One issue that everyone in the LBGT community must face at some point is when to come out. Some people—especially millennials—often take this step while they are fairly young. For those who were born and raised in less forgiving times, many have kept silent and stayed in the closet, burying their true wants and needs beneath jobs, marriages, and children. Often, this creates a volcano, which begins erupting after someone has already established a heterosexual life.

For many, the anguish of keeping their desires secret slowly becomes unbearable. This can lead to a very difficult and scary place. Coming out, when you are married with children, comes with a whole slew of anguishing questions and problems.

Unfortunately, there is no one right path for everyone to take here. But there are some things to consider.

Children

Your children’s age will play a huge role in their reaction. One thing that may work in your favor in today’s world is the fact that there is something of a gender/sexuality revolution going on: kids are becoming aware at a very young age that not everyone is going to be heterosexual. That said, this is going to be a huge change for kids of any age to process. Therapy sessions may be helpful, especially for minor children, to help them sort through their feelings. Deep, honest talks are also necessary here. The main thing is to be there for them, and make sure they understand that this wasn’t their fault and that they are loved.

Spouses

There is no easy way to come out to a spouse. Sadly, this may be even harder with people who are still close and loving with their partners. It’s never easy to hurt someone you love, and there is no simple way to tell someone that the life you’ve built together was based on a lie. There is a wide variety of outcomes here. One spouse may end up as a close, supporting friend: another may be bitter and vindictive. Another may be willing to try an open relationship, though this arrangement comes with a plethora of its own issues. Pick a time and place to have the discussion, and prepare to give your spouse some time to digest the news before looking forward.

The Only Way Out Is Through

When faced with this choice, there are really only two options: speak up, and disrupt your life, or remain silent, and suffer quietly. In many cases, those who are still closeted will also deal with the burden of lies and adultery. Neither path is easy. Neither path is simple. Both options will cause someone pain. But this problem will not resolve itself. Once you’ve announced yourself as a homosexual or bisexual, there’s no putting that cat back in the bag.

Everyone Has The Right To Be Happy

One hard question to ask yourself is how happy are you. Are you comfortable, and suffering only occasional twinges of guilt? Or is your situation tearing you up inside, and making you lose sleep? Emotional distress is a sign that your soul is screaming for change. Your spouse also has the right to be happy, so continuing to live a half-truth is also doing him or her a disservice as well.

Prepare For The Worst … Expect The Best

There’s no way to gauge how someone will react, especially after years of marriage. Before you break the big news, thoroughly prepare yourself for the worst possible outcome, and brace yourself for that. If you are pleasantly surprised, then wonderful. But the best thing you can do for yourself is to be ready emotionally, mentally, and financially, to change your life entirely. Have a support system in place.

Change Is Life’s Only Constant

There’s an old quote that says the only thing you can count on is change. Life is about change, and growth. Take time to envision your ideal future, and really examine it.

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