Dear family and friends,
Today is an important day for me. It marks the 16th year since Josh and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple. It also marks 6 years since we had our first viral post, which brought many of you into our lives.
I know that there are a lot of people out there—people very close to me, and people kind of close to me, and even people I have never met—that are worried about me. I’m writing this letter to you.
First of all, I wanted to say thank you for your love and concern. It really does mean a lot to me. I know there are a lot of people out there who are wondering what is going on with the Weed Family. We have certainly been quiet around here (though we plan on changing that—we will be posting more often now that we’ve taken a much needed reprieve while we sorted through some of the personal details of our new circumstances.)
If you’re someone who watches Josh’s Instagram stories, you’ll probably have seen that I pop up every once in a while as if nothing ever changed, as if we didn’t announce in January that we are getting a divorce. You might have noticed me at family home evenings, or our morning breakfasts with the girls, or occasionally dancing around and having fun. I can imagine this is confusing without context.
Lately, I get a lot of people coming up to me with apprehensive looks saying, “So…how are you doing?” Often, I think what they actually want to say is, “What are you guys doing anyway? Have you gotten divorced yet? What is going on with your living arrangement? Are you crazy?”
I’d like to take a little time today to answer some of these questions:
What are you guys doing anyway?
We’re living our life as a family.
Have you gotten divorced yet?
The paperwork has been filed and accepted. Washington state has a 90-day “cooling period,” so even though our paperwork has been filed for months, it won’t be final until the 4th of July. Yes, our divorce will be final on Independence Day. We feel it is both funny and kind of fitting.
What is going on with your living arrangement?
We are still living in the same house we’ve always lived in, but Josh and I have different rooms (and yes, I did get the master suite <winky emoji>) This makes the most sense for our family for many reasons.
- We are STILL a family
- It’s good for the kids
- It’s good for me and Josh because…
- Josh and I are still best friends who don’t hate each other
- Also, I don’t feel like being a single mom
- And basically, we Weeds all love each other, and this was the plan the moment Josh and I realized we were going to end our marriage, and it is working really well
Some people actually do ask me these direct questions and I am glad they do. I would much rather people talk to me than about me to someone else. I will answer any question that anyone asks me and if you know me in real life, no question is too personal, so don’t hesitate. Don’t worry about upsetting me, either. Seeing a look of concern on your face or hearing that you were talking about me to other people is WAY more upsetting than you just talking to me directly about your concerns.
Here are some of the questions that I think even my closest family members think at times but don’t ask:
So, are you dying inside?
No, I am not.
Are you hurting?
Sometimes, yes. This has been a hard transition for me. But the pain and shock are slowly diminishing. *Cue the thought: “Josh, you selfish, rotten b****** * (I know that there are a lot of individuals around me who are thinking this.)
So, Lolly, do you think Josh is a selfish, rotten b******?
(Please listen to this, because the answer is very important to me.) The answer is no. I don’t think that even a little tiny bit. Josh is the father of my amazing girls. Josh is the best friend I have ever known and he continues to be. Josh is not the villain and I am not his victim. If anything, we are both victims of misguided ideals and incorrect cultural beliefs. Josh is as much a victim as I am.
In fact, he is more of a victim that I am. Again, I need to remind everyone that I got to live a normal heterosexual adolescence filled with fun crushes and dreams of finding true love. Josh never did. With every normal surge of hormones he experienced when seeing someone he found attractive, he beat himself up and reminded himself that he was “disgusting” for thinking that. With every surge of hormones I experienced when seeing someone I found attractive, I got to think, “Oh, he’s cute!” and then I moved on or tried to flirt with him or something.
Josh is a 38-year-old man who is just now allowing himself to experience the same feelings of romance that a straight junior high kid feels entitled to experience. And yet, the way people are responding to our divorce is proof that he is much more the victim of this set-up than I am. Who is everyone instantly blaming? The gay guy. Who does everyone try to support and run to the aid of? The straight spouse. I’d ask you all to consider, why is that the most common response? Josh and I are both still taking care of our girls full-time. Nobody in this situation has been abandoned. Why, when it comes to support, do the people around us flock around me, worry about me, feel outraged for me, look for someone to blame (usually Josh) for what is happening to me etc.? Why not the gay person who has been through way more than I have over the course of his life, and who is losing so much more than I will ever lose by simply being who he is? Why aren’t people incensed or deeply worried for and defensive of him?
Never mind that he has tried so hard his entire life to “be good.” He wanted to be righteous so much that he honestly and sincerely married me with every intention of living faithfully to me until the end of our lives. How many straight people could say they have seriously contemplated that option? Would you be willing to make the same sacrifice for God? And don’t be so quick to answer, “Yes!” because even Abraham struggled with the idea of sacrificing his son. Scripturally, even Jesus Christ asked God to “remove this cup from me.”
