Archive for the ‘Recovery Tips’ Category


June 23rd, 2014 by Carol Grever


“Why I Care” was the very first article on Straight Spouse Connection, posted on May 19, 2008.  It launched this blog with an outline of my own experience as a straight spouse.  The site’s purpose?  “To explore topics relevant to mixed orientation families and particularly to other straight spouses.” 

Through the ensuing six years, most regular readers have been heterosexual women whose mates were gay.  The articles and reader comments were from the straight female partner’s point of view.  Recently, that trend has shifted a bit.  More stories and questions are surfacing from straight men with lesbian wives.

One such reader, who identifies himself as “Brassyhub,” agreed to write a guest post to describe his efforts to keep his mixed-orientation marriage together.  Here is his story.


As good as it gets?

Perhaps this is as good as it gets. After all, what is a successful mixed- orientation marriage?  Next month we will come to the first anniversary of my wife’s coming out as a lesbian.  And we’re still together, still exclusive and faithful to each other, and intending to continue that way.

What a year of trauma it has been, mostly for me, but some for her too.  The “D” word has been spoken, divorce.  We’ve looked at all the other options:  an open marriage, one side or both.  Perhaps we’re going for the hardest option, or perhaps it’s the easiest, the one involving the least change.  We both felt too old to start new lives.  After all, there’s no guarantee of finding a better, more compatible partner even if we separate.  We’ve invested a lot, most of our lives, in THIS relationship.  And there’s a lot of good in it.  We like each other; we talk together; we do things together (and apart).  But we’ve never had much of a sex life, and now we have none.

We’ve agreed on a weekly cuddle, on a fixed time and day, and being the eternal optimist that I am, I can’t help hoping that this may become a little more.  But I think that for now, my wife simply isn’t able to give any more.  Her 30-year struggle against her lesbian nature and attractions left her asexual. So there’s very little intimacy that for me is such an important part of a marriage--the total giving and opening up, the vulnerability, the no hold-back, the closeness, the desire for the beloved other.  We’re both mourning this sexual component of a loving relationship that we’ve never known and will never know if we stay together as we plan. 

However, there’s a very deep connection all the same.  She trusted me, she shared with me her deepest struggle, her darkest secret.  We are friends and perhaps even lovers, but without the sex.  Can this be enough for me?  For her? We’ll see.  But it’s already a lot.  I have to learn to live in the present, with what I have, rather than dreaming of some future and improbable miraculous change.  This can be a good day, with lots of good things in it, even without sex.

Perhaps this is as good as it gets, and this is success, not the miracle that I have searched for on the web, trying to apply someone else’s experience to our situation, our relationship.  I wanted some magical way of arousing a lesbian who has no desire for me at all, but who has a lot of tenderness and affection all the same.  There are no secrets, and there is trust. That’s a pretty rare and precious gift too.

There are no guarantees for the future--but that’s true of every marriage.  Ours is just lived with a far greater realism about the fragility of all relationships.                                           Brassyhub


Brassyhub’s account raises several questions that each couple trying to remain together might ponder.  Among them:  What are their realistic options?  How strong is their mutual connection?  What are the felt needs of each partner?  Which of these needs are absolute, without which they must separate?   How much change can each tolerate?  What is each willing to give up in staying together?  Perhaps most important, do they still love and trust each other, even after their secrets are revealed?

Brassyhub’s clarity in assessing his unusual situation is laudable. As he realistically points out, there is no guarantee of permanence in any relationship.  His intention to stay in the present is good advice for us all. 

Comments are welcome, particularly from other men in similar situations. What is your experience as a male straight spouse?  How did you address your situation?  Do you have advice for Brassyhub?



April 30th, 2014 by Carol Grever

“He flung himself from the room, flung himself on his horse, and rode madly off in all directions.”

Stephen Leacock, Literary Lapses, 1910. 

When your spouse comes out, it’s a dramatic, confusing, often traumatic time.  There is no certainty, no obvious direction.  What’s your next step?  How will this event affect your future?   Desperately seeking answers, your efforts are scattered. Like Leacock’s character, you fling yourself onto the nearest horse and “ride madly off in all directions.”

