Dear Supreme Court

 

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Dear Supreme Court,  

I’m not coming to you today as a human rights activist or a gay
rights activist or as a liberal.

Rather, I’m coming to you as a highly flawed individual who
has failed at my 11-year marriage.  

As a heterosexual woman in the middle of a divorce, I’m
asking you to recognize marriage equality.

Because in my belief, any two people who are willing to a make
marriage work, should have one.

Marriage is hard. And if you must know, it’s been too hard
for me to figure out so far in this lifetime. While I would like to tell you
that I’d do just about anything to learn how to get this right, part of me
thinks that may be a lie, because in the darker days of my marriage, I often
think I didn’t try as hard as I could have.  

There was nothing terrible about my marriage. I wasn’t
cheated on. I wasn’t humiliated. I wasn’t beaten.  

We just couldn’t get along.  And after a certain point in time, I wasn’t
willing to try to get along.

I wasn’t willing to try when we stopped agreeing on things.

I wasn’t willing to try when we stopped spending time
together.

I wasn’t willing to try when we stopped holding hands.

I wasn’t willing to try when we stopped wanting to be in the
same room.

I wasn’t willing to try for God.

I wasn’t willing to try for the institution of marriage
itself.

I wasn’t willing to try for my husband.

I wasn’t willing to try for my children.

When I was done, I was done.

And I wasn’t willing to try again.

I make no excuses for myself. Marriage was difficult for me.
 

Maybe I’ll change enough one day that I can try again, and
maybe not. It won’t be tomorrow or next year or maybe not even the year after that.
Yet, even if there is a next time, I’m not willing to make any promises at how successful
the venture would be.

Because I’m just not sure how much I’m willing to try.

For any couple of any sex who is willing to try, please let
them try.  

Because anyone willing to love, honor and cherish, should be
allowed to love, honor and cherish.

Any couple willing to stand by each other until “death do us
part” should have the right to not part until death.

Any couple willing to hold hands through the darker days and
stick it out in the same room, even when that room seems too small for two
people, should have the right to stay in that room.

Maybe one day that will be me, but in the meantime, please
let it be for them.

Respectfully,

Ilene 

 

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Comments

Dear Supreme Court — 44 Comments

  1. Hugs. Please know that choosing to walk away from a situation that was only causing pain to you and the people you love does not constitute failure. It’s good to be self aware, to know where you might have made a difference. But there’s also the perfect vision of hindsight, which makes it seem like things were much easier than you made them out to be at the time. (They weren’t.)
    For many reasons, my parents weren’t meant to stay married. They bulled through for at least nine years after it was really over, probably more like eleven. I was begging them to get a divorce at the age of 8.
    You and your ex are making a rational choice to stop hurting each other. Co parenting is sure to be a bitch at times. Watching him go on with his life will be hard for you. (Watching you go on with your life will be hard for him.) But you have made a decision to not stay mired down in anger and frustration. Do you really think your kids wanted to live with two people who couldn’t stand to be in the same room? Or do you think they want two parents who love them and want the best for them? If your marriage was over, it was over. And staying in it past that point would have been the failure.
    You are awesome. And you do not have to make excuses for your marriage and its ending. Not to me, not to the Supreme Court, not to yourself.

  2. Oh Ilene…I had no idea. I am so so sorry for the pain I am sure this is causing you no matter if the divorce was your choice or not. This is a beautiful letter with a great message. In the end, I think you are doing your kids a good thing by ending what sounds like a bad example of what a marriage should look like, ya know? You are the role models for love and what they watch, they will someday want to copy. You are an amazingly strong woman, and it seems totally evident that you can make it on your own, sweet new BFF!!!! I don’t worry about you in the least bit! 😉
    (I would like to say that I don’t agree in legalizing Gay marriage- Marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred act under God. But and this is a BIG BUT- I absolutely believe they deserve much of the same rights as married men/women.)

  3. Jessie, I love your comment so much and it’s a testament to what a caring and understanding human being you are – such an amazing soul. There’s an interesting dichotomy here for me, where I have no regrets about leaving the situation I was in yet still wondering at the same time if I could have tried harder. If I could have been more open minded, more accepting, etc. Because it goes against my grain to walk away from anything or anybody. I’m *that* girl who is loyal to the end, friends forever, etc. Maybe part of me will always have that little piece of wondering, yet at the same time, I have moved forward with my life willingly and do not have plans of going back. I just wish our government would grant marriage to anyone willing to work for it – because there are so many who take those vows and don’t.

