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From a Straight Spouse: Some People are Gay…Get Over It!

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When I learned that the shooter in the Orlando massacre showed signs of being a latent or closeted homosexual my heart dropped in my chest.  It somehow hurt even more to know that part of what drove him to murder 49 innocent people was his own deep-seated self-hatred. I do not pity the shooter.  I pity a culture that reinforces the notion that being gay is a shortcoming, weakness, defect, perversion or a sin.  I pity his hateful father who admonished homosexuality days after the massacre.  The same man who used to insult his son by calling him gay and taught him to hate himself.   I pity him because he’s a pathetic excuse for a human being who will only be remembered for raising someone capable of such a horrific act.  My deepest sympathies go to the friends and families of the fallen, and every LGTB person who will feel less safe as a result of such an attack.

Despite the outpouring of support from people all over the country, I knew there would be a backlash.  It wasn’t enough that worst shooting in US history targeted the LGTB community, the critics of homosexuality had to get their digs in before the bodies were cold..  The first blow came in the form of a tweet by Dan Patrick the fiercely anti-LGTB Lt. Governor of Texas just two hours after the shooting.

Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.

He claimed the bible verse was randomly selected beforehand but he also posted it on his Facebook account three hours later even after numerous complaints on his twitter feed.

Then there was the video of a fringe Baptist Pastor Roger Jimenez

‘What if you asked me, “Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” Um, no, I think that’s great,’ he told his followers, some of whom laughed. ‘I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job

Twitter was ablaze with homophobic rants and rhetoric.  ThoughtCatalog compiled a list of the worst.

One simply stated

At least it was gays this time and not innocent people

The blood of the victims was probably still fresh on the ground when these comments were made.  I get worked up about this topic because my life has been negatively affected by homophobia.  My ex-husband was a self-loathing closeted gay man who thought he could change himself.  I was unaware of his struggle with his sexual orientation and became collateral damage in his war with himself.   Instead of living his life authentically and honestly, he lived a miserable existence in hiding.  If he felt he could have lived his life happily and fulfilled as a gay man,  we both would have been much better off.  There are millions of other straight spouses like myself, and children who have been through the emotionally wrenching experience of a mixed orientation marriage. The hatred of LGTB people extends much further out than just the LGTB community.  It hurts their families, friends, and our culture as a whole.  Although LGTB men and women have made great strides in recent years, incidents like the massacre in Orlando prove we have a long way to go before true acceptance is possible.

I am not sure if I’ll reach anyone in my intended audience with this article, but I’m just so sick of the hate.  No one wins when LGTB men and women are shamed, labeled as sinners or treated like second-hand citizens. Homophobes use all sorts of reasoning to justify their hate, so I’ve compiled the most common ones here and intend to challenge all of them.

Homosexulaity and sin – Everyone has a right to their own religious views, but we live in a country with a multitude of faiths and belief systems..  I won’t break down every religion, religious text or reasoning for the condemnations of homosexuality.  That wouldn’t just be a blog article, it could fill several volumes.  In a secular nation, one person’s religion does not trump another person’s civil rights.   I don’t know how love can be sinful, and I know many loving LGTB couples.  Many of them are also devoted parents.  I’m agnostic myself, but it’s hard to imagine how any loving God would be against a healthy, happy, loving relationships between two consenting adults.

Gay people cannot be changed or converted through therapy.  – I could write several hundred pages on this, but instead I’ll just provide this handy link and quote about the widely derided conversion therapy.

To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

Being gay is not a sickness or a mental illness – The medical community hasn’t believed that since 1973.  To quote psychiatrytoday.com 

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (DSM II). The action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.

Openly gay people are not a sign of the collapse of society  – LGTB men and women have been around since the dawn of humanity and have always been a part of the spectrum of human sexuality.  LGTB people have existed even in places where the punishment for homosexual behavior was death.   In some Native American tribes homosexuality and gender fluidity was not only tolerated, it was revered.   To quote http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/

It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honoured and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the caregivers They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies

Homosexuality is not unnatural. –  A common argument is that since homosexual sex does not lead to procreation then it must be against the laws of nature.  Homosexuality is also expressed in over 450 different animal species on this planet.  Obviously humans aren’t the only species that has non-reproductive sex.

HIV is not a plague sent to wipe out gay men  – Sexually transmitted diseases are not limited to the LGTB community. Although HIV rates are higher among gay men than the general population, anyone under the right circumstances can contract HIV.  HIV is also not the killer it once was, as most patients live long lives if they get early treatment.   Daily medications like PreP also can prevent the spread of the virus.   It’s also not the only potentially lethal STD. From the 15th century until the discovery of antibiotics Syphilis infections ravaged Europe.  Even today if left untreated Syphilis can cause disfigurement, brain damage, and eventually death.  HIV isn’t a plague to wipe out any specific group, it is simply another nasty sexually transmitted pathogen.

Gay men are pedophiles who abuse children and turn them gay –  Every time I hear this one I slightly lose my mind, so I’m going to write this in all caps!  THIS MYTH HAS BEEN WIDELY DISCREDITED MULTIPLE TIMES!  IN STUDY AFTER STUDY OVER THE COURSE OF DECADES RESEARCH DOES NOT LINK HOMOSEXAULITY TO PEDOPHILA!!!!!  To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

According to the American Psychological Association, children are not more likely to be molested by LGBT parents or their LGBT friends or acquaintances. Gregory Herek, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on prejudice against sexual minorities, reviewed a series of studies and found no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than heterosexual men.

 

The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute notes that 90% of child molesters target children in their network of family and friends, and the majority are men married to women. Most child molesters, therefore, are not gay people lingering outside schools waiting to snatch children from the playground, as much religious-right rhetoric suggests.

When children see a same-sex couple holding hands, kissing or locked in a loving embrace it won’t scar them or cause them to turn gay.  – If two adults are showing affection in a fairly conservative way – holding hands, walking arm in arm and kissing – it’s not going to harm anyone else around them.  A child is not going to suddenly think they are gay after observing two gay adults.  Sexual orientation is deeply rooted into a person’s psyche.  If you were to ask most LGTB people when they knew they were gay they would answer it’s something they’ve always known.  No event flipped the switch in their heads from straight to gay.  If anything young adults who come out sooner as LGTB are less likely to get married to a straight partner.  They are less likely to live a confused and tortured existence.   If a child who will ultimately grow up to be gay sees a loving same-sex couple together, they are more likely to grow up without self-hatred.