So, to all you straight religious people out there, I ask, would you be willing to sacrifice romance and sex for your ENTIRE life, with no hope of ever experiencing romantic love—ever, ever, even once—because of your love for your Heavenly Father? If you have found your true love, would you be willing to give them up for God? You might think you would. And maybe you could for the first decade or two of your life, but it takes its toll. Abraham wasn’t asked to continually sacrifice Isaac every day of his life. Yet, we expect gay members of the church to lay the hope of finding love on the sacrificial alter every day of their life. It’s very easy to judge someone when you don’t face their reality over time. It’s very easy to take a distant glance at something unfamiliar and compare it to something familiar—being gay is like being an alcoholic, and we all have to sacrifice things we’d like sometimes. Never mind that these two issues are so different I could write a book on how impossible this comparison is. I beg of you to not cast Josh as the villain. In fact, I’d say Josh needs your love more than I do. I automatically receive sympathy when people hear about our situation and he receives judgment. Please love him. If you know him, believe me when I say he’s still the same Josh you have always known and loved. I promise. In fact, he’s even better. He’s more authentic than I’ve ever seen him. He’s healthier than he’s ever been. I’ve never seen him so alive and so himself. If you have lost contact with him over the last year, you are missing out on seeing some amazing things.
Other questions or statements that I get:
Have you come to your senses yet and kicked Josh out of the house? Have you gathered up enough self-respect to move on from your gay ex-husband? Did you finally realize that Josh didn’t care enough about you to sacrifice to stay married to you, and now he doesn’t care enough about you to leave you alone while you try to move on, so you’re going to have to be the one to shun him from your life? I can’t imagine what you’re going through! If my husband and I were to get divorced, there is no way I could still live with him and interact with him every day and watch him date other people. That must be torture for you!
Okay, STOP IT. Of course if you’re a straight person married to another straight person and you divorced, continuing to live with that person would be absolute torture. Most of the time it would probably be impossible and very unhealthy! The two of you would’ve ended a viable romantic attachment (probably for really good reasons), and so living in the same space would likely be a landmine of triggers for both of you and watching each other date would likely set off all kinds of internal alarms about not being good enough, and about being replaced by another person of your same gender. That sounds like an actual nightmare to me. But please hear me when I say that: OUR SITUATION IS DIFFERENT THAN THAT. Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t been even remotely easy for me. But, if Josh were straight and we were divorcing, it would be so much harder. Most people are looking at my situation from their own heterosexual paradigm. If Josh were straight and we got divorced, there is no way we would still be living in the same house. It would hurt me too much to watch him replace me with another woman. And it would kill him to see me replace him with another man, too.
But, that is not my reality. My reality is that I am watching my best friend finally accept himself for who he is and it is beautiful to watch. So, yes, while severing my romantic attachment to him has been brutal at times, I have the tools to do it.
But when I see you together, you still seem so in love! How could Josh throw away the connection that I KNOW is there between you! All for sex!
First of all, Josh is not making a unilateral decision. We made this decision side-by-side, after hours and hours of prayer and contemplation.
Second, Josh and I have always been super close. Even in junior high when we sat at the same lunch table! We’ve always had a unique connection, but the connection you see was never romantic love.
When we were in college, long before we’d had any intention to try romance, everyone thought we were a couple because of how we acted with each other. People were shocked when they found out that we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend. That’s because we genuinely love and care about one another and know each other intimately. And that has ALWAYS been the case. I wasn’t interested in Josh AT ALL growing up because he was gay and he had outed himself to me when he was 16. I was looking forward to sex in marriage so much. I didn’t want to marry someone who couldn’t fully love me.
As far as the “all for sex” part of this question, stay tuned for a post next week that talks allll about this. For now, just let me say this idea is very misguided.
Well, why did you marry him then? Did he wear you down?
Josh may be very persuasive, but he’s not that persuasive. J
Josh did not trick me into marriage or persuade me to do it. Far from it. During my second year of college, Josh was in the middle of receiving what is called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy.” This is a type of therapy that nearly every therapist associated with the Mormon church practiced at the time, and many still do, even though now it is outlawed for minors in many states because it causes so much distress and harm. This therapy treats LGBT people like they are broken, and it treats homosexuality like it is like an illness or an injury that can be cured or fixed. It tells a gay person that they were meant to be straight, and that if they heal old wounds and play sports and relate to men and women properly (and have enough faith!), they will turn into the straight person they really are. These were the ideas informing many of the conversations Josh and I had about his gay experience.
Nowadays, there is lots and lots of scientific evidence showing that these ideas are false. We now know that sexual orientation is static, and that it can’t be “fixed” or “changed,” and that when people try to, it causes them great distress. Back then, though, we didn’t know any of this, and the adults in our lives urged Josh to do “conversion therapy.” He’s been receiving this type of therapy for several years. At the advice of his therapists Josh decided to really try and “act more straight” that year. I remember even giving him advice on how to “not to be so gay.” (I’m actually embarrassed thinking about all of this now, but at the time, we really were led to believe this was the right thing for a gay person to do. Now, though, we clearly see that Josh is not a broken straight person and that it was unhealthy for him to pretend to be anything but what he iss.)
