Posts Tagged ‘gay husband’


February 1st, 2016 by Carol Grever

    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 elsewhere on this site.  It is a wise addition to the usual advice to forgive the gay partner.  I offer it with enthusiasm.  CG

Dear Carol,

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!



March 6th, 2015 by Carol Grever


Most straight spouses feel unique in their mixed-orientation dilemma, though these mismatched couples can be found everywhere in the world.  During two decades of writing about these relationships, I have received related contacts from Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Thailand, Australia, England, South Africa, in addition to my home country of the United States.  It’s clear that these challenging marriages are a world-wide phenomenon. 

An online article in Quartz by Zheping Huang gave startling statistics about female straight spouses in China.  Until recently, such marriages were not publicly acknowledged, though scholarly estimates number them in the millions.  Zhang Beichuan, a scholar in the field, estimates that China has twenty million male homosexuals and 80% of them will marry a woman.  Eighty percent!  Social and cultural pressure to do so is pervasive. This contrasts strikingly with the estimated 15-20% of American gays who marry. 

Young men in China, gay or straight, are pressured to marry in order to father an heir.  Divorce is out of the question, and the wives are trapped. Female straight spouses in China are dubbed "homowives," short for wives of homosexuals.  The Quartz article focuses on these women’s extreme predicament and their mounting support for gay marriage. Their goal is to remove some of the social pressure for gay men to marry women and to legalize same-sex marriage.  Quoting the article:

“Homowives” and their supporters are getting more vocal about their own situations, and the need for China to become more accepting of homosexuality. Zhang Ziwei, a 27-year-old corporate secretary from Nanchang, southeast China’s Jiangxi Province, who dated a gay man three years ago, now manages a QQ chat group on the topic with more than one hundred members. She is translating two books—My Husband Is Gay and When Your Spouse Comes Out, written by Carol Grever, an American woman who married a gay man—into Chinese.

These women are becoming vocal activists to urge legalization of same-sex marriage.  Though their efforts have not yet come to fruition, it is gratifying to know that my books may be useful in their efforts.

Click the link below to read the whole Quartz article.


July 17th, 2012 by Carol Grever

“I was numb and reeling upon my discovery that my husband of 30 years is gay.  I have three children with him . . .”

“My wife is in love with another woman . . .”

“I ‘outed’ my husband last month, after I discovered a string of emails he had written in response to several gay personal ads. . .”

Every week there are emails like this in my inbox, yesterday one from a woman in South Africa.  Responding to each one, I understand that I’ve been on a mission for more than a decade, ever since my first book was published, to deliver a simple message:  You are not alone and you can overcome this seeming disaster.  Because the Internet provides opportunity to connect worldwide in personal ways, this work remains viable.

My own husband acknowledged that he had “homosexual tendencies” after we had been married for many years.  As his story unfolded, I learned that he had acted on those “tendencies” during most of our marriage.  He left no clues and I suspected nothing, though I had been at risk from his behavior for decades.  I spent months feeling somehow responsible for my husband’s homosexuality.  I felt deficient as a wife, as a woman, and my self-esteem plummeted.  Moreover, I felt really stupid, not to have “gotten it” sooner.  Hoping to salvage our marriage, I shared his closet of secrecy for much too long. 

If I had known then what I know now, I would have realized that he had always been homosexual and that his sexual orientation had nothing to do with me at all.  I wasn’t blind or stupid; I was deceived by his facile lies and hidden truth.  If I had been more knowledgeable at the time, I wouldn’t have blamed myself, nor would I have tried to save my marriage.  Instead, I would have put all that energy into building a new identity and future. 

It was this personal history that launched my writing and informal counseling vocation.  As I struggled through my own confusion, anger, depression, grief, and all the other stages of coping, I kept a journal of my feelings and experiences.  The journal informed my first book, My Husband Is Gay.  The singular purpose of all my books, documentary DVD, Website and blog is to help straight spouses reconfigure their lives in a positive, healthy way and to realize that this one life event need not destroy their future happiness.      

Looking back, I honestly have no regrets.  The entire experience supplied the healing lessons in my books and gave these subsequent years constructive direction and purpose.  My former husband and I are both happier now, both remarried to wonderful men, and both free to be completely authentic.  If my life had not taken this unexpected turn, I would probably not have pursued my life-long dream of being a writer. 

If I have one message to shout to the world, it is this.  Living a lie is hell.  Hiding one’s true identity is a recipe for disaster for all involved, and the longer it takes for the truth to come out, the worse the outcome. 

Sam, a gay man who appears in my documentary, One Gay, One Straight: Complicated Marriages, stressed the imperative for honesty.  He had told his wife that he didn’t love her anymore because he couldn’t make himself say, “I’m gay.”  This lie was more devastating to her than the facts.  When he finally came out to his wife and their son, the fifteen-year-old replied, "It's OK, Dad, I still love you."  Sam concluded that to be open and honest is better for everyone.  I agree. 

