|Couples Therapy Mind/Body Clinical Mastery Brain Science Great Attachment Debate Challenging Cases Trauma Mary Jo Barrett Couples Attachment Theory Clinical Excellence The Future of Psychotherapy Future of Psychotherapy Community of Excellence CE Comments Etienne Wenger David Schnarch Attachment Anxiety Diets Wendy Behary Ethics Men in Therapy Narcissistic Clients Symposium 2012 Mindfulness Linda Bacon Gender Issues Alan Sroufe William Doherty|
|Clinicians Digest Sept/Oct 2008 - Page 4|
When a Spouse Comes Out
The recent media coverage of high-profile cases of husbands being caught in homosexual activities rarely focus on the anguish, anger, grief, and confusion that lies ahead for such couples as they renegotiate their marriage. Amity Pierce Buxton, founder of the Straight Spouse Network, a support group for spouses whose mates have come out, estimates that as many as two million straight spouses--men and women--have found or will find themselves in this situation, which usually dooms the relationship.
How a couple works through the crisis and arrives at some resolution is what matters more than whether the marriage endures, however. In the January American Journal of Family Therapy, Chicago therapist Sophia Treyger and others describe a solution-focused therapy approach, based on a model of grieving and acceptance evocative of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's approach, that helps in this situation. But whatever therapy model is used, couples—especially the straight spouse—have to get through the hurt and bitter feelings.
Therapist Joe Kort of Royal Oak, Michigan, who's worked extensively with gay populations, has seen couples in this circumstance negotiate a variety of new arrangements. Some allow one or both partners to have sexual, romantic, or both kinds of connection outside the marriage. Others allow the gay male spouse to use porn and webcams, but to refrain from meeting others face to face. Still others don't allow for any outside sexual behaviors by the gay partner or the use of porn.
The couples who weather this development best are able eventually to see the crisis as the start of an ongoing process of negotiation about their relationship, not as a death knell or a call to war.