  4. OK, Chris Carter – if I loved you a ton before you left this comment, I love you even more now, if that’s possible. Because I love that even though you do not support the legalization of gay marriage, that you can see beyond the political issue, come to my page and support *me* and be a friend to me. You are an amazing soul and I’m grateful to have you in my posse. Hugs. xo

  5. Good God Ilene, this post was a true true pleasure to read and nearly had me in tears. So often we find ourselves in relationships where we push and push until we just can’t anymore and then we realize we have to push ourselves out of the situation because that’s the only way we can breathe. I’ll never forget the advice a friend gave me when I was in a particularly grueling relationship, that the good times shouldn’t be the exception but the rule. I’ve carried that with me throughout my life with all of my relationships and it’s something that makes me admire the relationships that work, same sex or not. If two people can experience that happiness together most of the time and are willing to fight for it the rest, then how can anyone tell them they’re not allowed? I think it’s a triumph that you were able to recognize what wasn’t working for you or for your family, step away, and that all of that hasn’t shaken your belief in love and your drive to stand for those who are seeking marriage equality. I admire that tremendously and I applaud you for taking this brave step to say it out loud and with so much honesty and emotion. You’re a gem Ilene! <3

  6. I love what you say about good times not being the exception but the rule and about two people experiencing happiness together and willing to fight for the rest. Because there are days – or years, even, that it will be a fight – I’d like to think in that in the *right* situation, I’d be willing to fight – because I do believe in marriage and I believe that it’s worth it. And I wholeheartedly believe that any two people of either sex should have the chance to have it. Thank you so much for your lovely words and your support. I am so lucky to know you. xo

  7. Totally crying reading this post. You described the work and hard part of marriage perfectly. It is really, really hard. And people should say that more.
    But the end, this line “Any couple willing to hold hands through the darker days and stick it out in the same room, even when that room seems too small for two people, should have the right to stay in that room.” really did me in. Because, yes, yes, yes a million times yes. This is a right. This is not a political issue at all…it is about people. And last time I checked they were all created equal. Well said.

  8. Yes. It is very frustrating to see that kind of injustice and have it bandied about as fair. It looks like the prop 8 case will get thrown out on procedural grounds. (That’s good – it means prop 8 would go away and same sex marriages would be legal in CA; but it is also bad, because it means that the ruling on prop 8 would essentially be a non ruling. The ruling on DOMA will be less easy to dodge.)

  9. I’ve been watching my sister in law go through a divorce this past year. She has three children all old enough to ask the tough questions that are even harder for her to answer. Thanks for sharing your raw feelings with us. Bravo.

  10. Great letter. As one who got divorced and then married again I know sometimes you have to cut your loses. It is hard and anyone who is willing to try should have the option.

  11. “For any couple of any sex who is willing to try, please let them try.” Just..perfect. The whole situation has me on edge that we’re even all having to fight this way and have these conversations. And then of course I’m grateful that there is a fight and not just an acceptance. I’m feeling very mixed between cautious optimism that our country is going to be all right and that there are lots of good hearts out there, or else I’m feeling like this is a very, very sick country and it will only get worse.

  12. It’s so hard, and as a friend once told me long ago, you have to wake up every day and decide to be married. Every day. Not just once. I will get behind anyone, man/man, man/woman, woman/woman, who can stay in that room that’s too small for 2 people, and somehow make it work. Because as you said, it’s about people. Amen to that!

  13. My friend, I have no words for this beautiful and amazing and heartfelt post. This –> “Any couple willing to hold hands through the darker days and stick it out in the same room, even when that room seems too small for two people, should have the right to stay in that room.” Yes. They deserve that right. But I do also think that you did a courageous thing by stepping away from your marriage if it wasn’t working and rather than stay in it for the sake of marriage, you know? There’s more to say but I’ll save it for our date in April 🙂

  14. First of all, thank you so very much for your thoughtful words. They are so, very kind. I know I did what was best for me..but I guess there will be that gnawing question – at least maybe for a little while..of what could I have done differently, if anything? It’s not a bad question to ask – since perhaps the honest self inquiry will leave me better off prepared for next time, assuming I will get a chance at a “next time.”
    And I can’t wait to chat about this in April. I can’t wait for April. Can’t. Wait. xo

  15. Oh, Ilene … such a raw, beautiful, courageous letter. I was trying to explain this debate to my 6 year old today, and it boiled down to this: I think that people who love each other, and who want to do the hard work that being married requires, should be allowed to get married. (We have a number of gay couple friends who are married in other states, so it was easier to give him some examples.)
    But I also think that you sell yourself short. It’s not about trying endlessly to make something work when it’s broken. Because if it’s really broken (even if there are no broken bones involved), you can’t fix it, and no amount of trying will change that … it will only exhaust you, and hurt those you love. And we are pretty good judges of brokenness. You don’t strike me as a lazy person when it comes to relationships, friend. You work HARD at them. Your kids are a testament to that fierce and committed love.