There is no “gay agenda” – I can’t even humor this one.  The only “agenda” LGTB people have is to live like anyone else.  They aren’t out to recruit the rest of the world or change anyone else’s sexual orientation.

Homophobia claims many victims –  LGTB youth are more than twice as likely to try to commit suicide than their straight peers. Studies have shown that 15 to 43 percent of LGTB people as well as 90 percent of transgender men and women have faced some sort of harassment or discrimination in the workforce.  In 28 states it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation.  Even in 2016 children are still rejected by their families for coming out.

LGTB men and women are not going to go back into hiding.  No amount of hateful rhetoric, bullets or bombs that will stop anyone from being gay.  We need to come out of the dark ages and accept people for who they are.  I want to grab the father of the shooter and every other homophobe by both shoulders, look them dead in the eyes and scream

The real sickness in our culture is not homosexuals but the hatred and bigotry expressed towards them!

All the hate in the world can’t stop love, and sexual orientation is much more than just sex.  LGTB men and women love their partners with the same intensity and devotion as any straight person would.   Some people are gay, and the haters should just get used to it.

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Grace & Frankie: Hollywood vs. Reality

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As a straight spouse myself, I’m always interested in how the media depicts our situations.  In most cases I shake my head as I see cartoonish one-sided clichés.  Lately it’s been Christian couples who have vowed to pray away the “same-sex attraction” in a miserable and strained marriage.

So I was a bit nervous about the new Netflix comedy, Grace & Frankie.  The premise of the show involves a double divorce of two closeted men who have had a 20-year affair while married to women.  In the first episode the announce they are leaving their wives for a new life together and hilarity ensues.  Actually most of the humor comes from the unconventional friendship that develops between their two dissimilar wives – The hippie Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin and the former model turned beauty executive played by Jane Fonda.  I genuinely loved the show, the characters are three-dimensional and multi-layered, the acting is brilliant and both straight spouses are extremely funny and sympathetic.  As much as I liked it, I was somewhat frustrated by the sugar-coated Hollywood take on everything.

Since I write about being a straight spouse and have been very public about my story, I’ve encountered literally hundreds of other straight spouses.  I’ve read their stories on private Facebook groups, and listened to harrowing details in my local straight spouse support group. No two mixed orientation marriages are quite the same, and our experiences do fall in a spectrum of outcomes. However, certain patterns are quite common and we often remark that we feel like we married the same person.  There was so much good in Grace & Frankie but I feel the need to break down Hollywood fantasy vs. reality.

Hollywood – Both of the gay men find the courage to finally come out to their wives, and reveal their 20 year-long affair.

Reality – I’d say with full confidence that in probably 80-90% of mixed orientation marriages, the closeted spouse doesn’t disclose anything. Most of us find out the hard way after months or years of searching for evidence.  In some truly horrific cases, a spouse finds out the truth accidentally.

Hollywood – 20 years of infidelity are forgiven rather easily and the relationships remain close and intact

Reality – For most spouses, finding out your partner was having a secret affair with his or her best friend for the past 20 years would be devastating.  The pain and betrayal would cause so much damage, it would be quite difficult to repair any sort of relationship.  A person might question literally everything.  Which business trip was really a liaison?  Which emergency meeting at work was really a hook-up?  How many times did my spouse blatantly lie to my face?  Twenty years of lies and betrayal are hard to forgive regardless of the circumstances.

Hollywood – Both couples have quick and simple divorces and both gay husbands are greatly concerned for the emotional and financial welfare of their wives. 

Reality – How many couples have an “easy” divorce?  Most drag on for several months if not years. Some partners do everything they can to block and stall to delay the inevitable.  Just like any divorce, a straight spouse will endure multiple court cases, shady legal maneuvers, psych evaluations, hiding of assets and vicious custody battles.  Some spouses are completely abandoned when their partner come out.  As soon as they are open about their orientation they want to discard their old identity and life.  Divorces between mixed orientation couples are no different than the general population – many are brutal, long, inequitable and devastating.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands immediately openly declare their sexual orientation to anyone and everyone

Reality – If a person has lived a lie for a couple of decades, they rarely switch to immediately proclaiming the truth.  I’ve known straight spouses who have watched their exes marry a same-sex partner and STILL not label themselves gay, bisexual or even hetero-flexible. They simply insist they’re straight despite their new gay spouse.  It’s baffling but it’s incredibly common.  Some closeted partners are so self-loathing they retreat back into the closet and marry another straight partner.

Hollywood – Both couples are financially well off, and no one suffers economic ruin.

Reality – Most television shows center around wealthy people.  The trials of paying bills on time and making ends meet just isn’t compelling and set designers would rather feature beautiful sprawling homes than sad depressing ones.  Grace & Frankie is no different.  Of course most straight spouses suffer tremendous financial problems from foreclosure to bankruptcy just like any other divorced couple.

Hollywood – Even though both women are in their 70’s there is seemingly a limitless supply of available partners.  Both women have love interests almost immediately.

Reality – As much as loved Frankie & Grace – This is pure fantasy.  

Hollywood – Both husbands admit fault for cheating, lying and destroying their marriage.  

Realities – This one is probably the most egregious.  Although I do know some closeted men and women who do take full accountability for their actions, many more admit no fault whatsoever.  Excuses abound from

  • You knew I was gay the whole time
  • Everyone knew I was gay
  • My orientation had nothing to do with our divorce
  • You made me gay
  • If you were there for me I would have never turned to men/women
  • If you were just more understanding about my cheating we’d still be together
  • It was just sex, it meant nothing, I don’t know why you care so much
  • I’m not gay, I was never gay, I’m just working some things out

Very few people actually admit they have done anything wrong, in a mixed orientation marriage or otherwise.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands seem to have healthy psychological profiles and don’t have any personality disorders

Reality – Most of us learn through therapists that our exes are narcissists. Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions and have a tendency to blame everyone around them for whatever damage or chaos they’ve caused.  They lack empathy and view themselves as the ultimate victim.  Narcissists are often charming and charismatic but ultimately they are extremely difficult partners in a marriage. Of course our spouses do NOT represent the larger LGTB community as most LGTB people would never marry a straight person.  Narcissism has nothing to do with sexual orientation but more to do with someone marrying another person under false pretense.  Of course not all closeted men and women who marry straight partners are narcissistic but it is such a common problem that I would be remiss not to mention it here.

