Monday, July 2, 2012

The Shoe Story: A Treatise on Conflict in Marriage

It has to be said: Lolly and I fight.

I've gotten comments from some really sweet people who have been following our story saying things like "watching your marriage from afar and seeing the connection between you and Lolly makes me feel deficient in my own marriage..." and hearing that, while it's a really kind compliment, makes my heart hurt a little bit.

I want to write this post to emphasize something that I think is very important: every marriage, in its very essence, can be both good and hard. The key that I think is easy to forget at times is that the good and the hard are inextricably linked together. You cannot have one without the other. They are part of the same formula which leads to closeness and unity.

We are no exception to this.

Yes, we are totally in love. Yes we feel that our life together is truly wonderful and we feel very, very happy and fulfilled. Yes, everything you have seen and read (that has come from us) is true.

But, there's more to us than all of that. Things are hard for us at times in many ways, just as is the case in any marriage. And the "hard" thing that I want to talk about today is something every marriage experiences: conflict.

Lolly and I are multidimensional people, and both of us are very passionate and verbal. Before coming to consensus on things, sometimes we have to process a bit. Sometimes we get a little grumpy. Sometimes things aren't all "Goody goody gumdrops I love life!!!"

So yeah, basically what I'm saying is that occasionally we bicker like 80-year-olds who are lost and late to a wedding.

"If you had read the map correctly, Arlene, we wouldn't have missed the brunch. So yes it IS your fault."

I want to emphasize here that different people have different communication styles. I always tell my clients that that's totally okay. Lolly and I both come from parents who rarely fight, so when we found that our style of communication included verbal conflict, we had to figure out what that meant for us, and if that was okay.

Early on in our marriage, we realized the answer. While sometimes conflict is petty and can be avoided, other times our fights are what bring us closer together. Sometimes in facing the difficulty of challenging emotions and the vulnerability of saying hard things, we pass through the portal of deeper understanding and more intense closeness. Sometimes our conflicts are the very key to ensuring that we understand each other and feel intimate and connected and understood.

So what I'm saying here is that conflict can be a good thing in marriage, as long as it is handled correctly.

Here's one of our favorite "fight" stories.

When we were first married, we moved to Provo, Utah. We were broke, but Lolly went to the store and bought some decorative stuff so we could settle in and make our new little apartment a home. She bought some fake ivy and some candles, among other things. When she showed me what she had purchased, she said "I feel so guilty I bought all of this! It was $60!" to which I replied "No, sweetheart. Don't feel guilty. Let go of the guilt. I want you to feel good in our new home. I want you to feel content here." She went back to putting the stuff she bought up, but then she said she felt guilty again (have I mentioned Lolly has a mild case of OCD?) which I responded to by saying something like "Lolly, let me do this for you. Let me buy you some decorations. Please." When she said she felt guilty a third time, I kinda lost my cool and said "Fine. If you're gonna feel guilty about it, you might as well just take the stuff back."

That was a poor choice.

From there we launched into an intense fight, the content of which I don't remember. But what I do remember is that at one point Lolly got so angry with me that she kicked her shoe across the room. I watched as the shoe glided across the room, ricocheted off the wall, hit the ceiling, and then broke the huge front window of our new apartment.

"Um, yeah, Mr. Landlord? We need to replace the window. Because we broke it. With a shoe. During a fight."

I don't remember the cost to replace the window, but I'm pretty sure it was around $60.

This fight was about something petty, but it's also an example of conflict in our marriage. We're not usually hurling objects at each other, but I want you to know that we have worked through some difficult moments. We've had some really hard discussions and we've gotten upset and emotional. We've talked sometimes about heart-rending things with courage and love for each other, and even when things got messy, we've pushed through until we understood each other. And that's the key. Push through the conflict until you get to the other side.

We don't let bad feelings last. We don't let a conflict change how we feel about each other. We push through until we find a solution or a compromise, or until we can say we understand each other. That kind of tenacity has paid off. I trust Lolly with literally anything in my heart, and she does the same with me.

In fact, as I think about it, that all started during our engagement. And it started with something Lolly said.

I have a distinct memory of sitting on the floor of my parents' kitchen talking to Lolly on the phone. I was telling her that sometimes I hesitated to let her know how I was really feeling about hard things because the intensity of her emotional reactions made me uncomfortable. Sometimes her responses scared me.

I wanted to tell her everything. I'm, at the core, an honest person who wishes to be as real and frank and open as possible. We both knew that it was incredibly important to be able to say whatever needed to be said to one another. But now that we were getting so close--marriage close--I was feeling responsible for her emotional well-being, and saying things that made her sad or uncomfortable was beginning to feel painful for both of us. I realize now that what I was asking for at that moment on the phone was not a reasonable request. I was asking that she not emotionally react when I told her hard things. I was asking that she stifle her emotions, and just let me say hard things without having to work on the emotions those hard things evoked.

In response to my concern, she said something totally clutch that has been a bedrock of our communication ever since. She said "Josh, I want you to say anything and everything you need to say. I can't promise I won't have an emotional reaction to what you say. I don't have control over the feelings I feel. But I do have control over my actions. I can promise you that no matter what I feel, I will work through the emotions with you until we both come to a mutual understanding. So you tell me whatever it is you need to say, and I promise we'll talk through the emotions until we both understand it."

I married a smart one, didn't I?

