What It’s Like to Come Out After Tying the Knot, According to Redditors
While coming out can be a cathartic experience, for many, it also comes with some added anxiety and fear about how other people will react. And if you’re already married, that conversation gets even more complicated.
The reality is, though, that there’s no one-size-fits-all age as to when you should come out, so if you find yourself in a situation where you’re discovering your true sexuality after already saying “I do,” you’re not alone. In fact, according to a 1993 nationwide survey, approximately 20% of gay men in the U.S. marry a woman at some point in their lives. The good news? Support for same-sex couples is at an all-time high and seems to be continually trending in the right direction. In other words, there’s never been a better time to live your truth.
“While this can be complicated and challenging it is not impossible to work through,” says Dr. Laura McGuire, certified sexual health and sexuality educator, and full-time consultant for The National Center for Equity and Agency. “Finding a new version of a healthy and happy relationship for you both is absolutely possible.”
Maybe you had an inkling that you weren’t straight before you were married, but simply hadn’t allowed yourself to pursue those feelings out of fear. Maybe you hadn’t yet accepted your sexuality yourself when you tied the knot, which is why you had a hard time believing anyone else would accept it. Maybe you felt pressure from your family or society to have a heterosexual marriage, and you gave into that before you could really explore your own desires.
Regardless of why you’ve been keeping this part of your identity under wraps, it’s important to know that lots of other men have found themselves in your position — and they not only survived opening up about their sexuality, but in many cases, thrived because of it.
Here’s what a handful of men on Reddit had to say about the experience of coming out to their spouses.
When You Break the News Gradually
“I’m bisexual (but not bi-romantic). It wasn’t really one specific conversation… more like a number of small conversations. I never came out in the traditional “I’ve-got-something-to-tell-you”-type of way. It happened more organic… sometimes after sex, we’d talk a bit about different things and I’d tell my wife this and that. She’d ask me a few questions and that’s basically how it became clear to her eventually. She’s a very tolerant person and all she ever really said was: ‘oh wow’ and ‘that’s crazy.’ For me, that’s good enough.” – u/Arcane_Panacea
“Bringing up everything all at once can feel blindsiding for the partner and overwhelming for you both,” explains McGuire. “In most situations building up to a life-changing discussion is best as it allows everyone involved time to think, adjust, and reflect. Testing the waters can give the disclosing partner a sense of where the larger conversation may go and time to emotionally prepare accordingly. It also gives the partner who is being disclosed to space to get used to the topic at hand and have a foreshadowing of where the discussion may be progressing.”
When She Already Had a Feeling
“I came out to my wife after being married 35 years. I had a series of gay experiences as a teen but always ended things when I thought some arbitrary line, though in reality and in hindsight I was just exploring what was natural and exciting. After college, getting married, job, kids, etc. I started to come to the realization that I was gay. I did not say anything for many years but finally decided to break the news. She was great and basically said that she suspected for a very long time. We are now as happy together as we ever have been.” – u/Biappeal
“I find that more times than not, the wife/girlfriend is more open and accepting than the male partner expected, so keep in mind to prepare for the worst but sincerely hope for the best as it is not unlikely,” notes McGuire.
“I recently came out to my wife… I felt the need to tell her about my sexual attraction to guys but also wanted to stay monogamous. Why would I want to tell her if I didn’t plan to act on it? Because she’s my soulmate and confidant. I didn’t want to keep a part of myself hidden from her. I guess I had to decide if the benefits of honesty and communication outweighed the potential insecurities she might have about the whole thing. She kind of knew beforehand anyway since she’d seen some browsing histories and picked up on other clues.” – u/gtragain
When Therapy Is the Key to Everything
“I came fully out to my wife of 21 years this past December. Even though it’s been a roller coaster at times, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. She and I have come a long way. I communicate with her completely honestly and openly now. We both go to therapy together and separately. We’re also both in amazing online support groups where we’ve met amazing friends.” – u/Davej21136
“Therapy is essential before, during, and after coming out to a spouse” explains McGuire. “Having a qualified and impartial professional who can help you each navigate your feelings around coming out will allow everyone a safe and healthy way to process any concerns or questions they have and find a path forward.”
“Before I came out to my wife, I first came out to my therapist … I told my wife about 10 days later. I waited for a Sunday afternoon, so we would have nothing else going on. I didn’t want to be rushed, and I had no idea how she would take it.
She said she wasn’t completely surprised based on how passionate I am about LGBT+ rights, and how I’ve often talked about how sexuality is a spectrum. I think she was in shock, though. There were tears, harsh words, and some misunderstandings along the way, so I understood her wanting to save the deep conversations for when we were in a safe space with someone else there to guide us.
