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Imagine finding out your spouse was cheating on you, not just with one partner, but with several for the duration of your marriage. He didn’t come to you on his own and confess.  You discovered the truth after suspecting for years that something wasn’t right.  After unearthing hard evidence of his infidelity he reveals he wasn’t even faithful while you were dating.  The entire time your partner was having these illicit trysts, he exposed you to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.

You decide to leave him.  What follows is a vicious battle for custody of your children, your home, and every last possession between you.  He tires to refuse to pay for anything including child support.  Your husband even loses his job mid-divorce in an attempt to avoid his obligations to you and your children.  He uses every trick in the book to ruin you financially, and your divorce drags on for years.

Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he blames you for the destruction of the marriage.  He cites your lack of emotional support for his infidelity.  If you had only understood and loved him better, he wouldn’t have gone looking for love and sex from others.

When your friends and family find out about his betrayal, your charismatic ex manages to spin it to his advantage.  He tells everyone that he was a loving and supportive husband.  He claims you knew of his many trysts and had some of your own.  Not only does your former husband get support from your friends, he’s given accolades.  An entire community embraces and welcomes him.  Any past transgressions are instantly forgiven.

Meanwhile you go underground. To protect your children you bury even more secrets, make excuses, and continue to live a lie. If you try to talk about what’s happened to you, your friends tell you to “have some compassion” for you ex.  Although some see the truth, few truly understand the extent of his lies, betrayal and profound selfishness.   You’re told to have empathy for the man who just ruined your life, because now he’s openly gay.

Now take out the confused sexual orientation. Let’s say a man cheated on his wife with multiple women for the entire marriage.  Would anyone tell the wife to have “compassion” for her ex-husband? Would people criticize her for not showing empathy to his lack of respect, impulse control and selfishness? I doubt it. Why are straight spouses supposed to instantly forgive a spouse given these circumstances?

What if both partners were gay. If a man was cheating on his spouse throughout the entire marriage then embroiled him in a nasty divorce would anyone ask the spouse to have compassion for his cheating ex? Could the cheater wrap himself in the flag of his orientation and say that he couldn’t help his actions because he was gay?

In a politically correct world these situations would be clear-cut.  The oppressed homosexual wouldn’t do anything cruel or self-serving and the straight spouse would be understanding and empathetic towards his or her closeted spouse.  Real life is not so neat and tidy.  Is it politically correct when a man loses access to his children because his cheating spouse relocates with her new partner to another state?   Is it politically correct when a woman kills herself after she finds out her cheating husband is gay?   Is it politically correct when a cheating spouses gives his wife HIV?

No one is advocating for closeted spouses to stay in the misery and torment that is the closet. It is much better for everyone involved when people live authentic and honest lives. No one who is currently living a secret life should remain deceiving his or her spouse in order to try to spare them the pain and heartache of a divorce. Chances are the straight spouse will discover the truth and the damage will only be compounded.

I know how difficult these situations are because I’m a straight spouse.  Many straight spouses have been told by well-meaning friends to have compassion for their exes who treated them so callously and without much consideration.    There is pressure to instantly forgive every lie and transgression, no matter how egregious.  To many straight spouses, this forced forgiveness feels like a second betrayal.  The concept is even harder to grasp while in the middle of a nasty custody battle or vicious divorce.

A few of my critics believe that when I write about these doomed marriages that I am attacking all LGBT people.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I love and support the LGBT community but I have a lot of conflicted emotions towards my ex-husband.  He is responsible for his own actions, and he does not represent every LGBT person or even every closeted gay man.  For some, saying anything bad about an individual LGBT person is somehow homophobic or politically incorrect.  Well no group is homogenous, and sociopaths, narcissists and selfish people can be of any sexual orientation.  LGBT men and women who openly deceive others to hide their true orientation do a huge disservice to the larger LGBT community. By hiding out they aren’t exactly helping the cause of acceptance and equality. They are in fact perpetuating the myth that the only way a person can live a happy and fulfilled life is to pose as straight.

