You are a woman. You are married to a man. You have just come to the realization you are a lesbian. What now? One of the biggest and earliest dilemmas women in your situation face (and there are a lot of women in your situation) is whether or not to tell their husbands. It would be nice if there were a simple yes or no answer to this question, but there is not.
Whether to tell or not depends on several circumstances. First, have you decided in your heart that a divorce is in your future? People get divorced for all sorts of reasons and your decision may be based on many factors other than your sexual orientation. But when a spouse discovers his partner is homosexual, that instantly becomes the prime focus for blame. It's an easy target and one that absolves your husband of any responsibility for the relationship. In addition, spouses have an especially hard time getting past the fact that their wife is gay. They generally feel betrayed and "made a fool of," which makes it hard for them to move forward.
You will need to examine your relationship and consider several factors. For instance, there may be a religious component involved. Is your husband a fundamentalist (Christian, Muslim or Orthodox Jew)? If so, and especially if there are to be child custody issues involved, you may choose to keep your orientation to yourself. Your husband my receive a lot of support from his religious organization and family in fighting you for custody. Depending on the region you live in, the courts may side in his favor.
Does your husband have an explosive temper? If you have been abused in the past, imparting this information will just add unnecessary fuel to his already-out-of-control fire. In this case, it is best just to leave the household, no explanations needed. That goes even if you are NOT a lesbian!
Has your husband exhibited revengeful behavior in the past? If you know you are planning a divorce, do not hand him a tool to use against you, especially if you have experimented with your sexuality outside the marriage. Although most divorces are no-fault these days, there still exists divorce for just cause in many states. A divorce under such a circumstance will cost you heavily when it comes to a financial settlement determination.
So if you are planning on a divorce, should you ever tell your husband? Yes, this may be an option if your husband is open-minded, if he is your "best friend," or if you simply cannot live with yourself by keeping this a secret. Many times after the initial shock, spouses will understand the dilemma you face and actually become supportive of you. With time, education and (usually) counseling or coaching, a spouse will come to understand of the social pressures and circumstances that led to your decision to marry. Many women did not even realize they were lesbian when they tied the knot! And most lesbians who do marry do so out of love, even if it is a love built out of respect and friendship rather than passion.
Now, what if you are planning to stay in the marriage, or are not sure? Should you tell your husband? I will assume if you are reading this article, you are searching for information on this topic. If so, you are probably experiencing some inner conflict surrounding your sexual orientation and your role as a wife. Ask yourself if this conflict has been growing over the past year or two? Is it sustainable? Do you expect the conflict to end or to continue to grow? If you feel your sexual orientation is not that important to who you are and to your authenticity, it may be possible to acknowledge it internally and move on without disrupting your life.
For the majority of women in this situation, that will not be the case. Many times women keep this information to themselves too long, processing and integrating alone and in silence. If there is a possibility to save the marriage (and yes, couples do opt this) it is beneficial to tell your husband earlier rather than later. in this way you can problem solve and explore solutions together. You and he will have an opportunity to process this reality together over a period of time. You can contact others in the same situation for support and ideas. You can attend counseling or coaching together.
If you are married and discovering you are a lesbian, you are in a difficult situation. There are no easy answers. You must examine where you are, where you want to be and decide on the best way to achieve your goals. If this means keeping private information private, then do so. If telling your spouse will benefit you or both of you, then by all means do so. However, if your motivation to tell is driven by guilt, keep in mind the playing field is not an even one. Laws and social attitudes are always stacked against us as homosexuals. You do not need to feel an obligation to tell personal information about yourself if it will be used against you.
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