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Speaking Your Truth is the Most Powerful Tool We All Have

Posted by on Jan 16, 2018 in Blog | 3 comments

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.

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Moving On; Terry McMillan Five Years Later

Posted by on Oct 2, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments

Oprah’s interview this week with author <a title=”Terry McMillan” href=”http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Author-Terry-McMillan-and-Her-Ex-Jonathan-Plummer” target=”_blank”><strong>Terry McMillan</strong></a> was extremely valuable for straight spouses. Five years after the explosive interview that Oprah conducted with Terry and her ex husband Jonathan Plummer, the perspective of having the immediacy of the marriage, breakup, and litigation behind them served as an example of one possible destination on the road map of long term recovery and restoration for the straight spouse.

Terry makes no secret that the anger was powerful, but the anger is not as consuming as it was, and she is moving forward with her life. She says she can trust men, and that after the interview five years ago, she was hurt by the allegations that she was homophobic. “When I was ready to run him over, it wasn’t because he was gay”, she said. “I never hated his guts because he was gay. … And that was one reason why I sued, because I hated the idea of being known as a homophobe. Jonathan deep down inside knew I wasn’t homophobic. I have too many gay and lesbian friends. Too many.“

Many of us have the same experience. We don’t hate gay people.  Our spouse’s lie has an effect on the core of our marriage and our being. Terry was able to win a lawsuit that she will never collect on, and have it dismissed. That is the victory that is craved by many who have been victims of this particular type of marriage fraud.

Not all <a title=”mixed orientation marriages” href=”http://www.straightspouse.org/blog/?tag=mixed-orientation-marriage” target=”_blank”><strong>mixed orientation marriages</strong></a> are based on fraud, as many gay people have late in life realizations about their true nature. But the continuation of the deception, or the expectation that the straight spouse will somehow just disappear from view or become a cheerleader for the coming out process is an additional devastating blow that many of us continue to bear.

This “You don’t hate him for being gay, you hate the deception” mantra opens us up to another misconception – that the deceit is “just like any other marriage that break up”. We hear that so often. For us, the situation is unique. Many of us endure social shunning and avoidance, humiliation, sneering. Terry endured this too with her public divorce. Seems everyone knew that Jonathan was as Oprah put it “Not just on the down low but on the high low”. Everyone but Terry. We know. We’ve been there. We’re either faulted for not having accurate “gaydar” or faulted if we conclude someone is gay because we’re stereotyping. Everyone’s a critic!

What is unique to our experience is that the deception is twofold – not only is the gay spouse lying by cheating on us, but they lied about the fundamental core of the marriage, and about who they are. They may have lied to themselves, and thus been utterly convincing. Or they may have deliberately set the gay side of their lives into one compartment, and spouse and children into another. This deception rots the core of the marriage from the start, and in some cases, rots the straight spouse’s sexuality as well.

This duality of deception and betrayal is often the part of the experience that is glossed over when the straight spouse looks for support from family, friends, clergy, and counselors. Likening it to any other experience feels as though we are being again diminished, faulted for our natural anger, shamed for not just getting over it.

Terry’s got a new book, a sequel to “Waiting to Exhale” called “<a title=”Getting to Happy” href=”http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Happy-Terry-McMillan/dp/0670022047/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1286060654&amp;sr=8-1″ target=”_blank”><strong>Getting to Happy</strong></a>”. The four characters are now in their fifties, and going forward in their lives and marriages. We know how Oprah loves to promote books!

We find it interesting that Oprah keeps going back to the topic of mixed orientation marriages – her interviews with Terry and with Dina McGreevey, with lesbian wives, and older broadcasts – but never mentions the Straight Spouse Network as a resource for healing. Perhaps our experiences are too diverse, too broad, and too unpredictable. No one in broadcast media seems interested in our actual stories, which are varied, deep, and complex. They’re also quite inspiring.

Instead, when our stories are told, they are buried in features about coming out, gay marriage and other issues that affect gays. It confirms an experience many of us have had – we cease to be perceived as people in our own right, but only in the light of how others perceive gay people and their issues.

The Straight Spouse Network is a small grassroots organization that has worldwide impact. We’ve got face to face chapters in the United States, Australia, and Europe. We are the preeminent source of support for both women and men who have a gay spouse, or who think they might have a gay spouse. Yet millions who need us, who remain buried and isolated, have never heard of us. We may not have books to sell, or be the most outrageous hype that supports the bottom line, but we are at least interesting and informative. We have helped over 20,000 people since our inception.

Would it hurt to include us in a list of resources the next time there’s a show about how straight spouses cope, heal, recover? We think it would only help.

Hey Oprah! Why not have your people call our people?

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