Monday, March 8, 2010

Carol Grever asks: What worked for you?

By way of Straight Spouse Network blog, Carol Grever is asking for help regarding what has worked in counseling for straight spouses. If you have input, please contact her.

I have copied the comments that I left, and perhaps others will share what helped for them.

Hi Carol,

Within one week of my husband's disclosure that he was gay, we went together to a counselor that he had talked with, but briefly. She asked me 3 questions:
1-How do you feel about being here?
2-Do you believe that Ray could be "healed" or changed if he prayed more, or harder?
3-What do you think is the best long-term outcome for the future?

At the time, I didn't feel like this counselor was the right one for me, and mostly it was because I knew she was a lesbian woman. I was unprepared to deal with this at that time, although I don't think it would bother me now. In my darkest hours, I would repeat those three questions, asking myself if I believed my husband could have tried anything else, or tried any harder than he did - and I knew he could not change. I WANTED him to change, I PRAYED that God would intervene, but honestly, I knew we were stuck with the outcome we had.
That led me to the 3rd question, and I imagined that we could never be enemies. I wanted us to remain friends, close, and respecting and honoring the 30 years we'd spent together raising our family, in ministry, and with me as a happy wife in a happy family. I was understanding as we went along that my husband had been alone, hurting, all those years, and that he hid it VERY WELL. I sympathized with that situation, since I was so very alone once I knew he was gay. I could do nothing else besides understand from his point of view.

The next counselor I tried was suggested to me by a lawyer. I saw her, she listened to me, and then she evaluated the situation: "It sounds like you two love one another, and perhaps you could allow one another to have outside sexual relationships, staying married." I sat quietly and listend, got upset, paid my bill, and left. To me, to have a sexual relationship with someone I didn't love, was something I couldn't accept. And I thought that if my husband did, I would collapse. I rejected that counselor and her "solution" to my problem.

3rd time is the charm, right? Not so much! The 3rd counselor, who I saw on the advice of my family doctor, was familiar with my mom AND my husband (I didn't know she would know him.) When I told her, "I'm falling apart because my husband is gay, and I don't know how to cope..." this person spent the rest of MY HOUR mostly telling me of her relative who came out, left his wife, then regretted it. She didn't think my husband should come out (contrary to the recommendations of the American Psychological Assn.) and I believe she was wrong to reveal anything about her relative at ALL! Again, I paid my bill and never went back.

I was losing hope, not knowing where to get help, and finally I accidentally came across someone who helped me. This PROFESSIONAL spoke to me on the phone, and I realized she knew what to do: Accept that my husband was gay, that he wanted to be honest, that he wanted to come out, and that I was losing everything. She began by meeting with each of us, separately as well as individually, and she built up my hope that I could be okay. She didn't bash our life that we'd had - she treated us both with respect. She recognized that although we loved one another, that we would both be better off if we were no longer married to one another. This counselor guided me, supported me, and helped me navigate at each step along the way. When I was alone and needed to talk, she listened for hours. When my ex had moved away and we were living separately, and I realized he was dating men, (like I thought he wouldn't?) she reminded me that "there will never be another Mrs. [...]" When I cried that I was lonely, she reminded me that I had my children, and how much my husband had loved me, to NOT go with men while we were married. When I thought I could never rebuild my faith, she shared hers. My beliefs changed, were reformed, and it gave me hope for the future. Time and time again, she helped me.

I had to go through 3 counselors before I found one that was right for me. I thank God for Dr. Jane, and I will always thank and respect her, love her, and hold her in the highest esteem.

I'm not sure if this is what you want...but it's my story of the counselor who was my lifesaver. I would be glad to talk with you more if you have questions.

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