After the initial shock of finding out about your spouse's homosexuality, it's important to establish a plan for yourself, your family and a plan for reconciliation with your spouse. God's tells us in Scripture that He wants us to have abundant life and help us fulfill our commitments to one another. He cares deeply about the sanctity of the marital union.
Exercising grace for yourself and others in the face of this trial is a first – and last step. But figuring out the particulars of what you'll need to get you through will look different for everyone. We recommend including the following:
- Educate yourself on the issue of homosexuality. Contact us at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459) for a list of recommended resources.
- Confide in trusted family or friends. Ask for confidentiality. Continue to spell out your physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
- Seek immediate counsel from your pastor and, whenever possible, a licensed Christian counselor. Don't bottle up your suffering. Don't isolate yourself.
- Work with your pastor and counselor to draw up boundaries involving your spouse or parent. These may include matters involving custody / visitation, separation, and financial considerations.
- Discern what to tell your school-age and older children. This will be individualized given the extent of the situation and your own prayerful decisions. The children's age and maturity need also be taken into consideration. Keep it simple.
- Intentionally set aside chunks of time to seek God through prayer and His Word. Those who've walked this path have taken advantage of all six of these steps. Most importantly, however, they've cited their faith in Christ as the source of their strength and healing. Across the board, all mentioned that this trial was a "gift in disguise," something that gave them a depth with Jesus they wouldn't have had otherwise.
Finding a Christian Counselor, Support from Family and Friends
In the wake of disclosure, it's important to seek out help from a licensed Christian psychologist or counselor or a pastor trained in addiction or marital counseling. "Don't let your criteria be, 'I'm going to trust this person because he or she is a good Christian,'' says Glenn Stanton, an expert on marriage at Focus on the Family. "What will be of the most help in the long run will come from those that truly understand what happens in the human heart. Find those with true humility and recognition of their own brokenness (sometimes manifested by feeling inadequate to help)."
Stanton also recommends searching for a counselor by finding a Christian trained in sexual addiction. He says that even if the issue isn't sexual addiction, these counselors often have contacts for those involved in the world of sexual and relational brokenness.
All of us need friends and family to walk alongside us during crisis. The fear leading up to sharing your secret is often the worst feeling … disclosure leads to relief and freedom. Yet who should you trust?
You want to confide in the small circle of folks that know you and your family best. These same individuals may be shocked that this kind of crisis could have happened in your family. They may even say ignorant things at first. Yet these are the people that will share in your joy, pray with you, and weep when you weep. They are necessary part of the journey.
This is another part of facing life with a homosexual spouse, especially if they refuse to seek help.
Pam's children were ages eleven, thirteen, and fifteen when her husband left her for another man. She recalls the first time they ran into him with his partner. "A few months after the divorce was final my children and I saw them in Walmart. I could not bear to see my children standing in line with tears in their eyes. We don't mind seeing him … but not with his partner."
Under Pam's guidance and supervision – and with the help of a Christian counselor – the children decided that they didn't want their father's partner involved in their lives. Every Tuesday evening and every other weekend are spent with just their father.
Each family's limits will look different. Developing a plan, complete with boundaries, is necessary to address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of you, your spouse and your children.