I loved my husband and was happy with the life we built. But I had to end our marriage when I realized I'm a lesbian.

Lauren Burgess holding a mug on a table with an open book
Lauren Burgess had to end her happy marriage.Lauren Burgess
  • My husband and I built a happy life and a loving, perfect marriage.

  • But we rarely had sex, so we went to couples therapy to try and save our marriage.

  • After a solo trip, I realized I'm a lesbian and had to end my marriage.

In May 2020, I embarked on a two-week solo camping trip, leaving behind the two things I loved most: my husband and my dog.

I had no map, no plans, and no idea what would happen next. The trip was a means to escape from what felt like the world crashing down. Little did I know, in those two weeks, I would come to a realization that would change my life.

When I returned home, I came out as a lesbian and ended my decade-long, happy marriage.

We met in college, but a decade later, we ended up in a yoga class together

It was his height that got me at first; he stood over 6 feet tall. But it didn't take long for me to realize there was so much more to him: He was kind, respectful, smart, funny, and handy. We dated for three years, got engaged, bought a house, and then got a dog. Two years later, we got married.

We didn't have sex on our wedding night, but we were tired. I mean, not everyone has sex on their wedding night, right?

We spent the next five years immersed in our careers — him in finance and me in nonprofits. But on girls nights, I stumbled home after having too many drinks and climbed on him like a child. We'd lie in bed eating mac and cheese as I sloppily recounted the gossip shared over the course of the evening. I never had anything juicy to share with the girls because my life and my marriage were perfect. I had the house, dog, career, and husband.

But the truth is, my husband and I were having sex only a couple of times a year. I kept telling myself it was OK if we didn't have sex because I had everything else.

We tried to reboot our sex life and our marriage a few times

A couple of years in, I signed us up for a weekend retreat that was marketed to couples who needed a little refresh. We considered it an opportunity to get away and reconnect. From sunup to sundown, we sat in a hotel conference room with our lukewarm coffee listening, holding hands, participating in the cheesy group activities, and taking notes. We left that weekend with a shared Google calendar for scheduled sex. Thursdays were supposed to be our day.

But another year went by with little sex. We decided to go to marriage counseling. We told our friends it was for "maintenance." Our therapist gave us homework: Read "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" and look into each other's eyes while holding hands for one minute a day. We did it, but we made fun of it every step of the way.

Then the pandemic hit, and our attempts at maintenance turned into misery. I was drowning in work and severely depressed. I wanted out — out of my house, out of my career, out of my life.

My husband was happy, though. He liked his life, the life we built. He was OK with a mostly sexless marriage because he was happy — genuinely happy. Hearing that hurt more than anything. I had everything I had ever dreamed of, so why did it feel like something was missing?

"Maybe I'm gay," I said one night as I changed into pajamas.

"Maybe," he responded with the same amount of airiness behind his words. "Bring it up this week in therapy."

I nodded, got into bed, kissed him goodnight, and rolled over.

I've always considered myself a heterosexual woman, but I couldn't deny I was attracted to other women

I just ignored all the signs. I had been making out with my friends since high school, but I thought everyone did that.

When I told our couples therapist that I might be a lesbian, she brushed it off. I needed time to get away and think everything over. That's when I booked my solo camping trip.

On it, I came to the realization that I wasn't straight. I was just committed to a specific vision I had for my life. That vision was so ingrained in heteronormativity that I couldn't even see straight — or rather, could see only straight. I loved my husband and my life. It was exactly what I wanted and needed until I realized it wasn't mine at all. It belonged to a dream — a dream I could no longer identify with.

Two weeks later, I came back from that camping trip and said the words out loud for what felt like the first and last time: "I'm gay."

My husband knew it, and I knew it. We cried, we hugged, and we cried some more. This beautiful thing — our life together, our marriage — was over.

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