That was a profound insight. We can't control our emotional reactions to things. Our bodies just respond to stimuli. But the thing we can promise each other is that we will sit there, side by side, working through it until both parties feel good, and until both parties understand what is happening.

That's what marriage is about. That's what communication is about. That's what loving others is about. That's the balm we need in order to feel like we can talk openly to our spouses. We can't promise each other unearthly peace or a total lack of human emotion. That wouldn't even be healthy. We can only promise to be there, thick and thin, willing to work until our hearts feel at peace.

If you, like the commenter I mentioned above, are having difficulties in your relationship, I want you to know that you aren't alone. Every relationship has difficult moments. Every single one. If you have gone through difficult times in your marriage, it means you are living. If you and your spouse have had disagreements, it means you are two adult people who have preferences, and the courage to share those preferences with each other.

Having hard moments of conflict is not a sign that things are falling apart in your marriage, or a sign that you and your spouse have failed. It is a stepping stone. It is an open door, awaiting the two of you to join hands and walk through it--walk through the conflict,--to the other side. That's where understanding is. That's where unity is. That's where you and your spouse can be if you simply promise to keep talking to each other until there is understanding, and then actively seek for that understanding.

It sounds like an easy solution, and I don't wish to make light of how complex conflict can be. Heck, I just shared a story about a fight that ended in a broken window. But what I wish to communicate is that even when things get shoe-breaking-the-window intense, you can still find the peace afterwards. You can each take a break, take a deep breath, and try again until your connection is restored. And when that happens, you will feel closer than you did before. You will know you are in this together, and that the only thing that could stop you from being the couple you know you can be is being too afraid to face the hard things head on, with faith in each other and faith in God.

Walk through that door. Walk through the door of conflict and see what awaits you. Don't be afraid. Push through, and there is the potential to be understood in ways you scarcely imagined possible.

*Ummm, as a side-note I'd like to point out that Lolly and I got into a fight as we were editing this post.

It went a little something like this:

Lolly: Um, this part about "walking through the doors holding hands" is too cheesy.

Josh: I'm not cheesy. I'm writing what's in my heart.

Lolly: Sweetie, the fact that you just said "I'm writing what's in my heart" proves you're cheesy.

Josh: I'm not being cheesy! I actually mean this crap!! I am seriously writing what's in my heart!

Lolly: Fine. Your heart is cheesy. Let's move on.

Josh: Okay.

Lolly: Ope, this next sentence is too long.

Josh: Read it back to me.

Lolly: I don't want to read it back to you. It's too long.

And then I got angry and hyper-sensitive. And Lolly said, "Okay Josh, let's hold hands and walk through the non-cheesy open door of this conflict until we reach further understanding."

And then we laughed. And then we talked it through. And then we finished editing.

And that's how this post came full circle. Kind of like a miracle.


  1. Josh and Lolly, how do you do it? You do realize, don't you, how relevant this is to discussions between passionately gay-affirming people, and passionately scripture-affirming people?

    1. I'm tacking this on here, because I don't see any better place to put it.

      Now I really do see a need to find a forum or some forums for some tangential discussions. First of all, because some people want to talk about their personal situations with you, Josh, and/or with each other, and that might be a lot easier without so many other discussions going on. Second, because quite a few comments have disappeared from the previous post, and if that keeps happening it might be quite discouraging for some of us.

      I do see other discussions that need to stay here, besides talking about people's personal situations. One example is at least part of the discussions where people are learning to know and love each other across divides. Whatever else you want to keep here should stay here, of course. Still, I think a lot of the debate and other socializing could be safely moved elsewhere. I'll be trying to practice that myself, and hoping others will too.

    2. jim you need to go down to the bottoms of the post and click "load more" to see all the comments. FYI

    3. Anon 12:37 AM, thank you! <:D

      Anyway, still, I think some of the debating and other socializing could be safely moved elsewhere, to make it easier for people to follow the discussions that need to stay here. I'll be trying to negotiate that with people who are involved in discussions with me.

    4. Jim, if you respond to first comments of a thread in which there is more than 200 messages, they are not shown until "Load more..." is clicked, although one would expect that they should be.

      Obviously, posts with up to 200 messages are fairly well handled here, but when that threshold is reached, then comments section is very counterintuitive to follow.

      Josh, you should perhaps write a new post every time number of comments approaches 200. :)

    5. fg mormon... not that Josh has a life or anything :)

    6. He could still have a life. As a writer. :)

    7. Jim,
      Is something stopping YOU from creating a forum? If you dream it, do it!

    8. Karen, there are quite a few things stopping me from creating a new forum for this. Actually, I do have three forums of my own, but they wouldn't be any good for this at all, even if I wanted the headaches, and had the time for it.

      I've found two forums that might be good for discussions that can be safely moved elsewhere. The best place to move a discussion might be different for each person and each discussion. I'll be trying to negotiate that with each person, if I get into any long or frequent discussions with anyone. I'm not sure that's going to happen.

      One reason I wanted to try to move some discussions elsewhere, was to make it easier for people to have discussions about their personal situations, and other discussions that can *not* safely be moved elsewhere. So far on this post that seems to be happening without much interference.

