Vail Relationships column: Help, my husband is having sex with men
October 22, 2016
Dear Neil: My husband and I have been married for 35 years. In May, he admitted to having sex with multiple men. He told me he has been struggling with his sexual identity for the past 10 years. We have two grown, married sons, and he has admitted to them both that he enjoys sex with men. There have been multiple men, but now one of them has divorced his wife and wants a relationship with my husband.
My husband says he loves me, but that he's not in love with me. We are both educated and successful, and we had a Christian marriage, or so I thought. I am completely devastated and feel humiliated that he has done this to us, to himself and to our kids. Why am I still trying to hang on to a broken marriage that he clearly doesn't want? My heart is completely shattered.
What Do I Do Now?
Dear What Do I Do: I would love to give you words of hope and encouragement, but based on your story, I cannot. The words: "I love you, but I'm not in love with you" almost always means that your husband is saying he no longer loves you. He may care for you and even feel close to you, but he is saying that he now desires men, not you as a woman. And you have no way of changing this, because it's 100 percent his call about which gender he is attracted to.
If you succeed in hanging on to your marriage under these circumstances, then you will be married in name only. To want someone who doesn't want you hurts to the core — and will very likely turn you cynical, angry and bitter. But just throwing away a 35-year marriage isn't so simple, either, especially when you don't want all of this to be happening.
You are left with only one constructive option: You're going to have to heal your heart and make peace with the ending of your marriage — because you ain't dead yet, and this isn't the way you want the rest of your life to turn out. So first off, you need allies and support. You need people to talk with who are healthy and compassionate, and this might be the perfect time for you to find yourself a really good therapist. I am encouraging you to seek out social contacts and connections and not withdraw from people.
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In addition, you need some personal goals so you have things to look forward to in the future. This would be a very good time for you to create a "bucket list" of things you want to experience or accomplish in your future. Your faith may be of help to you, especially when it comes to the difficult task of forgiveness. Finally, you are going to need good self-care activities to help heal you and make you feel better about yourself and your life.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book "Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship." Contact him at 303-758-8777, or visit neilrosenthal.com.