Where is a consoling sense of well-being to be found?  What action will lead to renewed security and self-esteem?  There is no single answer because every straight spouse is a unique individual in a particular situation.  Still, the basic facts are the same:  One is gay, one is straight, and the discovery of that difference is a significant game-changer.  For most couples, it means parting and subsequently reconfiguring separate lives.  Based on the experience of many mixed-orientation couples, some guidelines do emerge to move more confidently into the next stage and even discover joy on the way.


Defy defeat!  After the initial trauma of separation, look at all possible options for yourself as a single person.  A mate coming out is only one event in one's life, though a major one.  It is not the end.  You still have a future.  Approach that future with strong determination to overcome this catastrophe and to discover something even better.

Confronting Reality

Armed with a firm sense of purpose, take a mental step back and look objectively at your entire situation.  It is essential to examine every aspect, with no distortion from emotion or resentment.  When you feel calmer, compile three lists of the bare facts. The first is your list of ongoing resources and assets.  Do you have a home?  A car?  A job or other stream of income?  Do you have a support group of family or friends?  What are your sources of security as a single person? 

The second list defines your obvious external needs and obligations.  Consider your finances, employment, housing, health issues, insurance, transportation, and so on.  Will you stay in the family home?  Go back to school?  Find a new job?  Move out of state?  Get help from relatives?  What about the kids?  Try to list all of your commitments, needs, and responsibilities that relate to others.  With this list in hand, determine a first step and formulate a preliminary plan.  Examining the reality of your predicament as dispassionately as possible lays groundwork for constructive action.

The final list is equally important for transitioning into a new life:  Your emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs.  This inventory may be the most difficult, for it requires honest soul-searching, a thorough examination of your deepest inner life.  Ask yourself questions like these:  What makes me feel most content?  What are my core beliefs?  What fundamental values do I hold?  On a scale of one to ten, what is most important to me?  What would it take for me to feel fulfilled and satisfied?

Seed of Success

These long lists may feel overwhelming at first, with a daunting array of necessary responsibilities.  The whole situation may seem hopeless—but it is not!  You are more than the roles you’ve played in the past for mate, family, co-workers, and friends.  You have within the power to overcome your challenges.  Deep in your mind and heart, you have untapped strength.  An innate knowing is your seed of success.  It is your connection to a greater whole—the entire community of other straight spouses who have survived this drama and achieved even better lives.  After the initial hurt subsides, a new reality can be realized.  Many former “victims” say that their mate’s coming out was life-changing--a catalyst for something much better.  Perhaps it is a new career, a happier marriage, a calmer home life, or improved self-esteem.  Going through the fire opened new possibilities for many.

Aspiration for Joy

Survival is one thing, joy is quite another.  But joy is within your reach.  Focus now on yourself.  What would make you happy today?  Let go of the life you’d planned and reimagine your new one.  Dream the life you really want!  Determine what is required to achieve it and devise a strategy to move toward it.  Though your eye is on the ultimate goal, it’s encouraging to remember that glimpses of happiness needn’t be deferred.  Aspire to the top, but treasure the surprises of taking each step in that direction.  Savor the journey.  Open your eyes to beauty and goodness in ordinary moments of each day.  Meet each revelation with gratitude as you seek to discover your bliss.

You’re Not Alone

Perhaps the major lesson from the straight spouse experience is the discovery that there is nothing truly unique about your situation.  You are not the only one who has experienced this “detour,” nor will you be the last.  Knowing that you have comrades on this path offers tremendous relief and hope.  If others have lived it, learned from it, and gone on to happier times, why not you?  You can get through to the other side—wiser and stronger.  For some real-life examples of this point, watch the short video prepared for the Straight Spouse Network by Ken Rinehart.  (Click the link at the end of this article.)  It demonstrates the importance of peer support. 

Though a mixed-orientation marriage presents unexpected challenges for both partners, inevitable changes that follow need not ruin either spouse’s life.  Armed with accurate information, an open mind, and realistic goals, protected by strong determination and clear-seeing wisdom, both partners can let go of the past and devise a new direction. Unlike Leacock's crazed horseman, flying off in all directions, you'll have a clear path to follow.  On that journey, may all discover joy!

