I’M BACK!! J
Just when I was sure that I was finished my final newsletters last year, life changed. I assure you there was no epiphany that drove my desire to revive this newsletter. I thought I had said everything that needed to be said on this topic—and then some!! Nearly 19 years of newsletters gave me plenty of time to say it all—and then over and over again!
Actually, I was on the trail to retirement from Straight Wives last year. It was my 35th plus years of connecting with women from “discovery to recovery.” It wasn’t always a happy road because my heart was breaking daily from the pain that our women were going through year after year. Each week over the past 20 years, between 10 – 25 women would find me seeking sanity and hope. Well, at least I could offer them sanity. I also offered them no hope. Why no hope? Because I didn’t feel like lying about it. I wasn’t giving any straight woman a thumbs-up on having a gay husband and expecting to live a happy and fulfilling life. There are enough ignorant and misled “specialists” in the form of counselors, coaches, and therapists who can convince your husband that he has a “straight orientation” while he just has a longing for an oral or anal rise from a man because he was sexually abused when he was younger. Sorry—I’m not buying it.
But that’s me—the voice of doubt and gloom. But also—the voice of reason and future happiness. Women do not seek me out because they are happy. If they do, they haven’t read my website, newsletters, or books. They find me when they just can’t keep making excuses for the lack of love and lust in their lives. They are living at best with someone like a “brother” and at worst, an abuser. They know something is off in their marriage. But sadly, due to years of “gaylighting” by their husbands, they are reassured that the problems usually start with themselves instead of the forbidden culprit of GAY.
In 2010, I wrote this little article when I came up with the term “GAYLIGHT.”
In our support chats, hardly a week goes by where someone doesn’t bring up the term, “Gas Lighting.” This is a term taken from the old movie Gas Light from 1944 staring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. Although I never saw the movie until a few weeks ago, I was certainly familiar with the terminology from members of our support group who used it frequently to describe their situations with their gay spouses. After watching it, I realized that this terminology certainly has a connection for many of us.
According to the Internet:
Well, that certainly sums it up for some of us, doesn’t it? I know that I was made to feel “crazy” if I suggested to my husband that maybe…just maybe…he’s….ummmmm… oh yes—“bisexual.” That was the nice way for me to frame it in my own mind back in those days. He would tell me I’m out of my mind and…oh yes…CRAZY. How could I ever think something so horrible and disgusting? Now in the beginning, I felt a big sense of relief. But as time wore on, the relief turned to doubt—and not doubt about HIM—but rather about ME! And once self-doubt starts, it’s a quick progression down that road called “I can’t trust my judgment anymore.” Like the peeling onion, your self-confidence gets peeled down one layer at a time until it shrinks to nothing.
The problem with too many gay husbands is that they have to find a way to protect the lie they are living. Those three little words—and I don’t mean “I love you” but rather “I AM GAY”--are too difficult to say to you—and often to themselves. For them, it is easier to just make you think you are CRAZY when questioning their repeated lies that start to pile up and make little if any sense. How many times have you heard, “Are you out of your mind?” “How could you think such a think?” or “What are you—CRAZY?” With a gay husband, in almost all of our cases we’ve heard these words more than once or twice.
So now I’ve added a new word to my “Bonnie Kaye’s Pocket Dictionary of Gay Husband Lingo” which includes some of those clarifying terms that I’ve made famous like Limbo Men and Straight-Gay Men. Now I am adding the term GAYLIGHTING.
This means: “Your husband’s attempts to make you think that you are losing your mind when in fact you are just finding out his truth.”
Trust me—you’re not crazy, you’re just being “gaylighted.”
I felt the need to post that reminder that all of us have been reminded of too many times throughout our marriages. That may sound redundant, but it does keep repeating itself.
Getting back to my story, in my year of “retirement” from our cause, I never really had a chance to retire. I still received between 10 – 15 letters each week seeking help from new women who are hit with our realities. I am happy to help all of them by sending them information and finding support for them. I sent them my old newsletters, and there were many letters of thanks and appreciation. There were also many requests to get on a newsletter list that wasn’t happening anymore.
I really thought I would run out of things to say after 18 years, and the pressure of coming up with new issues month-in and month-out was a lot. And so I decided I needed a break. And I took one.
