The Marriage Struggle is Real…

I meet people a lot who have been married for twenty or thirty or forty something years. In my line of work mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It goes for married people too. I’ve seen a lot of different types of marriages- heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous (multiple partners), open marriages, swingers, etc. I wouldn’t say there is one recipe for success because honestly a lot of people I’ve encountered who have been married for decades are not always blissful. In fact some are freaking miserable but it’s been for so long and they are so comfortable and financially it’s the best decision…that they stay.

Marriage isn’t easy and it isn’t for the faint of heart. I can say I’ve learned a lot of what not to do based off the unhappy marriages I see.

Don’t stop having sex. This is key. I’m telling you. No matter what, no matter how tired you are, how unattractive you think you are, how hard it is (or isn’t;), freaking do it. Healthy sex is a common denominator in the healthy marriages I’ve observed. Healthy sex can mean many things to different people. Don’t limit yourself. Be willing to explore your partner’s sexual desires and needs. I swear to you it’s super duper important. When I see people who haven’t had sex in two or three years…well things are not going well and they are not happy. I’ve literally never met anyone who’s said, “Yeah we haven’t had sex in years and we are soooo happy!” Never. Because sex is important. Do it. I didn’t know what sex positive was until one of my friends became a sex therapist. I learned about it. It’s cool. I feel like I was sex positive for my client’s I just didn’t have a label for it. Now I do.

Go on dates. I know this sounds really cliche and dumb. And then people are like “Wahh we don’t have any money,” okay go for a walk. Spend thirty minutes together outside of your house, with no screens. Connecting emotionally is as important as connecting physically. When my wife and I wait too long between date nights we feel it. We start getting all irritable and bickering and then we are like, oh right, we haven’t spent thirty minutes together without insane two year olds and mountains of laundry to fold. We don’t always go to an expensive restaurant. In fact there’s this vineyard near us that we’ve gone to, we buy a bottle of wine for like 15$ then we sit at this table outside with an amazing view, eat all the food we bring, get a little buzzed, and have an amazing afternoon together. No screens, no kids, lots of food, a bottle of wine and each other.

Say “I love you,” say “Good-night” send sexy texts and pictures. Keep the romance alive in whatever way you can. Bring home flowers (ah hem, babe…), jewelry, a book, whatever floats their boat. Do something spontaneous because it’s nice and fun and sexy and feels good.

If your spouse has asked you to do something. Do it. Even if you don’t want to. Even if it goes against everything you do want to do. Do it. Make sacrifices. Show them they matter. Show up when it matters.

There are moments in every marriage when it feels too hard, when there are irrevocable changes that will make the past memories the only ones you have to cling onto. There will be times as you age when you realize you will never look like you did when you were 20, 30, 40, 50…etc. When you realize life won’t ever be the same as it used to be. When you question whether you should move forward with this partner or not.

I can tell you if the sex is still good, the laughter is still shared, affection is freely given and taken, and when you’ve asked them a million times to take out the trash and they actually have, or when you wake up every morning to coffee freshly brewed just for you…in our case also the chlorine tablets always being replenished without me asking…because for real don’t mess with my pool…those are the little things that keep a marriage going. Those are the little patches that bring you through the hard times.

Hard times will come. Jobs will be lost, finances will get strained, decisions will be questions and torn apart, illness will strike, surgery, mood changes, kids (teenagers…oy), tears, pain, loss…so much can happen in a marriage. So much between two (or sometimes more) people. It can seem like a lot to build such an intense history with one person.

For me, to check myself, to know that she’s still the one…I do this thing. I try and visualize my life without her. And when I close my eyes and try to picture my mornings without hearing her bang around the bathroom. My days without the texts and calls. My nights without her next to me. When I try and imagine that and it literally makes me sick to my stomach. I get this ball of dread and knot of fear in there. Then I know, nah, we are still in this. We still got this.

I’ve said that to clients. Try and imagine your life without your spouse. It’s brought some to tears. It’s created this sort of hardened emotionless look in others. It seems to me to be the best barometer.

Don’t ignore your marriage if you have one. Because it will start to slip away. Own it, love it, and don’t turn from the hard times. Embrace them. Because they will make the times shared at a vineyard with cake and wine that much sweeter.

 

 

Feeding the Birds (a half eaten doughnut). One Legacy of my Nana.

My Nana died last November. She died the day before my son’s birthdays. She loved birthdays. So I’m thinking it was her way of letting them have their day. She was quite ill at the time. It was bittersweet to witness her passing.

She was rather particular about certain things. We always used the good china for holidays, church on Sunday’s, we always brushed our teeth before breakfast (yuck), and she always gave us three kisses goodnight when we slept over, “Good night” kiss, “sleep tight” kiss, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” kiss, and “I’ll see you in the morning.” She loved ice cream, and we often found ourselves at Friendly’s for chicken fingers with french fries and ice cream. I’m sure our parents loved that.

