By Bart David
Almost two years into this journey, I’ve come to the conclusion that the decision to forgive or not to forgive can be one of the most personal and powerful a straight spouse can make. While it is a completely reversible decision, it can be a turning point for personal health and development and for the relationship with the gay spouse or ex-spouse. Although every straight spouse is faced with that decision at some level, forgiving or not forgiving shouldn’t be seen as a necessary step, an ultimate goal, or a guarantee of continued peace of mind or amicable relations with the gay other.
My first experience of forgiveness in the context of TGT (Editor’s note: TGT is straight spouse online abbreviation for The Gay Thing, meaning the whole experience of a spouse’s disclosure or discovery) took place a little more than a year ago, three months after my STBX (Soon To Be Ex) and I had separated. In the months after separation, I felt growing anger and resentment directed at her, and deeper pain within myself. I wasn’t able to even look at her without feeling a little queasy. This culminated when an image of my wife’s face, overcome with boredom (to put the nicest term to it) during physical intimacy, arose in my mind. For two weeks I struggled with that image pretty much by myself and sank deeper and deeper into the resentment, dredging up painful things and chewing on them mentally. Talk about giving up space in your brain! Finally, I arranged for a session with my therapist (a hero of mine for twenty years now. He’s kind enough to return the opinion). Towards the end of the session, he asked how I would present myself to another woman, how would I describe myself and I rambled on for a little bit, but reached a stopping point fairly quickly. He asked if I’d meant to say it all that way. “What way?” I asked.
“The first words out of your mouth were ‘I’m not boring.'” I wasn’t even aware that I’d said that. And though I started to tear up a bit at the point he was making, that I am not, nor do I believe that I am boring, I felt a freeing, physical shift in my gut at the realization.