Now, a year later, I’m rested and re-nourished. I still have some thoughts inspired by my support members and new women/men coming my way. And so you’ll be hearing from me each quarter with some more thoughts and reminders. We go through so much on our journeys from “discovery to recovery” that sometimes we lose our sense of perspective. We get so “stuck in the muck” during this period that we can’t always process the many different feelings we have. And so I’m here to guide you by confirming your doubts to be truths and reconfirming your instincts.
THE SHAME GAMEIn my early years of my newsletters, I wrote about the “Blame Game.” That included the “If Only” game where you would question yourself endlessly about if only….If only I had been more supportive, if only I weighed less, if only I initiated sex more, if only I wasn’t so prudish in bed, if only, if only…..then my husband wouldn’t be gay. Remember that old game?
Over the years I have realized there is another game we all play. It’s called “The Shame Game.” I can also subtitle it as “The Ashamed Game.” Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a feeling of shame that overtakes most of us when we learn that our husbands are gay.
It takes a while until a wife understands that she has absolutely no part in her husband’s homosexuality or more importantly, the failure of the marriage. As soon as she said, “ I do,” she was being set up for failure. Marrying a gay man is a ticket to disaster in a marriage. I don’t care how nice he is and how not-nice you are. It’s not about nice—it’s about living with a man who can’t be a husband to you in a way that you need him to be because he is gay.
I talk to over 100 gay husbands each year. Most of them say that the marriage was doomed for a long time before the news of his homosexuality came out. How many of your husbands have told me that there were other problems besides gay? Almost all of them. Here are some of the complaints I hear followed by my responses:
1. My wife has a bad body odor. (yes, it’s called WOMAN)
2. Her breath is always sour. (because kissing a woman is repulsive to a gay man)
3. My wife is always suspicious that I am cheating on her. (because you are)
4. My wife is never supportive to me.(she is, but you don’t care about her)
5. She is always depressed. (of course—you’re a gay man acting)
6. She never initiates sex but complains because I don’t do it all of the time. (she is complaining because you DON’T do it most of the time)
7. She’s not adventurous in bed. (she doesn’t want your kind of “adventure” like male sex toys and gay porno.)
8. When I married her, she was 20 pounds thinner. (you didn’t want her then either.)
9. I need my space and she doesn’t understand that. (to go to meet men for sex)
10. She thinks I’m keeping secrets from her because she doesn’t have my passwords. (she is 100% right about that because she’d find your gay stuff.)
And the list goes on.
Sadly, none of these reasons are legitimate. But while you’re living them, you don’t realize that. This is part of a calculated daily plan on the part of your husband to get you off his back—especially when it comes to SEX. That’s the real issue. If only you weren’t so needy—then maybe the marriage could work. But you want something from him that he doesn’t want to give to you. Oh, every now and then he’ll do it to you or for you—but not with you. And that’s the difference.
Almost every man can get an erection and dump the remains somewhere—yes, even deposit it in you when they try hard enough—but they are not doing it because they really want to. They are doing it so you will believe that they are straight. They tell me they fantasize about men and look at gay porno before they do the deed so they can get aroused. Sad to say, it’s not you doing the trick for them. But once they do it a few times—BINGO—you will now be convinced that sex is not a problem—especially for them.
In the beginning, they put some effort into it to create an illusion of straight, but it doesn’t last for long. Too many women have described their experiences in the same way I felt about mine—doing the minimum to create an illusion. I remember when I met my gay husband how frustrating sex was from the beginning. It’s true we were in our mid-20’s, but we were both experienced. It wasn’t my first marriage. I knew what satisfying love making was about. This was back in 1978, and women were just getting liberated about sex. After our first few times together that left me feeling deflated, I tried really nicely to talk about upping the game so to speak. I approached it that every woman was different and had different needs. That’s when he first jumped up and yelled at me, “No woman has ever complained about me before you!!” He claimed to be very “experienced,” but he never mentioned that experience was with men—not women.
That was how the relationship started—with me feeling like a sex ogre because I wasn’t sexually satisfied with an “act of sex.” To prove that it wasn’t me, I went shopping at the bookstore and bought some books that were popular back in those days about women wanting to be sexually satisfied. “See, it’s not only me,” I would say hoping to defend myself. So he tried a little more to be accommodating, but you can tell when someone just doesn’t want to touch you where you want to be touched. It becomes degrading. So many of our women shared that degrading feeling of sexual rejection.
