Commitment- 42 years togeather
COMMITMENT - A SUPPORT SYSTEM
September of 1999 John and I celebrated our 37th anniversary. We have friends, both gay and straight, that ask for our secret. The answer is, "There Ain’t no secret!" literally, that is exactly what we mean. No secrets! When John and I started out there were no religious support groups for gays, (there were only two social groups in those days,) there were no "gay weddings" or public ceremonies. We had a few friends that wished us, "all the best" then told us how their togetherness had fallen apart. We listened and we learned.
We felt that the quickest route to separation was with possessiveness. The romantic, but trite, "I'm his-He's mine" was a sure fire death knell. Kahil Gibran said, "let there be spaces in your togetherness." I do not own John nor does he own me, we allow for the need and the ability for separate interests. There are things we do that do not include the other, however it is important to realize that we do not exclude, and there is always the ability to include. Anna Lindberg in, "Gift from the Sea" speaks of two in a dance, not clinging together but moving freely in complementary harmony. Jealous possessiveness, contrary to our culture's popular notion, has no reasonable place in a marriage (or any) relationship.
The first year we shared our life together one of John's goals was improved communication, to his workers, to himself and to me. I became of the same mind and that brings the next big point. TALK! Other couples that we knew were going to break-up and without exception the communication was non-existent. They not only did not talk to each other, sometimes they did not know how. John and I took a class in semantics at a local college and while that may not be for every one it gave us base to build on. Now after more than 30 years we sometimes communicate with out speaking, but that only comes with time. It helps in the relationship to communicate needs; the way you need to be supported. To make a commitment to specific support to achieve a goal for the other is even more rewarding.
Any specific relationship should be a mutual support system. Most of the time we are in step and when the "different drummer" shows up we can talk about the rhythm we hear. We both have the ability and the desire to support each other yet be self supportive and appreciate our own self worth. This is important so let me repeat it, a relationship should be a mutual support system. Relationships among friends, a marriage, a family, a commune, a society, a club, a congregation, should be a relationship which, regardless of whatever else it may be, provides mutual support. This support may take many various forms and for many varying purposes. In a marriage or similar relationship, the mutual support can be a power that is so valuable and helpful that it becomes the "glue" that holds two together in a lasting and fulfilling way. Support may be for security, protection, intellectual stimulation and growth, for emotional reinforcement (love and caring), for challenging and encouraging of the potentials, for listening and unloading of distresses, for the sharing of experiences, both disturbing and joyous. These arrangements of support do not have to be (in fact, rarely are) confined to only the two, as in a marriage, but can include others that will compliment the relationship.
So the Secret? Let's call them guidelines:
Be open - never hide something from the other but temper your honesty with compassion and awareness.
Be free - with each other, with yourself.
Allow independence - "Spaces in your togetherness
Require "Faithfulness" of yourself; not of the other.
Help your mate: not to be like yourself, but to become the best of their own potential.
Accept and allow changes in the nature of the relationship; in the "levels of communication"
Never take an argument into the bed room. If you must stay up all night to resolve an issue then do so. If an understanding can not be reached or even if you agree to disagree, the bedroom is sacred territory and must not be used in conflict.
Finally, rather than seeking your own reflection in the other, seek goals to work toward together. (Not "you and me against the world" but standing together, hand in hand, reaching out to life.) We have had more than 30 years of the usual ups and downs but we have a commitment to each other, so why not try for 50!
We would give our love and blessings to you all.
_John & Doc
A little follow-up:
In January of 2005 John passed away after a combination of heart problems, Parkinson’s and dementia. He went peacefully and I was with him when he “went home.” Ashes were scattered in the woods he loved. September of 2004 was 42 years of togetherness.