Secrets Of A Gay Marriage


Secrets Of A Gay Marriage | A Practical Wedding Today’s post is written by Aly. If you’ve been hanging around the wedding corner of the web for a while, you’ll remember their wedding (I posted some inspiration pictures in my second month of blogging), and that pictures of Aly on her wedding day freed me from worrying that I was making un-feminist choices on mine. Aly also helped me figure out that a family is what you create. So I owe her. Turns out, she recently started a blog, Embrace Release, and after you read this post you need to go read EVERYTHING ON IT, and then join me in begging her to write a book. It’s that good.

The APW staff was joking that we should call today’s post, “Brought to you by Therapy. Consider it.” Because I’m on the record about being pro pre-marital counseling, but I’m pro marital therapy too. The New York Times ran an article this weekend about couples counseling, and they cited a statistic that most couples are unhappy for an average of six years before they seek help. This is a lot like hobbling around on a broken leg without getting it set; the earlier you go in, the cleaner and easier things will heal. Beyond that, this post arguably says everything that needs to be said about how we talk to each other about relationships and what we don’t say about divorce. So without further ado, Aly:Secrets Of A Gay Marriage | A Practical Wedding

I was in the first grade the first time I heard about divorce. My friend Heather’s parents were headed for it. Frowning, my mother explained what that meant. I remember hearing with wonder about how Heather’s parents would live in separate houses and she would go back and forth between them. My own parents were much more unhappy than Heather’s parents had ever seemed to me. Oh how I wished my parents would divorce!

Now I’m married (illegal as it may be) with kids. We have none of the fighting and philandering that defined my parents’ marriage, but we’ve had our problems. Three months after our first baby was born, we came within inches of divorce. I recently shared this information with a friend who is struggling in his marriage, and he was stunned. Up to that moment, we had represented “shining beacons of trouble-free couplehood” to him. (His actual words.) Just hearing about how close we came to ending it all, and that we made it back from the abyss, made a big difference in his perspective on his own relationship.

In our culture, most weddings are stressful but joyous events where friends and relations gather to kick-off the marriage of two hopeful people. When all the cake is eaten and the last drunk, sweaty guest is pulled from the dance floor, the happy couple is wished well and sent forth. Alone. They might be given some vague instructions like “never go to bed angry” or “marriage takes work” but mostly well-wishers only smile and hug them and say “Good luck!” (while making mental predictions about how long this will last). Our wedding, gay as it may have been, was no different. For some people, this works out fine. They’ve either had good marriage role models or they’re magical creatures who’ve managed to intuit and enact healthy relationship models in the face of an omnipresent parade of nightmarish examples.

Secrets Of A Gay Marriage | A Practical Wedding

For others, things fall apart when they hit the first or second or fifth major bump in the relationship road. My partner and I had some issues from the beginning, mostly communication-related, that caused a poisonous build-up of resentment and slow erosion of trust over a five year time span. I’m an emotional, talk-it-to-death kind of person, given to blubbering. My partner is far more reserved, stoic nearly, given to holding it all in. You can imagine how well this worked for us. After bumbling through a difficult and expensive journey of trying to conceive, we were thrilled to welcome our first son. My partner was mired in a PhD program, though, and I had my own business that required me to work seven days a week. We were cranky, bewildered parent ships passing in the lonesome, desolate night for months.

That’s really not even the half of it but I’m not one to publish the particulars of our marriage meltdown on the internet. Suffice it to say that:

Things
fell
apart.

For me, the situation was made worse by this new, brilliant kind of love that I felt for our son. Whereas my love for my partner was entangled in and half-choked by our issues and past wrongs, my love for my son seemed to course visibly in the electric air between us, pure and robust and incomparable. Sure, he kept me awake night after night and repeatedly threw up into my hair, but my heart pounded, my brain shut up, and birds burst into song whenever I gazed at him. Which was a lot like how I felt when I first met my partner. Which made me wonder if it shouldn’t still be like that with my partner. And if it should be but wasn’t like that, then maybe we weren’t “meant for each other,” and I wasn’t about to do what my parents did by wasting my life and raising my kids in a doomed, miserable marriage!

No, thank you.

Unfortunately, we had that “shining beacons of trouble-free couplehood” reputation among a lot of our friends, partly because we were one of the first to get married in our social group, but also because we had both had public, terrifically bad relationships prior to meeting each other, so this time around we were careful to keep our (comparatively minor) conflicts private. Thus, we didn’t feel like we could reach out much to our friends because it was embarrassing to acknowledge that our mythic status was undeserved. Besides, involving friends has its own complications. They don’t always forgive and forget when you need them to. They feel uncomfortable or unwilling or uninterested in viewing your dirty laundry. They may have ulterior motives, even subconscious ones, for the advice that they give.

We felt additional pressure to appear publicly unbreakable because of our sexuality. We knew that people in our own families, as well as many more strangers, would be pleased to see us, a queer couple with a young baby, break up, as though our personal dissolution would somehow lend credence to their belief that same-sex relationships are unnatural and unhealthy and bad for children. It made me sick to give those people that satisfaction, even though I knew they’d be wrong about all of it. (When straight people divorce or co-exist miserably for decades, that has no bearing at all on the validity of heterosexuality or its effects on children.) I couldn’t quite articulate why I wanted so badly to have a wedding when we did, in a place where we’d receive no legal benefit. It felt meaningful and natural and vaguely necessary for us, but also like a jubilant and glittery F-you to the anti-gay people in our lives, which I won’t lie, I enjoyed. But it took testing the bonds of marriage to understand what I must have had premonitory knowledge of somehow: the only thing holding us together in some of our darkest hours seemed to be a distant, misty memory of that magical day, and the awful specter of erasing it.

Secrets Of A Gay Marriage | A Practical Wedding

Still, the recollection of our earnest promises couldn’t fix us. We needed professional help for that.

So we spent almost two years in couples counseling. Our insurance didn’t cover it but we were lucky enough to find someone who let us pay a sliding-scale fee of $35 per session. This was a significant strain on our finances because we needed a lot of work at first. Financial strain was one of our major stressors too, but we viewed therapy as a necessary investment in our future together, without which that future might cease to exist altogether. In other words, if our house had a big hole in the roof, we would have somehow found the money to fix it, rather than abandon the house outright or hope everything would be fine eventually, while rain poured on our bed and our belongings putrefied and returned to nature.

Therapy saved us.

Secrets Of A Gay Marriage | A Practical Wedding

We learned how to talk to one another about difficult subjects, how to repair damage when it’s done, and how to identify and then ask one another for what we need. (Why weren’t these topics covered in Home Economics? They seem far more useful than proper hand dishwashing technique.) We’re more content and healthier now than on our wedding day. The bliss of new motherhood for me gave way to something very similar to the seasoned, mature love I continue to have for my partner. I’m so glad we did not divorce. Still, we’re not trouble-free. If we’re shining beacons of anything, I want it to be as an example for our married or long-time partnered friends to seek help when they need it, before they reach that woeful, proverbial point of no return.

