A Straight Husband’s Story.
By James Oliver Chapman
I’m James, and I’m a straight spouse. Sixteen years into my marriage, my wife told me she thought she was bisexual. When she said she wanted to try being with women, I bravely agreed to it. That’s when things got complicated. Molly and I lived in a Mixed Orientation Marriage for six more years. Then she found the girlfriend, fell in love, and realized she was actually gay. The girlfriend did everything in her power to drive a giant jackhammer between my wife and me, and eventually we divorced.
It wasn’t merely painful; it was complete devastation. To witness my wife falling in love with someone else was crushing, but the fact that it was with a woman was inconceivable. Molly and I hadn’t just been husband and wife; we were best friends, lovers, parents, and proud homeowners. In one fell swoop, I lost everything, including the very essence of who I was in the world.
I wept. I fell into clinical depression. I struggled with anxiety which resulted in leaves of absence from work. The two things that kept me going were my daughter and her dog. I was determined to get my daughter through college, in spite of the financial disaster the divorce had created for me. Duncan, my daughter’s Westie, came to live with me and he just may have saved my life. He gave me a reason to get out of bed every day. He became my family.
I survived the rough times – barely. But it was creating my memoir about those experiences that helped me heal. Writing it wasn’t a calm, easy experience. Most of the time I was typing, I was bawling like a baby. I was like Kathleen Turner in the opening scene of Romancing the Stone, where she was writing a sappy love story and bawling at the content. All the feelings I had suppressed during my marriage came out as I wrote. That process allowed me to own the feelings I couldn’t acknowledge while I was going through the whole sad and confusing ordeal.
Now my book, How to Lose Your Wife to Another Woman, has now been released to the world. My goal is for it to help and educate other straight spouses. And I plan to donate a portion of its sales at select launch-events to the Straight Spouse Network.
And me? I bought a new Westie when Duncan passed away. I travel to exciting places, and when I’m home, I enjoy life in my cool apartment with a view of the awesome Pacific Ocean.
James Oliver Chapman
How to Lose Your Wife to Another Woman- Excluse Excerpt
We don’t know who the original author is of these steps, but this advice is often quoted at our meetings and on our forums.
Ten Steps for Distancing
Stop asking new personal things of your partner about him/herself.
Don’t give out personal things about yourself to them.
Don’t bend over backward to celebrate any occasions that involve
Don’t bend over backward to help them more than is necessary
Don’t help them if they or someone else can.
Avoid discussions that involve their lives, re: old topics.
Start to develop new activities that don’t involve them.
Try to make new friends, acquaintances, anything.
Make small changes in your life: rearrange furniture, change decorations, try new soaps, ride your bike in a different route, eat at a different restaurant, eat different foods, cook them a different way, shop at different stores, rearrange the landscaping, change some of your habits, change the style of clothing you wear, etc.
If they ask favors of you, tell them you want time to think about it.
During Pride celebrations last month, many LGBT people saw the presence of some straight spouses at those events. The focus of the Straight Spouse Network is not Pride, nor advocacy for gay rights, although many straight spouses are personally involved with those activities. The purpose of the Straight Spouse Network is support for current and former heterosexual spouses and partners of LGBT people. So that is why you will see us at some Pride events, giving out brochures, letting people know we exist, that there is safe confidential help for the straight partner. We are usually not there as “straight allies” like members of PFLAG and COLAGE, although many of the people we have helped are indeed”straight allies” – people who support the LGBT community.
It takes time, dedication, and outright bravery to do this. It also takes money.
The Straight Spouse Network in in the running for two huge grants, and we need votes to get them. We aren’t asking you for money, we are asking you for votes. Vote for us on Pepsi Refresh, and vote for us on Chase Community Giving.
We are especially asking our “gay allies” – those people and organizations who have supported SSN in the past, with monetary or in kind donations, or volunteer support. We seriously need the money to continue to support straight spouses, and encourage positive paths for all members of the Rainbow Family. We straight spouses are an integral part of that family – and this is the one organization that supports us in recognition of that. We need every friend and family member behind us. These grants are awarded based on social networking.
Gotta tell ya, there is some stiff competition there. Yep, those blind cats on Chase Community Giving sure are cute and cuddly. More people want to help them than want to help us by voting. More people have at least enough passion to push a few buttons on the behalf of distressed animals than have shown us the same interest – or acknowledgment that there is a need for help for us when we are distressed.
When we have looked into grant applications, we have been told “sorry. LGBTQ is not our foundation’s focus”. It doesn’t matter that we ourselves are not LGBTQ – we’re viewed by funders as being part of the LGBTQ family, so that is the reality. When we apply to LGBTQ funders, we are often told that support is not a focus, since advocacy is the critical need, and meeting the challenges of well funded anti gay groups. So, we must rely on ourselves, our friends, our families – and our gay allies. In short, we must rely on all whom we have helped to help us now.
Find out how you can vote for us on Pepsi Refresh here. Be sure to share with your friends and allies. You can vote once a day for this!
If you are on Facebook, find out how you can vote for us on Chase Community Giving until July 13 here. You can even keep your vote private on this, and it won’t appear in your news settings.
In times like these, when so many of us cannot afford to give money, it still is important to know who our friends are. Thank you for being a friend. Thank you for voting for the Straight Spouse Network.