Saturday, February 14, 2015


 FEBRUARY 2015     Volume 15, Issue 161

Bonnie’s Mantras:

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This was a powerful Valentine's Day message that appeared in 2011 in my February newsletter. It is still so relevant today that I wanted to share it again--with love!


Each year this issue of my newsletter comes out on the heels of Valentine’s Day, the ultimate annual reminder of how hard you can keep trying to make crumbs into a cake that never quite seem to “stick” together.

It’s impossible to escape the reminders that loom largely in your face--or in the case of all of those heart balloons--over your head. You can turn off the television and radio to avoid the Hallmark commercials, but as soon as you walk into the market, the first five rows of display tables are filled with hearts of chocolate and bouquets of roses.

To many of our women, this is a painful holiday. For those still in a marriage, your husband sometimes does his “husbandly” Valentine duty of bringing home a card with little xxxxx’s and ooooo’s or expressing his appreciation of you by giving you a box of candy--even though he keeps telling you how “unappealing” you are to him because of your weight. On this sacred day, he lets that comment pass as he shoves the chocolates at you encouraging you to enjoy them as a way of saying, “Don’t expect more.” Yep, some sweets for the sweet. It doesn’t mean he’s going to make love to you or make your feel beautiful—but hey, crumbs are still crumbs. By the way, on a personal note—how many crumbs does it take to make a cake? How about a slice of cake? I haven’t figured that one out yet.

For those women whose marriages have ended this year, your first Valentine’s Day is usually the worst—which is the good news. In the future, you will feel better once your emotions sort out the reality from the fiction in your marriage. At least those moments of frustrations of wondering why your husband couldn't love you the way you needed to be loved on that special day of romance for couples will be better understood. The other bonus is that you won’t have to feel frustrated and once again disappointed after making the day such a special one only to end up with his recurring headache, toothache, backache, or inability to “perform” due to….oh yeah—stress.  

One of the ways that I keep trying to hit home with our ladies is to make Valentine’s Day a new tradition of loving YOU. Unless you can learn to love yourself, trust me, it will be impossible to love someone else—at least in a healthy way. I know that may sound funny, but trust me—it’s true.

When I was younger, I had a distorted image of what marriage was about. I believed that if you loved someone with all your heart and soul, you would live happily ever after forever and ever. Amen. I guess that meant that I had to work hard every day waking up and figuring out what I could do to have my husband keep loving me the way I loved him. Sadly, many of us from the baby boomer generation were socialized that way not realizing that marriage needed to be a two way street. Do whatever it takes to make your man happy. Those were the messages we kept hearing over and over again.

We found ourselves in marriages that weren’t fulfilling because no matter how hard we worked, we were running in circles. It was sort of like running around that Valentine heart. You’d move up the curve of one side but within a short amount of time you’d come sliding down the other side. Then you try climbing that slope again only to be bounced back down. In other words, even if you get to the top, don’t plan to stay there very long. And the climb down—or rather the fall—is a long and slippery one for sure.

And yes—we got tired—oh so tired—of the excuses leading to the accusations:

ü  Valentine’s Day is for young people

ü  Valentine’s Day is for young lovers

ü  Valentine’s Day is for newly weds

Which all translate into one real meaning of what your gay husband is thinking--

Why are you always trying to think of a reason to have sex?

Here’s the funny thing—as much as you are dreading Valentine’s Day, so is your gay husband. Remember that song 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon? You know the one that says, “Get off the bus, Gus. Make a new plan, Stan. No need to be coy, Roy.” Yep, for your gay husband, it’s 50 Ways to Say No to Your Wife. It could include lyrics like:
“I’ve got a new pain, Jane. I have too much stress, Bess. You’re much too large, Marge. I need some air, Clair. My tooth does hurt, Gert. There’s a pain in my head, Peg.”
Yep, I bet I could rewrite that song in a flash. Sadly, so could all of you.

So, to my weary women warriors fighting that hopeless battle, gather your strength for the fight ahead of learning to love yourself most of all. You see, I’ve learned in life and through enough hard knocks and lessons that when you love yourself first, you’ll never be disappointed. Why? Because you won’t depend on others to love you in a way that can be disappointing and defeating. Even when you are disappointed, you love yourself enough to analyze the situation and do something meaningful for you. You don’t personalize the rejection—you realize YOU are not the problem—your partner is.