  2. Reading this post has been like reading about my own life. So many times I've wished that my wife would just tone it down with her emotional responses to things. I've only recently realized what you did so many years ago: asking her to "tone it down" would be like asking her to be someone different than who she is. And who she is, is the woman I love so why would I ever want her to do that? Our conflicts are still hard but I try to do my best to support her when she's struggling through something because I know she does the same for me. Thank you for this totally awesome, insightful, occasionally cheesy blog.

    1. We as women are so emotional because we are passionate about what we think. When we come to our hubbies it because we really are concerned with what is happening. We might not show it in the right way but we really want to work on things. Josh I think your post is awesome too. It just made me a little sad that all. Wished I had the same relationship with my spouse.

    2. Ah, well said Adam...and Josh. I have felt the same about my wife's sometimes hair trigger emotions. Getting used to the deluge of woman sentiment is a real trick. But I liked what Josh said about conflict being linked to happiness. I am actually quite glad that me and Lisa fight because that proves we are keeping each other in check. And I have definitely discovered the pleasantry of nighttime strolls when our fights turn into excessive emotional outbursts. Reading about Josh's fear of her emotional reactions really made me feel akin. I didn't know there were other husbands out there with that experience -it is so hard to confide your feelings when you worry your wife will have an strong emotional reaction. But, then again, she undoubtedly feels some similar sentiments when she has to crack down on my unshavedness or lack of dishwashing dedication. Marriage is great when you keep each other in check.

    3. An Oregonian man (relevent only for geography) rubbed a lamp one day and a genie appeared to offer him one wish (recession times). The man thought and said. "I'm fascinated with the Far East. I always have been. Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a bridge across the Pacific so I could visit whenever I like?"
      The genie responded "Get out of here, I'm only a genie. Give me something possible!"
      The man thought again. "Ok, well, I'd really like to be able to understand my wife better. Could you help me understand how women think?"
      The Genie replied, "So this bridge - two lanes or four?"

  3. In our case, I had to let go of always resolving things verbally. Sometimes I had to let go of resolving them at all. Eventually we found a very simple way to get back together, without even discussing the problem that started the fight. And no, I don't mean *that*.

  4. Josh, you and Lolly were both committed to working through it. Patty and I were both committed to working through it, although it took some time for us to adapt to each other's working-through-it style.

    Some people who believe in working through it, might be married to people who don't. Of course, you can never be sure the other person isn't committed to it. Maybe, like me in the beginning, you just don't see the other person's commitment because it doesn't look the same as yours.

    In any case, I'm hoping we can offer some helpful advice to people who want to work things through, with spouses who don't seem to want to.

    1. The perfect advice is to read the Peacegiver! Hahaha...just finished the book and I am thinking I should start collecting some promotion fees;-)

  5. I would be grateful to see a blog post on how to explain ADHD to your a spouse of one who has it. You can't change who you are, but they do have to live with you, & try to understand it, so a blog post on how to understand a spouse with ADHD would be great!

    1. I am usually a passive observer here, but I felt a need to reply to your comment. My husband and I BOTH have ADHD. There are advantages and disadvantages to both your situation and mine. This is true in any marriage, although a marriage that involves ADHD often has pros and cons that may look a little different. Have you ever heard of Dr. Edward Hallowell? He has a website (and a facebook and twitter and email newsletter) and has written many books on various aspects of life with ADHD. He has a book specifically about marriage and ADHD, as well as an entire section on his website. He has lots of great advice for exactly what you are asking. Check out

  6. Replies
    1. And also I love that your wife called you out on being cheesy. I am the cheesy one and my husband loves to make fun of me. We always have a good laugh about it though. But when things are serious he knows how to wear that hat even if something super cheesy comes out of my mouth. I love being married to my best friend. It is the best thing in my life!!

  7. Josh and Lilly - Like a million other folks my first read of your blog was the day you came out. That's what brought me to the Weeds but what kept me on your page (after page after page) was your honest reflections of life in all of its color and experience. I stayed up unto the wee hours that first night laughing until I cried at some of your fantastic blogs. Likely you'll weary, if you haven't already, of the "Gay Married Mormon Guy" title. To me you're the Hilarious Articulate Blogger Guy, who wallops a powerful positive message about life, marriage and kids. I get a dose of Weed (I know, you've heard it all) whenever I'm overwhelmed and I always walk away with a smile on my face and a determination to keep on keeping on. Here's hoping the world doesn't box you into only one facet of who you are; you're so much more. Thanks for the smiles!

    1. I'll give an amen to that amen.

    2. M3 t00. I came for the coming-out party, and stayed for the fantastic writing.

  8. Can I just say. tonight I am having one of those nights with my hubby. In fact its been one of those weeks. Alot of it is me. He is sitting working and working even at this late at night and I wonder what is more important in his life. His family or his work. Yes part of it is me because I can't be patient enough with him. I know he is under a lot of stress at work because we are leaving on vacation tomorrow. I should be more understanding but I just am not at this point. It was no fun packing everyone up, cleaning the whole house, doing all the yardwork, and still doing my own school work to try to finish up while he continues just to work. Should I be upset is my question? Or should I be understanding of his work life. I am just sitting here feeling bad and underappreciated. When I try to ask him if he think he is able to leave on vacation without having to work the whole time he just gets mad at me and starts treating me back. Just extremely frustrated right now, and really overall just tired because I have been trying to do everything for everyone so that we have a good vacation..

    just venting.

