Normally, you might turn to your wife, whose been your life partner, your best friend — well no great surprise this probably isn’t going to work. You can turn to friends, but friends have their own problems and my experience they want to ‘give’ you advice, rather than help you figure out what you want to do. Friends also aren’t likely to have the time or patience to deal with this for the months it’s likely going to take.
That’s a key point – you need to figure out what you want to do yourself. You don’t need advice. You just need help finding your own way. I’m not religious, but some have turned to their church with varying degrees of success,
The reality is you need a trained professional to help you. Someone who has seen this movie before and helped others. That means a trained and experienced therapist.
I know what you’re saying, “I’m not crazy (yet)” and for men, it’s an admission of weakness. But you need help and you need it now. If you’re in a major city, odds are good there is a therapist that specializes in helping the gay community. You will learn soon enough most in the gay community are pretty screwed up (you will join these ranks).
In my own case, I quite literally went to therapists.psychologytoday.com punched in my zip code and found a gay therapist. I was such a chicken shit, I booked the first appointment via email. Therapy may be covered by your medical insurance or you may simply pay it out of pocket. While not terribly inexpensive, you’re buying someone’s else time. If you a ‘cheap bastard’ this is the single point in your life where you’re gonna have to let go. Your health depends on it.
NOTE: Many therapist will offer you a 1x time visit at no charge, this is a good way to see if there is a personality fit.
What to expect in therapy
Therapy is a bit scary at first. You’re sitting a nice living room type setting with someone you’re paying to basically listen to you and ask questions. It took me almost the duration of the first session to get my issue out of the table. You’ll have the same problem. Relax, you’ll get thru this. Remember they are not trying to judge you, give you quick answers or make your life more miserable than it already is. They are there to help you.
The topic of each session is of your own choosing but the therapist will try to guide you in exploring your thoughts by asking you hard questions. Often the real value is the homework you get later thinking about “why did I answer like that”.
The BAD therapist
A therapist is not there to judge you, nor give you off the cuff advice, they’re not going to be a personal friend or adviser. You should look forward to seeing your therapist. If you’re not — that’s a bad sign. Most people actually go thru several therapists before settling on one they like. Yes, you must like your therapist, if you don’t then it’s time to move on. Similarly, if your therapist is trying to tell you what to do, that’s not a good sign either. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to do anything. The pressure will come from you internally.
I was lucky with my first gay therapist, he was a great middle aged guy who I enjoyed talking to and with. The marriage counselor that he recommended for my wife and I was a total bitch, couldn’t stand her, but the in some ways she made me confront the issue with my wife.
Therapist depend on repeat business because they’re running their own small business. So remember that once you’re a patient, they don’t want you to stop coming. You will never find a therapist who says “you’re all cured, no need to come back”. But at some point, there will be diminishing returns from seeing a therapist and you’ll need to stop. Often they will want to ween you from once a week sessions to bi-monthly to monthly. IMHO this is purely milk money. When it’s time to stop, stop. Like in Alice in Wonderland, continue on to the end then stop.
Therapy for other family members
Should your wife seek therapy? How about the kids? Depends. The reality is you’re the one whose f*cked up, not them. If they get screwed up because of what you’ve done, well then they might benefit from some type of therapy. In my case, my wife went to therapy once and found it worthless. My kids are fine, couldn’t have cared less.
You likely are gonna need some help and a therapist is the most neutral way to go. But like all things, there is probably more bad therapists than good ones, so don’t hesitate to shoot one who is not in sync with you.