"You send your fiancé to the dry cleaners one day and he comes back gay," says Kiri Blakeley in her new book, "Can't Think Straight: A Memoir of Mixed-Up Love." 10 years into her relationship with fiancé, Aaron, he told her he was gay. At first he said he came to this conclusion because his male fantasies had become overwhelming, but Kiri did a bit of digging and found out he had been cheating on her with men for the last two years of their relationship.
I don't mean to belittle Kiri's heartache; she was devastated, confused and hurt (all of which she describes with brass humor), but if there's a silver lining, it's that the wedding hadn't taken place. She had a fear of commitment that ended up benefitting her. Kiri and Aaron were engaged a year into dating, but settled into living together rather than planning a quick wedding. Months became years, and they were the ever-engaged couple.
What snapped Kiri into wedding planning was the realization that her grandmother and Aaron's elderly mother wouldn't necessarily live to see them marry, and that if Aaron were in the hospital, she would have no say in what happened to him. But those plans came to a screeching and lifesaving halt. It's painful to disentangle yourself emotionally from someone you love, whether he's a boyfriend, fiancé or husband, but it's significantly easier to untie yourself from someone legally if you haven't sworn, "Till death do us part." Kiri's cold feet did her a favor.
Perhaps the women who historically suffered most in light of her husband's homosexuality was Constance Wilde. She was married to playwright Oscar Wilde, and they lived during a time when homosexuality was not only considered immoral but also illegal. Six years into the marriage, Constance was dealing with the private torture of sexual estrangement and knowing her husband spent more time in hotels than at home. She then had to deal with the public humiliation of Oscar being jailed for sodomy. On top of all this, she had two boys to raise. After Oscar's imprisonment, she changed her and her sons' last name to Holland, and forced Oscar to give up his parental rights.
Consider also the 21st-century plight of Dina Matos McGreevey -- ex-wife of former New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevey. Four years into their marriage is when he went public with his homosexual affair. They separated in October 2004, but the divorce wasn't officially granted until August 2008. I imagine it's impossible to have any type of closure and move on with your life until the divorce is final. Dina, understandably, harbored some bitterness and said in her memoirs that she had no idea he was homosexual, and she never would have chosen a gay man to father her child.
Comparatively, Kiri got off easy. Because there were no children or significant assets to divide, not to mention the lack of a tabloid-friendly trial (or courtrooms of any kind), she was able to mourn quietly, hook-up freely, write a great book about it and maintain an amicable relationship with her ex -- all for the price of not getting married.