Divorcing Because Your Spouse is Gay



Jessica: We know as well as anyone that getting divorced and going through it propels you into crisis mode. It’s a huge undertaking, and it’s not easy dealing with such a personal crisis, which often includes a deep sense of betrayal, and then trying to get through that along with everything else. We’re here to help you. Our guest today knows all about it. She says, “It’s your damn life, and don’t let any one person or situation determine the outcome.” We’re the exEXPERTS, Jessica and T.H. We help you navigate your divorce and successfully move on with your life. Let’s bring in today’s guest.

T.H.: Hey, guys, it’s T.H. with exEXPERTS. I am so excited that this new guest, Jessica Frew, and I stumbled over one another. She is a certified coach and podcast host of Husband in Law. Literally, I’m just going to hand the mic over to her now to explain what that means because I can’t do her justice for what she’s been through, and what she’s done with what she’s been through. Are you guys all ready? Welcome, Jessica, to our show.

Jessica: Thank you for being here.

Jessica Frew: Hey. Oh, thanks for having me. I’m so excited to chat with you guys.

Jessica: Like T.H. said, let’s start. People are going to be like, what is a betrayal coach?

T.H.: Right.

Jessica Frew: So I work with women—I work with men too—but mostly women who have experienced some form of betrayal in their relationship, whether that is self betrayal or infidelity of some form. That’s usually what we think of when we think of betrayal in our relationships. Or in my experience, I had infidelity, but also my ex-husband came out to me as gay. In that, people cringe when I say that—

T.H.: Wait, you can’t rush through that.

Jessica: Yeah, I feel like take a pause for a second. Let that sink in.

T.H.: Let’s just talk about it for a second.

Jessica: I feel people have heard stories like that, but it’s always like the urban myth kind of thing. You were married, and then your husband came out to you as gay.

Jessica Frew: Yes, that is correct.

Jessica: And you never suspected it?

Jessica Frew: No. I mean, so I assumed about six months into our marriage that he was probably gay, but only because I found a bunch of gay porn on our computer. Like, a bunch of porn, there were no women in there at all. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m pretty sure my husband is gay.” With that, I mean, yes, I know there are some straight men that look at gay porn, whatever. That’s their prerogative. But I knew in my gut, like I knew—I’m like, I am pretty sure for me, this means my husband is gay. At that point, he couldn’t say those words. He wasn’t ready to accept that.

T.H.: Did you confront him about finding that? Did you say anything to him?

Jessica Frew: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah, he came home from work that day, and he could tell I was not okay. He knew. Like, he’s like… he knew. He was like, “Alright, let’s have a conversation about this.” I’m like, “I knew you looked at porn, but this is something different. This isn’t what I was expecting.” I didn’t intend to find it. It just popped up on the computer. He was like, “I’m not gay. I’m not gay. I just felt it was better to not disrespect women.” This is him in extreme denial. “Yeah, I felt it was better not to disrespect women.” We were raised in a super conservative Christian religion. We’re LDS, Mormon, whatever you’ve heard, and so he was just like, “I just felt it was better to just look at men.” This is his story he’s told himself in denial. At that point, I was like, “Okay, sure…”

T.H.: Wait, so you believed that?

Jessica Frew: No—

T.H.: Or you wanted to believe it?

Jessica Frew: I didn’t believe that. I kind of tucked it away in my brain as like, “I’m pretty sure my husband is gay. But I’m really happy, and he’s happy, and we’re going to continue forward.”

Jessica: Can I ask how old you guys were?

Jessica Frew: We were young. I think I was 20, 21 at this point, and he was couple years older than me, so 23.

Jessica: Right, so, very young, also goes to not really being able to be secure with himself, again, being Mormon. Then at the time, you felt like your sex life was okay?

T.H.: Yeah, I was going to ask. Were you still having sex?

Jessica Frew: We had a great sex life. This is the other thing that people are always like, what? I mean, like, sure, I’m sure he was inhibited in ways in our sex life. But you know how you BS with your girlfriends about your sex life, whatever? We were having sex way more than anybody else. Not that that’s an indicator of whether you have a good sex life or not, but we really connected emotionally. I think that’s what allowed us to have such a great sex life for such a long time. As soon as he had an affair, he was no longer attracted to me at all. It completely shut down our sex life.

