As the White Twedding anniversary approached, I turned and asked Dallas, “what anniversary is this, anyway?” (Being a man, I’d forgotten) After some quick metal math, Dallas responded it was our third anniversary. After a moment, we both proceeded to fall over in shock.
As a result of the somewhat unusually public nature of our wedding and subsequent marriage, a lot of friends have asked us how to know when they’ve found “the one,” and how to have a successful relationship. For our anniversary, I’m going to give our usual answers (which will undoubtedly sound naive and silly in another 20 years) some of the most frequent questions so that maybe you, too, can fall over in shock that you’ve spent over 10% of your life with a single person before you’ve realized it.
How do you know you’ve found “The One?”
Quite honestly, there probably isn’t a single “The One.” Throughout your life, you’ll find many people you’re compatible with. The good news is that you don’t have to regret passing up that promising high school sweetheart in your pursuit for bigger things. There are many “a Ones” out there, and your chances of finding one of those “The One” are better than one in seven billion.
“Gawd Ed,” you say, “I don’t want assurance about my chances, I just want to find my damned
hot latin lover life partner already!” Okay, then, here is the whole secret: Stop looking, and work on being the best you possible. It’s seriously that easy.
Before meeting and marrying Dallas, I had a very long streak (which we now pretend does not exist) of being in short, fleeting relationships which I was invariably unhappy with and would end quickly. Retrospect being what it is, I’ve since realized that looking for a relationship had sabotaged my chances of letting anything meaningful happen. I was doing things and going to places in hope of finding someone to connect with, and I invariably ended up willing connections into existence instead of letting them happen organically.
If you go out in hopes of finding relationships, you will find them, but you probably won’t be happy with them.
Just before meeting Dallas, I found out I was going to Afghanistan. This was unexpected and, curiously, hugely liberating. Instead of trying to find a relationship, I actively started to avoid them. Instead of going on the prowl, I started doing things I enjoyed, knowing I would soon lose the ability to indulge in them. These things included tweetups, First Fridays, going on photowalks with other photographers, and other things I enjoyed. I met a lot of awesome people and quickly built up a large circle of people I enjoyed being around and considered friends. In that whirlwind of self-actualization, I met Dallas.
See, this whole thing “we’ve been together a long time” thing is really funny, because I think I told Dallas I was actively avoiding relationships within the first hour of meeting her for the first time. I had only approached her because I had heard she was really good at photography. In fact, when I set out to find her at the Two Beer Queers first anniversary party, I thought she was a guy because of her name. But, after chatting all night, we discovered there was an undeniable connection between us and, well, the rest is history.
Had I continued looking for relationships in the manner I previously had, I would have probably never found Dallas. She didn’t go out very much, and there’s no way I would have crossed paths with her by looking for her. My only chance at finding her was by going to the things that appealed to her so much, she’d actually go out to them. It so happens, those things are the same things I enjoy, but I’d been splitting my time between things I liked, and things that I thought would help me find a relationship which, it turns out, was not a good strategy.
So, that’s a long-winded way of saying “if you work on finding yourself, The One will find you.”
How did you know it was time to get married?
It was pretty clear from the very beginning we were going to get married. After that first geeky zombie question, it was pretty much a given. Soon after meeting, we were inseparable. We talked constantly, bounced things off each other, collaborated on projects and gave each other feedback. It was honestly easier to be together than to be apart, and that continued even after months of me being overseas…and it continues today.
You know it’s time to get married when you’re already acting like you’re married.
Here’s why I say that: Being unwed never stopped anyone from having a committed, life-long, harmonious, and monogamous relationship; the LGBT community can tell you all about that. Also, being married never stopped anyone who has strayed from their relationship. At the end of the day, being married is just a legal status as far as relationships go. Those vows are not a spell which will magically turn you into committed life partners. If you don’t feel like life partners, then don’t try to become life partners to fulfill some sort of social obligation or to mollify your fears of dying alone. If you do, like Dallas and I did, then get married. Or not, if that’s your thing.
Why do you guys still act like newlyweds?
Probably because we still feel like newlyweds. I wasn’t joking when I said we were shocked it’s been three years…time has truly flown. I think time has flown because we’ve been busy pursuing our passions, which line up pretty well with one another. Probably has something to do with the fact we found each other by doing the stuff we loved.
In all seriousness, Dallas is my very best friend. We do just about everything together, and have not gone more than twenty-four hours without talking to each other since the day we met. We are passionate about each other, and about helping each other become the best we can be at the things we care about. Things never get old because we are constantly trying new things and exploring new territory together…it’s easy to do because we both care about different parts of the same things.
In my admittedly limited experience, being able to have a fun and loving relationship years into marriage has a lot to do with not only enjoying each other, but in having enough in common to where you can do a lot together, but enough differences to keep thing interesting. If you want to have fun with your spouse, try to understand and participate (and enjoy) in the things they enjoy.
Other stuff you should know.
We fight. Sometimes a little, sometimes not at all, and sometimes often and hard. It comes with having two intelligent, creative people who are assertive with where they want their lives to go. It’s not really about not fighting, it’s about how you resolve those impasses and move forward, even if it’s just agreeing to disagree until a solution (or resolution) presents itself. We’re both pretty hard-headed, so it’s often the latter. It hasn’t precluded us from having an overall very happy, loving, and productive relationship in the least. I know we don’t talk about it much on social media, but that’s only because we strive to keep our online spaces as “drama free zones.” We don’t want anyone to think we’re some sort of perfect Stepford couple, though. We’re human, and these growing pains are totally normal, so if you’re experiencing them, don’t feel too bad.
A successful relationship is about connection and love, but a successful marriage is about logistics and lifestyle compatibility. Earning money, spending money, saving money, where to live, who takes care of what, what roles and responsibilities each person has in the home…these and more are things that need sorting out in a long-term relationship. Just because you love each other does not mean you can have a successful marriage and life together. Go into these relationships with eyes open, and knowing that living together–living at all, really–requires hard work. If you don’t plan for it, you’ll take some lumps.
Here’s to a lifetime of being surprised!
I hope these tips have given you some insight into our relationship, and have maybe helped you find a little clarity in your own love life. I’m really fortunate to have found Dallas so early in my life, and I’m truly excited about the prospect of ever more years together, and of being surprised how short it feels like it’s been every time an anniversary rolls around. I hope everyone is fortunate enough to find a relationship like that I’ve found with her.
I love you, Dallas!
If anyone has any more questions and wants more tips, ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to provide an honest answer!