ASK KRISTEN: “My husband is in an active gay lifestyle”

by Kristen Howerton




Dear Kristen,

My husband is living an active gay lifestyle. I  would love help to navigate this part of my life. I want to do whatever we can to both be happy and I don”t want to leave him. Is there a solution for this?


Dear Cindy,

I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation. You haven’t given me a lot of details here so I may have to bridge some gaps . . . but when you say “active gay lifestyle” I’m going to assume that you mean that your husband ‘s sexual orientation is towards the same sex, and that he’s actively having sex with other partners.  You mentioned that you don’t want to leave him, and asked for a solution. I’m afraid I don’t have one. But I do have some questions that I’m hoping you can ponder in an effort to find the right path for your life:


Are you okay being married to a gay man?

You have used the word “lifestyle” to describe his sexual orientation, which makes me think you may view his sexual orientation as a choice. However, research indicates that efforts to change one’s sexual orientation are rarely effective. It may be a hard truth for you to face, but it’s likely that your husband is gay and will always be gay. It’s likely that the love you are seeking from a partner, and maybe even the love you feel for him, will not be reciprocated by this man. He may very well love you, but it’s likely in an agape way as opposed to an eros way. Is romantic love, intimacy, and connection important to you? You talk about wanting to be happy . . . is a reciprocal love relationship a part of this happy picture? Do you think you will be fulfilled in a marriage based on friendship rather than love?

Are you okay being married to someone who is unfaithful?

Your husband’s sexual orientation notwithstanding, it’s concerning that he is having sex outside the marriage. Is this acceptable to you? Are you comfortable with having an open marriage? There are risks involved in this behavior: risks that you will be hurt, that you will grow jealous, that he’ll fall in love with someone else . . . are you up for these challenges? Are you willing to be married to a man who is meeting his sexual needs with other people?

If the answer to both questions is above is yes, then I’ve got to follow up with a more important question:

What is going on for you that you would be willing to stay in a marriage where your husband is a) not oriented for intimacy with you, and b) unfaithful?

You are sacrificing a lot by staying in this marriage. Why would you be willing to do this? I’m guessing you love him a lot, and that is a compelling reason. But is it possible for you to remain in a loving relationship while dissolving the marital farce? Is an intimate friendship a possibility? What else could be keeping you in such a marriage? I have to wonder if, under the surface, there are some fears, insecurities, or other underlying intimacy issues that are compelling you to stay. I strongly encourage you to explore those issues with a therapist.

Do I think it’s possible for you to stay in a marriage like this and both be happy? Sure. Do I think it’s likely? No. To be honest, the prognosis for long-term fulfillment for both of you in this marriage is very low. Statistically, mixed-orientation marriages . It may be smarter to avoid more heartache and end it now, rather than waiting for the inevitable crisis down the road, when one of you realizes that you need more out of a relationship than a friendship masquerading as a marriage.

30 Responses to “ASK KRISTEN: “My husband is in an active gay lifestyle””

  1. Heather T June 27, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Excellent advice. I’d like to add something I’m reading into her question: you may be feeling like leaving him is somehow saying you do not support him being gay or that you are bigoted towards that lifestyle. That simply isn’t true. It sounds like he has emotional and physical needs that are being met outside the marriage. That is a valid reason for divorcing. It doesn’t mean you are rejecting his being gay. It means you are giving him and yourself the chance to find the right relationship, one that is committed, faithful and fulfilling.

  2. Chris Malkemes June 27, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    I applaud you for addressing a very sensitive issue. You had choices: ignore it, address it personally or address it on the net. You chose to bring it out into the open. I applaud you for that because, as Christians, we need to address things in honesty and truth. Until we do that we will not be able to love with an everlasting love. Ignoring it would have given the wrong message. Handling it on a personal level would have sent the message this is embarrassing. But lay it out there said, “Let’s help each other out together as a community. Cliche I know, but the truth nonetheless.

