THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Ellen has been living with the horror of truth for ten months. She
experiences the pain and despair every moment of every day. At least, it
feels like that. It's been almost a year since she started picking up on
peculiar things happening. Geoff had never had so many excuses for staying
late at work, and their communication and intimacy had really suffered. He
just seemed so distant. When she finally had the nerve to bring it up, her
strong stable husband folded into a confession of homosexual tendencies and
She remembers that day with mixed emotions: shock and fury at one extreme
and compassion and empathy on the other. Ellen felt angry and betrayed,
but as the tears came for both she and her husband, she was also able to
This mixture of emotions -- some loving, some hating -- have continued over
the months. "Geoff, I understand because I can see how difficult this is
for you. Let's work together on this. Just show me, tell me what to do."
This was expressed in a mutually tender moment. The following night, after
a dinner alone with the kids because Geoff was late, Ellen felt resentful
of yesterday's intimacies. "How could I have given him a chance. He is no
more sincere about changing than ever before."
To take steps forward in life, all people, when faced with problems, have
to take a close look at alternatives and make a decision. Women who are
involved with a man struggling with homosexuality are faced with more than
their share of difficult decisions. What do I do if he won't change?
Should we, or should I, get counseling? What about his obligations to the
family and to our finances? How long do I wait for him to talk to me and
rebuild our communication? What healing should I demand he go through
before coming back home?
The trap for many women involved with a man struggling with homosexuality
is the inability to stick with a personal decision because the emotional
base from which they are making that decision is constantly vacillating. A
wife, out of her discouragement and hurt, is ready to make a crucial
decision effecting the marriage. Suddenly her spouse behaves in a way to
give her enough hope to change her mind.
Ellen had decided to take the kids to her mother's in a neighbouring state
for the summer months. Maybe the separation would be helpful. She planned
to tell Geoff when he got home from work that night. He came home a half
hour early with flowers. No promises. No explanations. But it was enough
for Ellen to put the decision to leave town off for a week. It was a
start, wasn't it? After all, in their "good years" he used to bring
flowers home. She was encouraged that maybe he was finally coming around.
Even more fundamental for many women than sticking to a decision is
actually making one. Deciding what they want out of life and, more
specifically, what they want from their relationships, is frightening.
There seem to be three primary reasons why it is so difficult to see a
possible positive change, but not be able to take the steps to get there.
A subtle but powerful force depleting women of the ability to make a choice
is the simple fact that they often have never done it. A person's
upbringing, when looked at closely, shows signs of being pre-determined.
Little girls play with dolls. Young ladies take home economics. Women get
married and have a family. Most of the decisions in a female's life from
ages one to twenty, are made by parents, and most often by her father. In
a marriage, the husband is ultimately responsible for decisions because he
assumes the weight for the couple's financial planning, family happiness,
and future. The day-to-day decisions and major long-term decisions become
his to make with only minimal input from his spouse. In individual cases,
the pattern of the father, husband, and boyfriend making the decision has
rarely been due to a woman's inability. Many times it has just been
handled that way out of sheer comfort and tradition.
"He's always made the decisions. It's just the way we work together. I
don't want him in the kitchen, and I keep out of the den.
Noting the traditional tendencies, watching the male take charge and the
female wait until a decision is made, can begin the process of easier
decision making. Through awareness, a women can begin to see choices as
A second block to decision making is one common to both men and women. A
history of bad decision making, negatively influences an individual's
confidence in their ability to weigh alternatives and make a choice. If
recent years have been hard or unusually problematic, the results are often
chalked up to bad decisions in the first place. The outcome of the choice
begins to war on the process of making it.
Every time I plan an activity with some time alone for us, something goes
wrong. We get lost on the way to the restaurant and Geoff gets furious, or
the baby-sitter shows up late or not at all. Why do I keep trying? What
is the use of going out on a limb in saying what I really want or giving my
Recognizing this subconscious effect is the first step in stopping the
negative pattern. Fear of failure or fear of making a wrong decision
cannot get the best of us.
The most common barrier to decision making, that leaves many women feeling
helpless and in limbo, is their personal lack of self esteem. It takes a
high degree of confidence to believe you're worthy of fulfilling
relationships and a satisfying life at the risk of another individual's
immediate needs. You leave yourself quite vulnerable every time you say
what you want and what you won't put up with.
I can't tell him specifically when I can't take it any more. When my heart
feels like we're through. I get scared and say, "Geoff, there isn't much
more I can handle." Much more? I'm not handling what we've got now. But
if I say something strong, like, "You go get help, or I'm leaving," I don't
know if I really mean it. I just don't know about that big of a step.
Self assurance is often the missing ingredient in an ability to make
decisions. Knowing yourself and knowing your needs, followed by a strong
self-worth, will give one the premise from which to make decisions.
I want to be happy, I deserve to be involved with people who support me
and together meet mutual emotional needs. I feel like I should be loved.
Husbands are supposed to do that. I can do that back. I love Geoff. He
says he loves me. But he is not in a position to be as maturely committed
as I am.
Ellen's situation could be solved in a couple ways, but, regardless, it's
going to take a decision. If no decision is made, she will spend a lot of
time in the tunnel, only rarely seeing the light at the end.
As a partner in a relationship, we need to look for the traditional traps
that the traditional male-female roles (in some areas) put us in. We may
carry them on, but they need a close analysis at some point. Are our fears
of being rejected or of failing keeping us paralysed, unable to move
forward? And most importantly, we need to examine our self-esteem and
confidence. Would I change the way my life is going if I weren't so
frightened and unsure of myself? As an individual we need to look at the
fears we may have around our ability to make good decisions.
For further information about homosexuality or about other areas of sexual
brokenness, please contact:
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
This article is reprinted by permission from
P O Box 33039
Seattle WA 98133-0039
MINISTRY TO HOMOSEXUALS
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