Archive for the ‘My Mission’ Category


October 25th, 2013 by Carol Grever

 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!




September 15th, 2013 by Carol Grever

At this very moment, a gay spouse is coming out.  At this very moment a husband or wife is suddenly a “straight spouse.”  In this moment someone is feeling the shock of discovery or raging over deception.  Someone is grieving the loss of the tomorrows they had planned.  Another is afraid, looking into an uncertain future.  These are the realities of those who unknowingly entered a mixed-orientation intimate relationship. 

At this moment another straight spouse is waking up to a new day, feeling optimistic, confident and comfortable, surprised by renewed hope.  Though it takes time to realize this positive outcome, recovery is a realistic goal.

A phone call yesterday reminded me that the straight spouse journey is an ongoing process.  We don’t just “get over it” all at once.  The middle-aged caller had separated from her husband, but their ties were still strong with daily contact and joint parenting.  Not ready to make a complete break, she worried about her recurring grief and fear of the future.  We talked about the necessity to take one step at a time, realizing that there is no single solution and no quick fix. Though she is in limbo today, inevitably there will be a turning point when a new path will be clear for her.  In the meantime, she is working through the recognizable straight spouse stages of coping that millions of others have experienced.  (See “Stages of Recovery” on this blog.)  It’s encouraging to know that others have felt the same agony and have come through it whole. 

Clearly, patterns of pain do recur.  Discovering that our assumptions about reality were wrong is shocking and agonizing.  It is a life-changing event. How we face and cope with that new information is the key factor in eventual recovery. Here are some suggestions.

Feel your feelings.  Expect waves of deep emotions to come and go.  Hurt, anger, disappointment, resentment, fear panic, even hatred.  Betrayal engenders these human responses.  Recognize that they are normal reactions, feel them fully as they come, then let them go.  Dwelling on the negative will prolong your pain.

Know that feelings are transient.  In My Stroke of Insight, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor maintains that the physiological mechanism behind an emotion like anger is an automatic response that lasts just 90 seconds from the moment it is triggered until it runs its course.  The fire lasts just a minute and a half—unless it is fueled further with one’s thoughts.  If we feed an emotional fire with a negative storyline, it burns much, much longer, sometimes for years! 

Be your own observer; notice nuances.  As deep feelings threaten to overwhelm, engage your internal observer and take a mental step back to examine what is happening in your mind.  Sharpen your awareness of your own process. Notice how the strong emotions peak, then dissipate.  Practice staying with the force of the emotion, feel its power, experience it directly, then let it dissolve naturally.  Emotional pain is conceptual.  It comes not from the sensation itself, but from how we view it.  It is our interpretation of it that can inflict ongoing injury.

Key:  Drop the storyline.  Resist the frequent temptation to feed emotional fire with the fuel of your old responses—blame, resentment, hatred, disappointment, hurt.  Stay present with the recurring bare emotion without the usual reactivity and see how much faster your discomfort goes away.  Replace the old resentful stories with a new mantra of your own device to undergird your effort.  My own encouraging mantra is “I have everything I need to live the life I choose.”  Repeating such a courageous phrase is very useful to train the mind to respond to threats with nonaggression.  It just takes practice.

 “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”   This familiar Buddhist adage asserts that suffering is minimized by recognition and acceptance of what we cannot change.  From the foundation of clearly seeing and accepting reality as it is, forgiveness is eventually possible and personal healing can occur.  Being a straight spouse is not a lifetime sentence of unhappiness.  Take charge of your own future and make it a good one.  You have the power to do it! 


June 22nd, 2013 by Carol Grever


    “Reparative Therapy,” the attempt to change a
person’s innate sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, has made
the news again, though this time in a more positive way.  Exodus International, a Christian organization
that urged people to repress same-sex attraction, has shut down its ministry
after 37 years.  Its leader, Alan
Chambers, apologized to the gay community, admitting that “We’ve hurt people.” 

