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How Does the Straight Spouse Network Help You?

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

When you need help – you’ve just discovered that your husband or wife is having a relationship or sexual activity with people of the same gender – how does the Straight Spouse Network help you?

Once you’ve entered “Is my husband gay?” or “my wife left me for a woman” – you pretty much discover that you are not alone.  You find us, and you find our articles, forum, newsletters.  You also find a place to connect.

You contact us.  We respond via email or phone, telling you who is a contact in your area, or who can contact you with help about your specific situation.  If you are staying married, if your spouse is transgender, you might want to connect with others who are going through something similar.  We help you connect.  Sometimes you can connect face to face with groups in your area, or on the phone with another spouse.  Sometimes you join our confidential online discussion groups after speaking with someone.

You are not alone.

But wait, there’s more.

We educate.  We advocate.  We build bridges. It’s not just a lonely hearts club!

Through our Speakers’ Bureau, our representatives are available on request – for free – to speak to community groups about the straight spouse experience. Through our website, counseling professionals can find information, books, and connections for more information. We respond to media requests for information for news articles, features, and we offer information for those who are just finding out about straight spouses. We share information through social media, offering it to our confidential online groups for discussion and questions and reactions. There’s a quarterly newsletter that focuses on topics that concern straight spouses – topics unique to our situation.

But most of all, we support.  We affirm the straight spouse. We offer ways for the LGBTQ spouse to find perspectives on coming out experiences for spouses and families. And we offer one another friendship.  Deep friendships often develop among groups of straight spouses, often lasting for years. We move forward in our new lives that we never expected to have, with new friends who understand the journey.

We’re not professional counselors.  This is peer to peer support and affirmation. You are not crazy. You are not alone.

Here’s what we DON’T do:

We don’t judge.  You are entitled to support as a straight spouse no matter where you are on this journey. Separated, married, divorced, angry, grieving in love, reconciled, depressed, not sure if your spouse really is gay or bi- we get it.

We don’t trash LGBTQ people as a group.  Some of us are raising LGBTQ children, or have adult LGBTQ children or relatives. Homosexuality is not a choice.  Honesty is.

We don’t support reparative or ex gay therapies.  In fact, you may want us to support you in surviving your spouses “cure” – and your loss of family and community relationships as a result of refusing to continue to live what you know is a lie. We DO support you getting counseling for yourself and your family. (but we do not provide referrals to counselors or legal advice)

We don’t subject you to the how did you find out, what do you know, when did you know it, are you sure inquisition.  WE BELIEVE YOU. We want you to believe you too.

Many of us find that after a while, the friendships we form and connections we make with each other feel like family – but of course, we’re not your real family.  But sometimes we become what we call “familee” for each other.

Most of all we are here for you, the heterosexual spouse or partner of someone who is LGBTQ. You are not alone.

For help, please contact us here:

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How Do We Help?

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in Blog | 9 comments

We’ve started the year with a bang.  More people than ever are contacting the Straight Spouse Network for support when they discover that their spouse is LGBTQ.

So what are their stories?

Some are spouses of transgender individuals.  Some are married to people who deny being gay or lesbian.  Some are struggling to understand bisexuality, and determine if this is the truth about their spouse, or another way to admit that their spouse is gay. Some have had a full disclosure from a newly out and proud spouse and are reeling from the shock and pain, while the rest of the world seems oblivious.

More than a third of the people who contact us are men.

Some of the people who contact us want to stay married.  Some aren’t sure.  Some were never married.

Each person who contacts us has a different story. Some are grieving the loss of a marriage.  Some are in complete shock, not just about infidelity, but questioning the reality of the life they have led. Was anything ever true?  Can they ever trust their own judgement again?  Can they ever believe what their spouse tells them?

Some situations are more complicated.  Some straight spouses are surviving abusive situations, and struggling to remain safe while emerging from an abusive spouse’s closet.  They are often told that they cannot tell anyone what they know or the entire world will collapse and it will be their fault.  Or they are ridiculed for knowing, told that it is all their imagination, or they are vicious liars.

They may find that they are further isolated from any source of help – because they are perceived as being troublesome, disturbed, and uncooperative. Or they are told that they just have to go along with their spouses demands – or else they are homophobic haters.

Others remain married, seeking help as individuals and as couples, dealing with the emerging changes in their marriages, and coping with family members’ reactions.

rainbow handsWhat do we do?  We connect people.  We either connect straight spouses online or in face to face support groups where they exist.  We aren’t therapists.  We don’t tell you what to do.  We offer free, confidential peer to peer support from a network of volunteers.

We are also a point of contact for others who want to learn more about straight spouses and mixed orientation marriages. We have spokespersons who can speak up about the straight spouse experience on panels, in print, and to local groups.  we also can serve as points of contact for local journalists, wishing to write about the effect on a family of coming out – or not coming out.

In some places, our volunteer force is thin.  But we do help with online connections for support, and phone calls.

We also build connections.  We are not a political organization.  However, you will sometimes see our local chapters represented at gay pride events, being visible, being out, and being available to help the straight spouses of the people who are celebrating.  Sometimes the LGBTQ people we meet at these events are out to everyone – except their heterosexual husband or wife.

Our founder, Amity Buxton, has worked with thousands of mixed orientation couples over her long career by her estimate.  She has published research on counseling straight spouses, which is available through our website.

If you want more information, or would like to volunteer to help other straight spouses, please contact us here.

