By Tara Lowney
The year that was
fears and pain
crossroads and choices….
Words were said
destroying what I believed…
The power of those words
shattered who I was….
Someone who settled
out of fear…
Fear of the unknown,
fear of the solitude,
fear of the what now?
Knowing there is a
that haunts me
how do I face the
that beckons me….
Waiting at the crossroads
for me to catch up
a hand is held out…
reminding me it’s not that far
a journey together…
or continue to live with the shadows?
Accept what others see
or continue to believe the doubts are truths?
Chained to those fears
as you move forward,
as hope and reassurances
soothe your worries…
Tied to those fears
to let go,
to push forward,
to live the year that’s now…
After the initial shock of discovering that we are married to a lesbian or homosexual man, we straight spouses find ways to process what we now know, and what it means in our lives. We talk. we cry. We shout. We listen. We shut down. And eventually, we open up to friends, counselors, clergy.
What happens then often shocks us. The gay spouse gets what we crave – affirmation, confirmation. Its good they came out. They are so brave. This is so hard. Youcannot blame them for being closeted. It’s so difficult. Society is so terrible. Are you sure? How do you know? Well, why do you think THAT means your spouse is gay?
Very few people ask how we are doing and what we need. Those who do will often not keep asking. We are supposed to just get over it, because other people are very uncomfortable with the reality of our lives. Often counselors focus on helping the gay spouse or helping us understand the gay spouse.
We need help. We need understanding. We need affirmation.
Some of us DO find solace in understanding the experience of our gay spouses. Some of us need to create healthy distance, privacy, renew our acquaintance with ourselves. Some of us have been told that our marriages would have ended anyway, because we’re at fault for something. Whether it is appearance, sexual prowess, sensitivity, housekeeping, we are told “it takes two” when a marriage breaks up. We seldom hear that we could be perfect – and our spouses would still be unhappy because we are the opposite sex.
Some of us need to hear that no matter how good we are, we could not change the outcome of our marriages. Some of us need to hear that we ARE good. Some of us need to hear that no matter what our failings, our spouses are gay and this is a huge challenge for any marriage. Acknowledging this difficulty does not make us “haters” or “delusional” or “uncooperative”.
Sometimes we are surrounded by people who tell us how we ought to feel, what ought to happen. We ought to stay married. We ought to divorce. We ought to go to this particular counselor or program that will save our marriage. We ought to attend the gay pride parade. We ought to tell our children. We ought to NEVER tell our children because that’s up to the gay spouse alone.
What we really ought to do is be honest. Some of us will need to tell our children, in an age appropriate way, about why our homes are changing, even if the gay spouse does not approve. Some of us will tell children together with the gay spouse. Some of us will want to tell the children together, and find the gay spouse does it alone – and when we feel left out, marginalized, overlooked, many counselors and well meaning friends will tell us that we should never have done that anyway, it doesnt matter. We know it does matter.
Some of us will stay married. Some will separate right away. Its a process, and for many couples it is not a quick one. Perhaps the least helpful thing is for a straight spouse to hear that they should just divorce now because that is what will happen anyway. It doesn’t always happen. People have to work these questions out in their own way, in their own time.
The Straight Spouse Network provides a safe place for the straight spouse to sort out their reactions, needs, wants, desires. We won’t tell you to save your marriage. We won’t tell you that you should just save yourself a lot of trouble and file for divorce. The Straight Spouse Network will support and affirm you as you find what it is that you want and need – whatever that is today. Because we are a peer group, many of us will also have similar experiences to share with you.
You are not alone. Your perspective, perceptions, experiences, and questions matter.
When we first discover that our husbands are gay or that our wives are in love with another woman, many of us struggle with our own conflicting feelings. We feel anger, hurt, confusion. Yet many of us continue to love our gay spouses while grieving the loss of the marriage – or what we thought the marriage meant.
We have so many feeling hitting us all at once – and its important to realize, especially at the beginning, that we need time to work it all through. Our gay spouses are going though a lot – but they have had their entire lives to realize they are gay and come to terms with it. We cope with all of our feelings, our empathy for them, our anger, our confusion about what the future may hold all at
once. And yet, when we reach for understanding, we are often told that we have to understand what the gay person is going through, tough as it is for us.
After a while, many straight spouses wonder why no one feels that they have to understand us.
The simple answer is this: they can’t. Also, there is no positive popular warm vibe about understanding the straight spouse. There is a lot of popular feeling now about understanding gay people and celebrating their rights. But what happens in our marriages is quite different. Many people try to understand by blaming the deception on society and the closet. But regardless of the cause,
we still crave the affirmation, patience, and understanding that is likely to not be forthcoming, especially over the time it takes us to recover.
This is why the Straight Spouse Network exists. We understand the experience of learning that your spouse is gay or lesbian. We affirm one another, and share our experiences. It helps to know that you are not alone, and that you can confide in others with respect and confidentiality.
In the beginning, we often cannot see that there can be any positive outcome. Given time, and the ongoing support of each other, we rebuild our lives and relationships, and go forward in truth. Its not a truth that is very pleasant or convenient at times, its not a truth that others might have us live. But, it’s ours!