Now the two, who met at 18, married at 20, and share three kids together, are divorcing. But Jill is in a good place, and in her hysterical style, she explains to Personal Space what the process of divorcing your gay husband is like.
She announced on her blog:
“Yesterday, Jeff and I told our children that we are divorcing, after more than 17 years of marriage and 23 years of togetherness. We also told them that the impetus for the divorce is the fact that Jeff is gay,” she wrote on her site.
Without getting into too much personal detail, this is a reality which we have faced together for many years. And for a very long time, the deep love we had for one another sustained us through the more difficult moments that our increasingly diverging sexuality created.”
Jill adds that the two have been inseparable for more than half their lives, and are proud of the family they have built together. They now live 10 minutes apart and share their kids’ pick up schedule from school.
“We have been true partners and friends; we are a kickass team,” she writes. “And while we will no longer love each other as husband and as wife, we remain deeply committed to one another as partners and co-parents to the three most incredible kids we could ask for.
“Love is love is love is love…”
Now she’s answering some deeper questions, like how long she knew Jeff’s secret, and what sex and dating are like post-split (hint, it’s really, really fun.)
PS: You met your husband Jeff when you were 18. When did you get an inkling that he was maybe gay?
Jill: We met at 18, married at 20, kids at 23. I was several years later he told me he thought he was bisexual. But it was the last five or so he felt it had evolved to the point where he no longer identified as bi and could be gay.
Were you trying to work it out all those years?
Obviously, we were, are, I feel we are soulmates, he’s my favorite person, we’re a really good team, we’re super invested in the kids. He's my favorite person. It was always sort of every other area in my life was good. Now that I’m out of it I can look back and I underestimated the importance of what it was. I was so preoccupied. He made many sacrifices to support me. But this one vital part of our marriage was missing. He was supportive for the most part, my blog, my books. When you’re in the trenches of little kids, it's easy to just try to work together.
So, why now?
Well, we ran out of excuses as to why not now? How long are we going to keep doing this for? I'm turning 40 this summer. I always worried that we’d be 60 and he’d come to me and say, "I'm in love with a man," so I feel very relieved that we actually did it.
I knew the situation, but for 15 years we've been not telling anyone, it's affected my relationships. I feel so amazing now. I think I knew that for the past 10 years I was not thriving in my personal life and buried it. I'm such a pessimist, and now I'm waking up in a good mood.
Did you make a conscious decision together to hide this secret?
We were very aware that if we were going to be public about it, we had to decide to separate. All of those years ( I knew) I didn’t tell anybody. It was some unspoken truth...that once we we told people, we’d have to do something about it. That’s not the type of thing that you drunkenly tell friends.
Who’s the first person you told?
A friend of mine, a local friend, then a couple of long distance friends. I was sobbing. Now I’m sort of done telling people because it's out there, and it went from being gut wrenching and painful to hilarious. Because I had come to terms with it. And people were shocked I found it so entertaining.
My brother and sister-in-law and dad and stepmom when I told them, they were floored and shocked. We go to dinner and they said, "Do you want to order wine?" and I said, "Oh yes." And I said, "There’s something I want to tell you. Jeff and I are separating because he’s gay." And as the words "He’s gay" come out of my mouth and what's on? "It’s Raining Men" comes on as the restaurant music. And not even the disco version, some like John Mayer version. It was the funniest thing. How can I not laugh about this? I thought, I have to tell these stories, it’s so funny.
Did Jeff struggle with fully accepting he is gay?
From the minute we met and subsequently had kids, got married, it was like how are we going to get divorced? That's ridiculous. Inconceivable.
He'd say, "If we ever divorced, I want a woman, a life with a woman." It wasn’t all of him that he was hiding at the time.
When we first decided to separate he initially didn’t want to. I felt like I was pushing him out of the closet. I had underestimated the impact on me, and on my mental and physical being. With hiding it, you can only get so deep in relationships when you have this big thing you can't talk about. My mom knew something was wrong, I’d been so distant. She knew something was off.
