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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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.

Weekly Audit 4: Face the Scary Stuff

Every couple goes through a rough patch at some point in a relationship. Maybe it isn’t a rough patch, but a period of discovery. What’s the topic on the table? Do you have something you’ve been meaning to ask your partner but just can’t? Why is that?

S and I have learned to communicate whenever possible if there’s conflict. Communication is still probably the most important key in a relationship, but just because you can talk doesn’t mean there isn’t any lingering darkness from time to time. Maybe you’re just in your head, right? Get to the bottom of whatever it is. 

Don’t get me wrong, every talk doesn’t have to be sitting around having therapy sessions every night, but it’s important to check in with each other. Go on a walk and chat. Explore a new bar; someplace vibey and romantic.

Not every conversation needs to be heavy, but addressing any hurt feelings, disagreements, and new territory in your relationship is of the utmost importance if it’s going to last. 

There’s always a slight feeling of, “ugh, I don’t want to talk about this yet…” but you have to get over it – come into the light! Face the scary stuff in your relationship. If love is present, the support and love of  your partner should help you through the conversation.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN! ANSWER THE QUESTION WITH YOUR PARTNER OR FRIENDS, AND SHARE YOUR RESPONSES IN THE COMMENTS. Ciao!

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,

 

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.

The Key

Gays in the Life

Communication is the key to life. Communication is the key to love. Communication is the key to us… Will you communicate with me? – TLC & Dallas Austin. “Communicate-Interlude.” Fanmail 1999.

Communication will make or break any relationship. What do people fear when they’re finally in their own relationships, or marriage? One thing I knew I would have to respect – maybe “fear” is the wrong word – within my relationship was the communication aspect.  This stems mostly from growing up in a two parent home, up to the age of sixteen, just to watch it all fall apart because my parents did not communicate properly within their situation. Do I think my parents would have stayed together if they did communicate effectively? No, probably not, but I think they would have gotten to a better place as peers – raising their three children together – faster than…

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Will You Go Out With Me?

Dating. It’s so important once you’re married. Any person that’s been in a long-term relationship knows this to be true. Long days (and nights) at the job start to eat away at you mentally and physically. Weekends seem to be the only time you can hang out, but somehow you’ve overbooked yourselves. You begin to question whether you’re slipping away from yourself and/or the relationship because there’s not enough time or energy for “us” time. That is when insecurity and doubt surface.

 

The great thing about S and I is that we can discuss these insecurities and doubts and figure out how to work through the fog. Just today we’ve identified that we’ve become too comfortable relaxing and hanging out on the couch together; binge watching old seasons of America’s Next Top Model. The mental fatigue that comes with working in the corporate world can’t rule every ounce of energy we have left in our free time together. It’s time to fight the lazy and rediscover who we are as a couple.

So what do we do? That’s the question. We’re both almost too easy to please and can never seem to decide what sounds fun; I know how that sounds. Thank goodness summer is near because at least we’ll be able to get back to our regular evening walks. Whatever it is we decide to do, it’ll be together. Our third wedding anniversary is next week – CRAZY – so we’re taking that as our cue to get regular date nights scheduled. In the past, I didn’t like the idea of scheduling time together. I see now that it’s a necessary pleasure.

G r i n d r

Grindr has been something that’s been off my phone for at least three years now. A few weeks back, I decided to put it back on my phone, just to take an innocent peek at what was going on these days on the app. Remember: Communication is key. “I feel like we’re comfortable enough in our relationship and marriage that we can both put Grindr back on our phones.” I’d been thinking about putting the app back on my phone, out of pure boredom, to browse on breaks at work, or just to peer into the scandalous lives of Indy’s thirstiest queens, hungry bears, and the romantic hopefuls who still try to meet honest guys on these hookup apps. Bringing up any and all feelings as they come up has always been a strong suit of mine in relationships, and this was no different. S agreed with my thought, and so here I am.

