Dear Prudie, I’ve been happily married for the past 12 years to my high-school sweetheart, who I am quite certain is gay. We grew up in conservative households in the same small town and married after high school. With age, maturity, and city living, I could write a mile-long list of the reasons I know my husband is closeted. Here’s the twist: Even if I had proof he was gay—and even if that proof were sexual infidelity with men—I’d happily stay married to him. My husband is a real catch, and we really enjoy each other’s company. I have every reason to believe he’s happy, too. Besides, his sporadic overtures in the bedroom are in line with my low libido. We have no children and don’t want any. I am content to be married to my husband for as long as he feels similarly. My sister, the only person in whom I’ve confided, thinks I should “set him free” by broaching the topic. Is it terribly selfish of me to just enjoy my marriage for what it is and hope he never comes to the same realization I have?
—A Happily Obliging Beard
Dear Beard, Everyone with gaydar has met a married couple, thought the husband was gay, and mused at what’s going on. I’ve wondered if the wife suspected anything (or was too naive when they got married to know what to suspect), whether the husband was just out of touch with his own nature, or if they both knew but the arrangement worked for them. Thanks for the insight into one case. Your situation is similar to that of actress Fran Drescher. She, too, married her high-school sweetheart, and after their long marriage ended, he came out. She created a sitcom about all this and said in a recent article about her relationship with her ex, “Now that he’s living a more authentic life, we are once again the best of friends.” Two people who thoroughly enjoy each other’s company have a great starting point for a marriage, but for most people that wouldn’t also be the ending point. Ideally, marriage is a place of physical and emotional connection that is uniquely intimate. We are long past time when homosexuality was “the love that dare not speak its name,” but not daring to speak to your husband about his probable gayness leaves you physically and emotionally vulnerable. Maybe your “sporadic” sexual connection is enough for both of you. (Although it’s possible that if you were with a partner who was more interested sexually, it would spark a renaissance of your libido.) But if he has come to the same conclusion about himself that you have, and is acting on that knowledge, at the very least you need reassurance he is doing everything possible to protect against STDs. You are both still young, and if your marriage requires silence and denial, then you run the risk of being alone in middle age because your husband finally acknowledges his need to live as a gay man. If you decide to broach this, it does not have to be for the purpose of ending your marriage, but because this is the kind of thing two people in a marriage should be able to speak about.