Did anyone not understand?
Not at all. Not yet, and I was afraid that would be the kids' response. But the reaction has been so supportive. I was so angry with people online from my experience there. That's my world, and my expectations were not high. But it’s been incredibly positive and supportive. We just need to set the tone and make them comfortable.
So what's it like being together with friends now?
I would still go on a double date with friends now, but now I don’t have to go home and pretend to f*** my husband. (laughs!)
Speaking of sex, were you guys having any?
We do love each other, so there was love there, but we never had like raging sex like throw me against the wall sex. That was something I always resented and wanted (wanted passionate sex.) I thought about it constantly, but obviously, there was only so much he was capable of doing. I honestly don’t know why I never cheated on him. I was in New York so often, but I never did. Now I can make up for lost time.
Are either of you dating yet?
Jeff is, slowly, and when I’m in New York, I am. In the immediate beginning, I felt like I was conducting electricity it’s been so fun. It's been fun and gratifying, but there's also been the bulls**t...is someone gonna text me and all that crap. But other than that hell yeah, it’s been fun!
I haven’t met anyone he’s dated yet. We just started to talk to talk about his dates and it wasn’t awkward at all, which is strange. I want him to meet someone and be happy and he wants the same. I may have gone into too much detail with him about sex…but no, it’s really interesting.
Do you imagine him with a long term partner who can be family?
We’re so similar and have the same sensibilities that we are generally drawn to the same type of people, so I hope I like that person who he would commit to. I don't think there would be awkwardness, obviously it’s so physical, if it were a woman I'd be like, "Oh what am I missing?" but that's not the case.
How did Jeff come out to you?
From the point where he realized he had some attraction to men and it was so confusing to him, I don’t know exactly, he knew himself probably earlier than I’d like to think. There were always things that came up - me seeing an app, or him acting suspicious. When something arose, we’d have a conversation about it, and accept it and it was clear this last time things had changed.
And how did you tell the kids?
I feel like once the kids knew, it would all come shattering down and it didn't. As long as they remain relatively OK, this is great. The kids are 9, 11, and 13.
We told my 13-year-old daughter first and she was amazing. I was worried about her being mortified and angry. Instead, she was so compassionate and mature. She gave Jeff a big hug and said she loved him so much and doesn’t see him any differently. Then she went to her room and took some space. We told the boys later in the afternoon. They were a little tougher. The 9-year-old was like, "You're kidding," but I knew it would be confusing because we don’t fight and we are affectionate and we joke. We do love each other so much. The middle buried his head in a pillow and wanted space, but they both came around really quickly and were really excited to see the place where Jeff is living and see their rooms and invite their friends over. Nothing about our relationship has changed, I always say, "Your father is my favorite person." If we keep reminding them of that and showing them, I’m hoping it’ll be OK. We saw a therapist for tips on ways to tell them, and the therapist said, "Kids always have in the back of their heads that they want their parents together," so we were sending confusing messages. I explained we were not getting back together - there's no hope to reconcile. Jeff lives like 10 minutes away, he picks the kids up, we have three different kids at three different schools, so we work together.
The positives that have come from living your honest truth?
I have a gay best friend - Jeff. It’s bizarre and awesome, it’s kind of the best thing ever.
It was a given that once we decided that this was the action we were going to take, it would be OK. I haven’t written in so long because everything I wanted to say, I couldn't.
What I hope people understand is, this doesn’t have to be a hateful thing. My friends and family know I don't feel anger, and I was so impressed by the kids. I underestimated when you’re actually honest with them, it’s pretty basic what we’re talking about. It somehow made it easier to digest. The private messages and emails from people, I can’t keep up. I can’t believe how many relationships are going through this. There have been stories, "This is us 15 years ago, and I just officiated my husband’s wedding." So many others are experiencing it too.
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