~ ~ ~ 

For a realistic affirmation that there is reason for hope, please watch Ken Rinehart’s new video.



February 2nd, 2014 by Carol Grever


New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, evangelist Ted Haggard, and countless other famous men have made national news by disclosing their secret homosexuality.  Though these disclosures made national news, uncounted thousands of husbands and wives have also come out to their families in the privacy of their own homes. 

One common denominator behind the news stories and behind the closed doors is an unsuspecting mate blindsided by the truth.  These “straight spouses”--heterosexual people who unknowingly have partners who are gay—number in the millions, world-wide.  If you are reading this post, you probably have lived this drama yourself.

What happens to a straight spouse in the aftermath of such a disclosure?  Hundreds of anecdotal reports have reiterated a pattern of recovery that may seem quite familiar to both male and female readers of this blog.  Their journey proves the resiliency of the human spirit and demonstrates that healing and hope are possible.  Individual histories vary, of course, but there are predictable stages that most straight spouses experience.  For one just beginning this passage, it is worthwhile to summarize again the steps toward recovery that may be expected.   

Shock is the first reaction, if the gay spouse has successfully hidden his true sexual orientation.  As hard as it is for outsiders to understand, most straight spouses are genuinely surprised by their mate’s disclosure.  After the first jolt of realization, there may be an odd sense of relief.  This is the “Ah, then it wasn’t me!” reaction.  In a mixed-orientation relationship, the straight partner often feels responsible for the couple’s distance or lack of intimacy, that he or she isn’t attractive enough or sexy enough or smart enough. Just knowing that they have not caused the rift gives brief comfort.  

Relief is quickly followed by intense confusion.  Everything that seemed clear is suddenly in question.  For some, the easiest course is denial, hiding from painful reality. “Maybe there’s some mistake.”  “Maybe this is a passing phase.”   “Maybe therapy will change her sexual orientation.  Denial is a fruitless defense and is doomed to disappointment. 

Some straight partners continue to feel responsible for the dilemma and persist in self-blame.  “Was this my fault?”  or “How could I be so blind and stupid!”  This is a misguided response since sexual orientation is inborn and no one “causes” it.  Nor can we deny it or change it.  Moreover, if the gay spouse has successfully concealed the fundamental truth, sometimes for decades, he or she has become adept at hiding and lying.  This is not the mate’s fault! 

People who tend to blame themselves for this disrupting revelation also tend to feel deep sympathy for their partner.  They see that hiding one’s true sexual identity is exhausting and debilitating, and they feel genuine pity for their spouse.    

Regardless of their empathy, knowing the truth generates deep grief.  Learning that one’s spouse is not what he seemed topples everything familiar. All we thought we knew is in doubt and the loss is like a death.  In fact, a spouse’s coming out destroys the security of the present and casts the future into doubt.  Nothing will unfold as planned and expected.  Fear and uncertainty eventually ignite anger, directed sometimes at the mate and more often at the whole confusing mess in their relationship. 

Behind anger is hurt, and beyond the anger is despair, alternating with deepened rage.  This stage is the most dangerous, for these destructive emotions may turn against oneself.  If rage and despair are prolonged, they may precipitate complete self-destruction through addictions, violence toward others, or even suicide.  Professional help is essential in these cases.

While the discovery of one’s mixed-orientation relationship is inevitably painful, most straight spouses experience a turning point at which they begin to accept their new reality.  Seeing clearly and accepting the fact of your loved one’s sexual orientation is crucial.  Accepting what cannot be changed allows movement toward a positive resolution.  Patience is needed because it always takes time to reach acceptance—months for the lucky few, years for most.  Recognition of reality is the first step.  Difficult decisions then follow—whether to make accommodations and stay together, or to separate.  Either decision requires incredible courage and a re-imagining of the future.  Both partners must reconfigure their future, together or apart, hopeful that they can both find comfort and happiness.

For both partners in these relationships, disruption is inevitable and disaster a real possibility.  For many, however, the disclosure episode is a gateway to freedom from doubt and deception.  This major turning point can be the beginning of something much more satisfying, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recreate one's identity and future.  The most successful people replace resentment with forgiveness, restore trust and hope, and find meaning beyond themselves.  They use the lessons learned to move past their hurt.

