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When Your Spouse Says “That Doesn’t Mean I’m Gay”

Posted by on Aug 30, 2017 in Blog | 25 comments

You’ve made the discovery that your husband is having sex with other men, or your wife is in a sexual relationship with another woman. You found the phone and text messages, the emails, the Craigslist ads. The computer browser cache has not been cleared and you went in to clear the history and there were all these same sex porn sites, or websites about questioning sexual orientation. And you confront your spouse – you ask the question – “Are you gay?”

And they tell you no.

They don’t deny what you found, but they tell you “That doesn’t mean I’m gay.”

They tell you about sexual fluidity and the Kinsey Scale.

They tell you about experts who agree that no one is truly heterosexual.

They show you online articles and videos from experts proclaiming “just because your husband has sex with men doesn’t mean he’s gay” and expect you to be relieved and satisfied with the answer.

They show you articles and videos about female sexual fluidity and women’s relationships. About heterosexual women responding to erotic images of women.

You’re not convinced. After all, you’re not gay, and one spouse of the opposite sex is enough for you. In fact you’d never dream of having sex with someone of your own gender.

It is not ok with you that your spouse seeks sex outside your marriage, so you and your spouse go to counseling.

And the counselor says – why yes. Just because he has sex with men doesn’t mean he’s gay. Just because she has sex with women doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian. You get a kindly explanation to help you understand about your spouse’s journey of sexual discovery. You are told that when your husband denies being gay, he’s not lying. He really doesn’t think he is gay. You are told that your wife is doing something perfectly normal for her.

And you think…soooo…..why can’t they just tell me the truth? What is this?

Sometimes when it comes to your sexuality, and the impact of this discovery on you, there is seldom any acknowledgement or affirmation. You have to go to counseling for yourself. And you wonder – how did I miss this? The entire world is gay except me?

First of all, be assured that you are not alone and your feelings and questions are entirely normal. Being angry, hurt, having questions, wanting to know the truth – this is human, not homophobic. This is about you and your relationship with your spouse. Your feelings and perceptions matter. This is happening to you as well as your spouse.

So it’s no surprise to straight spouses that a reassuring article by an expert proclaiming “no ladies, just because your husband has sex with men doesn’t mean he’s gay” is hardly reassuring. Many women find images of gay men having sex to not be attractive at all – there’s nothing for women to relate to in those images. For some, the awareness that their husband has sex with men is a distinct turn off.

For many heterosexual men, even though the porn industry is full of glamorized depictions of women together, the idea of their wife having sex with another woman is not attractive. It’s excluding them from an important part of their wife’s life, a part that has nothing to do with them – but they often are called upon to understand.

For many straight spouses, marriage is about two people, not three or four. Some do have open relationships, but these take a great deal of communication and effort on both sides. Some mourn the loss of a sexual relationship that affirms the life a couple shares together. For them, it isn’t just about being sex starved or “horny.” It’s about sharing sexuality fully with a partner who can reciprocate and also enjoy a fulfilling, satisfying, and beautiful sexual relationship without going outside the marriage to someone else who is the same gender.

The perspectives and needs of straight spouses are often overlooked in counseling, and among family and friends who try to help. Grief and anger can last a long time, especially when a straight spouse is told that their true feelings are offensive or inappropriate. After all, “you ought to be happy for your husband/wife if you really love them.” And don’t forget “how difficult it is for gay people and how brave they are.” That’s all well and good, you think, but what about me?

The Straight Spouse Network staff and volunteers understand and affirm heterosexual spouses and partners of LGBTQ people in a variety of circumstances. Some remain married, most don’t. Some have spouses who come out to them in complete honesty; others have spouses who deny the truth, and twist the story so that it appears that the straight one is the problem for not accepting them. We are hear to listen. We are here to help you find the support you are looking for.

We’re not denying that straight spouses can contribute to problems in a marriage; but in the face of profound denial of the truth and sexual incompatibility, gaslighting, and often blame for so many problems (“this wouldn’t have been so bad if you were more understanding, flexible, didn’t overreact to everything, etc”) it is difficult to really own the faults that are necessary for us to recognize as we begin to heal.

Our stories as we move forward into a new life we never expected are often stories of courage, strength, heroism, and inspiration. They are seldom told or recognized. Here at the Straight Spouse Network, we recognize and affirm each other, and strive to be the voice of the truth of our journeys, no matter how inconvenient.