Many straight spouses discover in therapy that their exes struggle with profound narcissism.  A narcissist tends to not see other people as fully formed individuals but rather pawns or objects.  Narcissists lack empathy and usually take no responsibility for their actions.  In a narcissist’s mind, they are the ultimate victims.  Therefore they see nothing wrong with deceiving another person, to protect themselves or gain social acceptance. Narcissism has nothing to do with sexual orientation.  There are narcissists of every socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and ethnicity.  I would bet that psychological profiles of many of these men and women, would be nearly identical to those who marry others for a green card, financial gain or career advancement.

Of course not all mixed orientation marriages are the same, and some closeted homosexuals who marry straight partners are not narcissists.  Some met their spouses when they were quite young, before they truly understood their sexual orientation.  A few closeted homosexuals are strongly pressured by their families and communities to marry a straight partner.   In some rare cases, medical conditions can suppress a person’s sex drive enough to cloud their orientation.  Some mixed orientation marriages are open and honest from day one.  Just as there are many shades of the sexual orientation rainbow, the reasons behind mixed orientation marriages run a spectrum.

But given all that, no one has a right to assume all straight spouses have the same story.  When I and other straight spouses share our stories, we don’t do it to trash the LGBT community or our exes.  We do it to help other people who typically blame themselves for their shattered lives.  We do it to help dissuade the notion that sexual orientation is something that’s a lifestyle or personal choice.  We do it to show that encouraging LGBT men and women to retreat into “the closet” causes far more misery and suffering than to just the closeted person.

Hopefully one day soon we will move forward and marriages like mine and many others will become increasingly rare, but we aren’t going to get to that truth by creating a new closet.  Straight spouses shouldn’t have to create a false reality in order to protect their exes.  We will only arrive a new authentic way of living through truth, and many times our truth is not politically correct.

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9 comments on “Straight Spouse: When Your Life is Not Politically Correct

  1. Straight spouse

    Julie,
    You have hit the nail on the head.
    Straight spouse

    1. Joni

      Juliet,
      I could not have said my feelings about this issue any better. I feel that the LGBT community should be addressing this issue head on. I know that the LGBT community does not support this behavior, yet it is rarely talked about. It is inexplicable the amount of damage and potential damage that this deceptive lifestyle has had on me, my family and friends. The lack of conversation and condemnation of this dangerous behavior, degrades the LGBT community and the straight spouses left to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. Time for the LGBT to take a firm stand on this issue!

      1. Espen

        As a gay man, i totally agree with you. These men are not furthering our cause in any way, on the contrary they are holding us back. I do understand that it is hard for some men to come out because of sosial pressure, and a general lack of support. However that does not make it right to deliberately tricking an innocent woman into a relationship based on lies and deceit. These men are cowards, and that is the sad truth..

  2. cmsvmom

    Right. Now imagine what it is like when you confront him and he denies all….and says you are crazy making this stuff up….and everyone agrees because in their perfect world, gay people are always out and proud to them…..and it isnt your business to out him, you vicious woman making stuff up for your divorce case….and you try to discuss the actual reality and logistics of custody of kids with counselors and mediators and are told it doesnt matter….get over it…..and are “reassured” that more straight men than gay men molest children when yours are at risk of being molested by their fathers “not my boyfriend she so crazy” who loves to bait you…..but…but…here’s what’s really happening….oh no its not…..you’re just making that up…you need to control yourself…get over your anger…move along honey…..

    Why does everyone always want to shut us up? Its been many years for me but I am still talking about it because I WASNT ALLOWED TO UNDER THREAT OF HAVING MY CHILDREN TAKEN AWAY when I tried to discuss the reality…a reality that they now deal with in their relationship with him as adults….a reality that they had to adjust to as teens without much in the way of counseling because if they said he was gay it meant they were taking sides and it could go badly for me…..or if they said he wasnt that meant that they agreed I was lying and that could go badly for me too as far as being allowed to raise them (as I had pretty much as a married single mom before the divorce…)

    The world wants us to remain in the closet. Thanks for speaking THE truth (Its not just your truth or my truth or your ex husbands truth – its THE truth).

    I no longer trust people who consider themselves socially liberal, as I once considered myself, since they are the most oppressive when it comes to shutting inconvenient women like me down when we speak THE truth.

    1. julietjeske Post author

      Something happened to my blog and I’m just now seeing this comment. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I’m politically extremely liberal and as you can see I’m hardly silent about what happened to me or the plight of other straight spouses.

