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Whose Fault is It Anyway?

Whose Fault is It Anyway?

Following just about any divorce or marital split, you’ll hear the common advice “It takes two.”  Yes.  It takes two to make a marriage, and often it takes two people to contribute to the breakup of a marriage or long term relationship.

But then there’s people like us – straight spouses who either are told by our mates that they are LGBTQ, or we discover it in other ways.

Maybe we knew already, but thought that the time of “exploration” was past.  Maybe we thought the marriage could be open, without really understanding what that means.

Most people who contact the Straight Spouse Network for support did not know or understand beforehand that their spouse was not heterosexual.  Some thought the marriage was just fine.  Others thought that the difficulties could be addressed with marriage counseling, therapy, changing their appearance, changing their occupation, staying home with kids, going back to work, getting a different job, not working so much, cleaning more, not being such a clean freak.

But the core problem is that most of our spouses are not attracted to us in a way that allows them to be truly invested in a marriage for anything other than appearances.

Of course there are other problems.  Some of us have addictions.  Some of us have anger management issues.  Some of us have problems with depression, personality disorders, health conditions. And all of those can really kill a marital relationship.

We have no way of knowing how much of what we have brought to a mixed orientation marriage could contribute to the breakup of that marriage – because at the core, many of our spouses are not capable of giving us the same level of intimacy as a same sex partner. Nothing we can do or be can change that.

Some of our spouses move forward, and marry their same sex partner. Moving forward for us is not so easy. This is for several reasons:

1. By the time our LGBTQ spouse discloses their sexual orientation to us, or we discover that they are attracted to same sex partners, they have had a lifetime to deal with acknowledging their orientation.  We’ve had a much shorter time to deal with the reality.

2.  We often are asked “How could you not know?  How could you miss this?” We wonder if there is something wrong with us.  We have difficulty trusting other people, and our perceptions of them.  It takes a while for this to heal, to get our confidence back, to place our trust in others with whom we want to date or share sexual intimacy.

3.  Our initial reactions are intense, and may remain unresolved. The deep anger that many straight spouses experience upon discovery or disclosure and the profound sense of betrayal is not pleasant to experience or to witness. We are often told by friends and family to deal with our anger, stop “dwelling on it” and “be happy he/she has discovered their true self.”  The inability to express our feelings because they make others uncomfortable or because they will prompt a lecture  delays our ability move forward. These feelings fester, along with a sense of isolation.

Our anger and isolation is compounded when our LGBTQ spouses are lauded as heroes for being their true, out of the closet selves (which they should be) but we are never affirmed. Our experiences are minimized, and sometimes even denied.

Somehow, some folks near and dear to us believe it is all our fault that we choose to be hurt. Or that we chose to marry an LGBTQ person in the first place. Or that we choose to be angry.

Trust-Infidelity-e1350931442274Because, you see, we have issues.

Why yes.  We do have issues.

We have issues with betrayal – and not having our experiences, emotions, and reactions affirmed, validated, and acknowledged in a supportive way.

We have issues with society – and being forced into a closet of someone else’s construction once they emerge, or remaining closeted with them out of fear or loyalty.

We have issues with anger – and the consistent triggering of that anger over many years as we move forward into family adjustments that belittle our experiences or devalue us, or are made on false assumptions about us.

We have issues with being misrepresented to former in laws, friends, our own children, or people in our community as characters in a new script we have not written or seen.

We have issues with being angry, discarded, rejected, feeling that many years of our lives have been thrown away – and being ignored. We have issues with being told that we should just deal with it, because gay is ok, and we just have to deal with that. Anything else is intolerant.

We have issues with gaslighting.  Big time. (Here’s a clip from the movie “Gaslight” which is the source of the term.)

We have issues with rejection from our families and friends when we are supportive of our LGBTQ spouses, maintaining our marriages or cordial relationships.

We have issues with our own lack of visibility. Straight spouses are a diverse group.  No two experiences, marriages, or reactions are alike.  There’s no convenient social box where all of us fit.

One of the primary needs of any straight spouse is affirmation. The affirmation from family and friends that says “What do you need? I’m here to listen” is extremely valuable.

Confirmation of our LGBTQ spouse’s sexuality is not always a given.  Many of us never have the “Honey, I’m gay” moment, and may face recriminations when we discover our husband or wife’s true sexuality.  Without that honest admission, upon discovery we face questioning, doubt, argument, and sometimes derision or false accusations of being delusional. Without disclosure and confirmation, our path to healing can take longer, and remain riddled with unresolved questions, feelings, and gutted family relationships.False apologies

We’re not perfect people – life gets complicated enough without living it in the shadow of someone else’s denial and deceit.

The Straight Spouse Network is here for all straight spouses, male or female, married or separated, whether they are absolutely sure about their spouse’s sexual orientation or are still figuring it out. Your experiences matter. Your healing matters.  And the unacknowledged obstacles to your healing are shared by many of us.

We don’t know whose fault it is, but we do know these things – you are not to blame for your spouse’s sexual orientation.  They are not to blame for your addictions or mental health issues.  But, living without acknowledgement, affirmation, and honesty does not aid in recovery.

58 Comments

  1. Anna, one last post.

    I’m confused about your divorce comments.

    1)You: “.. in UK cheating with someone of the same sex is not enough to get divorced.”

    Yes, it is. Regardless if cheating with heterosexual/homosexual partner.
    For male/female marriages in UK, almost 100% of divorce petitions based on “cheating” are granted.

    “Heterosexual infidelity” is filed using “Adultery Divorce Petition” OR “Unreasonable Behaviour Divorce Petition”. “Homosexual infidelity” is ONLY filed with “Unreasonable Behaviour Divorce Petitions”. If filed w/proper petition, it’s almost always granted.

    2) It’s all semantics

    In UK, we use the words “adultery/infidelity/cheating” interchangeably. In divorce, “Adultery vs Unreasonable Behaviour” doesn’t matter. Cheating, with a man or woman, will be either “Adultery” or “Unreasonable Behaviour”. Period. Divorce will be granted. Different reasons or petitions don’t change amounts of spousal/child maintenance, the calculations are mostly the same.

    3) The cheated-on spouse can ALWAYS file an Unreasonable Behaviour Petition. It’s almost always granted, even w/o evidence or if he protests. If a husband fights a petition for divorce, he’s trying to force her to stay married to him when she doesn’t want to = unreasonable behavior. So the idea that MIL knew you couldn’t divorce him isn’t accurate.

    4) I’m confused. You call him your X husband but also say you’re still trying to get divorced. Both can’t be true.

    “My X husband blamed me..”

    “.. after my X came out..”

    “My X husband has never even apologized..

    “I am still trying to get a divorce from my husband who left 10 years ago..”

    5) Desertion/Abandonment for 2 years or more is grounds for divorce in UK
    You wrote: “..when your husband walks out..” and “my husband who left 10 years ago.” Once 2 years passed, your petition is granted. Even if he protests, it’s still automatically granted after 5 years.

    I hope this helps clarify issues of UK Law.

