Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Bill + Shelley

Love Cover, Bill and Shelley OttOkay, everyone needs to read this beautiful story today on the Washington Post — the love story of Bill and Shelley. And make sure you watch the video, do NOT miss that. Have some tissues. If this doesn’t make you blub, even a little, well, you’re reptilian, or my ex-husband.

Finished? Had a good sniffle? Want someone to do the bootie shuffle with in the kitchen?

I loved this story. If you want to be hopeful about love, learn from the example of Bill and Shelley, two intellectually disabled (or whatever the PC term is these days) young people spending their first married Valentine’s Day together. They demonstrate so clearly what I try to say every day here at Chump Lady — love isn’t complicated. Good relationships are not hard with good people. It’s about finding someone to sit on the sofa with. You gets you. Who sees you as just beautiful.

“When I see her, she’s like a bright penny,” says Bill, who tucks his T-shirts into his jeans and wears a belt beneath his round belly. “She’s like the color of orange, like a real joyful, lively spirit. Her love is like pink. There is so much good in her that I really fell in love with.”

“Awww, honey,” Shelley says, blushing and pushing up her red-framed glasses. For her, she adds, the real gift is being “with someone who understands me. When other people think I’m talking in circles, he knows what I’m talking about. I don’t have to explain it. He just gets me.”

People with mental impairments were not always allowed to do simple human things, like fall in love and be coupled. They were institutionalized, sterilized. Not much was expected. It’s crazy how we legislate who can be in love and who cannot (I shall now begin my gay marriage rights rant…) One sad thing I found about this story is that Bill and Shelley cannot be legally married or they would lose their health insurance. What hellish loophole is THAT? But they’re committed, and by all purposes to everyone in their lives, they’re married.

When compared with cheaters — who’s to say who the real mental retards are? Bill and Shelley don’t appear too adept at duplicity. They lack the intellectual “advantages” required to arrange a double life, most likely. But that lack of a filter, in the service of love, is a beautiful thing to behold.

But as they sat together in December, watching a video of the wedding ceremony, Bill’s eyes welled up with tears and Shelley stroked his arm. “You were so handsome, honey,” she said.

“I know,” he replied with a nod.

“Don’t worry,” she added. “You’ll always be handsome.”

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • If I had a dollar for every time a cheater told a chump that the affair was hard to explain because it was so complicated and sophisticated, I would send the millions to Bill and Shelley so they could get married and tell Shelley’s insurance company to take a running f*ck at a rolling donut. Love is sometimes hard, sometimes painful, but if it’s done right it’s never more complicated than laughing together, dancing in the kitchen, or holding someone as they drift off to sleep. Beautiful story.

  • if i see the video il probably blubber.

    OMG for any happy couple i see it warms my heart..far too feww

    CL would you consider posting/commenting on

  • However wonderful their love is, I can understand why the rules are in place. As this site proves there are cunning, heartless people out there who would try to take advantage of those with legal low intelligence if they could.

    These two stand as a testament to real love in a way that puts movies and shows like Sex in the City to shame.

  • i meet soo many lonely people and so many people who are married or dating that are miserable. when i see 2 people that are happy together! anyone who isnt happy for the two of them can go kiss a horses ass…

  • After all the bullshit i have been through, it makes me so happy to see a happy ending, even if its not for me :)!!!

  • Thank you for the link to that beautiful story. Even though my face is a tear-stained mess now 🙂

    What I am struck by is that even though they technically have low intelligence, that their handicaps have made them more mature than many of us “normal” people. They seem to be more willing and accepting of the fact that life, marriage, happiness, etc., takes work! I will admit that until this shit happened to me, I didn’t really think I needed to work too much at my marriage. But it appears that since theses two are not used to things coming easily to them, they aren’t bent out of shape about going to therapy and having little disagreements or issues that they need to work on. They realize that even though they love each other completely and fit together in the most basic way, that life still isn’t going to be 100% perfect all the time. So, while their love itself is beautiful, I think it is the years of work and obstacles that they were willing to overcome together in order to be together that makes this story even more beautiful.

    • Excellent point aE! I think you’re on to something there, that Bill and Shelley don’t seem to do entitlement because things don’t come easily for them. That’s their baseline. Shelley’s mom makes that point too — we were so happy when she learned to tie her shoes — all those little milestones other people take for granted.

      I just think, hey, if you think you’ve got obstacles to love, chumps? Consider this story.

  • This is also a lesson to every bs out there. Hold out for someone that thinks you are like th color orange. Not worth suffering for someone who doesn’t feel thy way about you

  • Beautiful story!! And I agree with Pearl.. Hold out for someone that thinks the world if you, as Bill says of Shelley. He obviously summed up her personality in his statement saying she is like the color orange. The psychological meaning of orange on the color wheel is awesome: sociable, optimistic, enthusiastic, cheerful, self-confident, independent, flamboyant, extroverted and uninhibited, adventurous, the risk-taker, creative flair, warm-hearted, agreeable and informal. Sounds like quite a color to he huh? My favorite color by the way!

    They have a low IQ and handicaps. But you know what? Their EQ is totally apparent and strong. Their obstacles in life helped shape their determination to never quit. The love, loyalty, and strength they find in each other and show each other is priceless and special. We all could learn so many life lessons and love lessons in Bill and Shelley. So happy the found the real thing and work together to keep it!

  • I agree with another Erica. I was thinking exactly the same thing. They “get it” that relationships are work and that it is critical to prioritize and look for the best in each other!

  • It comes down to values.
    Bill and Shelley know the true value of their love.
    They have to work at it and deal with societies norms, government agencies etc about their position. But they prevail!
    Because they value their love so greatly that’s why they fight for it.
    Cheaters on the other hand find it too easy to cheat because in their eyes there are no consequences or that don’t care.
    Bill and Shelley care!

  • >