A recent email from a male straight spouse was critical of my approach to straight spouse recovery, calling it “one-sided” and unnecessary. He suggested that I let my blog go and “get over it.” It was a suggestion worth considering. It also challenged me to evaluate this site that I launched in 2008 with a post titled “Why I Care.”
My stated purpose in that first post was “to explore topics relevant to mixed orientation families and particularly to other straight spouses.” For five years I have tried to stay true to that purpose. But is this work no longer needed? I pondered that for several days and honestly thought about shutting the blog down.
Then I received another email that encouraged continuation of my work. Here is the text of that second message:
It was five years ago that I contacted you after reading your books. My husband of 40+ years told me he is gay and had left me. You encouraged me that, yes, I could get through that terrible time. I had hoped because of our long history we could continue a semblance of a relationship, but it was not to be.
You may not remember our conversation, but I do, distinctly. You said that time would heal many of the wounds that had been inflicted--and you were correct. There were many sleepless nights, days filled with tears, and friendships strained by my grief. It was like someone died. He was the love of my life and I couldn't imagine or take it in that he was "dumping" me.
Well, 5 years have gone by--hard for me to think about it. And I was recently married to a man who also lives in my home town. We met 3 years ago and despite all odds, we have found happiness together. His wife died of cancer about 5 years ago. So we both came to the relationship with some "baggage" that we have had to deal with. Friends and family are happy for us and we are happy for ourselves!
I just wanted to update you on my situation and THANK YOU for your wonderful advice and for writing the books! My mom always said that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and I'd have to say she was right. There were times that I was at the brink of desperation, but now I have come out of the darkness and am a stronger person.
M.I., Colorado, USA
Still another message sealed my decision to keep offering my “one-sided” conviction that people can overcome the sadness of a spouse coming out and, with time and patience, can reconfigure a rewarding new life. Helen, a recovered straight spouse, wrote
When I was a counselor at an Episcopal summer camp, the bishop came to speak to the campers about their direction in life. He brought the term "calling" or "vocation" into my awareness in a way that I had never before considered. He explained that we can find our true "vocation" if we look for the point at which our greatest talent and the world's greatest need intersect.
Since I’m a writer and since I have first-hand knowledge of the journey of a straight spouse, and since there is obvious ongoing need for information about meeting this challenge—I suppose that I am actually engaged in my true vocation by Helen’s definition. On my desk, a small plaque helps me focus:
Let your work be in keeping with your purpose. -–Leonardo da Vinci
After taking into account all the feedback I've received recently, it is my intention to continue my work as long as there is clear need. It is my fervent hope that changing attitudes about gay marriage will reverse the tide of mixed-orientation marriages and there will no longer be any need for this calling, but I’ll continue as long as I am contacted for help by men and women who discover that they are straight spouses.
I respectfully request your comments, negative or positive, on the value of this blog. Thank you!