T.H.: Wait, we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet.

Jessica Frew: Yes. But just to let you know that that is what happened in the end. That shifted.

T.H.: Okay, so do you think he intentionally didn’t hide the porn well enough to kind of be found?

Jessica Frew: I have no idea—

T.H.: Because you know sometimes people do things. They’re like, whatever. Then, I mean, how does it just pop up?

Jessica: No, but here’s how you figure it out, though. How much longer were you married before he had the affair?

Jessica Frew: Another six and a half years. This is six months into our relationship that the gay porn pops up. I have no idea. At that point, computers were different. The internet was different. You had pop ups that popped up. If you had been looking at something, you would get pop ups. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, or if he just didn’t think that the pop ups would pop up. Who knows? But he told me, he’s like, “I could not even tell myself at that point that I was gay.” He’s like, “That was the first time I let myself even think those words ‘I am gay’.” He couldn’t vocalize them to me. For three weeks, he went into a spiral and could hardly talk to me and was barely making it through the workday.

Jessica: This was later when he had the affair you’re talking about?

Jessica Frew: No, this is just at the moment when I asked him about the porn and asked him if he was gay. I was like, okay, and we went through this process. I knew Steve really well considering we were young and all these things that he didn’t really know about himself. But I was good at giving him time to be able to talk about things and to come back. And so I’m sure we revisited the conversation after a few weeks, but he came out of it and we continued forward. It wasn’t until two years later when he was in counseling that he’s talking to his counselor about some other things. The counselor’s like, “Okay, yeah, these are all issues. But the real issue is you’re gay. In telling you, embrace this about yourself and accept this about yourself. You’re never going to be able to heal and move forward with these other things. You have to embrace this about yourself and love yourself, and then you can move forward.” At that point, he was able to tell me, “Yes, I am gay. I am happy in our relationship. I don’t want things to change.” But of course, I have a voice in this too. Yeah, and I was like, “Let’s keep going. We’re having fun. We enjoy each other. Nothing’s really missing.” I felt a lot of women who go through this experience say the same thing, and men, of that when the partner comes out, they feel so much closer to this individual because they actually know them now. Like, “Oh my gosh, so many things make sense,” and also, “I’m so honored that you trusted me enough to tell me and confide in me.” So we continued forward.

Jessica: Then did you have children with him?

Jessica Frew: Yes, we had a daughter five years into our relationship, after some infertility struggles and all of that. Then two years after that is when he ended up having the affair. Our daughter was almost two years old when he had the affair with a man. Then things just fell apart from there. We tried to make it work still, but I was like, “Dude, you’re not in this. It’s okay. You need to go be who you are. It’s time.”

Jessica: I think a question that I have, that I think other people may have, is that he admitted to you that he was gay, and you guys both wanted to move forward with it. Was there any talk about you can pursue that on your own? He was going to be gay and never experience that or experiment with that, but stay with you in a heterosexual relationship? That was sort of the goal?

Jessica Frew: Yes. Now, I really wanted and supported him in coming out to people in our life. I wanted him to acknowledge this side of him and embrace it and all those things that I didn’t know what that would look like. I really was like, I have no clue what this will lead to, but I also knew it didn’t matter. He needed to be himself as much as he could within the realms of our relationship. We at that point, at some point along the lines, probably after the affair, talked about, well, what if we opened up our marriage? What if we did all these things? I was just like, what’s the point? We can still be friends and do all these things. You’re not attracted to me anymore. It wasn’t within my comfort zone, and honestly, not Steve’s at the time either. And so we were like, “Let’s just end this and figure out a way forward.”

Jessica: How did you find out about the affair? T.H. and I were both in marriages where our husbands had affairs, and so whether or not your spouse is gay or straight, this kind of infidelity happens all the time. It’s devastating regardless. You’re saying that you did not have an open marriage, and so this affair probably, emotionally for you, was probably somewhat similar to the way it was for us. How did you find out about it?

T.H.: Well, but also, yes, it’s devastating. But on top of that, she’d already been through so much. She already knew he was gay. Then they were staying together, and then they’re having kids together, and they’re living a life that’s not realistic.

