My world crashed around me. 

The rug was pulled out.      

Trust evaporated. 

I thought my life was over.

    These are familiar messages on this blog, desperate cries for help from straight spouses whose mates have revealed that they are gay.  It seems like the worst possible news, especially when the revelation is abrupt and unexpected.

    To everyone’s surprise, the world does not actually end.  Both partners begin their progression through stages of recovery that are relatively predictable (described elsewhere on this blog).  There’s no instant cure.  Healing takes time, and sooner or later they wonder if their suffering will ever end and if they can ever be happy again.  The answer to both those questions is a resounding YES.

    Healing and happiness are definitely achievable, but they are not automatic.  Just as physical exercise strengthens our muscles and promotes wellness, mental exercises can change the way we see the world.  The event that seemed like a disaster can actually become the gateway to a better life, a second chance at greater joy.  How does this work?

    The process of healing is dependent upon our ability to change the way we look at experience.  It requires a shift of consciousness to let go of the painful past and move on.  Forgiveness is necessary for complete recovery.  Harboring resentment is, as Pema Chodron teaches, like eating rat poison and then expecting the rat to die.  As Wayne Dyer says, “It isn’t the snakebite that kills you, it’s the venom.”  Lingering anger is like a quiet cancer that destroys the person who carries it.

    Forgiveness is the antidote that is brings personal healing and resolution.  It is the final step in the stages of coping for straight spouses, but it is not a one-shot effort.  It is a process that begins with decision and intention and deepens with practice.  Here are some aids to forgiveness.

  • Change your mind by changing your thoughts.  You have control of your thoughts.  John Milton wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”  Make it a practice to focus on positive affirmations. 
  • Relax as it is.  Change what you can; accept what you can’t change; know the difference.
  • Try to put yourself in your gay mate’s place to understand motivations and actions.  This supports compassion for the offending person. 
  • Separate the individual from the act.  You can reject hurtful actions without hating the actor.  This fosters charity.
  • Make a fresh start.  Drop your story line and stop reliving past dramas.  Be here now.
  • Own up to your role in the drama.  If you inflicted wounds, try to make amends.
  • See this phase of your life as a teacher of lessons you needed to learn.  It is a doorway, not a disaster.  Open to the new opportunity it offers. 

    For straight spouses, a second chance at happiness is a genuine possibility.  Many well known people suffered failure and disappointment before trying again and succeeding.  Harry S. Truman was a middle-aged bankrupt haberdasher before he was elected President of the United States.  Steve Jobs was fired as CEO of Apple Corporation before he turned Pixar around and returned to Apple to guide the company’s starburst of i-everything.  Many straight spouses discover unexpected joy after they adjust to their new reality.  The measure of a successful person is not whether they suffer disappointment, but how they handle it. 

    Healing is possible.  Happiness is a choice.  You are in charge of your future and help is at hand.  Take the next step and walk into that future with confidence.




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