    1. No advice here, yet. I'll be pondering it. Maybe one. "Be upset" or "be understanding"? Maybe, both? Love yourself, and love him, as much as you can, and forgive yourself, and him, as much as you can, including forgiving yourself for not being loving and forgiving enough. Don't give up hope.

    2. I'll pray for your vacation, and your family.

    3. I felt better after I wrote the initial post but probably should have just written it to delete it and not posted it lol.. Sometimes a person needs to write down there frustrations. THanks for your encouragement.

    4. I guess if you are reading blogs and he is still working then it turns out that you did have more time than him. Bear in mind that a husband and breadwinner often sees working hard at his career as an expression of love for his family. If he works and you are at school he is supporting you (and children?) and possibly feels that responsibility very heavily.
      Have a happy and relaxed holiday (yes, I'm English) both of you.

    5. We've been married 21 years and I am the one who cleans and packs so we can go anywhere. To a certain extent you just have to except your husband as he is and hope time might change some of this. You will both be relieved when yoy're on the road. And I have she'd too many tears of frustration to know it's not worth it to start the vacation angry. You have to then waste time getting to the point you can hold hands and walk through the door to the other side.

  9. Oh, no! Josh! I'm crushed. You should reconsider your life's choices. If you were in a healthy gay relationship, you would never ever have such suboptimal experiences.

    Well, on the other hand, it makes me feel better as I also have arguments with my wife. I'm just concerned that you now ruined your reputation among gay folks who consider engaging in heterosexual relationship. I'm also concerned that it would be now harder for those who would want to use your story as a justification for encouraging mix orientation marriages to pursue their agenda.

    Yes, Josh, I'm crushed, and I'm concerned.

    1. FG, I find it hard to tell when you are being sarcastic and when serious. Do you really think that any vaguely intelligent person could think this post points to a weaker relationship that we first thought?!

    2. Gemma, He was being sarcastic.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Some call sarcasm the lowest form of wit. I think that on a forum like this, it merely alienates people. I have to say though, with FG Mormon having a wife in the hospital and 2 children, he seems to have a lot of time to post.

    5. I'm stay-at-home dad. That's why. ;)

  10. See, I think this is awesome. My husband is VERY non confrontational. This is us:
    Me: I am miserable. I need to talk about this.
    Him: Well I dont really like that but...(if nobody is dying, lets not change anything ever).
    It's really hard to solve problems like this. Mostly, nothing gets resolved and he thinks everything is ok. Sometimes, I have acted immaturely to push the issue and get to talk about it. I wish we could resolve things so directly!

    1. Anon, have you tried couples counseling? That has been a tremendous help to my spouse and I in learning how to mesh our two very different communication styles. Best of luck to you.

    2. Anon 2:06 AM,

      I've been thinking about this, what if your partner isn't committed to improving the relationship, *for both of you*?

      First of all, are you committed to improving the relationship, *for both of you*?

      Next, regardless of appearances and what he says, you can never be sure that your partner is *not* committed to that. It *is* a possibility, though. I would suggest considering both possibilities, the best possibilities for the future you can imagine in each case, and what you can do in each case to help move things in that direction.

      Also, of course, if you see yourself in a relationship with God, don't forget whatever you know about that! Otherwise, whatever you know about any other sources of power and inspiration, including other people, books, and professionals.

      Patty just reminded me yesterday of something I learned from The Celestine Prophecy: One way to get energy, without draining it from others, is from beauty.

  11. I'm a new follower and I've been reading the last two posts here and I must say, I love your blog!! With that said, if anybody thinks for one second that marriage is all just peaches and cream, well they're living in denial or they're too afraid to talk about what really goes on behind closed doors! I love my husband to death and wouldn't trade him for anything in the world but we've had our fair share of fights as well! My motto is, "The only way out is through," You'd be surprised how many people bicker and fight just once and then they're throwing in the towel. Both me and my husband could have thrown in the towel a time or two if not more but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and I have found that when you give your partner what you want most of all, it feels really good and others can apply that same advice to their marriage. If it's understanding you want, give your partner understanding. If it's affection you want, go for it. You'll feel better! Trust me! This was a great post! Thanks for sharing with us!! Can't wait to see what you cook up next! :)

  12. I love this post. I love how normal it makes you sound. And I love how easy it is for everyone to relate. And then suddenly it dawned on me, what a perfect example of the same-ness of gay and straight relationships.
    You see, I too have the same arguments with my not-spouse. (we are not allowed to be married, as we are in a same sex relationship). I actually smiled at the shoe story because it reminded me of the first big argument she and I had which was over...bread. Yes, bread. We had just moved in together and she liked to eat one certain kind of bread and I liked to eat another and instead of being adults because of the stress of moving and everything it turned into this big argument.
    And we too, learned that the only way to solve a problem is to not ignore it. The thing is, just as you and Lolly are close because of your struggles, a gay relationship grows close because in order to maintain a healthy and happy relationship with all the negativity thrown at us constantly about who we are we have to constantly communicate and talk about what is happening. All gay couples do really, or else it will all crumble under the stress of the outside world.

    It's amazing to me, how different people claim we are. Yet how the same we really are.

