Weekly Audit 2: What Do You Love Most About Yourself?

This week’s audit question is… “What do you love most about yourself?” Let’s see.

Something I find most interesting in society are the amount of stories there are to be told. My story is what I love, as it’s produced countless gems that have morphed me into the individual l am today.

The writing’s on my wall are what keep me driven and what give me the capacity to learn from any hiccups life may conjure. Through all of the tough times I’ve experienced in life, I’ve learned to welcome failure.

You see, with each mistake comes a lesson learned; another gem.

I’ve had plenty a lesson in my thirty-one years in the land of the living. Those lessons, and the evolution that comes along with them, are what keep me on track.

 

Now it’s your turn! Answer the question with your partner or friends, and share your responses in the comments. Off you go!

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Weekly Audit 1: What’re the Best Qualities You Bring to a Relationship?

The time has come to look in the mirror. What is it that makes you you? No relationship is the same, but there’s one thing I know to be true: That in order to have a successful relationship, you must first know yourself. The beautiful part about people and the relationships we experience, is that we’re constantly evolving; flourishing as individuals and elevating our relationships.

There’s probably not one person that has entered a relationship completely knowing themselves. And if they have? I’d dare to ask how many relationships they’d been in previously or what they learned from their last relationship. The point is that part of our evolution as couples is learning as we go; learning from mistakes and applying the changes as we work through it together.

Welcome to your first weekly audit with Gays in the Life! Now it’s time to focus on you for a second as I give you your first assignment. Here goes…

  • I’d like you to sit down with your husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend, and discuss the following topic: What are the best qualities you have to bring to a relationship?

If you happen to be single at the moment, feel free to gather some friends and discuss this amongst each other. I want us all to have fun with this. Please please please let me know how your first audit goes in the post comments or on the Facebook page. I’m always so delighted when I hear from you all.

Ready, go!

You didn’t think I was cutting out without sharing did you? Some of the best qualities I believe I have to offer in a relationship are:

Wisdom – I haven’t had as hard a life as most people in the world, but I’ve been through enough to be grateful for so much. My experience in life as a young, black, gay man has afforded me the ability to approach any bump in the relationship road with an open mind and clarity. I’ve had my fair share of questionable guys and have made terrible decisions in the past, but I’ve grown from each lesson. The ability to process issues and communicate clearly with S helps us thrive. S was not a communicator when we met, so I’m proud to say I’ve helped him morph in that way and I’ve learned much more about myself in the process.

Spice – I’m a spicy personality and there’s no getting around that. I present as a cool, zen queen that isn’t bothered by much. In relationships though, I tend to be the outspoken one and will keep you guessing. Bland has never been part of my brand, so don’t be surprised if one day my look suddenly changes, I want to go dancing, or you hear me schooling someone for something stupid they’ve just said. I love my couch and pajamas, but I love a good party and a bit of excitement too. Did I mention I’m contagious?

Strength – I stand firmly by those I love and think of myself as the foundation of the majority of my relationships. Whether it’s tough love, providing a sense of calm and support, or lifting you up when you’re down, people know they can count on me. In my marriage, I’m able to keep our foundation strong because I can go to my husband and check in; letting him know I’m there regardless of what. It’s the little things that have the biggest impact, people.

I hope you all enjoy your first assignment. Please feel free to share the assignments with friends and family, and let me know how it goes!

— J

Coming Next Week! Weekly Audits.

Hey there,

How often do you check in with your partner and yourself? When is the last time you both sat down and asked yourselves “are we happy?” A couple that’s cohesively existing together, under one roof and in a good place with their relationship would say they are happy.

Now don’t go looking for problems in every nook and cranny of your relationships! All I’m saying is that it’s important to talk about your relationship with the person you call your other half. Couples fear asking the hard questions because they’d have to be honest with themselves. It’s amazing how grown people freeze in the face truth.

“What makes you most happy about our relationship (or marriage)?”

“Are you okay? Honestly, how have you been?”

“What’s something we need to work on as a couple?”

These conversations don’t have to be hard at all. Put on some music to set the vibe, mix a couple cocktails, and chat about your relationship. This person is supposed to be your best friend, you know… And this should be fun! Think of it as free weekly therapy sessions.

If you’re a couple in a more turbulent relationship or going through a tough time, I suggest you face the issue(s) head on. Trying to dodge and avoid what needs to be faced will only cause your mental health harm. Get everything on the table, hash it out, and make a plan for improvement.

Starting next week, Gays in the Life will post weekly audits. These audits will consist of questions and thought provoking activities – to be done with your partners – that will inspire conversation about your relationships with one another.

Answering the questions together, listening and processing every word shared, will encourage openness. These audits only work if you’re honest and open with yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

I can’t wait to get this going!

Cheers,

 

A New Kind of Date

Mother Nature gave us a bit of a scare over the weekend. Earlier in the week we’d planned to have a Starbucks date, where we’d both work on personal projects or career focused activities. Indianapolis did get rocked by a little weather, so our Saturday cafe productivity session got moved to Sunday.

