first takes the form of having somewhere, ANYwhere to finally be able to talk about it openly. When Spouses are doing very well as a family, and consider themselves more like mentors in the group, they move on over to the Graduates list.
Everyone signs an informed consent paper that includes an agreement to keep things confidential. It is important to keep the sharing they heard or who was there to themselves.
The group is always open to new members.
Besides an event based reason (partner's transition) to have in common, this group is screened and selected to also have one other very special thing in common-being supportive to their transitioning mate. Group members have thanked me for screening for supportive spouses to provide something other than all the negative stories easily found on the internet, Amanita (Freema Agyeman) in Sense8, the exception.
A lot of details go into whether to be of support going forward and how. For the ones that do-and are local enough-and find Spouses' Group, they discover it is essential to have their own peeps to share the way through, to swap stories from funny to tearful, for some -to go get a coffee together every week, for all-to no longer be alone.
Spouses get really brave and sometimes let the others in during really hard times- like a big ole gender dysphoria crash in the house and the spouse needing a phone friend late at night. Ideas and referrals are shared for the usefulness of both the spouses and their transgender partners. It is the nature of these particular spouses (and me too) to care about the mates-I make sure Spouses remember to care for themselves too.
I like to encourage not just all that but to also bring the focus back to the Spouses, "what do YOU need this week?" "How have YOU changed?" This journey is a transition for both and getting the whole family through (many have kids from babies to beyond college age) is more likely to happen with a community in which you can all be yourselves.
I feel grateful for that first spouse that visited me in session and asked me to start this group back in 2016. It has been a real honor and refreshing change to have these often very high functioning couples in my office. What a great community to launch!
Let me know if you want some encouragement to launch a support group in your city to assist spouses and partners. If you feel moved and able to do so safely, share this post, or site, and write your comments or questions below. Or send them to me at the "connect with Shannon" button found on all the website's pages.
In Portland, Oregon, every week the support group I founded and lead, Spouses' Group for the cisgender spouse (or unmarried life partner) of partners who are trans or non binary, dissolves the walls of isolation for new and old members as the dozens of members step up for each other in and out of the group. For most Spouses Group
Shannon Batts, Relationship Gardener, Portland, Oregon.