We had been talking for a few months about starting to see a counselor, not for any one big reason, but to help us communicate better about many smaller things. Well, suddenly we had a BIG reason to see a counselor. We found one who is an LGBT ally, and we started seeing him shortly after Thanksgiving last year. We still see him weekly (online because of quarantine), though after a few intense weeks, our sessions kind-of naturally turned to some other issues. It’s only been in the past month that we’ve been talking about my sexuality again.
She strongly values monogamy, so that has been something we are working through. Is there a line we can draw where we can both be happy? I’ve told her I have never cheated on her, and I never will. For those reasons, I feel like she will have a much bigger say than I do whether or not I will ever have sexual experiences with another man. I think I’ve come to accept that … I value our love and our marriage more than anything else.” — u/Mixma85
When Fear Is the First Reaction
“My wife is trying to be supportive but feels lost and alone. She’s mad, sad, confused, anxious. Which I think are all ok things to feel, and I tell her she’s entitled to her feelings and that it’s ok to feel them and that I understand. I’m being as loving and caring as I can without pushing boundaries or making her uncomfortable.” – u/SpaceCadetSinchi
“Having painful emotions around a spouse coming out is common and understandable; this information can feel confusing, unforeseen and may bring up fears of what the future holds,” explains McGuire. “It is all the more reason to have a therapist you both trust and feel comfortable talking to throughout the process. The therapist can hold space for all the hard and painful emotions that may arise and help everyone work through them without causing further damage to the relationship.”
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“It’s been 7 years since I came out. Initially, she reacted as you would expect. She was upset, felt she was to blame, was scared for the future, angry with me for not saying anything earlier, etc. Lots of tears. We talked a ton about it. She said she had suspected a while back but put it out of her mind. She had lots of misconceptions about what being gay means, and what would happen next. I shared how I felt, and how much I loved her and wished I could just stay the way things are, but our relationship was devolving and I was growing very anxious and distant.
My kids all took it very well. My ex-wife and I agreed in the beginning that the kids were our number one priority. It took a bit but after about 4 months things got much more friendly and we started doing more things together as a family. Now we are very good friends and vacation with the kids.” – u/Jekyllhyde
When It’s Brought Up in Casual Conversation
“Having moved from a community where it was more obvious to a community where people’s ‘gay-dar’ wasn’t quite as finely tuned, it just never crossed my mind that I wasn’t obviously bi. So I never mentioned it to my wife until we both met a past boyfriend of mine. I assumed it was obviously a past romantic partner. She assumed when I said ‘boyfriend’ I meant ‘boy friend’… fun conversation over dinner.
It went fine. I kinda didn’t leave room for any judgment or reaction though. It was more ‘clearing up a miscommunication’ and I treated it that way. I think I was lucky. Conservative views are getting more and more taboo.” – u/The_test_is_me
When Everything Goes Surprisingly Well
“I came out after 7 years of being married. I had suppressed it for most of my life (after a period of thinking I was gay and being very closeted/secretive about it), thought that was just a phase and I was really straight… turns out you can’t hide from yourself.
It was very difficult to come out to my wife, but it went very, very well. I’m out to my sister and mom now as well and they’re all fine with it. I’ve felt more comfortable with it as time has gone on, but I still doubt myself every so often.” – u/ghostnotepony
“I was 8-9 years into a marriage when I finally accepted myself and came out to my wife. Absolute best decision I’ve ever made. She’s wonderful and supportive and I consider myself very lucky. The conversations got more in-depth over time, but the key component was always ‘this doesn’t change our marriage or our lives at all, it’s just about me being comfortable and accepting of myself and also not keeping things from you now that I am ok with accepting myself.'” – u/BiBiBatonRouge
“Knowing you’re accepted matters. For me, I couldn’t know and not tell her, and wonder all the time if she would maybe accept me or maybe not. I needed to know. I wasn’t sure how she would handle it but she handled it pretty well! (Spoiler: I then came out as trans a few months later and she’s actually supportive still, so maybe I married the best woman ever?)” – u/UsefulLanguage
“I had been with my (now) wife for 8 years when I finally came out to her. She started crying and let me know that she was bisexual too and didn’t know how she was going to break the news to me without hurting me.
While I can’t guarantee results (nobody can), I can say that my life improved immeasurably after that conversation. If she had rejected our relationship after that, I’m not convinced it wouldn’t have still been a net win, and she’s the best person I’ve ever known, never mind been with.
I was buoyed by that conversation for weeks. It was trying, and took me forever to work up the courage but the payoff was wonderful. I don’t like keeping secrets from my wife, and I like even less the notion that I should have to.
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