  13. @ Anonymous July 3, 6am
    I LOVE THAT LAST SENTENCE!!!!!!!!!!!! We really are all the same..... to keep any sort of healthy relationship, be it marriage, friendship, or even family..... we have to communicate. We have to realize that even though we do have different characteristics; we have the same needs. We need love, we need understanding..... so many more things. I loved this post.
    I also loved the calling out of cheeseyness and the shoe-throwing :)

  14. I heart you guys! I heart Lolly for being Lolly and I heart Josh and his cheesy, cheesy heart. Heart.

  15. This post is so right on. Real and right on the money. LIke you both. Thanks so much for writing it--i'm going to print it out, actually--it's profound in ways relationship advice hardly ever is. Blessings!

  16. This is delightful, and so true.

    My husband and I took a marriage prep class in college that emphasized a lot of these same principles you talk about here. Sadly, it didn't really sink in until we were watching Modern Family. If you're familiar with the show, there is a gay couple, and one, Cameron, is often emotionally volatile. He was reacting, you might say poorly to something (can't remember what) and his partner was displeased with this. Finally, Cameron said, very fairly, "I'm having a reaction. You need to let me have my reaction!"

    While it was very funny, it was so true! Now, to break the tension when things get thick between me and my man, one or the other of us will say "You need to let me have my reaction!" and we will laugh a little, and then give the other person the time we need to emotionally absorb.

    Love this post.

  17. Ha ha, the last part was so funny - about the fight about the editing. :)

  18. "We don't let bad feelings last." There is the key. I remember reading an academic study about the line between conflict and trouble in a relationship. It didn't depend on the frequency of arguments. It didn't depend on the intensity either. It all depended on how swiftly things were resolved. It is festering resentment which is truly cancerous to a relationship.

    I found the first year of marriage our hardest. In so many ways being a newly-wed was wonderful, but we had blazing rows in that first year like nothing since. I remember sitting up in bed (with my mouth open because crying had made me so congested I could hardy breathe) wondering what sort of a massive mistake had I made. But that first year is about knocking each other's corners off and learning with each other how to become liveable-with people and share a life together.

    Sixteen years later our marriage goes from strength to strength, and I still adore this wonderful man who, miracle of miracles, seems to love me back.

  19. I love it! Thank you for sharing. The whole world needs to read and grasp this concept. Communication in marriage is, I think, one of the hardest things to do. I'm glad that a couple I admire and love so much goes through conflict as well. :) Love you guys!

  20. Perfect timing! Goodness... My man and I had been fighting since we woke up this morning. Then he left, issues unresolved -- although, as some have mentioned before in these comments, our methods are not always verbal, push through, sometimes we just need a little distance. Then I came online and saw Josh's post. God never misses a beat I'm telling you. Well, the post was comforting and disconcerting at the same time because... well I'm not gonna go into that actually. What I'd like to say is that I'm discovering that a great deal of TRUST is being asked of me while being in this relationship. And instead of depending or leaning on our own powers of communication, we are being asked to depend much more on God, through prayer, communication with Him! Because the truth is that our love for each other, this great GIFT from God, runs deeper within our beings than our own imperfect, weak attempts to communicate. The issues and emotions we face are greater than our ability to work through them. Most of the time we have to just ask God to do the work for us. We try, we argue, we exhaust ourselves, doing our best to understand each other, but ultimately, it is TRUST in Him that keeps us together. It is like something magical that holds everything in place. "Do not fear, only believe," Jesus says. This is what makes miracles happen. And on that note, I thank you once again for writing Josh & Lolly! :)

    1. I really love what you've said...I totally get this.

    2. Ditto to Anon 11:13. Anda, you've said so much that I would have liked to say, but didn't know how. I'm bursting with gratitude and joy!

      Distance, yes, and Patty and I have learned that it does both of us a lot of good to have some time home alone.

  21. Totally off topic and just fyi:

    Since your unicorn post, I find myself looking over the ward and trying to guess who might be in your club.

  22. I have been following your blog ever since the "coming out" post. This is the first time I've commented. When I read the part in your coming out post that this was something that you've never felt shame from your parents or yourself, I did not believe you. When I realized that you were sincere, I resented you. I am trying to work through this feeling along with other negative emotions that I carry with me.

    Our stories may be completely different and although I don't consider myself gay, I am able to relate to those who do. I have been a member of the church all of my life and have always tried to do what my Heavenly Father has wanted me to do. I served a mission, married in the temple, and am the proud father of an spunky seven year old. The trial that I cannot seem to overcome and will carry with me for the duration of this life is that I want to be a woman. I have felt great shame over this from my parents, church leaders, and most of all from myself. I have pleaded with my Heavenly Father to help me through this and have become bitter towards Him and the church. I do not want to have any of these feelings.

    I do not expect you or anyone else to have the answer to my situation, as you explained that your situation should not be held up as the model for all GLBT people to work towards. Currently, I am working with a church therapist and have come a long way. I am working on accepting my "whole self." I do admire your courage and commitment to your wife. Thank you for being a great example, I'm sure it is not easy putting your life out there for others to scrutinize.
    BTW my wife thinks Lolly is amazing and feels a connection with her.

    1. I think you are amazing for having the courage to admit those feelings to yourself. Whatever decision you make on how to go forward with that with your wife, child, family and church, being able to love and accept yourself is always the first and most important step.
      Go you!
      My aunt married a man who we later found out had the same struggle all his life. We do not practice the same religion and so he chose to transition and is now an amazing and happy woman. Though that may not be your path, I am sharing that only to tell you I understand that it's not an easy burden to carry.
      I don't think God is there to take those feelings away from us, but to help us discover how those feelings fit into our personal journeys that he has laid out for us. I hope that you can pray for him to show you how this fits into your journey, because I bet there is a reason for it.

