Jill Smokler, who started the popular parenting website ScaryMommy.com in 2008, revealed to her followers this week that she is splitting from her husband Jeff Smokler after 17 years of marriage. Jeff revealed to People.com that the couple, who share three children, Evan, 9, Ben, 11, and Lily, 13, have "struggled with what we kept a secret from everybody else." That secret? That Jeff is, in fact, gay.
“The first person I talked about it with was Jill," Jeff went on to reveal. "I really believe I was bisexual then, and it wasn’t something that was all-consuming. But over the years, my sexuality became much more a part of who I was. For many years, Jill and I viewed it as a piece of me that we had to deal with, but I think we both silently knew over time that it was becoming a bigger piece of me.”
Jill explained that they didn't try to ignore what was going on, and they spoke openly to a therapist. But for years, they kept it their secret. “I actually think that this evolved in the way that it should have, in a way where we thought the kids were at a point to be ready, we felt we were at a point where we were ready, but I certainly don’t have any regrets about marrying or staying married as long as we did,” she tells People.com.
They say they told their eldest, Lily, first. “Her immediate response was to get up and give him a great big hug and tell him how much she loved him,” Jill shared. “It was just such a compassionate and mature response.” Jeff explained how they told their sons "immediately after and conveyed the same message to all three that the conversation isn’t over. And that Mommy and Daddy are going to be happy now and happier people make better parents.” Love it.
Now that the pair is officially dissolving their marriage, they have an impressively positive way of looking at their split. "And as non-conforming as I think our marriage was, I think our divorce is equally non-conforming," Jeff says. "We want to show folks that you can do divorce in a way that not just puts your children first, but can come from a place of love. And in our case, there has never been a shortage of love. In sharing our truth, we hope to help other people."
The couple shared with Today.com that the kids, of course, "definitely had a lot of questions, and we have had a ton of conversations about it." But overall, they're doing very well with it, and Evan's teacher sent Jill a report on how the 9-year-old is doing in class, which Jill then posted to Facebook:
Amazing that these two are so much on the same page with how they want to move forward! The fact is that families come in all different shapes and sizes, and seeing the Smoklers so honestly show the world what shape their own family is taking now is truly inspiring. It's clear they'll knock it out of the park with co-parenting. (People.com reports that Jeff now lives in a house three miles from the family home, and the couple's children stay with him three nights a week, while their routines remain the same.) "We will still have family dinners," Jill shares. "We will still go on family vacations. We will still be a family, it’s just a different kind of family."
Wishing this family nothing but peace of mind and love as they embark on this next chapter!
UPDATE: We reached out to Jill, who told Parents.com, "When we decided to go public about the details of our separation, we weren't sure what to expect, but the response has been overwhelmingly loving and supportive. It's incredible how people step up when you really open yourself up to support. I'd tell any parent in a similar situation to be as honest as possible—there are SO many people struggling with the same issues and you'll never know unless you start talking about them."