sc000059c6

Some people ask why I continue to write about this issue.  It’s been four years since I found out the truth about my marriage.  My ex-husband and I have made amends.  Although we didn’t go through every detail and every transgression on his part, we have reached a point were we accepted what happened.   He has admitted fault and sought forgiveness, I have accepted my codependency on him and my marriage.  I write about this because I know there are so many others like me out there, and because there is so much misunderstanding about these marriages.

Both partners suffer greatly.  We are left with broken trust, shattered lives and often broken families.  Many of us have great difficulty bonding with a new partner or marrying again.  Some are left to raise children on their own, many are financially ruined.  I have known a few stories where partners have contracted HIV from their spouses, or had to bury a spouse due to AIDS.    Some of us cut off our former spouses and try to rebuild our lives without them.

Our spouses have different repercussions depending on how much responsibility and accountability they take.  Some go even deeper into denial and refuse to accept themselves, and even marry another straight partner hoping to continue to live a lie.  A few partners decide that we caused their homosexuality or their infidelity and get vicious during a divorce.  I’ve heard absolutely horrific stories of long drawn out battles that are devastating.  Some regress to a more immature time in their lives and abandon their families, cut off all contact, even with their own children, a few completely disappear.  In one extreme case a man faked his own death, only to reemerge 16 years later openly gay.  Some spouses do everything they can to restore some type of relationship, they make amends, they ask for forgiveness, they remain positive parents to their children and do their best to rebuild trust.

In the most tragic cases both straight spouses and our partners have committed both suicide and homicide.  People are capable of doing truly horrible things, regardless of their sexual orientation.   There have been examples from straight spouses and their partners of self-inflicted violence, or violence towards their spouse.

For a lot of us, our situation lies somewhere between the extremes. a few couples even decide to stay together and redefine their marriages, although most of us separate or divorce.  The best resolutions usually occur with open communication and accountability for past transgressions.  Straight Spouse marriages are similar but they run the full spectrum of outcomes.

I still write about this because I know it helps other straight spouses find the help they need.  I still write about this because it could also help people who might be considering marrying someone to try to “fix” their gay tendencies or urges.  I write about this because I really don’t want it to keep happening.  I write about this because I’m sick of people making wild assumptions about us or our former spouses.

GLTBQ people should be proud of who they are, and should be able to marry whomever they want in an honest and open way. They should be able to be openly gay, and free to live happy and healthy lives and not try to hide behind a facade.   I do have empathy towards their situation.  But we can’t sweep the ugliness under the rug, and no one should get a free pass for abusive, neglectful, deceitful behavior because they were confused about their sexual orientation.  It’s not easy being gay, and the coming out process for many is long and difficult, but they should also come to terms with those they have hurt along the way.  The closet doesn’t just affect the person living inside of it, but everyone around them.   We all have suffered, but we will end the suffering if we all face the truth.  We cannot continue to live in proverbial closets where the dark sides of mixed orientation marriages are brushed aside or ignored.  The hate and prejudice directed at GLTBQ affects more than just the community itself.  The damage to those individuals and the self-hatred splinters outward affecting their families and loved ones – including Straight Spouses.

An invaluable resource for anyone facing this is the Straight Spouse Support Network.  There you will find access to local support groups in your area, chat rooms full of other straight spouses sharing their stories, literature and books written by and for straight spouses, literature and books written from our spouse’s perspectives and support for children affected by these situations.  SSN is literally one stop shopping for advice on just about every aspect of dealing with these revelations.   Author and therapist Bonnie Kaye has a blog for women who were married to gay men.  There are private groups on Facebook, retreats where we physically get together and meet other straight spouses from around the country.  You are not alone.  I might eventually just run out of things to say on the subject, but I will never stop supporting other men and women who find themselves in this most horrible shared experience.

Related articles

20 comments on “Why I continue to write about Being a Straight Spouse

  1. Nymariarya

    I agree that the most important reason to continue getting the word out is so that other straight spouses can find their way through this horrific journey.

    The ultimate goal is that our society gets to a place where no bisexual or homosexual individuals feel the need to marry the opposite gender for ANY reason. Until that happens, straight partners and spouses need to know they are not alone. If the suspicion is there, finding out what others have been through will help shed a light on the truth. For some, it’s simply a gut feeling that their spouse has a same-sex attraction. For others, it’s finding homosexual pornography or proof/disclosure of extramarital same-sex relationships.

    Whatever the case may be, the Straight Spouse Network (SSN) is ready to help. It’s the only organization of it’s kind and it has been a lifesaver for me.