There were some things the show got spot on.

Denial & Co-dependence 

One of the wives remains in a deep state of denial despite the obvious evidence.  She accepts her husband is gay but continues to use him as her main source of emotional support.  She acts out in very co-dependent ways and won’t accept that he’s treated her horribly.  This is quite common for many straight spouses as denial is the glue that keeps these marriages together for so long.  It’s difficult to suddenly turn on the light and see reality.

Resentment & Sadness

The show also captured the deep resentment and sadness that both women experience.  In reality it would most likely stretch out much longer and be more intense, but at least the producers and writers allowed both characters to get angry, meltdown, and process real emotions.  The disclosure wasn’t just a punchline, it given real gravitas.

Conflicted emotions in adult children

The adult children of both couples also expressed deeply conflicted feelings towards their fathers.   As adults they still saw that their fathers had both cheated, lied and betrayed their mothers while setting them adrift in their old age.  Despite their love for their dads, they couldn’t ignore their misdeeds.

Realistic gay couple

Another thing I liked about the show is that the gay partners act like any couple, they fight, they get frustrated with each other, they have bad communication skills but ultimately love each other very deeply.  They were a fully dimensional and believable couple.

Most mixed orientation marriages would make extremely boring and sad television shows,  Our lives don’t get nicely wrapped up in cute 30 minute episodes.  Many of us live with emotional damage and shattered trust for years.  With all of this though, I’m glad our stories are getting told at all.   Just a decade ago it would have been unheard of to have a show explore this topic. I hope one day people may wonder why anyone would marry someone to hide the fact that they were gay.  It simply won’t make any sense to do something so against one’s nature.

I laughed and cried while watching Grace and Frankie and I can’t wait for the next season.  Even though it’s largely a best case scenario fairy tale, at least both straight spouses are sympathetic and likable and their struggles and obstacles are given respect.   I’m thankful to both Fonda and Tomlin for having the courage to tackle this subject and to make an entertaining and funny show about it.

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I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I feel sorry for Kris Jenner.

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I don’t “Keep up” with the Kardashians.  I’ve never watched a single episode of the original or the many spin-off shows about the most obnoxious American family.  I purposefully try to ignore any Kardashian news entirely but it still seems to filter through.  I know it all started with an “accidentally” leaked sex tape, a friendship with Paris Hilton and the O.J. Simpson trial. There was also a wedding and brief marriage that may have just been for the endorsements and publicity.  The family is rich, shameless and made their fortune by doing not much of anything.

Kris Jenner is the woman at the helm of this narcissistic empire, and she’s not exactly likable.  In some ways she’s the ultimate Disney villain – an aging yet glamorous woman obsessed with looking youthful, concerned about style over substance, dressed in the best clothing money could buy, and paranoid that her star will eventually fall.  I will confess I’m not a fan, but I can’t help but feel a kinship towards her.  I’m not rich, I don’t have reality show or any plastic surgery, but my ex-husband was a closeted gay man.  When I made the discovery six years ago, my sanity, and financial wellbeing fell off a cliff.  I’ve since met countless other straight spouses and some of them, like Kris, found out their husbands were secretly transgender.  For many they discovered their husbands wanted to change their gender, but had also changed their sexual orientation and were now having sex with men.  To use the word devastating to describe such situations would be a huge understatement. Even phrases like ‘soul crushing’, or ‘life destroying’ don’t really capture the personal torment these women go through.

Now before you exclaim “BUT KRIS KNEW BEFORE THEY WERE MARRIED!” you might want to hear what she had to say about it.

“Why would you want to be married and have kids if this is what you wanted since you were a little boy? Why would you not explain this all to me?

 

“He was married to me, and he wasn’t who he wanted to be, so he was miserable,” she said. “It was the most passive-aggressive thing I think I’ve ever experienced.”

 

“This was a conversation that took place in the early ’90s. So, what he was telling me happened a decade earlier, and he never really explained it,” she said. While Caitlyn said she had B cup breasts at the time, Kris said she thought it was a “man boob situation … there wasn’t a gender issue. Nobody mentioned a gender issue.”

According to an interview with Buzz Bissinger Caitlyn insists that Kris was very much aware of his struggle.

“Jenner is emphatic that he told Kris he had taken hormones in the late 1980s up until the year they met, and was equally emphatic in saying there were other side effects besides breast growth,” Bissinger writes.

 

“He finds it implausible for her to suggest she was not aware of his gender struggle. But he does concede that ‘probably a mistake I made was maybe not having her understand—not the severity of it but that this is a condition you cannot get away from. From that standpoint maybe I blew it away a little bit, sort of ‘This is what I do.'”

From my experience, I’d say with full confidence, that in about 90% of these unions the straight spouse had no idea their partner was gay or trans before the marriage..  Caitlyn’s second wife Linda Thompson revealed that Jenner also didn’t disclose her dysmorphia until after their two sons were born.  Caitlyn may have believed that she could control her inner conflict, or that it might eventually go away.  Being transgender in many ways is much more difficult than being gay.  A gay man can have sex with another man, even if he hates himself for it, or has to lie to do it.  A transgender person looks in the mirror and sees a stranger staring back at them.   It would be quite difficult to remedy the disconnect in your mind, especially 30 or 40 years ago when less was known about transgender people, and the topic wasn’t openly discussed.

I’ve seen the press bash Kris Jenner as being selfish, emasculating, narcissistic, and cruel towards her former spouse.  Some of this might be true, but no one but the two people in the marriage have any idea what really happened.   Most of what we know about their marriage is from a highly edited, manipulated and partially scripted reality show.  The tabloids also chime in and they have never been known for their accuracy or ethical reporting.

Caitlyn has publicly said that her divorce was 80% because of poor treatment by Kris, and 20% because of her gender identity.  I’m sure Kris would most likely have a far different opinion.  It’s common for many closeted spouses to say very similar things after a split.  They rarely blame their orientation, even though living a lie or in constant psychological torment is definitely going to affect a marriage.   Kris didn’t marry a trans woman, she married a man.  It’s incredibly difficult for the wives and husbands of transgender people to suddenly accept their partner’s new identity.  For some it does work out, and both spouses learn to love the new normal, a few marriages even grow stronger.  But for the vast majority of marriages it’s just too much. A straight woman may no longer be attracted to her husband now that she’s a woman, or the transition could be so overwhelming the marriage just can’t handle the strain. Transitioning is a long intense and expensive process that puts both partners on an emotional roller coaster.   When a trans woman also proclaims she wants to date men, what’s left for her straight wife?  I know infidelity did not play a role in the divorce of Kris and Caitlyn but I bring it up, because it’s so incredibly common in these situations.

