Over 30 years ago, I went through a crisis of heart and home that hurt so deeply, there were times I didn’t know how I would ever get beyond it. It’s an experience I have mostly kept privately to myself for all this time, short of sharing with family, a few friends, and professionals who assisted me then.
I learned that my husband at the time, was gay, and had been having continuous gay affairs through out our marriage. When I learned this definitively, my world as I knew it fell apart. All that was most important to me in mortality and beyond felt crushed and stolen from me. I felt devastated as a woman and profoundly rejected and repudiated as a wife.
For a time, he and I tried to continue our marriage. We went to couple’s therapy, and learned tons of skills, and greater empathy for one another. I did all the things that our totalist, high-demand, conservative, eternal-family promoting church told me to do. Nothing changed the essential fact that the man I was married to did not love nor desire me in the way that other men love and desire women.
Finally, he fell in love with another man. I saw his joy, and knew there was nothing more I could do about our marriage. He moved out and left his position as a professor at the church-owned university where he taught and I was a student. With 2 little girls, and while I was a graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy, I divorced him.
Seeking Understanding for Other Women
With all the processing and all the help I sought out for myself those many years ago, my repeated experience was that no one else really “got” what that experience was like for women in the same situation. No one else could really understand what being married to a gay man means for a woman, or how it impacts her self-esteem, her self-efficacy, her personal empowerment or her sense of self - her identity. No one else understood the deep pain, or the deep betrayal and experience of being doubly used and betrayed - first by her gay husband, and second by a church and culture, whose doctrines, beliefs and policies set up the conditions that compel gay men to marry women. And no one I knew at the time, even began to see let alone comprehend, the double bind of self-sacrifice, close to self=betrayal, because of an obligation and commitment to an eternal union that was not reciprocated. This was the deepest pain of all.
Understanding this better myself, and helping colleagues understand this better, in order to help other women going this heart-breaking experience, became the motivation for my graduate research and my first specialty program for women, about the experiences and needs of women divorcing gay men. As I have shared elsewhere, what I learned from my research was published in a peer-reviewed journal, and many colleagues throughout the years have contacted me about it.
Now it’s time to share my personal story and insights from both my own experience and my research with a wider audience. As gay relationships and marriage have now become recognized and legal in the US (which I support), and men are supported and celebrated when they claim this part of themselves, the women whose lives are also affected, have far too little support and understanding.
It’s time to change this.
I recently sat down for a conversation with Gina Colvin, of A Thoughtful Faith podcast. We talked woman to woman, heart to heart about what it is like for a woman to be married and then divorced from a gay man. We talked about my experience, yes; we also talked about other women’s experiences and needs, and the complicated feelings of pain, anger and betrayal women feel going through this deeply personal injury to a woman’s heart, identity, and sense of her worth as a woman. Ultimately, we talked about the healing journey up and through and out of this crisis of heart and home.
Help and Understanding for Women Divorcing Gay Men
If this is your experience, you are not alone. I understand this experience not just from the research I completed and the healing program I developed, but most essentially from having experienced it myself. I am now through it and healed from this deep injury and heartbreak, and have been happily married for over 25 years, to a wonderful man who adores me body and soul, as I am.
If you are a woman married to or divorcing a gay man, I invite you to reach out for help today. You can heal from your experience; you can move beyond the pain, grief, anger and betrayal and all the other complicated feelings you may be feeling. You can regain your self-esteem as a woman, rebuild your life, reclaim your dreams, and find the love of your life; the man who will love you as a woman, body and soul, just as I did.
If this speaks to your heart, I would love to help you. Reach out today.
Debra Brown Gordy, MS MRET is the women’s Energy Psychology therapist & Spiritual Life Coach, & founder of The Sophia Women’s Institute. She specializes in healing the inner child of childhood trauma, relationship coaching & intimacy counseling, & divorce coaching for accomplished, spiritually awakening women.
Through unique Energy Therapy & Spiritual Life Coaching programs, classes, workshops, retreats & Women’s Sacred Practices, she guides clients through the inner healing & transformation they need to heal their hidden blocks to love and happiness, and reclaim their sovereign Feminine Souls & the joyful and fulfilling lives, marriages and work in the world they deeply Desire.
Debra serves clients worldwide. To learn more, visit The Sophia Women’s Institute.