The Experiences of Heterosexual Women Married to Gay or Bisexual Men


Matt Pearcey

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


The purpose of this study was to better understand the experiences of heterosexual women who were married to gay or bisexual men. This survey looked at what led these women to marry their husbands, how they fell after they found out about their husband's newly identified sexual orientation, and how they coped with this revelation.

A mixed-method approach was taken in this study with 27 closed-ended questions. Three of the questions were open ended. This 30-question surv ey was utilized in order to gather data on each subject's experience of coping with their husband or partner’s coming out process. It consisted of three conceptual areas: respondents’ attitudes toward morality of homosexuality, factors which led to their attraction and marriage to their gay or bisexual spouses, and their coping strategies once it was revealed the male spouse was gay or bisexual.

If being gay or bisexual was seen as positively as being straight, mixed-orientation marriage would likely not exist to the same degree it does today. With a conservative estimate of nearly four million people in such marriages, this problem is widespread, but little empirical evidence exists which reflects the experiences of heterosexual wives and their gay or bisexual husbands.

A majority (58%) of the women in this study revealed they felt angry, resentful, and less attractive, while only 24% indicated relief and understanding once they understood their husbands were gay or bisexual. Although no statistically significant relationship was found between the wives' level of religious affiliation and their attitudes toward the morality of same-sex relationships, it is interesting to note that 43% of the women considered themselves religious-spiritual, while 80% of them felt that same-sex relationships were moral. Nearly a quarter o*' the women in this study indicated that the two most important factors in the decision to marry or partner, even above physical and intellectual traits, were related to the treatment they received from these males as well as the attitudes and values these men portrayed.

This document is currently not available here.