Michael was a breath of fresh hair: clean-cut, funny, and always smiling. We met at a “singles party,” continued our conversation the next weekend at a happy hour, and had coffee afterward.
As we walked to our cars, I gave him a big kiss.
Little did I know that this man would eventually become my husband — and a gay husband at that.
The following day, he arrived at my house to take my six-year-old son and I to lunch. And before we even left the house to go to lunch, my son was calling him “Daddy.” We laughed, and it seemed like an omen at the time.
Our relationship escalated quickly, and within a few months, he put an engagement ring on my finger. We timed our wedding so that we had a year to get to know each other.
I converted to Judaism in order to get married in his conservative Temple. I took the Rabbi’s conversion classes, and he gave me a Hebrew name.
Soon after I converted, I got a phone call from Michael, who sobbed uncontrollably. I didn’t understand exactly what he said, but it sounded like he stopped by to visit a male friend when another male friend, someone he also knew, came to the door in pajamas.
It seemed odd that my husband would feel so upset about that situation if he wasn’t involved with one of them.
It was the first time I thought that maybe my clean-cut fiancé was gay, but Michael vehemently denied it. I planned to break our engagement off and go to Florida for a few days to pull myself together.
Michael’s parents called me a few days into my trip and promised me that their son wasn’t gay, but they said if anything ever happened, they’d always take care of me. That evening, Michael and I talked for several hours until he convinced me that he wasn’t gay.
It didn’t take long for our relationship to return to normal. I continued planning the wedding, registering for gifts, and attending bridal showers. Wedding planning was a constant flurry of excitement.
We married at Michael’s Temple on a gorgeous October day. As I walked down the aisle with 150 guests looking on, Michael mouthed, “You’re beautiful.” I felt like a pretty lucky girl.
Our marriage seemed normal… until it began to unravel. We started talking about adopting a baby and registered with the Jewish Welfare Services, but we had no idea how long we’d have to wait.
A few months later, right after an argument, the phone rang, and it was the agency. They said that they wanted to meet with us about a baby. Before I knew it, I replied, “We’ve changed our mind!” We never brought up the subject again.
After a couple of years, I began to wonder if my husband was gay again.
I don’t know what my first clue was — his “soft,” manicured, impeccable appearance, his gay friends, his interests in fine jewelry and interior decorating, his culinary skills, or the twice-a-year sex, but something was definitely up.
One evening, I discovered a Cat-O-Nine Tails, a multi-tailed whip designed to lacerate the skin and cause intense pain, hidden in our nightstand drawer. At the time, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what it was, but I had an idea.
I asked my husband if he was gay, and he replied, “If you think I’m gay, you’re sick, and you need to see a psychiatrist.”
One night, I heard him on the telephone making plans for someone to pick him up a couple of blocks from our house. The next morning, he gave me a run-down of his imaginary “walk” around our neighborhood.
While having lunch with a friend, I told her about the issues with Michael. She told me, “If you can’t trust someone, you have nothing.”
I filed for divorce, and after the papers were served, I called his mother and told her why. She cried. His parents never kept their promise to take care of me, and that was the last time we spoke.
Then a girlfriend called. She was the wife of Michael’s high school best friend. She said that Michael called her husband that day to tell him that he planned to commit suicide because his lover jilted him. She told me that she’d get me away from him as soon as possible.
Within a couple days, I’d arranged for a mover and found an apartment. On moving day, Michael let me take whatever I wanted but then followed my car to see where we were moving.
Once we were settled in the apartment, I asked my son if he knew anyone who was gay. His response was, “Dad?” I had no idea that he knew.
As I was leaving my office for a dissolution hearing, Michael delivered me a dozen roses. I was angry with him, though, because I felt he wasted 7 years of my life. He couldn’t use my son and I to pretend to be a straight family man anymore.
As the years passed, though, my hurt and anger dissolved.
It didn’t matter to me if Michael knew where I was living or not. I had no contact with him until my (current) husband and I went to a mini class reunion.
Michael nervously stopped by our table, but I was happy to see him. We spoke as though no time had passed. Our conversation was cathartic. He told me that he’s openly gay now.
It’s been a long time since I discovered that my husband was gay, but time has helped me heal. I’m happy that my ex-husband can finally be himself.
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