    In an interview with the Associated Press,
Chambers said “The church has waged the culture war, and it’s time to put the
weapons down.”  Exodus International previously
claimed that gays’ sexual orientation could be permanently changed or “cured,”
despite the opposition of professional psychologists and psychiatrists who
concluded long ago that efforts to convert sexual orientation are unsuccessful
and do great psychological harm. In closing his organization, Chambers expressed
regret for inflicting “years of undue suffering.”  He plans to launch a new initiative to
promote dialogue among those on opposite sides of this issue.

    Repressive methods to change innate sexual
orientation are doomed to failure and may inflict irreparable harm.  The fact that Alan Chambers is now publicly
acknowledging these facts is extremely encouraging.

    Two earlier posts on Straight Spouse Connection examined the topic of reparative therapy
with additional background and case studies. To review that information, click Archives on the tool bar, August, 2009: Reparative Therapy Debunked—Again, August 19, 2009, and Emotional Damage of Reparative Therapy: One
Man’s Story
, August 28, 2009.

    Why is the news about Exodus International
important to straight spouses?  It is yet
another indication that public awareness and attitudes are slowly changing regarding
the realities of sexual orientation. 
When society accepts all of its members, gay or straight or variations
in between, individuals can live openly and honestly. If that day ever comes,
there will be no closet of shame, no ill-fated mixed-orientation marriages
based on secrecy, no more suffering of “straight spouses.”  If that day ever comes, this blogger can




November 10th, 2012 by Carol Grever

    Support for legally recognized same-sex marriage
in the U.S. got a big boost in the November 6th national election. Voters
in Maine, Maryland, and Washington exercised citizen power to legalize gay
marriage in their states. With these three, there are now nine states with
marriage equality, including Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
Vermont, and New York, plus the District of Columbia. Passage of these ballot
referenda shows strengthening grass-roots support for legalized gay marriage,
in contrast to the past 20 years. Previously, 32 states put gay marriage to a vote and it was defeated
every single time.

    Minnesota showed another sign of positive change
in this election. It is the first state in which voters rejected a
constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, though such unions are still
illegal there. Previously, 30 other states have gone the other way and have constitutionalized
bans—a more challenging obstacle to equality. 

    As pointed out in my previous post, the shift of
public opinion demonstrated in this election is just one more baby-step toward
greater recognition and social acceptance of same-sex marriage and sexual
diversity generally.  Furthermore,
gay-bashing in political ads proved to be a failure. The momentum toward
tolerance shown in election results implies increasing acceptance of diverse
sexual identities.  U.S News and World
online (Nov. 8, 2012) asserted that “Half of Americans believe their states
should recognize marriages of same-sex couples.”  The weight of public opinion may even encourage
the Supreme Court to examine and rule on the constitutionality of the U.S.
federal ban on gay marriage, DOMA—the Defense of Marriage Act. 

    While social change is excruciatingly slow, it is
encouraging that more people can now openly, legally marry the person they
love, whether opposite sex or same sex.  As
straight spouses, why should we care?  Just
this: These changing attitudes suggest that in the future there may be fewer married
heterosexuals blindsided by the discovery that their spouses are secretly gay.

    Though trends in this election may not directly help those straight spouses struggling through their crises today, the next generation
should see fewer doomed mixed-orientation marriages based on deception and
lies. May it be so!







July 17th, 2012 by Carol Grever

“I was numb and reeling upon my discovery that my husband of 30 years is gay.  I have three children with him . . .”

“My wife is in love with another woman . . .”

“I ‘outed’ my husband last month, after I discovered a string of emails he had written in response to several gay personal ads. . .”

Every week there are emails like this in my inbox, yesterday one from a woman in South Africa.  Responding to each one, I understand that I’ve been on a mission for more than a decade, ever since my first book was published, to deliver a simple message:  You are not alone and you can overcome this seeming disaster.  Because the Internet provides opportunity to connect worldwide in personal ways, this work remains viable.

My own husband acknowledged that he had “homosexual tendencies” after we had been married for many years.  As his story unfolded, I learned that he had acted on those “tendencies” during most of our marriage.  He left no clues and I suspected nothing, though I had been at risk from his behavior for decades.  I spent months feeling somehow responsible for my husband’s homosexuality.  I felt deficient as a wife, as a woman, and my self-esteem plummeted.  Moreover, I felt really stupid, not to have “gotten it” sooner.  Hoping to salvage our marriage, I shared his closet of secrecy for much too long. 