Remember, if you don’t learn how to love yourself, you’ll be doomed to repeat your legacy over and over again. It may not be with a gay man, but it will be with some man who isn’t worthy of your time or attention. Don’t forget—there are lots of unsavory predators out there in the straight world. Some of you have told me all about them—well, actually I found my own collection of them for a number of years as well!
Happy Valentine’s Day to my ladies. Better days are ahead! Promise!


Couples in America get divorced every day. Nearly 50% of all marriages in end divorce--and I mean STRAIGHT marriages. Many of us hear from well-meaning friends and family members, "Why aren't you over it? Why can't you get past it? He was gay, so move on." Although these are "well-meaning" comments--I think they are--they are made without understanding why our situation is different. And for that reason, people tend to judge us as being, "weak," "victims," or "over-dramatic."

There is a good reason why these relationships don't have more happier "after-endings." It's not about a "divorce." I was divorced from a straight husband before my gay husband. It was not a good marriage in many ways, but it was totally different than my marriage to my gay husband. I would like to explain the difference to you. 

Most of the women I have worked with through the years who had gay husbands--including me--have been stripped down as women. Our husbands have been emotionally abusive, in some cases physically abusive (out of their frustration),  "gaylighting" them (making them think they are crazy when they find gay porno, gay texts, etc.), or "controlling." Sometimes it's a combination of all of these traits.

I have heard straight men talk about being "emasculated" by their wives and how it hurts. In the same way, women feel "de-feminized." Their sexuality in almost all cases has been stamped out away one layer at a time even though they had normal sexual needs. They become sexually paralyzed believing they are failures in bed. They are BLAMED for the lack of sex by their husbands in some of the cruelest ways. They say they don't want to make love to you because you are too "fat," "sloppy," "smelly,"
 "a nymphomaniac," "boring in bed, " "a lousy lay," and every other personally hurtful word that can demean your womanhood.  When asked why he is rejecting you, he tells you that you're crazy and imagining it or you are too needy. In time, you start believing him and stop asking for what is rightfully yours.

People who haven't been in our shoes may tell you they would never stay in a marriage that was like ours or they were smart enough to never allow that happen to happen to them. I heard that comment many times which used to make me feel even more defeated. But let's be for real. Take someone who was inexperienced or young when she got married and this was her first serious relationship and sexual experience. The marriage to her gay husband was the only marriage she had. It's easy to see how inexperienced people can get fooled into believing they are at fault. Add to this the confusion or lack of knowledge to so many about this topic, and you'll get a better understanding as to why so many women go deeper into the closet than their husbands ever did.

I accept the "fact" and always have and stated for the record that gay people are still discriminated against which makes it so hard for gay men to come out. My heart goes out to many of the men living a double life because they, too, are in pain. BUT--and I say BUT--take a look at it from the woman's side. People view her as "stupid" because how could she not know? There is a big social stigma against woman who have been married to gay men. In some cases, people still believe a man wasn't gay when he married you; how did he become gay after he married you? You must have failed as a wife.  Since in so many cases the men are NOT honest with their wives about being gay or use confusing words like "curious, a-sexual, bisexual etc," the woman internalizes that the problems that crop up 10, 20, 30, or 40 years later are her fault.

What about women who work to get healed and now want to start new relationships? It takes so long to start believing in themselves again. They wonder how much of their marriage was real vs. their own misconception. Can they trust their instincts again? The trust issue was the worst for me. It took me years to trust my boyfriend because every time he said something that "sounded" like my gay ex as to why he was late or held up, it brought back doubts from that marriage. When some women start new relationships and reveal their exes were gay, the guy says he can't handle it. He's afraid he'll be exposed to STD's no matter how much you assure him that you are clean because you've been tested. Boom--one more step into the closet for us. And talking about being tested, do you know how traumatizing it is for a woman to get an STD test? She is 40, 50, or 60 years old and has never been unfaithful in her marriage. Don't you think there is a sense of shame for women when we go through this trauma? What about the days she is waiting in anguish to get the test results? Worse, how about when she finds out she has the "gift" that gives for a lifetime? Approximately 20% of women married to gay men have HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, and HPV (pre-cancer from STD's) from their gay husbands who had no conscience about having unprotected sex with men and then showing a moment of guilt or to prove they weren't really gay--with their wives. Do you think it's easy for these women to move on? I don't think so.
More and more professional therapists are now stating that these marriages leave women with post traumatic stress disorder which stops them from moving forward in a healthy way. This means it will take lots of professional help and money to get your life on track again. What happens when you don't have the resources to get "healed"?

