I am a newly married man.We were celebrating Valentine’s Day at one of our favorite restaurants, and I broached the subject.

It was both nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time. My heart was beating faster, and my pits were dampening.

Sitting before me was the love of my life.How could I not be feeling a whirlwind of emotions?

We had been living together for 3.5 years, and we had been “seeing” one another for two more years before that. Marriage was the natural next step as I contemplated the gift of our relationship.

 

 

 

We talked that night — many times with tears — over the possibilities and memories.

We celebrated both of us coming through major transitions, in mid-life, and feeling overall victorious. Ahhh, the gift of experience! 

We recalled the joy of choosing to build our home together, and the funny pics we took of where we would “do it” once the framing was up.

We reminisced about the challenges we had once we moved in to our new home; not about our foibles, but about furniture and art placement. “More is more” met Less is more.” 

We remembered Papi, our first family loss together, and we were certain he would be happy for us.  

We made more plans as we dreamt of retirement and at least a 30thwedding anniversary (We’re pushing 60. Ugh). Please God! 

Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I’d marry. For most of my life, I was a celibate priest. Marriage could not be in the cards for me. But integrity, self-worth and my innate dignity should always come first — indeed, be my North Star. So I came out, not just as a gay man but as a person who must be true to himself.

After experiencing a wonderful, inclusive community in Atlanta and a community of thoughtful, generous gay men in particular, we have settled into a life of abundance. And I have done so with Cesar, who makes me whole, doesn’t take my shit and makes me laugh as well as moan.

I’m lucky. I would even say I’m blessed. But no life or marriage is perfect. All relationships have their moments and pivots. 

Talking is essential. Open, respectful communication is vital, so I have some observations about the place of communication in a relationship — whether it is a budding, maturing or relatively established relationship. I offer them as a reminder to myself as well:

Each person comes with their own stuff.

Listen without judgment. Don’t interrupt, and try to truly understand. Then “play back” what you’ve heard to demonstrate and make sure you’ve listened.

Show empathy. 

Our “stuff” carries all kinds of emotions with it. In a relationship, we just need to know that someone shares our joy, walks with us in pain, cries with us in hurt, and hopes with us in our potential.

Communicate about sex. 

What you like, what you don’t, your fantasies and your boundaries. This is not the place to be shy or timid. Be open and non-judgmental.

Say thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry. 

In the daily life of loving someone, we sometimes forget or think we don’t need to express common courtesies.

Be humble. 

Positioning or overstating our person demonstrates insecurity and disrespect. We all have issues and limitations. And, please, celebrate each other’s success.

Be grateful 

Who and what you have in your relationship is special. The grass is not always greener. An “ideal” person is not out there. Come to celebrate who you have, or be more open to the possibility of someone who, at first blush, isn’t your “type.”

Please don’t take for granted your relationship. And if you are still looking for that relationship, be patient and be open. Good friends are always a balm as well as a bounty. 

Bill Dickerson is a local executive, writer, LGBTQ mentor and coach in Atlanta. Read his full column at theQatl.com.

This column originally ran in Q magazine. Read the latest issue below for even more.

 

 

Pick up a new issue of Q each week at queer and LGBTQ-friendly venues around town.