Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

No regrets for gay rugby star Gareth Thomas's ex-wife

Gareth and Jemma Thomas
Gareth and Jemma Thomas were friends as teenagers before marrying in August 2001

As their divorce is about to be finalised, the ex-wife of former Wales and Lions international Gareth Thomas has no regrets about the years of marriage the pair shared.

Thomas' public revelation last year that he was gay came three years after he had sat his wife Jemma down and told her exactly the same thing.

Despite rumours about his sexuality from early in their relationship, Mrs Thomas was devastated that this man, who loved her "so dearly", was telling her a secret that would lead to the end of their marriage.

Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 live, Mrs Thomas, 33, who now lives in Alicante, Spain, said her immediate reaction to his statement, "I think I'm gay" was, "I think you are".

FROM BBC RADIO 5 LIVE

She said: "It was very strange, my reply, because I'd never mistrusted him with a woman yet I never knew anything had been going on with a man either.

"I had my suspicions and there were lots of rumours when he was much younger but there was never anything substantial for me to go on so I kind of just blocked it out and put it to the back of my mind.

"I knew that Gareth loved me so dearly and he never gave me any just cause or reason to think he was having an affair with another woman.

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas won 100 Welsh rugby caps

"He would always come home, he was a very caring, very passionate person and I didn't for one minute think it would have been another woman because I trusted him."

When he told her, she revealed "80% of me thought it would be a man, and maybe 20% thought it would be a woman".

The pair had been friends from their teenage years and had had an on-off relationship for quite a few years before they got more serious, and married not long afterwards in August 2001.

Alongside the good times, they faced a series of trials during their married life. Mrs Thomas suffered a total of three miscarriages over five years, and just before the third one Thomas collapsed following a TV interview after suffering a mini-stroke.

He sat me down and said, 'I really don't know how to tell you this but I really think you should know, and I think I'm gay'
Jemma Thomas

Mrs Thomas said: "We had built up a relationship for many years prior to us getting married. We were the best of friends and we did have a great life together.

"There's a part of me that thinks he should have been more honest with me sooner but then again I wouldn't want to change the time we had together."

She does not regard any part of her marriage as wasted time, saying it has made them both the people they are today.

She added: "We did have a great time. Gareth's a great person and he finally managed to come out and say who he is."

In the run-up to Thomas' revelation, the couple were living in France and Mrs Thomas said they had drifted apart a bit, but it was actually when there were spending some time back in Wales while Thomas was doing some rugby academy work with children that he broke the news to her.

"It was quite difficult for him I suppose because maybe he was getting stronger feelings, I don't know.

"He'd had a bit of time on his own as I was working temporarily. He'd phoned me and said we needed to have a chat," she said.

"We'd been a bit niggly, perhaps, with each other as I didn't know where he was for periods of time while he was doing the academies.

"He sat me down and said, 'I really don't know how to tell you this but I really think you should know, and I think I'm gay'.

"I said to him, 'I think you are'.

"He said to me he didn't want to hurt me anymore and didn't want to lie to me anymore. He said as much as he loved me he wasn't being fair to me."

'Two lots of feelings'

Mrs Thomas admitted she found it easier that he was not admitting having an affair with another woman.

Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas talks to three gay men from the Welsh valleys

"It wasn't like I'd done anything wrong or done anything to cause the situation. At the end of the day there was nothing I could have done to change the situation," she said.

She says they have never discussed the fact he was unfaithful with other men, adding she did not view that as betrayal in the same way.

"We have never spoken about that because it was hard enough for me to deal with when he told me he was gay - that was devastating in itself.

"To actually think more into what had possibly been going on over those years - I kind of blocked out and switched off.

"I didn't really want to think more about what he had been doing while we were together.

"He said, 'it's like I have got two lots of feelings'. The love he had for me was unbelievable yet he still needed to have those fixes, if you wanted to call it that, which he couldn't control and he needed that, and I couldn't provide that I suppose."

She is now waiting for the arrival of the decree absolute that will dissolve their marriage, eight-and-a-half years after their wedding day.

"For me it will be a closure but I don't really feel different as we have been apart now for quite some time," she said.

"I came [to Spain]... to start again and I am away from a lot of that memory so it does help me move on."



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