What If Your Husband Left You For Another Man?

husband left for another man

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

I get many, many emails from women who reach out because of the intense pain they are feeling when their husband leaves them for another woman. Among other emotions, they tell me they are in shock, devastated, angry, scared, resentful, bitter, and beyond sad and upset. They are feeling very alone, their life shattered, and left to think about their husband in a new, blissful relationship, while they feel abandoned and trying to explain to the kids what the heck just happened. The anger burns in some of these women and they feel hurt, betrayed and hopeless.

 

So when I learned from a woman I met a couple days ago that her husband left her because he realized he was gay, it really made me stop and think. I wondered if she was feeling what some of these other women feel. Are the feelings of hurt, betrayal, hopelessness, fear, anger, bitterness, devastation, and sadness the same? Yes and no? Are they similar but different?

 

In talking briefly with her, she said that like any woman whose husband leaves (for whatever reason) it turned her life upside down. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do, she was scared, felt alone, abandoned, and hurt. She also said she felt like she maybe she wasn’t good enough, which was disheartening for me to hear (and which I will address).

 

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I will start off my advice to women in this situation with a disclaimer because I think it is important: I can only speculate/write about how I would feel if it happened to me. In other words, I can’t give advice firsthand because I have never been in this situation. I also don’t want anyone to think my advice is right or wrong, it’s just how I think i would feel, put it this situation.

 

First of all, regardless of whether a man leaves his wife for another woman or another man or for any reason, it is hurtful, it is scary, and it can make someone angry and resentful, the mindset being that perhaps they “wasted” decades of their life with this person, and now they are alone possibly at 40 or 50 or 60 something.

 

I think a big difference in a man leaving for another woman versus leaving for another man is that if you think about it, how can you really be angry? I mean maybe at the beginning you would be, but if you really think about it, how can you remain angry with a man for admitting who he is?  And, how can you really take it personally? We can’t change who we are in our core, so I have to believe that this woman’s husband was feeling tortured internally, and that he was most likely living a lie and suffering for many years (who even knows how long?) but felt trapped and obligated to stay with his family. I feel so so sorry for this woman, but I also feel incredibly sad for her ex. Can you imagine the guilt he feels?

 

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One question I was considering is, Is it easier if your husband leaves you for another man? In other words, if you don’t hate him is that easier? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it’s easier to get over someone you hate, who you can say did the lowest of the low by cheating and leaving you for another woman. If it’s a man, you might be understanding, and it might make you love him still, and feel even more hopeless.

 

It’s kind of a coincidence that the night before I met this woman who told me her story, I had been watching a new Showtime documentary about the life of the late George Michael. In the show, which was narrated by Michael before he died suddenly in 2016, he talks about how he much he suffered while trying to hide being gay.

 

He explained that one Christmas, he had to go home and see his family, and not only did they not know he was gay, but they didn’t know he had met the love of his life, Anselmo Feleppo, and that Feleppo was awaiting results of an HIV test, which turned out to be positive, AIDS ultimately taking his life. A close friend of Michael’s described Michael as “missing a couple layers of skin” because he wounded so easily.

 

Being a writer and caring so much about words, I am a huge George Michael fan, and think his songs were absolutely beautifully written, with words that only someone who felt these things so deeply is capable of writing. Careless Whisper, Father Figure, One More Try, Kissing a Fool, I Knew You Were Waiting; all of these hit songs came from Michael’s emotions and experiences of which he had this amazing gift to be able to put into melodies and lyrics.

 

I can’t even begin to imagine the torture and pain he was going through not being able to express who he really was to the world for fear of being judged or losing his career or feeling judged. It saddens me for Michael, for this woman’s husband, and for any couple who split up because one of the people realized they were gay.

 

When someone is left by their spouse it hurts, no matter what the circumstances are. It kills, actually. But I do believe that if a man leaves for another man or because he is gay, in a way that might make a person feel differently–perhaps a little less angry and hateful over time.

 

Yes, he made a commitment the day he said “I do.” Yes, he had a family he abandoned. Yes, he lived a lie for a long time. But should you say “Yes, he should have tried harder not to be gay?” No.

 

My advice to any woman whose husband leaves for another man is that I feel your pain–just as I feel the pain for anyone whose spouse leaves, but try to be understanding. Most importantly, DO NOT EVER take it personally. It doesn’t matter if you look Angelina Jolie’s twin. It was not you. Say that 20 times a day. “It was not me.” There was nothing you could have done. It’s not because you weren’t a good wife and or a good mother. It’s because he wasn’t who he himself thought he was.

 

Now, could someone argue that you could say the entire paragraph above if your husband left you for another woman? I think so in some cases. But in the case of someone realizing they are gay, these things are a certainty.

 

As I am getting into my fifties I am realizing how short and precious life really is, and not living your authentic life is truly a waste. So, if you are gay you are gay. It’s unfortunate that people and families are hurt by the divorce, but what is worse? Living a lie and feeling trapped and inauthentic? Sadly, and although I think it is hurtful to the wife and family, I think so.