 

We’ve been holding ourselves accountable, so far, in 2018. S and I have plans and feel that it’s time for the both of us to take control of our professional and creative futures. Making time for dates during the week can be challenging when you’re fighting the weight of the day’s work, so a weekend dose of productivity with each other felt like a great move for us.

 

The important thing here is finding a way to make time for each other and to support one another. We pinpointed a newer location on our side of town and stuck to our commitment. I got a ton of PR work done and S made some major moves on the career front. I’m hoping we can make this a regular thing.

 

The both of us are so motivated and energized about what’s next right now, and harvesting that continued support of your partner – of each other –  just puts us in overdrive.

 

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Sure, dates are supposed to be sexy and romantic, but the idea of fueling each others’ professional and creative drive is kind of a turn on, right? Even if you’re single and only focusing on you at the moment… find your support system. Parents? Siblings? Your own circle of VIPs? Who is that person that will help you hold yourself accountable at the end of the day?

 

Think outside of the box and get that productive, quality time in 😉

A Cabin for 2 and a Pup

It was so great to get away,  disconnect, and recharge in Brown County this weekend. Never underestimate the power of a quiet weekend in the woods – with limited connectivity – to put some zing back into your zen. The weather didn’t feel like fall at all, but that’s okay… We’ll keep our soup recipes and sweaters handy for a future fall cabin adventure.

23 Very Tiny Things That Make Your Relationship So Much Stronger Than You Realize

Christopher Burns

1. Simply listening to them when they’ve had a hard day, and letting them vent and talk it out, instead of trying to fix it.2. Showing through your actions that they are your number one priority, instead of just saying it.3. Holding eye contact when you’re talking to one another.4. Doing little things (emptying the…

via 23 Very Tiny Things That Make Your Relationship So Much Stronger Than You Realize — Thought Catalog

Snowy Peaks and Bourbon

S refuses to go to Alaska with me during winter. I’ve been haunted with the biggest urge to ski recently, and home – yes, Alaska – has the most gorgeous views you’ll ever see. Snowy peaks and bourbon… Wine by the fire… I think a ski trip back home could be a sexy time. 

Mountain views have always held a high position in the romance category for me. Taking in the sight of nature’s first castles with that special someone has a way of inspiring a love at its most peaceful. Massive and majestic… range upon range… mountains stand as a representation of the best and worst relationships in their makeup and existence alone. 

(us on our way back to Anchorage from Seward in Alaska, summer 2014)

I picture us in a scene from some GQ magazine shoot taking place at a modest mountain resort. Warm lighting enhance our grins as we settle into broken-in leather chairs. With a Maker’s Mark (neat) in my hand and a tequila soda in his, we’d enjoy some of our favorite tunes and make the most of our chilly backdrop. S genuinely hates the cold – I’m not a big fan either – but as I write this I’m realizing this is a vacation fantasy I’ve had for quite some time now. 

Snowy peaks and bourbon after a few hours on the slopes… I was never the best skier but it sounds therapeutic at the moment. Some of you may think that sounds awful, and S would agree, but the rest of you are already picturing yourselves in a similar setting. A workout, views, drinks and a little romance? There’s no way this wouldn’t be a trip to remember. 

*goes to drawing board and checks available air miles* 

Put in the Work.

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October 23, 2017 will mark the 6-year mark for S and I’s relationship. “Where has the time gone?!” would be the common response to this fact, but you can’t ask me where all this time has gone so quickly. What you can ask is how we’ve managed to keep things pushing forward.

Six years is like 20 years in gay years. All jokes aside, and in my opinion, this amount of time in a relationship can be defined as “long-term,” or at least be bordering the category. Some couples stay together for one to three years and consider that to be long-term, but that’s a blip of time in the grand scheme of things.

So how have we lasted this long? We put in the work. From first days of our relationship, communication and being open with each other has been the sole requirement and expectation for each other. Sure, there are other factors to consider –  like not being a shitty human being –  but communication ties to every aspect of our relationship.

You’ve all heard me go on and on about the importance of communication’s presence in any relationship, but I won’t bore you with those points for hundredth time. Where things get interesting is when you’ve been together for an extended period and you check in on your relationship.

How are things going?

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So many couples get caught up in the ebb and flow of their relationship routines and lose sight of the work it takes to maintain a solid partnership. This is a lesson S and I learned recently. For the most part, we’re a pretty easygoing pair of husbands; handling any issues as they arrive, if we have any at all. So when we discovered a couple of glaring blind spots, we knew we had to take action.

The past handful of weeks have been dedicated to just us. We’ve been social here and there, what with the baby shower and all, but our attention has been on each other. We noticed that we’d been stuck in our relationship routine; if you can even call it that. Work… work… tv… more tv… sleep… more work. We were very much together but caught up in the chaos or our individual worlds. It’s no wonder some relationships don’t survive when spouses have higher-level careers – there’s no time to put in the work.

Flipping the script and focusing more energy on things like date night, versus corporate fatigue, has kept us engaged and energized. Instead of complaining about work and becoming a prisoner of exhaustion, we put time into activities and entertainment we can enjoy together. Things like: going to dinner, playing our favorite video game together, our low-carb health, organizing our house, or exploring Indy.