Of course, not everyone should stay together. There are a lot of circumstances that cannot be repaired and actions that cannot be absolved. My parents finally divorced when I was seventeen after fooling most of their friends and relatives into thinking that they were shining beacons of trouble-free coupledom for nearly three decades, with happy-looking family photos and enthusiastic year-end wrap up letters sent at Christmastime. My mother’s life, at least, dramatically improved as a result of her divorce. But if you’ve “grown apart” or worry that you’ve “fallen out of love,” and you’re looking out at your comrades in wedding rings thinking that they’re so much more together, more in love, and happier than you, remember that you might just not know the half of it. One or two of them may even be able to refer you to their secret, heroic therapists.

Secrets Of A Gay Marriage | A Practical Wedding

Photos by: Our Labor of Love

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  • http://www.queerskiesahead.com TheQueerBird

    I love this post so, so much.

    Isn’t that statistic about 6 years of unhappiness amazing? We keep meaning to set up an appointment, just to take care of the little things and keep the good things good, and it keeps slipping by. This is a good reminder that maybe we should just do it already. It’s also a good reminder that you don’t know what anyone else is going through… all we can do is travel our own journey. Thanks for your story, and for the reminders. And the pictures – your family is beautiful!

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    Such a moving, thoughtful post. I was especially interested in:

    “We felt additional pressure to appear publicly unbreakable because of our sexuality. We knew that people in our own families, as well as many more strangers, would be pleased to see us, a queer couple with a young baby, break up, as though our personal dissolution would somehow lend credence to their belief that same-sex relationships are unnatural and unhealthy and bad for children.”

    I hadn’t really thought about this before, but it makes a lot of sense. Even in places where same-sex marriages are legal, there’s still a lot of emotional pressure that can come with that marriage, which isn’t fair. Unfortunately, I think this is going to be a difficult issue to tackle for same-sex couples for a while.

    Also, that blue dress? It’s like everything I want a dress to be. Ever. Gorgeous!

    • MIRA

      That pressure is not just emotional — it’s legal, as well. In the U.S., you don’t have to be a resident of a particular state to get married there, but you *do* need to be a resident to get divorced. So say you live in Chicago and sneak over the border to Iowa to get married. If you and your partner end up seeking divorce, you will have to a) wait for your state to legalize same-sex marriage (come on, Illinois!) or b) move to a state in which same-sex marriage is legal and live there long enough to establish residency in order to legally get divorced. Fun fact: it takes a YEAR to establish residency in Iowa.

      When Iowa legalized same sex marriage, my whole family went to the rally to celebrate, where we ran into some good friends who had gone to Canada to get married several years previously. The first words out of my law professor-mother’s mouth were, “congrats! you can get divorced now!” — not because they wanted to (they’re pretty absurdly happy together), but because leaving a marriage if it has gone beyond the point of no return is *also* a civil right we deny people when we refuse to recognize all marriages.

      • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

        Excellent point! Thanks for sharing the information.

      • Ceebee

        Really?!

        I can understand that.
        In Malaysia it takes 45 days after filing and a second visit to town hall to be married.
        Divorce CAN ONLY take place 2 years after that.
        Some people just never divorced because it’s a long wait.

        Same sex marriage is not legal.
        We work on 2 systems – syariah law for Muslims – divorce can take place the same day, not legal to be gay; civil law for others – 2 years to divorce, no clear stance on gays

        • MIRA

          That’s totally interesting! What’s the reasoning behind the 2 year minimum for a civil marriage?

          • Ceebee

            So people don’t just quit without thinking.
            I think it is a silly idea, but until the government have sufficient funds to force a mandatory counseling, I think that’s as good as it goes.
            The thing is, people would just drop and go on with their lives and come back 2 years later to sign the papers.

    • carrie

      This jumped out at me too. I’ve always been for marriage equality, but APW has helped put my feelings about it into words. This statement is a big part of it. Because like Aly said, ” a jubilant and glittery Eff you to the anti-gay” folks. Great examples of parents, relationships, etc. come in all varieties and I find myself cheering the most for the ones that aren’t viewed as equal to underline the fact that life isn’t black and freaking white.

  • Ceebee

    Aly and Elroi, I am so glad you wrote this, though the story perforates your shiny armor.
    A friend who nagged me into therapy said all money that goes to therapy is good money.
    Therapy fixes things in a way that the fix does not come from the session. But the therapy helps you fix yourself enough, get some objectivity, to get things fixed.

    My half of the world, therapy is unheard of. And it is so common for people to play house miserably till death. And nobody gets help because self inflicted shame of public brokenness is harder to take.
    I was one of them, childhood was tough (girl raised as boy), publicly terrible relationships. And by the time I met the right guy, I was healed a while but unresolved that the residues of the past boils over.
    4 years depressed, alone, I finally went and ohhh Ohhhh OHhhh it was PTSD after all.
    I thought I needed marriage counseling but it was more ingrained than that.

    Now I encourage people to seek help because therapy not only fixes the bad things. Therapy teaches to see the good things too and make them better.

    • http://thenextdot.org/ Dot Maker

      A thousand times yes on the therapy money. When I was thinking about therapy but balking at the cost, my husband reminded me that our money is relatively worthless being spent in other ways if I’m miserable. Having $xxx to spend on something else isn’t money well spent if I’m not in a position to appreciate or enjoy it.

      I know when I was deep in the grips of depression and anxiety, that even when I finally began to admit to myself that therapy would be helpful the prospect of finding someone who would be the right fit was daunting. I’d like to put in a plug for Psychology Today’s search engine: http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_search.php. It’s a little rough to judge someone you want to bear your soul to on a paragraph they write or their websites, but it’s still something. I had good luck emailing some folks that seemed like they might fit, which gave me even more information about them, and ended up finding a therapist I love.

    • Caroline

      ” all money that goes to therapy is good money.” Oh yeah. We are broke as heck, but even at the brokest, everything but rent will be slashed to make sure we can go to couples therapy. (We go about every few months, unless a big issue comes up). Even though our therapist is miles above and beyond what we “can afford” we make it work, because really, since we prioritize our relationship, it is more important than anything else. My partner doesn’t have health insurance, but when we need it, we go to therapy, dang the cost. It’s just worth it. Is it worth rice and beans now to work on our relationship and improve it for our whole lives? Hell yes.

  • http://theparanoidlibra.wordpress.com Paranoid Libra

    This post isn’t just secrets of a gay marriage, it’s secrets to ANY marriage. It really is eye opening that no matter how people appear on the outside, everyone is fighting their own battles. I had a recent reminder of that with my friend who finally sought out help for anxiety/depression.

