Straight spouses have a lot to overcome, recovering their emotional balance after discovering that their mates are gay. The stages of recovery are well documented, often followed by advice to forgive, as a final step. The following message about forgiveness was a response to Jacqueline Vaughan's guest post, published recently on this site. It is a wise addition to the usual advice to forgive the gay partner. I offer it with enthusiasm. CG
Thank you for sharing the recent letter in your blog. My heart goes out to all of us who are suffering from the loss of our best friend, spouse, and everything that we thought was real. The pain that follows the shattering revelation (that what we believed was true is in reality a lie) is of a magnitude that is overwhelming to experience and difficult to find solace from.
I would like to share what a counselor told me about moving forward with my life as an individual. I have spent a lot of time examining the 25 years I spent with my husband, and I keep wondering why I didn't know he is gay. I married him at 43 years of age, and was a widow, and I had been married previously to a heterosexual man for about 20 years. Of course, as I look back, there were indications that my new husband was different from my first husband, but I did not know he was gay. He had a son and daughter from his first marriage. I loved him and coped as issues presented themselves. I thought it was life being lived with all its challenges and joys. I do not know why I did not know my husband was gay. The counselor told me that it is time to leave wondering why I didn't know, and begin learning to forgive myself. It is time to appreciate how I coped through the 25 years of life and made a safe loving place for us and our family. I think she is right. I do not need to forgive him - I need to forgive myself. He must forgive himself, and I must forgive myself.
Forgiving myself is a bit different than what we usually hear about forgiveness, I know. It is my strong belief that my husband needs to forgive himself for the deception and lying, and I need to forgive myself for being gullible and open to being fooled. I am working on supporting myself as I grow and learn to be independent. There are successes to celebrate and note. I encourage us all to be as gentle and kind to ourselves as we are to other people. We deserve our own encouragement, admiration, and respect. We are lovable and capable.
There is a saying: "Things generally turn out best for people who make the best of how things turn out." We have the opportunity to grow and heal if we choose to do so. Not easy. Not easy! May we all be open to receive the love and support being poured out on us. Stay focused on kindness to yourself. You are important!