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S and I weren’t so far gone that we couldn’t recognize an opportunity to build a stronger foundation. Becoming that disconnected couple who puts on a show when friends and family are around can never be an option for us. I’m grateful for our drive and for the focus we harbor. It shows us that no matter what, and for many many years to come, we’ll have each other’s support in maintaining us.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, turn to your partner and surprise them with a kiss. Ask them something other than how their day went. Hold their hand and meet their eyes with a smile. That feeling you’re experiencing? Don’t ever let go of that.

Unpack with These 3 Tools

What’s next when you reach the point of feeling like two bumps on a log? There’s talk of this and talk of that, but how can the message be received when it’s coated in moodiness.

Interpretation can be a very helpful or disastrous factor when it comes to this. A joke that’s taken the wrong way after a long day can feel like sandpaper on a fresh sunburn. A half-smile or a noticeably thoughtful demeanor could be an opening to ask “hey… you okay?”

It’s best to process these signals without ego though. You’ll quickly enter a downward spiral if ego is your focus. Be wise and truthful in your interpretation.

Or maybe it’s action… it all comes back to action really. Because what do you have outside of what you’re doing – what you’re both doing together – to inspire growth. A lot of us talk extremely well but drag our feet when the time comes to perform.

Is this you? We’ve all had our moments, so be honest with yourself.

Be present. Be present in your interpretation, your actions, and your relationship as a whole. Not every moment together needs to be filled with words or deep thought, so keep that in mind if you feel like you have just one more thing to say.

Let love breathe, let whatever nonsense go, and remember these few items when things seem a little foggy.

*Reblog* You Take Out the Trash, and I’ll Do the Dishes.

Original entry here

“Who’s the girl in the relationship?” is a popular inquiry among curious heterosexuals I’ve met in the past. Like a gust of wind, the gender roles within my marriage lean towards societal normativity, but depending on the day will quickly whip in another direction. Society has programmed most of us to think that men and women have specific roles when it comes to households, jobs, and various other avenues of life. I always have to laugh when the questioning of roles within my relationship comes up in conversation, because you’d think that here in the year 2015, that there would be a better sense of freedom within any relationship. Relationships and marriage are both partnerships, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who did what chores. Views of how a relationship should work will vary, and not everyone will agree. I believe this disagreement is important because not only does it encourage learning, it promotes individual growth that could can potentially be shared with other relationships and marriages.

I’ve always joked that – stereotypically speaking – I’m the woman within my marriage. Pinterest is one of my most used apps on my iPhone, and I’ve known how to crochet since I was twelve. I’ve never liked getting dirty, I enjoy a good outfit, and I absolutely love a good bag. My mouth waters over a good-looking messenger or weekender-styled bag, and sports have never been my thing ever since I could remember. I only learned how football truly worked when I joined marching band at Indiana University – Did I mention I played football one year in high school? Yep, now read back those last couple sentences, and collect that laugh.  Over half of my work experience was spent in retail stores, so I’m cursed with the ability to organize any closet, and I actually enjoy it. Every outfit and accessory has a place, and when things get cluttered my mind nearly explodes; there’s instant stress when I come across clutter in my home. When we moved into our condo, I told my husband not to touch anything that was going to a closet. All the traits I’ve mentioned above – things I love about myself – would typically be matched with the gender labeled “female.”

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My husband does not mind getting dirty, and this is a result of growing up on a horse farm.  He had real chores: cleaning horse stalls, moving haystacks, breaking horses – the act of socializing a horse to the point of being able to ride it – and various other farm chores that would make most city kids cry. I believe my husband to be the most handsome man in the world, but his wardrobe can be pretty plain – nothing against the plain and simple types.  It’s easy and refreshing most of the time. He’s a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, and I love any opportunity to play dress-up with him before going out with friends, or heading out to a dinner. I watched him change the oil on his own car some months back. I ended up retreating to the house, and probably ended up playing on Pinterest, but returned to the garage to find quite the mess. Outside of the dirt and simple manliness that makes up my husband, is his love for Indiana basketball. He can talk college basketball like no one I’ve ever heard before, and gets completely into the games. He’s most emotional during an IU basketball game, and when players from the team make the news because of some coach drama, or team scandal.

While most of these gender role stereotypes are entertaining and fun to identify within any relationship, they’re not the norm anymore.  Sure, back in the day women had their roles, and men had theirs, but in today’s world, you can identify ALL gender roles within a single gay relationship. So what does this say about gender roles in general? Like sexuality, these roles within a relationship are fluid and ever-changing. One person doesn’t have to do one specific chore, or act a certain way because of their sex. For S and I, all that matters is that our condo – and life – isn’t burning down. I imagine this to be a similar and common thought when it comes to other relationships and marriages across the globe. There are plenty of straight, uber-masculine men that can sew, cook, and clean, and a great deal of women who enjoy getting their hands dirty, and who could teach any man a thing or two inside a garage. The traditional views of the inner-workings of a relationship are slowly fading, and my hope is that by acknowledging the fluidity of gender roles – across any type of relationship – we can stop answering a question like “So, who’s the girl in the relationship?”