Being left by a spouse who says that the marriage is over is difficult and coming to terms with the loss can be excruciating. But when the marriage is over because your spouse turns out to be gay, there is a whole different layer of thoughts and emotions to contend with.
On one hand, while it never feels good to be left for someone else, it can feel less bad to be left for the opposite sex rather than wondering what it was the "other man or woman" had over you in the way of looks, physical attributes or sexual prowess (some may wonder about personality traits but the initial concerns are often about the external). A justifying reaction of, "It's not that you don't like me personally, you just don't like men (or women, as the case may be)," is common.
Of course, on the other hand, realizing that this person you married - and thought you knew so well - is not the person you married - nor do you know much about them - can be devastating. There is often an accompanying sentiment of hurt (and perhaps rage) at having been betrayed not by a one-time tryst, but by a complete lifestyle lie.
Bonnie Kaye, M.Ed., came to specialize in helping women face this unanticipated reason for the demise of their marriage after her own marriage collapsed by virtue of her husband being gay.
Kaye reports that when a woman learns the reason for the problems in her marriage-namely homosexuality, she goes through a wide range of emotions from devastation, shame, guilt, responsibility, and perhaps even to repulsion. Men seem to have a similar set of emotions, according to StraightSpouse.org.
According to gayhusbands.com,there are over 4 million women in this country who are married to, or have been married to gay men, and there are millions more throughout the world. "In almost all cases," Kaye states, "women with gay husbands are unaware of their husbands' homosexuality at the time of the marriage."
It makes people wonder if their spouse was ever really attracted to them; if they were ever loved; and if they ever really wanted the things they had worked so hard to build (home, family, community).
Indeed, the spouse who is coming out for the first time may be asking the same questions.
The answers to these questions depend on if the gay or lesbian spouse knew and tried to repress the homosexual attractions, whether he or she didn't know they were gay, or if they are bisexual (attracted to both genders) or pansexual (attracted more to a person's spirit or personality rather than a person's anatomy) so the attraction to their spouse was real was real but not limited to one person or gender.
Coming to terms with one's own sexuality is almost always an intensely personal process, but we expect most people to come to terms with it as they come of age. People who come out as older adults have a steeper hill to climb in creating a new life and in gaining acceptance by friends and family. This is even more true when the person is married and has children.
These seems to be no shortage of support out there on this subject matter and I also came across several books on the topic that may be of help to both the gay and straight spouse.
The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families, Revised and Expanded Edition, by Amity Pierce Buxton
You're What?! Survival Strategies for Straight Spouses, by Heather Cram
My Husband Is Gay: A Woman's Survival Guide, by Carol Grever