We can celebrate Caitlyn for her bravery and strength without trashing her ex-wife.  I’m not here to demonize Caitlyn or minimize what she has done for the trans community, but I get sick to my stomach when I see people dragging Kris through the mud over this.  I can’t help but see my own divorce and remember the misguided nonsense I endured.

  • You turned him gay. (No one can turn a person gay)
  • You need to have more compassion for your ex-husband. (After 9 years of lies and betrayal)
  • How did you not know? (Because he lied to me from day one)
  • I can’t believe that you didn’t know you had to have known. (I had to assume my husband was a liar?)
  • You used your ex-husband (My ex-husband used me)
  • Your marriage was an arrangement (Yes, and that’s why will pulled our families into it, just to hurt as many people as possible)
  • You somehow prevented him from coming out sooner (His struggle was his own, and had nothing to do with me)
  • You are still using your ex-husband for publicity (No I’m actually doing this to help other straight spouses)

The tabloids will continue to rip into Kris without much concern.   She’ll return to play the part of the over-bearing matriarch of a self-obsessed brood.   We can’t forget that she’s not a cartoon character, but a human being.  She just found out her former husband of 24 years is now a woman, and that’s never an easy thing to go through.  Ironically thanks to the actions of Caitlyn, we might be closer to a world where a transgender person can be open and honest about themselves well before three marriages, 10 kids, multiple grandkids and their 65th birthday.  As much as I can’t stand the Kardashian empire, I do have empathy for Kris Jenner.  Caitlyn needed to come to grips with her identity by herself, and Kris had no control over any of it.  Maybe they had a bad marriage, maybe they didn’t, but it has nothing to do with Caitlyn’s decision to live an open and authentic life.  We can celebrate Caitlyn Jenner without trashing Kris.  It would make a great reality show plot to have the straight person as the evil oppressor and the trans person as the ever suffering hen-pecked victim, but reality shows are not real life.  In actual marriages things are far more complicated.

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Straight Spouse: When Your Life is Not Politically Correct

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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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Dear Rick Perry, Being Gay is not a Disease

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Rick Perry, you really don’t understand homosexuality.  To quote you directly.

Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.

You also advocated for the widely discredited, reparative therapy for homosexuals.  To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

You might also think that homosexuality is a disease, but the medical community would strongly disagree with you.  To quote psychiatrytoday.com 

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (DSM II). The action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.

I hate to break this to you but, gay men and women have existed in every culture on the planet, long before a few scant condemnations in the Old and New testaments of the Christian bible  Despite the importance some Christians have placed on the evils of homosexuality, Jesus Christ didn’t think it was worthy of discussion.

Rick, do you ever wonder what happens to gay men and women when they try to force themselves to live a lie?  Do you think that it’s just a matter of self-control?  Do you think once they get married, settle down and have a few kids that those urges and attractions will vanish?

Well Rick, I’ve got news for you.  Most mixed orientation marriages end catastrophically with both partners greatly damaged.  I was in one of those marriages.  I had no idea my husband was gay when I married him.  He was full of so much self-hate about his sexual orientation he thought he could change himself.  He was basically lying to me and everyone else close to him in his life for years.  He tried desperately to change, but realized he couldn’t.  He is gay.  He was gay before we got married, he was gay during our marriage and he’s gay now.  It’s a fundamental part him.  It’s not a weakness of moral character, it’s not a lifestyle choice and it’s not an addiction.  He lived in misery because he was desperately trying to be something he wasn’t.  Now that he is out and proud, he’s a much happier person.

His self-loathing and shame came from the false belief that being gay is a fault or shortcoming.  When I first confronted my ex-husband about his sexual orientation he would have given anything to change it.  Luckily for both of us, he has grown to accept and love himself.  We are both better off now living authentic lives and not trapped in a sham marriage.

There are millions of other straight spouses like me all over the country.  Most of these marriages leave a path of destruction in their wake.  I know women who have buried their husbands with full-blown AIDS, others who have contracted the virus from their spouse. I have heard of suicides and even homicides when these marriages disintegrate  Parents who lose access to their children, and children who now have to split time between two homes.  I’ve met damaged and broken men and women on both sides of these doomed partnerships.  I suffered from a massive depression, I was nearly financially destroyed, I’ve had to accept that I’ll probably never have my own children and at my worst I was suicidal.  It’s hardly been an easy road for me, and I know it’s a daily struggle for many of my straight spouse counterparts.

If our spouses were happier in their own skin, if they could envision a happy and healthy life for themselves, they never would have entered into these fraud marriages.  If you claim to champion family values, you would never encourage a gay person to try to force themselves to be straight.  You would never expect someone to try to change something so fundamental about themselves.  Rick, do you think you could force yourself to live as a gay man?  Do you think you would be happy if every day you had to live a lie?

Your words have consequences.  You lead a state with over 26 million people.  Every time you condemn homosexuality you reinforce the bullying, the discrimination and hate that leads to misery, self-destructive behavior and even suicide.  LGTB youth are more than twice as likely to try to commit suicide than their straight peers.  When you call for medical quackery like reparative therapy you cause more suffering.   Homophobia affects more than just the gay people you target.  The hate splinters out like broken shards of glass cutting into everyone around the intended target.  Relationships between parents and children are destroyed and families are torn apart, and all for something that cannot be changed.  My own life was greatly harmed by this nonsense and I’m not going to be silent when you perpetuate myths and misinformation.

Homosexuality is just another way of being human, and there are a lot of beautiful LGTB human beings in your state.  They just want to live their lives authentically and without shame.  They want to raise families and grow old with their partners.  They just want to live like any other Texan.  You can remain in the dark ages as states around the country legalize same-sex marriage and end discrimination against LGTB people.  I know not every Texan agrees with you.  Hopefully more and more of them will speak out against this bigotry.  Which side of history do you want to be on?

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Straight Spouse: Myth #1 – We Bounce Right Back

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Mixed orientation marriages are fraught with misunderstandings and misconceptions. When disclosure occurs many falsely believe that both partners are immediately healed.  The most common comment I get is:

“So you guys are still friends?”

Second only to:

“Well you’re both doing great, right?”