Every time we went anywhere she got french fries. Not for herself, I mean, she’d have a few, but then she’d tuck the rest of them into a napkin and place them in her purse. Yes all types of oily and if they were mine covered in ketchup. She would bring home any type of carb left on the table anytime we ate wrapped in a napkin, “For the birds” she would mumble as she carefully placed them in her BIG purse that seemed to have never-ending supplies of tissues, tic-tac’s (orange, white or green), and yes old french fries. Even if we were on vacation in New Hampshire, she’d still take the fries. Then she’d save them and bring them home at the end of the week. Weird. I know.

Every morning she always threw seed and old french fries out to her birds. Her deep backyard would fill up with birds of all kinds; the majority being big black crows though, and they would chow down. I had to hand it to her, she built a large and loyal following. But seriously, some times we would be at super nice restaurants and she’d still tuck all the leftover bread and fries and potatoes into her purse. Kind of embarrassing. People didn’t know it was for the birds, it could have just been her idea of a doggy bag.

We all kind of tolerated it even though we would roll our eyes and pretend it wasn’t happening. Especially when she’d reach over and not even ask if we were done with our fries. She would just assume we hadn’t touched them in the last two minutes, I’d look down, and they’d be gone.

Fast forward twenty something years. My wife had a bird feeder. It broke. But again, she had built a loyal following. So she continued to put seed out on the lawn. Then a few times I’ve noticed that I have almost involuntarily thrown out some leftover carb products. Then today we were at a nearby orchard that sells doughnuts. Jackson handed me a half eaten doughnut. Without even thinking I wrapped it in a napkin and stuck it into my purse.

We drove home and I went outside with them. I went through my purse to find my phone and found the doughnut. It was this moment like, shit, am I really going to do this? Am I really going to go outside with the half eaten doughnut and feed the damn birds? I’m totally not that kind of person. Not because I don’t like birds or anything, but simply because for so many years we thought my Nana was a little kooky for doing it.

Well as I type this I am watching a collection of big crows eating the pieces of doughnut I threw out there today. And it’s with some pride and warmth I feel connected to that kooky part of my Nana, and with some embarrassment I admit to the world that I did indeed and probably will again, save food for the birds. I mean it’s better than letting it go to waste…right? I can imagine the look on her face today as she watched over me as I threw the doughnut out onto the lawn. A smug smile and perhaps a chuckle with a nod of approval.

My boys at some point will likely be old enough to roll their eyes at me and tell me to not do that in public some day when we are at a nice restaurant. I’ll just smile at them as I tuck some fries or potato into a napkin and stick it in my purse for the birds.

They won’t remember my Nana, but they will know her.

In these uncertain times and after a week of treasonous statements and unrest, it is these small moments that remind me some things won’t change. We can still have love and family even while we as members of the LGBT community live in fear of what’s to come.

 

Why Two Married People Need to do a Second Parent Adoption. And How No One in Tennessee Will Represent Them.

My wife and I are both on my son’s birth certificate. We also live a generally LGBT friendly state. So if I die my wife would likely have no issues retaining custody of my children. My family wouldn’t fight her for the boys, and frankly I can’t think of many people who would actually want twin boys after they spend maybe ten minutes in my house…but that’s beside the point.

In other states such as Oklahoma and Tennessee- a couple things to know. It is legal to discriminate against individuals based on their LGBT status. It is legal for an extended family member or even an anonymous sperm donor who gave up parental rights to sue a Mom or Dad for custody in the event of the death of departure of the second “birth” parent. So to be fully protected in one’s parental rights a second parent adoption- meaning the Mom or Dad who is NOT biologically related to the child even if they are on the birth certificate- is absolutely necessary. It is also necessary in the event of divorce.

Picture this- two mom’s. One gives birth to a child while married to second mom. Second mom is child’s mom in every way. Biological mom divorces and leaves non-bio mom. Non-bio mom seeks joints custody in the divorce. If she lives in TN the judge may very well say you have no legal rights to this child. Doesn’t matter that you’re on the birth certificate. You did not birth them. Your ex-wife does not want to share custody with you. So peace out. Never see your child again.

This happens.

Really let that sink in. Imagine as a Mom or Dad in a heterosexual co-parenting situation. You would never just imaging that your co-parent would never see their child again. I would never imagine saying to my wife who has literally been there since conception that she cannot see them again and has no rights to them. But that’s happening. In TN and Oklahoma and all those other douchebag intolerant states. It’s going to happen more perhaps even federally if SCOTUS changes the way it’s planning on changing.

My message is this- do NOT think there is no discrimination. There is. I’ve heard from a family in TN who is seeking a second parent adoption. They have called every attorney within an hour of them. Not ONE will represent them to do a second parent adoption. They have all cited religious beliefs as their reason. So this family who is desperate to just protect their rights as Mom’s cannot even find someone willing to help them. And this is ALL legal. They went to the Human Rights Campaign and never heard back. Because their case is actually low priority because there is so much worse discrimination going on in our country right now.

