“Why are nearly all comments posted on Straight Spouse Connection posted by
heterosexual women whose gay husbands have come out?” 

    This was an interesting question prompted by my blog
article about Dr. Vivienne Cass’s 1979 study of homosexual identity
formation.  Her theoretical model examined
the long period of internal conflict preceding gay persons’ self-recognition
and sexual identity. This reader wanted to know how other men responded.  He wanted to see more comments from male
straight spouses.  He wrote, “I would be
very interested in finding a few scenarios where the wife was the gay
partner.  I am wondering if the husband
in these cases would be as quick to separate or divorce.”

    This is a good question, but there is no
definitive answer. In fact, most of the final outcomes in these coming-out
stories remain unknown.  There are at
least three major reasons why we are unable to reach absolute conclusions. 

  1. Any mixed-orientation partnership
    is secretive, therefore many gay-straight marriages are never publicly
    recognized.  No one knows how many of
    these marriages actually exist.
  2. Because there is no stated cause
    for many divorces, we can’t determine how many of these separations occur
    because the partners have different sexual orientation.
  3. Females are generally more
    willing than males to talk about personal problems and to seek therapeutic help.  Their stories are therefore more accessible
    for research.

Typical male reticence makes it difficult to
ferret out their stories. Men tend to avoid discussing personal issues or
revealing what they may consider to be marital failure. In researching my books
and documentary, it was relatively easy to engage female straight spouses who
were willing to reveal their experiences; therefore the majority of
examples came from women. This ongoing blog demonstrates the same tendency, with
more than three hundred comments, posted almost exclusively by women.

My interviews also suggested another difference in
the way men and women respond after one partner comes out.  Among those mixed-orientation couples who did
separate and divorce, the male straight spouses I interviewed seemed more able
to move on and start over. There are several possible reasons for this:  Women are more likely to remain in the family
home, surrounded by familiar emotional reminders, and they are more likely to
have custody of any children.  Financial
inequity is sometimes a factor also.  The
result is that women seem to have more emotional baggage to sort out and
resolve, whereas men seem more able to make a clean break.

Admittedly, none of these impressions can be
measured in any absolute way, but more than twenty years of correspondence and
interviews with straight spouses of both genders underlie these assumptions.  Comments from both male and female straight
spouses are invited, along with thoughts from professional counselors who deal
with these issues. 

In the meantime, I could recommend one resource
that might be useful to the gentleman who asked the question that prompted this
reply.  It is the documentary “One Gay,
One Straight: Complicated Marriages.”  In
it, two male straight spouses relate their experience, each with very different
outcomes.  The DVD is available here.  Just click the Books tab at the top of this page.


  1. CerebralReaction says:

    Hi Ms Grever,
    Your article is timely as I am a str8 husband with a GW (together 20 years) who came out to me less than 3 months ago. I have only been suspecting something is not right for a few months (change of routine, texting in her study etc) and when it finally hit, I was flattened.
    We also have a 14 year old son, who is healthy.
    In this 3 months, I started reading the forum on SSN and also started reading a lot, and of course the 2 books by Amity Buxton. My mind had been in overdrive that it is only recently that I am sleeping better again.
    My GW moved out (yes, I am staying in my house) 3 days ago, and it was very tough to see the empty side of the bathroom, amongst other areas of the house. I am beginning to feel better now.
    The past few months of anger, hatred, acceptance, denial and resolution had been like a laser show in the sky. Yes, it still hurts a lot but I am determined to move forward. And I was told 3 months is a nanosecond in this journey of recovery.
    I think it is easier for men to move on because of financial stability and it is easier for us to find a younger partner. As a standing joke I always have with my GW: I can still fit into the wedding suit, how about you?

  2. L says:

    Hello, I first posted a little over a year ago when my wife told me that she was ". . .in love with a woman and our marriage is over." I was devastated on many levels. I eventually moved to a house we own in a different state and waited for divorce papers which still haven't come. My wife has actually been here visiting three times and has been here now for five weeks and leaving tomorrow. The way I feel now is that she is not letting me move on. During this year she has gone from "our marriage is over" to "I think we should get back together." As a matter of fact she was supposedly coming this summer with that in mind. I realized after a bit that I was mistaken and asked when she knew it was over this time. Her response was, "I knew as soon as I got off the plane and saw you." As it turns out she was talking the whole time she was away from here with her "friend" who also lives far away. It was really the same thing that happened last year but on a slightly smaller scale.
    While she shows regret I have to say that there is just too much she doesn't get about what is happening. It's like being with someone I've known and lived with for more than half her life but don't know who she is. At times she is very warm and at times very cold. She is constantly texting with her "friend." I am torn about her leaving. On the one hand I can't wait for tomorrow, but on the other I have no idea when I'll see her again and under what circumstances. Our 25-year-old son is also here and while it feels great to have our family together it is also very painful.

  3. mark says:

    Ive been dealing with this too, and ive found that if the female in the relationship is the confused one the consensus is that the males need to be supportive and helpful. i tried searching the other way around and found that women were more likely to offer advice more along the lines of "you need to leave him before you get hurt". so i feel more obligated to remain a friend and wait patiently for long-term, ego-crushing depression.

  4. Carol Grever says:

    In response to the previous comment, I would like to suggest that both male and female straight spouses should assess their unique situation to determine their own course of action. Whether to stay in the relationship or dissolve it should be determined by what is best for that individual. My advice is the same for both women and men whose mates are gay: Take care of yourself, see to your own needs, and don't feel obligated to sacrifice your own future happiness. Life doesn't end when a spouse comes out; the future is, however, altered for all concerned. "Long-term, ego-crushing depression" is not an inevitable outcome!

  5. Brassyhub says:

    In May 2013, my wife came out to herself and to me after 33 years of marriage. I'd insisted that we went to a marriage therapist, since I had long been highly frustrated by our very low-sex relationship. My wife says she wants to stay with me, that she's not looking for another relationship, and she wishes that I could settle down to a no-sex friendship together.
    Like many men, I guess, I have tried to fix the problem, bought and read a host of books, spent hours on internet fora. I have been and am immensely irritated that ALL the books are by women, str8 women married to gays, or married lesbians. The books give our stories as afterthoughts almost. And I've found not one straight man married to a lesbian on the web who is making a go of their relationship. So I feel terribly alone. The only ones I hear from are either celibate or have an open marriage.
    I live in Switzerland, and have found no support groups for face-ti-face meetings. Our therapist, who is something of an expert locally (thank God) with LBGT relationships and people says she's never dealt with a couple like ours: MOM trying to stay together. All very discouraging.
    Death would, I think, be far easier to handle. I'm mourning a relationship, a marriage that was a lie, while trying to create a new workable relationship with the same person.

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