How To Come Out When You're Married or Partnered

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Coming out when you're gay or LGBT is seldom easy, but itcan be even more difficult when married or partnered. In this helpfularticle, a leading British psychotherapist discusses how best to handleit.

How to come out as gay, bi, or trans, is a question that so many married people find themselves asking.

Somecome out when young, others when they are not so young, while othersmay come out when they have been in a heterosexual relationship for sometime.

If you've been in a heterosexual marriage, or in anunmarried but lengthy relationship, the first conversation needs to bewith your spouse or partner.

This will likely be difficult forboth of you, but clear communication will be important as you plan yourfuture, either apart or together. Be clear, be honest, and berespectful, of your spouse or partner and of yourself.

Perhapsyou thought your spouse or partner suspected your orientation, but oftenthis is not the case. Your spouse or partner may very well feel angry,betrayed, rejected, and confused -- and it's likely that many of theseemotions will be directed toward you.

Be compassionate, butstand your ground. It is also important to reassure them that it is nottheir fault, as some partners might feel they are in some wayresponsible, or believe that they may have 'turned you gay'.

It's possible your spouse or partner will have a lot of questions; it'salso possible that she or he will need time apart to process the manyways this will change life for both of you. It may take severalconversations to work through all the issues that your revelation willcreate, and it may be helpful to schedule a few joint sessions with acounselor or therapist.

Remember that you've taken some time tofigure out who you are; your spouse or partner will need time, too. Manywill choose divorce or permanent separation as the way forward, andthis can be a difficult process for all concerned. The best possibleoutcome is that, though divorced or separated, you remain friends withyour ex-spouse or ex-partner.

For some, this will not bepossible, and a clean break may be best. If this is the case, do yourbest to separate as amicably as possible.

Not all couples chooseto separate or divorce immediately, or at all. They may choose to staytogether in order to better care for their children, for thecompanionship that they already share, or even for sex. Provided couplesare looking for the same things and are clear on the parameters of therevised relationship, divorce is not necessarily mandatory.

Butstaying together isn't easy, and doing it in order to linger in thecloset or to spare you or your spouse embarrassment are unhealthyreasons to remain married or partnered, and unfair to both of you.

This is a time when an outside professional can be extremely helpful indetermining the best, most honest way for both of you to move into thefuture.

If children are involved, your second conversation mightbe with them, depending on their ages and what you as a couple decideis most helpful. Although divorce has become, sadly, commonplace, thisdoesn't mean that it's not difficult for children, so focus on them, onthe ways your family will change, and on the things that will remain thesame, including your love for them.

This is a life-changingannouncement for all of you, and emotions are bound to run high. If youas a couple can present a united front, your children will fare betterin the long run. It may be a conversation that stretches over days,weeks, or months, one that will demand respect for the feelings ofeveryone involved.

It is also important to remember, especiallyfor those who are knowingly struggling with their sexual or genderidentity, that heterosexual marriage will not 'cure' this. Other peopleare not meant to be used in a futile attempt to convert or to hide alifestyle. It is not fair or healthy to use another person in this way.

If you decide to come out when you're married or partnered, be sure todo so in a way that you can look back on without shame or unnecessaryguilt.

It may be a difficult time for you and for all involved,but with a clear head and a healthy dose of compassion and understanding, it can be something that will move everyone forward in the best possible way.

This article originally appeared by Peter James Field for ArticlesFactory.com