real life

'I discovered my husband was hooking up with men. Here's what it's taught me.'

Women Partners
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When Renee and Luke first met, there were instant sparks. 

Renee was 25, Luke was in his early 30s. They had similar interests, great chemistry and within two months of dating they were engaged. Four years into their relationship, they married in 2014. 

A few years later, the couple decided it was time to start a family together, although Luke was pushing for it more than Renee, she tells Mamamia

"He was in his mid to late 30s by that point, so he was very keen on starting a family as he didn't want to be an older dad. He really dictated the timeline around a lot of things in our relationship. He was also adamant we have two kids, even though I was interested in having three," she explains.

Throughout the years, their marriage was good. Great even. 

"Everything was totally fine in the bedroom I thought. We still got on really well, and we loved each other. His job meant he had to travel a lot, so although there were nights we weren't together, we made up for it when he was back home."

Only later would Renee realise that the travelling aspect of Luke's work helped him lead a romantic life separate from his wife at home.

"I had recently given birth to our first child, and him being away from home was becoming really difficult. We decided to move to another area, and that meant Luke had to give up the travel part of his job. It was around this point that I fell pregnant with our second child, and things started to change in Luke more visibly," says Renee.


"He was really distant, and it felt like he was hiding something from me. He kept his work phone glued to him and was extremely secretive about it. It rang alarm bells in my mind, as that was something neither of us had ever done before."

Renee pressed on though, hoping it was simply a blip in their marriage and things would be smoothed over soon enough. Sadly, this wasn't the case. 

"I had given birth to our second child, and I was now three months postpartum. Things still weren't right with Luke and I. While Luke was in the shower one morning, I saw that he hadn't taken his work phone into the bathroom with him, like he had been doing lately. Something told me to look at the phone. And my world came crashing down."

What Renee found on her phone shocked her to her core. 

She saw that Luke had the app Grindr on his phone, a popular dating app among men wishing to hook up with other men. Renee was devastated that her husband was cheating on her, and had been cheating on her for some time. She was also shocked and confused about her husband's sexuality, as it had never been something they had discussed beforehand.

"It was the worst moment of my life, without a doubt. I literally felt my heart sink to the floor. I was in disbelief and tried to keep it together until he left the house for work, and then I let the shock wash over me," she says.


"I knew he had engaged in group sexual scenarios when he was a young adult, and some men likely would have been present. But as for an overt discussion on sexuality, and the potential of him being attracted to other men, he had never brought it up, and I had never questioned it."

A few days later after processing what she had discovered, Renee sat down with Luke. She says he denied that he had done anything with his Grindr profile, rather he had "just downloaded the app on a whim".

"He didn't apologise, nor did he accept any responsibility for having the affairs. He just denied and denied. We ended up seeing a marriage counsellor that he picked out himself, but then he refused to keep attending when the counsellor asked him to take accountability for the infidelity," Renee explains.

For Renee, the whole situation left her feeling very lost and isolated. Her and Luke weren't on good terms. But she wanted to keep their marriage on track and give it a go – not wanting her kids to be impacted by a potential parental separation. 

She also didn't feel ready to leave, nor did Luke want the marriage to end. Renee feels his reasons though differed from hers.

"I think he wanted me around as a cover. He didn't love me, or he didn't love me anymore. If anything, I felt really used, and completely alone. He was also being quite cruel towards me," she says.


"After the discovery of the cheating, we stayed together for another four years. I just don't think I was ready to leave. But the resentment grew and grew. I believe he kept cheating on me. I later found that he had hired a male sex worker covering as a masseuse to come to our house for the night, while I was away for the weekend with one of our kids, and our other child was at home asleep in bed. There was no respect shown towards me."

During those four years, knowing Luke was cheating on her, Renee says she felt a betrayal hard to put into words. She felt confused, not telling any of her loved ones – bar one – about what was really going on at home. She did confide in a friend about her marriage, and says this friend was a real help in offering non-judgemental support. 

Renee tells Mamamia she was also hyperaware of her own sexual health, making sure to get tested for sexually transmitted infections. 

"I didn't know if Luke had used protection while engaging in the various affairs and encounters he had with other men. So I thought it was safest to test, making sure I was okay. I also made sure we used protection when we had sex the few times throughout those four years we were still together, to avoid any potential transmission."

Nearing the end of the marriage, it dawned on Renee that her feelings of frustration and hurt had grown so much that she no longer wanted to stay with Luke. 


Ultimately, the nail in the coffin wasn't the cheating itself – more so the complete breakdown in trust between the two of them. So six months ago, she asked him for a divorce, determined to start a fresh chapter on her own, and continue co-parenting their children together. Luke was "furious" with her. 

"I sat him down and said I can't do this anymore. I don't think he ever thought I was going to leave him. He told me it was all my fault, like I had done him a huge disservice. It was really emotionally difficult to grapple with it all," Renee notes.

"He's from a very conservative family, so I don't know whether he will ever come out publicly about his sexuality. That's up to him. I just couldn't stay with him knowing everything I did. That wasn't fair."

In the six months since splitting, Renee says it's been a rollercoaster of emotions. 

It's a sentiment so many people can relate to, who have ended a marriage due to infidelity on their partner's part. But for women who have discovered their husbands are sleeping with men, they say it's a different experience. One that can be far more nuanced and complicated. 

It's for this reason that Renee says various support groups, resources, counsellors and speaking to other women who have been through similar circumstances have been really helpful. 

"Life now is a lot more peaceful. No one tells me what to do. No one is gaslighting me. I can now live life on my own terms, as can my ex-husband," she says.


"I was really concerned about being on my own, as my husband was someone who made a lot of the decisions. Now I know I can do things for myself, and I'm relearning bit by bit. The apprehension has gone and I feel like I'm in control of my own identity now."

For Renee, she has no regrets about looking through Luke's phone four years ago. She feels she needed to know what was going on, as the constant lies were really impacting her state of mind. She's grateful she listened to her gut instinct. 

"I still feel very used and completely disrespected by Luke. And I think I'll feel that way for a long time. But I'm ready to start this new chapter and feel happier within myself. It's all about healing, focusing on the wellbeing of our kids and starting fresh."

Renee is known to Mamamia. Her name has been changed for privacy reasons. Stock imagery has been used.

Women Partners is a NSW based service that offers individual counselling, support groups and information for all women whose partners are men who have sex with men. Explore their free and confidential services including individual counselling, and non-judgemental support groups.

Contact the service on 02 9560 3011, 1800 787 887 (Freecall for outside Sydney) or 

Feature Image: Getty.

Women Partners
Women Partners is a New South Wales based service that offers individual counselling, support groups and information to all women when they learn that their male partners are having sex with men. Run by Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre since 2000, we provide a safe, supportive and non-judgemental service to assist women to navigate their changing relationships whilst recognising that each woman’s circumstances are unique. We also provide professional development for social workers, GPs and other health professionals. Contact us on 02 9560 3011 if in Sydney, freecall us on 1800 787 887 outside Sydney or visit our website