Everyone wants a happy ending, but these marriages rarely resolve well.  Of course not every mixed orientation marriage ends in divorce, and not every divorce is catastrophic. Regardless, in most cases life doesn’t go back to normal.

A few of my critics have argued that as a straight person I don’t face the same types of challenges my ex would as a newly outed homosexual.  They’re completely correct – I have no idea what it’s like to come out as a gay person after concealing my sexual orientation for most of my life.  I also have no understanding of what it might be like to grow up as a gay child, or to have my family reject me because of my sexual orientation.

The flip side of the dilemma is of course, that a gay person doesn’t know what it’s like to live as a straight spouse.  Although our marriages run the spectrum, for many of us deception, infidelity and betrayal defined our partnerships.  Taking the gay issue out of the equation, years of lies and cheating cause severe damage for anyone of any orientation.  Our partner’s sexual orientation disclosure creates causes more obstacles.

When do we tell our children? – Will they be ridiculed because of it?  Will they face depression or anger? Will the disclosure cause friction between our children and our former spouse?  If the truth is accidentally revealed will our children get angry with us for hiding the truth?  Some parents choose to keep this part of their marriage secret for years.  To say that this is a difficult burden would be an enormous understatement.

What do we tell friends, family and co-workers?  – Ultimately the reasons for our divorces are no one’s business.  What happens though, is if we don’t give people a reason, they might invent one.  I had to deal with so many rumors and outright lies after my marriage fell apart.  Some criticized me for publicly outing my ex-husband on social media, even though my ex-husband and I had both agreed that for us it was the best way to handle it.  Many straight spouses enter into a closet that our spouses left, some hiding the truth for decades.

Have I been exposed to HIV? – Even though HIV isn’t the automatic death sentences it once was, people are still dying from AIDS.  Of course HIV exposure is a risk with any cheating spouse, but the chances of infection are higher if the spouse is engaging in high risk behavior.  I’ve met more than one woman who have recently buried their spouses from full-blown AIDS.  Some extremely unfortunate partners have contracted the virus from a cheating spouse.

How do we live down the stigma? – Just as LGTBQ people have to deal with prejudices and hatred so do straight spouses.  I’ve gotten comments such as:

  • You had to have known he was gay
  • You turned him gay – this one happens more than you would think, I even once got it from an openly gay man.  I wish i had the power to change a person’s sexual orientation but that’s not a super power I posses.
  • There’s something wrong with you, and that’s why you married a gay man
  • You’re gay yourself
  • You’re sexually repressed, frigid or hate sex
  • Your ex is bisexual, no one is gay or straight everyone is bisexual – the term is sexual fluidity and I respectfully disagree with their opinion about human sexuality.
  • Your poor husband, that must have been so awful for him – I would never deny that it was easy for my ex, but it’s really the worst thing to say to me right off the bat
  • Maybe your ex is just using it as an excuse – Are you sure he’s gay?
  • Gay people are disgusting, evil and against God – people who make comments like these usually expect me to chime in.

Severely damaged sexuality – There is no way to sugarcoat this one.  Most straight spouses experience major problems with their own sexuality and self-esteem.  It’s soul crushing to discover that the person you thought was the love of your life had little to no sexual attraction to you.  To act as if we can simply brush this off and go back to a normal life is naive at best.  Of course we do heal and move on with our lives but the negative sexual aspect of our marriages cannot be denied.

It’s not easy to date again – That’s true of any divorced person especially past the age of 35.  I have no idea how difficult it is for gay men and women in the dating scene.  I would never even try to speculate at the specific challenges LGTBQ men and women face every day.  I just know my own experience has been bleak.  I’m nearly five years out and have had nothing even close to a normal relationship.  I’m somewhat isolated in my job, I’m over 35, I live in a big city, I have massive trust issues and difficulty bonding – whatever the reason I’m perpetually alone.

Our unique circumstances separate us from the general divorced population.  We have a suicide rate that’s over three times as high as people going through a typical divorce. Anecdotally I’ve found most of us have problems with bonding and trust and many of us have difficulty forming intimate relationships.

I’m not writing this to discourage straight spouses.  I just want to counter some of the biggest misconceptions about our experiences.  These marriages cause extreme damage to both partners.  Any privilege we have as straight people in a homophobic society doesn’t equal the destruction to our self-esteem, sexuality, trust and shattered families.  It’s not easy for us, or our closeted gay partners.  Despite the estimated 2 million people affected, the straight spouse community is largely hidden and underground.  Many of us suffer in isolation without knowledge that there are so many others.

I have nothing but love and empathy for LGTBQ people, and I hope that one day no LGTBQ person will enter into a fraudulent marriage.  If two people want to openly forge a mixed orientation marriage knowing the truth, that’s something else entirely.  Marriages like mine based on lies, are not victimless situations.  I will continue to write about being a straight spouse and be an advocate for our community until this finally stops being a problem.  I have tremendous hope for future generations.  LGTBQ people will be able to marry and live whomever they want.  Until then I will share the brutal realities in the hopes that truth will set us free.

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Straight Spouses: Homophobia – An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

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I have a litmus test that I use when meeting new people.  When I reveal why I got divorced – the way a person responds tells me all I need to know about them. Because of this blog, and my advocacy for the straight spouse community, my story is extremely public.  I’ve gotten comments like:

  • That’s impossible, you had to have known he was gay.
  • Then he was bisexual because no gay person can have sex with a straight person.
  • Homosexuality is sinful, disgusting, immoral, against God.
  • What an asshole – I hate f*ggots.
  • You turned him gay.
  • So do you hate gay men now?

Many who start trashing LGTB people expect me to chime right in.  It usually unnerves them when instead of joining them I immediately defend the LGTB community.  The gay haters expect me to agree with them because my life was negatively impacted by a gay person’s actions.  What they don’t understand is that I believe that my ex-husband was born gay, and that his sexual orientation was in no way shape or form a choice.  I also understand that if he wasn’t filled with so much self-hatred about being gay, he probably wouldn’t have married a straight woman.  He was desperate to try to suppress his sexual orientation and a lot of his motivation was due to self-loathing.  I also know that my ex-husband does not represent the entire LGTB community and his actions are his own.  The factor that indirectly lead to our marriage was – homophobia – the fear and hatred of homosexuality.