Jessica: Yes. But that’s also why I feel the emotions with the affair was probably more similar to what you and I went through, as opposed to if you had no idea that he was gay. If he still had not admitted he was gay, and then you found out in one fell swoop that he’d had an affair and it was with a man, it’s like, that’s a lot at one time.

T.H.: I don’t know.

Jessica: But how did you find out?

Jessica Frew: So I had been out of town. I came home for a family reunion. My daughter and I had left. I came home and I remember Steve picking us up at the airport. I don’t remember details very often of a lot of things, but I remember this moment clear as day. We get out of the gates and Penny runs over to him. She’s like, itty bitty, tiny, and I am watching this and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” I still get chills thinking about this. Something is wrong. Something has drastically shifted here. I just remember feeling sick. Just in that moment of seeing him, I knew something was off. We get home, we have dinner, we put penny to bed. I asked him if everything was okay. “Are you fine?” He’s like, “Yeah, we’re good.” But this was the thing is he would not have sex with me that night. Usually when I’d come home from a trip, or he’d come home from a trip, it was just we’re excited to see each other. It never once happened that we didn’t have sex after he came home. He’s like, “Everything’s fine,” and he went to sleep. I laid there bawling. I was like, something is not okay.

T.H.: You just knew. You could feel it.

Jessica Frew: I knew it. I was like, something’s bigger than before. We’ve had all sorts of issues along the way, but this felt bigger. And so for a week, I was a mess and was just trying to sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I’d be up. After he fell asleep, I would go watch Friends until two in the morning because I was just trying to turn off my brain and get myself to calm down and go to bed. About a week into this, I picked up his phone because he had left it by the bed one day as we tend to do when we know something’s wrong. I got into his email and I pulled up an email that I knew if he had told somebody something, it would be this person. I started to read and I was like, I cannot do this. We don’t do this. And so I read a couple lines and I put it down. There was nothing in those two lines that would have told me anything. That night, we were laying in bed, and I said, “Steve, I need to tell you something. I’m really sorry. I got on your phone. I looked at this email. I read two lines, nothing else. Then I put it down. But I want you to know because we trust each other.” He flips on the light at that point. He’s like, “Jessica, you have no reason to apologize. I need to be honest with you.” He flat out told me right then.

T.H.: Wait. Look at our mouths right now.

Jessica: I know. I know. It’s so funny because our husbands were in cahoots and having affairs with other women and going and traveling together and covering for each other—

T.H.: And never came clean.

Jessica: —it’s like people always hear our stories, and people’s mouths are always agape. I love that he came clean right then and there. I mean, he really does sound like such a good guy. I think that he was really a lucky person to have had you in his life to be able to give him a soft landing—

T.H.: What a gift.

Jessica: —with all of that. Right, seriously. But yes, having been through everything that you’ve been through, and then feeling that betrayal, in a sense, cuts even deeper in a way than a regular guy just cheating.

Jessica Frew: Yeah, yeah. It’s just like—

Jessica: You had been there for him in so many ways that people aren’t for each other.

Jessica Frew: Yeah.

T.H.: But he also you let stay up at night. Like, I don’t know, I have a different opinion. But we’re going to take a very quick break here right now. Because when we were getting divorced, me and Jessica Herzberg, from our exes, we hoped someone would take us by the hand and make sure we didn’t make any mistakes with our kids, dealing with our ex, telling friends, dating, and you name it, all of it. You’re in luck. Just like building exEXPERTS for you, we also created a Divorce Rulebook. We share what we wish we knew back then so you don’t make the same mistakes that we did. If you want your copy, it’s free. All you have to do is visit, and it’s right there for you. The link is also in the show notes. You don’t know what you don’t know, but the exEXPERTS do. Alright, let’s get back to this. I mean, first of all, kudos to you, Jessica, for being comfortable with the situation. I know you weren’t at that moment, but look at where you are now. You’re a beacon of light and hope for so many people. That’s why I really wanted to have you on Divorce etc… with us because that is really important to us, for our community to see that you can’t make this shit up. But sometimes you can make it up, and it’s hard to believe it’s real, you know? Your story is above and beyond. It’s the real deal. Look at you now. Let’s fast forward to what you’re doing now, how things are with your ex and your kid.