    • Hi there, I call him my X husband because in my mind he is even if in law he technically isn’t.
      I’ve been told I cannot file for divorce by adultery because adultery can only be between man and woman.
      He has persistently avoided solicitor letters, not provided addresses etc. He says he has done nothing wrong and therefore why should he give me anything. He actually believes or wants to believe it was ok to cheat on me because technically he did nothing wrong. He was the one who left when I questioned him about the affairs. He said he didn’t have to answer my questions.
      He has been giving me some money but will not sign anything to say he will give me money meaning that I never know if I will get money or not. My career meant I would have to work evenings. I now cannot do that so I’m having to work low paid jobs during school hours but because of children’s disabilities I cannot always work.

    • but unreasonable behaviour can be used for trivial things such as not putting toothpaste lid back on. Adultery is clear it’s just that, there’s no argument, there’s no discussion it’s cheating. Unreasonable behaviour is open to discussion.

    • My point is if it was clear that it is ok not to cheat then I wouldn’t have to he spent not the last 10 years being given the run around trying to get divorced. I could say forget the money, just get divorced but I need it! It’s also hurtful that because it isn’t clear he has had that leeway to say he did nothing wrong. Just to clarify I’m not saying being gay is wrong I’m talking about the cheating and the behaviour

  2. Part II: UK Resources

    Services for Parents of Children with Disabilities

    Children Act of 1989 UK
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/41/contents
    All laws guaranteeing protections and services for children with disabilities and their parents

    Support for Childcare and Parenting Needs
    https://www.gov.uk/browse/childcare-parenting/financial-help-children

    Government Assistance and Services For Parents with Disabled Children

    Disability Living Allowance
    https://www.gov.uk/help-for-disabled-child

    Have a Needs Assessment conducted by Social Services
    https://www.gov.uk/apply-needs-assessment-social-services

    Parent Learning Allowance
    https://www.gov.uk/parents-learning-allowance
    Support for Students with children with disabilities

    Child Support Agency – Spousal Maintenance
    https://www.gov.uk/child-maintenance/contact

    Council for Disabled Children UK
    https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/
    Single Parent Information and Resources

    One Space – Parenting Site for UK Single Parents
    http://www.singleparents.org.uk/

    Family Lives UK – Resources and Assistance for Single Parents
    http://www.familylives.org.uk/about/news-blogs-and-reports/blog/financial-help-and-benefits-for-single-parents/

    Childcare and Parenting UK – Welfare Benefits for Single Parents
    http://www.familylives.org.uk/about/news-blogs-and-reports/blog/financial-help-and-benefits-for-single-parents/
    Income support, tax credits, housing benefits, child support, etc.

    Charity Organizations for Single Parents
    Gingerbread – The UK Charity for Single Parents
    https://gingerbread.org.uk/

    Family Fund UK – Help for Parents/Families w/Disabled Children
    https://www.familyfund.org.uk/

    Best of luck to you.

    • Hi, thanks. But cannot actually live on a a small amount of money handed out. Technically you can claim help for childcare but where are all theses childcare workers that work evenings with disabled children. Have not found any in this long. It’s all a complete farce!
      I wanted a career and a family life not forced to live on benefits because my husband lied.
      I’m sure most others feel the same not reliant on handouts just because your husband is gay

  3. Here is the info with the addresses written out. It’s too many characters to fit in one comment so I am separating it into two.

    Anna, my heart goes out to you. To be struggling so and no capacity to find the help you need. No one should suffer so. I wish I could do more but the best I can do right now is to provide you and others this list of resources to address each of the issues you have specified in your comments. Perhaps the SSN or the UK group will post these links on their sites so others might benefit from this information.

    Resources for Counselling in UK
    Counselling Directory UK
    http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/

    Counselling and Psychotherapy Finder
    http://www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/therapists

    Courage UK – Religious Based Resources for M.O.M.s
    http://www.courage.org.uk/default.asp

    Stop UK Marriage Fraud
    http://www.stopukmarriagefraud.com/about-us
    Campaign to educate, confront, and criminalize marriage fraud.

    Criminal Investigations into UK Sham Marriages
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/criminal-investigation-sham-marriage
    Govt division investigates all forms of sham marriages

  4. Anna, my heart goes out to you. To be struggling so and no capacity to find the help you need. No one should suffer so. I wish I could do more but the best I can do right now is to provide you and others this list of resources to address each of the issues you have specified in your comments. Perhaps the SSN or the UK group will post these links on their sites so others might benefit from this information.

    Resources for Counselling in UK
    Counselling Directory UK
    Counselling and Psychotherapy Finder
    Courage UK – Religious Based Resources for M.O.M.s

    Stop UK Marriage Fraud
    Campaign to educate, confront, and criminalize marriage fraud.
    Criminal Investigations into UK Sham Marriages
    Govt division investigates all forms of sham marriages

    Services for Parents of Children with Disabilities
    Children Act of 1989 UK
    All laws guaranteeing protections and services for children with disabilities and their parents
    Support for Childcare and Parenting Needs
    Government Assistance and Services For Parents with Disabled Children
    Disability Living Allowance
    Have a Needs Assessment conducted by Social Services
    Parent Learning Allowance
    Support for Students with children with disabilities
    Child Support Agency – Spousal Maintenance
    Council for Disabled Children UK

    Single Parent Information and Resources
    One Space – Parenting Site for UK Single Parents
    Family Lives UK – Resources and Assistance for Single Parents
    Childcare and Parenting UK – Welfare Benefits for Single Parents
    Income support, tax credits, housing benefits, child support, etc.

    Charity Organizations for Single Parents
    Gingerbread – The UK Charity for Single Parents
    Family Fund UK – Help for Parents/Families w/Disabled Children

    I hope you fare well.

    • Hi Angela. Sorry I didn’t realise there was another message so replied above.

      Thank you for all your advice and research that is very kind. But, I don’t want to live like that. I wanted a career and family life and he stole that. Every single idea, organisation I chase up I come to a dead end. It’s so infuriating that I’m being told it was his right to do this to me. Why? What right has someone to do this to someone else? I’m not saying he should not be gay but there are means and ways of doing things that make it fairer to both spouses. it’s just a horrid way to treat someone just because you have worked out you are gay and want something else.

      I’m hoping one day in the future I will have some kind of career. I know I will have to work well into my old age to get any kind of pension etc but at least I don’t have a guilty conscience And know I have looked after and cared for my children. I didn’t cause this. And I also tried to resolve things with him, talk to him, get him help and support. The fact he cannot recognise what this has caused my life is about him but I do feel that many of these gay support groups could be doing more to put it out there that this affects us too. I can honestly hand on heart say this has affected my life a lot more than his.

      Thanks again.

  5. I can see the point that rehashing, fixating and dwelling on who’s at fault or to blame can keep us from moving forward. On the other hand, some of this does happen to some of us, if not all, so they aren’t completely invalid. Isn’t the question really, is this information useful? and if not, can it be turned into something useful and not get us mired in it? I experienced some of these things too, not all, but by the end. like others, I felt more defeated than uplifted. Even when some of them were things I had already experienced and dealt with.

