How to Support Your Bisexual Husband, Wife, Partner

“I think my husband may be bisexual. What do I do?”

“My wife has recently admitted she is bisexual. Does this mean she’ll leave me?”

I get many letters from all kinds of people – gay, straight, men, women, and everything in between – who suspect their husbands, wives, partners may be secretly bisexual, or have discovered that they are bisexual.

What can you do as a spouse or partner to help your bisexual mate?

The first thing is to understand that bisexuality is not a death sentence. It need not be a relationship-ending fork in the road. Nor does it mean that your partner has been lying to you all this time, either.

Unlike other sexual orientations, bisexual desire often rises up from some unknown source, usually unbidden, insinuating itself into the otherwise calm waters of the unsuspecting person’s psyche.

I told my wife that I’d had sexual experiences with men as soon as we started sleeping together. I did not identify as bisexual at the time, however. Back then (it’s been over 20 years) I defined my experiences with men during my teens and twenties as “experimentation,” the end result of which was my conclusion that I am straight, pretty much.

For the first 12 years of our marriage I did not have a single bisexual urge. Nothing. I was a heterosexual man, married with two kids. And then one morning I awoke to find that it had come back. The only way to describe it would be to say that my bisexuality had been in remission. Along with this unexpected, renewed desire for men came all my old questions: Why now? What does this mean? And the most damaging of them all: What’s wrong with me?

Through my counselling practice and the support groups I organize and facilitate, I’ve since heard many other bisexuals express the same thoughts, having gone through a similar line of questioning. I’ve heard how an early childhood trauma may have caused their bisexuality; an abusive or distant parent; an inadvertent encounter which had left an indelible stain.

When I recently brought these ideas up to a counsellor who deals with childhood abuse, he responded to me by saying: “Why is it heterosexual survivors of childhood abuse don’t blame their heterosexuality on the abuse?”

There is a pervasive belief among bisexuals that there must be a reason for our bisexual urges, the underlying belief being there is something wrong with our desires: “This must be a pathology of some kind,” we think. “Somewhere along the way my wires must have gotten crossed. All I have to do is find out how this disconnect came about, and I’ll be cured!” That’s what I thought.

This, despite study after study that shows there are many more self-identified monosexuals who have bisexual leanings than not, and that bisexuals in fact comprise the largest group within the LGBT crowd.

As previously discussed, bisexuals have much higher levels of anxiety, depression, self harm and suicidality than any other sexual orientation. One of the biggest sources of these internal stressors for bisexuals is the conflict between coming out as bisexual, or questioning, or confused, to a spouse or partner.

“This is not what I signed up for!” one woman told her wife upon discovering she is bisexual. Would she have responded the same way had she learned her wife had cancer? Or was dealing with depression? Or had lost her job?

Of all the unexpected circumstances which take us by surprise along the road through life, bisexuality is not something to fear.

Here are some tips on what you can do if you discover your partner is bisexual:

  1. It’s important to recognize and understand how difficult it is for bisexuals to open up about their feelings – especially to loved ones: they do not want to lose you, but fear they will. Intimacy is created by revealing secret, often scary aspects of ourselves to another. Opening up and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in this way is a huge risk. Please honour the courage it takes to do this, and the trust required on their part. Treat him/her with respect, love, caring, sympathy.
  1. Acceptance is the biggest issue for bisexuals, with self-acceptance being the most difficult. Once a person comes to accept his/her bisexuality, the next hurdle is gaining acceptance by close friends and loved ones. As a spouse/partner, it is vital that you reassure your partner that you love him/her regardless, and that you are willing to work this through, together.
  1. Do not take your partner’s bisexuality personally. It is not about you. It is not about something you did or did not do or say or think. Refrain from blaming yourself or your partner: there is no need for blame.
  1. Keep the lines of communication wide open. Take an interest in what has been going on with your partner internally. Be proactive and brave enough to discuss the details without anger or resentment: ask questions about the nature of his/her desire; how long it’s been going on; what – if anything – they’d like to do; if they’ve already done some experimenting.
  1. See this as an opportunity for both of you to live with greater authenticity, rather than a burden. Change is the only constant in your life. Having a bisexual partner can lead to all kinds of new, exciting, unexpected experiences. It can be a time to deepen and strengthen your relationship; renew your interest in each other; allow for your own pent-up sexual desires to come forth.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received recently from Gary, in the UK:

“I am a married bisexual man and came out to my wife (of 27 years this year) around 8 years ago when I was 46…. Much of what I’ve read on your site strikes a very loud chord with me and I count myself to be very lucky to be married to a woman that has not only been involved in the facilitation of my journey over the last 8 years, but has expressed on numerous occasions that I am a better person now that I am able to fully own my sexuality. In her words, I am flourishing!”

