Column: Making love last forever

The Gay Agenda: Life and times of a modern gay man.

J.R. Hensley

J.R. Hensley

J,R. Hensley, Photo Editor

I am certain I have shared numerous times that my husband and I have been together for 13 years.

I boast the number because in the gay community, we may as well have been married for 100 and dead about 50. Most gay relationships, adhering to stereotypes and from what I have witnessed on my own, typically last about a month, maybe three, if things were working. For whatever reason, the pairings don’t last.

Now, a cynical mind might say that it is because men aren’t supposed to be together. If that was the thought that came to your mind, move along, for I have nothing for you and I don’t want to take up your “valuable” time. If what did cross your thought process was “relationships are hard,” then sit down, for you are my new best friend.

Yes, relationships suck because they are work.  No matter how one slices it, they take more effort than many are willing to put into, and that’s fine. However, if love is there, the effort is mandatory.

The wisdom I want to impart is not at all new. I am certain hundreds of films, books, and friends have shared these facts before. What’s unfortunate is that it takes that many times for human beings to understand.

To make relationships work you have to listen. Really listen.  Hear the words your partner is sharing and feel what it is they are trying to tell you. Even if it is something mundane like, stop looking at your phone, or take out the trash. Listen and do it, because one day the same words will come from your own mouth. In addition, to know that someone heard your voice is empowering.

Make certain your partner feels appreciated. I think that was the hardest lessons for me to learn.  I always thought my husband knew I appreciated him, but assuming he does doesn’t make it so. The effort to say “thank you for doing what you did” is so small but goes a long way.

The most important is: be present. This is the hardest one for me. I have the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel puppy, just without the energy. My nose is always in a book, computer, or my phone, and that makes my husband feel alone.

I know it does, he’s told me as much (look at me listening). I know that I miss so much of what is happening because I am not aware of the now and not being present, I wouldn’t be able to do the other two. The final tip is to admit when you’re wrong. Humility is so attractive, and the effort of not having to put on an air of superiority is such a relief. Once I finally accepted that one, I noticed my marriage flourish (I’m often wrong). I am by no means the last word on relationships. Mine still has so much more to go and I am fraught with failure, because I am above all things, flawed. I share these lessons because I want others to be able to make it last; also, just because we’re both men doesn’t mean it will or won’t work.

Society has created this ridiculous stereotype “that all women are like this” and “all men are like this” and it’s not true. People are different. There may be similarities that overlap but in the end, we are all unique personalities trying to make relationships work.