      I’ve been attacked too, numerous times. I’ve lost friends over this. None of them were that close to me to begin with but it was still very hurtful to go through it. For some on all sides of the political spectrum they just see things in a very black and white way. They follow some type of script and if you deviate from that script you’ll labeled “bigot” or “homophobe” or “racist” whatever. Eery group has horrible people in it.

      As far as your fears are concerned with child molestation that’s honestly a concern with any partner your ex brings into their lives. Many child molesters identify as straight so there is no easy way to spot them. Young girls though are more likely to be abused than boys, and I’m not sure why but that’s what statistics show. Women are much less likely to molest than men, so any man that’s that close to them is a far greater risk than a woman. I can’t tell you though how many women I’ve known who were molested by a step-father or their mother’s boyfriend. Unfortunately it’s always a concern with any person gay or straight.

      I’m so sorry with what you’ve had to go through. It is horrible and people do want to shut us up. We are a pesky inconvenience to a very rigid narrative. I think we’re all part of the same story. When people feel like they have to live in the closet, this is what happens. We are collateral damage of homophobia. People need to know we are out there and our stories don’t play out like these horrible reality shows like “My Husband is Not Gay.” The media often treats us like we don’t exist or they pat our spouses on the back when they come out and assume we just bounce right back when we don’t. Stay strong and keep fighting for what’s best for your kids. Much love.

  3. Becky

    Yes, the damage to us, as straight spouses, is immense. What is not always highlighted though is the damage to our children. The emotional repercussions on my children have been devastating. Not only is the straight spouse at risk of committing suicide (while everyone, including the spouse, pussy-foots around the man as though he might now kill himself with the truth coming out – when, in fact, he wouldn’t because his sex life is too good), but the children suffer from self-harm, anxiety, depression, very confused emotions, eating disorders and so on. These are behaviours and conditions which can also result in death. And we women are left to somehow handle these awful worries and prevent the worst from happening, while the gay ex looks confused – ‘why are my children like this? Why aren’t they normal?’ Other people don’t know the half of it, but you don’t feel like going on about it as it just seems like moaning. I honestly feel sick about what he’s done and what men continue to do all the time. I wonder if there are any statistics on it? So, for every million gay men who married straight women without telling them in 1995, say, I wonder if there has been any reduction in the numbers? Not that it would help those of us still being tricked and conned in this way….

  4. Pingback: Why I Outed my Husband using Social Media, and why I would do it again! | JulietJeskeblog.com

  5. Minnie

    This blog post gave me a lot to think about, and left me with some questions and observations.

    Is it really about political correctness, or is it about social awkwardness with people who aren’t comfortable discussing the sexuality of someone they probably know? The sense I get is not that others are trying to silence me because I’m being politically incorrect, but because they themselves aren’t comfortable talking about homosexuality when it involves someone they personally know. As awkward and uncomfortable as it is for us – and our spouses – at least we lived in the situation so we have first-hand knowledge of our experience. . It must seem to outsiders as if we are speaking a foreign language when we tell our stories, and again, it goes back to a lack of education about sexuality in general, let alone homosexuality. We don’t have a vocabulary for this topic. Not having the vocabulary, sometimes we let slip out things that can sound homophobic however unintentionally.

    For one example, in her first paragraph, she writes that “The entire time your partner was having these illicit trysts, he exposed you to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.” That assumes the gay spouse was not practicing safe sex, and it also assumes that she knows what kinds of sexual activities they were having. It SOUNDS homophobic, although I’m sure it wasn’t intended that way. It would have been more accurate if she had written, “If he was not practicing safe sex, there is a possibility that he might have exposed you…” But the way it’s written, it reads as if exposure is a foregone conclusion.

    She says “now take out the confused sexual orientation.” But you can’t remove it, it is the core issue here. It’s like saying “take the eggs out of the scrambled eggs.” Without question, the cheating behavior looks the same whether it’s committed by a straight person or a gay person, and in both cases, it’s wrong. There is no argument on that. But the motivations behind the cheating are different, and are a key factor in why it occurs. If we take out the “confused sexual orientation” ingredient, then there would be no need for a “straight spouse network.” Some people become addicted to drugs to get high and to party and have fun. Some people become addicted to the same drug as a result of a medical condition. The addiction is the same, but why it happens is different. We can’t divorce the behavior from its causes and expect the behavior to change if the underlying causes aren’t addressed.