Of the couples who stay together despite the admission of bisexuality – even if it’s after the marriage – many report the same kinds of mutually-beneficial experiences. There is nothing more enjoyable than a spouse who is happy, healthy, authentic, and thriving.

  1. It’s important to understand that not everyone who identifies as bisexual feels the need to act on it. So nothing more need happen other than your partner has come to realize this. I’ve met self-identified bisexuals who have never had sexual relations with the “other” sex (depending if they are gay/straight). Nor do they feel the need to. It is enough for them to know and to acknowledge publicly that they have the potential for sexual and intimate connections with both (all) sexes.

During a book signing I was doing for “Confessions of a Bisexual Husband”, one male/female couple in their forties sat next to me to tell me their story: ten years before, when they’d just started going out, the man was determined to start their relationship on a solid footing. He called the woman, his voice shaking, his terror palpable to her: “I have something I need to tell you,” he said.

“What is it?” she asked, scared and concerned, wondering if this was it.

He hemmed and hawed, until he finally came out and said it: “You need to know that I’m bisexual,” he said, waiting for her to hang up.

“Okay. Is that it?” she asked, confused.

“Yeah, that’s it,” he said, equally as perplexed. “You don’t think it’s a big deal?” he asked.

“I love you and I want to be with you. I thought you were going to tell me you had a terminal disease and only had a little time left, or you didn’t like me and you wanted to break up. You sure that’s all you want to say?” she pressed.

They’ve been together ever since. We all go through difficult times with family members, partners, friends. An admission of bisexuality need not be one of those times.

Acknowledging the ability to form intimate emotional and/or physical connections regardless of sex or gender is a beautiful thing. We could all benefit by allowing ourselves that much potential for love. I suggest you follow your bisexual partner’s lead by taking their hand and willingly, lovingly, happily, enthusiastically walking with them through this adventure we call life, and be open to whatever may come.

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248 Responses to How to Support Your Bisexual Husband, Wife, Partner

  1. Marco
    16 April, 2018 at 19:00

    Dear Ashley,

    It is not possible to win a war against yourself. At the moment you are at war with your self: you have strong beliefs about what it means to be a husband, father, man.

    However Who You Really Are does not agree with these arbitrary rules you’ve set up for yourself, and refuses to adhere to these beliefs.

    Who is right? The part of you that believes you must be in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship to be right and good, or your true nature, which desires personal connections that do not fit into the rules you have made for yourself?

    It’s as if you are saying to yourself, “I want to be this kind of man,” and yourself is replying, “But you are not.” And you respond, “Yes I am!” And it responds, “No you are not!”

    Weary from the struggle, you become exasperated with yourself, as you see no way out of this conundrum.

    Again: you cannot win this battle. You cannot force yourself to be a person you are not.

    It’s as if you believe that a man should be six feet tall, and every morning you wake up disgusted with yourself because you are still only five foot two: “What am I doing to do with myself! I’m supposed to be six feet and still, again, today, I find myself lacking at my lowly five foot two stature.”

    And now you have written to me, asking for help. “Dear Mark, What am I to do about being only five foot two? How can I ever find peace and happiness in my life when my height is so lacking? Try as I may to grow taller, it does not work. I cannot seem to get any higher than five foot two. Woe is me!”

    It takes courage, inner strength, and a huge leap of faith to stand up to the entire world around you (and yourself!) and say, “This is who I am! Love me or leave me, that is up to you, but I cannot do anything about my true nature.”

    So the question is, what is so wrong about being bisexual? What is so wrong about needing to have some kind of man2man interaction in your life, along with your heterosexual relationship?

    What is so wrong about being Ashley and learning to express Ashley as Ashley wants to be expressed?

    What is the crime here, other than being five foot two?

    So yes, self-acceptance. It is the most difficult task we all have before us. The world has 8 billion people living within it, and there are 8 billion different ways of going about this thing we call life.

