Houston, Texas, March 2 - 4, 2012:
A healing weekend, retreat for the Bonnie Kaye straight spouse network concluded on March 4, 2012 in Houston, Texas. This was a weekend of conversations and discussions, with straight wives bonding on straight spouse awareness issues, and interventions. It was a great experience for straight spouses who were at different stages of their recovery. It was heart warming to know that every one present was on the journey to feeling whole again.
The healing weekend, retreat, held at the South Shore Harbor Resort Conference Center & Spa, began on March 2 and ended on March 4, 2012. The conference was developed by Bonnie Kaye, an international straight spouse counselor whose support network is for people in relationships with, and separated, or divorced from a gay spouse. The network provides a program of international support for all straight spouses.
Bonnie Kaye, founder of the support network, based in Philadelphia, leads twice weekly, online straight spouse support chats. She has authored numerous books on straight spouse awareness. Her most recent publications is ‘Straight Wives Shattered lives, Vol 2,’Bonnie also set the conference agenda, and led the participants in verbalizing their experiences, as they journey through the difficult process of being a straight spouse.
As Bonnie said, ‘Our goal is to get this message out to straight spouses to let them know that “You are not responsible for your husband’s gay orientation. You had no part in creating it, nor could you prevent it from surfacing when it did. Almost all gay husbands love their wives when they get married. They are hoping this love will be strong enough to stop those attractions to men—but it’s not.
In time, their feelings surface or resurface and they need to act on them. Gay is not a choice because if it were, no man who is married would “choose” it. However, honesty to you, the wife, is a choice. The greatest gift a gay husband can give his wife is the truth. As difficult as it is to know this, it is much worse not to know it, and not understand why your marriage is so off track.’
There were straight spouse peer support leaders from different sections of the country in attendance. Bonnie Kaye, founder of the support network and known internationally for her twenty something years of work with straight spouses from all over the world, was there with a couple of other leaders. Bonnie has a weekly computer talk radio show, ‘Straight Wives’ that airs on Blog Talk Radio, Sunday nights at 10pm, EST.
Bonnie's recently published, new edition of Straight Wives, Shattered Lives, Vol. 2. includes the life experience reports from some straight spouses in attendance at the healing weekend, retreat.
Present was Patsy Rae Dawson, a leading Christian, Relationship Counselor, and author of several books including, Marriage: A Taste of Heaven, Vol. II: God’s People Make the Best Lovers. She hails from Amarillo, Texas, and also has a talk radio show, Embarrass the Alligator, that airs on Blog Talk Radio.
In attendance also, was the network’s spokeswoman for immigrant and minority women, Debbie Thomas-Brown, a Nurse with the Veterans Administration. She is the founder of South Florida Connects (SFC), and also has an informative straight spouse awareness website: Connecting The Down Low Clues. The Florida organization mainly helps minority straight spouses in the USA and the Caribbean. The website is available to everyone worldwide, even gay husbands who want to come out to their wives can get support.
Straight wives who hail from different social, educational, and religious segments of the society, and who work in a variety of fields, convened to discuss the critical issues surrounding straight spouse awareness. There were discussions on interventions, and mediation approaches, to enhance the lives of impacted straight spouses and their families.
The women present at the healing weekend, retreat, were a reflection of the wide cross section of the society affected by the mixed orientation marriage phenomenon. They were professional women, some with several degrees, and high paying jobs that required a high level of confidentiality. Naturally there were Nurses and Teachers, Social Workers, and other nurturing professions, generally targeted by gay men, who search for a woman to act as a cover in a marriage. Not surprisingly, Pastors’ wives were not excluded.
The many women present talked about aspects of their mixed orientation marriages that reflected the general problem facing mixed orientation families every where. Finding yourself unknowingly, in a mixed orientation marriage, with a gay spouse, is happening to so many straight spouses. Too many men and women are blindsided with this realization, sometimes several decades into their marriages, after all the pain, disorientation, and confusion, they find out that they are indeed in a relationship with a secretly gay person.