  3. Allison June 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    What if her vow to God and to this man is keeping her in it? Is that not reason enough?

    • Lisa June 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Allison, biblically,if she is a Christian, if a spouse is unfaithful, that is an acceptable reason to leave a marriage.

      • Allison June 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

        I understand, and I agree. I am just saying a vow is an acceptable reason to stay.

        • Wanda July 2, 2013 at 12:47 am #

          Allison, I don’t think he entered the marriage authentically. For her to keep this “vow” is destructive to her being.

          • "Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

            He had just been to several Exodus International retreats and had been seeing counselors/therapists. He worked through sex addictions with them and felt 100% that he was over his ssa. He says he wouldn’t have married me and put me through all this if he had had any idea that he was only pushing his ssa deeper down in..

    • Mya June 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      I love how faithful God is always to us regardless of how unfaithful we are/were/probably will be in the future to Him. I completely believe that this is a Biblically acceptable reason to leave a spouse, I think there may be some underlying issues as well, however Allison, you made a beautiful point! If anyone has read Sacred Marriage, they have read about a story in which a husband was unfaithful to his wife, broke her heart, cheated on her, left her, got engaged with the other woman, and then married her. This wife was committed to him until the day he remarried someone else. She asked for prayer in church, she surrounded herself with Christian family, God, and deepened her relationship with God in the meantime. She walked away believing she did the right thing even though he never came back. My mom’s story is very similar as well, so I am very familiar with this type of story. If this woman stays faithful despite her husband’s unfaithfulness, it’s reason enough. People may view her as crazy, and she has every reason to leave, however if this is her reason to stay, that’s amazing in itself.

  4. erin margolin June 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm #


    Well written, powerful thoughts & advice. Especially having lived this myself. Well, I was the daughter of the gay dad…who couldn’t take it anymore and finally came out when I was 15. I’m glad you said it’s not LIKELY they could continue to be happy together…and gosh, I hope they’re both using protection. I don’t think they’re being up front and totally honest with one another, and I don’t think it’s fair to his wife.

    That being said, this is ONLY my opinion and I wouldn’t have wanted my parents to try and stay together…I’m all for transparency, honesty, and integrity, even if it comes w/ a price.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Kristen Howerton June 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      Erin, thanks for weighing in! You’ve got a great perspective on this.

    • "Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      Erin, I keep wondering about the kids….research shows that they’re more upset about the idea of parents splitting than they are about Daddy loving someone else….not sure what to do here….

      I originally reacted to him in a very positive way, but am now wondering if I acted out of shock. :)

    • Ellen August 10, 2013 at 12:06 am #

      Erin, The reason I am staying married to my gay husband is so that my 20 year old daughter doesn’t hurt and have to suffer the embarrassment of her friends knowing that her parents had been married 27 years and her dad was gay. Am I making too much of how it will effect her (she’s a Christian too)? I’d be interested to hear how it effected you and what your relationship with your dad is like now. thanks, Ellen

  5. sherry June 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I lived with my (heterosexual) husband for 30 years. We had a marriage you describe above, except that my husband was a serial cheater (with women). I loved him, and remained committed to the marriage because I believed in the vows we took. We are now divorcing and it is breaking my heart. But I know it’s the best thing for both of us. He loves me agape, not eros. I want eros AND agape. Good advice. It’s helped me, too

  6. deb June 27, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Very well written. Thanks for sharing this. Many people are in relationships where a spouse is unfaithful (once or multiple times, presently or in the past). There IS help for spouses (male or female) to walk through this process. I know because I’ve been there. A good therapist helped me maneuver through not only the immediate situation but the lifetime of influences and experiences that got me to that place. In my life I purposely chose a female, Christian counsellor familiar with sex addiction and family counseling. I also joined am S-Anon group for friends/family members of those with sex addiction. These two together taught me so much about living my life in reality, accepting the truth about myself and my husband as well. Though the hardest time in my life, the years I spent working through our situation was the richest time of growth for me and I am a much happier, authentic person as a result. Also so powerful was attending a weekend workshop by Bethesda Workshops designed specifically for spouses of sex/love addicts. Talk about getting to the meat of it all! My husband and I have done countless hours of counseling separately and together (often painful and almost overwhelming), and our lives separately and as a couple have been revolutionized. I praise God for His grace and mercy in my life. I share this to give hope to those in similar situations. Not everyone’s story ends as ours has, but the Lord can heal the wounds.

