5 Married Years Later

Today is S and I’s fifth marriage anniversary. This question is beyond cliche to ask in a post like this, but, where did the time go? Five years isn’t a long time at all, and so far our history together has felt like a whirlwind and a lifetime all at once.

Let’s see, we started dating Summer of 2011, moved in together Summer of 2013, got engaged, bought a condo, got a puppy, got married in 2014, I completed my degree at Indiana University, we’ve both been on massive career journeys, and during all of this have had a lovely niece and two nephews join our family.

Life is going to life, and it did just that. We’ve faced our ups and downs and have managed to navigate darker days with the grace of a Swan Lake prima ballerina. Our relationship has been an easy one for the most part, yes, but that’s not to say we haven’t had our bumps in the road.

At times my content can slow down because I’ve been busy, sure, but it’s also because I may not feel like I have anything to share. I love seeing happy couples post on Instagram and in other corners of the internet, but I have to wonder, how many of them are actually happy? Are they posting all this lovey-dovey bullshit just for the gram to grab a like or two? I’m so not into that.

I love love, but love is hard. If what I’m seeing from happy couples online is their truth, then great! That’s amazing. I try to be honest with my readers and followers, and I connect more with those I follow who share this sentiment.

 

jamal stony 1

(Us on New Years Eve 2011, a few months into dating)

 

S and I have been married for five years, but come October, we will be together a total of eight years. I’ve written about what we’ve learned in our relationship a number of times on Gays in the Life, but one major lesson sticks out to us in this moment:

Honesty. You have to be honest with yourself, and with yourselves as a unit. If you’re not, you will fail.

I’ll leave all my lovers out there with this tip. Seriously, take this with you moving forward; it’ll change the game:

Check in with each other! Check in on each other’s personal goals, any issues you both may be working through, mental health, happiness, and darkness. Over the years we’ve learned not to take reactions or things said personally because you never know what someone is going through.  If you’re able to level with yourself in honesty, you’ll be able to help your relationship stay just as honest and strong.

Happy Anniversary, S! I love you so much, and thank you for being a constant source of strength and inspiration for me. 

XXOO,

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What’s Making Me Happy This Week?

Good morning, friends!

I’m writing this just before 8:30 am Eastern time, so excuse the exclamation. You’re probably thinking “turn down, dude, it’s way too early for that.” Forgive me, I’m just trying to will some energy into this post and today’s intentions.

In honor of one of my favorite NPR podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour, I wanted to start sharing what’s making me happy on a weekly basis. The daily grind can be extremely draining and make it hard to strive for excellence, so it’s important to focus on the little things; the simple bits of joy that keep anxiety and stress at bay.

It’s been a trying winter season and the seasonal depression that came along with it has been real. With that being said, what’s making me happy this week is being able to refocus. With the arrival of warmer, get-outside-and-take-the-dog-for-longer-walks weather, has come a much needed boost of energy. For the past few weeks I’ve been meeting workout goals and getting back to feeling good; inside and out.

Something I’ve discovered about myself is that I need alignment in my life. If I’m eating healthy, staying physically active, and taking moments to enjoy happiness, I feel so much better than I do while I’m getting caught up in what task I may or may not have time to get to today.

This isn’t to say I’m not getting work done and having a ball. Think of it as a daily refresh and remember: how you organize your life influences the kind of energy you keep around.

What’s making you happy this week? Let me know in the comments wherever you’re reading this.

 

J.

04-04-1968: Remember the Love

On the 51st anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., I want to remember one of my favorite quotes.

mlk candid

 

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

 

Remember the love. We all have our faults, differences, and lessons to learn. Listen to each other. Love each other. Be kind to each other.

J.

 

 

Seeing Red

When frustration strikes, she doesn’t hold back. Every couple has their expectations when it comes to their partnerships, but what happens when wires become crossed? Is that pile of laundry still stacked in the corner forming fresh wrinkles with every hour that passes? Do you find yourself having the same conversations about relationship items that need improvement? Whatever it may be, those are just two examples that rest at opposite ends of the frustration reasons spectrum. Here are some tips to help keep frustration at bay and your partnership healthy:

Time – Give the scenario a moment. We don’t have to collect all the answers and solve the problem right this second. Most of the time, an issue or touchy subject needs time to breathe. If you’re having a tiny disagreement, try waiting twenty minutes or so before approaching the topic again. Not only will this give you both a second to recapture some zen, but you’ll also adjust your approach when you reconnect.

If the problem is heavier or in the danger zone, do your best to allow necessary space in between communication or problem solving. It’s easy to jump the gun and rage if frustration is boiling over and you haven’t had an adequate resting period. Maintain the cool so productive conversation has the chance to breathe and flourish.