    Glad to hear you two are working at it. I’ve also secretly had a crush on your family as weird as that is, but seriously you two have such an air of beauty and happiness in every picture.

    Best of luck to all 4 of you.

    • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

      Thanks for this comment. My original title for this post is “Secrets of a (Gay) Marriage” because, you’re right, these struggles can be a part of any marriage. As for the crush admission…hearing something like that used to fill me with guilt and shame because I knew how not crushy-worthy we were. But now, well, I can just say thanks. We are pretty great, except for when we’re not, just like everyone else. :)

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this post.

    I feel like it’s important to mention that the first therapist you go to may not be the right therapist for you. My wife badgered me into going to individual therapy and the woman I ended up talking to didn’t get me. At all. And yet, I kept going to her for like 4 months because… I don’t know, finding someone else would be admitting defeat? I think if I’d looked at our first two sessions as a job interview (for her), I would have had a much different response.

    • Class of 1980

      I was just thinking the same thing. To this day, my business partner has resentment about the therapist he and his ex-wife went to.

      I myself went to a psychiatrist when I was in the middle of my divorce. He put me on tranquilizers and said they were not addictive. Luckily, I was so disgusted with how useless his “therapy” was, that I quit going and stopped the tranquilizers cold turkey after only two months. When I started going through withdrawal – shaking constantly – I did an Internet search and found out how many lives had been destroyed by that very medication because they are highly addictive.

      If you feel your therapist isn’t helping you, by all means get another one.

      • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

        Yes, absolutely. I’ve visited some sketchy, wackjob therapists myself, about whom I could write 10 posts. Finding a good one is not easy. We got lucky because the first one we tried turned out to work just fine for both of us and she was willing to work with us on cost. Therapists, and really all medical professionals, should be interviewed as though you’re hiring them for a job. Because you are.

      • Diane

        Class of ’80, I’m so sorry that you went through that. I’m biased on this — I’m a psychiatry resident — but if you get to a point where you need help again, I hope that experience won’t prevent you from seeking it. There are wonderful psychiatrists out there, some of whom provide psychotherapy and are able to prescribe if needed. It is also absolutely the right of anyone in therapy to ask at the beginning or at any point what kind of therapy the therapist is doing, his/her expectations about the course of therapy, and the theory behind it, as well as why he/she chose that approach.

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    Thank you for this. So much. We have somehow also become that shining beacon in our friend group, which also makes us feel like sometimes we can’t publicly display any problems we have– with the added pressure, as you said, of having to provide a united front to all the anti-gay people in our life. We don’t have children yet- but I can imagine that ups that pressure significantly for the two of you.

    I have always been a proponent of pre-marital (or post-marital!) counseling, and it breaks my heart that it makes some people feel like they are failing or that it is a death knell for their relationship, semi-publically facing their issues. So thank you for this post. Your family is amazingly beautiful. I wish you the best of luck in everything.

  • Parsley

    Thank you for this post! Couples therapy can be so hugely helpful. When I was learning to be a minister, one of my professors had a great way of explaining the role of couples counseling. She said that we make vows on our wedding day that we intend to keep, but we don’t always have the skills to do that. Couples counseling is where we go to learn the skills to help us keep our vows. I really liked that description so I repeat it as often as I can!

  • Kelley

    I would be interested to hear more about whether or not you were both in favor of therapy. I know that’s been a stumbling block in my relationship; I think a little tune-up would be beneficial but my fiance is afraid that it will mean opening the floodgates and make us miserable.

    • meg

      Our Rabbi made us make a commitment in pre-martial counseling that we would always go to therapy if one person requested it, no matter what. I think it’s the smartest commitment you can possibly make to each other, and I seriously suggest that everyone go home, and have a conversation where you make that commitment to each other tonight. The happier you are, the easier it’s going to be to make the promise now, so go do it. It could SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE.

      And no, with a good therapist, it should never make things worse. And if there are floodgates that *need* to be opened, for goodness sakes, open them now, not after 10 years of garbage has built up. Because once you open them and clean things out, then you’ll get taught how to NOT have things build up in the future.

    • Suzanna

      Kelley, when I wanted to go to counseling but my sweetie didn’t, I put it to him like this: it’s about getting some tools to make our lives better. I wasn’t interested in months of emotional outpouring, and it helped him to know that I had some specific goals. Also, he got to pick the therapist.

      • Kelley

        I think that’s a great point, Suzanna. I never thought of it as opening the flood gates myself and certainly don’t have any interest in making up things to fight about. I think he has the idea that therapy would mean sitting together and crying once a week (not that that is bad if it’s what’s needed). For our own relationship I was thinking more like trying to establish super clear, respectful communication patterns that take into account who we both are. What got me thinking about it was Aly saying that she tends to like to hash things out and talk it out and her partner is more of a bottler. We have that dynamic too and it can be so hard to meet in the middle. But for obvious reasons, the bottler is the one who is more reluctant to talk things through, especially in front of someone else.

        • Ceebee

          Kelley, you know what you want out of the therapy – that’s half the work, rather than going in just wanting things to get better.
          Finding a therapist fit is hard, before the one that worked I got a therapist who is good but not my style, and it felt like Pandora’s box opened. All the bad things came out and I didn’t have the mechanism to cope. But he may work for others that just need the hashing. My eventual psychiatrist? A “cut the crap, shut the eff up” sassy lady who say ok enough, now why don’t you do this, this is possibly why you’re feeling like this.
          I cannot help hashing out. It could save your marriage. I posted above that therapy is unheard of where I am, I was so deep in 4 year long depression and PTSD but Nobody knew what’s wrong or suggest a therapist. The stigma of going means you’re crazy. By the time I was nagging in my head to go, things have fallen so apart. And I took another year before I went because I didn’t want to spend money or didn’t want to be crazy. When I finally did the first therapist for 2 months, the next shrink for 4 and it was done. Gosh!

        • Josephine

          Exactly this!
          I am the talker, my partner is the bottler. Though sometimes I think it can be possible to talk too much as well as too little.

          I think it’s a really good idea to do something in order to improve communication skills.

          Thanks for this post Aly – it was a brave move and it is great to see this topic discussed full stop, and even cooler to see it coming from a gay couple since I am in one. But, I would welcome more topics like this from a variety of couples.

    • Dawn

      You know, I think a lot of people (maybe guys especially?) have a lot of misconceptions about what therapy is like. Actually I guess I had similar misconceptions until I hit a bout of really bad depression and decided to just throw every single possible solution at the problem that I could think of and started getting therapy. My boyfriend and I have lots of guilty pleasure TV viewing and somehow “Love Handles” ended up in the DVR rotation — it’s a show about couples trying to lose weight and part of the focus is on the exercise and diet but another focus is their couples counseling. So when we watch, I make a point to tell my guy things like “no, my counselor does not have me screaming and crying in her office or hitting a trash can with a baseball bat and she doesn’t think everything is caused by ‘daddy issues’…”

      I think sometimes it’s better to refer to couples counseling as ‘relationship skills education’ as it sometimes is in the research. Particulary if you really are interested in counseling as a means of developing basic relationship skills that we just aren’t taught.

