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Speaking Your Truth is the Most Powerful Tool We All Have

Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have

Last week, Oprah said what we straight spouses have known for a long time.

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

In a powerful speech at the Golden Globes ceremony, Oprah addressed the complete and utter disregard in the entertainment industry and in society in general for victims of sexual assault and sexual discrimination. What she said has resonated so deeply within so many people, that some are even talking about having her run for president!

Well, we don’t know about her future in politics.  But we do know that she and others who proclaim that the time has come for truth telling are on to something very powerful and necessary.

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

When we straight spouses and partners speak the truth of our relationships to our spouses and partners, to our families, to our trusted friends, to our counselors, clergy and advisors we often encounter some obstacles to going forward, to proclaiming or discovering the entire truth.

Many of us are immediately perceived through whatever view the other person has about  homosexuality. And the truth that we tell sometimes means the other person has to deal with some cognitive dissonance. Many times, we’ve been dealing with that cognitive dissonance for a long time, and coped by viewing our own lives through a distorted lens.

Wait.  Cognitive WHAT?

Cognitive dissonance is defined as “the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica) People seek to resolve that mental conflict through changing, justifying, or denying a behavior or a perception.

Oh.  So that’s why, when we tell our best friend, our parents, our pastor that we think our spouse is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, they have some reactions we don’t expect.  They thought they knew our spouse.  They have specific ideas about who is homosexual, bisexual, transgender- and maybe our spouse doesn’t fit that.  Or maybe they do – and told themselves that we must be ok with it. And here we are, telling them something that may be the total opposite of what they thought they knew.

That’s why we hit a wall with questions that tend to drive us into a closet that was made by someone else. “How do you know? How can you tell? Are you sure?  How come you didn’t see this before?” Sometimes we are asking ourselves those very same questions.

Sometimes our spouses counter with their alternate version of our reality.  Many straight wives have heard “just because I have sex with men doesn’t mean I’m gay. It has nothing to do with you.” It certainly DOES have something to do with you!

Sometimes we supply answers ourselves that keep us in a comfort zone. Until we can’t anymore.

Our spouse comes out to us, or we discover something that shows us definitely that despite denial, they are not completely heterosexual, or being honest with themselves or with us.

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

So how do we do that when the truth that we tell makes many people so very uncomfortable?

We speak truth in our own best interest.  We don’t speak it to shame, humiliate, or hurt someone else.  We speak it in proclamation of our own experience, our own reactions, our own lives.

Here at the Straight Spouse Network, we affirm one another, even if our experiences are vastly different, even if our paths diverge. We cannot tell one another what to do, but we can listen, support, and affirm those among us who speak their truth.

If you are a friend or a family member of a straight spouse, listening and affirmation are the best gifts you can offer.  We need people we trust to listen and share some understanding. We don’t need a grand inquisition, or an explanation of why somehow we’re wrong, or a dismissal because our spouse denies whatever we say. We need you to listen.

We wish we could distill it down to “10 signs your husband or wife is gay.”  We can’t. There are so many of us, with so many different experiences and relationships.  Sometimes our gay spouses are still figuring it out.

We know that the mainstream media is frequently more interested in those relationship lists, or in providing quick answers than they are in actually recounting our stories.  We know that “coming out” stories are extremely popular right now.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t get to keep speaking the truth about you.  We won’t stop.  Neither should you.

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

#Ustoo Oprah.  Thanks.

5 Comments

  1. Is it true the media doesn’t tell our stories? I’m not sure anymore. One thing I learned in therapy was to be careful of my “self-talk,” the stories I tell myself or choose to believe without testing them first.

    I watched a TV series for the BBD called “Man In An Orange Shirt” that I bought from Amazon. The script and acting are excellent and the wife’s story was an important part. Vanessa Redgrave played her in the second half, and she showed all the stages of anger, pain, betrayal, questions and sadness. I can’t recommend it enough. So then I looked for recommendations, and found more than I thought: “Far From Heaven”, “Mulligans”, “Making Love”, “Victim”, “Advise & Consent.” On IMDB I found lists of movies I wasn’t aware of by searching “Married Men Who Have Gay Affairs.” I did a search on You-Tube and came up with more results, most from the last 20 years. I didn’t mention “Brokeback Mountain” or “Frankie and Gracie” because most of us are aware of those.

