Key Issues facing a Straight Spouse

• Sexual rejection and damaged sexual self-esteem.

• Questions like "what did I do to cause this" or "am I not masculine/feminine enough"?

• Low self-image and a high level of self-doubt.

• Concern about the children. How will they handle the news? What about the gay influence when they stay with their gay parent?

• Shattered beliefs after living a lie. Hurt over being violated and lied to.

• Confusion about marriage and whether it is worth saving. Fear of having your family torn apart.

• Handling feelings of rage, bitterness, fear, shock, despair, devastation, repulsion, hurt and anger.

• Questions about infidelity.

• Coping with shame, embarrasment, secrecy and a fear of lack of acceptance.

• Dealing with a gay spouse who doesn't want to limit sexual preference.

• Fear of having been exposed to or having contracted sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS.

Things to do and not do

Don't isolate yourself. Your family is in crisis. Seek out a support group or professional help.

Decide what you both can and cannot live with. Some people can look past sexual preference and some can't.

Don't assume your marriage is over. Some straight/gay marriages are happy unions. However, studies show that out of 15% of couples who try to make it work, only 7% last after learning one spouse is gay.

Accept that it takes two to make a marriage. One spouse can't save a marriage alone.

Get checked immediately for sexually transmitted diseases, whether or not your partner admits to any sexual infidelity.

Remember that no one can turn a person gay.

Do take care of yourself as you go through the grieving process. Your marriage as you knew it is over. If you stay married, it will be changed. Try to accept this reality and move on with your lives.

Telling your children depends on their age and understanding. You may need professional guidance to deal with this. It is important to know you are not to blame for this situation.

Don't let the years of deception and the sense of betrayal take away from the good times and the positive memories you had in your marriage.

Refer to “Wendys recovery map” for a personal experience of one straight spouses' journey post disclosure.