I continued, "If you're not taking care of yourself, do you think that might have an impact on your kids?" She nodded. "What do you think you can do to take care of yourself?"
She came up with a few things, to start, such as confiding in her sister, who she trusts, so that she wouldn't feel so alone with this secret, and making sure she continued to eat well and exercise to keep her body and mind as healthy as possible and maybe, too, it would help her sleep better.
This is simply the beginning of what needs to be explored in such a situation. There are many other questions and concerns that come up such as:
Should I remain sexual with my spouse? Is it safe to? Do I want to?
Should I tell anyone about it? Should I tell our children? If so, what should I say?
I feel like a fool for not figuring this out sooner and have lost trust in my judgement.
What are people going to think?
Did I make my spouse gay because of how I treated him or her? Can I change him or her back to being straight?
I love my spouse and want him or her to be happy.
I feel such hatred for my spouse, I'm so angry at him or her for doing this and being this way.
I told her about an organization called Straight Spouse Network which many of my clients have found to be an important resource for finding answers to questions and finding others who are in a similar situation which is often referred to as a mixed-orientation marriage.
By the end of our session, although she was still worried about the future, she felt calmer and more prepared for facing the next step than she did when we began. We met almost weekly for over a year then continued to meet on a less frequent basis for several years after that until she felt able to cope with her life as it then was and felt that the support she got outside of our sessions was enough for her.
Liz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Sex Therapist. She provides individual and relationship counseling in 3 locations in the metropolitan New York/New Jersey area as well as via telephone and Skype. She specializes in, although is not limited to, working with people with unconventional issues or lifestyles. For more information, see her website.