Ugly Truths: Lesbian Love and Divorce
Marriage can be hard: "It’s not a gay thing or a straight thing – it’s universal."
Via Thinkstock Images
I am going to admit something ugly about myself. I have felt sad at the fact that soon after the fight for marriage equality was won in some states, the fight for lesbian divorce began as well.
Intellectually, I know that must be so: only with equal rights can you have equal actions. But emotionally, I have—here's the ugly part—been judgmental (and sure, naïve) in mourning that an argument so built on "love" should ever dissolve at all.
It was on Mothers’ Day of all days that I realized why divorce has become so common for relationships. Here’s why this was no fault of my wonderful wife…
This past Mother’s Day, despite having some incredibly special tear jerkingly awesome shared moments multiple times with family, there was also at least two moments where I was not my best self.
You cannot zip yourself up when you are a parent. Less is not more when it comes to how you participate in your child’s life.
I spend so much time fumbling around—trying to repair and be a better leader… I’m working so much on myself when I’m working with my kids and one of my imperfections is that I prioritize paid work and housework. It’s easy to stop working on that other really important relationship. You know, the one with the other adult in the house—you remember her?
Note my use of the term “work.” Work should have that fun, dopamine inducing sense of accomplishing something and feeling good about how far you’ve come, right? But when you’re both working on other things—and not necessarily working with each other—marriages obviously will break down.
The whole experience about what I was witnessing in myself led to a productive discussion with my wife. One reasons I’ve consistently loved this woman for the past 12 years is because she and I have an ability to talk about things you don’t usually want to talk about; and, we often experience things in similar ways. So while it wasn’t a surprise, it was a relief that we agreed: With young children at home, you want to enthusiastically give to this experience without ever holding back. But here’s my advice: never forget to give to yourself and to each other. Not feeding those two key elements, self and partner sure is hard on any familial relationship.
Also, I’ve surveyed my friends (and sorry, I fully fit into the stereotype that everyone I keep in touch with has young kids too): and for real, what Vicky and I were experiencing this spring was the exact same thing experienced by everyone we knew with two kids aged 4 and 2. It’s not a gay thing or a straight thing—it’s universal.
We’re like every other young family we know: We’re new at juggling this whole division of self thing. As a couple, you’re usually so in sync—you expect to continue to be as a partner team. To infinitum, right? But that expectation without the joyful work, loses all the dopamine.
I’m not going into all the reasons people get divorced. But when your kids are young, my experience is your marriage can hit some unprecedented major speedbumps. (And likely, we can expect more speedbumps as they get older and your family—and selves—face more unforeseen challenges.)
On one hand I feel that, “My kids are the cutest and most needy right now—it’s OK to be focused only on them.” The other part of me is like, “But that shit’s got to stop when the eldest gets to four.”
Those stories of people who “woke up” one morning and decided they no longer knew who they married, or why, haunt me. For how long can a relationship (should a relationship) go where you aren’t connected? It’s easy to be so busy pursuing excellence in every other area of your life, expecting your partner to just be there committed to the same dreams you both started off with.
From the frontlines, if you’re worried about what parenting is going to do to your marriage, you certainly do change in many ways, and that has to be negotiated. But hopefully all the core reasons and values and communication will still be there to help you both evolve through it.
Our special ingredient has been the fact that we both want our marriage to work. And more recently, we’ve been realizing like hot milk to a latte we need to barista-up at least one night a week to leave the “everyday” together. (It may still involve an activity on our super comfy couch, but the activity is something more adventurous than watching a movie while digesting a Happy Meal.)
In the meantime while I go on this road of what I believe is continuous improvement, I hope that in sharing my ugliness with you, you find a voice collective inside all of us that makes you feel less alone.