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The Year That Was

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Blog | 3 comments

By Tara Lowney
The year that was
       shadowed by
        fears and pain
       dotted with
        crossroads and choices….
Words were said
   destroying what I believed…
The power of those words
   changed me…
   shattered who I was….
            Someone who settled
              out of fear…
Fear of the unknown,
    fear of the solitude,
     fear of the what now?
Alone,
     I stood
     wondering…
       What next?
        How?
Crossroads…
     Knowing there is a
                 Before
                   that haunts me
     Wondering
           how do I face the
                  After
                   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…
Fear
   Begin anew
      or continue to live with the shadows?
Fear
   Accept what others see
      or continue to believe the doubts are truths?
Chained to those fears
    fearing judgement
     as you move forward,
        opening up,
        reaching out
    fearing acceptance
     as hope and reassurances
     soothe your worries…
Tied to those fears
     you struggle
      to let go,
       to push forward,
        to trust
To begin
   to live the year that’s now…
From “Life After, Forever ” a collection of poems by Tara Lowney
We Reach Out
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I Couldn’t Do It

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Emily ReeseBy Emily Reese

In the last decade, whenever I’ve shared the story about my ex coming out of the closet, with the deception, hurt, anger and tragedy, I almost always hear the phrase “I wouldn’t have been able to do it” or “I couldn’t do it.”

I suppose there were times when I didn’t think I could do it, either.  There were numerous nights, after the kids and my ex went to bed, that I couldn’t sleep and found solace in my minivan parked in the garage, crying primally and spinning my wheels about how I could fix things and make everything perfect again.  So many of those times I thought I had reached my limit and that I simply couldn’t do it anymore.

But somehow, I continued to deal with it.  I just kept going.

There is no getting around it:  There’s nothing good about a spouse coming out. (Except the fact that finally you are living in truth, which is unfortunately a nightmare most of the time.)  Were there times I wish I could have had a Delorean and gone back in time to change things to make our situation better?  Sure.  But that wouldn’t have been truthful, and ultimately, we all deserve to live in truthfulness, even when it hurts.

When people say “I couldn’t do it” or “I wouldn’t have been able to handle it the way you did,” I usually retort:  Yes, you would have.  It’s called survival, and that drive within our human spirit is very strong.

I had this goal, like most people do, to find some light at the end of the tunnel.  I couldn’t always see it, and I didn’t know what the end would look like, but I had to believe that it was there.  It was tough to remember this hope at times, especially when I had so much anger and bitterness and felt justified in continually punishing my ex.  The divorce sucked. Realizing that my own kids would be hurt was horrible.  However, I came to understand that they wouldn’t feel the same kind of hurt that I did because they weren’t in love with the man like I was.  He was their dad… and always would be… even if things would look different in the future.  They weren’t divorcing their dad.  I was.  A few years later, my middle daughter was asked what she thought about her dad coming out of the closet.  She said, “When he told us he was gay, I don’t think I was too surprised, not because I knew, but because it didn’t make him any different to me.”

This greatly changed my perspective about how I was putting my own hurt and feelings onto my kids, expecting them to feel the same way that I did.  It caused me to focus on my own emotional health without thinking my kids were going to be scarred for life.  In other words, they may have things that they have to work through because of it, but their experience was not going to be like mine, which brought me some peace in my own journey to let go of the things and people I could not control.

I found that sharing my story with others and finding spouses who had gone through something similar was the best healing balm for me.  Yes, I went through counseling, but knowing I wasn’t alone was the biggest band-aid for the gaping gash in my heart.  Because of the support of others who had traveled down this road before me and turned out fine, I was able to get through it.

I am thankful to be further away from those first few years of hurt.  Being able to help others through their trauma continues to help me, even now, and gives me some sort of purpose behind this experience that was so tragic.

Believe me when I tell you: You can do it.  You are stronger than you think you are.  The support you find here and through others will be the best medicine you can ask for.

Emily Reese is a straight spouse who blogs about her experiences at SameSides

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Straight Spouses Need Help All Around the World

Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in Blog | 5 comments

HandsStraight spouses are developing support networks around the world. As technology driven media makes it easier to share information, many people living in countries where homosexuality is not even discussed are able to ask and answer their questions online, and connect with support groups.

Being a straight spouse is not confined to just one country, continent, or group of people. Just as homosexuality is global, so are the incidents of gay and lesbian people marrying a heterosexual person, for a variety of reasons.

International straight spouses face different obstacles. In some parts of the world, it is not only taboo to discuss or acknowledge homosexuality, but it is also frowned upon for women to speak of sex at all. In some places, homosexuals are targeted for prosecution, persecution, and death. Spouses, family, and children may also share in the social condemnation.

When a marriage is arranged or the result of two families coming to an agreement, finding out that a spouse is gay can have serious consequences beyond the marriage. We have known of straight spouses who were pressured into silence, or discredited and disgraced for proceeding with divorce in situations where marriage is a contract between famiies.

We know of groups that meet in Australia, New Zealand,India,the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe, and Canada. We’d like to hear from straight spouses in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South and Central America. Our communication is always confidential and will not be shared with anyone else.

We invite anyone, male or female, who is married to or divorced from a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender spouse to get in touch with us. Our services are free and confidential. Fill out the form in the Find Support tab, and we will respond. If there is a contact in your country who has been vetted by us, we will advise you and let them know too. If not, then you can explore the online support systems we have.

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