 

red block

 

Space – Walk away if the need arises. We all watch reality television, and know that circular discussion or yelling won’t fix anything. Do yourselves a favor and press pause. Go to different rooms – or for a drive or a walk – to allow the minds a recollection period. You’ll thank yourselves later when you notice the progress made in the resolution. The trick is safely processing the problem with yourself, and allowing your partner the same. Take care of number one so you can take care of others.

Communicate – We say this all the time on Gays in the Life. You have to communicate clearly and safely. You want to be honest with yourself and your partner. Share your true feelings and why you have them in the first place. This is not an attack. Communicate this and remember to listen.

When tension is high, or you’re at your last wits end, things can go left at an accelerated rate. Save yourselves the drama and don’t even go there. You’re adults. Listen to each other, be honest, and respectful. This gets easier with practice. So do your best and be kind to yourselves with this one. Communication pros aren’t manifested overnight.

 

red block

Special note: These tips apply to email and texting scenarios as well. Reading text is particularly tricky when dealing with frustration in relationships and marriage. You’re already on edge if a resolution hasn’t been met, so the brain will immediately highlight each word in red. To avoid constricting progress, read the text or email a few times and process the communication. From there you can decide to respond or wait a bit before following up. Use your best judgement and be open.

Remember these few tools the next time you find yourself furiously responding to a text, dishing out silent treatment, or screaming like a psycho at your partners. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Happy loving.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! Single? Taken? Don’t give an EFF about today? Who cares! In our opinion, every day should be treated like Valentine’s Day – whatever this day means to you. Check out an older post of mine The Other 364 for more on that topic.

If you are single and are feeling bummed about not having a significant other, please be kind to yourself today. This Hallmark-generated holiday shouldn’t be solely about celebrating your romantic relationships, so tend to your other relationships and people that are currently in your life.  

Grab dinner with the girls. Enjoy a guys night or some bro time. Go see a movie or schedule a movie marathon for the weekend. Let’s be real here – we can’t be having slumber parties on a Thursday night. We are grown-ass working adults. If for some reason you can have mid-week slumber parties, I’m jealous.

What do S and I have planned you ask? We’ll be making some low-carb calzones and enjoying red wine berry spritzers! I’m actually pretty excited about it. We’ve been better about getting out and exploring romantic spots of Indianapolis, but a night in is always the height of excellence for us.

Enjoy the day, everyone!

J

js vday pic

3 Things I’m Obsessing Over

Hello! It’s been a minute huh? We’ve been pretty busy here at Gays in the Life headquarters, but I had to pop in and share 3 things I’m currently obsessing over:

 

 

marie kondo

First. Marie Kondo and her Netflix show Tidying Up flew into our lives and completely turned it upside down. I’ve always been great at going through my closet and donating items I no longer needed, but the Marie and her KonMari method helped us take this process to the next level. S and I quickly dove into every closet, cabinet, and drawer and ended up completely reorganizing our condo. We feel light these days! And it’s all thanks to Marie Kondo.

 

Becoming MO

Second. Michelle Obama’s November 2018 release, Becoming, absolutely stole my heart. I enjoyed the book via Audible and loved every second of every hour of Michelle’s voice in my ears. Getting to learn about the little girl who became the social and political force that is Michelle Obama lifted my spirit and felt like a giant hug. She shared wisdom, love, and an honest perspective of what it’s like in her shoes. Being an African-American male, it didn’t take much for me to connect to this book. Michelle shared struggles and triumphs that all black people experience. The better part of this point, however, is that the stories shared can resonate with any reader with a heart and an open mind.

 

Troye Sivan

Last. Troye Sivan’s Bloom is contagious. The Australian singer’s second studio album was released August 2018, but have only just now hit my earbuds. I can’t share how many times I’ve let this album play on repeat on commutes, during gym sessions, or cleaning sprees, but the number is pretty damned high. My favorite song is the title track, Bloom, and my second favorite is What A Heavenly Way to Die – so beautiful and moody, that one. Give Bloom a spin if you haven’t already! You won’t be disappointed.

Some of My Daily Tools

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Just a few items that helped me start my day today. After a shower and quick cold-water rinse of the face, I dug into some of my fave daily tools:

– Now Solutions apricot oil for a flawless glow. Yes gentlemen… you too can glow. Skincare is essential.

– Murray’s pomade (mixed with coconut oil) to lay down the frizz.  My hair is crazy, crazy I tell you! Even at this short length. A good brush comes in handy for my hair type.

– Wilma Schumann collagen eye patches (before apricot oil is applied)

– Bath and Body works Bourbon Shea Butter Body Cream. Don’t sleep on these body creams, gentlemen.

– Burberry London cologne, because, duh. Burberry is my favorite!

– A good trimmer to touch up the beard and hairline in between haircuts