At the same time because I keep writing about the topic of Straight Spouses, some LGTB people have accused me of being homophobic. Some comments I’ve gotten:

  • Mixed orientation marriages are very nuanced.
  • Gay issues have nothing to do with you.
  • You are not allowed to write about your marriage – only your own experience.
  • It’s impossible for a straight person to be victimized by a gay person, because gay people have such a rough time of it.
  • You have no idea how hard it is to grow up as a gay child.

These same people will also say I’m playing the victim, yet in their own statements they are proclaiming their own greater victimization.  I admit I don’t know anything about growing up gay, but then a LGTB man or woman doesn’t know anything about being in a fraudulent marriage or living as a straight spouse.   Trying to compare each other’s personal experience or pain is a circular argument that gets both sides nowhere.  We have both suffered and the cause of our torment is from the same source – homophobia.

I could show the people who accuse me of being anti-gay the stacks of hate mail I’ve gotten when I’ve been published in support of the LGTB rights.  I might show them screen shots of the pure vitriol on my twitter account when I’ve dared to speak out in support of same-sex marriage or criticize a company like Chick-Fil-A for it’s anti-gay policies.  In fact my destroyed marriage has made me even more passionate about gay rights.  Homophobia is an equal opportunity destroyer, it hurts not just LGTB people directly but radiates out to negatively affect loved ones, family members and of course straight spouses.  My ex-husband’s self hatred and fear of his sexuality is exactly what motivated him to enter into a sham marriage.

No two straight spouse situations are exactly the same.  Some met their partners at a young age before either one of them truly understood their sexuality. Others are so deep in denial that they truly can’t comprehend their own sexuality and have no intention of misleading their spouse.  Some closeted partners remain faithful and do not have any sexual encounters outside the marriage.  However in the majority of cases our stories are far more tragic.  Many of our spouses had homosexual encounters before marriage and hid their background.  Lying about one’s history is a form of deception or fraud, regardless of the circumstances.

A few Straight Spouses I’ve known have had to bury their husbands with full-blown AIDS, some have even contracted HIV from a cheating spouse.  Others find themselves embroiled in vicious custody battles which drag on for years.  A few are completely abandoned physically and emotionally once their spouses are finally open about their sexuality.  Many Straight Spouses are financially ruined.  In the most twisted cases a closeted spouse will retreat even deeper into denial and marry another straight partner.  Many won’t even identify as bisexual but will insist they are straight, despite hard evidence of numerous affairs and sexual trysts with same-sex partners. Some create complicated lies to push all responsibility and blame on their spouses.  A few even claim their former spouses made them gay.  All of this behavior is a direct side effect of the hatred and fear of homosexuality.  Without homophobia there would be no reason for a LGTB person to enter into a mixed orientation marriage under false pretenses.  These marriages often leave both partners extremely damaged and is hardly a victimless crime.

When people in the LGTB community want to negate what happens in mixed orientation marriages they are hurting their larger cause. Straight Spouses are living proof that the hatred of homosexuality impacts more than just LGTB men and women.  If anti-gay forces could actually see what their policies were causing – divorce and broken families – they might reconsider trying to pressure LGTB people to live as heterosexuals.

Every group of human beings includes a few narcissistic, selfish and even sociopathic individuals.  Many people who marry others under false pretenses tend to share some of these personality traits.  It is not to say that these few represent the majority of the LGTB community.  Most LGTB people would never marry a straight person.  A generation ago it happened much more often, because hatred towards LGTB people was far more pronounced.  Hopefully as LGTB men and women are more accepted, and have equal rights, fewer LGTB people will feel the need to live a lie.   I have empathy for those who hate themselves so much that they enter into these marriages, but they lose my sympathy when they will not take responsibility for any harm they caused.  In many cases the deceptive spouse refuses to take any accountability.  Being gay and having a difficult childhood does not absolve anyone of the responsibility of hurting other people. Just imagine if every minority group tried to argue that every individual in their group had immunity for their actions due to their oppression – no one would buy that argument.  Homophobia is a mitigating factor, but a liar and a cheater is still responsible for his or her infidelity and deception.  Of course some mixed orientation marriages are open and honest.  If these marriages work for the two people involved in the partnership, good for them.  Unfortunately most mixed orientation marriages are based on massive deception.

I can’t speak for all Straight Spouses.  I’ve met a few who for religious or personal reasons, do no agree with homosexuality.  I can say though with some confidence most Straight Spouses want what the majority of LGTB people want – a culture that accepts being gay as normal as being heterosexual.  By speaking our truth and sharing our stories we are proof that a life inside “the closet” has real victims. Both spouses are harmed by these sham marriages as are our families.  It would make my life much easier to hide and not speak about this, but people need to know the ugly reality of what happens when LGTB men and women try to force themselves to live a lie.  There is nothing wrong with being gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or any of the many varied forms of human sexuality between consenting adults.   Straight Spouses do not hold the entire LGTB community responsible for the actions of our spouses.  We do NOT condemn LGTB people for being authentic and living their lives openly – no matter what their orientation.  Deception and lies, however wreck nothing but havoc and the reality of our situations needs to be exposed.  This is not a Straight Spouse vs. LGTB situation.  We’re really on the same team. Straight Spouses shouldn’t be forced into the closet our former partners just left.  As uncomfortable as our stories might make some people, they need to be heard.  A gay person may have hurt us badly, but that doesn’t mean we are against gay people.  In fact we want LGTB men and women to live as normal a life as anyone and for all marriages to be based on love and honesty – not deception and fear.

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Sean Saves the World – A Straight Spouse Perspective

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NBC’s new Thursday night comedy, Sean Saves the World stars Sean Hayes as a gay single dad who suddenly finds himself the full-time parent of a teenaged girl.  I’m excited about any show which features a gay parent.  It’s also great to see another show tackle a mixed orientation marriage, like Fran Drescher‘s “Happily Divorced“. As a straight spouse myself, it’s good to see anyone telling our stories. Many straight spouses continue to hide the sexual orientation of their former partner or at least stay private about the reasons for their divorce.  Most people have no idea around 2 million straight spouses live throughout the country, in every economic, racial and cultural background.

Sean Saves the World has only aired one episode, and here is what we know so far about the characters:

Now that she is living with her father full-time, his daughter Ellie suddenly thinks to ask. “If your gay, how did mom and you have sex?”

To which Sean responds, “Gay, tried not to be, was, was again, was one more time because it was not unpleasant…am”

So the character knew he was gay before he entered into a marriage with a straight woman.  He either misled his bride about his true orientation, or she knew and thought they could work through it.  Their specific past is left ambiguous.  He never once says to his daughter that he hurt his ex-wife, or that he made a mistake when he married a straight woman.  I guess no child wants to hear that she is the product of a mistake, but he could have shown at least some empathy towards his ex.