I was always one of Josh’s sounding boards as he processed his sexual orientation and change efforts. That year, in the process of acting like a straight person, we both agreed it was probably a good idea for him to start dating girls to see if he could like them. So, he dated my roommate and best friend. When he did that, I started viewing him as a straight person, because that is how he was acting…like a straight person, which was attractive to me because I am straight. I was romantically and physically attracted to “straight-acting Josh.” So, I allowed myself to fall in love with him. And Josh, having grown up in the church, had no idea what love or infatuation even were. So he believed in this version of “straight-acting Josh” too. I know that sounds messed up and it really is messed up. But, hindsight is 20/20. This was how I let myself fall in love with a gay man.
Please remember, I have always loved the core of who Josh is, the “gay Josh” (aka, the real Josh) who was my best friend for years. So, as people watch us now, like they watched us in high school and early college, they think, “They have such a great connection! They’re such a cute couple.” But what these people are seeing is a deep, fun, connected, very close friendship between a gay man and a straight woman which is a very common type of friendship. (Just watch Will and Grace for a case study!) So to the bystander, it may seem that I am still “in love” with Josh. But, please know: straight-acting Josh is gone and the person he was when we were best friends is back. And I love him like I did back then, but not as a lover, because he is gay. It seems to the outside observer that we are acting just like we did when we were married, but let me assure you, things are different. And really, it was the other way around: when we were “married” we were actually acting just like we did when we were best friends. The friendship was real. The romance was the illusion.
Now you may be wondering: how can she do that? How can she just not be in love with him anymore, especially since he is always there?
I’m a freaking marriage and family therapist, y’all! I have been doing some MAJOR processing with all my therapist friends and supervisors, and even with Josh! I know how to set up appropriate boundaries, and Josh does too! In therapy jargon, I have been reframing my attachment to him to align with the friend attachment I had with him in the first place. The romantic attachment that I had created was false, because it wasn’t to the real Josh, it was to “broken, straight-acting” Josh. And it hurt me deeply because he could never reciprocate that love. I cannot emphasize how damaging that was to me. In all honesty, our relationship is much healthier and I feel free. I feel free to love and be loved in an authentic way to my sexual orientation, which is that of a straight woman wanting to be loved by a straight man.
And I AM moving on, but me moving on doesn’t mean I have to reject Josh. It doesn’t even mean that I need “a break” from him. Recently I got a spiritual blessing from a good friend’s husband. In the blessing it said that I would get a lot of advice and opinions from a lot of people, but I needed to follow my heart. It stressed that I could trust my heart and it also confirmed the answer that I had received late last year as I sat praying in the temple: that I should let go of Josh as my husband. Let go of the past and look to the horizon. But that we should, as we have felt all along, remain together as a family unit.
So, I am asking anyone who loves me to please trust me. If God told me I could trust my heart, then you can trust it too. Trust that I know what I am doing. Trust me that I am telling the truth when I say that this decision to end our marriage was not Josh’s idea. It was an inspired decision that came to both of us at the same time. And it is right.
Josh does love me more than anyone will ever know—just as much and just as tenderly as any other member of my family loves me, and I love him the same way. We love each other fiercely—we always have and we always will. We will always have each other’s’ backs. When you hurt or judge or condemn Josh, you hurt, condemn and judge me too. He did not “toss me aside to fulfill his own carnal desires” as people so readily want to assume. Given who Josh is and what his life actually looks like right now, that idea is laughable. We walked into this marriage together and we walked out of it together. We were best friends before we became lovers and we will continue to be best friends now that we are no longer lovers. In fact, the truth is, we never even were true lovers.
So, I have been letting go of Josh as my romantic partner, but honestly, my heart says to keep Josh as one of my best friends, and to keep him as part of my family. My heart says to let my girls live with their father and their mother. My heart says that I WILL find love someday. And Josh will be there, cheering me on, and I’ll be doing the same for him.
Whether anyone else decides to join us by supporting our journey is up to them. But fair warning: we are a package deal. If you choose to love and be close to me, you will be close to Josh, too. He’s not going anywhere. I’m not kicking him out of my life. I’m keeping him close, as we all should do with family, no matter what. In fact, this has become something of a family motto: in the Weed family, nobody gets kicked out and everyone belongs. So don’t talk to me like Josh no longer in the picture. And don’t treat him badly. I wouldn’t be okay if you hurt any member of my family, or spoke ill of them, or treated them unkindly, or rejected them, or damaged them in any way. It would break my heart. Know that when you do those things to Josh—when you judge him unfairly, or say critical things of him, or talk to me like he is some bad guy who selfishly hurt me or like I’m entitled to hate him, all you’re doing is hurting me.
So, yes, today I am celebrating a cherished anniversary. It is no longer the anniversary of my marriage to Josh. And that is sad in some ways, and a huge blessing in others. What this day is, though, is the anniversary of the creation of the Weed family. A family that experiences joy and love together every single day. A family that adores each other, and a family whose members will never be kicked out, no matter who they are or who they love. The six of us will always be a family. And just like any nuclear family, eventually, through love and marriage, others will be added to the mix. And that will bring more love, and more inclusion, and more room for joy.
The formation of the Weed family is something I am very grateful for today. It’s something I’ll never, ever regret.
Happy Anniversary, Weed Family!!! 16 years down, and many years to come!