Right up front, I’ll let you know that I am married again. After 24 years of marriage, my ex-wife declared lesbianship. Three years later I married Sara and we recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary.
That’s how things worked out for us.
Many straight spouses believe that to “get over it” we need a new relationship. After that, we can stop going to meetings and spending so much online time on discussion threads. And to really be done with it, we need to get married again. While I fell in love again and decided to wed again, I don’t see that as the marker of my recovery. (Not did I stop attending meetings or participating online.)
Nope. In fact it irks me that some people assume me and Sara (or other straight spouses with new partners) are fully recovered because we are married. We are fortunate beyond words to have one another. We express our gratitude every single day to each other. We enjoy a deep, multi-faceted relationship. Yet we still have scars from our time with the gay ones. We still feel the pains of loss and deception. We still have regrets. We still dread rejection. We still fear that somehow it will happen again, despite knowing logically that it never could. We still deal with issues around the ex and the children that are directly tied to what happened.
Another long-term relationship, with marriage or without, is not for everyone. It’s not that we all can’t find the “right” person. Many straight spouses simply don’t want such a relationship. That’s OK. They might be as recovered or more recovered than anyone. There is not one path. In fact, each of us has different definitions of “recovered.” In broad-brush terms my own steps of recovery are:
- Putting the gay one lower than first on your mindshare and care list
- Discovering and being yourself
- Accepting your realities
- Finding purpose
- Taking actions to survive and eventually thrive
Finding love is not on that list for a reason – that’s not to say it’s not important for many of us. Yet, it’s a bonus. Some find love before they feel completely recovered. Others recover without finding that special someone. Still others find comfort in more casual relationships. Many of us crave the closeness, the companionship, and the trust we never had (or did have) with the gay person. We try and try to find someone but just can’t. Most of us don’t want to be hurt again. So we close the vulnerability part of our soul as a protection mechanism. We also don’t trust ourselves; we picked wrong once so we are convinced there must be something wrong with our pickers. We wait to even try because we think we can’t until we are recovered.
I was unbelievably fortunate to find Sara, yet I hope others who have yet to find new love feel equally fortunate in whatever situation suits them. We can help the community by reserving judgment on someone’s status towards “getting over it” by asserting markers that might be our own but are not theirs.
Every one of us is worthy to forge their unique path through life, toward our own definitions of recovery, with or without a steady partner.