Let’s cut to the chase: I’m divorcing Ian.

For this post, in the interest of balance and because this topic so deeply impacts both of us, Ian and are each going to share our perspectives.


Now for some context, without getting into unnecessary detail. Despite uncountable hours of marriage and individual therapy, we got to a point where I couldn’t envision living the rest of my life in our marriage. It took me a long time to accept that I needed to take this step, and I’m not doing it because I hate Ian — I don’t.

I’m doing it because despite a truly Herculean good-faith effort on both our parts, we couldn’t build a relationship that was healthy for both of us, and I’m finally accepting that reality. I hope that this gives both of us the opportunity to continue growing into healed, whole, healthy people.

Ian and I married 18 years ago when I was 19 years old. Marriage has defined my entire adult life. Even though it’s ending, our relationship has made me who I am today.

I am truly thankful for this relationship and for the journey of growth it’s led me on — to being a stronger, happier, and more whole person than I was nearly twenty years ago. A confident person who’s ready for the next phase of life, one where I navigate these complicated waters with a strong foundation of knowledge in my own value, facing an unknown future not with fear but anticipation.

If I could do everything over again, I would, even knowing that we get to this point. It hurts — it hurts so much sometimes. I think we may be contributing to a significant percentage of the Kleenex company’s quarterly profits. But change, even necessary change, does hurt. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

I firmly believe that there’s no failure except where I don’t learn from my choices, even choices that end in pain. Yes, of course, I also have to take the consequences of those choices. But if I learn and grow from my decisions, I haven’t failed. I only fail if I take nothing from the experience.

So, while this marriage is ending, I’m not counting it a failure. Over these 18 years, I’ve learned and grown so much, and over the next months and years, I know I’ll continue doing so. That’s not failure. That’s life.

Ian and Katie Smile
August 9, 2003 – Such hopeful children.
Katie at Mt Rainier
August 25, 2021 – Older, more experienced, but still hopeful.


On Sunday, August 22nd, 2021 at 11:20 AM, Katie spoke the words that shattered my world.  “I no longer see a future for us.  I want to get divorced.”

The next 24 hours were a blur of emotional turmoil the likes of which I had never experienced before.  By the time I fell asleep I was mentally and emotionally exhausted.

I woke up Monday morning wanting to be angry.  To hate her for putting me through this.  But God intervened to save me from myself.  I recognized that I too played a part in this mess.  Katie may have opened the door and walked through it, but I worked to push her there, and so I could no longer condemn her.  In that moment God was able to draw the poison of anger and bitterness from my heart and replace it with a new conviction.  

The new conviction is this: we may no longer share a bond of romantic love, but I need to love Katie the way God loves her.  Not just for the sake of Benji, but for hers as well.  Because she is a person made in God’s image and she is worthy of being loved.  Part of love is sacrifice. If our marriage is ending no matter what then maybe the most loving thing for me to do is to sacrifice our marriage and help bury it so that we can both heal.

And with this new found purpose I can honestly say: I love Katie, I care about Katie, and I want the best for her. 

The days and weeks and months ahead are going to be really hard and really unpleasant, to put it mildly.  But God promises to work out everything for good.  Not that He caused this or planned it or wants it, but He can redeem it.  Through our 20 years of being together, Katie saw in me what I couldn’t see in myself.  Her love, support, and influence has made me a better person than I would have been on my own.  To honor Katie and the relationship we had, I’m not giving up on myself but instead making this the new starting point on my journey to wholeness.

2 thoughts on “Not everything is forever

  1. My prayers and thoughts are with you all. I am very impressed with both your letters. Take care. Love, Mary Lane

  2. We have seen you last at your marriage. We have heard about your incredible smart boy, Fred and Jane have bragged about him a lot. Whatever your new future will bring, you have created a special human being. Even in divorce, this will keep you connected. We saw your parents and grandparents last night, celebrating Fred’s 89th birthday. You have a very special family. Good luck, with love and a hug,

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