Coming out as LGBTIQ is a multidimensional and complex process. Coming out is already a difficult process after having undergone internal processes of identifying as non-heterosexual. Coming out when married makes this process even more complex, both for the person experiencing it as well as the partner receiving this news. It may pose serious consequences to the relationship as the couple explores their options and understands what both want to do.
It is normal to experience feelings of betrayal, shame, guilt, embarassment and anger even though it is something beyond our control. It seems that because of its inevitability, we react strongly and tend to aim these responses inwards towards ourselves. It is important to keep in mind how our partner is feeling – they would most probably be experiencing a profound internal conflict and identity crisis and be too preoccupied with this change that they would not consider how big of an impact this news has had on you and your relationship.
It is common to start thinking in a more negative way about yourself as well as about your partner because you feel like you no longer know your partner, forgetting that he is probably still attracted to you, given the nature of his sexual orientation. Another aspect is also involved – you start worrying excessively about the fact that his coming out as bisexual might only be a transition to identifying as homosexual later on. You also might find it difficult to handle the fact that you do not know who he might be checking out – it is natural to look at someone we find attractive but you might be insecure as you might think he is wishing to be with a man. The reactions to this issue depend upon:
- The wife’s views on homosexuality
- The husband’s views on being on the LGBTIQ spectrum – there might be an excessive degree of internalised homophobia involved which could deeply impact the relationship even if the husband is still in love with the wife
- Both partners’ views on relationships and how to compromise
- Both partners’ self-concept and identity – how they incorporate new information about themselves in their self-concept and how they deal with threats to their self-concept and self-esteem
I shall be tackling ways in which a person can deal with such a transition in part 2 of this blog.
Luanne Grima is a psychology student who works as a childminder with Willingness. She also forms part of Betapsi.