Saturday 23 February 2019

Dear Mary: My husband left me because he is gay and I feel so betrayed and hurt

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I am separated for the past six years after my husband made the announcement (following a family bereavement) that he was not happy any more in the marriage and he did not want to live a lie.

We were married for 22 years. We tried marriage counselling but after four sessions he said there was no point in continuing.

I offered him an open marriage as I did not want him to leave and break up our family but he left us and we both started our new separate lives.

I have now discovered that he is homosexual and he has told me that this was the reason why he left our marriage.

I feel betrayed and hurt as I would have understood his feelings if he would have told me even six years ago during counselling.

He has clearly moved on with his new lifestyle and does not care at all how I am coping with his revelation.

He says he does not owe me any explanation while I feel I covered up his sexuality and was left in a loveless marriage for over 20 years.

I am not coping with this. He told me to see a counsellor which I did but I do not have the funds to continue.

I would value your advice.

Mary replies:  I fully agree with you that it would have been a little easier for you if your husband had come out to you during counselling. At least then you would have been given the opportunity to speak about it with the help of the counsellor and decided on the way forward.

Instead he chose to leave you - and presumably children as you speak about 'us' - without telling you why, and then you subsequently found out the true story.

You must be experiencing all sorts of emotions - anger, disappointment, loss of face and worry about the future among others. But beyond that is the huge loss in your life. You no longer have a husband and best friend, which is presumably what he was when things were good. And through no fault of yours, your status has changed from being one half of a couple to being separated.

There is also the worry about your children and their future, although children often seem to be able to adapt much more easily to life-changing events such as you have undergone.

It must be particularly difficult for you to see him getting on well with his life while you are left to pick up the pieces of a life that you used to have, and to try to restore order to it.

There seems to be all sorts of help available for the LGBT community online which is as it should be. But there is very little help there for spouses of those who have come out as being gay, even though I recall some years ago there was some discussion around setting up a support group in Ireland.

The only forum I can suggest for you is the Straight Spouse Network which is primarily in the US but branches can be found in many countries including the UK, although not Ireland. They can be found at www.straightspouse.org and are at least a resource for you to explore.

It is important for you to realise that none of this is your fault because you may be blaming yourself for not noticing signs during your 22 years together that your husband was gay.

He must have been very unhappy living a lie for all that time, but that is something he has to live with rather than you shouldering any responsibility.

Of course, you will continue to be parents to the children so he will always be in your life to a certain extent.

It is particularly distressing to read that you cannot afford counselling. Please speak to your GP who may know of some services you could attend that may be free or at least offer reduced rates.

You have to take care of yourself, above everything else, so even speaking to your doctor will help.

I hope you have a few close friends with whom you can discuss all of this which may help in making you feel that you are not so alone.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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