Living Two Lives Second Edition
Married to a Man & In Love with a Woman
by Joanne Fleisher

A guide for married women awakening to their attraction to other women.

"Joanne Fleisher has created something unique, filled with kindness, wisdom, practicality, honesty, and resourcefulness."- JoAnn Loulan, Author of Lesbian Sex


If you are a married woman discovering your attraction to women, you are probably confused, upset, and excited all at the same time. You are not alone. I've traveled this path, and so have the many women who have contacted me through my therapy practice and the Internet.

Many people believe that "coming out" is the process of disclosing your gay or lesbian sexual orientation to someone else. That it is. However, the most fundamental step in this process is coming out to yourself. Most women who contact me don't know whether they are gay, bisexual, or just having an isolated experience. This book will help you understand the meaning of your attractions and how to proceed with your exploration. It will also provide important information to the people who care about you-spouses, girlfriends, family members, and involved professionals.

I was in my early thirties, married with two young children, when I fell in love with a woman. In 1978, people didn't have computers with access to the Internet and chat rooms; there were no organizations to offer guidance. I had to go through this alone. My experience of dramatic upheaval is the basis for my commitment to helping other women find their way.

Managing the Roller Coaster - Chapter 5
Lies and Deception

The majority of women I have counseled have not been dishonest with their husbands prior to their sexual awakening. Yet most women in this transition find themselves caught up in a web of deceit, either lying or omitting the truth. You may find that your dishonesty undermines your personal values, spiritual beliefs, and, ultimately, self-esteem.

Lying requires a lot of energy-you must remember what you have said and learn how to lie convincingly. When you feel guilty, it is difficult to be convincing about the things you're trying to hide. The resulting stress can push you to your breaking point. Many women unconsciously leave clues around that suggest an underlying desire to have the truth uncovered. They may forget to delete an e-mail message from a lover or leave their personal journal around, inviting the scrutiny of a curious or suspicious husband. The upheaval comes when husbands discover an affair or some other deception. This puts you back on the roller coaster, with new levels of highs and lows. Everyone involved, including your girlfriend, goes into crisis mode Discovery usually initiates reactive anger and tears, demands, promises, and broken promises.

When you have no one to talk to, your thoughts and feelings tend to become circular and unresolved. It is natural to wait until you find the right words to explain what you feel. However, you should question whether your silence is a means of avoiding feelings of fear or shame.


Are you afraid to move in any direction? If you have tried something new or made a small decision and then found yourself retreating, even regressing, fear is guiding you. When you allow yourself to stay with the free-floating fear, you will uncover the specific concerns that need your attention. This is not easy to do, because people often develop coping mechanisms that shut off or avoid fear. These defenses include constant activity, addictions, and focus on other people to the exclusion of yourself. I know I sometimes work long hours, watch television or grab something to eat when I am upset. Make your own list of ways that you avoid your fears.

There are days when I say to myself, "It's time to move forward," and that scares the hell out of me. Then I ask myself, what really deep down scares me the most? Is it being alone, or the financial insecurity that will mean a serious lifestyle change? Or that my kids might shut me out, my husband will not only be hurt but damaged forever, the hometown gossip, or that the traditions and family dynamics will change drastically?" --- Betty

Betty's process for managing her fears offers some important tips. When you address each fear separately, you can assess how realistic it is. Most of Betty's fears were exaggerations. You may find, as she did, that you are capable of handling each of your concerns. Through her process, Betty could see more clearly that her reason for maintaining the status quo was to save everyone else. She wrote, "I suppose I am giving up my life for them once again."

"I just finished reading/studying your book in one sitting. I am going back and writing all of my highlights in my journal. I am buying a copy for my mother and best friend. Your voice is one that has finally slowed my world from spinning and helped me breathe a little easier. Thank you for this gift.- Jennifer

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Joanne Fleisher, LCSW
Author of the book Living Two Lives