Things usually start with a hunch. But that doesn't mean the answer is as black and white as we might imagine. We spoke to relationship therapist David Kavanagh about our reader's dilemma.
What conclusion would you draw if your husband avoided sex and was particularly affectionate with other male friends — more affectionate than with you, for example?
For many, worrying about whether their partner might have a different sexual persuasion might be the first port of call. But that’s not necessarily the correct one, explains relationship expert and author David Kavanagh.
"It isn't uncommon to come across this type of problem, in my experience," points out Kavanagh. "There is a lot of anxiety in the world at the moment. If you find your relationship suffering it is likely that your brain will try to find reasons and answers for why it is struggling.
Just because you think he is gay, doesn't mean he is
First, ask yourself if you might be projecting your anxiety onto your partner and jumping to conclusions without evidence. Then, if you really have a strong belief that your husband might actually be homosexual, ask yourself what are the indicators. Has he expressed an interest in men in the past, or was he bisexual before you met? Those might be potential markers.
"Ultimately", says Kavanagh, "adults are adults. Just because you think he is gay, doesn't mean he is. Nor is he under obligation to tell you. Gay, straight or bisexual, it is up to the individual to acknowledge their own sexuality, when and if they want to. It is unhelpful to quiz somebody just because you have a hunch. It is their responsibility.”
Kavanagh says that if you do want to take action, you can ask open, undemanding questions in a bid to open up communication between you both.
It is normal to want to address the issue.
"There are ways to have a conversation without being direct, which can sometimes feel accusatory to the person in the hot seat. You could ask if they have ever found men attractive, ever been tempted to kiss them? You can have the communication you want without affronting your partner."
But, tread softly.
"You might get an answer you don't want to hear," warns Kavanagh. "Be careful what conclusions you draw from some else's behaviour. Often we get body language wrong. Equally, if your partner is behaving in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, it is normal to want to address the issue."
There is also the case that you might be deflecting the real issue which is that you don't feel your husband finds you attractive.
"People often make a judgment – ‘My husband doesn’t fancy me, therefore he must be gay’ – instead of addressing the more difficult question of what’s going on in their sex life," suggests Kavanagh.
“But perhaps it is a case of mismatched libidos. Or maybe there is an issue with work or even physically that is playing a part. Keep an open mind and focus on communication.
“The main thing is to not put anyone on the defensive. There are two in this relationship. Being honest and open will never fail to yield a solution that will keep everybody happy."
You can contact lgbt.ie or call 1890 929 539 if you want to talk to somebody about your sexuality.
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