    I could see this article re-worked and presented like an FAQ, to prepare new straight spouses for the possibility of these reactions, then offered tips or suggestions from others on how to handle it. That predicts the experience before it happens, so no surprises, and prepares the person ahead of time. It would have been helpful for me if I had known what might be coming and had ideas of how to respond effectively. But to catalog them without respite is a lament. It’s one thing to acknowledge pain or prepare for it in advance, and another to re-inflict it without alleviating it. Lamenting is part of the process, but I doubt anyone has to be reminded of why they’re lamenting.

    For example, one of the themes in the article is about the people who “just don’t get it” and how frustrating that is, but then it just leaves it at that. What has worked for me at those times is to remember that I didn’t “get it” either, and I had been married to it! Why am I expecting someone else to “get it” when I didn’t, and they weren’t even there? That puts me in their shoes and then I know I have to explain what I myself didn’t know at one time either, and so I don’t take offense at it anymore. They are where I once was: they don’t know what they don’t know, and someone needs to show them.

    If the article can be re-worked as a How-To, it might have a more positive purpose and value.

  6. And this is why we wrestle with whose fault it is. Be a better wife and he won’t go gay. Right. Not!!!!
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58fa1f23e4b0f02c3870e920

    • Very good point. Blame can be appropriate if the culprit and the crime are clear. This is such a sad and maddening story. The only thing I’m not comfortable with comes at the end, where the writer equates her husband with her church: “…who she was told to be by her husband and her church.”

      That’s not fair, and I hope he didn’t mean it the way it reads. The church had indoctrinated her husband, too; he internalized what they taught him just as she did. Their church abused both of them. I don’t know why I react this way, but what I found most appalling was that it was the minister’s wife who initiated the shaming process.

  7. I think this is a good conversation for any of us to have. I wasn’t offended by the article, but it did get me thinking. When our youngest son was in college at our alma mater a few years ago, I was looking through his course catalog, and in the Humanities section there was a course, something like History of Homosexuality in the Arts, and another one something like Subtle Sexuality in the Media, and I remember thinking, how is this college course material, they didn’t have courses like that when my husband and I were there. Actually, yes they did but I forgot – it wasn’t in the Humanities section, it was the Abnormal Psychology class. I had forgotten all about that, and I even took that class my sophomore year. Prof. Riley (the bluest blue eyes you ever saw), on the 2nd floor of the science building, probably 50 or so students in his class. The world has changed so much since then while I was busy doing other things and I was completely unprepared when D-day hit. It took some time before I could see it, but neither me or my husband did anything wrong. We didn’t know that we had been misinformed.

    • We got married right out of college in Florida, in 1977. Remember what the big news was at that time? Anita Bryant and Save The Children and Dade County was all in the same month we got married. I didn’t think much about it back then, we were getting married and it didn’t have anything to do with us. From Anita Bryant to gay marriage, in less than a lifetime. But that was how we thought back then. I know it will get better for everybody in the long run, but what are we supposed to do while we’re waiting for the “long run” to get here? That’s what’s frustrates me – I know this is the right side of history, but it still hurts like hell.

    • When you think about it in a bigger context it’s kind of amazing at how fast it happened. The word “homosexual” didn’t even exist prior to the 1870s, because it wasn’t spoken of in polite society. Then the act of it was “treated” via medical intervention. From there it became a criminal act that could land you in prison and remained that way until the 1980s (or was it in the 90s?), long after many of us got married. And now there are incentives and reasons for them to get married, same as straights.

      From an incurable sickness to an illegal act to constitutional rights and protections, in less than 40 years. Sadly for us, we are the generation that feels the pain of this particular social change. Let’s hope we are the last. Would any of us want our children to go through this, either gay or straight? I don’t think so.

      “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”
      Martin Luther King might have been correct, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Imagine if he had said, “I have a dream… but then again, I’m not so sure that people are ready for it…”

      Doesn’t really work, does it…?

  8. I’ve been reading a book by Milton Ford, PhD. called “Playing It Straight” and learning about what happens after gay husbands come out. Amity Buxton wrote the foreword so that was a good sign. It contains interviews with 60 men with chapters arranged by topic like marriage, family, religion. The interviews about wives shows how our husbands view us. It’s the only book I’ve read that gets inside their heads and tells how we come across. I recommend it if you want to learn from a variety of men and compare stories. It’s informative, eye-opening, and rings true.

    Here’s why I personally stopped using the word “blame” – I’ve realized it’s counterproductive and backfires, and my life finally began to improve once I let it go. That’s the only evidence I need.

    Blame and shame create and reinforce the closet, why keep it alive when it doesn’t explain anything, and just adds more pain and damage? It was our husbands that hurt us, not the gay population at large. And of course we all want to support each other, who is saying we shouldn’t?

    But we divide the work among us, each according to his ability. That’s how a society works. Everybody can’t do everything; it’s irrational. If I wanted a bat mitzvah, I wouldn’t go to the Pope, that’s not what he does and it would be unreasonable to expect that. I’d go to a rabbi. Use the resources that are already in place and don’t waste time and energy on the wrong ones. Is it really assistance that you want? go to where it’s offered – or do you want to assign blame, accomplish nothing, remain angry, pile a few more bricks on the closet walls and as a result of all that, create a future straight wife?

    None of this absolves your husband. What he did is on him and nobody else. But don’t make enemies of those who could be your allies, and don’t assume that because they’re occupied with other issues that help us in the long run, that it means they condone what your husband did.

    • Hi, I’ve read it. I’ve read every book or internet I can find. I never find anything remotely like my husband or our situation. I belong to a UK based support group and my husband never fits what other women say about their husbands.

      I don’t really ask people when I meet them if they are gay or not so I don’t know who would be my allie or not. I don’t think it’s my business to know unless I am getting into a romantic relationship with them.
      I’ve tried to find help in other places but people just don’t want to know. In this country if you are a single parent you are a burden. Even when want to work to finance the mess that is left finding child care for disabled children is non existent. Even the disability support groups cannot seem to

      So yes, while I’d love to walk away from all of this and say I don’t blame you, I have 2 disabled children on my own to support. Somewhere I’ve got to raise money and get a career. I’m sure most people who this has happened to are in a similar situation struggling financially.
      I just look at myself and think how on earth did I get here? How much of this is down to me and things I did wrong? I thought I was doing everything right. Clearly not! I don’t believe everything in life is going to perfectly but I would like to right my life and it seems I cannot get it back on track. Organisations don’t want to help really, Governments wipe their hands of it, the gay X wipe their hands of it. So I just believe it is easier for them all to blame us.
      I am in my forties and we had lessons at school about treating gay people with respect etc. If after all this time and education and posters and training etc people still feel the need to lie about their sexuality and some people really are bothered if others are gay ( personally think not that many people are bothered) then surely we have to think about if the education and advertising is actually working.

  9. I look back and try to see the kind of person I was before all of this happened to me and I cannot find that person, I have never had addictions of any kind. I always had friends and was a happy person. I found out when my second baby was born that he was cheating on me with men. I’ve had To bring up 2 children on my own. I never had health problems but I have struggled with minor things since. But, I have had To give up my career, became homeless for a while and have found maintaining friendships hard since. His gay life literally took over his life. While I don’t blame him for being gay the effect it had had on my life is immense. It’s very hard to get your life back on track bringing up babies on your own and all the things this means. Other people’s judgements on single parents doesn’t help. I would like to see the gay support groups do more to help support single parents and to dispel myths of why people might be bringing up kids on their own. My X husband blamed me for him being gay because I wanted a clean house. It is ridiculous and whilst I never believed it when you are in a vulnerable position such as having just given birth these things really affect you. I don’t blame myself at all – I blame him for being a coward and using me to cover his gayness. He didn’t grow up in a family that were homophobic and I have since found out that other members of his family have done the same thing and kept it secret. They are literally using hetro people to have babies – to his family we are baby making machines. I don’t know what can be done to protect hetro people from this. I came from a nice home and no previous issues. I have tried to look at myself and see what did I do to become this victim but I can find nothing. I have found focusing on the fact that other people are in a worse situation helpful. I find it extremely hard to trust people and have had a few people after I have built up courage to tell them why I am a single parent never speak to me…

    • Anna, from what you’ve described, I’ll challenge you to reconsider this one sentence.

      “He didn’t grow up in a family that were homophobic…” Oh yes, he did, if this next part is true: “…other members of his family have done the same thing and kept it secret.”

      That is the very essence of homophobia – shame and secrets – but this is the internal kind, not external. I came face to face with that one in myself.

      “I would like to see the gay support groups do more to help…”

      I believe they would, if we make them aware of our situations. I’ve found more genuine sympathy from gay people than I have from straights – they actually talk about these things without getting flustered or uncomfortable because they’ve lived with it for so long. But they aren’t aware of us until we talk to them.

    • (sorry, I hit the submit button too soon)

      “…have had a few people after I have built up courage to tell them why I am a single parent never speak to me…”

      Then you’re probably better off without them. That says something about them, and nobody else but them.

      (is there any way for us to edit or correct our own comments after we submit them?)

      • Hi Mariann, we don’t have the ability for commenters to edit their comments. If something needs to be changed, contact the communications director at janet@straightspouse.org.

      • Mariann. Been to see 3 counsellors. All say same to me it’s Not my fault, that it’s just bad luck! I have 2 disabled children so finding child care and work to fit around them is non existent. I don’t understand why – ok – gay, straight community groups aren’t doing more to support disabled children whose parent are gay. There is literally nothing! Gay or not I do not understand how someone can choose sex over supporting their children especially when they turn out to be disabled. I live in the UK where pretty much if you are a single parent you are considered a drain on society. I don’t understand how he choose to leave us in this situation because of sex. I also do not understand why he cheated – in The UK cheating with someone of the same sex is not enough to get divorced. I worked with his mother and yes she knew all about the issues homosexual people face – we used to train others on these issues. I was used, completely and utterly used. She admitted to me after he came out that she knew all along. So she played along through 3 years of dating, watched me struggling to understand why my marriage wasn’t working and she knew! That’s using someone. It’s all well and good saying it’s no ones business but, when you have had to re locate home with 2 disabled children you have a limited number of people to talk to and meet. Somewhere I believe he had a responsibility in all this and so did my mother in law.

        • You’ve added and changed details now that weren’t in your original post, so I’ll broadly summarize my comments and finish; otherwise we’ll be on a wild goose chase and end up nowhere.

          You seem to expect the LGBT community to pay for what your husband and his mother did to you specifically. Your anger is misdirected.

          Gay people don’t build their closets. The straight community does it and then nudges them into it starting in childhood. The straight community denies having built those closets, does little to encourage them to come out, and often punishes them when they do. In this country (USA) there are people even today who want to sue them for fraud after they come out of the closet that straight people built: “After you come out of that closet, I’ll sue you!”

          The gay community is already doing its part to break this unjust cycle. They encourage gay people to be brave, stare down the haters and hypocrites, and come out; the gay community helps them undo a lifetime of having been brain-washed. One way they accomplish this is by publicizing the occasional big-name case so that those in hiding are emboldened. They’re doing their part to make the MoM phenomenon go away. I found support from gay people, but I don’t hold them accountable for what someone else did to me.

          You seem to think that because your ex is gay, an automatic link exists between him and the gay community. It doesn’t. In any case there are resources: if he and his mother commit illegal acts, that’s a matter for the police. If he’s not meeting his legal obligations, that’s a matter for the courts. If there are holes in the health-care system, that’s a socio-political issue. An organization not serving your specific cause doesn’t mean it condones your ex’s actions.

          I’m sorry for your troubles, but I think you’re knocking at wrong doors and accusing wrong people, and that’s kept you from finding help. You’re at the Straight Spouse Network now; I hope you’ll allow us…

          • Mariann. I think you misunderstand my concerns. My mother in law was allowing my son to call her mum behind my back. I found this out after my x came out. In the UK you cannot divorce your spouse for cheating on you with someone of the same sex. So, now with the knowledge that I know that this has happened in their family before I can see that I was used to fulfil her need to be a grandmother when she knew she would not have natural born grand children. They were also aware I could not file for divorce from him. I worry that in all the no blame divorce culture that we have and the pro gay culture that what happened to me will happen to more people. I do not want another person having to go through this. Being allowed to use someone like this is surely not o This is why I believe the gay community has a responsibility to make sure that straight spouses are cared for too. If its ok to cheat on your spouse which is what the laws in the UK suggest and there is no law protecting you from in laws that try to take over as parents we are left in this limbo land. The Courts have no power over this yet morally is it ok to use someone to hide your sons sexuality so you can try and take over as a mother. I do think the gay community has a responsibility to be warning its members that we can catch STI’s from them, that even if its not law to not cheat that its morally not ok to cheat. I even saw on one gay groups website ” you do not have to tell your wife if you are gay”. This is the same group my GP suggested I encourage my husband to attend. This is not ok. A marriage is a 2 way thing not one way. Why is a group support saying its ok to lie and cheat to your wife? And why are GP’s recommending this? I just believe it is everyone’s responsibility in this to make sure that all who go through anything like this have the help and support they need. I do not think it is ok for society to tell people its ok to be gay without understanding what it means for the families left…

          • Mariann

            I also don’t think it is just the straight community that build gay closets. Most straight people I know really don’t care if someone is gay or straight or other and go out of their way to accommodate people. I do think sometimes gay people build their own closets and there are of course straight people who do make closets. I wanted to forget this ever happened to me and move on but busses go past my house every ten minutes that have a big slogan saying some people are gay get over it. I would love to get over it but I am still trying to get a divorce from my husband who left 10 years ago to pursue his gay life. So every ten minutes I am reminded of what he did and that I should just get over it even though I have lost financially etc etc. I just think the gay groups could be more sensitive. I have always been sensitive to gay people and supportive of most gay groups I expect something back the other way. If people are supposed to just get over it, then there needs to be support put in place for everyone.

          • I also wonder if because I was involved in campaigning for gay rights etc before I got married and my job involved this if this is why I was picked by my husband and MIL. Its pretty sick really to do that. I now wonder if I was too kind and trusting. But, what do you do, do you go through life never trusting anyone, never being nice, never trying to help if this is what happens to you. We all get this kind of teaching when we grow up be careful of this kind of man or a man who does this will probably cheat but all we get told about gay people is to “be nice to them, support them, help them” We are never told “be careful, they may use you to have babies or to hide behind their sexuality”. I will tell my children so much when it is their time to get married or live with someone, I will do background checks, I will interrogate the new partner and their families. I t may seem excessive but, with people who seem to view other peoples bodies and lives as a thing to hide behind and use ad just throw away when its no longer of need to them then this is what I will have to do especially if laws and policies do not protect people from this.

          • And another thing… I don’t know if this is the same in The USA or anywhere else but here in The UK there are gay campaign groups that go into schools to teach about equality. I have been in some of these lessons. One of the things they say is ” it doesn’t affect anyone elses life if you come out”. I totally disagree this is the right thing to tell students. Young people need to be told our stories so that they know that if they get married/ have children with someone that it could affect their lives, that person will have to give up things, that they may end up claiming benefits in order to survive. or.. that if they behave like this and do not address their sexuality then they may end up as the person with no money, job etc. it is not ok to live in this fantasy world where people can go around changing their sexuality with no repercussions. We need to be telling young people the facts and their responsibilities not telling them they can do what they want when they want. Whilst we all know sexuality can sometimes change it is not ok to say it wont affect anyone elses life. Like I say I am not sure these groups say this in other places but they do here.

        • Anna, those were good counselors to say it’s not your fault. It isn’t. As others have said, therapy is not about fault-finding, it’s about examining your thoughts, beliefs and actions and discovering options to improve your situation. Help already exists to benefit you and your children.

          “There is literally nothing!”

          That is not a true statement, and a counsellor would point that out. As Angela has shown, the UK has an array of resources for single parents, disabled children, victims of sham marriages. For your childrens’ sakes, I hope you use the information she supplied.

          “I do not understand how someone can choose sex over supporting their children…” It happens, straight and gay alike. But you can still accept help for your disabled children without understanding why someone cheats.

          “if you are a single parent you are considered a drain…” Is there a society that thinks otherwise? The helping organizations are still there.

          “in the UK cheating with someone of the same sex is not enough to get divorced.” That’s also not true. Someone has misinformed you. I got a divorce when my husband cheated. His infidelity was all that was required; that was enough grounds for divorce. It didn’t matter to the court who he was cheating with. Don’t take “not necessary” to mean “not enough.” You have all the reason you need for a divorce; you don’t need more.

          “she knew all about the issues homosexual people face – we used to train others on these issues.” Whoever trained you and your mother-in-law to teach about those issues needs to know that your mother-in-law duped them too, and that their training did not prepare you adequately. Whatever information you and she imparted to others is likely to have left them unprepared as well. Have you told them that a straight woman pulled the wool over their eyes? Their training was incomplete and you would be doing a mitzvah for them and their future trainees, students and straight spouses as…

    • “I have tried to look at myself and see what did I do to become this victim but I can find nothing.”

      That rarely works if you do it on your own. Believe me, I tried; it didn’t work. It’s too easy to rationalize or overlook how we get in our own way. A good therapist will be more effective. And, many therapists can also refer you to social or government services who also help. But we never see our own blind spots; it’s impossible; we need an external set of eyes and ears, trained to show us where our blind spots are.

      I think I see one or two of them, if you don’t mind my saying so: you seem to think the gay community should solve your single-parenting stigma issue when they didn’t create it, and I really doubt that single-parent child-rearing is their area of expertise anyway. They only got the right to marry a few years ago, they’ve barely had enough time to start getting divorced yet! Be angry with your ex, but not the gay community if they aren’t the ones who are stigmatizing you; they’re probably less aware of it than anybody. Anger is fine, but focus it on the root problem.

      Now this is my own pet peeve, but how is it anyone’s business why you’re a single parent anyway? (I’ve learned to tell nosy people to MYOB – from a good therapist.)

      There are all kinds of programs and organizations that provide assistance to single parent households already. Government-based, church-based or charity-based. I’m not sure what a gay support group would do that those don’t already do, and you don’t have to deal with TGT with those other organizations. If you’re saying it’s straight people who judge you for being a single parent because your ex was a gay man, then that’s a straight community problem, not a gay one. I don’t see what the gay community can do with that, they already have a time of it trying to be accepted for themselves, let alone solving straight people causing problems for other straight people, too.

      • Bryon, I do think it is everyone’s problem. If we want to live in communities where people can swop their sexuality then we have to understand that is going to leave single parents. That’s a fact. I may not be perfect but I did not cause my husband to be gay. I entered the marriage in trust. He did not ever tell me he was gay. I did not choose to have children by myself, I chose to be married and have them and to have someone to share that responsibility with. I have seen counsellors and there is nothing they have been able to identify with me about my past that led me to picking a gay man. Both my children have disabilities and this has affected everything in my life. I have paid a huge price for him leaving. I lost my career, my home and yes I lost friends because although I would have supported him: I tried to find counsellors for him, I said he could live in the house to which his reply was only if he had to do nothing to help me.( I could not accept this and not should I have had to) but, people like to think they are being politically correct by supporting the gay partner. The gay community does have a responsibility to put it out there that the straight spouse is not to blame, that the straight spouse needs support from mutual friends too. Everyone has the responsibility to tell their children that is is ok if they are gay and that its just life that some people are gay or bi. People talk about rights but never responsibilities. It is virtually impossible to exist bringing up children on one income especially when there is inadequate child care for disabled children. I think the gay community has a responsibility to tell its community that they should be helping the partner they left especially when there is children involved. I have had straight and gay people judge me. In The UK you are considered a drag on society if you are a single parent.

      • Bryon, in regard to other people needing to know my business: if there is one thing I have learnt through going through this experience is when meeting someone check, double check and check again! I will never get into a relationship again without understanding that persons ideas about relationships. Therefore, on the very few dates I have been on I would want to know why that person is divorced ( they may be a hidden gay person, violent, have cheated etc etc) and I respect that someone who has also been through a hard time would also want to check out why I was divorced. I have decided that it’s better to be honest because if someone can not handle that my husband is gay then they aren’t worth being in a relationship with but it’s lonely. Very lonely! I simply cannot afford financially or otherwise to make another mistake. My X husband has never even apologised for what he put me through. I don’t expect him to apologise for being gay but an apology or some sort of acceptance for the mess he left behind, for lieing, cheating, leaving me with a new born baby and a toddler to do everything, for destroying my career. I think the gay support groups could be doing more to help the straight spouse. In the UK there are not even any statistics on how many marriages this affects. I think in The US you are slightly ahead with groups trying to understand the issues.

    • Anna, have you been in contact with our UK affiliate Straight Partners? You can reach out to them at support@straightpartnersanonymous.com.

      Second, you should seek support and further contact from the US based group by clicking the “How to Find Support” tab at the top of this page, and completing the confidential form. A member of our team will respond within 48 hours. There are secret online groups which you might be able to participate in, and a number of straight spouses do parent children who are disabled or have special needs. You may find some kindred spirits there.

      • Thank you. I feel I have been the one who has been put in a closet. Its hard enough being a single parent and not being able to explain to people why but its a double whammy with disabled children. I also feel that there is one thing for a gay person to discover they ae gay and seek help and show respect to their spouse back but its another to know all along and treat their spouse with such disrespect and lies that that spouse is left not understanding or knowing what has happened to them. It creates yet another person living in a closet. And, with not much way to get out of it. I will contact this group. thank you. The other thing is that unfortunately the way divorces are set up there has to be an element of blame. My husband says he did nothing wrong so why should he give me anything. The way divorce is set up allows this to happen because technically he has done nothing wrong in cheating on me. As it was a short marriage I now have no real assets yet I cannot continue with my career. I do not see why I should have to become poor financially so he can be gay – that is not the point of equality and that is what we are dealing with here. it is about equality and if one persons freedom leads to another’s not freedom then its not equality.

    • Anna, do you really think anyone constructs closets for themselves? Can you give an example of someone who said “Because I feel perfectly safe, understood and accepted, I’m going to live in a closet.” Whether it’s for sexual orientation, religion, race, or gender, nobody builds an environment to discriminate against themselves. They hide in a closet for the same reasons many of us do – fear of how people might treat us. You’ve described how others reacted to you, but instead of holding them accountable, you look to a population that had nothing to do with it. You complain they don’t do anything for you, when there are so many other places that do, and you say “there is literally nothing!” How hard did you look? It’s difficult for me to believe you were “trained” on gay-straight issues when you don’t see one as obvious as this.

      If your ex did as you say, spurred on by his mother (“using hetro people to have babies … we are baby making machines”), the real issue is that his mother is a narcissist who raised a sociopath; that he also happens to be gay is incidental. He could have been straight and done the same thing.

      Anna, sometimes the truth is harsh, but you seem unable or unwilling to consider that your beliefs might be holding you back. Others who have done the same and learned are trying to show you. I won’t be offended if you wrongly conclude that we’re the ones blaming you now; I know it isn’t true. We’re warning you that you’re looking in the wrong direction. Whatever your reason is for resisting, you’re the only one who can decide to turn around to see if we’re telling the truth. In the meantime, your children pay for your obstinacy.

      The most helpful words I heard came from SSN member Ken Rinehart, who said he finally began to heal when he realized he was only hurting himself by seeking blame. I had to hear that before I could heal. Some of us are trying to share that with you now. I hope you hear us, if not today, then…

      • Hi Edith, thanks for your comments.

        I don’t blame him at all for being gay. Being gay is just another spectrum of life. But, feel he has been allowed to behave in this way because when I went to my doctor to say help, I don’t know what to do here. He gave me a number of a well known organisation and said I should tell him to contact them. I handed this number to husband. I don’t know if he ever went or not but, a couple of years after I happened on this organisations website which said – you don’t have to tell your wife, it is your business if you want to have sex. And words to this affect. I could not believe it. How can an organisation about rights for people believe that it is ok to cheat on your spouse, pay little attention to her health, promote not discussing this issue with your spouse?
        I just feel this is so wrong. Surely, the opposite should happen. It should be encouraging honesty and protection for the person whose health maybe at huge risk especially if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. I felt so angry when I read this that my life meant so little to the gay support organisation. I wish that I had complained at the time but I was so upset and traumatised that it seemed OK to say he didn’t need to protect you, he could do exactly what he wanted, he didn’t need to try and work this out with me.
        I still do not understand how and organisation that says it is about promoting equality can see this as equAlity. I feel I should have had the right to protect not only myself but my baby who I was still breastfeeding. It was his job as a father to protect his child. Now, I don’t know he may have had tests or protected himself but this organisation doesn’t know if individuals are doing this but throws out advice on their internet page to say it’s ok.

        That’s what really upsets me more than anything. Marriage is a 2 way relationship. It is not about a man deciding what and when to tell his wife these matters. I found it completely sexist and…

      • Edith, thanks for your response but I feel it doesn’t matter what views I hold I am still in exactly the same position I am in now. I still cannot go out and meet anyone new because I don’t have childcare, I still cannot have a career and move on with my life. I could believe anything I wanted but I am still here grappling with the every day life.

  10. “We don’t know whose fault it is” …for what, exactly? These are so many issues. Here are my best guesses for who’s at fault for some of them:

    a) addictions: the addict
    b) physical health conditions: nobody
    c) emotional issues: not enough info to determine
    d) that our spouses are no longer attracted to us: nobody
    e) who constructed his closet for him (or her): too many to list
    f) remaining closeted with him out of fear and/or loyalty: my fault
    g) that our spouses are treated as heroes: give me an example of what that looks like first
    h) discounted by family etc: 50/50; their fault for doing it, my fault for putting up with it for far too long

    “We have no way of knowing how much of what we have brought to a mixed orientation marriage could contribute to the breakup of that marriage because at the core, many of our spouses are not capable of giving us the same level of intimacy as a same sex partner.”

    So my ability to think, act or learn about myself depends on someone else’s sexual orientation? My ex is responsible for me not being responsible for myself? That way of thinking leaves me completely at someone’s mercy, implies I’m weak and incapable, and keeps me from taking ownership of my life. Like Rosa said, don’t hand the control over to anyone.

    “We have no way of knowing…” Not with that attitude, certainly.

    It’s normal to want to understand where pain comes from, but hunting for blame is not the same as seeking an explanation and finding peace. Blaming only prolongs the pain. Enumerating all the pain points once again doesn’t uplift, energize or encourage me, it drags me down and depresses me. Two steps forward, fifty steps back. I’d rather understand how it happens, learn from my mistakes so I don’t repeat them, and move forward.

    • Mariann. In regard to part g. I don’t think my X as ever seen as a hero as such but, mutual friends did say odd things. They felt sorry for him. Put it this way, he came out the better financially, he kept his career, he kept his freedom and social life, he, I believe is fully engaged in the gay club scene etc. He basically has a wonderful life turning up when he feels like it to see his kids, he does none of the actual work for them. And, he is the one people feel sorry for because he is gay. I’m not sure why someone should feel sorry for someone who is gay – it’s not a disease. So I wonder do they feel sorry for him because he had to be married to me? Was it that awful? (I know I’m not perfect but it’s quite insulting) so, while I dont think it’s seen as a hero I think people seem to think that they are the hard done by one. I also think in trying to be politically correct mutual friends feel they cannot be seen to think badly of the gay partner and so tend to side with them not understanding that the straight spouse also needs help and support. I cut off a lot of my friends because they said things to this affect and I just felt if you cannot see that I am here on my own miles away from my own family with a newborn baby and you feel sorry for him just because he is gay then I don’t want to be friends with you.

  11. Jean, I love this: “I’ve found affixing blame to be counterproductive. Learning to see BOTH of them with compassion and learning to set my own boundaries was and continues to be the only thing that helps me cope.”

    You have stated the challenge perfectly.

    To be honest, I’m not sure what’s the point of this article. The question “Whose fault is it anyway?” doesn’t specify which one of all the problems described is the one up for consideration, and yet it presumes that fault can be assigned. That sets up a witch-hunt atmosphere: someone is to blame for a crime that hasn’t even been defined yet… The article concludes with “We don’t know whose fault it is…” Well, of course you don’t, because you never established in the first place which of the dozen and more “crimes” against us the question was supposed to address. If the question isn’t clear, you don’t get a clear answer.

    The article lists issues that some but not all of us encounter – from family, friends, in-laws, co-workers, church, etc. But there wasn’t one concrete suggestion about how to handle those situations. Not one. Merely a vague (and obvious) notion that “living without acknowledgement, affirmation, and honesty does not aid in recovery.” I can think of other things that do not aid in recovery: exaggerating a situation, over-simplifying complex issues, wasting time and energy trying to assign unidentified blame instead of sharing effective solutions. Surely we can do better. Rather than “Whose fault is it anyway” – unspecified and unanswered – wouldn’t it have been more helpful to ask “What works for you in these situations?” and invite solutions from the SSN community?

    (For the record, my husband was not lauded as a hero either: he was excoriated within our faith community and disowned by his parents and became suicidal. I seriously question how many of our exes were truly “lauded as heroes.”)

    • Amy,I have had people say to me it takes two to make a divorce happen. I have actually replied a couple of times ” actually, when your husband walks out because you’ve just found out he’s cheated on you with men and he cannot handle that, it’s not two way, it’s one way”! I find the presumption that a divorce is created by two people really offensive because it implies to me that I did something wrong, I’m not perfect but I did nothing to deserve what I got. I would say it more to people who say that but I don’t want my children to find out about their dad through idle gossip so I have to be careful who I say it to.

  12. I am relieved to see this article and responses. Few people understand the dynamics of mixed-orientation marriage. My mother was the straight spouse in a marriage of 56 years.I identified strongly with Mom and am now dealing with my 87 year old closeted widower, self-described “sex addict” father who seeks M2M contact on Craigslist and also maintains a relationship with an elderly widow. Dad wants me to live with and take care of him after I retire.
    Since childhood, my family “job” was to compensate for “something missing” in my parents’ relationship. Late in life, Mom named that missing element as “emotional intimacy”. But both prior to and after Dad’s involuntary disclosure, she would lament that she never received acknowledgement, affirmation, or validation from him.She sought counseling and healed herself as much as she could while choosing to remain with him (and subject herself to ongoing psychic injury). Emotional nurturance came from her female friends and family members. However,these intimates never understood why mom’s depression never lifted – because Mom only disclosed Dad’s orientation to me, my brother, and a cousin.
    I’ve found affixing blame to be counterproductive. Both of my parents went through hell as children. Learning to see BOTH of them with compassion and learning to set my own boundaries was and continues to be the only thing that helps me cope. I am dealing with my own relationship issues and strongly believe that whatever healing does not happen in the first generation becomes a necessary task for the next generation.
    I have found your post and replies to be helpful in understanding more about my family of origin, and hope that my comments about my mother’s struggle provide some validation for you. If you know of any group for adult children of mixed-orientation relationships, please let me know. I have looked for them and have not found any. Thank you for bringing light to the subject of Mixed-orientation Marriages.

  13. About a year after D-day, I joined a group for women going through divorce. It lasted 12 weeks. Two of us were straight spouses out of 10. Most of the issues listed above were shared by everyone: rejection, addiction, moralizing and scolding, being blamed for failing, child support, betrayal, infidelity. Even gaslighting although the other women didn’t use that term, they knew about being made to feel crazy. It really was a level playing field for the most part. One thing I got out of it was no matter how hard we have it, somewhere someone always has it worse. It doesn’t make us feel better, but it puts things in perspective. Small comfort, but at least my husband had the courtesy to cheat on me with a stranger, not with my own sister, which is what happened to one woman.

    The one thing that really was different was the question “how could you not know?” It came up in the group. The other wife and I both said we get asked that all the time and people don’t realize how insulting it is. They were surprised that we were offended because they weren’t thinking we were stupid, they weren’t even thinking about us at all really, they were trying to imagine themselves in our shoes and what they assumed were obvious tell-tale signs. They did ask if there was a better way to ask but I couldn’t come up with one. Where that discussion led was that they weren’t trying to insult us or act superior, their real question was more like: “If you couldn’t tell, and if I have to ask about it, does this mean my assumptions about gay men are wrong, and is it possible I could have made the same mistake?” That’s a lot different from asking “How could you be so stupid?” which is how we usually interpret it. It’s a tough question no matter how people ask it, but it isn’t necessarily an insult. It just means they’re still as clueless about it as we once were.

    As far as the group experience went, I was skeptical at first, but it turned out we had more in common than I…

    • Wendy, I would love to hear more about what the women’s group was like. Where did you find it and what made you decide to try it? Did your insurance cover it or did you have to pay out of pocket? I’ve given up trying to get my family to understand things, but maybe I expect too much of them. I’m ready to do something different if it gets me out of this rut, and meeting new people face to face sounds like a breath of fresh air.

      • The group met at a community clinic weekly for 12 weeks. My insurance only covered three sessions, so I paid cash, $25/week. My own counselor thought it was a good idea for me, to get out and socialize again, and help me be more comfortable talking about TGT to people. I was skeptical at first, but it turned out it was more helpful than I had thought, for many reasons. I made some friends, their stories were a lot like mine, they were more similar than different, let me put it that way. The details were different but the big themes were the same: being sexually rejected, the cheating, feeling worthless and betrayed, lied to, child custody, legal and financial problems, all of it. Everybody struggled and had pain, that’s why we were there.

        It definitely has become easier for me to talk about TGT since then, I have to say that. At first I felt judged, especially when the “how could you not know” thing came up, but I know where that was really coming from now and I don’t get defensive about it anymore. They weren’t saying “how could you be so stupid,” they were wondering if they could have missed the signs too. I was the one thinking I must have been so stupid not to figure it out, so I assumed they were thinking it, but they weren’t. That was in my own head. The other straight wife had the same aha! that I had.

        The other thing I got was that you really can’t compare pain. I think of the woman whose husband and sister cheated on her; can you imagine? If something hurts, it hurts, period, you just want it to stop. But you can’t say you hurt worse or more than the next person because you have no way of knowing. All you can do is say “we’re both hurting” and be there for each other. Why make it a contest over who hurts more?

  14. I can’t really say that my ex was treated as a “hero” exactly. I don’t know about anyone else’s ex, but certainly nobody threw a ticker-tape parade for mine. He wasn’t asked to speak at the Rotary Club. He wasn’t invited to ring the opening bell on Wall Street, or cut the ribbon on Opening Day at our new Walmart, or throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. He wasn’t Time Magazine’s Man of the Year.

    He did find what he needed sooner than I did – support, sympathy and resources – but that doesn’t mean anyone treated him as a hero, only as someone who needed help and encouragement. It’s an exaggeration to say he was treated as a hero, because that isn’t the reality of what happened. The frustrating thing is that nobody seemed to see that I needed the same things he did, but that doesn’t mean anyone thinks of him as a hero. If we keep telling ourselves that it does, it builds resentment at something that isn’t really there, and distracts us away from the things we do need – support, sympathy, information and resources.

  15. We don’t cause their homosexuality. Nothing we do, nothing we are causes that, or changes it. We didnt cause it, we can’t cure it, we can’t control it. My closeted ex tried to control his sexual orientation and his self loathing by controlling me.

    They don’t cause our addictions, mental illness, etc. They may aggravate it, they may make the symptoms more difficult to live with, but it’s still up to us to account to ourselves for that condition and deal with it.

    There is alcoholism in my family (not my gay ex). “You drove me to drink” is a common excuse among those cousins and their parents.

    My therapist told me I had “situational anxiety” related to the trauma of an emotionally abusive gay ex. However, it was still my responsibility to figure out the anxiety, why I reacted that way to what he did, and deal with it.

    And guess what? That situational anxiety was part of anxiety that arises with other stresses too. It was better for me to work on owning my reaction of self destructive anxiety and deal with the whole truth about me. It also made me stronger to stand up to his continued abusiveness in court and in family situations.

    We don’t do ourselves any favors by blaming them for an addiction, or a mental or emotional disorder. They didn’t cause it, they can’t cure it, they can’t control it – even if they cruelly use it against us. Don’t give them that control – painful as it is, I had to learn to cope with my anxiety, recognize what triggered it, and deal with it.

    I still have anxiety attacks on the road at night when I am in high traffic and lost. Really crippling anxiety attacks. I’ve learned to pull over and call someone, or do something that calms me down so I can think again. There are terrible people on the road who provoke my anxiety in some situations – but it is up to me to deal with it no matter how cruel or guilty they are.

  16. I agree with Nancy. Our mental health issues were certainly aggravated, if not caused, by our marriages and so I have no problem with blaming them.

    • Agree 100%!!

  17. I have mixed reactions to this. Some I agree with, some not so much. I agree with the need for affirmation, validation, and having someone listen and let us talk. I agree it takes time to adjust to a new reality, and the amount of time varies from person to person. I agree that our initial reactions are intense and bewildering. I agree that there are different experiences among straight spouses.

    Some generalizations I bought at first and have had to re-think. For one, I cannot agree that “WE were chosen to serve as covers.” That is not true for me. My wife did not choose me, I pursued her until she finally said “I do:” I chose her. Paradoxically, it was when I admitted that, that I began to reclaim control. I was not damaged and powerless, I was in pain, and because of that, I bought into a belief that I had been damaged, and that impeded my recovery.

    For another, I don’t buy the idea that we are “pushed” into a closet after. It feels that way, but is it real? I think we harm ourselves when we tell ourselves that, because it robs us of power. Describing it as being pushed says I’m not able to resist. Ask “who” is doing the pushing, and why aren’t you pushing back?

    The closet is about shame: agreeing with and siding with those who shame us (and/or our spouses). If we go into a closet, it’s because we agree with those who judge us; we think they’re right and we’re wrong; we agree that we were stupid or naive; we agree with them that anger is unjustified and intolerant. If we did not agree with them, we’d protest and refuse to be pushed. You can’t be made to feel ashamed without feeling somewhere inside yourself that you deserve that shame. That is what shame is: you believe you did something bad and it doesn’t matter whether or not you actually did it. What matters is that you believe it.

    When I got to the point of asking, “why am I in a closet? I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of,” the walls started melting…

  18. I agree, Nancy!! We were chosen to serve as covers until we outlived our usefulness. I consider the fallout from living a lie to be PTSD. The trauma is not something I can describe.
    By the time we find out why there is no emotional intimacy in our relationships a massive bite has been taken out of our best years of our lives.

  19. Ok, I love this article, except for the two mentions of “they are not to blame for your mental health issues, addictions, etc.” I do believe that, unlike many things in life, this truly is a a perpetrator/victim situation. If in fact we straight spouses have mental health issues or addictions, I believe that they can largely be attributed to the nightmare that we have been through at the hands of those who deceived us. Otherwise, however, I think this article is right on.

    • Nancy, I’ve been trying to study for a degree and I read a very interesting piece about how the world has be some so reliant on psychology and people going to therapists to try and solve what is wrong. Many people aren’t addressing the fact that individuals have little power over their lives and that all this going to see therapists is doing is putting the blame on individuals instead of looking at the bigger picture of how society is organised. If I find it I will put a link on.

      • [therapy] “is putting the blame on individuals instead of looking at the bigger picture of how society is organised…”

        Society is organized by the individuals who make up that society.

        “…the fact that individuals have little power over their lives…”

        Show me the author of that article and I’ll show you a person who is afraid to own his mistakes or consider other options, repeatedly makes the same mistakes and doesn’t learn. That’s a person who doesn’t want to assume power for himself because he fears the responsibility that comes with it, and mistakes it for blame. He’s correct that he will have little power over his own life; he will always be at the mercy of someone’s whims.

        • Nancy and Brian

          ” How therapy became a multi million dollar industry” Author is Illouz. It is not on a website so not sure how you would see it. but you may find something.

          • sorry Bryon I spelt your name wrong. I do apologise.

          • Anna, thanks for the info on the author and the article. I will look for it.

            I hope you know that by studying for a degree you are already taking power over your life, and you yourself are proving the author wrong on that point. (I assume you made a decision to get that degree, and it wasn’t forced on you, and it didn’t happen to you by surprise or accident or without your awareness.)

            How did it go when you contacted the UK Straight Spouse Network? Do you think they can be helpful for you?

            (No need to apologize for getting my name wrong, I’m used to it.)

          • Actually, it IS on a website.

            http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/how-therapy-became-a-multimillion-dollar-industry-1.436431

            She makes broad generalizations that have little do with psychology, without data or evidence to support her theories. Not even a conversation or interview with a therapist or patient.

            It’s an op-ed piece about politics and socio-economics, neither of which is the purview of therapy or psychology, and it’s little more than her personal opinion. She might as well be describing a rugby match and pointing out that they aren’t using hockey sticks. It might be accurate but the assumption behind it is not applicable and so it’s not a particularly useful statement.

            Therapy is not about social change, it’s about individual change, which may or may not lead to social change. She’s using the wrong measuring stick.

      • http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/how-therapy-became-a-multimillion-dollar-industry-1.436431

        This is the article by Eva Illouz. It’s an op-ed piece, not a product of research, and not based on measurable data as to the outcomes of therapy. It’s one woman’s opinion, and must be read as that – an opinion. It is a broad-brush theoretical lecture, without specifics. She wants to see a direct correlation between psychology and social change, where there is none. The correlation is there, but it is indirect and not immediately obvious.

        What Prof Illouz doesn’t seem to realize is that therapists are not social engineers or revolutionaries themselves, but with what they do, they can help social engineers become more effective.

        One of her complaints about therapy is ironic for this forum especially, and one that might (or probably should) make the flaw in her ideas more apparent:

        “If a married man had no desire for his wife… these feelings [are} no longer viewed as ordinary unpleasant experiences of life, but as dysfunctions to be treated.”

        So Prof. Illouz thinks a mixed orientation marriage is merely an “ordinary unpleasant experience” in life, and does not require support, explanation or help?

        This is how she misses the point. Therapy is not meant to cure or fix society’s ills. It is to educate individuals’ stumbling blocks and blind spots, so that the individual becomes aware of them and makes better, more informed and self-aware choices. In making better choices for ourselves, gradually we influence our surroundings and society. But we have to be self-aware before we can do that. Self-awareness is not self-blame.

        Therapy is not about blame, it is about being made aware of options where we thought we had none, first by re-examining our past choices and then considering other possibilities.