If I had known then what I know now, I would have realized that he had always been homosexual and that his sexual orientation had nothing to do with me at all.  I wasn’t blind or stupid; I was deceived by his facile lies and hidden truth.  If I had been more knowledgeable at the time, I wouldn’t have blamed myself, nor would I have tried to save my marriage.  Instead, I would have put all that energy into building a new identity and future. 

It was this personal history that launched my writing and informal counseling vocation.  As I struggled through my own confusion, anger, depression, grief, and all the other stages of coping, I kept a journal of my feelings and experiences.  The journal informed my first book, My Husband Is Gay.  The singular purpose of all my books, documentary DVD, Website and blog is to help straight spouses reconfigure their lives in a positive, healthy way and to realize that this one life event need not destroy their future happiness.      

Looking back, I honestly have no regrets.  The entire experience supplied the healing lessons in my books and gave these subsequent years constructive direction and purpose.  My former husband and I are both happier now, both remarried to wonderful men, and both free to be completely authentic.  If my life had not taken this unexpected turn, I would probably not have pursued my life-long dream of being a writer. 

If I have one message to shout to the world, it is this.  Living a lie is hell.  Hiding one’s true identity is a recipe for disaster for all involved, and the longer it takes for the truth to come out, the worse the outcome. 

Sam, a gay man who appears in my documentary, One Gay, One Straight: Complicated Marriages, stressed the imperative for honesty.  He had told his wife that he didn’t love her anymore because he couldn’t make himself say, “I’m gay.”  This lie was more devastating to her than the facts.  When he finally came out to his wife and their son, the fifteen-year-old replied, "It's OK, Dad, I still love you."  Sam concluded that to be open and honest is better for everyone.  I agree. 

Every straight spouse feels unique, but there are millions of us in the world.  Fortunately, there is help at hand on the Internet and in well-researched books and videos.  Though it may feel as if you’re the only person who has ever suffered in this way, remember that others have survived the crisis to eventually thrive in unexpected ways.  My mission to help straight spouses reclaim their self-esteem continues.



December 20th, 2011 by Carol Grever

A few weeks ago, I took a hard fall on the ice, damaging my left shoulder.  The injury was worse than I first imagined and I have had to take an extended leave from a job I dearly love, teaching fitness to seniors at the YMCA.  I’ve led challenging fitness classes there for nearly 13 years, and now I’m unable to perform, much less teach, weight lifting, yoga, and other stretching and strength training exercises.  To say that I “can’t” is hard for me.  It’s a loss, at least for now. 

But this example is minor, compared with life’s really big endings—loss of a loved one, divorce, financial ruin, termination of a job, foreclosure on a home, alienation of a child, eventually one’s own death.  The loss that you faced when your spouse came out is certainly one of these major, destabilizing changes.  However, the ensuing chaos can be the beginning of an even better way of life.

When my father died in 1991 after years of fighting leukemia, the whole family expected my mother to fold.  For more than 50 years she and my dad had enjoyed real marital bliss—they were closer and more loving than any couple I’ve ever known.  We thought mother could not survive alone.  To eveyone’s surprise, she did.  In fact, she recovered her balance and started over.  Apparently, during the years she’d nursed my dad, she was preparing herself for survival.  She made a plan.  Within weeks after the funeral, she began to explore opportunities in their little town that had gone unnoticed before.  She read voraciously—a hundred books in the following year.  She attended library lectures and joined two card groups, volunteered, and made day trips with new friends she met at the senior center.  In short, she reconfigured her life to be as rewarding as possible—despite her grief and loss.  A little stained glass saying hangs in her window:  “Every ending a new beginning.”  She modeled that for me.

As this New Year unfolds, we will experience painful endings.  What once served us may no longer fit.  Change will happen in inner and outer circumstances.  We will have to adjust to losses.  We may have to start over in a whole new direction, as my mother did.  This is not a bad thing.  It is a growing experience.  In the words of Eckhart Tolle, famed author of The Power of Now, “If you can learn to accept and even welcome the endings in your life, you may find that the feeling of emptiness that initially felt uncomfortable turns into a sense of inner spaciousness that is deeply peaceful.” 