    • anon

      I would agree – what do you do when your partner cringes at the words “couples therapy”? A day-to-day issue in our relationship continues to linger and while it’s not going to break us I’d like to eliminate it. After our uptenth discussion I suggested therapy. My guy took this to mean ‘oh man it’s THAT bad’ as is therapy=last option.

      Any one have ideas on how to show your partner that therapy can help iron out the kinks? Also….how does one find a therapist? We recently moved to a small town where my husband is a somewhat known figure, I wouldn’t be comfortable asking our friends.

      • Caroline

        I do think that asking friends or family is the best option (we found ours because my mom loves him, and he really is great). If that isn’t an option, I’d go online, look people up, and do lots and lots of phone interviews (call em up, talk to them on the phone, see if it might click, then the best of the lot, go for a trial session.) I’m pretty sure the phone interviews to see if they are a good fit should be free.

    • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

      For us, I demanded that we go to therapy. We were both unhappy though and committed to trying whatever it took to find happiness together again. I so WISH that we had gone to therapy before our wedding, or really, any time before we got to the ugly, angry place we did. If you have floodgates, they will open eventually. The sooner, the less damaging, especially if you have a professional there to help damage control. Best of luck to you!

  • JT

    An inspiring and comforting post all at once. My mom has always told me that no one but the two people who are in it really knows anything about a relationship. For me, your story is a reminder of just that.

    I’m so glad that you were able to find someone to help you work on your relationship and that it is stronger now than on the day you married.

    • Shiri

      I found this aspect of your post one of the most poignant, as well, in two ways. The first was that we don’t always feel the way our pictures portray us to be. The second was that the way you spoke about your friends and their reactions, needs, and biases was eye opening for me. It made me realize I need to be more cognizant of who I am for their friends about their relationships, and who they are for me – as well as who I’m asking them to be when I go to them for advice or to commiserate.

  • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

    Your writing is piercingly lovely, and your words are so wise. Thanks.

  • Leanne

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with this. My partner and I are struggling with our own issues right now, and often seem on the brink of losing it all. We are in therapy and it’s helping some. But it is very isolating when I make assumptions about others’ relationships. It is so good to hear that others have struggled and survived, and even thrived.

    Also, you should totally write a book. You have a great voice, and obviously interesting stories to tell.

    • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so sorry you’re in that dark and lonely place but I’m glad to hear you’re getting help. The best advice, besides therapy, I have is to be gentle and kind to yourself. One way or another, you’ll get through this.

  • kathleen

    My parents were the beacon of ‘perfect amazing marraige’ until everything fell apart in a very public, messy way, including but not limited to- psychiatric hospitals, open infidelity and a long separation.
    They then both decided to really work on the marriage, and spent years (really) in single and couples counseling.

    The incredible thing- they are now the beacon of ‘beautiful, hard-won love’ and have become the village elders, so to speak, about marriage. All of my friends have taken their fiances to meet my parents, where they sit across the dining room table and have real conversations about the work and questions and hard parts of this big commitment.

    Aly, I can so see you guys becoming these people, and let me say- it is amazing to be a child in a family where therapy and communication and hard work are valued. Your kids are lucky, and your community is blessed to have you.

    • Maddie

      This is so inspiring. Thank you.

    • Josephine

      That is awesome! It’s so lovely to hear this side of the story. Please get them to write a post!

      Do they have any advice you would share?

      • kathleen

        I’ll try to get them to write a post! They are the wisest, brightest, best example I can imagine of going through the hard stuff and emerging on the other side in a relationship bursting with love and respect and faith in each other and marriage. It has been extraordinary to be a witness to their story, and it fills me with reverence for the institution of marriage.

        • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

          I would love to hear this story too!

  • ambi

    What a beautiful and touching post. I am at loss for words – Aly already said it all, and perfectly. Just brilliant.

  • Jenni

    Aly, you are a beautiful writer and woman!! Your post is so courageous. You are a shining example of a fierce, femme mama & wifey.

  • Shauna

    Thank you so much for your story and your bravery in sharing it.

  • Laurel

    This post is absolutely stunning in every way. Every photo is absolutely gorgeous. Beyond that, the honesty, truth, and wisdom just radiates out of it. What a beautiful thing to read on a Thursday morning. Wishing your family the best always!

  • SamandStache

    Thank you for this wonderful post. My previous relationship was always held up as a “shining beacon of trouble-free couplehood” by our friends and loved ones, and part of the reason it took me so long to get out of it was I felt like I would be disappointing so many people by admitting that it wasn’t really that great. Also, how could all the people I loved and trusted be wrong? If they thought we were perfect, then what I was in must be what I was supposed to be aiming for…

    I’ve learned so much in my new, current relationship with my partner. We are not trouble-free. We are not perfect. We challenge each other. And I like knowing that she knows I have my flaws, and I know she has hers- because we love each other anyway. And that makes us much, much stronger than any perfect facade.

  • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

    This is a brilliant, brilliant post.

  • Cass

    After being married for a mere 9 months, my husband and I are on the verge of couples therapy (to start next week).
    We realized that we both have a lot of bad relational habits that started long before we got married. And this difficulty is compounded by stress: graduate school, aging parents, financial strain, medical problems. Not to mention sex has been a problem because it causes me great physical pain.
    We know we do not hate each other, the reasons we got married are still there. But we do not want to “fall out of love” or “grow apart”. That is not how we envision our future together. So we bravely go forth, into couples counseling.

    • Chris Bergstrom

      Good for you two. That is awesome.

    • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

      Best of luck to you! Seeking help is already half the battle.

    • C

      Your comment resonated with me. My husband and I separated and began counseling less than two years into our marriage. Things weren’t terrible, but we knew they could be better and wanted to try to find that with each other.

      Sex is also painful for me (vaginismus) and the treatment really affected our relationship and started our marriage off on a tough foot. We’re in a better place now sexually but the fallout left some scars. If you haven’t sought medical treatment for your problem (or haven’t been satisfied with treatment) I would encourage you to see that, too. It took a few referrals and specialists, but I got a lot of benefit from physical therapy and some counseling to accompany that treatment.

      I’m continually buoyed by these encouraging stories about couples who have found their way out of the dark tunnel my husband and I are walking in now. Thank you all for sharing.