    Then I tried another search, using “My Husband Is Gay” and Google came back with lots of results from newspapers, magazines, blogs, and psychology journals. You-Tube returned a lot of personal videos of people talking about their marriages to gay or lesbian people. I didn’t find much coverage of straight men married to lesbians, but for women married to gay men, there is a lot of coverage in a lot of different formats, many with comment sections and forums.

    It took me less than a half hour to test if the media isn’t interested. I can’t say how much interest there is but I think when we believe the self-talk that the media isn’t interested, we defeat ourselves. It’s worth looking. Stories like ours are out there, and I recommend “Man In An Orange Shirt” as a place to start.

  2. I do speak my truth now but people are uneasy with it . I wish I could tag my exes new beard but I had to sign a gag order . For me it was much much than him just being gay or bi . Him being sociopathic narcissistic and all the cruel things my kids and I had to go through after I told him I knew the truth was what was hardest . I’ll never be the same , in some good and some bad ways .

    • True about other’s discomfort. I look at it this way: discomfort with talking about it causes this problem, and the only way to combat it is to melt that discomfort away. It took a while for me to figure out, but I’ve learned some techniques.

      One is I ask them if I am making them uncomfortable talking about this (I don’t ask “are you uncomfortable?”) That way I’m not accusing them of anything and they don’t get defensive. I just acknowledge that I can see they’re uncomfortable and say it used to make me uncomfortable too, it’s normal at first but goes away. Think about it – they’re already uncomfortable, so you don’t want to make them even more uncomfortable for feeling uncomfortable! It works if you ask if you’re the one making them uncomfortable. You can acknowledge it without agreeing with them.

      Another is that the discomfort is part of the experience. It’s not comfortable when something shakes up our comfortable view of our world. It’s a normal reaction. It becomes a problem if we let discomfort make our decisions for us, or if we give it too much importance. That discomfort is what started the problem in the first place, all the way back to when our spouses were still children and raised to feel discomfort with themselves. We get rid of the discomfort by talking about it and normalizing it so that it’s no longer uncomfortable.

      And the other is to remember that we are not responsible for anyone’s emotions or reactions. Their reaction is their responsibility. All we can do is tell the truth, honestly and without malice, and being honest includes acknowledging that it’s scary and uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s normal.

    • I thought about tagging the new beard too, I even asked my lawyer what could happen, but he said why? you’ll just invite more drama, and he’ll know it was me, so why do it? It was hard to let it go, I admit, but I’m glad he talked me out of it.

      Laura, what are some of the good ways you say you’ve changed? I’m starting to ask myself what I’ve learned from this, because I don’t want to become cynical or bitter. For me, I’d say I’m less naive and more skeptical, but I won’t say I’ll never trust anybody again. I don’t want to go there so I won’t let myself say it. I think with my therapist I’m more honest with myself and my issues, but I won’t take blame for things I didn’t do either. I’ll admit I brought baggage to the marriage too, it wasn’t all his.

      What makes me sad is I think he really did love me the way he understood it, and married me for that, but he was on auto-pilot. I don’t think he ever had that feeling of “falling in love” before, so when it happened, it was the first time he knew the difference. That wasn’t anyone’s fault, but it hurts just the same.

  3. The word “truth” sounds good, it’s powerful, but it can be problematic at times. Whose truth? As of when? Last year’s truth, or yesterday’s? Truth changes as we add new information to what we thought we knew. The truth might be out there, but no matter how close we get, it often seems to be just a little bit further away. I don’t disagree with the essence of Oprah’s line, but I’ve learned to say it as “Describe the experience.” That way it’s mine, but I recognize that another person’s experience is different. It also forces me to use “I statements” instead of generalizing to “we” and “they.” It also dis-empowers people who would tell me my truth must be wrong because it isn’t theirs.

    Historically, people and nations have justified murder over whose truth is correct, because humans want to believe there is only one truth: the one that makes them comfortable. The belief that only one truth exists has led to local, personal disagreements to religious conflict to World Wars. But if we can agree that we have different experiences, they can all be true at the same time. I’ve found that people are more comfortable if I present my story as an experience that I had, and let them find in it whatever truth they need. I don’t have to be right; I only ask to be heard.

    At least, that has been my experience of speaking my truth.

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