Sadly, most straight wives have no idea who they are after these marriages. After years of having their self and sexual esteem stripped away one day at a time, they are not the same person they were before the marriage. They become a new person based on their trauma. My ex-husband used to "shout me down" to "shut me up." So many of these men are very controlling because if they aren't, they fear their secret will come out. And so they control their wives. They criticize everything to make her shut up and stop questioning. They constantly question her ability as a mother since she has been told time and again in so many ways that she is already a failure as a wife. Let me assure you--this changes a woman in so many ways after abuse for so many years.

No one can ever convince me that these marriages aren't more debilitating than other marriages between straight people. Maybe it's because I see the struggle of our women with such beautiful souls who have had their hearts ripped out and their lives torn apart. Maybe it's because as times are changing more people are cheering how brave gay men are to come out without recognizing the damage done to their wives.

Keeping along these lines, I recently blogged about Joel Grey coming out in his later years making front page headlines nationwide. This is what I wrote:

Who Is The Real Hero?

Last week, actor Joel Grey was in the news discussing his life as a gay man. He was in the forefront of the news from USA Today to People Magazine.  People in show business were commending his courage. Of course, he said he didn't like to be "labeled" as "gay," but if he had to pick a word, okay--"gay."

This is another example of how distorted the world is when it comes to straight wives. Why is a gay man who took up decades of our lives considered a hero? Why isn't the straight wife who spent all of these years living her husband's lie but not knowing it applauded for the courage she has? She's the one who lived a life devoted to making her husband happy but failed because he was gay. Did he ever tell her during the marriage why things weren't going as well as they could have been because he was a gay man?

Grey uses the excuse that he grew up in different times when gay was not an option. Okay, I do understand that. But guess what? Plenty of men from his generation grew up the same way, but they didn't marry and bring an unsuspecting woman into the mix. He could have remained a bachelor, but instead chose to marry and have two children. His children are happy that he can live outside of his secret for now because they've known for a while. I wonder how long his wife has known?

Men who come out publicly are not nearly as brave as their wives who wondered through the whole marriage why they couldn't make their husbands happy. They personalized the rejection and just tried harder and harder to make something work that isn't workable. When is the last time you saw a straight wife on the cover of a newspaper or magazine being applauded by the general public for her bravery in enduring this kind of a marriage? Not only is the straight wife victimized by her gay husband by being in a distorted marriage, but then she has to hear how people admire...applaud...cheer for the man when he is ready to come out. Yep, something here is definitely wrong.

Ironically, Joel Grey said his 24 years of marriage were his happiest years. I bet they were. There is nothing like having a straight wife try harder and harder to make your life wonderful while you are living your lie on a daily basis and making her feel as if something is wrong with her because your husband is pissed off from being in a situation that HE created by marrying you. Who is the hero here?

The only time I'll acknowledge that straight wives are being recognized in the way that we deserve is when magazines like People have a cover story about the brave and courageous straight wife who now has to fend for herself as a single mother, lose much of what she had which often means her house and other financial security, and recover from the long-term mental battering from a man who could never love her in the same way a straight man could have. Oh yes--did I mention giving up years where every day she lived with confusion wondering what she did wrong? Yes, we are the champions. We are the heroes. It would be nice to have the media honor us.

Some words from my friend Kathryn Holguin, MFTi, PCCi

I have had the honor of meeting Kathy Holguin in person. Kathy is a family therapist in Orange County, California, who is specializing healing women in relationships with gay husbands. Kathy understands because she was there in her previous marriage to a gay man. Kathy will be a guest on my Straight Wives Talks Show on February 22. She is a guest quarterly on the show. Here is a link to her last show you can put in your browser: 

In Kathy's words......

I’m hoping to bring some encouragement to my fellow straight-wives through the effort of writing this article. For many of us, the discovery that our husbands are gay or, at the very least, attracted to other men, caught most of us by surprise.   If you were not surprised, then you were hoping your worst fear wasn’t going to be proven true.  Let’s face it, we love who we love.  Most of us are unaware of why we love the people we love, many of whom are unworthy of our affection.  And yet… we love them anyway.   For whatever reason, we find ourselves attracted to men who are limited in what they can give back to us. 