Sean’s ex-wife Jill decides to take a job out-of-town, and Ellie makes the choice to live with her dad full-time to stay in the same school.

So far the premise is perfectly reasonable although most single parents would at least wait four years until their kids are out of high school.  Relocations are a common issue with shared custody agreements.  The point where the show started to physically hurt me came early when Sean’s mother played by Linda Lavin exclaims, “She (Ellie) has been abandoned, she has no one.”

Sean then tries to defend his ex-wife “Jill didn’t abandon her, she took a job.”

Later in the episode the daughter laments, “I was abandoned, and she sucks (Her Mother)”

I know these are fictional characters but I couldn’t help but think of the same woman, watching her marriage dissolve soon after the birth of her child.  That is hardly an easy situation under any circumstance.  So far the viewer knows very little details.  We know their marriage ended soon after the birth of their daughter but that’s about it. Did his ex-wife know he was gay?  Or did she have to find out the hard way?  From the character’s own admission it would seem infidelity had something to do with it.  There is also no mention of a second husband, so we are to assume, Jill is still unmarried and raised her daughter as a single parent.  Unfortunately for most straight spouses we find out the true sexual orientation of our partners after years of betrayal, secrets and lies.

Television producers have long been obsessed with single dads.  Although in reality, most primary single parents are mothers, network executives can’t get enough of the fish out of water scenario of the harried father trying to raise children.  Notable examples include such classic shows as, The Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons, Full House, Different Strokes, Blossom, Punky Brewster, My Two Dads, Two and Half Men, Full House, Silver Spoons, Who’s the Boss, The Nanny, Arrested Development, and Louie.  So many shows feature single fathers a comprehensive list is at www.TVDads.com

My hunch is that NBC wanted to give Hayes his own vehicle, and decided to go with the popular single dad storyline.  I get it, and again I’m glad to see a positive portrayal of a gay single parent.  Sexual orientation has nothing to do with anyone’s parenting skills, and it’s about time another sitcom followed the lead of the extremely popular Modern Family in which two gay men lovingly raise an adopted daughter.

I just wish the straight spouse wasn’t vilified.  Many of us have gone through absolutely dreadful experiences, especially with divorces involving children.  In some circumstances when the gay half of these mixed orientation marriages comes out of the closet, they find themselves eager to re-live the years they lost.  Some regress so strongly, they quickly forget about the responsibilities of parenting altogether.  Others might fight viciously for full custody when they were the ones who lied, cheated and may have even exposed their spouses to STD’s including HIV.

Sean Saves the World is extremely formulaic and over uses canned laughter throughout. Hayes is a likable actor with great comic timing, physical comedy and intensity.  The writing is nowhere near the level of Will and Grace the long-running hit that made his career.  Chances is are, Sean Saves the World won’t make it a season as it scored a 43% on Metacritic and has had disappointing ratings. Despite its name, a television sitcom isn’t going to change the world.  I just wish instead of showing a warped, biased view of a mixed orientation marriage they might have made a show about a gay parent in a loving relationship, or at least made his ex-wife an actual character on the show.

I can’t help but think of the fictional Jill holding her newborn daughter and hearing the following words from her new husband, “I’m gay.” Instead of raising her child with a man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with, she is going to have to raise her with the part-time help of the self-admitted “fun weekend dad.”  Most of us don’t immediately bounce back after finding out our marriages were fraudulent. Many straight spouses continue to have a strained if not openly combative relationship with their former partners, and a few are flat out abandoned.   Maybe the show will turn around and become a huge hit, but if it does I would love to see more equitable treatment of one of the few straight spouses on television.  Reality doesn’t make for a fun wacky sitcom I guess.

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Life After Divorce – Do you feel Worthy of Love?

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Broken Glass at Work-6 (Photo credit: akeg)

As in all my blog posts, I have changed a few details and left some things vague to protect the identity of others.  If you think I’m blogging about you, I’m probably not!  There is a lot to my personal life that I don’t share on this blog or with anyone.  I’ll just let that be a mystery to everyone but me.

A man I was casually dating made a comment that stuck in my brain a few months ago.  He is dealing with his own major breakup, one that I suspect also has elements of fraud.  He lamented that one of his other lovers might be falling in love with him to which I responded, “Well you have nothing to worry about with me, I’m not.” and then he bemoaned “Why not?  Am I not loveable?” and I thought, “No it’s because you have multiple lovers, why would I bother investing in you.”  I knew enough to not get too attached to him, but my heart broke a bit for both of us when he said it.

His comment haunted me.  Not because I was really in love with him, but because on a very primal level I feel that way about myself.  Even though I don’t want to admit it, and I try to suppress it, I still feel – I am not worthy of love.  My actions only feed the beast of self-doubt and insecurity.  For whatever reason since leaving my husband, I have fallen into a pattern of dating men who aren’t really there.

Most of my partners are deeply in love with someone else, and it’s extremely painful to go through this again and again. It just supports my fears of not being good enough, maybe if I was younger, taller, thinner, made more money, had a more traditional job, didn’t write this blog, lived in a better neighborhood….someone would cling to the hope that I might return their devotion. I almost feel like these women have something magical about them that makes men become obsessed, or maybe they are masters of manipulation.  It doesn’t really matter, as I seem to have the opposite qualities.

There was the intellectual who secretly pined away for the woman who broke up his marriage.  He was beyond emotionally distant with me and I found out the truth through basic cyber sleuthing.  Then there was the man I met online who was also a straight spouse, who was still madly in love with his now openly lesbian wife.  He basically vanished after an intense date with me.  Another man who cursed his cruel and manipulative former spouse yet also openly worshiped and praised her for her beauty.  Even during my most intense post-divorce affair, my boyfriend would openly talk about a woman who had dropped him unceremoniously.  I resembled her so much we could have been sisters, yet she was the one who still had his heart.

In all of these relationships, I am never enough.  My body is always used as some sort of band-aid until they can get their true love back, and so far none of them have succeeded. Why do they get so hung up on women they can’t have?  And why do I keep falling into this pattern?