 

Here is the good news for this woman. She now has a chance to share her life someday with a man who really wants her. Doesn’t she deserve that? Of course she does.

 

George Michael died at the age of 53 in his sleep of natural causes. I didn’t know him personally, but I played his songs over and over again when I was in my early twenties and I think his talent was very very special, with his lyrics truly exhibiting a kindness and gentleness.

 

My gut tells me he was a good guy. It seems as if he just wanted to be loved. He starved for it. He found it and then found the courage to admit it. I bet Michael didn’t regret anything when it came to his relationship, except for waiting so long to admit to the world who he truly was. Maybe that’s a comforting thought to a woman whose husband left for another man. Because I really believe that one of life’s greatest joys is being with someone you adore and love, and I think any good person deserves that. Does that include your ex-husband? It’s something to think about it.

Like this post? Check out my article, “6 Pieces of Advice For The Person Who Was Left” 

 

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

11 Responses to “What If Your Husband Left You For Another Man?”

  1. Carrie

    My husband and I separated after being married 36 years. He is gay. No one ever knew or suspected. He had many years of depression and never told me the reason. I always thought I could make him happy. Never knew why I couldn’t. My anger and resentment only stems from him not telling me earlier on. I would have done things differently financially. I am left alone now and financially we were tied together. I would have gone back to school when I was younger instead of devoting myself to our business, kids and him. I never regret devoting myself to my kids…however would have made sure that I was financially secure, not worried and scared at 56 years old.

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      Im so so so very sorry about your situation and I can understand your frustration and resentment. But if you think about it, we could all say those things. If I wasn’t married to my ex, I would have taken a news anchor position in Dallas that I was offered. 🙁 Who knows where I would have been today?? I am comforted by knowing that God has a plan and that all we can do is take things as they come and try to make the best decisions with our current situation–decisions that make us happy and that feel good. So, now, it’s time for you to figure out what you want now. Today and tomorrow and in the months and years ahead. Now you are free and if you are healthy, you can do so many wonderful things that you want to do. I know it’s scary, but you are not alone. Countless others have been where you are. I wish you all the best. xo

      Reply
  2. Henriette Oakland

    Thank you for acknowleding those of us left by a man for a man. AND for the disclaimer that you have not personally been through it.
    Being exactly 1 year since the love of my life and best friend for nearly 30 years left for young man, I can point out a couple of things.. .well I could point out a million things.
    First, there’s the deception and loss of sense of reality. Not just in the turmoil but in the whole history together. What felt like true intimacy to me may not have to him. He cried at the wedding…were those really tears of joy? He acted amazed and in wonderment watching the delivery of our babies….how could he not be disgusted? The crazy, fun, passionate sex….was he imagining I was a man? What kind of woman am I that only a gay man would use as a beard?
    Secondly, there’s the disregard. By him, his family, the best man at OUR wedding. They are so happy for him. But he has left me and our 2 children behind, seemingly in his own self pity that he was tormented for so long. On some level and more so at some point, he chose to live a lie. He chose a lie for me as well and I was completely unaware. He has essentially done to me what society has done to him.

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      I’m so sorry. I’m sure this is so devastating and difficult. I will say, though, the questions you are asking could be asked by a woman whose husband left for another woman. And there are plenty of those. The best advice I can give you is to know in your heart that he loved you and that he probably still does, and that he loves his children, and that now it’s time to focus on your life moving forward. You deserve a happy life. Try not to look back as much and instead look forward to today and beyond. xoxo

      Reply
  3. Eef

    This is really a crock blog. It’s worse. It’s wrong because it’s selfish. And just because someone is gay and a protected sect of today’s society, they are still adults. They should choose not to use or hurt people. It gives a woman a miscommunication of what men need and want, and if they marry again that marriage of comparison is doomed, because gay men give more emotionally, that woman love, and don’t crave sex. It really messes up expectations all around and is WRONG.

    Reply
  4. Straight wife

    Me and my husband had been together for 13 years, married for 7, when he left me for a (much) younger man. Their relationship had been going on for a month at that time. Our kids were 3 and 2 years old, and I was 6 months pregnant with our third.
    I honestly think it is so, so, so much worse than being left for another woman. I learned all at once about my husband’s betrayal and about the lie that I had been living for half of my life. Everything in our history suddenly seemed fake. My whole world was shattered into a million pieces. Even so, I decided to forgive him and try to move past it, but quickly realized there was no turning back, nothing I could do, there was no way I could compete, there was no possible way to fix it even if I was willing to forgive and put our pieces back together. He hurt me more than I ever thought possible with his infidelity, and he thought it was in a way justified by his orientation, his big secret and the torment he had been living most of his life. I think this is was you hint at in your article, and may I say kindly that NO, no no no no no. There is NO way to justify such a hurtful act. It’s just wrong, no matter what. He could have come out to me without betrayal. It would have still been shattering, but maybe it wouldn’t have broken my heart. He started our relationship, our marriage, holding a ticking bomb, something I was never aware of. That is so utterly unfair. Selfish. Wrong in so many ways. It was his own choice, no one pushed him to do it, because nobody knew. He decided to marry me because he wanted a “normal” life, a family, and, in his own words, found in me the person he wanted to do it with, the perfect person for him… had he been straight. You also mention in your article that we might feel even more hopeless. Yes, I believe we do. I’m not saying the betrayal hurts more or less if he leaves for a woman or another man. The sin is the same. But in our case, I really think there’s a lot more going on.