Jessica: Wait, but before that, you were like, “I have a different opinion.” No, because I was saying like—yeah, so I want to hear your different opinion.

Jessica Frew: One of the things that I’ll say about this is it’s like, betrayal is betrayal. It comes in all shapes and sizes. There’s no comparing your betrayal to somebody else’s. All of it is real, no matter what it looks like, whether it’s emotional infidelity, whether it’s an affair, whether it’s years in an affair, whether it’s whatever. It all is real, and it all hurts. It really hurts and stings in different ways. And so the things I really count myself grateful in, in this story, like you mentioned, Jessica, is that he was honest with me so quickly and laid it out there. He was willing to tell me what I wanted to hear. I’m also really grateful I did not ask for every detail. Because thank heavens, I did not need that seared into my brain. But we both gave each other so much grace during that time, and respect, and honesty in ways that felt scary and hard. And so yes, I work with women on a daily basis who will never get the closure directly from the person that they think they need it from. I’m like, you don’t need it from that person. You do not need closure from your ex. You get to find that in yourself. So there’s that. There’s this whole process of I was given a gift. I recognize that and all of that. But also, betrayal is betrayal, and it’s hard and it sucks no matter what your story is.

Jessica: That’s right.

T.H.: I know for us—I don’t know actually about Jessica, but for me, I was definitely comparing myself to the woman that he was having an affair with. Like, her legs are skinnier and whatever I could find that was redeeming in my mind from my perspective. But did you go through that? That doesn’t even relate because it’s a man.

Jessica: It’s apples to oranges.

Jessica Frew: Not really.

T.H.: No, but like—right, he’s gay.

Jessica: It’s apples to bananas.

T.H.: Right, I know, I know, but still, don’t you feel like God, I wish that I could have been the right person for them, even though he’s gay and that couldn’t be? But I don’t know—did you have any conflict in your head?

Jessica Frew: I remember a Katy Perry song like, “In another life, I would be your girl.” It’s like this whole thing. I remember playing that really loud on repeat and just crying through the next few months. But I couldn’t compare myself to this other person, because again, yes, I could not do anything to be a man.

T.H.: Right, I know, I know, I know.

Jessica Frew: I mean, technically, I could. And so there’s no point. But women do compare all the time. Women in this situation compare all the time, like, “Oh, what could I have done more?” There are all those same feelings. For me, I had time to process first the fact that he was gay. I had lived that for so long and understood it wasn’t about me. That has nothing to do with me. When it all happens at once, like you guys were saying, the betrayal and you find out they’re gay, or whatever your situation is, I think sometimes that comes up harder or more intense—

Jessica: I think so.

T.H.: Yeah.

Jessica Frew: —because there’s so much information you’re trying to process. But really, ultimately, you have to separate yourself from that. Because first and foremost, whether it’s male, female, whoever they’re having an affair with, there is nothing you could have done differently, probably, to fix the situation. It is what it is. There’s no point in comparing yourself to the other person. Usually, it isn’t about you. Or maybe it was about something you did, but now you get to learn from that and move forward. But for me, I didn’t get stuck in that because I realized it was a waste of my time and energy in that moment—

Jessica: I love that.

Jessica Frew: —because I’d already processed the fact he was gay and knew it wasn’t about me. Steve’s affair had nothing to do with me. It 100% changed the trajectory of my life. My dad always says, “This is the only way that you and Steve could have ended. Steve needed to know for sure this is what he wanted, and this is the only way for him to have explored that.” It’s true in our situation, and it’s really messed up, and people will be pissed at Steve for having an affair. Whatever, I don’t care. It’s what happened for us. I agree with my dad, like it was what we needed. This was how it had to end.

T.H.: What happened with your community and your friends? Did you tell all your friends when he came out to you that he was gay, so they also had time to process? Or did your friend groups just completely shift? What did that look like? And your kid and their friends?