This happens because straight men and women in love, without straight spouse awareness, are easily deceived, by cunning gay spouses, who intend to hide their same sex orientation within the confines of a secure marriage. To be fair, some gay spouses genuinely love their straight spouses, and erroneously though that marriage to a straight person would prevent them from having same sex attraction. This never works, and the straight spouse usually ends up being hurt much more by the deception, even more so than by the fact that the other spouse is gay.
Most people marry with the notion, ‘until death do us part,’ not knowing that they would face so many difficulties in their marriage, most of which they cannot understand, explain, or fix, no matter how genuinely hard they try. Many straight spouses have ended their lives prematurely, as the pressure, anxiety, stress, poor health due to infections, and the disorientation that their gay spouses bring to their lives, became unbearable. Straight spouses everywhere are learning that it is very difficult to fix a marriage, when you do not even have a clue as to how it was broken.
The women gathered in Houston, are becoming expert straight spouses, who at different stages in their straight spouse recovery journey, all understand the many ethical considerations, special risks, financial, and social implications of their mixed orientation marriages. The present social climate allows for interventions and remediation in these difficult situations, but not many straight spouses have the information that creates enough awareness, for them to achieve the results, that will appropriately address their difficult situations.
The commitment of all the straight spouse participants present at the conference, is an indication that straight spouses are becoming, more proactive in seeking help to understand why some gay men marry straight women, and help end their prolonged nightmarish marriages, and codependent relationships. As Bonnie said, “Life was not meant to be this difficult. Period!”
Straight wives have devoted a considerable amount of their lives to fixing marriages that cannot be fixed by them. It is time gay spouses have more consideration for their straight wives and their families. Our global future and our ability to effect positive change, and produce a solid foundation, with a broader understanding of straight spouse issues, can only continue if those who can help, those who have some clout, are prepared to join the dialog of discussing the type of interventions, and remediations that straight spouses deserve.
"We remain encouraged, as we continue the pursuit of our mission, to support straight spouses everywhere. Those who have a bigger voice, are welcome to join the discussion that we believe, will ultimately bring about positive change, in so many lives. Straight spouses should not have to hurt so much, should not have to suffer so much, should not have to give up so much, before true healing can take place" said Debbie.
Straight spouse awareness though new to so many, should become a new area of in-depth social research. The more people understand, the more they will take appropriate action to avoid, improve, or alleviate harmful situations, such as the gay behavior that leads to the straight spouse phenomenon. Life is too short for honest individuals to suffer needlessly through no fault of their own.
This healing weekend, retreat was an important reminder that when people share information, whether it is their hurt, anxiety, pain, suicidal ideations, whatever they are feeling and facing, their insights, or varied learning experiences, they can find help and also help others. The human spirit is resilient, and some of us are made for tough times, tough things, and tough situations like these.
It is time that members of our society learn about the detrimental factors, and also the special considerations, and obligations, associated with mixed orientation marriages. More research on this phenomenon need to be commissioned. Even though society is now more accepting of gay individuals, some people will never leave their closets.
For whatever reason a gay person may have in their head, gay men and women will continue to marry straight men and women, without foreseeing the inevitable destruction that lies ahead. Marriages based on deception and lies cannot survive. The same way that marriages seeped in domestic violence and abuse hurt and kill, marriages made on the ground of such deception cause debilitating illnesses, maim psychologically, and kill the spirit of innocent straight spouses much too frequently.
The statistics are very high, but too many straight spouses are afraid to come forward and seek help, because of many factors, some detrimental to their livelihood, their children, and also their gay spouse. If there were programs set up to provide financial and social support, like there are for domestic violence victims, less straight spouses would suffer as much as they do now.
A Meeting of Many Minds
The recent Houston straight spouse gathering was mainly by members of Bonnie’s chat, and email support group that has been meeting online, some for years depending at what time in their recovery they had found the Bonnie Kaye support group. “We are hoping that the straight spouse philosophy of South Florida Connects, ‘no spouse left behind, straight spouse awareness’, will be considered and adopted by straight spouses and their families and friends everywhere.”