    As hard as it is to believe in this day and age of hyper-judgmentalism, there is no right or wrong way to live. I repeat: there is no right or wrong way to live.

    I will tell you Ashley that the only limitation you see is that which you put on yourself. It is possible to be happy, be fulfilled, be at peace with yourself as a bisexual.

    But first you must decriminalize this in your own mind. First, you must say to yourself, “I may only be five foot two, but that does not mean I cannot be happy.”

    You must let go of wanting to be six feet.

    Or not. Or continue waking up every morning with the taste of self-disgust in your mouth upon realizing once again that you are still only five foot two.

    This is how we choose happiness over discontent. This is how we create the reality we want for ourselves. This is how we find peace.

    The choice is yours.

    I wish you well.

    Mark

  2. Marco
    16 April, 2018 at 18:42

    Dear Em,

    Thanks for this letter.

    Bisexuality does not imply nor require non-monogamy. Many bisexuals are happily monogamous. Many heterosexuals are not.

    Some woman’s straight husband may admit that he loves large-breasted women, although his wife has small breasts. Does this mean that one day he will eventually succumb to his desire for large breasts? Maybe. Maybe not.

    Should she be concerned about it?

    We all have a variety of desires, some of which we want to explore in physical reality, some not. Furthermore, as we go through the life process, these desires morph and transform, as do we.

    Your husband may be a high-rolling Wall Street Broker who suddenly decides to chuck it all and join Greenpeace. At that point you may be wishing that all he wanted to do was go out and roll around in the sack with another guy for an hour or two, rather than upheave all of your lives.

    One thing I can tell you for certain: both you and your husband will be different people in 20 years from now, when both your kids have moved out, let’s say.

    Your fear of sitting at home while he’s out having sex is unfounded. It is a jealous reaction, when none is required.

    Jealousy is the result of feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and low-self esteem.

    All of these issues come down to this: they are forming blockages of intimacy, love and ultimately happiness within each of you and between the two of you.

    The real issue is your ability to love each other. This means you are able to love yourselves enough to allow for a life together filled with joy, mutual-respect, appreciation, support, growth, adventure, exploration, creativity, fulfillment.

    Let me be clear: ANY issue which gets in the way of loving each other is an excuse to disallow love.

    His discussion of bisexuality feels like he is lying in bed with one foot on the floor, just in case. You too have a foot on the floor as a result of his admission.

    Doing the math of your relationship it seems as if you have both been dancing around ideas of commitment, marriage, monogamy, and your love for each other: together for 4, married for 3, with a couple of kids means it is highly likely you were pregnant before being married.

    What is much, much more important than what may happen one day down the road, or whether your marriage will be life-long (which is every married person’s concern), is what is happening right at this very moment.

    At this very moment there is distrust between you; there are fears as to the viability of your relationship, the level of commitment, of love.

    When I said, “love yourselves enough,” what I meant was that in order to be happy, content, fulfilled, one must love and accept one’s life right now, which also requires one to accept oneself, right now:

    I am happy with who I am, with the husband I have chosen, with the circumstances which I have currently created for myself. I love this adventure I am on called life; love the potentialities before me; love the experiences behind me; love all that has gone on before in order to create who I am at this very moment.

    With this attitude you can both look to each other, hand-in-hand, and joyously move through your lives together, confident that whatever challenges come your way – and come they will, as you can see – you will be able to navigate them together; to deal with them individually, and as a couple.

    These challenges will not challenge your love for each other or your lives together, but only inspire your spirit of adventure and your determination to meet your life head-on.

    It is time to get serious about love, trust, and your happiness together.

  3. Em
    20 March, 2018 at 13:03

    Hi Mark,

    My husband and I have been together for 4 years and married for 3.
    He has had a sexual relationship with a man. The rest of the time he was with women, but he told me he’s definitely bi. He says 40% into men 60% into women… lol and figured that out from 1 time of being with a man.
    I feel like eventually, he will need more than me even though we are experimenting with toys and all that. He says he will never need anything more than me but said his bi desires are always there, of course. I guess I need to ask him the details of what he means. Does he want to receive it or give it? Is it that he wants or will eventually want a man’s body?

    How do I prepare myself for the moment he tells me that he wants to be with a man? Is that even possible? We have two kids and I couldn’t stand it if I were just stuck at home with them knowing that’s what he’s out doing even if I gave my approval. How do people simply not have a problem with it?