    1. julietjeske

      Exactly many of us felt crazy or like we were in an alternate universe. Very few people get it, unless they have been through it.

  2. jph

    SSN is a wonderful organization because it addresses the issue from so many angles and provides a safe space to realize one is not alone, and that healing is possible. Because it contains straight spouses of both genders, it is also a place where straight spouses, who may have led sheltered lives, can ask frank questions as to what is “normal” behavior of the opposite gender, and what things are basically gas-lighting statements. Too often I have read or heard from straight wives whose husbands would tell them “all guys look at gay porn; it’s perfectly normal” or “if you were (insert derogatory reason here), I wouldn’t have gone off and cheated with a guy”, both of which are ridiculous and patently wrong. Before anyone gets upset with my comment, I use the word “normal” in the statistical sense, and am making no value judgments. There is nothing wrong with being gay, bi or transgender, but everything wrong about lying about it to a boyfriend,girlfriend, partner or spouse.

    1. julietjeske

      Wow what a great response. I love this blog because people think of things I don’t think of, like I would never think of the angle of what is appropriate and not appropriate things for a straight person to do…etc. I live in NYC so I’m just not used to running into people who are extremely sheltered but of course they are out there and it would make a lot of sense they a few would end up in our position. Thank you so much!

  3. Bfg

    As a straight spouse I deeply appreciate your work raising awareness of the straight side of mixed orientation marriages. The media model of the celebrity who comes out to wild applause while the spouse and children left behind are completely ignored is deeply offensive and compounds the pain we feel. This story has become so common now that i sometimes wonder whether some of these folks are truly gay or just making a career move. Like you my situation began some years ago and, after years of struggle, my wife and I now have a marriage of sorts. We live apart and have separate lives but stay married, see each other often and continue to enjoy family life with our grown kids. We support each other through illness and loss. This is not exactly what i was expecting for the last stage of my life but it’s a lot better than it looked a few years back. Still, the pain of separation and of having my world turned upside was overwhelming and I don’t think I can ever fully heal the scars. Thanks so much for helping get out our message so we can help the newbies who suddenly find themselves in a world they never imagined that throws everything they once believed about themselves and their lives into doubt.

  4. jackiesrandomthoughts

    Hi Juliet, you’ve given such a well-balanced viewpoint of both sides of the story. LGBTQ people should not have to suppress what comes naturally, and they face a lot of injustice in our society. Yet marrying a straight partner isn’t the answer.

    For me, the pain wasn’t about finding out that my husband was gay. It was about discovering that he’d withheld a major part of himself for me to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. It was the paradigm shift that came from realizing that our marriage was one thing in my mind and quite another in his.

    I remember feeling like I was the only woman in the world whose husband had come out of the closet. You write to let people like me know that we’re not alone, and I’m glad you do.

  5. Peggy Vlismas

    I dont want you to ever stop talking about it! – because you have a wonderful way with words and if you just help one person cope with the fallout this situation causes then Blog away – and keep talking !

  6. Anja

    Hey Juliet,
    I like this post and the message it carries.

    Anja

    1. julietjeske

      Thanks, I was wildly misunderstood earlier this week, and it was kind of a depressing thing to go through. Everyone should be happy as they are, and how they were made. If they want to have sex with a same-sex partner, with multiple partners, or whatever. If they want to dress like men but remain women or if they want to change their gender through surgery…it’s all good. If two transgender people wanted to marry each other and have an open relationship, and have partners of both genders, and every gender identification and orientation, I would be on the sidelines cheering them on. I just find it tragic when anyone would feel the need to pretend to be something they aren’t, and to use another person as a cover. These marriages are not all the same, and every situation is different with various outcomes etc, but I’ve known so much tragedy to come from marriages like mine. Honestly and openness is what we should all strive for, and for people to marry people they really WANT to marry.

      1. Janet Nicolazzo

        I want to answer why you continue to write. Because you should. Because you need to. Because your voice, and everything that was the essence of you, was so silenced during your marriage that you need to get it back. If it takes a lifetime of writing about what other people have decided you need to “be over,” then screw them. But when a gay guy comes around, to YOUR blog, and tries to talk about the pain of being trapped in a straight marriage and pretends there is somehow TWO sides to this sad story, then you should get pissed.And you should write even more about the experience that altered your life.

