Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My spouse told me earlier this week that he/she wants a divorce. I had a gay affair. I was pushing for us to work past this. We both love each other, but I guess emotional love isn’t enough.
The thing is — I don’t even know where to start. I can’t tell my family. I don’t want to come out. I feel like a failure. No one in my family is divorced.
We have no kids and agreed to split everything 50/50, so this will be painful but not spiteful. Is there a step-by-step guide to this? Where do I live? What do I tell people? How do I navigate?
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But you seem to be more in need of a safe place to sort out your feelings. A good, reputable therapist is an investment in your future. Try PFLAG, too, for coming-out support (http://bit.ly/1or9y4s).
Re: Divorcing: I was the “first” in my family to get divorced, when a seemingly picture-perfect marriage fell apart. I didn’t have the gay affair complication, but I felt all the things you feel. I was pleasantly surprised at the support I got from my (fairly conservative) family. My friends were a bedrock. But I never could have made it through without my amazing therapist.
It’s an overused phrase now, but it does get better. I am happy and healthy today in a way that I didn’t think possible in the awful first moments you find yourself in right now.
Thank you. I’ll defend “it gets better,” though. Heavy use makes it easy to remember, and therefore a lifeline. Remember how it started (www.itgetsbetter.org … and hi, Dan).
Tuesday: Breaking the news.