So much to write…

'Fountain Pen' photo (c) 2008, Ryan Scott - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Life has been incredibly busy here.  Not in a bad way, mind you, but so much that my writing has fallen off the planner pages, for the most part.  I have posts to publish about how we as wives relate to our husbands, about how my expectations have been turned upside down (but my husband’s expectations haven’t – yet), and more.  But right now, my brain is full from yesterday’s activities.

I went to NARTH’s annual conference – or rather, a one-day track for the public who aren’t members of NARTH.  The National Association for the Research & Therapy of Homosexuality is having its annual convention right now, and for the first time ever, opened up a day for the public.  I went to learn more about the current modalities and methodologies in therapy for homosexuality, as this is my intended focus within my next degree, but also to represent a ministry we’re involved in to other members of the public.

It was a fabulous day of knowledge-gathering for me – my notebook is crammed, my brain even more-so.  I met amazing people, listened to learned researchers, and heard from hurting families looking for hope.  I drove through a pack of protestors outside the hotel and avoided open confrontation with them inside the hotel, and generally had an extremely tiring but incredibly fulfilling day.  After driving through the protestors and reading a sign that said, “What Would Jesus Do?” I thought, “Jesus would smile, wave, and love you.”  So that’s exactly what I did:  I smiled, waved, and loved them.

The topic of therapy for gays is definitely a hot issue in our society today, but one thing that was made crystal clear is this:  no one is advocating therapy for someone who doesn’t want it.  No one is forcing “change” on anyone who is content in his/her lifestyle and doesn’t want to change their orientation.  Likewise, no one should force someone who WANTS to change to stay the way they are.  I think if we change the topic from sexual orientation to something of a less-hot-topic nature, the issue becomes less clouded.

Imagine, if you will, a group of 100 people, all of whom are at an “overweight” status (based on national benchmarks).  Of that 100 people, 70 of them are either content with their body shape/size/image or don’t care, and are by default, okay with how they look.  30 people, however, are not okay with their body shape/size/image and desire to lose weight.  Without looking at modality of weight loss and whether or not it’s effective long-term in changing behaviour patterns, lifestyles, or anything else, will the 70 who are content FORCE the 30 who are discontent and want to change their lifestyle to continue to be overweight?  How does that bode for self-care, longterm mental health, etc., of those who want to change?   Would protestors block efforts for those who want to be on a weight-reduction program?  Would they picket every Weight Watchers meeting, or post hate-messages on boards with access to Atkins programs?

Obviously, I don’t want to strip the seriousness out of the discussion by taking my metaphor too far.  But you see how, once we remove the emotionality that surrounds the politics of sex, how much more absurd the ‘debate’ seems?  No one is advocating kidnapping members of the LGBT community and forcing them in to therapy against their will.  If you are LGBTQ and have no desire to change and are content in your lifestyle, more power to you!  But for those with an unwanted SSA, the idea that change is possible is one filled with hope.  Much like the 30 people in my metaphor, they want to change.  To tell them that change is impossible, immoral, or wrong absolutely strips them of all hope.

But just because change is possible doesn’t mean it looks the same for everyone.  One of the things that I found encouraging was a therapist-friend’s testimony of change yesterday.  He asserts that his orientation has changed (just like my husband professes), but that his change in orientation also possesses some challenges.  His legitimate needs for non-sexual male-bonding and affirmation are still there – and he said that if doesn’t meet those needs, he feels as though his symptoms of SSA could re-emerge.  This doesn’t mean he’s repressed, as critics will argue, but it means that his legitimate emotional needs are linked to his unwanted SSA.

Some people don’t find a reduction of SSA desires in therapy, but find a much better, healthier understanding of themselves, a sense of boundaries, and are better people overall because of the therapy.  Does that mean that the therapy failed?  No – because no psychological treatment modality of any kind can profess a 100% success rate – ever. I really do believe that change is possible for all motivated individuals, but what that final outcome looks like is different for everyone.  But research has shown that no harm comes to those who seek therapy for sexual orientation – in fact, their overall rates of suicide and depression are less than what they are before and even during treatment.

Back to my point about stripping hope from strugglers – to me, this is one of the cruelest things we could do to each other as people.  People grow, change, and find all sorts of ways to achieve Maslow’s apex of self-actualization.  To tell someone who has an unwanted trait that it’s pointless to try to change and that changing that trait might actually harm them is beyond the pale.  If we say that we love each other and want to support each other, that also means supporting each other as we grow and change – even if the change is something that I personally don’t want.  What kind of a wife would I be if I didn’t support my husband through this and instead allowed my mis-perceptions and prejudices to say, “No, I will not support you while you attempt to change.  You cannot change, you will not change, and I don’t love you enough to stand by while you attempt this”?  I wouldn’t be a wife – I’d be an ex-wife.

The pain is great for strugglers and the spouses who love them – no question.  Our sexual identity is a core-issue and helps to define so much in our personal worldview.  One of the things I gleaned from during yesterday’s presentations, however, is that change is possible, and resources are out there for those who want to change.  My links in the sidebar will reflect new groups who help to facilitate change..

This entry was posted on 061453H Nov 2011 and is filed under Marriage Building, Path to Healing, SSA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

  • Leanne

    Cori, Would you agree in me sharing my husband’s problem with my family was wrong? I NEEDED someone to lean on, it seems that has backfired as I am now in the middle of the tug over me between my parents and my husband. Thanksgiving is coming, and my husband is unwelcomed to come to the family meal that night. I would love to be able to talk with you via email…. I could really use some encouragement. Would it be possible? My email is: leannewill@aol.com.

    I am busy looking for some help for me, as well as my husband, but I KNOW I have to be healthy before I can help him. I just have not seen that broken all out repenting “I am sorry!” his has been more of a “sorry I got caught!”

    sorry for that ramble…. my mind is ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!