We spent part of the afternoon this Saturday at Powell’s, Portland’s beloved bookstore, browsing through the Relationships and LGBT sections. We picked a couple of promising books, but my favorite is a little 1968 volume we found in the vintage shelf titled Marriage: Pro & Con. It is described as being “a compilation of witty sayings for and against the holy state of matrimony.”
I met my girlfriend Allison in Rainbow City, Alabama. You read correctly. There is a small town in Alabama called Rainbow City. It is rural, ultra-conservative, and as unfriendly toward LGBTQ people as you would expect of a tiny Southern town. And yet it was there, in Rainbow City, where I met my girlfriend, discovered my authentic self, and learned about the importance of finding mentors on the long road toward self-acceptance as a gay Christian.
A few months ago, David and I sat down for a conversation with a couple we met online. Tony and Michelle Peterson, co-creators of the #staymarried blog reached out to us, asking if we’d join them for an episode of their podcast. I have to admit, we were a little surprised—we had been reading their blog, and we loved it, but we had also gathered that they’re Christian. The Petersons started their blog after a series of divorces in their close circle of friends left them feeling discouraged, wondering if their own marriage could last.
I am a writer. It has taken me years to speak those words, and even then I tended to mumble my way through them when anyone asked what I did. I am a writer. A while back I quit a job and pursued my dream of writing full-time, but still it took me years to adopt that as part of my identity. Now, just as that label has started to feel comfortable and true, life and relationship are changing my priorities. I am a writer. I don’t know if that mantra fits me anymore. What do we do when marriage reorders our dreams and shifts our goals?
Our one-year anniversary practically snuck up on us this past Sunday. Time is strangely elastic when it comes to the defining moments in our lives—it has a way of moving simultaneously fast and slow. It seems like it was only last week that we were rushing about, finishing last-minute details for the wedding while greeting friends from out of town and hurriedly packing for our honeymoon. But it also feels as if we’ve lived a lot of life, both good and bad, in the past 12 months. I wonder about whether marriage has changed us, and about the trajectory on which we’ve set our relationship for the years to come.
In marriage there’s a slow unpacking of baggage, and occasionally one of the items we pull out is a person: an ex, to be specific. Whenever exes surface from the storage trunks of our past, there’s the question of what to do with them. Should we stuff them back down, buried forever under the mothballs of other memories? Or should we pull them out for our spouse to see, an out-of-date fashion that’s a reminder of a particular time in life? As we’ve been discovering in our own marriage, there’s no one right answer.
Today’s connectivity has made dating simultaneously easier and harder. It’s easier to find matches (Tinder!), but harder to get to know them as people. It’s easier to express interest in someone (swipe right!), but harder to make that leap into authentic vulnerability. And thanks to Facebook profiles, one day you’re single, and the next you’re suddenly “in a relationship.” But it’s that wide gap between singleness and relationship that is so nebulous, and the cause of so much angst.
There’s no shortage of advice on how to keep a marriage healthy. Many people write love letters to their spouses. Some buy flowers and chocolate. Others take sexy boudoir photos. Us? We blog about each other. It’s one of the most wonderful, and wonderfully painful experiences we’ve had in our marriage. And maybe it’s not for you, but we recommend every couple find their own version of “blogging.” Here’s why...
A new job resulted in both of us working from home. We soon learned that too much togetherness wasn’t good for the health of our marriage. It’s hard to have quality time when there’s too much quantity, and we slowly started taking take each other’s presence for granted. As it turns out, when you're married it's not so much “out of sight, out of mind,” but rather “always in sight, seldom in mind.”
Constantino and I regularly face unsolicited interactions from other members of the LGBTQ community, ranging from vague flirtation to shockingly direct advances. It’s mostly online, but it happens in person occasionally as well. In talking with other married friends, we know we're not alone. It reveals the uncomfortable fact that many in the gay community have little reverence for the institution of marriage.