Imagine calling every single attorney within an hour radius of your home. NOT ONE. How would that feel to know that all of those individuals would not represent you for something as simple as a second parent adoption. What about if they actually needed representation for a criminal matter or a lawsuit? Who would help them? The answer is no one.

No one has stepped forward to help them.

How incredibly painful and isolating and terrifying.

There are so many stories like this. So many families who are scared to reach out for help when they need it because they have been told politely or not so politely to fuck off so many times before due to other people’s “religious beliefs.”

This makes me sick. It should make you sick. If you voted for #45 it should literally make you vomit. These are your neighbors at the very core just trying to protect their families.

If anyone knows an attorney willing to help families with second parent adoptions in the states of Tennessee or Oklahoma please message me. Those particular states, unlike CT, require a family to be represented by an attorney. It’s another barrier they put up for LGBT families.

These are desperate times for the LGBT population. We need allies.

 

Hot Yoga. Twins. And Freaking Kennedy.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. As per usual.

I am trying to ignore the fact that the Supreme Court may change the course of my life permanently. I’m trying to forget the fact that democrats were major pussies when Merrick was up and didn’t play hardball like the Republicans have been doing now. Pisses me off. Now is not the time to be polite. These decisions can become life and death. Back ally abortions killed women. Hate and discrimination kills people still. Though I vote Democrat the party itself is pissing me off as much as the Republicans. Because freaking fight. At least that’s how I feel. I’m not a half ass kinda girl. I’m an all or nothing kinda woman. When I believe in something I will fight for it. Passionately and with all I’ve got.

Off and on since my teens I’ve taken yoga. It always was nice in the moment but afterward I’d be like okay I need to go work out now. As I got older and had more stuff on my plate I didn’t have time to go to yoga then go to a real workout. So yoga fell off to the wayside. Also all the laying on the ground at the end for 20 minutes or whatever just irritated me. I’m not good at meditation nor do I really feel the need to be.

After I had the boys my body was a hot mess. Still kind of is. But less so. Then after a year of breastfeeding. Wow. Even more of a hot mess. I worked with a trainer, hit the gym, but I just wasn’t feeling it. One day in January my wife and I did a date to a hot yoga class. It was amazing. Totally crazy workout that makes me still want to die/puke/pass out on the regular and so intense that I can’t think of anything else because my brain is occupied with the fight to survive the next hour. And we only lay on the floor for 5 minutes at the end tops, and cool music is playing. Not weird meditative crap. And I’m so spent from 55 minutes of craziness I can actually lay there and just zone out.

After that first class I was like. Wow. I found my home. It’s not Bikram. It’s Baptiste style. In a basement type studio with heat set at 94 degrees and humidity to 45%. It’s often hotter and more humid by the end of the class.

I’ve dropped pounds and inches. I even dropped a cup size. Amazing. I bought my first C cup bra ever. I’m just freaking amazed. I gradually increased from once a week to twice a week to three times a week, to sometimes four if I’m not dead.

That hour I take for myself has been life changing. Not only am I feeling better about my body in general but my brain can shut off. I can actually not think about the Supreme Court fuck up and now totally fucked up future of SCOTUS. It’s like it brings me back to the basics. Survive. Survive this hour. That’s pretty powerful.

I leave covered in sweat. I mean my clothes are soaked. The hot yoga towel I put over my mat is soaked. I realized I was making progress when I could make it the first fifteen minutes without sweating yet. I can also do Crow pose which is cool. I can sort of do inversions. But I’m not safe enough to do it in that tiny little room as I would probably kick my neighbor or something.

No one at hot yoga knows my story. The teachers I go to the most frequently know my name. One of them now knows I have twins. I told her last week. But I had been going since January and could just go in and not be me. I could just be a person doing her thing in hot yoga and leave. Not a Mama, not a nurse, not a lesbian, not a business owner. Some one actually thought I was a local college student. I didn’t correct them. Because I’m like wow. I’m freaking old. If you think I’m 22 I’m down with that.

It’s been my own personal journey and is ongoing. I continue to see improvement in my flexibility, my poses, and overall my weight and body. I have muscles in my arms I didn’t know existed. Most importantly I have hope. Hope that I will be myself again somehow. I leave feeling lifted, feeling that no matter how dark things may get, no matter how fucked up SCOTUS will become, that we all have this innate drive to survive. I found mine. Connected with it. Powerful shit.

The world has withstood worse tyrants and worse times than this asshole and every other asshole who supports him. We will survive too. We just have to connect with our drive to do so. It’s there. Promise. Go to hot yoga. You’ll find it. Just don’t talk to me if you find my studio. That’s my zen time. And I generally can’t breathe and I may puke on you. Ha. Yeah.