    2. It is great you admitted that!! I will say though bwing a women is a pain in the butt.... Lol. I am a women so I can say it.. Women are moody, crotchey and are very Catey about things. They have sO much more to worry about then men I think. And who wants to be a object or prize trophy instead of being seen as a human being. I swear people just look at my chest more then me lol... Although I wouldn't change my gender for anything because god gave me it, I sure don't find being a women fun!!! The grass is not always greener on the other side. :). Food for thought.

    3. My question for you is why do you want to be a women? Is there a reason behind your desire to be a women.

    4. To "Anon July 3, 2012 11:03 AM" -
      I wish you all the best on your journey to accept your "whole self." I think you and your wife are very courageous for dealing with your situation. I am LDS and I hope that you can work through those negative feelings towards God and towards the church, and that you will be able to feel God’s immense love for you and your family. I hope you will feel a greater love and acceptance of yourself, and I hope you will be healed of feelings of shame, in due time. As Josh has explained, it is okay to have strong feelings. Even if he hasn’t felt shame about his homosexuality, he isn't perfect, and he has felt other negative feelings that he had to deal with. (Like getting angry and hyper-sensitive towards his wife, as a small example.)

      I have a testimony that God loves all of His children (meaning every human being) and that He knows our desires, hopes, regrets, and struggles better than any one else on this earth. Even the most difficult and complex struggles.

      To other readers - I hope we can respect Anon's privacy. Josh and Lolly waited for their "coming out" post until they were comfortable doing so. If Anon is working with a therapist, it might be insensitive to pry into his story at this time.

      Maybe others can continue this discussion though, if it is of interest.

    5. Anon 11:03 AM,

      It isn't clear to me from your post if you are considering a transition or not. In any case, I hope you can learn to see your desire to be a woman, as a gift. I do. I even envy you a little. It seems to me it could be very valuable. For example, you might be much less a part of the problem of violence against women, than I am, or ever can be.

      Once I tried to see myself as a woman, and the first feeling that came over me, almost overwhelming me was "I'm not safe. Anywhere. Any time."

      Speaking of gifts, I see homosexuality the same way, as a gift.

    6. Gender Identity Disorder is what it sounds like what you have. That is very very difficult for anyone to struggle with, more so of course if you've had to repress it. So kudos to you for being able to admit it. That's huge.
      I wonder if there are any support groups in your area? Or any psychiatrists who specialize in this? A church therapist would only know so much I imagine. I trust that the therapist isn't making you feel even worse about what you have - that would only add to your depression and bitterness.
      What you have and what you are struggling with is not a sin - it is a condition although the exact cause is still up for debate. so there is absolutely no reason for you to feel guilty or bad about yourself or 'less than.'
      And I totally agree with another commenter that you shouldn't feel that you have to share more - and the folks who are saying 'being a woman is tough' or 'why do you want to be a women - uh, I think they mean woman singular?" are perhaps not getting the depth of your struggle and I worry that you could be more upset by those comments.
      I really hope you can find a support group - either in person or online - as those going through it will understand it so much more than anyone on here can.
      I would say the same about homosexuality (and I realize that you are not gay. Gender identity and sexual identity are completely different things)- that those who are gay would certainly have a greater understanding of it than anyone else. I wouldn't just listen (or listen at all) to FG Mormon but rather, would look to other gay people outside of the Mormon church as well. my computer kept losing the internet last night but I had tried to put together here a list of some young people who had killed themselves in the last few years because of being gay and there were at least 20 people on the list. According to stats, young gay people are three times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids. Wow.
      Anyway, I hope people on here can be super sensitive to what you are going through. I hope you are able to filter out in your mind the less sensitive comments.

    7. Anon @ 6:17pm I have been trying to put together a comment in my head that made sense and I think you said what I wanted to say except way better than I could have said it.

      I just wanted to put this link in here

      Its a cool graphic for anyone that wants to better understand the difference between gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and biological sex.

      Anon @ 11:03am looking at that graphic might help you to get a grasp on what you're feeling or find some way to more or less "place" yourself. Sometimes its hard for (even accepting) cisgender folks to understand what it is like to go through life looking the mirror and not being able to see yourself. It's a strange and painful experience and the worst part is sometimes having nobody to talk to.
      You can't go to girls nights, and you don't really fit in at guys what are you supposed to do?
      Anyways, if you ever need someone to talk to...let me know and we can find someway to talk either anonymously or not. I am both christian (though not mormon) and struggling with the same issue.

    8. I have to think hard about what my gender means to me, because I am not in any way conflicted and have the luxury of being able to take a lot for granted, so please bear with me if I cause any offense and put it down to ignorance, not intent.

      I have read a few articles and interviews about GID and confess to having felt mildy offended at each one. That is because the men's main reasons in each case have seemed to be wanting to wear make-up and high heels and carry pretty handbags. I accept that this might just be bad journalism, but it does come across as wrapping up womanhood in the most superficial and meaningless terms. There is so much more to me being a woman than the trinkets and trappings.