  16. I had an interesting conversation with someone on Twitter about this yesterday – someone who said the switch flipped one day and that was it. I did try – until that switch flipped – and while I have to trust my instincts on this one, that it was done (and I do really know it’s done) there is that part of me that may always question because walking away from anything or anyone is so against my grain. I love people for who they are and most of the time love them fierecely and forever. You know we will be friends until we’re 90, right? Because once you’re part of my posse, you stay there. xo

  17. Beautifully written. I’m sorry for what you are going through, and though I don’t know you beyond the blog, I don’t think you can blame yourself for your marriage not working. Not every relationship is meant to last, neither romantic nor platonic, and sometimes you reach a point in a any relationship where it’s doing more damage than good. Marriage is hard work, and I completely agree that anyone who is willing to make the effort should have the opportunity.
    Thank you for sharing.

  18. Thank you, Bev. I do agree that in some cases, walking away from a relationship is indeed the healthiest thing to do. Marriage is hard, hard work, and although mine is over, I hope to take this moment to learn a thing or two about myself. And yes, anyone willing to try, I believe, should be able to be married.

  19. I love your honesty in this post. I don’t believe you are a failure at marriage at all. I think that the fact that you realized you weren’t willing to try anymore is something that, unfortunately, many people realize too late. Marriage is hard work. I hope everyone will get the chance to at least try their hand at marriage soon!

  20. Your response means MORE than you know to me Ilene. I came back to make sure you weren’t upset with me sharing my opinion, in hopes that you were able to take in my support and my love that was inspired by your post! Oh you are so amazing. You saw and embraced the very heart of my response!!! Could I love you even more? Apparently so… 🙂

  21. This is such a heartfelt letter. Very well stated. I’m a huge advocate for marriage and for sticking with it during the hard times. Of course, I’m not any better than anyone else because I have been married two other times. (One was entirely my fault and the second one was a mutual decision to part because I had the chance to be with my one true love and we both knew it.)
    I hope that one day you do find a love that is worth trying for. When there is that kind of love, it makes a huge difference. 🙂

  22. This post reminded me of a gay couple who used to come to the grocery store where I worked in high school. I remember other people I worked with, just a couple, who would talk about them when they came in – not complimentary.
    They used to always come to my line, and the guys would tease me about that.
    I didn’t know what the big deal was. They complained about each other’s purchases, talked to me and each other, and it was always a fun order to ring up. One time, as they were leaving, one of them thanked me, and I knew why he was … but I honestly should have been the one thanking him.
    I hope they are happily married now, getting on each other’s nerves, and talking as much as they did before. And whoever rings up their groceries appreciates them as much as I do.
    I love this post.

  23. What a great story. Kindness goes a long way in any situation, and means a lot to people for reasons beyond surface.
    I’d like to believe that we’ve come a long way since the days we were in high school with regard to a more widespread acceptance for same sex couples. With that said, I’m hoping that these guys can get their groceries rung up anywhere and be met with the same friendliness and courtesy that you extended to them all those years back.

  24. I absolutely hate that I was gone when you posted this and couldn’t respond right away. Didn’t see it until now. You, my dear, dear friend are one of the strongest people I know. To see that something is no longer working or healthy shows strength to be able to walk away from it. You could have stayed and been miserable but we only get one life and to spend it that way is not okay. Marriage is so freaking hard. I say it all the time and sometimes I get slammed on my blog because I am honest about it, sometimes too honest. What gives anyone the right to decide who can be married or not?? If someone is willing to ride this roller coaster of life with someone else who are we to say it is wrong just because they happen to be the same sex? If really is a topic that sends my blood simmering because with everything wrong in this world, why in the world are we focusing on telling someone who they can or cannot love? Big hugs to you, Ilene for the honesty of this post and tackling a hot topic. Love the letter approach.

  25. Thank you so, so much for your words, AnnMarie. Marriage is so hard. I think it’s something that needs to be discussed even more in a public forum, and you are a wonder for your honesty abouot it on your own blog. I often wonder if as a society in general, we give up too soon because we are all so hooked on instant gratification. I mean, my own decision took years. It was not one incident or one rough year. It was many rough years and it was truly time for it to end, – but more people need to be as honest as you – to let others know that it’s not easy and shouldn’t expect easy. Nothing worth it is ever easy, right? xo

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