    Thanks for bringing this topic to the forefront today.

    • "Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story Deb.

  7. Lynn Duncan June 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    This caught my eye, because 12 years ago, I was this woman. Having been married 17 years, to what I thought was the love of my life. I tried everything in my power to salvage my marriage but it was the most miserable lonely time, in my whole life. It took me four years to get past the pain and start living again. Now, I am remarried to a man that is truly the love of my life and God restored everything I feared loosing. God wants us to be happy and I pray this woman finds that happiness again.

    • "Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      Lynn, thank you for chiming in. Four years sounds incredibly long, as it’s only been 2 months. Today I just simply existed. One day I will actually live again. Whether it will be with or without my husband, I don’t know. I wish it could be with him.

    • Ellen August 10, 2013 at 12:16 am #

      Lynn, I am in your old situation and this my husband is gay. I am in a marriage where my husband is addicted to gay porn. That is all that I know for sure. If he has acted on it then I don’t know for a fact. But when confronted he wants to stay in the marriage. How do you know when to leave? How did you end your marriage? What if the spouse doesn’t want to (for various reasons namely that it is “safe” in our marriage). As a Christian I don’t feel led to leave him but the disgust I have when I see the gay porn is so great that it certainly puts a wall between us. I don’t have a peace staying or leaving. Any advice?

  8. Jasmine June 28, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    I thought Kristen made some good points.

  9. Molly June 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    What about the stories of men and women who have come out of the “lifestyle” (and I do believe it is a lifestyle) and into successful marriages? Having walked this path with my husband, I know full we’ll that God is a God of redemption. I have a hard time with the way you answered this question, having not been through something like it. I have. My husband was a sex addict when we entered into the covenant of marriage. He acted out with other men. It was heartbreaking and debating and then majestic to see how the Lord grabbed him, bathed him in grace and mercy. The road was HARD but so so good. We were counseled by recovering addict who struggled like my husband did and overcame it, and by Gods grace, had a wife and family. He was a part of a fantastic group of men and women who struggle with same sex attraction who loved The Lord and were committed to the struggle and the fight. We are ALL called to fight a battle (and through my experience, I DO believe it is a battle), and this is his. You can question me and ask how am I sure he’s not giving in and acting out. Well, how do you know your husband isn’t looking at porn or cheating on you? Because you love and trust him. Just like I do mine. So I see your statistics and I raise them. Until you walk someone’s journey, be careful what advice you give them. Cindy, feel free to contact me if I can be of help to you!

    -wife of a recovering same sex addict

    • Kristen Howerton June 29, 2013 at 2:16 am #

      Molly, We may disagree on this one, but I’m not of the opinion that every gay person is a sex addict, or that it’s a lifestyle choice. I’m glad to hear your marriage is doing well and that your husband found help for his sex addiction.

      • Molly June 29, 2013 at 6:17 am #

        My point is that not every relationship that walks where Cindy is has to be hopeless. There are more questions to be asked besides do you want to be married to a gay man who doesn’t love you and never will. I realize that not all situations are the same, but there are a lot of stories of redemption. I’m sorry my response was sharp tongued, this is something I tend to be passionate about because of my experience and people we have and are walking with.

