Christine's Answers From The Big Book of Queer Girl Rules

Todays letter comes from a married 50 year old mother of three who finds she is attracted to other women and is in a dilemma about what to do....

Dear Christine,

I'm 50 and just coming out- my husband was the first person I told.

We've been married 20 yrs and have 3 kids together, ages 20, 17 and 13. I have not told them yet. My husband told me he has always wondered if I might be gay and in fact has tried to gently bring the subject up many times in the past years, but I would always adamantly deny any interest in women.

But lately, things seem different and I think as my kids are getting older and I have more time for myself, I am realizing that something big has been missing in my life.

I have had one relationship with a woman before I met my husband and I've never had the same emotional or physical intensity with him as I did with her.

I have found myself fantasizing more about women and feel like I've let my guard down around being really turned on physically when I see a woman I'm attracted to.

My dilemma is that my husband is a wonderful man, a great father and I can't imagine leaving him alone to pursue this lifestyle even though he is encouraging me to do whatever I need to to be fulfilled.


Very Troubled.

Dear Very Troubled,

I'm glad to hear that you are willing to be honest with yourself and your partner about what would make you more whole in your lifetime. It sounds like you have a wonderful environment in which to explore this new part of yourself. It sounds like you've been blessed through out the years with a beautiful family to share in and support and it sounds like it's absolutely time for you to create space to be this part of your sexual and emotional self.

The fact that you are concerned about stepping away from your role as a wife and mother is not surprising. It's a significant change in any woman's life as inevitably her children grow up and gradually separate themselves. It's a shock as well when after many years together, married partners shift and grow as individuals, eventually needing to look outside the relationship to continue their own individual paths. These occurrences are not limited to a person coming out later in life. If we all payed more attention, we would all find adjustments, large and small, that ask to be made in order to evolve individually.

In this case, the stakes seem high as exploring this path essentially means ending your marriage. However, what is exciting is that you have everything to gain by committing to this path. As you pointed out, the emotional and physical connection you experienced with one woman was greater that which you've shared with your husband over twenty years. It sounds like you have a supporting and loving friend in the man your married to and it's time for you to let him be just that. Learning to redefine your roles to each other as such will open up room in your life to find the earth shattering, consciousness shifting, heart stopping romance that you have been waiting for all this time.

Perhaps it would be helpful during this transition process to be talking to a therapist in order to have a safe space to express the fears and anxieties that will naturally come up. Contact your communities local gay and lesbian center for referrals to LGBT friendly mental health practitioners.

It is a challenging thing, to make room for yourself to be alone in the world long enough to find what you really need. But when one acts to honor themselves, it can only be met with blessings!



LindaS said...

Why is there the assumption in both the letter and the response that she must leave her marriage? It sounds like this man has known she was not straight and accepted it for some time now. Marriage is like a contract, and as time passes, sometimes the terms need to be renegociated. I have been there, I know it can be done, but it's not easy.

Cpetr13 said...

I agree; marriage is malleable and if both partners consent to it, then outside activities can be negotiated. Until this woman finds someone she truly wants to commit to, she should not jettison her marriage automatically.

The real issue here is the 13yo; they may not understand why mom has left them or broken up with their father. Since the arrangement is at least amicable at this point, I would keep the marriage intact for a few more years, until custody is no longer an issue

Craig in OKC said...

I don't agree. When I came out to my wife, we tried to stay together because it would be better for the kids. She and I had been great friends since 9th grade, and we wanted to continue with the friendship. Well, as time passed, she became suspicious whenever I was apart from her, angry that we no longer had the marriage she believed we had, and bitter over the fact that things were changing. Now, 16 years later, we don't even speak because of all that anger. It probably could have been minimized if we had separated earlier so we could BOTH find our paths in life.
I do agree that marriages and partnerships are ever-changing, but when you remove the basic reasons for being in a relationship, it's headed for disaster. It would be very unfair for her to stay with her husband.

Hahn at Home said...

My thought is two-fold:

1. By letting her go if she needs to go, he is also opening up a possibility to be truly romantically loved as a straight man and straight woman can be. To hold him back when she is not truly 100% there in emotional terms is not fair to him. She is also denying herself an opportunity for the same thing if she stays. She can't develop the full intimacy and emotional and life connection with anyone while in the marriage.

2. Divorce sucks, regardless of the reason, but over 50% of married people do it anyway, with or without kids. This would be the best kind of divorce, where both former partners fully support each other. Creative custody, shared family time for holidays - all of those things would be a possibility in this situation that would lessen the burden on the child. And, of course, besides the counseling she really could benefit from during this time - they could all benefit from family counseling to discuss all of their fears, anxieties, and frustrations as they make the transition. Thirteen is a tender age for boys.