        I stopped writing about my experience for the same reasons. I decided I needed to just move on and stop defining my life by the fact that my husband was gay. I listened to people who had never walked in my shoes and pretended I could just move on. But they didn’t get it…and they never will. My experience match so many of my straight sisters. Sorry friends and family…I didn’t have a PHD in Gay when I got married. I do now. But I suffered what all of you have suffered…years of Depression and a complete inability to trust another man..someone talked about the “Mind Fuck” that we endured, and that comment so perfectly described my experience.

        I wrote about my marriage to a gay man for Salon.com some years ago, and the response was so huge it was almost stupid. I did radio interviews, was contacted by a producer from Lifetime who wanted to do a movie about my experience, but in reality, what stuck me most were the extremely sad and desperate women who wanted to talk to me, as if I had any answers for THEM, and the angry gay guys who called me a “fag hag,” insisted I must have weighed 300 Lbs, and, of course, the “How Could You Not Have Known? people.

        So many years later after probably not accidentally reading your blog, I realized that I wasn’t done with this issue. In fact, my life WAS defined by my gay ex, and how profoundly he destroyed my sense of self. I have two beautiful daughters from that sham of a marriage (Straight spouses do the math…his contribution to their conception took approximately five minutes…and I mean for both!) and so I still have to deal with him, his anger, and his unwillingness to ever be an actual decent human being.and actually apologize even after all of these years.

        So Juliet, despite major strides on behalf of Gay Rights, WE still deserve this forum. Because WE’VE suffered, in ways our families, friends, and especially our gay spouses, could never understand. We will never get those years, or that trust, back, but we do have a common experience that we share. We need eachother.

  7. Carolann K

    Please do not stop writing about this topic…for me, this is part of my therapy. You give me beautiful words that I can circulate to my closest friends. These have aided me in my healing and are almost third-party endorsements of the myriad of feelings that people who have encountered a gay-spouse would never know unless experienced.
    It’s the façade of a seemingly ‘happily-ever-after’ gone completely akimbo that I’m having trouble processing. It’s as if I was never really there or that there even existed. I was married for 28 years. Surprise !! I do get divorced tomorrow. Living a lie after you learn about it, isn’t how I wanted to live my life. It’s officially my brand new beginning. I’m embracing it with all the gusto of a young person entering the adult world. I even an swinging my beret, a la Mary Tyler Moore.. I’m going to make it on my own…!
    Thank you, Juliet. I appreciate that you know and are courageous to articulate the anger, disbelief, sadness and just plain pain. You are correct – -it is tragic. And after the stinging stops; healing can begin.

  8. Barbara Reeves-Ellington

    Please keep writing. You express so articulately what I feel but cannot express. To find out that you have made the most important decisions in your life based on a lie, to realize that you have served as a cover for a lifetime of deception, to finally face the reality that the person who claims to love you has lied to you repeatedly, all this produces a toxic shock . It is strangely comforting to know that others are suffering the same pain, that this is not merely personal but a real, and not so uncommon, social phenomenon that only tolerance and transparency can heal.–Barbara Reeves-Ellington, finally out of the closet

  9. Katrina

    Thank you! 10 years later and trying to finally be in a real intimate relationship, your words are so valuable to me. I sit here with tears falling from my eyes and my heart. My friends have forgot I’m still wounded somewhere, even though I don’t appear to be. The hardest part is taking the leap of faith and trusting my perceptions of a partner. It’s also very difficult I’m finding for a straight man to understand the depth of my wounds, and at my inability to explain without being irrational or just matter of fact about the whole situation. So please keep writing because its a journey. For those of us who have encountered this in their lifetime we need you! Today your blog assisted me in understanding and releasing some of my pain, now I can breathe and smile. Thanks! Katrina

  10. Pingback: Life After Divorce – Do you feel Worthy of Love? | julietjeske

  11. Pingback: Sean Saves the World – A Straight Spouse Perspective | julietjeske

  12. Pingback: Straight Spouses: Homophobia – An Equal Opportunity Destroyer | julietjeske

  13. Pingback: Straight Spouse: When Your Life is Not Politically Correct | JulietJeskeblog.com

  14. Pingback: I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I feel sorry for Kris Jenner. | JulietJeskeblog.com

  15. Pingback: Grace & Frankie: Hollywood vs. Reality | JulietJeskeblog.com

  16. Paula

    Thank you for continuing to blog about being a straight spouse! I too have just had to go have a battery of STD and HIV tests and am awaiting to hear all is negative. Waiting is horrible and it adds to the anger I already have from the lies and deceit and betrayal.

Leave a Reply