    • "Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      Thanks for your perspective Molly. He’s already done the redemption thing, and frankly, I believe that he is of homosexual orientation, and is not and has not been and never will be straight. I’m so glad that your story has the thread of redemption running through it, but not every story is the same. I am glad yours worked out though. :)

  10. Andy Mitchell June 29, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    First, I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. What a difficult thing you are experiencing.

    This comment is not intended to provide any excuse for the husband, but to question the binary gay/straight frame applied by the original post and the subsequent comments. Perhaps the husband is bisexual and capable of eros love with both men and women.

    • "Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      Yes, I believe he is bi. I have never experienced love, eros or agape for anyone other than him, so I really have a hard time seeing things from his point of view.

  11. "Cindy" July 1, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    Hi friends, thanks for the kind and encouraging words. Kristin, thank you so much for posting this. I couldn’t believe it when it came through my facebook feed.

    You ask great questions, and you are right, I didn’t give you much detail. I know now more than I did when I wrote to you….my DH WAS acting out with guys, but then met one in particular who he got emotionally attached to. They had been seeing each other for 2 months when my DH told me what was going on. They are still seeing each other and we are talking about MOM’s. I had never even heard that term before, and this was all a big suprise to me.

    As for your 1st question, being a “gay” guy, he has lots of great qualities. He bakes, shops, cleans, cooks, does laundry, picks out clothes for me, etc. ;) That’s fantastic! :) We are best friends, and have gotten closer to each other as far as communication since he first came out to me. He is bi, capable of loving both me and BF. I feel both agape and eros love from him.

    I deeply struggle with someone who was, is and will be unfaithful. That hurts like hell. I’ve been reading about polyamory, and it really has some great qualities to it, I just don’t know if I can love like that. I would much prefer to be the only one he loves, but who am I to say who he can love and who he can’t? Love is a beautiful thing. I love him and can’t imagine loving anybody else, now or ever (as long as he’s still living). I don’t want to loose our friendship/relationship just because he loves someone else. I am willing to check into all our options, but the pain that I’m dealing with in the meantime is so deep.

    Of course, there are insecurities, plus our 3 children. And my love for him.What do I do about my love for him? I’ve told him that if I didn’t love him so damn much, this wouldn’t be nearly as hard. :)

    • Wanda July 2, 2013 at 1:02 am #

      Holy cow Cindy!! Kristen gave excellent questions for your consideration. I would add, having lived the straight wife to closeted gay man, if there is such a thing as bisexuality, and I’m uncertain there is….shouldn’t one be able to be happy with the choice that one makes when choosing a life partner? Having their cake and eating it too is an unacceptable life when you are the only one faithful to the marriage. Our own insecurities allow us to rationalize away many of the neglectful and deceitful behaviors. I wish you peace.

  12. Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    I should clarify that my statements about the wonderful qualities in my gay husband were not in any way meant to be derogatory to any others who also do these things well, and who are not gay/bi. I was just trying to make a little humor. Reading it back this morning, I see it might have been in bad taste. I was so tired and emotionally spent. Anyway, hopefully no hard feelings there.

    • "Cindy" July 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

      Thank you Wanda. I’m sorry to hear of your experience. Yes, I am in the throws of trying to see my insecurities for what they are, what my love for him really looks like and not be totally selfish in the process. Right now, I can’t figure a way out, and honestly, I don’t know how to live without him. I think I might still be in the denial stage, hoping that this will just fix itself soon…

  13. Pinky December 1, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    I knew that my husband was gay before we got married… I loved him then and I still love him… I told him recently that I am okay with him being gay but with restrictions… He can’t sleep around, no making out with men.. Chat only … I just found out that he went behind my back n started kissing n making out with some guy at his workplace… When I confronted him , his answer – ” before marriage, I told u that I would do my stuff, it’s not my fault that u fell in love with me”… I agree… What do I of now? This is our second marriage n the stigma in our neighborhood church can’t be expressed in words.., I seriously thought we could make this work.., but everyday it fighting.., he verbally abuses me.,, not sure what to do …

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