Learning your husband is gay is no laughing matter. Trying to find a way to make the existing heterosexual marriage work isn’t either. After lots of discussions, tears, and some terrible couples “therapy”, ultimately the thing that broke my marriage was a single straw in comparison to the steaming heap of shit I was perched upon. The decision to divorce hinged on a simple statement.
Discussions between Rainbow and I had been intense for two months or so. We had ditched the “therapist” we were seeing after the session from hell. Jointly we had committed to focusing on our relationship for the next few months. Determining what we each need and want in the relationship and finding a way to make that work with Rainbow’s sexuality.
Or so I thought.
One Saturday, I was intensely working on a project. I had it spread out all over the dining room table. It was nice outside but no one in my family seemed to notice. They were all inside, in their own little worlds while I labored.
Everyone was doing a screen the majority of the day. Rainbow was sitting at the table next to me on his laptop researching various topics. If there is one thing Rainbow does well, it’s research. He is a master at it! The kids were both watching YouTube Kids or gaming. At one point, I noticed Rainbow had put headphones in and was listening to something.
Later that night on the deck, post-supper, and at least one drink in (have I mentioned we drink too much?), Rainbow mentioned he listened to a podcast interview with a psychologist. The interview was about the impact of telling your straight spouse you are gay.
So much for thinking he was researching how to re-build a marriage.
Rainbow told me there was one thing that caught and held his attention in the interview.
His breathing got choppy and his eyes teared up as he told me.
The psychologist mentioned that once you told your straight spouse you are gay, you are psychology abusing them. (Psychological abuse is generally equivalent to emotional abuse.) He choked out that he would never hurt me in that way.
I quickly leaned forward, placing my hand on his arm, assuring him that he wasn’t psychologically abusing me. He wasn’t so sure. Even if unintentional, he was very concerned about abusing me.
I agreed to listen to the podcast when I had time.
The Last Scene
The opportunity to listen to the podcast interview came a day later.
Dumby me thought it would be a good idea to listen to it in the car while waiting for my son’s martial arts class to be done. I was parked facing a vacant storefront next to the martial arts studio. No one was around to interrupt me.
After martial arts class, we planned to immediately go to a mutual friend’s house for a pre-Independence Day celebration. The cooler was packed, with Rainbow and our daughter ready for a turn-and-burn pick up at the house.
Technical difficulties (which Rainbow helped resolve via text message) made it so I wasn’t able to start the podcast right way. I thought, “No biggie. The part Rainbow wanted me to hear was at the beginning anyway. I’ll quick listen and assure him it’s fine.”
Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t fine. But not in the way I imagined.
I recall hearing and even rewinding to listen twice to the part of the interview about psychological abuse. It did make me pause a moment and think. However, I disregarded the notion that I was being emotionally abused by Rainbow. We were supporting and loving each other through all of this turmoil. Surely I would know if I was being emotionally abused, right?
It was the comments that followed the psychological abuse part that caught my ear. The psychologist being interviewed talked about how once homosexuality was known in a heterosexual marriage, it became like a jack-in-the-box. You could shove it down, but every random turn of the crank, it would pop back up again.
This perspective popped my emotional bubble.
It smacked me in the face with a visual of how my life would look moving forward. Rainbow constantly shoving down his sexuality to continue to live a life no longer authentic for him. He would shove it down and we would move on as always – for a while. Then something random would happen and it would pop back up again.
The pain, anguish, uncertainty, and anxiety I had been experiencing for the last few months would come back again and again and again for. the. rest. of. my. life.
I stared through the car windshield at the empty retail space in front of me. My reflection in the vacant shop windows stared back.
My son’s martial arts class was done. A wooden marionette walked in and got her son from class that afternoon.
Suffering is the word that comes to mind when I think about how I wadded through my friend’s pre-Independence Day celebration.
I did not have a drink that night (an unusual occurrence). Sitting next to the pool, I nailed an imitation of a fragile vase at a museum. I know I spoke and maybe even smiled on the outside.
On the inside, all I kept thinking was, “This is all a lie. I’m sitting here living a lie.”
I watched how the other couples engaged with each other and their kids; recognizing that I didn’t have that in my own marriage, my own family. I likely never had. You can make a round peg fit into a square hole, but it’s never going to be the same as a round peg in a round hole. It’s never going to feel the same.
We tucked the kids into bed that night and got ready for bed ourselves. It was around midnight when we climbed into bed and started talking.
As usual, the conversation started calm and quiet. We really focus on respectful conversations now. I told Rainbow I had listened to the podcast and dissolved into tears. He put his arm around me, pulling me close, and handed me a tissue.
I don’t recall all that was said that night, just the straw.
The straw was simple. I asked, “When you see me exercising on the floor with my slightly too short shorts, do you think “I want to hit that” or do you just see a body.”
Rainbow sobbed, “Just a body.”
With that simple statement, I knew that I could not remain married to an individual that did not see me as a sexual being. I’m no therapist but I even I know long term that just does not work.
This was the third time divorce was mentioned within a month’s time. I knew that to make this stick, to not back out again, I needed to share this decision outside of Rainbow and I.
So, around midnight, on the eve of Independence Day, I called my brother sobbing. I brokenly shared that I was getting divorced due to irreconcilable differences. Rainbow texted The Other woMan that triggered his sexual revelations. The decision to divorce stuck.
The irony of it being the eve of July 4th is not lost on me. It will be an Independence Day that I will never forget.