Robin and Edward are a same-sex couple that have been together for 25 years. Read about their wonderful experiences and the heart-warming advice they give to other couples.
- How long have you been together? Married? We’ve been together for 25 years. Left the USA 9 years ago to move to Canada as a political act due to not being able to marry.
- How did you know your spouse was right for you?
Robin – I’m a romantic and I got the twinkle of a teenager when I first met Edward at a bar in San Francisco. I knew I needed to get to really know him. I lived in Los Angeles so I had to find a job that was closer to him since flying back and forth became a bit costly and frustrating, as there was no opportunity to do anything on whim. I knew he was the one when he held my hand in public for the first time at Union Square after an annoying incident with a drunken homophobe. He isn’t really a PDA kind of a person so this was big for me.
Edward – I’m a pragmatist and though I wanted to get to know Robin some more, we lived in different cities at that time – me in San Francisco and him in Los Angeles so any potential relationship would mean distance considerations. Within three months from our first meeting he found a job and moved to San Francisco. We got to see each other more often then. I knew he was the one when he defended me without thinking of his own safety when a drunken bigot started walking towards us screaming the ‘f’ word, as we were about to board the streetcar at Union Square. I immediately had the urge to give him a big kiss in front of the crowd and we went on our way to Fisherman’s Wharf, proud of what he has done.
- What has changed in your relationship since the beginning of your commitment to each other?
Our trust in each other has matured through the years. We’ve somehow created our own language and sometimes we don’t verbally speak in public but the combination of short bursts of guttural noise and body language provide us with highly contextual conversations that only the two of us could fully understand. This trust-based relationship results in being able to focus on other parts of our lives; we’ve been able to fulfill academic and career goals. Though distance may have been a challenging factor on our first year, now we work on projects that bring us across the globe for weeks and do not impact our relationship.
- What are the biggest obstacles you have had to overcome in your relationship?
Gay guys can be incessantly lascivious. We have had our share of being hit on. Trust has been tested in our relationship through the years in various forms and at each time, we somehow figure out a way to discuss what has happened, what considerations we identified and what our course of action would be the next time a similar occurrence happens. Robin can be holistic and highly objective in these situations and debriefs situations like this like it was a work event. Edward provides a strong passion for relationship impact and long-term effect. The complimentary discussion results in a workable, results-based solution so that no party feels hurt or unloved.
- How do you keep an open and honest communication?
By talking after a pause has occurred right after an emotional situation. We give ourselves breathing time to pause and calm down before we debrief. What we’ve found through the years is that this pause has shortened from what may be hours to a 1-2 minutes.
- What is your theory on arguing? A necessary evil or something to be avoided?
A healthy argument is part of a real relationship. It is not something to be avoided because as individuals we have our own unique perspective of the world. We know this; we’ve studied this through the course of our academic years. We leverage it even especially when we are discussing big questions like do we adopt, do we find a surrogate, do we move to a different city, and so on. We do not want a yes-man in these types of conversations.
The common conversation topics, on the other hand, like where we should have dinner or what movie to see are not topics for long discussions. We seemed to have matured in identifying and judging whether a topic needs discussion or just simply needed an assent. What is interesting is that we have divided the work that sometimes agreement is implied like when it comes to choosing travel options, Edward will just make those decisions. When it comes to edutainment choices, Robin will take care of that. Because we have learned each other’s strengths, we leverage what each is really good at and we can go about our days fairly smoothly.
- What are the most important attributes of a good spouse?
Ability to learn and course-correct for any missteps in action or words. We were in our early 20s when we became serious in our relationship and through the years we both have grown to understand that there will be mistakes, there will be misspoken words, there will be wrong choices made but it’s how we recover in those missteps is what’s more important. When we change direction in our actions or words to align with our common goals then we are golden. We both think that good spouses don’t automatically appear in front of you, there is a bit of nurturing, guidance, reflection, trust and lots of discussion. So long as there’s that intuitive kindness in one’s heart and openness to maturing together, then you’re on the right path. That’s how it worked for us, at least.
- Did you raise a family? Why or why not?
We did not raise a family when we started since we realized that it would not have been the right time as we were struggling to get by ourselves. In time our focus has changed, we opened a restaurant, we moved to another city, we focused on advancing our education, we wanted to be executives in our chosen career paths. Twenty-five years later, we are considering it, so we may raise a family yet.
- When life gets busy, what do you do to stay focused on each other?
Thanks to technology, we can focus on what is going on with each other especially when we’re in different cities. Skype, text, email, voice, and social media are just a few of the regular ways we connect. We prepare for when we are going to be busy so we know when it’s ‘me’ time and when it’s ‘we’ time. Through the years, we’ve learned to sharpen our marriage-sixth-sense to ensure we know when to drop everything for each other. This has been tested through the years. When this innate sense for “feeling as one” combines with all the technological options to converse, we seem to now know when a simple “I’m doing ok” is sufficient and when an “I need to chat with you” are needed.
- What advice would you give to a couple that is just engaged?
Don’t be afraid to challenge your partner’s thinking on the big stuff. Listen well and look at how your partner is viewing their world with you in it. Do not look at it from your own lens only as that would only lead to further conflict. Learn to compromise when it’s the right move, and you will know when it’s the right move. Do not focus on the little stuff because that will just end up being a nagging situation. Focus on what is really going to make or break the 5 year or 10 year future you…together with your partner. We looked at long term goals with a practical eye so we figured (yes using pen and paper) how we will achieve those goals through 1-2 year plans. It worked for us, we hope it will work for you as well.