Harma Hartouni, author of Getting Back Up: A Story of Resilience, Self-Acceptance & Success shares his thoughts about finding love and starting a family.
1. How did you and your husband meet? Was it love at first site?
We met at a pizza place at 3:00 a.m. after a long night of drinking. I was 21-years-old at the time and he was 24 years old. I went on a second date with him the next day and spent every day after that with him as well. I moved into his apartment forty-seven days later. We have now been together for 18 years. I don’t really believe in love at first sight, I believe in chemistry and attraction at first. I believe true love is when you grow old with someone and are still willing to take care of them no matter what. The more I have gotten to know him with every passing year, the more I have fallen in love with him. We have grown up together and have both learned how to love and bring out the best in each other.
2. What are some of the challenges you have faced?
We were both Middle Eastern, young, broke, and gay. Although my coming out story was very dramatic at the time, I consider it beautiful now.
3. What are some of your favorite moments as a couple?
When I was 22 years old, he ordered real estate books for me. He stayed up with me all night before my exam and helped me study. We somehow both became successful simultaneously. He was featured in The Hollywood Reporter’s 40 Under 40 and I was featured in LA Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. We are completely in sync with each other. From choosing our surrogate and the names of our children, to making major purchases such as homes and cars, we have always been on the same page.
4. When did you decide to start a family? Can you share a little of the process with our readers?
In 2012, we were having dinner in Palm Springs when my sister called and told me that she was pregnant. I was so happy for her, but after a few minutes, I started to feel sad. I had given up on the idea of having a traditional family long ago. I thought to myself, I am 30 years old, in the prime of my life, enjoying my partner and our success that we had worked so hard for. We had everything we could have ever wanted but it still felt like something was missing. That night, we decided that we would start a family of our own.
5. What advice would you give to other couples that are considering surrogacy?
Don’t wait, and just do it. If you are going to have more than one, then do it back-to-back. Trust your agency, follow your gut, and don’t over-analyze. During this pandemic, we have realized how lucky we are to have our kids. Our lives now have a purpose that is bigger than just the two of us. Having kids is not easy, but the rewards of a life with them are true blessing.
6. Juggling a family and a career can be overwhelming. How do you stay focused on your relationship, and what tips can you share with our readers to guide them toward a successful relationship?
We both agreed early on that we cannot let the kids come between us. They are moving in with us so they need to respect us. We need to set the boundaries, not the other way around. We make it a habit to have a date night every Thursday, no excuses. Even when all the restaurants shut down when the shelter at home orders were put in place, we would still pick up take out and eat outside together, just the two of us. We make travel plans without the kids at least twice a year so that we stay connected. We have been judged by many of our friends and families about how busy we always are and how we raise our kids. The truth is, our family of 5 is very close. Our kids are kind, smart, attached to us and speak multiple languages. We always have dinner together and regular movie nights. Don’t ever let any unsolicited advice dictate your life.
In Getting Back Up: A Story of Resilience, Self-Acceptance & Success (March 2021) self-made entrepreneur and developer, Harma Hartouni, shares a collection of life events that have been most impactful in leading him where he is today: a proud gay man living in Los Angeles, one of the most successful real estate entrepreneurs in America, and a husband and father of three. Born in America and raised in Iran, where he survived abuse from his father, sexual assault, bullying, and a near-death accident, Hartouni learned that life is never about what happens to you; it is about what you do with it. His story of finding his voice and living his truth, even when he was an outcast and all odds were against him, will inspire others to face their own battles head-on to find their own well-deserved happiness.
“I grew up in a place where I was not meant to exist—a place where my identity as a gay male was contrary to Middle Eastern culture, standards, and faith. I grew up in a home filled with dysfunction and strife. I carried the weight of all of that on my shoulders; a weight that made me feel unworthy, afraid, and alone. But, if you carry a weight constantly, eventually you become stronger. The weight I carried and the strength I built was all so I could fight. I fought to walk again after a horrific accident, I fought to come to the U.S. even though I was an outcast here as well, I fought for success, and I fought for the privilege to live my life in truth. I fought for love and for the family my husband and I created through surrogates. When I was lying on the road, in shock with my legs mangled, I didn’t know it, but I was just beginning a fight for my life—a life of happiness, hard-earned and well-deserved happiness.”
-Harma Hartouni, Survivor. Gay, Middle Eastern Male. Self-Made Entrepreneur. Proud Husband and Father. Author of Getting Back Up: A Story of Resilience, Self-Acceptance & Success