Janine Cole shared a difficult but inspiring story of love trumping all other obstacles on Today’s Parent. The mother of three shares the story of how her 21-year marriage ended on a Saturday morning over a cup of coffee: “My husband, Mike, looked up from across the table and said, ‘I’m gay.’”
This revelation is not as uncommon as you might think. It’s been estimated that over 4 million women are or were married to men who are gay/bisexual in America alone. Cole shares the emotional years leading up to the moment she came to terms with her husband’s sexuality. Two years earlier, Cole’s husband admitted he’d recently discovered he was attracted to men. It came as a shock; the couple had known each other since junior high school and were best friends.
As the struggle with his sexuality grew stronger, they decided to seek professional support. They found a psychotherapist and Cole decided they had too much to lose (family, home, each other) not to try. Cole agreed to an open marriage to allow her husband to explore his sexuality.
But even as Mike remained confident he was bisexual, Cole felt a shift. For the first time, she felt like she wasn’t enough. “I’m sure his decision to fully come out to me was the hardest one that he has ever had to make, but it was the right one,” says Cole. “There just were no more options for us as a couple.”
Cole, sad and angry, understood that her husband hadn’t intentionally set out to hurt her and the best thing she could do was let him go. Although allowing herself time to grieve, Cole stayed focused on moving on and being there for her kids.
The final step was to fall out of love with her husband. “I grieved hard for the end of our marriage,” Cole admitted. Still, Cole remains grateful for their time together and understands they separated because of love, not a lack thereof.
“As challenging as that time was, we grew as individuals and as a family,” wrote Cole. “I thought of the lessons we were able to pass on to our kids: We showed them that love sometimes means letting go when it’s the right thing to do, that being who you are is always best, and that family doesn’t fit one mold.” For Janine Cole’s full story, check out her personal article on www.todaysparent.com.
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