Cheryl was married to Joe for 15 years when she stumbled onto evidence of homosexual liaisons on their home computer. Stunned, she couldn’t believe that he had been arranging meetings with various men for months, but a deeper look at his emails and internet history made it undeniable.
Cheryl confronted Joe directly and he seemed almost relieved to admit his secret activities that had gone on for more than four years. His clandestine meetings with other gay men had gone beyond superficial sex and he was deeply involved with another man. For weeks Joe had wrestled with plans to come out to his wife and say that he wanted to leave her. Clues he’d left on the computer were not entirely accidental.
they couldn't recover their marriage, which was irretrievably broken, but she and Joe had a long history together and she still felt tied to him.
Cheryl’s challenge was to make a clean break -- first to grasp the fact that her marriage was over, and
Stories like these are common. It seems particularly difficult for women to let go of their emotional ties after a separation. What does it mean “to let go” anyway? When a gay-straight relationship ends, the best definitions of this stage of recovery come from straight spouses themselves. Here are some suggestions from the Straight Spouse Network, gathered from people who have moved through their
How these definitions might apply to a particular situation depends upon the individuals’ interpretation, but the principles are sound. These definitions point to one conclusion: The only factor we can control is our own mind. Change your mind and you change your life.
Cheryl managed to pick herself up by starting with small adjustments in her daily routines. She painted the walls of her new apartment her favorite color, light sage green. Living in a different neighborhood, she shopped at a new grocery and found a choice coffee shop in easy walking distance. She joined a fitness class and got acquainted with a whole new group. She stopped talking about Joe to her old friends and made a conscious effort to live in the present moment, not looking back. She even adopted a fresh hairstyle and a more casual, comfortable way to dress. In short, Cheryl recreated herself and reconfigured her life as a single woman. She is moving on!
Singer Lena Horne famously said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s how you carry it.” That concept applies perfectly to Cheryl and other straight spouses who have conquered their grief and fears to thrive in a new way. Letting go is the first step.
How can you let go of an intimate partner without blame or hatred? How can a friendship be salvaged from a broken marriage? It isn’t always possible, but it has been done by many who were willing to expend the necessary effort. The Straight Spouse Network released the following description of the process. It can be used as a guide to nurture a healthy relationship with a gay ex after divorce. This is how it looks to let go in a constructive way. To let go doesn't mean to stop caring. It means I can't do it for someone else.
- To let go is not to cut myself off. It's the realization that I don't
- To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural
- To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my
- To let go is not to try to change or blame another. I can only change
- To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
- To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
- To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
- To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to
allow others to effect their own outcomes.
- To let go is not to be protective. It is to permit another to face reality.
- To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
- To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but to search out my own
shortcomings and to correct them.
- To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as
it comes and to cherish the moment.
- To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become what
I dream I can be.
- To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the
- To let go is to fear less and love more.
Adjusting to a new life after an emotional relationship ends is a process that takes time. There is a period of grief, as if after a death. The process must take its full course or it will reappear again later. Reconfiguring your future involves reaching out to new friends, developing new activities, and making many small changes in daily life.
Change your makeup or haircut, rearrange the furniture, try new foods, experiment with different styles of clothing, develop a new interest or hobby. Such small adjustments may improve your mood and overall attitude toward the situation. But the tincture of time is the ultimate healer. Your sense of disruption will eventually fade as the new you emerges.