She Said, He Said: Be authentic with yourself and your wife about your sexual identity |

She Said, He Said: Be authentic with yourself and your wife about your sexual identity

Lori Ann Kret and Jeff Cole
She Said, He Said

Dear Lori and Jeff,

I was raised in a traditional family in a fairly conservative community so I got married early and started my own family right away. My wife is a wonderful woman who has been focused on raising the kids but now that they are a bit older, she’s been wanting to rekindle our romantic relationship. For a long time I’ve suspected that I’m gay, and although I love my beautiful wife for the person she is, I have never really been physically attracted to her. I was able to be sexually involved in the beginning of our relationship and then after the kids were born, I was relieved that her interest faded. As I get older, I realize that I don’t want to go through the rest of my life never having explored or really known my own sexuality. At the same time, I don’t want to hurt my wonderful wife or our children. Do you have any advice?

Signed, Closet Claustrophobe

Dear CC,

Lori and Jeff: Healthy relationships can only exist when partners are able to be their authentic selves. If you suspect you are gay, the first step is to get really honest with yourself. Before dropping this information on your wife, carve out a little mental space to be curious about exactly what it is you’re needing and wanting at this point in your life. You don’t need to know all of the answers, but the more clarity you have, the easier it will be for both you and your wife to start a conversation.

Lori: I want to preface the following by clarifying that I am not by any means a proponent of ending a marriage when it gets tough. I firmly believe that every marriage is a commitment that should be honored and only dissolved when there is no possible way forward that permits both individuals to be healthy and whole. You have spent your life trying to follow the rules of what you were told was right and doing so has left you yearning. Love in long-term committed relationships is so incredibly powerful because it is one of the few opportunities we have in life to feel both deeply known and chosen for who we are. The marriage you are in cannot provide you this so long as you are hiding yourself from yourself and your family.

There is an inherent risk of rejection when we embrace our authenticity. Some people in our lives simply won’t understand or be able to accept us when we stand in our truth. Yet to live the remainder of your days as a shell of yourself may be the greatest abandonment anyone could experience. Furthermore, continuing to keep this secret from your wife will only erode the foundation of trust and connection in your marriage over time. If your wife is a wonderful woman, she might find forgiveness and grace for you and the painful dilemma in which you find yourself.

Jeff: Many couples we’ve met have acquiesced to rather unfulfilling sexual connections in favor of trying to avoid conflicts by keeping things in their relationships as manageable and stable as possible. While some couples can maintain relatively gratifying connections without physical intimacy, they are for more the exception than the rule. Knowing our own sexual identity and having that identity not only accepted but celebrated by our partner is an essential element to a satisfying and sustainable relationship. Sex is one of the few experiences most of us vow to share exclusively with our partners. If that connection isn’t available to us and made both safe and enticing, then there is a significant part of our bond that is missing.

Addressing this issue will undoubtedly be challenging. But if you choose to sweep it under the rug, not only are you robbing yourself of experiencing your full, integrated identity, but you are also keeping your wife from experiencing that dynamic for herself. I can’t imaging that she hasn’t sensed of your lack of sexual interest and it might come as some relief that it’s not about her, but your own unactualized sexual preferences. I would hope that she would be understanding and work toward some kind of solution that would honor and respect both of your true sexual identities.

Lori and Jeff: Thankfully, times have changed since you started on the path to building your family. The growing awareness and acceptance of diverse sexual orientation means support and resources are much easier to access. Don’t struggle with this on your own. Peer and professional resources for you and your wife are available at LGBT Foundation (, LGBT National Help Center ( and PFlag (

Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to and your query may be selected for a future column.