    Thanks.

    Em

  4. Ashley
    7 January, 2018 at 22:00

    Hi Mark
    I do really relate to a lot of things you have written about on your blog, I’m 40 and always struggled with being Bisexual. I met my wife when I was 18 within 6 months she was pregnant 6 months later I came out to her as Bisexual. We went on to get married and all was ok, we had been married for 7 years when I had my first episode and this was due to me meeting a guy who I fell for, I told my wife about him and we split up as I wanted to explore these feelings, this guys was gay and out and also treated me really bad taking what he wanted when he wanted and with me not getting the best experience from it all.
    I quickly realised I did not like it it did not want it and felt alone and I became depressed with all the confusion and self Louth. My wife and I worked things out and we eventually got back together. We are now coming up to our 20th wedding anniversary over the years since me and my wife got back together if I would think about men I would watch gay porn and please myself and that’s always satisfied my want for men2men contact but just lately it’s gone a little further, I have been wanting something more real other then porn. My relationship with my wife is good I’m satisfied with my marriage and sex with my wife but it’s as tho I’m 2 people I’m split in half one side of me is good the other side of me is not. One day I want my wife the next day I want a man. I’m struggling with this, I don’t understand it all, my wife has been great and really supportive but I feel guilty for putting her through all this, before I can expect her to understand I need to understand why I feel like this !! If I could cut my left arm off and it be gone I would do it Ina heart beat ??
    I know they only way forward is to accept myself but how can I do that???
    Thanks so much Ashley

  5. Marco
    29 May, 2017 at 16:12

    Dear John,

    You seem to find yourself in quite the imbroglio. You feel as if you are bound, and unable to make a move in any direction without dire, lifelong consequences.

    This is an illusion.

    It is no more real than the story of a man who has found true love with a woman, begun a family, has been on a journey of self-discovery, finding all kinds of interesting and enjoyable aspects to his self, sexuality, and desires for expression he wants to pursue throughout his life.

    I’d like you to keep the following things in perspective:

    - “The rest of your life” is a long time. It is not possible at the age of 35 to know who you will be and what you will want when you are 55. Do not think in terms of “the rest of your life”.

    I guarantee you this, in writing: things will change. Constantly.

    - Childrearing is a temporary stage of life. Raising children does not go on forever. At this point my son is 21, daughter 20. They are both off living their own lives. One is now in Peru, the other tree planting.

    There will come a time once again that you will be free to pursue your sexual desires with abandon.

    Your partner is pregnant, you have small kids: this is a priority.

    - The pressures of having young children, the commitment they require and the constraints they put on the lives of their parents often create strong responses within the parents.

    It is quite common for strong urges to be present during this stage. Your time, your days, your life is completely consumed by these small creatures. The need for freedom and space is nearly unbearable, and often manifests in sexual desire.

    Add to the issue the fact that your wife is not in a highly sexual state, and that sex is not optimal at this time, and you end up with a mass of uncontrollable sexual urges on your part.

    Knowing that one day you will have the freedom to express these to your heart’s content may help alleviate some of the pressure.

    And if not, then you and your wife can come to an agreement. It may mean she has a lover on the side.

    This is something you need to get a hold of. In my opinion, she has every right to have sexual relations with other men this very instant, as you have already created the paradigm where it is permissible to go outside your marriage for sex.

    If you have agreed to put all that in the past, and have agreed to remain monogamous, then that is what you must do.

    There is nothing to fear in your own desires. They will come and they will go. Yes. They will go eventually.

    I suggest you focus on your wife and your kids. Put the man2man thing on hold.