      If your desires to live as a woman go deeper than this, it's harsh, but there is really no solution. Any sort of hormonal or surgical treatment (which I would implore you not to do) is likely to be an unsatisfying halfway house. You will never feel a child move within you or suckle at your breast. Sorry, really not meaning to gloat or be mean, just trying to be real. I suspect that the best you could hope for of your relationship with your children is that it will not change. You will never become their Mum. You will still be their dad - who is now a woman.

      In reading around transsexualism make sure you read stories like this - There are plenty of others.

      I wish you peace and love and understanding.

    9. Reading my comment I realise that I too am guilty of making womanhood a single-issue thing. I guess for me it has always been tied up in my potential for and realisation of motherhood. I know that might now seem offensive to women who can't conceive who, can I stress, are no less of women. Gosh - what kind of hole am I digging for myself here? I think I'd better go.....

    10. As Anon @6:17 PM alluded, I find myself quite incapable in offering any kind of advice to Anon @11:03 AM besides offering my unequivocal love & support.

      I personally find Anon 11:03's situation for an order of magnitude more difficult than mine, and I am at awe for what he has accomplished so far in his life. I would remain at awe for his accomplishments even if from this day forth he makes every single decision in his life 180 degrees opposite to what I would believe is right.

    11. Gemma,

      I see the original Anon not responding here. And after some thought I do feel compelled to "defend" (in quotes because I don't know if that's the best choice of word since you weren't "attacking) gender confusion and identity issues. Though I can't say what he is feeling, I can say what I feel. But as a disclaimer, mine is opposite I was born female and find myself flipping from that identity.

      I'm not sure that gender can be boiled down to any actions, its more of a feeling. For example, women (in our society) are often stay at home mothers. Does that mean that when a father chooses to stay at home with the kids he is wishing to be a woman? No, of course not, he is just choosing to stay at home, it has nothing to do with his manhood. The same for men, they often times are the fix-its in the home, but when a woman is the handy-woman does that make her wish to be a man? Surely it does not take away her femininity.

      To identify as a gender is a much deeper feeling one that almost can't be described with words. It can only be described by trying to ask yourself to imagine why you DON'T wish to be a man. (of course a father has a connection to his children, so that argument is hard to use) But the way you would feel in a man's body if you are a cisgender woman is terrible. You would feel out of place, uncomfortable, just wrong. You would not be yourself. Your soul and your body would not match.

      It is because the question "what is gender" is hard to answer. And can only be answered in the soul.

      I think I failed at this post and my ability to explain it but I am going to click publish just in case you are able to weed through my messy thoughts and find some explanation.

    12. Anon 8:25 AM,

      I was glad to see this post. I know you weren't talking to me, but I wanted you to know, anyway.

  23. I have similar experiences with the intensity of emotion from my wife. And I like the way your wife articulated her feelings about it. My wife and I just barely posted an argument on our blog that we've been having for readers to weigh in on. Although it's interesting to read what others have to say about our issue (regarding intimacy with our daughter), it was probably even more valuable for us to be forced to articulate our perspectives with the written word, which we then discussed more carefully after having read each other's perspectives.

    We've not done a lot of this yet, but it's an interesting idea to me that we might uncover some important truths by reading what the other has to say about areas in which we have conflict. It allows us to get a holistic sense of the other's perspective without interrupting it with involuntary outbursts.

    Here's where we wrote about it:

  24. We have learned that sometimes it is ok to go to bed mad and not every problem has to be talked through. The hard part is figuring which is which.

    1. Patty and I learned that too.

      I used to be afraid of leaving any problem unresolved. I was afraid that any problem left unresolved would threaten the future of our relationship.

      Insisting on working through every problem can do more harm than good, it it's one person imposing it on the other. If one partner isn't willing to do it, that doesn't necessarily mean she isn't committed to improving the relationship, and it doesn't mean the relationship can't improve. If both partners are committed to improving the relationship, *for both*, the relationship will improve.

  25. Thanks for including that end conversation/fight - so hilarious! Perfect ending to a great post. Write on, cheese!

  26. "If you're gonna feel guilty about it, you might as well just take the stuff back."

    I'm sitting here reading this at a McDonald's in Washington DC because pretty much the whole area is without power and it is the only place that's open. I have to confess that, when I read the above mentioned statement, I audibly gasped at a sufficiently loud level that the two old ladies across from me who were splitting a McFlurry asked me if everything was okay. Having been married for 25 years, I remember the first time I said something that dumb -- I had been married 4 days. I remember the last time I said something equally dumb. It was this morning. You'd think I would have learned a few things by now. What I have learned is that I have NOT learned a few things by now. I guess that's what the NEXT 25 years are for!

  27. Josh, this post is amazing, all on message. Your previous posts had a format, topic-sidetrack-provocative question, but this one is just topic. Real unicorns don't break windows, by the way (just kidding).

    The comments show your readers don't realize you didn't say anything about your Big Issue, that you are or were, or were thought to be, gay. You seem to be aiming for a non-controversial, family-friendly blog. I am worried.

    I did a Google search on Josh Weed, and it came up with lots of rage and hate from professional gay-rights activists, saying you could not be a real homosexual. It sounded like the guys in the locker room saying you were not a real man. But they mean business. Have they started to intimidate you?

    You and your sweet wife may not have realized you were confronting, when Josh broke his story, the Gates of Hell. Jesus said the Gates of Hell could not stand against his Church, but I don't know what spiritual resources the Mormon Church gives to its members for that fight.

