If one partner in a heterosexual marriage realizes that he or she is gay, is there still a chance that the couple can stay together? More to the point, should they? Anon.
No. A man or woman who is essentially homosexual should be in a happy, healthy relationship with a member of their own sex, not living a lie in a sham marriage. Most homosexuals who enter into heterosexual marriages do so because of self-hated, internalized homophobia, an inability to accept that they're gay and that gay is good. Homosexuals in these phony marriages should always be encouraged to accept themselves as gay men or lesbians, or they can never be completely happy or fulfilled. Homosexuals in these situations may feel that they're getting some benefit -- heterosexual privileges, so to speak -- out of being married, but it's just that they feel more "secure" by posing as "straight" to the world. But this feeling of security is just as illusionary as the marriage. They're constantly in terror of being exposed. And their self-hatred and dissatisfaction is debilitating.
Some homosexuals come to look upon their heterosexual spouses as their best friends, or some kind of a safety net. But a relationship with a "best friend" is not the same as the fully romantic and sexual, completely fulfilling and mature relationship, that both spouses deserve. Not only is the homosexual spouse getting a raw deal, but so is the straight one.
Couples in this situation should never be encouraged to stay together. The homosexual spouse will never feel good about him or herself as a gay person in such a situation. Any one who counsels these people must address the issue of internalized homophobia that is at the root of the problem. Anything less is completely unfair to both parties. The straight spouse (as well as the homosexual one) must come to realize that homosexuality is not some kind of disease that can be or should be "suppressed" so that a sham "heterosexual" marriage can continue. This is only allowing a situation in which homophobic attitudes -- both internalized and external -- can fester.
(Shockingly, I have come across gay therapists who think these couples should sometimes stay together, depriving both spouses of ultimate happiness and fulfillment. It's bad enough if straight, homophobic therapists feel this way, but gay ones? Perhaps they're dealing -- or not dealing -- with their own issues ... They absorb a lot of trendy, pc crap and spew it out as gospel or else believe all the nonsense spouted by their in-denial patients. Therapists, sadly, can be as dumb as anyone.)
Sometimes couples in this situation can remain friends -- especially if there are children involved -- even after both have moved on. But they should never stay together "for the sake of the children." Both parents will be miserable and children can hardly flourish in such an atmosphere.
Homosexuals in these "mixed marriages" should always be encouraged to stop being married homosexuals and closet cases, and come out as happily gay. This is the 21st century, after all, not the pre-Stonewall period, and even then "mixed marriages" were unfair and ludicrous.
Straight spouses of homosexuals can find support at the Straight Spouse Network. Homosexuals in "straight" marriages should seek counseling at their nearest gay/LGBT center. In both cases, any therapist should be at least gay-friendly, and a gay therapist should have a strong sense of Gay Pride.
That's the way it is!