Every straight spouse feels unique, but there are millions of us in the world.  Fortunately, there is help at hand on the Internet and in well-researched books and videos.  Though it may feel as if you’re the only person who has ever suffered in this way, remember that others have survived the crisis to eventually thrive in unexpected ways.  My mission to help straight spouses reclaim their self-esteem continues.



October 29th, 2009 by Carol Grever

When my husband came out several years ago, I experienced
all the stages of crisis and coping that I’ve written about in my books and
articles.  I know what you’re going
through!  One theme recurs in my attempts
to help straight spouses recover.  It is the
importance of seeking effective guidance from a professional, competent

Talking through your challenges and inevitable pain is
immensely useful in regaining equilibrium and healing emotional wounds after
your spouse comes out.  Mixed-orientation
families get lost in an emotional storm, in danger of capsizing.  A good navigator can help guide you through
these treacherous seas.

Whether you decide to work with a clinical psychologist, licensed
social worker, or pastor, it’s important to choose a person who is
professionally competent, credentialed, and compatible with your personality
and needs.  It also saves time if your
counselor has experience with the problem you face, specifically the challenges
of mixed-orientation families. Choose wisely!

    What should you look for when selecting a therapist?  Gathered from extensive interviews with
people who have experienced counseling, here are nine qualities shared by the
best professionals.  Consider their
advice when engaging a suitable counselor to steer you from crisis to calm.

1.     Flexible.  Rather than applying a single, rigid formula
or pushing “right answers,” the counselor first listens deeply to assess
individual symptoms and needs.  There is
no one-size-fits-all attitude.  Good
therapists offer a whole tool kit of techniques and approaches to create balanced

2.     Unbiased.  Effective therapists do not bring prejudice
into their work.  They feel no intolerance
toward homosexuality and they do not encourage gay-bashing in conversations
with family members.  They maintain an
open, unbiased mind. 

3.     Takes a broad view.  Though
the focus is your straight spouse crisis, a good counselor brings up related practical
issues like your safety, housing, and health care.  Children’s needs are considered in light of your
new reality.  What pressures are evident
from religion, extended family, your social network?  Are there serious underlying personal issues
that need attention, like fear, guilt, shame or anger?  All of this is examined.

4.     Explores other resources.  An
effective therapist calls attention to sources of help already at hand.  How can you use available resources to best
advantage?   Whom can you trust and talk
with in your family, your circle of friends? 
Finding a confidant or keeping a journal as you work through decisions can
be extremely useful as you chart a new course. 
How can you help yourself, be proactive?

5.     Caring and trustworthy.  Effective counselors demonstrate empathy,
patience, and genuine concern for clients. 
Listening carefully and without judgment, they remember what you’ve told
them in previous conversations and put it into context.  They offer you a safe space to say what you
haven’t said or couldn’t say before—and they help you make sense of it all. Trust
grows from this fertile ground.

6.     Qualified and experienced.  Your
best therapist will be professionally educated and experienced with similar
cases, therefore knowledgeable of typical patterns.  Such counselors help clients process each
stage of straight spouse recovery and they know when to back off and when to nudge
clients onward.

7.     Realistic.  It will take time to
achieve complete personal stability and healing.  Don’t expect immediate miracles or a magic
pill to bring instant results.  Look for
a therapist who is judicious in recommending medication that simply dulls
emotional pain.  Be wary of one who
rushes to a pre-conceived solution.  A
hard look at your own role in creating ongoing emotional pain may be part of
the eventual resolution.  You should be
aware that even after successful therapy, it is normal for grief or anger to be
triggered occasionally--even years afterward. 
That is to be expected.

8.    Encourages wellness.  Each
session ends with genuine encouragement and hope.  Good counselors know their clients are
fragile and they bolster them with comforting assurance.  Believing that you’ll survive and thrive has
a positive influence on outcome.  “I’m
going to be okay” is a powerful mantra, crucial to eventual recovery.

9.  Celebrates healing.  Ethical therapists work themselves out of the job, urging clients in positive ways to get past their obstacles and to move on to greater Happiness.  The most trusted and successful counselors celebrate their own success and that of their clients.

    No one has a perfect life; everyone has some burden to
bear.  One of the great gifts of working
with competent counselors is their assurance that you are not alone and that your emotional challenge is not unique.  Just knowing that others have felt the same
way brings comfort.  It is also reassuring
to learn that others have survived the straight spouse crisis and have moved
through it to greater serenity. 

    Whether you choose to work with a professional counselor or
therapist is up to you.  But people who
make that decision discover valuable tools and guidance to nourish and
integrate body, mind, and spirit and to regain contentment.