    If you are backing away from The Issue, that's all right. You have a family, you have a life. You have my permission (I'm one of your admiring fans) to shut the blog down. You have made an impressive statement (a man who thinks he is gay can marry a woman and like it), and it may be enough.

    1. I don't think Josh is backing away from any issue just because he writes a post which is not directly related. I don't think he ever intends this blog to become a single-issue blog and I sincerely hope it doesn't become one. Josh has far to much humour and wisdom to share on all topics. Don't put him in a box of just-a-gay-married-man.

    2. 1) Josh doesn't need your permission to shut the blog down, if he for some reason wanted to...its his blog so, unless you Anon 9:49pm are actually Lolly, no Josh doesn't need your permission. (I don't think he NEEDS hers either, but her opinion would matter so so much to him I imagine)
      2) I don't think Josh is backing away from the issue at all by simply stating that he and Lolly fight. He is saying that for straight women to marry gay men does not mean that the marriage is perfect or ideal. He is making a point.
      3) In what way, exactly, are Josh and Lolly confronting the "gates of hell" as you say? And what is it that he needs to be fighting so hard?
      4) Yes there was a lot of anger (mostly born out of fear it seemed) from some LGBT and ally folks after the initial coming out post, and yes it was hard to read because of the fear of backlash and fear of gay and lesbian kids being forced into lifestyles like Josh's. And probably there are still some LGBT-A people that see josh as a fraud but that doesn't give you a right to hate them (love breeds love). I think Josh's story is doing a great job of bridging that terrifying gap between the religious right and the LGBT-A community.

    3. Gemma, I'm with you in trusting and hoping that Josh will treat us to his humor and wisdom on all topics, and not only the one issue of homosexuality.

      Anon 9:49 PM,

      At first I was surprised, and I confess, a little disappointed, not to see more responses to previous discussions.

      My priority now is to avoid distracting from discussions that people want to have about their own personal situations, in relation to the topic of a post. Maybe I'm not the only one.

      I would be disappointed though, to see those other discussions die, especially with some people I would miss. I would like to continue those discussions with anyone who would like to continue them with me, if we could find some other blog or forum that would be convenient for you. Let me know here, or in a private message.

    4. In case it wasn't clear, I meant, maybe I'm not the only one who's trying to avoid getting in the way of on-topic discussions.

    5. I find that Josh is moderating our discussion with this post. I don't think that he necessarily does that on purpose, he simple feels that it is a time to steer the discussion away from some topics and steer it towards some other. If you allow me to be presumptuous (as if you haven't learned by now that I typically don't ask anyone's permission for that), I believe that his latest post is still about the Big issue, only written between the lines.

      I think that Anon @11:15 PM understood it well.

    6. And yes, I think that the Big issue will return back in the lines full force rather soon.

    7. Anon July 3, 2012 9:49 pm,

      If you've read any of the post's previous to the unicorn post you'd know that Josh's blog is not just for one topic, centered on all about being a gay Mormon married man. This blog is a blog about real life everyday issues that we can mostly all relate to. They also happen to be quite funny, which keeps us coming back for more. So, this post is exactly in line with the intention of this blog. Keep the humor coming, Josh!

  28. Have you thought about writing about other difficulties in marriage? I am so impressed with the way you and Lolly have handled your homosexuality, and I WISH my husband and I could be that open about his pornography issues. There are a million questions I wish I could ask, how can I ask them?

    1. I am also the wife of a porn addict. What stops you from asking your questions? It has taken a few years but now when I have a question- I ask. Email me if you want to talk. Hisstrugglemystruggle@gmail dot com

  29. hahaha.... oh I love this post! I have only been married for almost 8 months.. and we have gone through very similar petty fights. We fight over something petty, then try our best pushing through the conflict(which sucks and is hard work), usually laughing about it in the end, and then forgiving and moving on. It is a breath of fresh air recognizing that EVERYONE has struggles and problems. A HUGE lesson I have learned is that I can NEVER compare my marriage or husband to someone else's. It's not fair and it never ends with my marriage any better :) Also we can never know what is going on behind closed doors in any marriage. It's just silly in every way. Anyways, I just wanted to write a couple of my thoughts and thank you for your awesome blog. Also I read your "coming out" post, it was incredible! I have always believed that you can do what you are doing, live your religion and be gay... you are an inspiration to so many people. Thanks for "coming out" :)

  30. thank you, i feel like this was written JUST FOR ME!!! thank you times fifty. and thanks for making laugh.... man that closing argument rocks.

  31. Josh - I loved the shoe story. A long time ago my husband and I had a fight (can't remember what about... of course), which somehow resulted in my tossing a loaf of frozen bread dough at him and saying "find, then you cook dinner." Well, he didn't catch the very dense loaf of dough, which landed in his lap, which hurt, which caused him to throw the frozen dough back towards the kitchen, which missed the opening to the kitchen and made a hole in the wall. Frozen bread dough. Who knew? Luckily, our landlord thought the story was so funny, he didn't even make us pay to repair the hole.

    P.S. I live in Seattle and LOVE your blog. I secretly hope that some day I will spot you or Lolly around this tiny little city so that I can tell you in person that you guys are awesome.

  32. Thank you, Josh and Lolly. Thank you for being you. You guys are inspiring. You don't even know how many lives you are touching and for how much good. Including mine. Thank you.