Back when S and I were only months into our relationship, I’d freak out, and act extremely possessive if I saw the app’s reflection in his glasses. Typical Scorpio behavior – acting absolutely insane, insecure, and powerless at the thought that I may’ve not been the center of his attention at that point. Flash forward to today, where I’m off and on the app a few times a week, pushing Gays in the Life, and striking up conversation with a handful of decent human beings. I have no judgement against people on apps like these. I once was a regular user, and had my share of fun via Grindr’s services, but that time is done. When did I begin to see Grindr as a marketing tool? Oh, how my times have changed. After mentioning I’m married, the follow up inquiries usually consist of the other user wanting to meet the both S and I  – keep in mind my profile picture is just me, and my name on the app is the blog title – or they’ll want to see pictures. “We respectfully decline, but you can read more about our adventures at Gaysinthelife.wordpress.com” is my standard response.

 
S and I openly talk about the attractiveness of other guys in each other’s presence. It’s not this taboo topic, or fuel for the fire, when we’re both watching a show and one of us says “he’s hot.” We have fun teasing each other in these situations, and enjoy being in a relaxed and mature relationship. “Of course you would think he’s hot…” is a regular, and shared, response when one of us comments on some eye candy.  There’s never a malicious or suspicious tone. We’ve learned each other, and we have fun with that fact. S and I are both regular listeners of Dan Savage’s weekly podcast, Savage Lovecast, and realize that at the end of the day, it’s about that works for us in our situation. I’ve made a couple online friends via Grindr, and make it a point not to frequent the app. My profile says everything it needs to, and one of these days, we’ll actually make it out to a bar or event to grow our gay-friend bubble.  

Bourbon On The Rocks, Please.

Hangovers are real, ladies and gentlemen, and I hadn’t experienced one in quite some time.  For the past two weeks, S and I have been drinking once a week – picking Saturday as the day to consume our favorite poisons in a socially moderate manner. Not drinking during the week is something we are already familiar with, but with this past summer came plenty of opportunity for us to slip up occasionally, and throw ourselves back into a drinking-freely-post-work-or-whenever spiral.  It’s the start of week three, and I just had some random thoughts about how I’ve been feeling over these past couple weeks; particularly about how I’ve been feeling my last couple Sundays.

I love a good drink – beer, bourbon on the rocks, or vodka waters are preferred – and have recognized that part of my weight loss and fitness plateaus are due to overconsumption of my desired elixirs.  Let me tell you. The past couple Sundays have been rough. I used to brag that I never got hangovers – what a tool-ish and bro-like thing to do, first of all – and that’s only because my tolerance for alcohol was really high. Much like a muscle, a high tolerance to alcohol is something that was exercised, and made to be strong with each drink consumed. There have been a number of instances where I simply stop drinking, because I become aware that I’ve consumed a good number of drinks – empty calories – and had no locale markers on my inebriation radar.

My drinking total for the past two Saturdays consisted of a few (low carb) mixed drinks, a LOT of red wine, and bourbon or two. Given my past ability to drink haphazardly with major admittance into Hangoverland, I did not think my body would be rocked as hard as it was come either Sunday.  The first Sunday of our new drinking rule was mostly okay. I felt very lethargic and just sat around for the greater part of the day; not doing anything productive besides tending to the puppy. The second Sunday was game over for my mind and body. I had a headache that felt like an ongoing earthquake, my body ached all over, and I found it extremely hard to focus. “Really?! (Enter a paralyzed eye-roll here)” I thought, but what should I have expected? My body had clearly gone through some form of detoxification during the week, and by not being careful – on my one day of alcoholic freedom – I was punished and reminded to think before I acted.

Now, with all that being said, I will continue to have drinks with friends on Saturdays. The past couple of weeks have taught me to be weary of even just the few drinks I may consume, and to respect the possibility of feeling like a true pile of bear shit if I cross the line. I feel completely recharged having not drank during the week. My mind is clear, and my workouts are focused and productive. In the two weeks since we’ve been following our new drinking rule, I’ve lost about eight pounds, and S has lost a good amount of weight as well. Our workouts are not crazy intense. I lift weights twice a week for about thirty minutes, and do about twenty to thirty minutes of mild-to-medium yoga a few times a week. I’ll be posting my body stat updates during this journey with the FATboys category of Gays in the Life. My weight, BMI, and body fat percentage will be shared. This will only happen once a month, however, because I get scale crazy, and don’t wish to psych myself out. You can’t go solely off your weight when you lift weights, lol.

Be healthy,