  • Heather

    After 2 years of marriage and years of brutal nasty fights, my husband and I entered couples therapy at the end of last summer. It was the single most beneficial and rewarding thing we have ever done for ourselves. I particularly like how Aly used the roof comparison to justify going into therapy. It really is so much like that. Today we are on the other side and expecting our 1st child in the Fall. I know we are going to stumble and maybe even fall flat on our faces at some point in the future. But we know we can get through it because we have US. Thanks so much for sharing your story Aly. What a beautiful family you have!

  • Class of 1980

    This stuff is the secret of all marriages!

    I didn’t seek counseling before getting a divorce. I knew it could not fix something that had been wrong from the very beginning.

    That’s the hardest thing for people to understand about counseling. There are those relationships that were good from the beginning that just need tweaking. Then there are those relationships that never had what it takes.

    Therapy can’t build what was never there, but it can tighten up a relationship with good foundations. Sometimes it really is just a communication thing and it would be dumb not to fix it.

    • meg

      Did you read the New York Times piece? They talk about how one of the bad parts of couples counseling is the people who come in for “therapist approved divorces.” Where when asked about the problems in their marriage they’ll say, “Bob,” and when asked for more specifics they say, “His Bob-ness.” Basically, they already know they’re going to leave, they just want to be able to say, “I went to couples counseling first.”

      As wise people once told me, you don’t go to couples counseling because you’re getting a divorce, the smart go to couples counseling because they’re NOT getting a divorce.

      • Class of 1980

        There are not enough “EXACTLYs” to convey how right that wise person is!!!

        And “his Bob-ness” … hilarious. ;)

        • http://theblogwhisperer.tumblr.com HeatherG

          Yes! All the therapy in the world cannot make someone open to staying in a relationship if he or she has already made up his or her mind.

          If there are kids involved, one thing I try to encourage couples to do is to work on communication with this person, even if the decision is to divorce. Divorced parents still fighting and carrying = an unhappy household even if the household is not really a household anymore.

  • Mari

    Amazing post, thank you! What an amazing (and gorgeous) family. So many families would be better off if they realized that hard work in therapy could make their lives so much calmer, happier, more successful.

  • http://thenextbeyond.wordpress.com The Next Beyond

    Ty.

    • meg

      <3

  • http://meditatingontherain.wordpress.com Aine

    Thank you so much for sharing this- its scary and hard to share problems with the world, even when you know it will help you (and the world) to do so.

    “the only thing holding us together in some of our darkest hours seemed to be a distant, misty memory of that magical day, and the awful specter of erasing it.”

    This? I think this is what weddings are for, in the end. Having a moment of joy at the start, where you set down what you hope for in public, so that moment and those hopes become real solid things to shore you up.

  • http://cubicalmouse.blogspot.com Stephanie

    What if you don’t want to fix things? What if staying in that marriage is the very last thing you want to do?

    After three months of marriage, I am no longer in love with my husband. I feel like I’m the only adult in the marriage. And although I’ve talked to him, and he committed to maturing and learning to take responsibility, the glitter and sheen is gone from the marriage. Only stark, bleak reality is left – a lifetime of fighting and penny-pinching. I don’t want to be poor, which is what I will be if I stay with him, since he has no ambition. I don’t want to live with his irresponsibility which could very well cost me my life.

    I just want out, but I feel like I have to give it until our first anniversary at the very least.

    • Carrie

      Stephanie, I’m so sorry.

      It sounds like you’re already completely certain you want to leave. In that case, I think you’re better off just doing it. Set yourself free — and set him free, too. Out of whatever love you once had for him, be honest with him that this marriage is already over. Then call a lawyer and end it legally.

      There’s no obligation to wait until your first anniversary if you’re already certain that nothing will change in that time. It sounds like you’ve already made the decision; I think it’s better for both of you to just implement it now.

      If you do have questions, doubts, uncertainty, or guilt about the decision that didn’t come through in your post, then couples counseling — or even counseling by yourself — might help you through the process of making it. The goal of couples counseling doesn’t have to be “save this marriage” — in fact, I personally think the goal should be “do what is ultimately best for both of us,” and that may well be divorce.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I have no idea what’s going on in your life, Stephanie, but your post describing your husband could be quotes straight out of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder books I’ve read. It’s an oft-missed, but highly treatable condition.

    • Ceebee

      Oh Stephanie, I want to make you hot cocoa and wrap you up in a blanket.
      Sometimes we so badly want out, nit because we do, but things are hard and we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we do/say things we don’t mean because we don’t know it or have some syndrome. Would you give it a try. I’m not saying you haven’t either.

    • meg

      Hey Lady,
      Because you’re at the three month mark, I’d suggest some therapy, personal or couples. I’ve been doing a lot of research about marital theory and studies, and the idea of “being in love” or “falling out of love” is a super modern concept, not very tied to long term marriages, weirdly. Basically, if there was something worth having three months ago, you have time to go to therapy and figure things out. You may need to leave, but, figuring out what’s going on will help you in the future, regardless. And, good wishes…

      M

      • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

        I read a book called “Falacias del amor” (Fallacies of love) that talked about that, Meg. It is a philosophy book about how the Occidental idea of love ties love to infatuation and to suffering (mostly since romanticism), whereas other cultures and in other times, it was different. It was an eye opening book for me.I would love if you could share the books you have been reading because it is a subject that highly interests me.

        Being the mother and sister of psychoanalyst, and having been in therapy myself (individually), I couldn’t agree more with you. Therapy is always worth it.

        • meg

          By the way, past cultures thought being in love was a form of MADNESS. Since current research shows that infatuation turns the brain into something very similar to an addicts brain, they have a point.

          I figure it’s my job to love my spouse (at least most of the time, cough), but it’s not my job to be IN love with him. And I definitely don’t have to *like* him all the time (though I usually like him a lot, but it’s still not mandatory).

          • Rachel

            I’d love a post about this, Meg. As someone who has always been a hopeless romantic, I’m sort of discovering this truth as I get older, but I still find that sometimes, I long for that passionate feeling of being IN love with someone that is so incredibly different than loving your spouse and being a good marriage partner. Can and should we have both in one partnership? Should we have a solid, loving marriage with extracurricular (to the marriage) passions? How do we navigate that?

          • meg

            Being in love is fleeting. Do you ever feel that with your spouse? Sure! But for 30 minutes on a Sunday morning, or on a night out on the town, or when they make a really funny jok. It’s like happiness. We’re taught that we should live in happiness, but that’s bullshit. If you’re lucky, you’ll live in contentment. Happiness is the right song on the radio on a warm summer day with your hair blowing in the wind. It’s fleeting. Wonderful, but in the moment.

            Think about infatuation, really. Fun for the brain (though leads to REALLY poor decision making, this is a proven fact). But it’s not like you get much DONE that way. You can’t live there forever, our brains are not built like that. And if you keep chasing the high, well, that’s actually a chemical addiction.

            (This is now it’s own conversation, clearly! There are relationships you need to leave regardless of being in love or not.)