    It’s a difficult position for us. As the writer says, “I love and support the LGBT community but I have a lot of conflicted emotions towards my ex-husband.” I would ask the writer about her emotions towards a society that convinced a child he was sick, immoral or depraved? It takes extreme patience to be able distinguish both for ourselves and for others the difference between conflicted emotions about an individual who wronged us – most of them unintentionally – and not sound as if we are blaming an entire segment of society. We have to become aware not only of what we are saying, but how we are saying it.

    I’ve said this in other comments, but I didn’t understand TGT situation myself while I was living in it. How can I possibly expect someone else to understand what I didn’t understand either? It takes a godly amount of patience to remind myself, they don’t know what they don’t know… what even I myself didn’t know at one time. They’re not necessarily being evil or insensitive or hurtful when they question us – it’s more likely that it hasn’t been explained to them in a way that they can understand. That puts a burden on us to explain ourselves in a way that they do understand. If they were simply evil and insensitive to being with, would you have been friends with them in the first place? No, of course not.

    And we have to be willing to listen if someone suggests we are being homophobic. We might not BE homophobic, but it’s still possible for us to SOUND homophobic. I pointed out the STD assumption above, but here’s one that I used to say, and I thought I was being supportive and gay-friendly, without realizing how it sounds to a gay person. I would say things like “it’s not their fault they’re gay, it’s how they were born” or “they can’t help it being gay, it’s who they are” and so on. It suggests that there’s something wrong – a flaw – with being gay as if it were a birth defect that can’t be helped. My own therapist would say to me, “It’s not your fault you’re a blonde, it’s how you were born,” and “you can’t help it being near-sighted, it’s probably genetic,” and she did it many times until I finally got it. The way we say something is not necessarily the way it’s heard and we have to be open to hearing that when someone points it out. I’m sure the blog writer didn’t intend it this way, but her statement about being exposed to an STD implies that gay men willfully engage in unprotected and irresponsible sex.

    Other examples: “some closeted homosexuals who marry… are not narcissists.” [Probably more than “some;” it’s more likely the vast majority are not narcissists.]

    Also, “a few closeted homosexuals are strongly pressured by their families and communities to marry a straight partner.” [Again, probably the vast majority are pressured, not merely “a few.”]

    “I would bet that psychological profiles of many of these men and women, would be nearly identical to those who marry others for a green card, financial gain or career advancement.” [What is the evidence for that? I very much doubt their profiles would be similar. Financial gain, career advancement, green cards are positive reinforcements: a benefit is rewarded. The closeted gay man who marries is trying to escape punishment – that’s a negative reinforcement. It’s the difference between “clean up your room and you’ll get you a cookie” and “clean up your room and you won’t get a spanking.” The result might be the same, but the driving forces behind it are not at all the same].

    “They are in fact perpetuating the myth that the only way a person can live a happy and fulfilled life is to pose as straight.” [A myth which was taught to them by straight people. It’s up to us to un-teach that myth, and stop teaching it to anybody else.]

    We must be willing to ask ourselves if we might be compounding our griefs, and welcome feedback for how we are being perceived. If someone suggests to us that we are in fact doing that, we have to be brave enough to ask to be shown their evidence so that we can learn from it, and correct ourselves if necessary, or correct the wrong impression if we made one. It’s an opportunity for one or both of us to learn, if instead of taking offense we realize that we are not understanding one another in the moment.

    All communication involves a broadcaster and a receiver, and the flow of communication can break at either end of that chain.

    1. julietjeske Post author

      I would write a LONG response to your incredibly judgmental rant but I’d rather not. From my perspective your response seems like projection on your part. I stand behind every word. I’ve gotten dozens of responses from total strangers, most of them have been quite positive.

      Perhaps instead of attacking me or another straight spouse you could listen more. We don’t all have whatever situation you had. My ex is a profound narcissist with serious psychological problems. I’ve met countless other straight spouses who were also married to deeply troubled people who were quite selfish. My ex admitted things to me that are so horrible I wouldn’t think to reprint them on this blog or anywhere in public.

      Please leave me alone and don’t comment further. I won’t publish additional comments. Your comment reads like hate mail.

      My life is still not politically correct.

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