The never-ending question straight spouses get is “how could you not know?” That question seems obvious to straight people married/partnered with other straight people. And – from my perspective – it’s even more obvious the younger you are.
For my generation, especially those of us who were at the very cusp of the sexual revolution, it wasn’t clear. For me, it wasn’t clear for decades. A gay male friend of mine (whom of course I dated in high school) said his now-ex wife asked the same question in joint counseling. Their counselor replied simply: “Because X didn’t want you to know.”
If you were very naïve sexually, and very young, you didn’t know what to expect. You didn’t know what was “normal” and what wasn’t. And – if you were insecure about your very physical being – it was very easy to think it was YOU that was the “problem.” YOU weren’t sexy enough, skilled enough, didn’t turn him/her on enough.
Hindsight is so clear. What I’ve come to call “retroactive humiliation” still haunts me.
The fact that he used to sign his notes to me in college with a fish symbol (as in cold fish)
The fact that he never ever liked deep kissing
The fact that he ran to my parent’s guest bathroom and vomited right after he asked me to marry him.
The fact that he demurred about touching my breasts the first time we made love (of course, not until after we were engaged, six months before we married)
The fact that he got roaring drunk on our wedding night.
The fact that I cried myself to sleep for the first year after we were married thinking “is that all there is?” It wasn’t like what I had read about in books and magazines, what I’d seen in the movies.
The fact that he rushed to wash himself immediately after intimacy.
The fact that we never cuddled on the couch; almost never spooned.
I could list one hundred examples. It doesn’t make a difference. If you don’t know, you simply don’t know.
For me, the opposite facts were that we were intellectually compatible, liked the same restaurants, and movies, and travel, got along really well for years. But but but…. yes, hindsight is so clear. Going to an elegant resort for our 30th anniversary and he didn’t touch me? It was because he had high blood pressure, was on medication, I was too fat, etc.
Some people think there’s an ironclad list you can check off – if ten out of twenty things are present then he/she is LGBT. I don’t believe that. I believe that – while there are great similarities – each person’s story is unique.
I also believe one has to trust one’s gut. One’s gut tells the truth. I didn’t, for far far too long.
But when the facts were irrefutable, I found the Straight Spouse Network (www.straightspouse.org). And it saved my sanity. I wasn’t alone! This had happened to thousands and thousands of other people, and there were peers out there who had my back, who made me KNOW it wasn’t ME.
Yes, hindsight is so clear. And help is right there.