September 1, 2008 Update: There is a discussion thread in the Midlife Forum from a woman other than Liz (below) who also is going through this same issue today.
Midlife Forum Discussion Thread: OMG – Husband Decides to Come Out of the Closet

February 12, 2014 Update
– Another similar situation … woman’s husband was cheating on her with a man.
Been Cheated On forum thread: A Gay Cheating Question for Guys

October 4, 2014 Update – Yet another similar situation … woman’s husband was cheating on her with a man.
Been Cheated On forum thread: Crazy twist- lover turns out to be “a closet gay/bisexual” & he’s about to marry
She also tried to have an “open marriage” with her bisexual husband as a possible remedy – read the backstory in her other thread in the BEEN CHEATED ON forum thread:
Open Marriage – The WHY Behind One Example

Midlifebachelor.com introduction: There are many reasons for divorce today – but one that we don’t often hear about is when one spouse realizes after some period of time that he or she is gay or lesbian.  I haven’t personally known anyone that has gone through this – until I recently became friends with Liz … who agreed to share what happened to her several years ago.  I asked Liz to give us signs to watch for … signs that she might have noticed that signaled that her husband was realizing that he was actually gay after having lived a straight life for so many years.  Many of the signs are similar to what we see during the evolution of a typical relationship breakdown.  But as you’ll see below, there were some additional signs that this was more than your standard breakup.   Liz doesn’t have a blog – and so when I asked her what to credit this story, she said to please reference the organization that really helped her cope …  the Straight Spouse Network

“I won’t be going with you and the boys to the beach after Christmas, I’m moving out.”  Those were the words spoken to me on December 21, 2003.  I had been married for twenty years; the first fifteen were fabulous … the last five, not so great.  I asked if there was another woman … “no”, another man …  “no”, and finally, “Are you gay?”, and the answer that would forever change our lives and our children’s lives, … “Yes, I am.”

Some might feel that it was a cruel thing for him to do right before Christmas, but it was the greatest gift he had ever given me.  For five years, I had been trying to understand why the sudden change in personality, affection, and respect that had left my perfect life.  In retrospect, I can say that there were subtle, yet very strong changes that occurred.  And in hindsight, I now know that he was trying to tell me, “I’m not who you think I am.”

I have been asked to list five signs that your spouse may be gay.  Please remember, these are from one person’s perspective, but after becoming friends with so many other straight spouses, the stories, the changes, are all the same.

Personality Change:
My husband was the kindest man in the world – he would do anything for anyone.  Approximately five years before he came out of the closet, this all changed.  He became extremely narcissistic, self-absorbed and mean-spirited. The cynicism was the worst.  He had never cursed or had a bad thing to say about anyone, but this all changed.  He was suddenly horrible to be around.  I remember one Christmas, the boys and I decorated the Christmas tree and after we had finished, we were admiring it and he walked by and knocked it over.  Where he was once very laid back about everything, he became extremely cynical, verbally/emotionally abusive.  He would find fault with everything and everybody – friends, family, children, me!  He totally alienated family and friends.  He was abusive to them as well.  He became one very angry man.

Style of Dress
Where he was once very conservative in his dress – Brooks Brothers, button-down, polo shirts, … he became very metro-sexual in his dress … the shoes were a huge change!  No longer would he wear polo shirts, they had to be tight-fitting, v-neck shirts.  He would always dress, even for working in the yard!  Where he would once throw on a pair of khaki shorts and a polo in the summer, it soon became these “guido” shirts and very fitted pants.  There were so many changes.  I know that this may seem absurd, but coming from a man who would never stray from the southern man’s uniform, it was definitely different!  And the shoes … all had to be Prada … he used to previously buy all of his shoes at Designer Shoe Wearhouse, but now they can only be Prada!

My ex-husband began to drink heavily … during the day he was fine, but at night the demons would come out. There would be very extreme mood changes.  Impotency ensued with the alcohol abuse … we still had sex, but not as frequently and that was my choice … as he was so abusive that I had no desire to sleep with him.  I truly believe that sex enhances a relationship, it doesn’t salvage it.

Very Controlling
Where we had once been equals in all aspects, he became very controlling – especially  with the finances.  At one point I discovered that he had multiple credit cards that had large balances ($40K).   It was as if he couldn’t control what was going on inside, he had to control everything externally.  He changed his passwords on his work line and cell phone.  We had always used the same passwords, but he would say that his work “mandated” that they be changed.

Traveled Excessively
While he traveled for work, it became so much that even his higher ups told him that he needed to cut back and be home more.  But this was his avenue to have the “encounters”.  He would be gone three or four nights each week.  In the past he would always leave itineraries, but this slowly began to stop.  He would say that he didn’t know where he was staying, but that I could always reach him on his cell phone. He would do anything to not be home.

Some might feel that this behavior is expected when a marriage is ending, but there were other signs.  He suddenly became obsessed with his weight, his hair and overall appearance.  He had always been a thin person, but started walking with layers of sweats, etc. and 10 lb. ankle weights.  Even in the 104 degree heat, he would walk with these clothes.  He only ate soup for a year.  He began using Rogaine and whitening his teeth … but I don’t think this needs further explanation.  However, my epiphany occurred in October 2004 when we had taken our two sons to Washington, DC for fall break.  He insisted that we stay in DuPont Circle and me not knowing that this was a predominately gay area of the city, I was fine with it.  But one night we had walked to restaurant for dinner and there was a long line.  A gay couple approached us, asking if we were in need of a restaurant, we said yes, and they told us about an Italian place at the end of the block that was kid-friendly. We were seated in the bar and there was outside seating, my ex positioned himself to be facing the couple who were outside.  I remember looking at him and saying “you’re flirting with him”.  Of course, he denied it, but it was at that moment that I knew.  About a month before he came out, I dreamed that I had asked him if he was gay.  In the dream, we were at our son’s school watching our oldest play basketball, I still remember what he was wearing and in my dream when I asked if he were gay, he said, “yes, I am”.

Having a gay spouse does not have to be the end of the world.  It has been four years and we are at a great place.  We are friends again, both of us have accepted this and he has grown into his new life.  It was not easy, especially watching our oldest son suffer an emotional breakdown and having to have him hospitalized for 2 years because he could not cope with it.  But as with any loss, you grieve and you get through it, but more importantly you realize that you can survive this with dignity, grace, acceptance and forgiveness.

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About the Author

Midlife Bachelor chronicles lifestyle, dating, and relationship experiences and advice to avoid a midlife crisis. Readers like you are often beyond young adulthood in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that want to understand how dating, sex, relationships, and love fit in with our lifestyles.