. I could not believe this was happening.

The next few weeks passed and then I realized I was losing everything-my best friend, my husband, my house. I was scared. Could I make it financially? Was I attractive enough inside and out to appeal only to a gay guy? I lost my confidence and sense of self-worth. I felt my life was a jigsaw puzzle that had been slowing coming together, piece by piece. Now, the pieces had been thrown up in the air and landed in disarray and I did not have a picture on a box to guide me as I tried to put it together.

I felt hopeless and helpless and began thinking of suicide. I knew exactly how I would do it. I let that secret out to my husband. It scared him, and he gave me permission to speak to a counselor. The counselor said I needed to take care of me, not him. She encouraged me to talk to just one person, someone I could go to quickly. I spoke to a friend and suddenly the pressure that had built up in my chest was gone! I then talked to others. It was very liberating, and they were so supportive.

My husband was scared when I began telling "my people." I made a deal with him that I could speak to my friends and family, but I would not tell his. As it turned out, I didn't need to. My sister-in-law asked me if he was gay. She and her husband (my husband's brother) suspected and were afraid to say anything. His aunt asked me the same thing. The news didn't surprise some of my friends either, but no one had wanted to say anything to me about their suspicions.

One evening, his email popped up on the computer because he hadn't logged out properly. I saw he emails between him and his lover, a married man he had introduced me to. They had helped each other with home projects. This man and his wife had visited us. I liked him. And now I find out that he is the "other woman!" I was enraged, hurt, betrayed, and scared.

When my husband came home that night, I let him have it. I threatened to forward the emails to his family, friends, co-workers, and his lover's school district (he's a principal). I wanted revenge. In February, I moved out.

Fortunately, I spoke to a co-worker who had gone through the same thing. She put me in touch with SSN and helped me find a place to live. I was overjoyed. For the first time in months, I smiled and felt lighter, but that summer was very hard. As a teacher, I was on vacation with a lot of time on my hands. All I wanted to do was sleep because, asleep, I didn't have to think about any of it. So, I went on an antidepressant, which helped. I began facing everything one thing at a time-my emotions, financial fears, dating again, and facing my husband.

Fast-forward three years. I have made major purchases on my own, traveled to Paris, excelled in my career, gone out on many dates, and bought my own home, my proudest accomplishment so far. I have learned to be direct and speak my mind. Before, I would bow out and not speak up for what I believed. I have really surprised myself and am very proud of the person I have become.

There are still moments of concern: Will I ever meet someone special again? I pay my bills, but how can I put money into savings and retirement? Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed, handling everything by myself. However, I have learned that this entire trauma, my recovery, and everything that has happened is a process. I made it through every step of it, and I'll make it through future steps.

From Tegelom. I was married to my gay husband for almost 20 years.

We met at a Catholic College in West Michigan, and he says he fell in love with me at first sight while I was playing volleyball. We became good friends and hung out a lot. He became my "go to weddings" date and my confidant. We started dating because we always hung out and eventually moved in with each other. I became pregnant my senior year in college. When I was 6 months pregnant, we married in the Catholic Church.

I felt it was my lot to get married. Just as I was about to walk down the aisle of the church I grew up in, my mom told me to run. She felt he was very controlling. I can see that now. While we were dating, he was always very jealous of any male I came into contact with, and I broke up with him a couple times -- but always went back with him. Once we were married, his control escalated, and I slowly withdrew into a shell of my former self. His abuse consisted of verbal putdowns (calling me bitch, cunt, whore, or stupid) and a few episodes of physical violence. He actually kicked me while I was holding our nine-months-old son. He broke my tailbone, the kick was that hard. I did not report it. He has a degree in child psychology and has never kept a job in that area. He was always fired.

Things become clear after a few years! I never felt we had any issues with sex. Looking back, I recall that he asked me numerous times if he was "doing OK" in terms of performance. I never had an orgasm with him. He did not have oral sex with me too often. He called me frigid.

In 1997, we bought a computer. That started his delving into his own true identity as a gay male. I was clueless, since he did not like me hanging out with my gay friends. I am in the art world and always worked with gay people. He started losing weight and working out.

We continued to have a sex life during this time when I had NO idea he was meeting men for sex. And as a married couple we used no condoms. There was no reason to. The thought never crossed my mind.

Two years after we bought the computer, the Tuesday after Easter, I started looking into his emails and discovered he had been meeting men for sex. On the previous Saturday, he had surfed gay porn sites, while my daughter and son and I were at an all day wrestling tournament. He did not go with us because he felt "uncomfortable around all those people he didn't know that well." After the tournament, we three had gone to church for the Easter Vigil, where he was participating in the service, as a mentor to a fellow parishioner going through RCIA instruction to become a Catholic for our parish, in which we were very involved.

When I approached him and asked about the emails, he denied it and wouldn't talk to me about it for days. Finally, the following Saturday, he took me for a ride out in the boonies, where we lived. He told me that he knew he was gay since he was 16 and that his dad abused him from age 4 to 16 and his sister, too, for numerous years.

I was floored and had very mixed emotions. I fell into a tailspin of despair and depression. I hardly know how I got through those first few months. We tried to make it work, and he said he wanted a wife during the week and then men on the weekends. I thought about it for a while. Divorce was filed that November. I moved out in December.

My kids went through a difficult period. My son was hospitalized twice for suicidal ideation, two weeks each time. Before the first hospitalization, his father had beaten him with a 2-by-4, because "he wasn't doing well in school and was getting in trouble." He also said my son put most of those bruises on himself. The police were involved. We had in-home family counseling for a long time at the home to which I'd moved. Finally, he decided not to visit with his son any more because no one wanted to have the meetings at his place and he "didn't need to be baby-sat while he was with his son." My daughter, a senior in high school, went through a tough time with depression and had counseling, when she would go. She moved back and forth between her dad and me. Now, twenty-three, she is doing very well and is enrolled in college to be a pilot.

Fortunately, I had a good job with caring people. Because my ex had a boy friend from before disclosure (and I believe he is with the same guy), I have been tested numerous times for AIDS and am clean. Five years ago, my son and I moved to another state. He is on the outs with his dad now, because he had my son arrested for some property damage in January of 2005. It was a felony charge, and he is on probation. They are attempting a relationship. I encourage it, but also keep my distance, staying detached.

This past October, I married a most wonderful str8 man. My daughter was the maid of honor. I am very happy and content and now know what it feels to be enveloped in the love of a person who loves you for who you are. I am sure my ex feels the same way.

We need to be true to ourselves. I also need to think of all the pain and sorrow my kids and I endured for years because of HIS pain and sorrow. All that is quite a lot to deal with. My faith in my higher power has kept me sane for the most part. Along with Straight Spouse Network. SSN was my anchor in this entire ordeal. I stumbled across SSN while trying to figure out if my ex could be bisexual. Amity's book went me with everywhere. It was a godsend. To this day, however, my ex feels SSN is a bunch of evil gay haters/bashers. I think it is an issue of his not "owning" his behavior in his disclosure.

All in all, life is a journey. There are a lot of teachers out there. I can't say I wouldn't have traded this for the world... well, maybe, because I have a new family of straight spouses who have become some of my dearest and most cherished friends whom I will be with for the rest of my life. I am also on a great spiritual path that includes making art again. I have a MA in art, but it was not something my ex looked upon favorably as a great career choice. I am now making it a part of everyday life, and this is always evolving into something wonderful. My kids are doing well, and I absolutely love and adore my new hubby.