Do I feel that I am not worthy of love?  I think deep down I must.  I try every day to quiet these monsters in my head who reinforce this.  The number one question I’m asked since my breakup with my husband is, “Is he seeing anyone?” and I always respond with “Hell if I know, it’s not my business.”  I honestly don’t want to find out.  One of the tragedies of mixed orientation marriages is that although these splits are quite hard on both spouses, one half deals with a deep betrayal.  The betrayal erodes self-confidence and trust, so we are left somewhat shattered at the end of it.  Many straight spouses have problems forming bonds and relationships post-divorce.  We are so damaged we can’t have anything but superficial connections.

Am I unworthy of a loving relationship?  I don’t think so, but why can’t I make anything work? Why do I waste my time on lost causes?  Why do I run from nearly every possible scenario that might lead to a stability?  How can I lie down next to a person and feel absolutely nothing?  Why do I become fixated on men who don’t really want me?

My relationships aren’t real, they are just slivers of human connection that I build up in my mind.  I’m stuck in this horrible repetition that doesn’t seem to end. Things have improved. At least I know I have a problem with this.  I no longer kid myself that is always the man’s problem.  It’s my problem, as I’m the one wasting time on them.  Over four years and I’m still trapped by these circumstances.  I focus on what I have – amazing friends, a loving family, and my health.  I hope I won’t become one of the permanently single.  I don’t want to live alone for the rest of my life. This will not always be the new normal. I am worthy of a loving relationship.  With the exception of a few demented souls or sociopathic personalities we are all worthy of a loving relationship.  I’ve got to break this cycle…I’m just not sure yet how to do it.  I know I’m broken, I just have no idea how to fix myself.

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How did you not know? – The worst thing to ask a Straight Spouse

Wedding Cake

It’s the one question we all cringe when we hear it.  The one thing that brings more resentment and anger than any other.  The one inquiry that if people stopped and thought about it before they said it, they might not even think to ask.

It starts with the obvious

  • How did you not know he/she was gay?
  • How could you not tell he/she was gay?

The there is the mildly accusatory

  • He/She must have given you signs.
  • Didn’t you always have a suspicion from the start?

To the downright shaming

  • I just don’t understand how a person wouldn’t know their spouse was gay.
  • Didn’t you guys have sex?  How could he/she have sex with you if they were gay?
  • You knew before you married him/her right?

Straight spouses are men and women who end up in a mixed orientation marriage.  For the vast majority of us, we had no idea that our partners were homosexual or had any gay tendencies.  There is a saying in our community.  When our spouses come out of the closet we go into one.  Many straight spouses don’t want to bring added shame and stigma to their kids.  They also don’t want the judgment for something their spouse did.  So most straight spouses don’t openly talk about what happened to them.  It’s estimated that there are about 2 million straight spouses in the United States.  It not that we were all so sexually repressed we didn’t know the difference, we just married liars.  Our sex lives started out normal, and became dysfunctional.

Would anyone think to ask these types of questions to someone who had a spouse who was a serial cheater?  Would they think it was appropriate to blame a person who married a charming and habitual liar?  Would they assume that a person somehow should have seen signs of a well orchestrated cover-up?

Another one we get is along the lines of logic

  • Well I just don’t see why logically he/she would do that
  • That just doesn’t make sense, no one would care if he/she was gay

When anyone uses logic in the same breath as human sexuality I have to laugh.  Did it make any logical sense for Arnold Schwarzenegger to cheat on his beautiful, well-connected wife with the family’s average looking housekeeper?  Did it make sense for Anthony Weiner to repeatedly send explicit text messages and images to women he didn’t know, AFTER he had to resign from congress for the same behavior?  Did it make sense for Rhianna to date Chris Brown again AFTER he brutally beat her?  When it comes to sex and relationships, people act illogically all the time.  Gay men and women who marry straight partners are absolutely desperate to live what they see as a normal and healthy life.  Deep down they hate themselves and will do anything to try to fix what they see as a major flaw.  In most cases, our spouses viewed us as little more than props for their illusion.  They might have cared for us a great deal in their own twisted way, but ultimately we were means to an end.

Sex is relatively easy for most adults to pull off.  If we felt like our lives depended on it, most of us could stomach having sex with just about anyone.  We probably wouldn’t really enjoy ourselves, but if the alternative meant losing everything we held near and dear to our hearts, we might be able to find away through it.  That is basically how a lot of our spouses compartmentalized sex in our marriages.  As harsh as it may seem, most of our partners admit to fantasy, imagery and role-playing in order to have sex with their straight spouses.  The entire time they really wished they were with a same-sex partner.  For some of us, our partners could only pull off the charade for so long until our marriages basically became celibate.  Some used excuses such as past sexual trauma, erectile dysfunction or lowered hormones.   Meanwhile most if not all of these closeted gay men and women were actually having some type of homosexual sex outside of the marriage.

What is even worse is the assumption that sexual orientation is always so obvious.  Not every gay man speaks with a lisp, swishes when he walks, or spends an inordinate time on his appearance.  Not every gay woman dresses in a masculine way, has a short mannish haircut or refuses to wear makeup.  In fact, very few gay men and women act like a two-dimensional stereotype. There are many shades in the sexual orientation rainbow.  For a lot of straight spouses, our partners would appear heterosexual to most people.

When my ex-husband officially came out of the closet, even his close friends were in a state of disbelief.  Some even thought I may have started gay rumors to slander him.  My ex was notorious for leaving our apartment in shabby clothing, cheap shoes and looking generally disheveled.  He also aggressively pursued me and had multiple ex-girlfriends.  His last was a long-term relationship with a stunningly attractive Asian woman.   I didn’t know until I was many years into the marriage that he had sexual dysfunction or lack of sex in all of his previous relationships.  I didn’t know until after our divorce that he probably had same-sex relationships or at least homosexual sex long before I met him.  My case is typical, not exceptional.  Most straight spouses really do have no sign that their partners are living a secret life.  Much like the spouse of a philanderer is often the last to know that their spouse has had multiple affairs outside the marriage.

Ultimately people want order and rules in life.  They want to believe that bad things don’t happen to people without a reason.  They also want to think that somehow if they were in a terrible situation they would figure out a way to get out of it.  Well two-year olds sometimes get cancer while a few horrible people live well in their nineties.  The wealthy are sometime the nastiest most undeserving people, while some with very little have no limits for love and compassion.  Bad things sometimes happen to good people.   A wife or husband might be betrayed by the person they most adore.  I know these concepts might seem fairly obvious but I honestly wish more would think of them before asking:

How did you not know?

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