Jessica Frew: The only people who knew Steve was gay before we got divorced, before the affair, was his mom knew for about a year before, and a couple of close friends knew in our friend group, one other couple. Then I went to a support group, and he told me it was fine if I told my support group. So they knew as well. Outside of that, nobody knew. So it was a lot of catch up. I really felt like when we told people, I called my parents, “Hey, I’m moving home,” not home with them, but home to Idaho, “I’m moving into mine and Steve’s house. We’re getting divorced. He’s gay.” It was like, “What?” It was so much catch up. I felt like I was catching everybody up along the way, as I’m processing through the fact that I am getting divorced, my husband had an affair, and all these things. So it was a lot. But also, I had to remind myself that I had had years to process through this, and I could allow people time to catch up. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t take care of myself and that I didn’t protect my own feelings along the way. There were people who were like, “You can process this on your own. Let me know when you’re ready to talk in a healthy, better situation,” because I was already emotionally exhausted and there was only so much I could take on.

T.H.: Right, you can’t manage everyone else.

Jessica: Right. I’ve talked about how my mother was so devastated when I was getting divorced. I was like, “I can’t carry you on my shoulder.” I was like, “Let me just deal with what I’m dealing with.” Let’s now finally fast forward into what you’re doing now. I mean, helping people get through betrayal and being a betrayal coach, what are maybe your top two or three pieces of advice for people who go through such a deep sense of betrayal? By the way, I just want to say to everyone listening, of course infidelity or your spouse having an affair is obviously a deep betrayal. But I understand that for people, even where their spouses don’t have an affair, you got married to someone. You walked down the aisle and you read your vows, and you committed yourself before whatever God you believe in, that you’re going to be with this person forever. Even if someone didn’t cheat on the other person, it’s still a betrayal in a sense that the life that you promised each other and that you had been promised is no longer happening. I’m sure not everyone who comes to you only comes to you because they’ve been betrayed for being cheated on. I just felt that was an important clarification.

Jessica Frew: 100%. I think in that there is some form of betrayal in every divorce, whether that is your own personal betrayal of denying what you actually wanted and what you needed and therefore it led to a divorce, whatever it is. There’s no shame in any of these situations. Betrayal is betrayal. Going through a divorce is hard, and it’s painful, and it’s okay to recognize you were at fault, or the other person was fault. There’s no shame in that. That’s part of the work that I want to do is help individuals realize we are releasing the shame around this. We are going to move forward and own our life. One of the things would be figuring out how to own your story and release that shame, release the shame around what you’re going through. That doesn’t mean you have to shout it from the rooftops like the three of us have here. But it means embracing it for yourself so that you can release that shame and be able to move forward. One of the things that I really work with a lot of women doing is learning how to trust themselves again, because we feel like, “I should have seen this. I should have known or whatever.” Some of us did know on some level, but we waited for the proof of what was actually going on before we left. And so we’re like, “I had no idea,” and I’m like, “Okay, but what did you feel? You knew something was going on.” They always tell me that like, “Oh, I knew this,” “I felt that,” but were waiting for that proof so that we’re justified in leaving. And that’s fine. Whatever works for you.

T.H.: But also, to add on that, is take your time.

Jessica Frew: Yep.

T.H.: We eliminate the word should. You can’t do anything about it. There is really no should. It was the way it was. You accept the way it was and now you can do it differently. You should have, could have, would have—it doesn’t matter. That’s just an act of futility. I mean, you’re just torturing yourself. These are the facts, this is the way it was, and this is what you are today.

Jessica Frew: Eliminating should is so powerful because it releases that shame. That’s how we start releasing the judgment we’re carrying on ourselves for “I should have done this,” “I should have done that.” We are done shoulding on ourselves. Instead, we are getting to know ourselves now and understand what we learned from this situation. Learning how to trust your gut again, and along with these other things of releasing the shame, getting to trust our gut again, is really silencing the noise of other people. Like you said, Jessica, even saying, “Mom, listen, I love you and whatever, but I can’t carry all of the things you’re throwing at me right now. I need to fear what it is. I’m feeling what I’m saying, what I need. I need to focus here.” However that looks for you is okay. People are like, “Oh, but it’s so and so,” and “I need their advice, their opinion.” I’m like, “No, you don’t.” You have to hear what it is you want and need. It’s so hard for us to just listen to that voice. But if we had done that earlier on, then we’d be in a different situation, which doesn’t matter. We’re not judging ourselves for that. We are taking that information and we are learning from it. Because now we’re going to be so fricking powerful going into our next relationship, into our life, whether we want another relationship, whatever it is, because we’re going to know ourselves so much better because of what we’ve been through.