          • Class of 1980

            I love what Brad Pitt said recently. He said happiness is overrated. Sometimes he will be happy and sometimes not. What he really strives for is fulfillment and contentment.

            Boy, did he get it right.

          • Class of 1980

            I can attest to the fact that being “in love” is definitely a form of madness. Frankly, I hated it. I always look back at that time as being mentally ill. ;)

          • Suzanna

            I second the idea for a post on this! There is a connection between what is sold to us as “what a wedding is supposed to be” and “what life and/or happiness is supposed to be”. The crazy-love-longing-suffering thing is pretty common, and it would be great to have a conversation about what real long-term relationships feel like.

      • Class of 1980

        I think what we want is to just basically REALLY like the person and not want to live without them if at all possible. That’s my idea of a wonderful marriage.

        • meg

          Indeed.

          • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

            I’d like to hear more about love versus “being in love.” I know two couples currently, both married, teetering on divorce because one has “fallen out of love” with the other. When I first heard that from the unloved party of each couple, my initial reaction was horror. I mean, people don’t just say “I’m not in love with you anymore” and expect to be able to take it back in the morning. That’s a dagger meant to mortally wound. And what does being in love even mean? I need to come back and read this mini-thread again b/c I think Meg is explaining it quite well.

        • anonymous

          What about passion? Do we just give up on that? Or should it be directed at something else (ie not a person) once you’re married? I completely agree that a long-term relationship is different than the intense-caught-in-the-moment “in love” feeling, but where does intensity and passion play into all of this? It seems so depressing to me to just let all of that go.

          • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

            You don’t let go, it goes through waves. Sometimes passion is all-consuming, sometimes it isn’t and you focus on some other aspects of the relationship.

  • mimi

    This is definitely required reading for everyone. I’ve done therapy on my own and found it very helpful in a lot of ways. When my guy and I get engaged, we will definitely do some pre-marital counseling.

    Also, I LOVE your blue dress. It looks amazing in that first picture especially!

  • SelkieKel

    I cannot thank you enough for this phenomenal post! This is, by and large, what I experienced in my previous relationship only I came to these selfsame realizations long after the fact. My ex-husband and I were held aloft by friends and family in that iconic “beacon” role, so it seemed like a shot out of nowhere when we did divorce. We’d done therapy as individuals during the course of our relationship but by the time we agreed to go as a couple the damage was extensive and deep.

    Even though we did end up deciding to part ways, therapy helped us get to the point where we could separate as amicably as possible. Being able to navigate the divorce process with mutual respect made a gut-wrenching undertaking bearable and, most importantly, provided each of us with palpable closure.

    In either case, enhanced communication and, by extension, the fostering of deeper levels of respect is NEVER a bad thing.

    I’m thrilled that openly discussing these subjects is becoming more commonplace!

  • Amie

    This couldn’t have been written at a more perfect time for me/my life, thank you.

  • http://www.soulwanderings.com/ one soul

    Yes, yes, a thousand times YES.

  • Becca

    You have such a beautiful family! Thank you for your moving post and sharing your story

  • Josephine

    For people who have partners who are “bottlers”, how did you help them to overcome it? To what degree do you think it is something that needs to be overcome?

    I use “bottlers” because someone else did, though perhaps it is not entirely accurate. In my experience it seems to be more that the person isn’t really in touch with their feelings, perhaps is afraid to be or just feels it easier to ignore them. Or isn’t used to expressing themselves and doesn’t have the words (there are lists of feelings online that help. I did once offer to number them for my dad so he could just say he felt “#34 today”!)

    What do you guys think?

    • meg

      I totally want to make an inappropriate joke, and say, “You mean, men?” Which, while funny, is only half fair. But the REAL point of the wry joke I would make if we were all having a beer is that I think many men process emotions super differently than many women do (obviously, this is not always the case, and the same dynamic can play out in same sex couples as well). But. In my experience, lots of male parters just process things differently, which is rad. The fact that I’m an over-emoter and my husband is an under-emoter makes us a lovely match. And I don’t want to change that about him. He’s in touch with his feelings (though he may have LESS feelings than my COPIOUS amounts of feelings on EVERY subject) but he doesn’t really broadcast them. That said, if someone is truly bottling up emotions, couples counseling might help (though they are probably going to advise you that you can’t change your partner).

      • Josephine

        Haha, not just men trust me! Perhaps it is a more “masculine” trait though of course I can’t generalise just from my wife-to-be.

        You may be on to something Meg – two people who have lots of feelings on everything would probably lead to so much processing you’d never do anything else (which is a lesbian stereotype). It is wonderful to just say “f*** it” and be silly and have a snowball fight, rather than stay in and talk about how sad you are. Though sometimes it would be nice to hear the feelings more often. Maybe it would make it less special when it happens, who knows.

        • meg

          I do love when I finish sobbing, and David says, “Ok, I get it, this is really hard.” (Pause) “Now you should have a glass of wine!!” (or watch a movie, or whatever). I mean, sometimes continuing to feel the thing and talk about the thing is not the solution :)

      • Rachel

        I’m not sure a bottler and someone who doesn’t emote as much are the same thing. I’m a bottler, but I’m also very emotional. What I mean, is that I tend to keep things inside and not communicate about them, but when I do communicate (or am communicated with), my reactions tend to be extremely emotional. My husband, on the other hand, is not overly expressive with his emotions but is more of an open communicator when he is feeling something than I am. He tends to get things out in the open, but just approached it in a very matter of fact, almost detached sort of way.

        • http://www.seattleflute.com Katie

          I would agree with this. I’m the bottler in the relationship, and it’s definitely not because I’m not in tune with my feelings – on the contrary, identifying and owning my emotions internally is a bit part of my self as an introvert. Sometimes that means that I’ve been thinking and processing something for so long that when it comes out it’s very emotional! The key, I think, is to find what works for you and your partner and keep the lines of communication open, regardless of how exactly those lines work.

      • Dawn

        Ha, my friend’s husband once tried to explain it to her by saying if emotions were crayons, he had an 8 pack of crayolas while she had the 64 pack. He just didn’t understand the variety of feelings that she had — I think he said something about her having burnt sienna and sepia and raw umber while he just got the ‘brown’ crayon.

        • Class of 1980

          Made me laugh. ;)

  • http://akc09.livejournal.com Annie in LA

    “Why weren’t these topics covered in Home Economics? They seem far more useful than proper hand dishwashing technique.”

    Ha, RIGHT??

    You guys are super inspiring–challenges, beauty, eloquence, babies with nommable cheeks–all of it!

  • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

    Excellent, excellent, necessary post.

    And what a beautiful family!

  • http://lezgethitched.blogspot.com Diana

    I think this is one of the most important things I’ve ever read, and I am so grateful. Thank you thank you.