I wish you this peace!


August 12th, 2010 by Carol Grever

spouses and related support organizations are celebrating the August 4, 2010
decision by a California District Court to overturn the infamous Proposition 8,
which denied the right to marry to same-sex couples in that state and enshrined
discrimination in that state’s constitution.

Why is this federal court decision
a win for straight spouses as well?  Why
has Prop 8 caused such a firestorm in the Straight Spouse Network and other
such organizations?  If gay men and
lesbians have the right to marry partners of the same sex, without prejudicial
judgment by others, there will be fewer mixed-orientation marriages.  Legalized gay marriage will help to prevent the
kind of deception and secrecy that cause mixed marriages to dissolve in
personal tragedy.

Following the historic decision in
the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger,
U.S. District Judge Vaughan Walker concluded that Prop 8 violates the
States’ Constitutional rights of equal
protection and due process.  He stated,
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and
lesbians for denial of a marriage license.” 

Jody  M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG
National summarized, “Equality for one means equality for all.”  While this case applies only to
it is one more victory in favor of human rights for all.  It framed gay marriage as a civil right, not
a moral or religious issue.

Simply stated, when gay people are
not forced by society into closets of secrecy, when they are not bound by
religious, family, and social pressure to marry a partner of the opposite sex,
then mixed-orientation marriages should be less frequent.  Heterosexual spouses of gays will no longer suffer
the chaos and heartache we all know so well. 

Seven other countries have already
sanctioned gay marriage.  The
States is lagging behind by harboring
institutionalized bias.  Gay people are
still the only minority in the
who suffer legalized discrimination because laws in most states have not
evolved to protect them.  While the issue
of gay marriage will undoubtedly end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, the recent victory
over Prop 8 in
California is one more
step toward gaining fundamental legal protection from discrimination.  This is cause for celebration.

It is no surprise that straight
spouses all over this country are elated to see a symbolic barrier
eliminated.  The institution of marriage has
already changed dramatically, though slowly, and the fall of Prop 8 represents
progress toward the elimination of the straight spouse disaster.  May legalized prejudice end!  May all men and women marry the partner of
their choice, with equal rights for all. 
This is our birthright as citizens of the United States of America.   




July 29th, 2009 by Carol Grever

    In titling this Web log “Straight Spouse Connection,” my
intention was to offer the site as a virtual peer support group for straight
spouses in mixed-orientation relationships. 
I hoped that online visitors would return often to the site, leave their
comments, and build a genuine conversation on burning issues shared by others
in the same messy situation. 

    To my delight, that connection has evolved.  Over time more than 46,000 visits and nearly 400 comments demonstrate
an ongoing need for information about gay-straight marriages.  Moreover, many of the comments express
gratitude for this forum as a safe place to express their private thoughts and
fears.  Some have said that they have
nowhere else to turn.  Peer support is an
immense help here because we are isolated in a predicament that outsiders
simply don’t understand.

    I encourage you to join our conversation.  Choose a title or category from the lists in
the left margin of the home page, or scroll through the whole blog and stop at
any title that speaks to your need.  It’s
easy to leave a comment at the end of an article.  Click on “comments” to open previous readers’
remarks, then scroll to the box at the end where you can add your
thoughts.  You’ll see that many visitors
return frequently and actually “converse” with me and with each other.  If a particular topic captures you, subscribe
to the comment feed to remain informed and engaged.  

    Browse the site to find posts that touch on topics of
personal interest, perhaps stages of recovery, recognizing your gay mate’s
identity evolution, the question of choice, religious conflicts, telling the
children, or cultivating courage.  Relevant
current events may interest you, such as the implications of Prop 8 in California or the outing of famous people like Ted Haggard.  Each post opens a subject and reader comments
fill in the blanks.

    While you’re here, click on the cover images of my books or DVD.  This will take you to my other Website, where you can watch
a trailer of the video, hear radio interviews, learn more about related books
and find other resources. 

    You are always welcome at either of these Web sites.  Please visit often and engage in this ongoing
peer support effort.  You may be
surprised at the beneficial results of the Straight Spouse Connection.