    All the best,

    Mark

  6. Marco
    29 May, 2017 at 16:09

    Dear Michelle,

    Let me reassure you right now: you will be hurt.
    Regardless of the sex, gender, or sexual orientation of your partner, and regardless of your relationship type, you will be hurt.
    Getting hurt is part of life.
    Unexpected things happen. People change. Circumstances change. You change.
    Can you avoid all this? No. It is unavoidable.
    You can remain single and solitary on an island, but that is quite painful too.
    From the sound of it you are already hurt. Your trust has already been broken. Your doubts and fears, already come to life.
    And as a Thai woman who recently gave me a very painful massage – despite my asking for no pain – said to me afterward: “You see? You no die.”
    Getting hurt is not the issue: trust is. As well as your own needs and wants.
    What you seem to be saying is, I do not want to be in any kind of non-monogamous relationship.
    This is valid. This is your lifestyle choice. I suggest you honour yourself and your own needs.
    As such, your current boyfriend is not for you.
    Again, from a few lines of an email, it sounds as if your guy will eventually, one day – maybe not tomorrow, or next year, or next decade, but one day, he will want to itch the scratch which has been bothering him: he will want to sleep with men.
    Now there is no reason for this to “hurt” you.
    It is entirely possible for you to be unhurt by this. Many are. Especially if you prepare for it now. No lying, no cheating, no going behind your back, etc.
    But you state quite clearly that, “I cannot be in a relationship in which my partner sleeps with other people….”
    Again: honour your own needs here.
    If monogamy is important to you, then I would say look elsewhere.
    However, let me remind you that heterosexual women and men sleep with others behind their partner’s backs daily. Sexual orientation is not a cause nor a cure for infidelity.
    Do not fear being hurt. It is often our most painful moments that lead to our greatest.
    In fact, do not fear anything. Instead, step boldly forth into your life, jumping off each new cliff as it comes, with joy and abandon.
    This includes knowing when to cut your losses and head out for more satisfying unions.

    I wish you all the best in this,

    Mark

  7. Michelle
    17 May, 2017 at 17:59

    Hello,

    My boyfriend of 6 years has just come out to me as bisexual. He had a sexual relationship with a man, his best friend, 8 years ago, and I am finding it hard to come to terms with. He says he loves me and would always want to be with me and only me but from reading the comments here it sounds like most bisexual people do need to experience sex with both male and female people in order to be happy. Will I therefore get hurt in the end? I cannot be in a relationship in which my partner sleeps with other people, and although he reassures me he wouldn’t, he has said he loved the sex with a man and wants to embrace that side of him. Can you offer any advice? I’m afraid I have lost the trust in him and after 6 years am worried he will hurt me

  8. John
    6 May, 2017 at 20:47

    Dear Mark,

    I stumbled across your page while trying to find some advise online as to what do with my current situation and thought your perspective could possibly help me in some way! I’ll start off by saying that I am a married man who is bi sexual and my wife is aware of this. When I was younger I started messing around with other guys in high school and enjoyed it but deep down was unaccepting of the fact the I was bi. I repressed these feelings so deep down that I though I could bury them and they would just go away partially due to how I was raised and partially due to wanting myself to be “normal”. I eventually started dating one of my best friends and we ended up getting married and life was good! Not long into my marriage these feelings starting coming back and I didn’t know what to do with them since I was married to a woman after all! I eventually started using gay hookup apps and would periodically hook up with other gay or bi men without my wife knowing. My wife and I would separate a couple times in our marriage due to the fact that I was unsure of what I wanted. I eventually told my wife that I thought I may be bi and she was very understanding and supportive of the situation. We separated once again and I started seeing a guy for about a month and a half. I really enjoyed spending time with this guy and developed feelings for him but after time I started missing my wife dearly and wanted to be with her again because I couldn’t bare the fact of her being with another man. After about 4 years of marriage I couldn’t handle all of the guilt and secrets anymore and eventually came out to my wife and talked to her about everything that I had done. This was the beginning of a very rocky road, my wife was devastated that I lied about so much and felt as if she didn’t really know me because of how well I had hidden this from her. It took a while before she agreed to give our marriage another chance but she agreed and I promised to do everything in my power to make it right and to improve our marriage! We had talked about an open marriage but if that were the case she wanted to be with other men and I couldn’t handle the thought of that because I looked at it as she is my only woman and I wanted to be her only man so we dropped it. Things were great, I accepted myself for who I was for the first time ever and felt as if everything was going to be okay! We have 1 child together and another on the way. We love each other very much and couldn’t imagine living without each other but after a couple of months my feelings and desires to be with others men have greatly manifested. I’m finding it difficult to sort through my feelings as to what I truly want. I love her very much and we have a great relationship and sex life but I am finding it hard to figure this thing out. I want to be with her but at the same time I can’t imagine myself suppressing these feelings the rest of my life. We are both aware that I am attracted to men much more than women. I feel if I leave I will deeply regret it but feel if I stay I’m going to struggle with this my whole life. Dont know how to deal with this.

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