This pattern was reiterated dozens of times in the interviews I conducted for my books and documentary.  It is also an outline of my own recovery after my husband came out.  These stages are relatively predictable.  The best news is that it is possible to navigate these stages and arrive safely on the other side of this life event--healed and wiser for the experience.  Knowing what to expect along the way can be immensely helpful.

When a celebrity comes out of the closet, the news saturates the media.  As the headlines fade, the human aftermath is seldom reported and outcomes are a mystery.  How did Jim McGreevey and his former wife end their episode after his announcement faded from the news?  What about the other formerly closeted celebrities?  It’s highly probable that, like the rest of us, their families are slogging through their own version of these same stages of recovery. Best wishes for ultimate happiness for us all!  


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! 


March 31st, 2013 by Carol Grever

the initial confusion settles after a gay married person comes out, the
straight partner has a life-changing decision to make: Divorce or remain in the
marriage.  Many factors determine the
answer to that question—longevity of the partnership, children, finances,
emotional attachment among them.  It is
seldom an automatic decision.

mixed-orientation relationships are shadowed in secrecy, it is impossible to
say with certainty how many stay together after one partner comes out.  The common estimate is that 85% of
gay-straight couples split and 15% stay together, at least for a time.  According to one study by Amity Pierce Buxton
with the Straight Spouse Network, one-third of couples separate immediately
after the gay spouse comes out, another third attempt to remain together but
break up later, and another third remain committed to the marriage.  However, after three years, only half of
these couples are still together.

the large majority of straight spouses decide to divorce.  Separating is never easy, but it is
particularly challenging if the marriage is long-standing.  Divorce is complicated in itself, but the
myriad personal details surrounding the process make it nearly

new workbook can help.  Mandy Walker
writes about these matters on her blog, Since
My Divorce,  Her free self-help
workbook, Visioning Your Life After
is offered on that site.  Mandy
has also just published an e-book, available for Kindle on Untangling From Your Spouse: How to Prepare
for Divorce
offers practical information on the logistics of ending a
marriage.  It is forthright and clear, a
listing of steps necessary for self-protection legally, personally, and
financially. For example, the book gives practical advice regarding changing
passwords and mail arrangements, insurance matters, credit card protection, and
living arrangements.  The resource list
at the end suggests additional helpful online sites.

is motivated by integrity, not revenge. 
Her straightforward e-book and workbook can be valuable for straight
spouses who decide to launch a new life on their own. 


February 4th, 2013 by Carol Grever

GUEST POST by Jacqueline Vaughn

    I sat in a workshop called “Crisis Intervention” looking down at a piece of paper. The facilitator had told us to write down a list of our daily activities, and I had scribbled down only the basics. “Get the kids ready for school,” I’d written. “Cook dinner.” Besides those, my schedule was empty. “I need to get a life,” I thought to myself.

    My husband had come out of the closet about a month and a half before. I was being treated in an outpatient program for major depression after having spent a week in a psychiatric hospital. I’d lost an important contract (I’m self-employed), which left me with nowhere to turn financially. I felt as though I hadn’t slept in months, and I was taking so many antidepressants that my hands were shaking.

    I had officially, utterly fallen apart.

    I wrote the following in my journal while I was staying in the hospital: “I can’t work because I don’t care. I can’t sleep because…I just can’t. I feed and clothe my children, but I don’t interact with them like I should. I’m so frustrated by feeling totally incapacitated because that’s so not who I thought I was.”

    When my husband came out, I didn’t feel shock. I didn’t feel compassion. I felt anger. Actually, I felt more than angry. I was livid. I cursed at him, called him names and told him to get out of the house. He moved into the living room for about a week before staying at a friend’s house for a while. Our exchanges alternated between tolerant, teary and testy.

    My husband isn’t a cruel man. However, after years of hiding a crucial part of himself from me, he switched from silence to brutal honesty. He told me that he’d never been in love with me. He told me that sex was an effort. He said he’d been kind and considerate in our relationship because that’s what he’d thought love was. Out of morbid curiosity, I kept asking him questions about our marriage, inviting him to strike blow after blow.