“We are also hoping that members of the business community, private citizens, and representatives of government agencies in the US and abroad, will begin to examine the destructive scope and societal consequences of the straight spouse phenomenon, and join us in helping to fund prevention and remediation programs, that will help change, some of the difficult legal, societal and financial issues raised by straight spouses, who continue to suffer unnecessarily, at the end of deceptive, mixed orientation marriages”, said Debbie of South Florida Connects.
More research is needed to help verify and share, the different approaches, reportedly used successfully by some straight spouses that will help make the transition from marriage to a gay spouse, less traumatic, than what is being reported by so many straight wives.
Participants at the healing weekend, retreat aired their doubts and fears, about how soon changes will come, that will aid straight spouses in the legal process, as so many of them are being victimized by vindictive gay spouses. “It is incomprehensible how a no fault divorce from a gay spouse, and a marriage with no kids, and no property to divide, can cost the straight spouse tens of thousands of dollars.”
“It is also unfathomable how a gay spouse who now lives with his gay partner, who he constantly brought to the marital home, while the wife was clueless, can tie up the court system with motions after motions, trying to get the courts to award him alimony when he never contributed financially to his marriage. Straight spouses need some good lawyers who will volunteer to offer pro bono legal assistance in such exploitative, dangerously deceptive cases.” Reasoned Ms. Brown.
“It is a long, tiring, sometimes debilitating journey during the recovery of a straight spouse. They need understanding, validation, and lots of love. As quoted from straightwives.com, “When a woman learns that she is married to a gay man, her world begins to unravel one strand at a time. At times, it’s hard to function or even breathe. You question over and over how this can be happening. You try to think of dozens of reasons why your suspicions are wrong, throwing yourself into a state of denial.”
“For many women, denial is a way to hang onto something that is no longer within your reach. But once you know, in time you have to deal with it.”
The Bonnie Kaye Support Network meets online, twice weekly, and will introduce you to women who understand every emotion you are going through. Bonnie is always available to answer your questions and give you guidance as you move to your new phase in life. There is also a UK and Australian support group to accommodate the different time zones. There is also email support. You can reach Bonnie to join any of the support groups and sign up for the monthly straight wives support newsletter at bonkaye.aol.com. Visit her website at gayhusbands.com for even more information.
Minority and immigrant straight spouses should also visit southfloridaconnects.com for information, encouragement, and peer support outreach. You can also call the straight spouse hotline at 954-983-9751 and leave a message. A straight spouse peer support specialist will call you, if you request a call back.
As Debbie of South Florida Connects states, “The straight spouse journey to recovery is a tedious one. We want all straight spouses to know that ‘you are not alone’. Help is available for you. Whatever stage of your journey you are at; there is support to help you get through this difficult time.”
“The best thing that you can do is reach out to others who have walked in your shoes. Some are still walking, as it takes longer for some straight spouses than others. It is said that it takes one year of recovery, for every five years of marriage to complete the healing journey. Some of us are build tough to last, so we progress a little faster. You should not have to do it alone. Reach out to others who understand your pain.”
“No spouse should be left behind when there is straight spouse awareness, straight spouse online peer support, and confidential, telephone peer support.”
Debbie Thomas-Brown is a Nurse and Straight Spouse Peer Support Specialist, living in South Florida. She is a native of Jamaica, and offers peer support to immigrant and minority straight spouses.
She can be heard live on the radio co-hosting with Donneth, of the Donneth Show with ‘Community Solutions’ on WAVS 1170am, www.wavs1170.com, discussing straight spouse issues, on Monday nights at 11pm–midnight EST.
Debbie can be reached at southfloridaconnects.com or email her at sfconnects.gmail.com. There is a dedicated phone hotline for straight spouses, who desire phone peer support at: 954-983-9751.