    Reply
  5. Tracy

    You’re kidding me right? He didn’t decide to come out to his wife, and give her honesty. He chose to CHEAT, and when he fell for someone he left his wife and kids with little regard for them just like a man leaving for a woman. Cheating is cheating and it is WRONG. LYING is WRONG. I had an uncle that was gay, and he never married. My exhusband of 50 left for a young man 21 years younger than him, that he brought around my house as his “friend ” for a year before leaving me and lied about his “friend’s ” age. He abandoned me and my kids suddenly after 22 years of marriage, and rewrote our marital history and went from being a really good father to almost non-existent. Cheating is cheating and it is wrong. Lying about “who you are ” is a completely selfish act and pulls the wife into a lie she had no choice in. I don’t give a damn how hard it was for him because the trail of devastation he has left from his CHOICES (because yes – he had a choice) are incredible and the damage to myself and his children extensive. Now you think we should feel sorry for them? Not on my best day. If he had the balls to NOT be a cheater and had come out to me I would have still been angry and hurt, but could have forgiven him. That is NOT what he or most of these men CHOOSE to do. They CHOOSE to cheat on their spouses and put their lives at risk with their sexual promiscuity. You would feel VERY differently if it had happened to you.

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      I respect your opinion, but you don’t know exactly how you would have reacted if your ex would have come out before cheating. You might have been just as upset. You are right, it didn’t happen to me, but I can say this. With the LGBTQ movement in this country,I have come to realize the torture people experience when they are in the closet. I can’t imagine what a horribly lonely and shameful feeling they are having (not that they should feel shame.) Neither you or I have walked in those shoes. You sound really really angry and I don’t fault you for that. I personally have been cheated on and so I get it. You can’t control how your ex lives his life now, but you have full control as to how you choose to move forward, which includes letting your anger go. I wish you all the best.

      Reply
      • Tracy Maurer

        Of course I am angry. The actions of my exhusband have been torturous, cruel, and deceitful. He is not the same person. He abandoned myself, my kids, and all of our responsibilities, and left me on my own to pick up all of the pieces. He brought his “lover” to my house, around my kids, and to my parents house under the guise of it being his “friend. ” I am fully aware and sympathetic to the struggles of being gay as I had an uncle that was gay, friends that are gay, my youngest son came out as gay shortly before his dad left, and my middle son has since come out as bi. I watch their struggles daily, and love them through it. Their dad chose to CHEAT, lie, abandon, and become an all around piece of crap person so yes – I am angry, and have zero compassion for his “struggles ” as a gay closeted man who still can’t admit that he is gay even though he now lives with his younger partner and lives like a married couple with him. I am appalled that lying, deception, and cheating should be forgiven or accepted for ANY reason. That’s like saying “he only hit her because he was going through so much at work.” Would you find sympathy for that? He had all kinds of other choices as did any male/female that decided to cheat. It is never an acceptable choice. Because it is a choice – ALWAYS.

        Reply
  6. Clara

    I was married to a gay man for 38 years. I knew of his past gay experience before we were married, but we were truly in love and he was a strong Christian that believed marriage was forever. We had a healthy sex life until he had some health issues. We raised three beautiful kids together. We currently have four grandchildren. He was the love of my life, my best friend. A year ago, on Mother’s Day, he confessed to having several affairs the past 6 months with strangers he met online, and he fell in love with a man younger than our grown sons. He even brought strangers into out home for sex when I was gone. My college age daughter and I suddenly found ourselves alone, facing homelessnes due to the financial situation.
    Fortunately, my son and his wife welcomed us into their family.
    My husband’s initial attitude was that all this was okay because he is gay. Somehow that relieved him of guilt for his infidelity. And some people went as far to call him brave for admitting who he was. What’s brave about cheating, leaving your daughter and wife without a home? As the one who was left behind in this mess, I can assure you the pain is deeper than anything I have ever endured. It doesn’t matter if your love lied and cheated on you with a man or woman. Cheating is cheating. He made a covenant between me and God. Being gay does not give him the right to destroy his family. And it hurts when the gay world celebrates his so called bravery, ignoring the pain and suffering he left behind. I no longer see him as a brave man, but a coward who chose selfish lust over his family who loved him. I am slowly healing, trying to get back on my feet. But it’s hard. God bless those who go through divorce with young children. I don’t know how you do it!

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      You are absolutely right. Cheating is cheating, and leaving your spouse (and kids) in a bad financial position is inexcusable, gay or not gay. I’m so sorry. xoxo

      Reply

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