Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eighteen Years Together

I think today on our eighteenth anniversary it's OK for me to acknowledge that there are lots of reasons why my relationship with my husband might never have materialized, or why it might never have lasted.

  • My internalized homophobia.  (And the low self-esteem that comes with it.  The belief that someone like me doesn't deserve happiness in a long-term relationship.)
  • Racism.  (Interracial relationships seem more common in the gay community...  Can the experience of homophobia help us "get it"?  But we're still learning how deep this challenge runs...)
  • Religion.  (Do I need to comment on this one?  Why am I still having to fight for the right to marry the person I love?)
  • There are so few gay people in the world.  (Our marriage pool is about ten to twenty times smaller than it is for straight people!)
  • The culture of promiscuity in the community where we met.  (As if the gay marriage pool isn't already too small, it makes it even smaller when you subtract the folks who have given up looking for Mr. Right in favor of Mr. Right-Now.)
  • The pervasive assumption that relationships like ours just can't last.  (When we reconnect with friends from a long time ago: "Oh, you two are still together!  Wow!")
  • Family members who don't treat the most important person in your life like family.  (Thank God our immediate family members got over this early in our relationship.)
  • Economic stress, communication issues, trust issues, etc.  (Yes, of course we get to struggle with all the stuff that conventional straight couples struggle with too.)
  • Fear.  Yes, it's the opposite of love (not hate).

OK, so I should also celebrate all the things that have conspired to bring (and keep!) us together!

  • Just plain, dumb, luck.  I simply don't believe relationships are predestined.  Heck, nothing about anything in this world is predestined.  Children don't starve to death because they're predestined.  And people are certainly not predestined to be alone.  But if that's true, then I have to acknowledge that I am just plain lucky -- I was in the right place at the right time and somehow in spite of myself managed to meet the most incredible man and have him see something in me.  I still just so often wonder, why me?
  • Passion.  I still cry when I see him dance.  He's so incredibly beautiful.  I wish I could dance like that!
  •  Mystery.  Ultimately, I think, you decide to make your life with someone because another human being is a mystery to you, and you see something in that person that makes you feel the mystery is worth sticking around long enough to solve.  Hint: the mystery just keeps getting deeper!
  • He was there for me when I needed him, and I was there for him when he needed me.  Sometimes (not always) the storms of life bring us closer together.  Sometimes when the world turns against you, you have no choice but to turn to each other.  Somehow we remembered that even when we thought our heads were going to pop from all the stress, we needed to muster enough calm to help shelter the other.
  • Somehow our love outgrew our selfishness and our fear.  There are a lot of selfish, fearful reasons we get into relationships.  But somehow, eventually, you discover the other, and you realize that the best thing you can possibly do for yourself is to give him something worthwhile.
  • Forgiveness.  If you live with someone long enough, you will eventually fail the one person in the world you never ought to fail.  Sometimes those failures can be epic.  It takes courage to recognize what you've done and try to set things right, but it takes even more courage to forgive.

It's been worth it.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Im happy for you!

Holly said...

Congratulations! This is so beautiful. Love like this is so rare and precious that I rejoice whenever someone finds it. I honestly believe the world is a better place for me because you and your husband are happy.

Reuben said...

Happy Anniversary!!!

MidKnight543 said...

Congratulations! Your long term relationship is one reason that I continue to read your blog. I live in SLC and had to find you living in Minnesota so that I had at least one person/couple that I could relate to. Isn't it sad that there are so few gay couples that make it this far? I know what it's like, after our time together it gets better all of the time, but sometimes it's as though we just met.

Mind Of Mine said...

Wow, that is so sweet!

I am shit scared of relationships due to an 18 month prison sentence and this article has almost given me hope.

Brant Clements said...

Congratulations to you both, and may you have many more happy years together. This year I celebrated 30 years of marriage to my wife. She cries when I dance, too, but that's because I step on her feet. Life hasn't always been easier because of her, but it has always been better.

J G-W said...

Konrad - I know you've had your own struggles recently to feel respected in your relationship... Minor bumps in the overall journey though. Count yourself lucky!

Holly - Thanks. My one regret from Sunstone is that I didn't at some point sit down with you and talk... I hope we can remedy that at future a future symposium... My world is better because of you too.

Reuben! Thanks! I need to call you about the big bike trip! We'll have to stop for some anniversary ice cream on the way.

MidKnight543 - it does seem like there are few of us. It used to be, couples just disappeared from the gay scene. I guess understandable in some ways. But I think we're evolving toward a fuller, more healthy community. This whole marriage/Prop 8 drama will help refine us in that way, the way the AIDS epidemic did a generation ago... We'll get there!

Mind of Mine - Your comment makes me the happiest! You deserve the best that life has to offer, so nurture the fire of your "almost" hope...

Brant - Thanks! Yes, I step on his feet when we dance too. That's an almost perfect metaphor for marriage, ain't it?

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Congratulations. I'm glad that your reflections were part of the celebrations. It's one way to be grateful to the core. Also, I loved your point that fear is the opposite of love.

MoHoHawaii said...

Congratulations! Here's to 50 more!

Charlene said...

I'm a stranger too, and I congratulate you two for your courage and love. All there is in the world worth anything is love. Well there's guts and kindness too, but I think of those as love also.

J G-W said...

GMB - Thanks! Writing that post was a great way to start out my day yesterday... I spent the whole day basically counting my blessings...

MHH - We were actually doing some math. After 18 more anniversaries (when we're celebrating our 36th!) we'll be about "retirement" age. (Of course, in the "global economy" we probably won't be able to retire at that point.) Our goal is to live to be 100, and die peacefully in each other's arms. That would put us at our 72nd anniversary (or three more multiples of 18)! Better make sure we eat our spinach and do our push-ups!

Charlene - Welcome, stranger! Guts and kindness sounds like my definition of love too.

E_R_and_O's Papa said...

Congrats! We celebrated our son's second birthday on 8/19 as well, so now I will always remember your anniversary. As the son says of his lesbian moms in "The Kids Are Alright," now you're so old you have to stay together.

E&R&O's Daddy and I still haven't gotten married or registered or had a ceremony, so we don't have an anniversary date yet (although apparently for some reason he told Facebook it's December 2002).

J G-W said...

Well... We have several different anniversary dates.

Aug. 17, 1992 is when we first started dating.

Sometime in August 1993 is when we actually moved in together.

Aug. 19, 1995 is when we had our first (extralegal) marriage ceremony.

July 25, 2008 is when we got legally married in California.

So even though we've been together in some form for 18 years, we typically celebrate our anniversary on the date of our first wedding... It's confusing, but that comes with the territory of being gay in a heterosexocracy.

Beck said...

I echo profound and affectionate best wishes to you both!

J G-W said...

Thanks, Beck!

Winifred said...

Homosexual relationships will not exist after this life. What you are doing is for this life only. A hard view, John, but a true one.

E_R_and_O's Papa said...

Winifred - as John frequently and generously points out, our present understanding of the afterlife is necessarily incomplete, so it's best to withhold judgment.

Considering that in our lifetime Mormon dogma just as emphatically said that John's marriage was limited to this life because he married a black person, I would be cautious about predicting where God may lead the Church in the future.

J G-W said...

I have a pretty good relationship with God, and a pretty good sense of where I and my family stand with him. I'm not worried. But thanks for the concern, Winifred!