Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My wife, "Cari," and I have been married almost 30 years and have four wonderful children, the youngest in high school. I love my kids, and I love my wife, but over the years, the passion in our marriage has dropped to the point that my wife has asked more than once if I am having an affair with another woman. Each time I have replied, truthfully, "You are the most attractive woman in the world to me." I add the promise "I will never have an affair with another woman." What I have not yet mentioned to her is that, in my heart-of-hearts, I am not so sure that I could turn away a man. This is my dilemma: Should I -- and when should I -- tell Cari that I really don't have any sexual interest in women? I expect no understanding or acceptance from Cari when I'm honest with her. A therapist I have seen told me to wait until I'm fully prepared before I come out. A gay pastor counseled me to work through as much as I can, but make sure I come out before I meet a boyfriend -- to keep the focus on orientation rather than love interests. A third opinion came from a book whose author is a woman whose husband left her for a man. This author's advice is to tell her immediately, so that she can grieve and get on with life. What would you suggest?

-- Want to Be Honest

DEAR WANT: I agree with all three pieces of advice. And now that you've sought advice from the counselor, the clergy, the self-help book and the columnist, I'd say that it's time for you to do what you obviously need (and want) to do.

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You should seek the help of a counselor to navigate through this with your wife. You cannot expect instant understanding or acceptance, and this is because when one spouse drops a bombshell into the relationship, the other spouse tends to feel upset, angry and betrayed. But you can continue to be a good and loving partner to her and a great father to your kids.

Your wife would benefit from connecting with the Straight Spouse Network: