A recent email from a male straight spouse was
critical of my approach to straight spouse recovery, calling it “one-sided” and
unnecessary.  He suggested that I let my
blog go and “get over it.”  It was a
suggestion worth considering.  It also challenged
me to evaluate this site that I launched in 2008 with a post titled “Why I

My stated purpose in that first
post was “to explore topics relevant to mixed orientation families and
particularly to other straight spouses.” 
For five years I have tried to stay true to that purpose.  But is this work no longer needed?  I pondered that for several days and honestly
thought about shutting the blog down.

Then I received another email that encouraged continuation of my work. Here is the text of that second message:

was five years ago that I contacted you after reading your books.  My husband of 40+ years told me he is gay and
had left me.  You encouraged me that,
yes, I could get through that terrible time. 
I had hoped because of our long history we could continue a semblance of
a relationship, but it was not to be. 

may not remember our conversation, but I do, distinctly.  You said that time would heal many of the
wounds that had been inflicted--and you were correct.  There were many sleepless nights, days filled
with tears, and friendships strained by my grief.  It was like someone died.  He was the love of my life and I couldn't
imagine or take it in that he was "dumping" me. 

5 years have gone by--hard for me to think about it.  And I was recently married to a man who also
lives in my home town.  We met 3 years
ago and despite all odds, we have found happiness together.  His wife died of cancer about 5 years
ago.  So we both came to the relationship
with some "baggage" that we have had to deal with.  Friends and family are happy for us and we
are happy for ourselves! 

just wanted to update you on my situation and THANK YOU for your wonderful
advice and for writing the books!  My mom
always said that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and I'd
have to say she was right.  There were
times that I was at the brink of desperation, but now I have come out of the
darkness and am a stronger person. 

Colorado, USA

Still another message sealed my decision to keep
offering my “one-sided” conviction that people can overcome the sadness of a
spouse coming out and, with time and patience, can reconfigure a rewarding new
life.  Helen, a recovered straight
spouse, wrote

When I
was a counselor at an Episcopal summer camp, the bishop came to speak to the
campers about their direction in life.  He brought the term
"calling" or "vocation" into my awareness in a way
that I had never before considered.  He explained that we can find
our true "vocation" if we look for the point at which our
greatest talent and the world's greatest need intersect. 

I’m a writer and since I have first-hand knowledge of the journey of a straight
spouse, and since there is obvious ongoing need for information about meeting this challenge—I suppose that I am actually engaged in my true vocation by
Helen’s definition.  On my desk, a small
plaque helps me focus: 

Let your work be in keeping with
your purpose. -
–Leonardo da Vinci

After taking into account all the feedback I've received recently, it
is my intention to continue my work as long as there is clear need.  It is my fervent hope that changing attitudes
about gay marriage will reverse the tide of mixed-orientation marriages and
there will no longer be any need for this calling,
but I’ll continue as long as I am contacted for help by men and women who
discover that they are straight spouses. 

respectfully request your comments, negative or positive, on the value of this
blog.  Thank you!



10 Responses to “A CALLING”

  1. Jackie says:

    It's hard to say anything specific without knowing the person who e-mailed you, but I think sometimes people say "get over it" because they want to stop the conversation. In other words, you struck a nerve that the sender didn't want to face.
    It's hard to imagine that healing is instantaneous for anyone, and frankly, it requires work. I know I'm not responsible for my husband's deception, but I am responsible for not thinking that I deserved a fully engaged partner. Since my husband left, I've spent time tackling the mindset behind why I chose that situation. If I'd just told myself to "get over it," I probably would have picked up another "fixer-upper" for a partner instead of knowing that I deserve better.
    As to why continue blogging, I think you're dead on about the calling. I'm a writer, too, and I write because I need to write, whether other people read me or not. I hope that my words find a home, but if they don't, then so be it. Your work has done a lot of good for many people, including me, so I think you should keep at it until you feel as though nothing remains to be said.
    Straight spouses have so few people that write about our situation or speak up on our behalf. Until marriage equality is the law of the land, people will still find themselves in our situations. You've done a work that hopefully others will carry on, and that's reason enough to keep writing.

  2. Francie Chan says:

    Carol, I do think you should continue to blog, your information is so helpful and vital to many people. I was particularly struck by the question about straight male spouses. I have know quite a few (mind you not in the Biblical sense) and have often found their responses, more often then not, very angry and sometimes vengeful. At the moment I am very aware of the pain of the coming out person because so often they were not aware, never wanting to be duplicitous, and then 20 years pass and they feel that the world views them as perpetrators, betrayers, etc. I continue to be in awe of the complexity of our lives, we are so very complicated. I hope this finds you well, I'm looking forward to our next time together.
    AND by all means keep on blogging.
    Francie ..... please note that I have a new e address

  3. Jo says:

    Hi Carol
    You do what is best for you. I dont know what I would have done without Bonnie and likewise people will feel the same about you. If you helping others is still helping you and not holding you in a time that you need to let go of then why shoud you stop. However if it keeps making you relive the pain over and over ...then it's time for you to let go. The key here is "How are you?" you are the most important person so you do what is best for you. x

  4. Carol Grever says:

    Thank you for your responses to my request for comment. To Jackie and Jo, who are both straight spouses, I want to say that I'm pleased that my words helped you during your darkest times. (Jo mentioned "Bonnie" whose story inspired her. Bonnie was the pseudonym of a wonderfully well adjusted woman whose experience I related in MY HUSBAND IS GAY. She subsequently wrote her own book called SILENT SAGAS: UNSUNG SORROWS.)
    In answer to the question about how I am feeling about my own mixed-orientation experience: I am completely past any hard or painful feelings and I'm comfortable in my own skin and in a loving second marriage with a wise and understanding husband.
    In retrospect, I'm actually grateful for all the lessons learned and for the healthier level of respectful friendship that my ex-husband and I now share. I've long since found peace with it all and therefore have no vengeful feelings or ulterior motives. I simply want to comfort others on this journey and it still feels like important work.
    Carol Grever

  5. Michele says:

    Dear Carol,
    As a straight spouse who found out 3 years ago that my partner of 30 years was gay I would like to say you provide a real service. Like all straight spouses I didn't know were to turn. I had a lot of support from family and friends by I needed to talk with someone else who had actually lived the experience. My ex and I continue to live our individual lives apart but are now close friends and are able to continue the good parts of our long history. I think I was able to forgive him and go on because of your books and site.
    So I say thank you and please continue your good work.

  6. Nymariarya says:

    It is not about whether YOU need to let go and move on from your own suffering but about whether it's important to you to pay it forward.
    There are so many raw straight spouses out there and they can't all be making noise in the depths of despair without any veterans to help shine a light on what is to come.
    Offering support and sharing a our journey is something that some of us simply MUST do. It is something intrinsic to our personalities. Likewise, not everyone has it in them to linger on a tragic experience because their personality simply must let it go and put it in the past. There is nothing wrong with either scenario.
    Whomever the straight spouse was that said that perhaps it is time for you to move on simply isn't the sort to keep paying it forward once his or her own healing is achieved. There is nothing wrong with that. It's not for everybody.
    If you want to share your journey and be there for those fellow straight spouses in the most harsh part of this journey, do it. If you feel you need to let it go and move on to your next journey, do it. Above all public opinion, you have to move forward in the way that is right for you.

  7. Ken Rinehart says:

    Never question the service you provide. The story is a part of our lives. A part we can try to distance ourselves from, or leave behind. But the journey involves carrying a confusing piece of our past with us as we move forward in the uncharted water of our lives. Sifting through what was, what is no longer needed, and what still is. Mentally and emotionally.
    I have passed the 2 year mark of the end of my marriage. Still trying to put the puzzle pieces together about what I felt in my 10 year marriage, and what was truly real.
    I am glad I found your words and that you decided to tell your story. I have heard many along this journey that I know could help others, but were lost as a statistic. Bless you.

  8. Nancy says:

    Hi Carol,
    Five years ago you were my "first contact" after I found out my husband is gay. (Well, not exactly gay, he said, just bi- so I thought I could choose which one to be when I married you - and this man is a doctor). I have been through hell and lost five years of my life and sanity, became exhausted trying to protect my son from it for a few years (he was 15 and since then has thanked me) and my counselor says I still have traces of trauma and PTSD. You see, the two things I told him before we got married were (1) Always, without exception, be honest with me, and (2) The only thing that could end our marriage would be a long-term, unaddressed dysfunctional situation (like the one I gre up in). Well, he lied, he stole my life, and he kept himself smelling like a rose by blaming me for everything, treating me as the "sick" (depressed) one, and even telling me that my amorous approaches were not wanted, because he wasn't attracted to me any more since I gained weight. It goes on and on. He is narcissistic and thinks that I should thank him for paying the bills ("taking care of me") and for our son (raised mostly by me, and concieved by artificial insemination because GH has no SPERM and neglected to tell me that when we were engaged and talking about children. Nine years and $60,000 later for infertility treatment, we had a beautiful son without the treatment. I am rambling here, but had I not met you and corresponded with you for the first few months, I seriously think I would have had a mental breakdown or even committed suicide. Your blog and who you are SAVED MY LIFE. Whoever told you to close the blog was mean-spirited and stubbornly opinionated. How DARE he tell you to stop writing? Writing is not something a writer can choose to stop, because it's WHAT WE DO (your second quotation) and what we have to do to survive emotionally and spiritually. A writer who has enough courage to put herself out there, like you do, to help other people is a gift from God as far as I am concerned. I am still living with him, though there is no marriage. "Why can't we just be friends and roommates and co-parents and live out our lives together?" he asked. I told him that's not what I signed up for and that would never happen. But alas, it is happening, mostly for money reasons: we would both go bankrupt if we split. When he's not here, I'm fine in the house. WHen he is, it's a crap shoot, pardon my English, whether he will come through the door nice, civil, cooperative, stubborn, blaming, going straight to bed, or just plain glaring at me, or snapping at me, because it is supposedly my fault for finding out by accident, otherwise HIS life and his charade would be continuing as per our pattern. HE WAS NEVER GOING TO TELL ME, he said, because "I didn't want to hurt you" and yet he hurt me every day for 29 years. My favorite "idiot line" from the whole experience was when he came in from therapy one day. He hid his sexuality for SEVEN YEARS from his therapist - that's how good he is. So he came in and said, "I have good news! I've been mad at you for 25 years, but today I realized I am really mad at my mom--isn't that great?" I was supposed to be happy, and he missed how many thousands of times he hurt me by projecting his anger at his mother onto me. Good one, huh? I ended up joining the straight spouse list and people there guided me through the whole horrible process. I kept reading about people's situations and thought, "I'll never go there", then soon thereafter I was there. Now, even though I am not fully healed, I have been able to help other people. People often comment on my writing and how exactly it expresses what they are thinking and feeling. It is a gift that we can give people. Many, if not most, people cannot put feelings into words. And no one without a gay spouse can ever fully understand, no matter how empathetic they are, which is a wonderful thing, but it's not like talking to someone who has been there. I bet I have written hundreds of pages on the network - gosh, maybe thousands, and writing got me through. Please don't stop. In my opinion, the scathing person who told you to close the blog is an angry, self-centered person licking his wounds: if he can't talk about it or get better, no one should be able to. Even if I am wrong in my characterization (and there is a good, very good chance that I am) he is still a hurting person and a child of God in need of healing, like all of us. PLEASE do not stop writing. We need you. We love you. We value your contribution and your passion to help others whom no one else can help.

  9. Pepper says:

    Hi carol, thankful so much for this wonderful blog! I officially became a straight spouse 16 hours ago. I am feeling very lost, confused, scared, angry, hurt and any other down emotions there are. I came across your blog looking for answers to I don't know what. It feels encouraging knowing there are other people who have/are going through this as well. I feel I can't talk to any of my friends or family about this as it's just too raw. I have 4 small children I am keeping myself together for and my husband works away. He won't answer his phone and I am really hoping he just doesn't know what to say to me...I really hope he hasn't committed suicide. Just being able to get these thoughts out of my head feels relieving. Thank you so much and thank you everyone for sharing your encouraging stories x

  10. Carol Grever says:

    I wanted to respond to Pepper's comment, written just 16 hours after her husband came out. First, Pepper, I'm amazed at your composure and strength to search online for information so soon. You're right to look for resources to face this raw, terrible shock. I'm glad you found this blog and I hope the posts and subsequent comments will shed light on the journey you're now sharing with millions of other straight spouses. Keep reading, find a trusted relative or friend or counselor to confide in, and know that you're not alone. This is the challenge of a lifetime, especially with four little ones at home, but you can get through this, just as others have, and you'll be stronger and more confident afterward. I wish you well!

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