LGBTQ+ Pride Month

After Divorcing Their Husbands And Marrying Each Other, These Women Found True Happiness

"Our long and difficult road to share our love openly had really turned out well!"

June marks LGBTQ+Pride Month, a time when millions across the U.S. and the globe recognize the impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have had on society.

We both thought we were there to learn German. The Bosch company of Germany paid the way for about twenty German teachers from Virginia and Wisconsin to study at the University of Tübingen for four weeks in the summer of 1987. I hadn't been back to Germany since 1961, when I studied there as a university student. I'd taught German for a couple years, and then stopped to raise my two young daughters. I also taught Special Education for several years. In 1985, a position as a high-school German teacher opened in my district. I discovered that some of my students, who were the children of military parents, knew much more about German culture than I did. It was time to go back.

Sandy and I were two of three students in the program who lived in the old town center of Tübingen. The third one was an older fellow who spent most evenings in the German pubs. The other students lived a little way out of town, and because of limited bus transportation, usually headed right home after classes. So Sandy and I walked home together, usually ate dinner together, and then spent the evening together working on our homework or project. We had paired up to present information about "Freizeit in der kleinen deutschen Universitätsstadt, Tübingen" (Free time in the little German university city of Tübingen). Because of our topic, there was much that we could do around the town during the evening. We went to movies, visited a different restaurant every evening, went to the pedestrian zone for shopping, and visited playgrounds, swimming pools and even a nearby campground.

After our first week at the seminar, other students started asking if we taught together or knew each other in the States. We explained that we had just met when the seminar started, but I'm sure some of them didn't believe us. We were so comfortable with each other from the very beginning.

During the four weeks, the seminar also provided us with tours of neighboring regions of Germany. We usually sat together on the tour bus and roomed together if we had overnight stays. One of the requirements of the seminar was that we speak German all the time. German teachers don't usually have colleagues in their schools to practice with, the way Spanish teachers often do, so this was an important part of our program. On one trip, when Sandy and I had been chatting well into the night, we finally broke the rule around 2:00 a.m. and spoke English because we were so tired.

I learned that Sandy had lived in Norfolk, Virginia, her whole life. I had grown up and lived in Michigan until I was forty and moved to Virginia for job opportunities. I was surprised that she didn't have much of a southern accent. I've since learned that what many northerners think of as a southern accent is either from the Far South or rural areas. Norfolk was neither.

While we walked around Tübingen and traveled to other towns, we picked up items that would be useful to decorate our classrooms. We packed several boxes of McDonald's tray covers, ads for concerts or products, and ticket stubs from train and bus rides—anything that could show our students what Germany was really like. We took the boxes to the post office one day and had them all sent to Sandy's house. Subconsciously, we were probably thinking that we would then have an excuse to get together again once we got back home. I was then living in Chesterfield County, outside of Richmond, Virginia, about ninety miles away from Norfolk.

During our stay, Sandy was keeping a calendar of our activities, and I had a mini-journal going. After a couple weeks, we both noticed, but didn't mention it to each other, that our events were more about "dinner with Marcia" and "visit to the library with Sandy" than about what we did. The "with whom" was becoming more and more important.

We all had home-stays, living with townsfolk. Both of our guest families soon realized that someone else was often tagging along with their visitor. There was a typewriter in my room, so we often went there to work on writing up parts of our project. Other times, we would spend the evening at Sandy's place, where we would work on getting the slides ready for our presentation.

Soon, our four-week seminar was over. Sandy flew home immediately, and I took a few days to travel to the little country of Liechtenstein by train. I enjoyed the little country, the majestic mountains, the flooding, the rushing Rhine river, and the colorful buildings. But I couldn't get my mind off Sandy and what was going on with my emotions.

I learned later that she was going through the same emotional upheaval. We were married, with children, and our lives were suddenly taking a 180-degree turn. We thought we were the only two women in the world who had ever gone through something like this. This was back in 1987, after all.

Back home, when our package of German-language posters arrived, I drove to Norfolk so we could share our treasures. That was the first of many trips across I-64 between Norfolk and Richmond. We would meet about every six weeks, sometimes in Colonial Williamsburg, which was halfway between us. We also wrote many letters each week—in German, of course—always fearful that we would be found out. Both of our families knew of our friendship, and we had all met each other. But the true fact of our growing love was not mentioned, seldom even by the two of us.

After about eight years, we still hadn't figured out what to do with our relationship. Sandy went into counseling to help her sort out her emotions. After a bit, she divorced her husband of twenty-four years. She just couldn't imagine the celebration of a twenty-five-year marriage. He was an alcoholic, and this made for a good excuse for her children and friends.

I still could not bring myself to ask for a divorce. Eventually, as I approached my fortieth anniversary, I knew that I, too, needed to take that step. I went into therapy for a while, trying to get permission to make that move.

Finally, seventeen years after meeting Sandy, I got up the nerve and admitted to my husband that I was in love with Sandy. It was the hardest decision of my life, but I knew I would never be truly happy until I could live the life and love that I truly felt.

Sandy and I have now lived together for 14 years and were married in 2015. We went to the courthouse on June 26 of that year when the Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriages were legal.

Our families, friends and church are all supportive of our relationship. Even our ex-husbands have accepted our situation. Recently, at a dinner for my 22-year-old grandson's engagement announcement, I asked him if he had told his fiancée about his grandmas' relationship. He announced proudly, "Sure, I've been bragging on you two all along."

"Bragging" about his lesbian grandmas. What a concept. Our long and difficult road to share our love openly had really turned out well!

Story by Marcia Slosser, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More © 2018 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved. 

Cover image via I Shutterstock 


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