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$^!T People Say About the Straight Spouse Network

Posted by on Feb 16, 2016 in Blog | 4 comments

For almost 30 years, no one seemed to know the Straight Spouse Network existed.  Now, thanks to the miracle of social media, we are known as an organization.  We also are aware of what others say about us, from reports by straight spouses and from what we see in the media. So here’s a sampling of some of the misconceptions – and our responses.$^!T People Say About The Straight Spouse Network

1. “My wife/husband was perfectly accepting of me before joining THAT GROUP. THEY convinced him/her to divorce me.  I blame THEM for our divorce”. Marriage is a process.  At sometime in the process of a mixed orientation marriage, one or both partners may decide it isn’t working and they need to move on. “Accepting” doesn’t mean doing everything one person’s way, or substituting one lie for another.  That holds for both partners.

When straight spouses meet and share their ideas, questions, and deep hurt, they often find that someone else in the group is giving voice to a feeling or idea that they had not previously dared to express.  We encourage everyone to live in truth.  That doesn’t mean shouting and outing, but it does mean honestly acknowledging our feelings and our desires for the future.

wrong2.  “SSN says there’s no such thing as bi”.  False.  Patently false.  We have NEVER taken this position.  If one of our leaders or contacts is saying this, please contact us, and we will be happy to set them “straight”.

It is entirely possible that within a group meeting or discussion you will find people who are of the opinion that bisexuality does not exist – because for so many of us, “bi now gay later” is a frequent experience.  Many of our spouses do not come completely out of the closet to us, and instead tell us another lie – that they are bi when in fact they are gay, and in deep denial.

wrong3.  The forum on the SSN website is not moderated and full of people who don’t know what they are talking about. False.  The forum on the SSN website IS moderated and full of people  openly discussing various aspects of mixed orientation marriages.  It is also a public forum; some LGBT people participate. All participants are expected to talk about their lives and perspectives, without defaming others.  The forum is moderatedfor safety and standards of a civil online community.

We don’t tell people who express their ideas there what to think.  The ideas expressed on the forum represent the beliefs of the participants, not our organization. There are also several private or secret Facebook groups or email lists where straight spouses find support.  Some of these are affiliated with us, others are not, but often have members who have benefited from contact with SSN. Most of those are moderated in much the same way as the forum, with the exception that members have to be approved before joining and having access to what others share.

wrong4.  From time to time people mistakenly think well known author and counselor Bonnie Kaye represents our organization.  While many women who contact us have found her to be helpful and recommend her to others, Bonnie is not affiliated with the Straight Spouse Network, and her views are her own. We offer support to both straight husbands as well as straight wives, while the bulk of Bonnie Kaye’s writings are targeted to straight wives only.

wrong5.  The Straight Spouse Network doesn’t support staying in a mixed orientation marriage. False.  We support straight spouses no matter where they are on their journey.  The decision to stay in a mixed orientation marriage (MOM) can be made for many reasons.  It does happen and we support those who choose this path.  Some mixed orientation marriages may break up down the road, as one or both partners desires something different, but some do last.  A breakup is not inevitable, and it doesn’t mean that someone has failed – it is part of the ongoing process of the relationship.  We refer many people who come to us wishing to remain in their marriage to specific online groups listed on our website or to individual contacts who have decided to stay married.

wrong6.  The Straight Spouse Network doesn’t allow gay people to participate, and is therefore exclusive and discriminatory.  Yes and No  – ONLY  straight spouses can participate in many of our face to face groups and in some online groups, as they need a safe and confidential environment to be free to tell their full story and receive support.  However, we do encourage public participation by everyone, including LGBT people, in our public forum, and we do refer couples to online or face to face groups where they may both participate.  30 years ago we started as a task force of PFLAG in California after a group of gay fathers asked Amity Buxton to help them understand their wives’ perspectives. Our purpose is to provide support for the straight spouse.

So, when a community center says we cannot use their facilities for meetings of straight spouses seeking safe, confidential support because we don’t allow gay people to participate in that particular meeting, that says to us that they really do not understand or want to understand our purpose.

myth-factWe are a support group for current or former heterosexual spouses or partners of LGBT people.  That means we support men and women.  That means we support married or divorced or separated. That means we support people who are angry.  That means we support people who are at peace and have forgiven their spouse.  That means we have speakers available to address any group that wants to know more about the straight spouse experience.  That means we reach out, and promote healing and building bridges. To know who we are and what we do, visit our website.

Contact us.  Ask questions.  Comment.  Share. We look forward to all inquiries

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