  • http://aching-heart-dreams.blogspot.com/ Ahd

    Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh. What a beautiful family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’ve never done therapy for marital reasons but I recently started seeing a therapist for individual issues and I’d really love to be able to be open about it but it’s such a “shameful” thing to “admit to” in our culture. And I think that shame needlessly stops many people from getting help when they need it. I try to mention it nonchalantly… like oh yeah…. Can’t do coffee Thursday. I’ve got therapy. I’ll sometimes get raised eyebrows but most people don’t ask a thing but maybe just maybe it helps them realize that it subconsciously makes them realize that it’s not thaaaat big of a deal and “normal” people do it (even “happy” people do it) and there’s no shame in getting help when you need it… whatever type of help that maybe.

    • http://gonetobudapest.wordpress.com Emily Rae

      In college I always said I was going to “the doctor” until a friend voiced concern about my (physical) health. Now I’m very open about that time of depression and therapy, and I would be again. Many people get peer-to-peer counseling, or professional help, and I hope that it can be mentioned more in our culture.

    • Caroline

      I have to admit, I’m totally totally not ashamed or quite about it at all. I talk to everybody about couples counseling. (Not of course the specfic specfics of what we discuss in our sessions). Seriously. I jokingly call myself the couples-counseling evangelist to my partner. A wedding where they ask for advice in the guestbook? “Get thee to couples counseling. It will rock your socks.” A friend having issues “Get thee to couples counseling. It will rock your socks.” Practically any excuse to mention it: “Get thee to couples counseling. It will rock your socks.” I’ve talked even with half strangers before about the awesomeness that is couples counseling.

      I think a lot of people ARE ashamed, and also think that you only go to counseling if your relationship is doomed. It seems to be helpful to people to hear me say “go to counseling. It’s freaking awesome. You get to talk and learn and make your relationship work better, and how cool is that? And it really makes a difference in our relationship. We go, and stuff improves. Plus, we always go out to brunch or dinner after, so it’s like a date. Super fun.”

      I also talk really openly about my past mental health struggles, which I think is important, because it’s just kept in the closet so much which is no good. When you are dealing with depression and anxiety, feeling like you can’t talk about it just isolates you more and makes things worse (for me).

      • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

        Caroline, you are awesome! I wish you’d been a guest at our wedding. :)

  • http://llovesla.blogspot.com/ Leah

    Having spent most of my childhood being herded from therapist to therapist and having a failed marriage that had couples therapy, this post is still an inspiration. I think the difference now is that my partner and I are willing to communicate with each other. I don’t have good marriage role models and I think that still helps me because it makes me realize what I don’t want to strive for. My partner though, does have good models. Perhaps the two combined can work out. Congratulations on your marriage and your beautiful family.

    • Caroline

      Leah, I so hear you on the being herded from therapist to therapist as a child. I’m nowhere near as enthusiastic about individual counseling as I am about couples counseling, because of terrible terrible past experiences. I think my last therapist (a psychiatrist I saw as a teen until I was 19) was borderline emotionally abusive. Seriously bad experience. I just stopped going when my partner pointed out I went into sessions doing well, not very depressed, and came out in a depressed funk that lasted for days.

      So individual counseling scares me. I have this dream, that there is an individual counselor for me somewhere who is as awesome as our couples counselor and can help me grow a lot. I’m not sure it’s true, and I’m scared to try to wade through the mediocre and bad ones to find a good one. Also, I apparently don’t prioritize it the same way, because just as I said above that we ALWAYS have money for couples counseling, even if it means slashing the food budget, and doing without anything but food and rent, I also don’t feel we ever have money for individual counseling.

      • http://llovesla.blogspot.com/ Leah

        Exactly! I once got an individual therapist who was pretty good and then lost my insurance and couldn’t afford to go back. This post spawned a conversation with my lovely other about the need or want to go to couples counseling. I was fearful that the conversation would go sour but it didn’t. One thing I like to believe about our relationship is that we have great communication. We didn’t always though and that’s the time I wish we could get back and go to counseling for. Maybe we still should?

        I’m happy you have a good counselor for you two, at least. The right one for you will come along! Sadly, this is one area that requires trial and error but sometimes the error is rough. Best of luck to you!

  • Whitney

    Yay couples therapy! Props to Aly for discussing such an important issue. My mom is a therapist and as a pre-wedding + birthday + Christmas present for my partner and I, she offered to pay for us to go to a weekend Imago therapy retreat.

    My partner was averse to therapy in general when we met six years ago. Getting to know my mom and seeing how much therapy has helped me grow caused him to be more willing to consider it as an option for himself as well as for us as a team. He said he’d give the retreat a try and we had a blast that weekend!

    We got to learn communication skills that we can implement throughout our marriage and it was in a way that felt logical and really positive. If anyone is looking for a good jump-start to couples therapy, the Imago process was really great for us.

    • Ceebee

      Therapy should be repackaged, like new age cool, swell, whatever word that is in vogue. Things like how Yoga (or whatever other Om activities are) went from this totally hermit thing into an in-crowd thing.

  • ambi

    After working for several hours, I couldn’t stop thinking about this post and had to come back and talk about it. It is so hard to describe, but the thing that hits me most about this post is just the reality that marriage is a lifelong process and that you never really get “there.” Meaning that Aly and her partner are both happy and struggling, have a beautiful family but have family issues, are married but are still working on reaching a happier marriage. Nothing ended upon marriage, nothing became set in stone – your issues before marraige continue to haunt you, and you develop new issuses as well. In my own relationship, I have wanted to get married for so long that it has kind of developed mythological significance. Like, all I need is marraige and babies, and my life with finally be complete. These holes I feel will be mended once my guy validates me by marrying me and I get to enjoy the love and experience of parenthood. (Look, I know that isn’t the healthiest or smartest or most independent mindset, but I am trying to be honest here). I know it is cliche and it has been said 10000 times on APW, but this post is what finally drove home the point, for me, that marriage is not a destination, or an answer, or an identity. As a married couple, and eventually as parents, we will still be happy, unhappy, confused, angry, and lonely at times. We will still be uniquely ourselves. While being married, or being parents, may be definitive to people outside our relationship looking in, those things won’t really reveal the story of us. To me, marriage and family has always been the “shining beacon” that would signify my happiness. This post really speaks to me that my happiness is entirely seperate. Sorry, I know all of this is old news to many APWers, and I had parroted the lines myself, but I didn’t really “get it” until now. Thank you, Aly, for such an AMAZING post.

    • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

      Exactly. :)

    • Suzanna

      Ambi, you said that incredibly well! It’s a concept I know I need to remind myself of, can’t hear enough of!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I feel like that “I don’t love my spouse like I love my baby” story is a motif – something I read over and over again in mini-memoirs of marriage. It seems common enough to me that I think there should be more formal preparation for it. We have childbirth classes and parenting classes, popular recommendations about adjusting finances before a baby…France even has special post-partum gynecology classes. Why can’t we have some mental health counseling part of the pregnancy and childbirth medical routine?