    My past wasn’t what I thought it was, and my future as I’d planned it was over. We’d never go to Wimbledon after our sons graduated from high school, and we’d never throw ourselves an amazing 20th-anniversary party. We’d never retire in New York City to enjoy city amenities and public transportation. The marriage I’d thought would last forever and the family that I’d worked so hard to create had vanished. “I’ve never faced this kind of loss and pain and grief and agony,” I wrote. “I never thought he would hurt me, much less rip my heart out.”

    I started to drink a lot of alcohol when I was home alone, sometimes washing down my nightly sleeping pill with a swallow of beer. At my lowest, I decided that I would take all of my remaining sleeping pills and put my misery to an end. I wrote my husband a note—a cruel, nasty note—and wondered where I’d take my three-year-old son so that my preschooler wouldn’t be home when everything ended. Then, I picked up the phone and called my therapist. She told me to have someone drive me to the emergency room, but I didn’t want to tell anyone what was happening. So I drove myself. I did it for my kids. I didn’t want them to think that me killing myself was their fault or that I didn’t love them enough to stay.

    I knew they’d never let me out of the hospital unless I had a visitor, so I called a friend and told her what had happened. She came to see me, for which I was grateful. Since I’d passed the test, they stepped me down to an outpatient program. However, I still had more talking to do.

    For the first two weeks of the program, I didn’t talk about my situation. I would sit in group therapy sessions and comment on everyone else’s situation, but I wouldn’t say a thing about my own. One day, my case manager was leading a women’s group, and someone made a statement about a past regret. I spoke up. “You were so young,” I said. “You couldn’t possibly know how things would turn out.”

    My case manager looked directly at me. “How does this affect you, Jackie?”

    So I talked. I told the women about my situation. I managed not to completely break down. As I spoke, I realized that I couldn’t blame myself for falling apart. I’d experienced not only the loss of my marriage and my family. I’d also lost the man who’d been my best friend for 15 years.

    That day in the women’s group helped me begin to heal. Before, when well-meaning people told me that time would help, I gleefully imagined myself punching them. As the days passed, I discovered that they were right. Taking my time, talking about my experiences and leaning on others was getting me through this catastrophe. As I progressed, I learned to ask for help instead of waiting for friends and family to read my mind. Truthfully, people wanted to help me. They just didn’t know what to say or do.

    Something else I learned was to limit my activities to what would give me either a feeling of pleasure or a sense of mastery. I cleaned and organized my house, which gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I changed the burned-out headlight in my car. I gradually started working again. I booked myself a massage.

    I’m only a few months into my journey, but I focus less on the past and more on the new type of family that I hope to create. My relationship with my husband has grown more civil. I adopted a cat from a local shelter so that I could focus on something besides my own difficulties. When I need a break, I take one. I plan many activities with friends either to talk or to distract myself from the issues. I still cry a lot, but I don’t feel like I’m sinking into a black hole.

    When my husband came out, I completely fell apart. But as I persevere, thanks to family and friends and thanks to a resilience I didn’t know I had, I’m finding the strength to put myself back together again.

~ ~ ~

Note:  I recently invited readers to submit guest posts for this site.  This article was the most outstanding, helpful response. If you would like to write a post about your own straight spouse experience, contact me for guidelines.     --Carol Grever







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!


October 6th, 2011 by Carol Grever

Cheryl was married to Joe for 15 years when she stumbled onto evidence of  homosexual liaisons on their home computer.  Stunned, she couldn’t believe that he had been arranging meetings with various men for months, but a deeper look at his emails and internet history made it undeniable. 

Cheryl confronted Joe directly and he seemed almost relieved to admit his secret activities that had gone on for more than four years.  His clandestine meetings with other gay men had gone beyond superficial sex and he was deeply involved with another man.  For weeks Joe had wrestled with plans to come out to his wife and say that he wanted to leave her.  Clues he’d left on the computer were not entirely accidental.

