'A Gay Man's Wife': One Couple's Co-Parenting Journey
The podcast 'A Gay Man's Wife,' explores how one woman makes her marriage to a gay man work for her — and their family.
Guest post written by Michael and Tawyne, hosts of A Gay Man's Wife
Michael: Growing up, I always knew I was different. I knew that what my family perceived as normal wasn't who I was. Only when I hit a certain maturity in my teenage years did I understand that I was gay. Still, I didn't know what that meant for me at the time. When I was 16 I met Tawyne (15) and immediately felt something that I didn't quite understand. She was wild like a tornado and captivated me. Throughout the first year of our friendship we fell in love.
I knew that I was gay, but I undoubtedly knew that I was also in love with a female. Our relationship grew and before we knew it, we were expecting our first child and within 2 years we were married and had our second child. I kept myself closeted for a long time because I felt extremely guilty for never having told anyone about who I truly was and for starting a family and an entire life with Tawyne.
Throughout our marriage we had many ups and downs and I grew angry with her because I felt trapped in a life that I no longer fit into. When I hit my mid-twenties, I think I fully understood that I could no longer live this way. I loved my family with my entire heart, but I couldn't be who they thought I was. I made a decision one summer day in 2013 that would change our lives forever. I came out.
I told my brothers first and after having their support, I felt courageous enough to come out to my wife and end our marriage. I knew I was breaking her heart. But I couldn't help but feel completely liberated and free. For the first time in my life I would be exactly who I had always dreamed of being. A proud gay man. My most regrettable decision was leaving Tawyne and the kids for about 2 years while I was in search of myself and learning who I was becoming.
Tawyne: The day Mike came out, I just had this horrible feeling all day. I didn't know what it was until later that night when he finally came out. I remember sitting across from him, with his brothers sitting next to me, and praying that he was going to admit that he was having an affair or something that we could get pass. I guess I just knew deep down what he was going to say, although I never expected that he was gay throughout our life together. When he said the words "I'm gay," my heart shattered. My future was disappearing right before my eyes. All my plans, everything I had dreamt up for us as a family, was falling apart. And on top of losing my husband I was terrified of losing his family as well.
I sat with my thoughts for a few hours and had a long conversation with Michael. I began to see how brave someone would have to be in order to really be their authentic self in the way he was trying to do. My hurt was still there but my anger had subsided and was replaced by admiration. Michael's change was hard for all of us, but it showed me that I also wasn't being my true self. His bravery gave me the courage to become the me that I am today.
Coming out to the kids and telling them we were going to be separating wasn't as difficult for them as we thought it would be. We have gay and lesbian family members, so we have always raised the kids to be open and normalized the LGBTQ culture. The most difficult part for us was the two years that he stopped coming around.
Michael: When I came out I jumped into my first relationship pretty quickly. He and I moved in together and had this life that my kids and family didn't always fit into. I think maybe I was determined to submerge myself into the gay culture so I wasn't really thinking about anything more than what made me happy at that moment. At the end of our relationship things got complicated and for the first time in a long time I had a longing feeling to go home. I was homesick for my family. (We share the full story of this on our podcast https://agaymanswife.buzzsprout.com/)
Tawyne: I always kept an open-door policy and made it clear that he had a home to come back to when he was ready. I'd like to say that we welcomed him with open arms, but the reality was that the kids and I were harboring resentment and lots of hurt towards him, especially from the kids. Luckily it didn't take long for him to prove to us that he was back for the long haul and we were able to grow from that experience and come out stronger on the other end. Everything we went through allowed us the opportunity to show our kids that we would always support them and be there for them as they grow into whoever they are going to be. They get to grow up in an environment where they are accepted as whoever they are and never have to hide any part of themselves from us.
Michael: Coming home wasn't easy for me either. I was engulfed in guilt and embarrassment having essentially walked out on my kids. I knew I had a lot to prove to not just them but also myself. I needed to be the father and man that they and I needed me to be. Over time the day to day responsibilities became easier and I found myself looking forward to fulfilling the role I drifted from. For me, having lost those two years helped me to be a better father and to know the value of my family.
Tawyne: I've always loved Michael and over the years our marriage went from being a traditional thing to more of a partnership and a friendship. Today, we are best friends and we raise our family together, under one roof. It works for us. We have the privilege to make our own rules and are lucky enough to have support from our friends and family. We're able to lead our own separate lives and respect the boundaries we have laid out for one another. Basically, we get the best of both worlds!
Michael & Tawyne: It's important for us to raise our kids together and pave our own way. We don't fit into the typical "mold" and that's okay. We hope our story can help people going through a separation, divorce or even a similar situation. Although something like that can feel like the end of the world, it doesn't have to be. Every person can write their own story and live their best life. Accept others as you would want to be accepted and spread love wherever you can. This is, after all, the world we are leaving for the generations to follow. The least we can do is make it as beautiful for them as we can.
This life isn't for everybody. You really have to have patience and understanding for yourself and the other parent. Communication is key in everything but especially in co-parenting. If you chose to live together remember to set boundaries and be honest with who you are now. AND LET THE LITTLE THINGS GO! We cannot stress that enough! Build your foundation first and respect each other because your kids are always watching you. Whether your co-parenting like us, raising your kids together or as a single parent, I think everyone can agree that our main goals are to raise decent human beings with open hearts and open minds.