When I tried to contact other women in my situation four years ago, the main contact spot was a yahoo group: Wivesofgaybihusbands I found them by connecting through Straight Spouse Network.
Because I was so deeply in the closet, I couldn't really get the help I needed. Perhaps that was my fault. Whatever the reason, I could see that so many other wives had been treated horribly, and I had little I could do to console them. I was in such trauma myself that I was only walking in a daze, and help for other wives was impossible. I had a lot to figure out myself.
I also found that many of those wives had been put through hell. The gay men in their lives were many times living double lives, and so many had said, "...but it won't happen again..." And then it did. Over and over forgiving and hopeful wives (along with their children/families) suffered untold hurt when their husbands went back to a boyfriend, or when they had hook-ups with other, sometimes anonymous, men.
Many of the couples were Christians, and the counseling (some from pastors and some from Christian professionals) that they received was that the gay ones had sinned, fallen, or were deceived. Both parties were told by religious counselors to hold to their marriages at all cost. Of course this wasn't ALL the couples, but it was a regular course of thinking that the gay party (sorry) wasn't really GAY, and that a faithful wife would be honored in the long run if she would persevere. (I was personally warned by a Christian counselor that my husband should not "come out." But I was not there to discuss what my husband should do, but to talk about help for ME. I never returned to talk with her again, but I had to pay her $120.00 for the bad advice.)
Other wives suffered in silence as they were abandoned for reasons they didn't even know. Even this week I talked with a woman my age, who in her 20s had married the man she loved, and they had a child. When she was 3 months pregnant with her 2nd baby, and the older one just a toddler, her husband left and never even returned to see the baby. He also never paid support, and this woman was a single parent for the next 25 years, dealing with day-to-day life, as well as issues of her own self-esteem. Her husband died over 10 years ago of AIDS, still never having met his youngest daughter. The pain of this woman, her daughters, and so many like them are hard to heal.
It is no wonder that most former wives of gay men hold grudges against men who behave without scruples and hurt those who have loved and trusted, only to have that love shattered in the wake of selfish behavior. I never want to disregard the spouses - my sisters on this earth - or the families who have gone through this.
Although I am beginning to hear from a few wives here and there, it is mostly the gay spouse who is willing to share their stories. And I know that in the pain of heartache, we all turn to what we know and are comfortable with. For many of us, that is the church, and of those churches, the majority are not gay-affirming. For me to speak up for the gay ones, I'm vocal but in the minority overall. To be a straight spouse and to be gay-affirming, it is even more rare, and I recognize that. I in no way want to discredit the wrong done to others like myself, or to minimize their grief, pain, or any other suffering done to them.
It was, for me, a gradual understanding that reconciled the fact that being gay was not a choice, like I'd been told in church. I think it started years before I knew that Ray was gay, when my friend came out. She was talked badly of, misunderstood, and left out of her social network. I knew she would not choose anything that would cause this. No one would. Although I didn't understand, I knew she didn't choose this "being gay stuff."
It may seem like I'm rambling, but today I heard from a young person, one who is the daughter of some of our conservative, fundamentalist friends. She's been reading this blog, and in her friendly e-mail she said this:
...the things you say on your blog make a lot of sense to me. Theologically I may be in a different place, and to be honest I have no idea right now how to live in both of these worlds, but I'm okay with that. I trust that if I need to figure it out, God will help me, and if I don't, I can still be supportive of my gay brothers and sisters without understanding everything.
What a breath of fresh air! I think it is that EFFORT to understand that we all need, and those of us who have had to deal with it have a lot to say. I'd welcome hearing from other straight wives/spouses, or family members, or friends affected by having someone come out. Is there a point where you understood, and made the choice to be accepting?
So what is a solution? Where can we learn more? Can others offer more insight to help the straight spouse? I'm going to post some resources that have helped me. I'm still healing, too.
Straight Spouse Network
What to do when husbands come out of the closet (a book)
Carol Lynn Pearson's, "Goodbye, I love you."
Sally Whitehead Lowe's, "The Truth Shall Set You Free." (a book) Sally tells her story: a Christian couple dealing with their faith and the truth that the husband is gay.
"When I knew," by Tractenberg.
...and one of the best documentaries I've seen: For the Bible Tells me so.