Years later after he came out, he admitted that I was the first woman he had ever been with, so at least he told the truth when he said, “No woman has ever complained before.” There were no other women before to complain. He was so charming, handsome, strong, and funny, so women always gravitated to him envying me for having him. They would tell me how lucky I was to have such a great guy. If only they knew…
What creates the shame for us is the lack of advocacy on the part of our women. While gay men have a cheering squad praising their “bravery” in living their “authentic life,” no medals are pinned on the chests of their wives for enduring years of emotional and sexual abuse and neglect. No one is having parades for us with banners flying high. Instead, we get indignant stares or comments such as, “You didn’t know? I thought everybody knew!!’ or “If he’s gay, how did he have sex with you and father your children?” This is where the shame unfolds—as if we are at fault for either being stupid not to see it or inadequate to “keep him straight.”
To add to this, some of these men throw it in our faces. “If you would have had better sex with me, I wouldn’t have had to look for oral sex with a man.” Or “I didn’t cheat on you just because I let a guy give me a blow job. Or often the families of our gay husbands who “love us” so much that we believed we were their daughters now look at us with accusing eyes thinking their sons weren’t gay when they married us—where did “we” screw up? And trust me, in 95% of our lives, blood is thicker than water when the marriage ends.
Shame is an emotion that is developed over time when you are made to feel inadequate or undeserving of anything better because you are not “good enough.” I think for most of us, this is the case. As the emotional abuse kicks into our marriages and starts knocking us down, the feelings of shame increase. It shakes our internal belief systems no matter how strong you were going into the relationship. The daily “strip down/slap down” breaks us down making us question our whole belief system. As long as our gay husbands can make us feel at fault, they feel safe—and our feeling of shame just increases. We internalize our husbands’ unhappiness and our lack of ability to make them not necessarily to love us—but to want us.
One of the ways our husbands pump up the shame is by telling us “how much they love us.” Yep, they say talk is cheap, but for women who are desperately trying to hang on to any hope at all, the word ‘love” sounds really promising. Somehow, that build-up never quite meets the hurdle of physical intimacy or love making, so once again the “build-up” is a “let down.”
This is where relationship illogic steps in. First, we are being told our husbands love us. Next, we’re told that if there are problems in the marriage—they are “OUR” problems—they don’t have a problem. So they love us, and they don’t have a problem—BUT THEY DON’T WANT TO BE WITH US. It can’t equate except for us to internalize that WE ARE THE PPOBLEM. This is where the shame comes in and sinks us like quick sand. We stop asking because it just hurts too much.
After the marriage ends, you might think that recovery would include ridding ourselves of the shame—but that doesn’t quite happen. Why? Because once people start finding out WHY our marriage ended, more SHAME comes our way.
“Your husband is gay? A lot of people make that up to punish their husband.”
“You didn’t know he was gay? We knew—we thought you didn’t care since everybody knew.”
“If he is gay, why is he getting married to a woman again?”
Ugh. As if we weren’t feeling bad enough to start with, now it’s time to retreat into our own closet—the one abandoned by our husband. Yes, he’s out and about and giving a shout-out while we are retreating into our second wave of shame. We’ve learned that people don’t get it, but it still hurts. It hurts that our experience is minimized while our husbands are being hailed our heroes for their bravery of living their new authentic lives after wasting 10, 15, 25, or 30 years of our lives.
I am still waiting for our medals for bravery and courage. Actually, I’d be happy to settle for a nod of the head of acknowledgement. I don’t need a ribbon or trinket. I just want someone to say—“I get it—and you are a hero!!”
To all of my readers—I do get it. You are all my heroes.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers who have to battle with challenges you face daily. Hold your children tight when you hug them. Feel their love because they genuinely love you.
BONNIE KAYE’S STRAIGHT WIVES TALK SHOW…
In January of 2020, I started back my weekly talk show. This time I was emphasizing some of the struggles women in our network are facing. I will be taking a break from the show after next week until July. You can listen to them any time you like. Here is the link to my past shows:
With lots of love and hope!!