Being a Straight Spouse in a Mixed Orientation Marriage

If you’re in a relationship where you’ve found out that your partner is gay or lesbian, this can be an extremely challenging time. The feelings that you have can range from wanting to be accepting, to totally being caught off-guard, to complete denial. Wherever you’re at in this process, it can be a challenge. Identifying what you need, and what steps to take can be complicated.

Many times married gay and lesbian people come out by disclosing their sexual orientation to their partners. Other times, people are outed in other ways. Regardless if it’s by way of an internet history, affair, or any other means of discovery, this can be a quite difficult for you to cope with. Remember that this is a process, and it takes some time to navigate through.

Sexual orientation isn’t changeable

It may seem puzzling to you that you could be in a relationship with someone who is identifying as gay or lesbian, yet you may have children together. You might have also had enjoyable sex. These things aren’t unheard of for mixed orientation couples. Many couples who realize that they’re in a mixed orientation relationship look back and realize that they enjoyed elements of their sexual relationships with their straight partners. This is because being gay or lesbian isn’t all about sex. It’s also about a felt sense of romantic, passionate, and intimate connection. The same one that you feel and have felt for partners is what your partner feels, but just for someone who is of the same gender.

As the partner of someone who is gay or lesbian, it’s important to know that sexual attraction is something that can shift, but sexual orientation is not changeable. What this means is that some people might notice sexual fluidity in their lives. They might notice attraction outside of their historical or identified orientation. However, sexual orientation is biologically based. It’s not going to change because of an outside influence. In other words, Reparative Therapy and Sexual Orientation Change Efforts don’t work. These practices, which aim to make gay and lesbian individuals change their orientation to heterosexuality, are shaming and can even be traumatic.

Your needs are important too

When anyone comes out, or they are outed, it can be an extremely difficult time for that person. This will be true of your partner as well. However, your needs are also important. Throughout this process, you’ll need support. This will likely make it so that you feel like you’re coming out as well. Identify friends or family who aren’t going to tell you what to do, but rather listen to you and allow you to make your own decisions.

Is this the end of your marriage?

Mixed orientation marriages are extremely challenging. However, the decision about your marriage is really up to you and your partner. You both have to be extremely aware of why you want to stay in your marriage. This is something to first know about yourself. When you and your partner both know your relationship goal for the marriage, you can discuss how you’ll make this work, or if it’s best to go separate ways.

It’s important that you know that this can be a long and slow process. It’s not easy to identify whether or not you want to be in a relationship. What can make it even more complicated is that you both likely care deeply for each other. Such intense caring can make it hard to know if the relationship should proceed to separation or divorce.

Therapy can help you with this process. However, it’s important to ensure that you find a gay affirming therapist. Affirming therapists will not tell you how to live your life. They’ll also avoid shaming your partner for simply realizing who they are. Instead, they’ll allow you to express what you’re feeling, and move through your emotions, so that you can decide whether or not this marriage can work for you.


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