My Spouse Came Out of the Closet – Now What?

If you’re reading this blog, you may have found yourself in a situation you never expected. You married someone you thought you knew, only to have them reveal a truth about themselves that shakes the very foundation of your relationship. Whether your spouse has come out as gay, bisexual, or transitioning genders, you might be feeling uneasy and uncertain about the future.

Spouse came out

First, let’s address the shock. It’s normal to feel blindsided, especially if you never suspected that your spouse identified any differently from the person you thought you married. Maybe there were subtle signs you ignored, but now it feels like everything you knew has been turned upside down. It’s important to allow yourself time to process these emotions. While you’ll likely be in a state of shock when you have the ‘coming out’ conversation with your spouse, try to remain empathetic. Remember, your spouse is likely navigating their own difficult journey of self-discovery. If they’ve recently opened up to you, odds are they have been struggling with it for a while.

Before jumping to conclusions, try to get a clear understanding of where your spouse is coming from. Are they questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity, or both? What is troubling them now and what would need to change for them to be happy? Do they want to separate, or are they thinking about working it out?

Communicate to your spouse that you understand, and you need some time to process everything. Now that you’ve gotten more information, it’s time to ask yourself some questions: What are your concerns about your spouse’s truth? How will their concerns and wishes affect you and the marriage? If they’re thinking about working through it and staying married, is that something you be able to do, or at least try?

If your spouse is coming out, the feelings of betrayal or confusion can be overwhelming. You may question your own judgment and wonder if there was something you could have done differently. These emotions are valid but there more than likely is nothing you could have done. Dwelling on these thought distortions won’t change the reality of the situation. Instead of thinking about ways to blame yourself or your spouse, try to focus on helping to find a way forward with respect and understanding.

When your spouse decides to transition, it can bring about a whole new set of challenges. This may lead you to reflect deeply on what you want for yourself and your future together. You may realize that living authentically means making tough decisions about the future of your relationship. It’s important that you talk with your spouse about exactly where they are in their transition, what would make them happy, and how their new identity will affect the marriage.

Financial concerns often arise in this type of situation. If your spouse has been having sexual relationships outside the marriage that involved renting a separate apartment or spending substantial sums on travel, hotels and gifts for their other partner, you may want them to fully disclose the sums they spent and to compensate you for what was spent without your consent. If you were initially supportive of your spouse’s desire to transition but have since decided that you no longer wish to be married to this new gender, you may want to be reimbursed for medical expenses and hormone therapy treatments that were paid for with marital funds, even if that was done with your knowledge and consent.

Financial issues such as these can add another layer of complexity to the already difficult situation. It’s important to approach these discussions with fairness and transparency and seek a resolution that respects both parties’ contributions.

Privacy is paramount throughout this process. While it may be tempting to share your struggles with others, remember that this is a profoundly private situation for both you and your spouse. As angry and hurt as you may feel, it’s important to come to an agreement with your spouse about what friends, family and colleagues will be told about the divorce. The goal is to find a balance between your need to obtain support from trusted friends, family, and professionals and the need to respect your spouse’s privacy.

If you’ve made the decision to divorce your spouse, consider non-adversarial divorce options, such as Collaborative Divorce or Mediation. These approaches prioritize open communication and mutual respect, allowing you to find common ground even in challenging circumstances. In addition, these alternatives allow you to resolve issues outside of court, which prevents your private business from being made public.

Lastly, know that divorce isn’t the only option. Some couples choose to explore postnuptial agreements as a way to redefine their relationship in light of new circumstances. This can provide clarity and structure as you navigate the uncertainties of your future together. After all, despite the challenges you will have to work through to move forward, you may still have feelings of love, care, and companionship for your spouse.

RELATED: How to Get a Postnuptial Agreement in New York

Navigating the complexities of a marriage in which one spouse is exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing. Whether you’re beginning to suspect or have recently discovered that your spouse is gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, or questioning, it’s essential to approach this delicate situation with care and consideration.

At Vacca Family Law Group, we understand the uncertainty, confusion, fear, and hurt that may accompany the realization that your spouse’s sexual orientation or gender identity differs from what you initially believed. Our team of compassionate attorneys and mediators is here to support you through every step of this journey.

For more information about Collaborative Divorce, Mediation, Pre-Divorce Guidance, or Postnuptial Agreements, call us at (646) 798-4603 or contact us online to schedule your free introductory call.

Vacca Family Law Group is located at One Grand Central Place, 60 E. 42nd St., Suite 700, New York, NY 10165.