The best part of this blogging experience is that I get to meet and connect with so many fantastic people. From ex-wives and second wives, to ex and second husbands, these people have something to say and being able to do just that in front of a captive audience is so freeing, empowering and courageous. I have a tremendous amount of respect for these individuals.
I recently had the opportunity to connect with a blogger named Carol Shwanda who told a very compelling story about her gay ex-husband. She candidly revealed the moment her husband told her that he was gay.
So I asked him, “Jared, are you gay?” As if the words were coming from the bowels of his being, for the first time in his life he admitted to someone, me, his wife, that he was gay,” she said.
The fact that she found out her husband was gay wasn’t the most spine tingling for me. It was what she did afterwards that was amazing. She basically held his hand while he went through therapy to confront his issues that he had with being gay. Her ex-husband had planned to kill himself that night and was withering away, due to not eating. She helped nurse his mind and body back to good health; staying true to the vows, for better or worse. Not to mention that after they divorced and her ex-husband remarried, to a gay man of course, she accepted his new lover into their family with open arms. And now she even advocates for gay marriage and the acceptance of homosexuality.
“We as compassionate and reasonable people have to dispel this notion that it is wrong to be gay, that homosexuality is a disease that has to be cured or prevented. It is not. Nor is it a choice. It just is. Accept it,” she said.
Although I was deeply moved by her very apparent act of love and compassion for her ex-husband, I had to wonder whether or not she would have had the same reaction if it was another woman on the end, instead of her ex-husband’s gay lover. I wanted to know if she would have still welcomed a second wife with open arms; not holding her ex-husband’s mistakes against her. So I asked and she opened up in an interview about just that. See it below.
Kela: Would you have had a different reaction if you found out that it was another woman? Your ex-husband didn’t cross the line, but was still torn between his family and her, due to the unexpected development of feelings.
Carol: Yes, I would have. I think in addition to feeling angry, jealous and hurt, I would have also felt inadequate. I would have questioned my ability to make my husband happy just as I did later, post divorce, when I was dating men and the relationships came to a jolting, unexpected halt.
Kela: Was it easier to accept your ex-husband’s new lover because he is of the opposite gender and therefore not a threat?
Carol: Yes and no. I remember the first time I met him and thinking, “You left me for him??” It was unsettling, but somehow I got past it.
Kela: Would you have welcomed a second wife just the same?
Carol: Hard to say, but probably not. The circumstances for the divorce would have been different so I think there definitely would have been some residual bitterness and resentment there.
Kela: How do your girls view their father’s relationship?
Carol: They love their dad the same and they have come to like his partner in the same way they have come to like my new husband. They are very aware, though, that society does not always accept gay people and junior high kids can be particularly cruel, so they are very careful about to whom they confide in about their dad being gay.
Kela: How does your husband feel about it?
Carol: My husband is great. He is not at all threatened by my ex. In fact, they are quite cordial toward one another. My ex comes over every morning to take my girls to school and he often sits at the breakfast table with my husband, chatting and reading the paper.
Kela: Do you have as many problems on that side of your blended family as a more traditional blended family (ex wife vs. second wife)?
Carol: I do have some issues with my ex-husband’s partner in that his partner was (still is) very jealous and threatened by me. He was in a previous relationship with a man who wanted a family who left him for a woman. He is concerned about my ex doing the same thing to him. He also does not have children so he can be selfish and demanding when it comes to the kids’ needs interfering with his. He’s also from a culture where children are seen and not heard.
Kela: Do you get along with your current husband’s ex-wife?
Carol: Yes. Our relationship has evolved over the years from distant, to civil, to amicable and now quite friendly. She and my husband communicate mostly through email, rarely by phone and almost never in person. They are civil toward one another for the sake of the kids. I have been their buffer. Time has softened the resentment they feel toward each other and now that the kids are much better adjusted from their divorce, everything is much easier.
Kela: Would you like to offer any other information that might be helpful to our readers (I’m sure there are others going through similar situations even if they aren’t as open as you are about it)?
Carol: First, don’t blame yourself. Even if you feel like you should have known, don’t kick yourself. Ending a marriage because your spouse comes out of the closet is one instance where you cannot be held at fault. Take whatever comfort you can in that. Secondly, understand that homosexuality is not a disease that needs to be prevented or cured. It will help you let go of something you could not have controlled or changed. Thirdly, unless you feel unsafe due to the bigoted attitudes of those around you, tell people the reason for your split. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed and don’t cover up. And finally, even in your darkest moments know that it will get better. You will recover. The pain will subside, you’ll move on and you will find happiness again. I sure did. And my new husband is so not gay.