Jessica: It’s so funny, you’re so aligned with the mindset that T.H. and I have with regards to divorce. I know we’re using the word the “shame” around at it all. T.H. and I always talk about the stigma of divorce, which is obviously, on a level, it’s shame—feeling like you could have prevented it, you should have prevented it. There are things that you could have done differently. Now you have to fricking defend yourself to strangers about why, for you, it wasn’t going to work out. That and the whole idea of trusting your gut, which T.H. talks about all the time, which for me was a huge learning lesson. I think I’m still on that path. Those are such essential things that people have to come to terms with after getting divorced. That’s really what’s set you free, so to speak. I love that.

T.H.: So many people are just so afraid of the unknown. The more that we all speak about all of the things, all of our circumstances—being vulnerable, taking accountability, like, this is what happens, it’s a crazy story, but look at us now. Then that should reduce the fear for other people. You are not alone out there. Your story might not match any of ours, but it’s still okay. You’re still not alone. You’re still going to be okay, as long as you get the right resources and support so that you can have a great life.

Jessica: But also, whatever your story is, part of, I think, the entertainment value that T.H. and I get out of our stories is knowing that people are always like, “Oh my god.” They can’t believe what we went through. There’s something—not such a misery loves company—but there is something a little bit comforting of knowing other people have made it through tougher circumstances.

Jessica Frew: Yeah.

Jessica: I feel like you really are such a shining example. Because whoever is listening and is like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that this is the situation I’m in,” it might literally just be that they’ve been married for a few years and it just didn’t work out, and that sucks. It’s devastating regardless. But I love giving examples of people who’ve been really through hardship, through circumstances that you can’t even imagine, and that you’re like, look at you. You picked yourself up. You have this positive attitude, which is what we’re all about. I really appreciate that. I’m happy for your daughter and for your current husband that you have that in your life.

T.H.: Wait, and so how do you deal with the judgment? What’s your tip on that?

Jessica Frew: I just don’t care. If people are going—

T.H.: But how do you tell people not to care? Because we always say, “Just get your shit together.” Okay, how? That’s a great concept. How? So, yes, don’t let it hit you, but how do you not let the judgment hurt you?

Jessica Frew: What I always say, and the women I work with, we are getting so clear on who it is that we are, that when other people throw judgment our way, when other people are like going, “What the hell are you thinking?” whatever they’re saying or doing, we can come back to who we are and what we know our intentions are. When you are solidly grounded to who you are and what your intention was behind something, the judgment just doesn’t matter. It goes away. And so I think that the healing process of coming back to ourselves after something hard in our relationship, and this is whether you stay married or not—I work with women who stay married too—you have to understand your own intentions behind that. Also, be willing to acknowledge if you did something wrong. Sometimes when people throw hate my way, I’m like, am I upset about this because this is my own insecurity that I’m holding? Like, this is real? There’s some truth here about what they’re saying? Or am I pissed because I know this isn’t who I am and so I’m carrying that? Then I can release that and say, okay, maybe I do need to make a shift here. Maybe there is something in me that I am wanting to be more in line with because it doesn’t feel right. Or maybe these people are just crazy and they’re projecting their own issues onto us, which is 99% of what people are doing.

T.H.: Absolutely.

Jessica Frew: It’s projecting their own understanding onto our situation. But when we are clear about who we are and connect it back to ourselves, we can release that judgment confidently and clearly and feel good about who we are, and realize these are not our people. And that’s okay.

Jessica: I love that. We’re going to end on that note, such a positive, uplifting, and inspiring message. So gosh, Jessica, really, thank you so much for coming on and being so open and transparent about your story. I think a lot of people wouldn’t be able to be such an open book. I think it’s so refreshing, and we’re all about that. We really appreciate it. For everyone listening, if you enjoyed this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then let us know by taking a moment to subscribe, rate, and review. It helps us out and it helps others going through divorce to find us and the resources they need. For more about Jessica and her coaching services, check out the show notes. And of course, share this episode with anyone you know who can benefit from listening. Have a great day.

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