CONVERSATION: Lack of Visible Grief Hurt My Former Wife


This could be an extremely long conversation post. Pages and pages long, so I will make it as short as possible.

I am a gay man who married a straight woman. 

At 15, I came out to my parents and youth pastor. I was encouraged to keep my exploratory thoughts to myself and was told my attraction would naturally work itself out. So I married a girl I grew up with and prayed they were right.

After 6 years of marriage and one child my wife discovered my secret. I thought she would lose her mind, but she didn't. To my surprise she was supportive, understanding, and said she had suspected it since we were kids. I offered to stay married so she would have financial support, but she wasn't interested. I did not blame her. We agreed to file for divorce so that she could find a husband who could give her what she really needed. She was adamant about not telling anyone about my sexuality until I was ready and we thought our child could handle it. 

Our parents asked us to stay married and accept that we were in a multi-orientation marriage. They sent us statistics attempting to scare us; things like, I would end up with HIV or that our son would become a drug addict in high school if he didn't have two biological parents in the same home. Honestly, I could not respect any of their advice, because it was their advice that lead me here 20 years ago. So, my ex-wife and I lived in the same house for about a year before I moved out. I quit attending church, because I wasn't sure where I was at spiritually. I knew I still believed in God, but I really did not know what else I believed. I was processing a lot of guilt, realize that if I hadn't married Taylor*, she wouldn't have to go through everything she has. If I wouldn't have listened to my parents and former youth pastor, my child would have not had to go through it either.

Things were getting along fine, and our son seemed to be adjusting well to his new routines. I was overjoyed for my ex-wife as she was able to move on and find a guy who loved both her and my son. After 6 months of dating, he proposed.

This is when the story starts to take some sad turns...

Some women at our previous church started gossiping that Taylor must have been unfaithful to me to have already moved on so quickly (we had been legally divorced for a year now).  She had found this out through a Facebook group message the other women had going on, not realize she was in it. This was destructive for her life, she she worked full-time at the church. She asked for a meeting with the head pastor, to which he stated, "You cannot blame them for making assumptions. You have never acted as though your divorce negatively affected you." 

Up until that point, Taylor had been strong. But, these were not just messages of women wondering what happened or considering sitting down with her to figure it out. These were women tearing her to shreds, women she worked with everyday, grew up with, took means to after they gave birth, babysat for, helped paint their houses. Now, they were accusing her of being unfaithful, a liar, going to Hell, and more. One said that she was the reason I was "driven out of church" - the farthest thing from the truth.

I begged her to tell them the truth and I offered to tell them myself. But, she wouldn't have it. It would add fuel to the fire, she said. We didn't want this to be the way our son found out. I had already made one decision for her, and that was letting her marry a man living a lie, and I did not feel I had the right to take another decision away by coming out before she was ready. 

I understand that this is not completely our past church family's fault. I should have never married a woman and it was our choice to keep why we divorced private. I guess that I just thought people were better than this. I really did not think for a minute that she would be treated badly by people she worshiped beside throughout her lifetime. I often wonder what happened in those women's lives to make them think such dark things about others, especially someone as genuine and kind as my former wife.

LM ACTION: I will admit that I have had some anxiety about making this conversation live on the blog. My anxiety stems from the fact that I truly never want this page to be a place where people receive condemnation based on decisions they have made. While I know that homosexuality is very heavily debated in the church, I hope that you can look past it and instead put yourself in the shoes of not only the author, but his former wife. 

What happened to her was largely no fault of her own, yet the blame was placed on her anyways because she didn't seem to grieve the loss of her marriage. 

Grieving can be deceiving. Someone's grief may take them to a place where they need everything in their life to stay as normal as it was before. Sometimes they may need space for weeks or months just to process what happened. Other times, they may live in a cycle of relief and pain. 

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." 1 Peter 3:8

Have you been treated unfairly due to either grieving too much or not enough? I'm not sure that there is a right or wrong way to act when grieving. But, I do think that it is fair not to judge someones level of grief based on the outward emotions you see. What do you think? 

-- Cayla

Read LM's last conversation post here!

*name changed for anonymity

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