To more fully understand ourselves and how we relate to others, I suggest looking at ourselves from an “attachment” perspective. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I am constantly amazed at how relevant our early attachment to our mom or dad plays such a vital role as we live out the story of our love lives.  Can you remember who taught you to ride a bike?  Was it your dad?  Did he run alongside of you encouraging and cheering you on? Did he hold on until you felt confident enough to ride on your own?  Did he see you fall, become overwhelmed with your pain and never allow you to ride a bike again?  Did he give you a bike and leave it up to you to figure out how to ride it on your own?  It seems like these are silly questions, but they speak to the quality of connectedness you felt as a child.  These answers can help unveil why we become “pleasers” or why we have to “avoid” confrontation.  I believe part of our struggle is that we slowly lose our voice in our relationship with our gay husband.  We think that if we just “please” him enough we can somehow save our doomed marriage. Somehow we are at fault and have to figure out “where we went wrong” so we can fix our lives. 

We have the power to redefine ourselves, pick up the broken pieces of our hopes, dreams and desires and create something beautiful from the rubble.  We can get back onto the bike.  Even though it may feel wobbly and scary, we can learn to ride again.  As we understand how we learned to love from our parents, we will more fully understand why we love whom we love. 

To understand secure attachment we need to consider the following:  A child’s feelings are paramount with respect to secure or insecure attachment.  As the child experiences a feeling, the parent recognizes those feelings and welcomes them.  The child feels safe to express his/her feelings fully and in turn learns to feel and deal with his/her emotions.  The parent is able to offer comfort when the child is distressed. The child reacts feeling loved, seen, important, safe, whole.  These feelings create an environment between parent and child fostering trust and respect helping the child to feel secure.

If you grew up in a home where your feelings were not valued, you probably have a difficult time dealing with the intense feelings surfacing during this traumatic time in your life.  Trusting your spouse during this time is impossible, but trusting yourself if just as difficult.  As a young child, if you were ignored, criticized, belittled or marginalized you suffered a form of betrayal.  A child’s feelings are innocent, raw and honest, and when a parent does not value a child’s feelings the child learns that they were are not important.  A parent is supposed to love and protect the child.   Children will defend their parent’s actions even to their own destruction because children believe that a parent is always right.  However, when a parent betrays the trust of a child, trauma is created for the child, plummeting the child into a state of survival.  The child denies their own feelings so they can create a sense of safety and security. The child is thrown into “survival mode”.  A child cannot risk the loss of the parental relationship, so they deny their own feelings, effectively shutting down their perceptions. It is in this “shutting down” process that the child grows up to question their own perceptions causing confusion and mistrust in their own judgment.  This scenario is referred too as Betrayal Trauma. 

When the traumatic people and events surface, there is an opportunity feel and deal with the events that caused so much confusion in childhood.  As an adult, you can begin to ask the question “what about me?”  When this question begins to demand an answer you will known that you are well on your way to finding your voice which ultimately leads to the ability to thaw out emotionally, grieve your losses and move into a life full of satisfaction, joy and healing.

It is my sincere hope that by reading this short article, you will begin to value your experiences both past and present.  Hold them closely and honor your own pain and suffering.  Give yourself the gift of compassion and empathy.  If you are suffering in a marriage, to a man you love, but cannot trust or be married to, your situation is enormous and should be treated with care, empathy and respect.  You deserve to be supported not isolated, championed not shamed, loved not hurt.  Don’t be afraid, you are not alone.

Thank you, Kathy, for those beautiful words.

If you are in the Orange County area of California, Kathy is conducting weekly workshops to help women understand their relationships and how they can get stronger to stop from making the same mistakes. The workshops are free and are held at a church in Westchester, California from 7 p.m. - 8:15 p.m. on Sunday evenings. If you would like to attend, call Kathy at 951-215-6454.

Kathy also does private counseling by Skype or telephone. Feel free to call her to set up an appointment.

Ladies, I wish you all a beautiful Valentine's Day filled with self-love. When you learn to love yourself for who you really are, that's when the true happiness begins!

Love, Bonnie

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