When Love Isn't Enough: Divorcing My Soulmate

by Jeff Smokler
Originally Published: 
A young couple smiling while being in a hug

Last Saturday, my wife made the following announcement…

I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the last several weeks — but especially since Saturday — and I understand the curiosity. Frankly, I’m grateful for it, because it gives me the chance to articulate thoughts and emotions that need a reckoning every now and again.

It’s been four or five years since I knew I was gay.

Of course I always knew I was different, but when you meet your soulmate when you’re 18 years old — only five years older than my own daughter is now — and that person is a woman, you simply think “thank God then, I can’t be gay.”

It wasn’t until after Jill and I were married that I started to understand my (what I perceived at the time to be) bisexuality. Once I knew, the first and only person I told was my wife. And so began a long, unexpected journey that Jill and I decided we would take together.

The details of that journey are personal, and they are not mine alone to tell. That journey belongs to us, and it has shaped who we are today as people, as parents, as friends and as lovers.

But one thing I’ll say about my own journey is this: What should have been an easy choice — a no brainer — was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Once I came to terms with the fact that I was gay, I figured I had two options: I could die — either from my intentional neglect of my health and well-being, or perhaps from something even more tragic —leaving my children fatherless, or I could come out and hope that I remained surrounded by the love of my friends, family, wife and children. Like I said, seems like a pretty easy decision.

And yet for many years, I chose option one; letting myself slip into unhealthy habits and depression.

So how then do Jill and I now find ourselves in this moment? What changed?

The truth is, nothing changed. We were simply ready.

I don’t want to give the impression that this is easy, or that we have it all figured out. We both have deeply rooted, complex feelings and emotions born from a marriage largely defined by a shared secret. But whereas love simply wasn’t enough to keep us together, it turns out it comes in real handy in times of strife.

Our children are amazing. They are all digesting the information in their own ways, but, boy, are they all also showing their true colors. Brush away all of the worst characteristics and idiosyncrasies one would expect from kids their ages, and we’re left with compassionate, thoughtful, wonderful children.

Today, Jill and I ran into each other at Target, shopping for things for our respective homes. We laughed out loud and hugged. I hated the decorative pillow she placed in her shopping cart, and I’m quite sure she thought the vase I was gripping was hideous. But it was a nice surprise to see one another, and I think likely one that a higher power had a hand in.

As we walked out of Target and toward our cars, a million pounds lighter from the disclosure of our truth, Jill locked her arm in mine. A couple steps out of the store, she turned to me and asked, “ Are you as happy as I am?”

And I was.

This article was originally published on