The two subsequently separated.  During the following months Cheryl tried to reconcile herself to her new single life, alone in an apartment, trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered confidence.  She couldn’t help wondering what Joe was doing, how he and his new boyfriend were getting on.  She couldn’t forget happy times she and Joe had shared, though she tried to stop remembering.  She knew they couldn't recover their marriage, which was irretrievably broken, but she and Joe had a long history together and she still felt tied to him. 

Cheryl’s challenge was to make a clean break -- first to grasp the fact that her marriage was over, and then to distance herself enough to recover.

Stories like these are common.  It seems particularly difficult for women to let go of their emotional ties after a separation.  What does it mean “to let go” anyway?  When a gay-straight relationship ends, the best definitions of this stage of recovery come from straight spouses themselves.  Here are some suggestions from the Straight Spouse Network, gathered from people who have moved through their conflict.

Letting Go

  • To let go doesn't mean to stop caring.  It means I can't do it for someone else.
  • To let go is not to cut myself off.  It's the realization that I don't control another.
  • To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
  • To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
  • To let go is not to try to change or blame another.  I can only change myself.
  • To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
  • To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
  • To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
  • To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.
  • To let go is not to be protective.  It is to permit another to face reality.
  • To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
  • To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.
  • To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it  comes and to cherish the moment.
  • To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become what I dream I can be.
  • To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
  • To let go is to fear less and love more.

How these definitions might apply to a particular situation depends upon the individuals’ interpretation, but the principles are sound.  These definitions point to one conclusion:  The only factor we can control is our own mind.  Change your mind and you change your life.

Cheryl managed to pick herself up by starting with small adjustments in her daily routines.  She painted the walls of her new apartment her favorite color, light sage green.  Living in a different neighborhood, she shopped at a new grocery and found a choice coffee shop in easy walking distance.  She joined a fitness class and got acquainted with a whole new group.  She stopped talking about Joe to her old friends and made a conscious effort to live in the present moment, not looking back.  She even adopted a fresh hairstyle and a more casual, comfortable way to dress.  In short, Cheryl recreated herself and reconfigured her life as a single woman.  She is moving on!

Singer Lena Horne famously said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down.  It’s how you carry it.”  That concept applies perfectly to Cheryl and other straight spouses who have conquered their grief and fears to thrive in a new way.  Letting go is the first step.

FINALLY OUT Encourages Understanding

June 13th, 2011 by Carol Grever

Many readers of this Web site are mature women, long-married, whose husbands have come out in mid-life or later.  Most have been utterly unaware and shocked by the disclosure. 

They ask, “Why did he marry me?  Was my whole marriage a sham, a lie?   Why do so many men come out after having families?  How could they not know they’re gay until they’ve entangled their wives in this traumatic dilemma?”

Such questions come up repeatedly, particularly from women whose husbands suddenly identified as homosexual after decades of marriage.  Until now, almost nothing has been written about this common occurrence.  But a new book offers well-researched, scientific and definitive answers, along with the author’s personal experience in the situation.

Dr. Loren A. Olson, author of Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, is a gay psychiatrist, father and grandfather, who came out at age 40.  Having both personal and professional knowledge of the hidden population of gay, married men, he writes with authority about evolving sexual identification—his own and that of his patients and friends.  He has presented his research on mature gay men at the World Congress of Psychiatry in Prague and has received other professional recognition.  He is a recognized expert in his field.

His new book is obviously educational for gay men attempting to live straight lives while struggling with their sexual identity.  But for straight spouses, Finally Out offers a foundation for forgiveness and understanding of our gay husbands.  Having this information can lead to the final phase of straight spouse recovery: Forgiveness.  In the blog entry “Stages of Recovery” (May 28, 2008), I wrote about our journey toward wholeness:   

Fortunately, most spouses reach a turning point, finding inner strength to begin healing.  This usually happens when they accept what they cannot change . . . .  When anger is replaced by forgiveness, trust and hope can be restored.  . . .  When they regard the whole experience as a teacher, not a disaster, they are able to move into the next phase of their lives, reconfiguring a happier future. 

Finally Out will appeal to diverse audiences:  mature gays, their wives and families, academics, and medical professionals.  It is a valuable addition to the literature on human sexuality, written in an accessible, personal way.  Dr. Olson’s informative book could become a key turning point to complete your healing as a straight spouse.  I highly recommend it.