    • LW

      As someone who went through very intense jealousy while watching my husband love our daughter, this response really hit me. I didn’t have much help in coping with the jealousy feelings, except in the First Year Baby books there was always a section on “Dad” feeling jealous and left out. It made me feel extra guilty that not only was I jealous, I was also abnormal in feeling jealous. I was feeling a “Dad” feeling, when I was the Mom!

      I have now become very open with my friends who are about to have/just had babies about things like:
      -Not being super happy when I found out I was pregnant, mostly being terrified beyond belief
      -Not having that all-encomapsing love feeling the moment our daughter was born
      -Not really feeling “love” type emotions for the first 3-4 months. Lots of attachement and caring and a huge sense of responsibilty and like I would walk over burning coals to protect her, but not “love”
      -Being jealous of the love my husband showed towards our tiny daughter
      -and more!

      Thank you Aly for such a truth-telling post. It has given me a lot to think about.

    • meg

      True. Though I’ve *also* heard people say they loved their spouse more than their baby, and thought they were monsters. I think it depends, and you have to ROLL with it. (Which… so hard…)

      • LW

        Yes indeed.
        I could have gone on to say that after these conversations with friends who have just had babies, a few have noted similar experiences to mine, and many have looked at me and not fully understood about the jealousy and lack of love-feelings, but have had their own unique difficulties adjusting to parenthood (including feelings of loving spouse more than baby) which I haven’t fully understood.
        We would sit there, holding our babies and our tears and feeling like big messes, but at least big messes who had each other.
        I guess like everything everyone has a differnent take/experience but the underlying message is that, like you said, you have to roll with it.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I think it’s all part of the cultural narrative APW needs to re-write. Sometimes wives have stronger sex drives than their husbands. Sometimes fathers (or non-gestating or non-biological mothers, or however same-sex couples work that out between themselves; I know there are lots of possibilities) adjust to parenthood faster than mothers. Sometimes mothers don’t enjoy parenting the way giddy sitcom characters do.

      I consider parenting to be a vocation – like being a religious minister or certain directly public-interest jobs, like non-profit work or being a public defender – but far more common than these vocations. Just because it’s important work doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s work. And just because you enjoy some aspects of the work doesn’t mean you enjoy all aspects. And that’s OK.

  • KatieBeth

    This is such a great post, incredibly helpful and encouraging and honest.

    Also, the photo of you and your partner and your baby made me say out loud, “Ohhhhhhhh!!!” Such a beautiful portrait, and I love how your son is hooking his finger on his nose as he’s sucking his thumb, so adorable!

  • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

    Wow. I just have to say thank you all so much for all the love! I’m a little overwhelmed by the response to my post, happily, but I’m going to try to answer some of the questions posed in the above comments. Thank you thank you thank you all again!

  • Rowany

    First off, thank you for this post. I feel However, given the outpouring of commiseration, understanding and sheer gratitude from the people in this forum, I wonder if you could reconsider your position on not opening up to friends, due to your “relationship reputation.” Whenever I talk about my relationship problems or listen to others’, I don’t think of these sessions as burdens, but rather a gift of honesty. I think one of the reasons it’s so easy to catastrophize about one’s own life is because they hear so little about the problems (even if they’re different problems) their friends are facing they feel isolated, a screw-up, without any answers. The instant I said the words “we’re having some communication problems” every couple I’ve met said the same thing, and it made me realize that we’re not wholly dysfunctional and destined to break up, but that these problems are pervasive even in “perfect” couples. So the less vague and the more open people are about their issues, I think the more we can help each other by just saying, “me too!”

    Also, for those who have difficulty being able to afford or convince their partners to go to therapy, or who want to dip their toes in the water first, I highly recommend relationship books. Some possible titles are “Why Can’t You Read My Mind?”, “The Five Languages of Love”, and “You just don’t understand”, but skim through with your partner and find what fits you. Although I think we’ll do pre-marital counseling at some point, reading such books together putting a name to the behavioral and thought patterns we’ve fallen into or encountered in the past, and discussing honestly about how we react to them and alternative ways to interact has been great for our relationship.

    • http://www.embracerelease.com Aly

      Thanks for your comment. We did talk to a few friends, though haltingly, when we were in the thick of it. What really convinced me to write this post and let everyone know about our struggles was talking with my friend about his marriage problems. When it helped him to hear that his “shining beacon” friends weren’t so shiny afterall, I realized that I needed to come clean for every other friend and ayone else it could help. Shoot, it’s helped me! I feel so much lighter just by putting this all out there. I totally agree that the more open and honest we can be about our lives with the people we hold dear, the better for all involved.

  • Cat

    I could have written the first half of this post (she says, from her current home at her parents house…).

    Thank you for writing/posting this to all involved. All the other, probably universal, issues that I can relate to aside, it’s strangely comforting to know that I am not the only one who feels pressure to ‘prove’ how great gay marriages are. Most of our extended family don’t know that I’ve moved out yet, as I who don’t want the people who didn’t come to our wedding on moral grounds to feel like they were justified. We are the only married lesbian couple I know of, I even wrote a grad post back in the day that APW was all yellow and left out the parts about how much impact those people had, because I didn’t want the people we knew who read it to find out that not everything about our big gay wedding was beautiful. In the context of ‘sucky things about our marriage falling apart’, it is one of the lesser concerns, but not one any of my straight married freinds can relate to when I talk to them about it. Adding to all that, we’re struggling to find a therapist we can afford who will also take on a queer couple.

    Anyways, I can now add ‘save my marriage’ to ‘quit living safe and follow my dream career’ to the list of things that APW has inspired me to do. Thanks from the bottom of my slightly battered heart.

    • Josephine

      Cat,

      Please don’t give yourself any extra pressure. It must be so hard to live with that prejudice but please remember that you aren’t totally responsible for the sanctity of gay marriage any more than Britney Spears is for straight marriage.
      However, *hugs*.

      I wish you luck with your marriage and life.

  • Moz

    An amazing post, thank you so much.

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  • Maggie P.

    So, I recognize that I don’t really have anything new to add… but I just have to say that this was such a beautiful post* and so true. I’m still thinking about it a day later. Followed the link and read your blog, too. Loved it.

    *a beautiful family, too. I mean, seriously, what kinda purdy water are you people drinkin’?

  • Kristen

    It sometimes seems to a therapy junkie like myself (weekly for the last 5+ years) that couples who don’t go to couples counseling are missing out major time on the best relationship tool there is. I scheduled our couples therapy to start 1.5 weeks after the engagement. I told him I wanted to spend the next 10 months planning for our marriage, not our wedding.

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  • Jessica

    I just have to say… That picture of you and your wife cradling your son is beautiful beyond compare!