My husband is gay. And I am angry. Furious even. Understandable, right? Wrong. As I have discovered, even though anger is one of the commonly accepted stages of grief, most people see anger as a negative emotion. They fear it. That is because anger often leads to abuse. However, anger as an emotion and without violence is natural. Yet, repeatedly, I am made to feel my anger is unnatural, and that angers me even more.
When I discovered my spouse was gay, many emotions flashed through my mind – shock, fear, incredible sadness and anger. I stayed angry for a while but behind my anger was always incredible sorrow, mostly because soon after he told me, my husband began avoiding me about anything and everything that did not concern our children.
It was as if he thought we had our couple of weeks to discuss and now, presto, there were other more pressing things to do now.
We went to work. We took care of the children. Once the kids were in bed, he went to bed. I stewed. I ended up doing too much work and not getting enough sleep. I needed to talk and he was not giving me that opportunity.
So my anger came out in other ways. When we were with the children I would throw nasty comments his way. Sometimes we would have little arguments. My husband would later bring these disputes up during our couples counseling sessions and of course the therapist would say it was not good to fight around the children. To a degree I agree. The only thing I remember from my parent’s marriage was them yelling at each other while I hid behind a chair clutching my teddy bear and waiting for things to fly. Nothing ever did fly, to my knowledge, but as a two year-old you can have a vivid imagination.
However, this did teach me certain things about what not to do in a relationship. My angry outburst by no means matched my parents’ and even though it should not be a constant theme among parents I think there is some value in children seeing their parents argue. How else will they learn to resolve a conflict if they do not have a model to compare it too?
Regardless, on the counselor’s advice I curbed my anger, and my husband made himself more available for discussion about our future. This helped – a bit. But the anger has not fully gone. I still get emotional when my husband and I talk; I either get angry or I cry. So he stops the conversation. Not helpful. He does it because it makes him uncomfortable. After all, these emotions are because of his actions. He cannot deal with causing so much pain to someone. Deep down, even though he no longer shows it to me, he is a sensitive man.
Other times I express anger during counseling. Our therapist recently noted, judgmentally I might add, my anger has not yet dissipated. But she does not walk in my shoes. I have every right to be mad!
Which is what brings me to the simple question: Why can’t I be angry? The counselor thinks I should no longer be angry even though only five months has passed. My husband thinks I should be over it by now, because this is what the men he has met who have done the same thing say. And then there is my mother-in-law who notes I am angry but figures I should just suck it up. What about what I think? It has not even been a year!
My husband would prefer I move on and no longer blame him for my unhappiness. He is ready to move on, he wants to have his experiences and explore his new life. I have requested he not date while we are sorting things out. He agreed but then does what he wants anyhow. His mother wants me to move on because she wants to be the proud, supportive mother of a gay man. She even bought him rainbow suspenders to prove it!
I myself want to move on. I have seen the effects of decades of anger toward a former spouse and the bitterness it breeds. I do not want to live that, but we need to be realistic. If he had cheated or if he had died people would at least grant me a year, not a few weeks. I had a friend tell me that the grieving process should equate to 10 weeks for every year you were together. So that would give me 120 weeks, which is 2.3 years! I need to take whatever amount of time is necessary for me to get over the deception, the broken dreams, and the realization that despite my best efforts to pick the father of my children well it did not work out as I had planned.
Looking back I realize if I felt I needed to ask my husband if he was gay before we got married, a question to which he answered no, then deep down I always knew the answer. I should have run then. I know now some of my anger is directed inward and before I can truly get over this I first need to forgive myself for my mistake. What I need is more time.
August 8th will mark six months since my husband disclosed he is gay. Ironically, this would also have been the 14th anniversary of our first date. Time can also be cruel. Over the last few weeks I have been wavering between calm, sadness, and anger. Everything is fine when his sexuality does not come up.
We go about our daily business, take the kids on outings, and do things that a “normal” family does. Then he will go out to an event I am not invited to, where he meets his new friends and where he explores his new life. This reminds me our set up is only temporary and eventually we will be living in different places and living different lives. This makes me incredibly sad. But feeling so is only natural.