This letter was originally published on Jul 12, 2016.
I'm a 55-year-old hetero woman, I've been married for 28 years. Twenty-One years ago my husband told me that he was gay. At that time, we had three small children. We decided to stay in a companionate marriage, he did what he wanted and I raised our children and turned off my libido. We've raised three thoughtful, interesting, independent children, two of whom are gay. I made a point of raising them in a very open-minded manner in a very gay-positive household. Four years ago, after going 17 years without sex, my libido switch was suddenly turned on as a result of need to have a hysterectomy; I suddenly wanted to have a sexual connection again, especially having heard horror stories about post-menopausal women completely losing interest in sex. So I found a regular FWB.
But while I was recuperating, at a time when I couldn't have PIV sex, I went online looking for something else. I met a man who had a foot fetish. We explored that. He also told me that he would like to be dominated and forced to wear woman's lingerie. Surprisingly, after trying this I found it extremely arousing and I have had a Femdom relationship with him for over two years.
My husband absolutely does not want to tell our children that he is gay. He doesn't feel like he will ever need to, especially because he doesn't feel that he would ever want to be in a relationship with a man. I'm fine with the status quo, and if he ever came out to friends and family I would support his decision. But I would prefer that he was honest with his children.
Now the current problem: The other night I was texting my foot guy and I sent him a text saying that I had some new sexy lingerie and stockings for him to model for me. Afterwards I realized that I accidentally sent that text to my heterosexual son. He did not respond but I'm sure he read the message. I'm not sure what I should do. My straight son probably thinks I'm cheating on his father with a woman. Do I out my husband and explain my situation with his father and tell him I like to dominate men? Or do I leave things as they are?
Mother Or Mistress
Years ago my mother sat me down for a little talk.
I had come out to her, but not to my father. I had come out to one of my siblings, but not the other two. I had come out to some of my aunts and uncles, but not to all of them. My mother was having a hard time keeping track of who knew and who didn't know and this was putting her in some extremely awkward situations. The final straw: I was in a play in high school where my character got married and my parents came to opening night. And when I came on stage in a tux and stood next to a girl in a wedding dress and another one of the actors pretended to marry tuxedoed me to bedazzled her... my mother burst into tears. It was a comedy but all you could hear during the last ten minutes was my mother sobbing her eyes out.
My father kept asking her what was wrong. And my mother couldn't say, "Danny is a gay homosexual and I'm crying because he's never going to get married* because he's a gay homosexual," as that would mean outing me to my father, something I had made her promise not to do.
A few days later my mother sat me down to tell me I hadn't really come to her or anyone else. "When you told me you were gay and then swore me to secrecy, Daniel, you didn't come to me. You yanked me in with you. You pulled me into the closet too." The secret I struggled to keep from her had become a secret she was now struggling to keep for me, and she hated secrets—and closets—just as much as I did.
"So come out if you're going to come out," she said, "but stop playing games. You're not being fair to me."
Your husband isn't being fair to you, MOM.
What your husband did to you and is still doing to you — coming out to you, swearing you to secrecy, doing "what he wanted" while you were raising the children and running "a very gay-positive household" — wasn't and isn't fair, MOM, and you've found yourself in an extremely awkward situation as a result. (And probably not for the first time.) One of your sons thinks his mom is cheating on his dad... or maybe he thinks that text was meant for his dad and his parents kinkier than he ever needed to know. Or, hey, maybe he thinks you're cheating on your dad with a woman. (I don't know exactly how revealing/incriminating your text was, but it's a long way from "I have some new sexy lingerie and stockings for you to model for me" to "mom is cheating on dad with some woman who can't afford to buy her own lingerie.")
The real issue, as I see it, is this: Your children are grown and your marriage is sexless and companionate, MOM, and has been for more than two decades—sexless, companionate, and successful! And now that you have the time and space in your life for some independence, now that your libido is back, you shouldn't have to sneak around or live in fear of being discovered, shamed, or judged by your own children. You also don't want your children to think ill of you or—contra your husband's example/preference—to believe something about you that isn't true.
Try my mother's approach—meaning: take a stab at guilting your husband into coming out to your kids already (two-thirds of whom are gay themselves!). But if he won't come out, MOM, go ahead and tell the kids your half of the truth. Your sex life with your husband ended more than two decades ago—through no fault of your own—and you stayed because you genuinely loved your husband and you wanted to keep your family together. Your marriage was about parenting and mutual support, not about sex (much less sexual exclusivity). Your husband sought sex outside the relationship with your knowledge and consent (you don't have to say "with dudes") while you focused on taking care of the kids and running the household. And now that your kids are grown and out of the house... you're doing some exploring of your own with your husband's knowledge and consent. You don't have any intention of getting divorced—you still love each other—but you wanted them to know that no one is being betrayed. (Well, I'd say it was a betrayal for your husband to marry you 28 years ago, knock you up three times, and then announce he was gay. We're talking about 1988 here, not 1958.)
Apologize to your straight son for the stray email and whatever mental images it may have conjured up. Warn your kids not to pry or snoop, lest they discover things they don't want to know and can't unknow, and remind them that parents have a right to privacy too. Then go have as much fun as you possibly can Femdomming the shit out of your lingerie-modeling foot fetishist playmate. You deserve it, MOM.
* This was long before marrying a dude was an option.