We sometimes read about the heartbreak associated with mixed orientation marriages in which one heterosexual marriage partner comes to realize he/she is gay. At some point in the marriage the partner either discovers or comes to terms with his/her sexual orientation effectively alienating his/her marriage partner. This is often traumatic for both partners and typically results in divorce. It is even more traumatic when there are children involved.
Children have much more than social and developmental issues weighing upon them. Childhood is when we are just discovering our own identities and coming to terms with who we are. As traumatic as it can be to come out as a homosexual to our parents, imagine how frighting it must be coming out to your spouse and children. There is no easy way to face this issue. It is societal in nature and our feelings of isolation and shame result from perceived societal expectations.
When we seek to conform to what we deem as expected of us by society we sacrifice ourselves and who we are to meet those expectations. But when we enter into marriage and have children we bring in others to our cover. This does nothing to change who we are and we can fall into a destructive double life. At this point we stop being victims and make victims of others. We can no longer blame society for our actions. It was our choice and remains our responsibility to address the pain and hurt our family will certainly feel as a result.
The priority begins with the children. Our spouse certainly has the right to his/her feelings of betrayal, however, you both must consider the impact of your decisions on your children above yourselves. Keep in mind, once the anger and hurt has subsided we begin to see that it is not an issue of sexual orientation. It is a family issue no different than any other that affects the family. The two issues of marriage and sexual orientation are separate and should remain that way when the children are made aware.
The final stage of addressing this issue is to sit down as a family and answer honestly the questions your children have. As parents you will be need to have answered these questions yourselves. Although the marriage may not endure, the parenthood aspect has not changed for either spouse. It becomes vital both parents are clear in supporting the children and remain integral in their lives.