Marathon Love: Vann & Chunate’s Love Remain Strong In the Midst of Drastic Change, Part 2

In part 1 of Vann and Chunate’s love story, they shared how they met, fell in love and got married. In part 2, they shared how they managed to save their marriage and adjust to a bombshell—Vann was trans. 

Vann and Chunate remained together even after Vann came out as trans.

Vann and Chunate remained together even after Vann came out as trans.

Chunate: There was no sex. But we were happy that day. But there was also some depression, anger. He turned from this sweet person who used to come see me to love on me and hug on me and when we got home, to this angry person. He was always on the grind trying to get money and didn’t have time for us. I stayed home with the children. My day consisted of cooking and cleaning. We would eat, put the children to bed and then he would go to bed. We were disconnected really badly. At some point we weren’t talking. He was working six days a week from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. There was no time for me and no time for the children. We even stopped sleeping in the same room. He started sleeping on the couch.

BL3: But here you are 10 years later. How did you manage to stay together?
Chunate: We had to get couples therapy because it was getting really bad. There was anger and a lot of emotional stuff going on. I told him a couple times I’m going to leave.

Vann: I wasn’t violent to her physically but I was emotionally violent. When we look back at our relationship, I was withholding of affection. The inability to tend to her in that way was deep.

Chunate: He wasn’t in love with me. I asked him if he was in love with me and he said, no. I asked him if he had been in love with his [ex] and he said, yes. I don’t think I could wrap my mind around that. I started wondering what was wrong with me. We were officially married. We loved each other. We did this big thing. I was in love with him. I remember feeling like oh my building got rocked.

Vann: I know there was a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. I hurt her and now looking back I can see it. I thought, “I love you. That’s why we’re married.” Now I get the difference. Now I’m in love with her and I love her. I got it. Back then she didn’t feel worthy.

Chunate: He didn’t make me feel worthy either.

BL3: Wow, sounds like you two were going through a lot.

 

Chunate: There was a lot of unspoken stuff he thought he was saying. I wasn’t talking. He wasn’t talking. I was catatonic. At one point I wasn’t talking but eating myself to death. I gained so much weight. I didn’t want to leave the house. It got really, really bad and we really had to bring the counseling in. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here today. We would be broken up and it would have been a bitter break up and some violence going on my end.

Vann: How did we get married in that state? … This was my family but I was not taking care of my wife emotionally.

Chunate: We finally had sex 1.5 years after we got married. Around February we had sex.

BL3: And how did that go?

Vann: She was my first female encounter. I was real green. She’s coming from a space of needing to be loved up and I’m from a place of grinding and not needing emotion. I knew I loved her but like they say, What’s love got to do with it? I then learned about the five love languages and that started us being more aware of each other. We can now recognized when we get out of touch with each other.

When it came to intimacy, it was different for each of us. I didn’t want toys, books, nothing.We both had trauma. I couldn’t connect in that department and she did a lot of work with me around that.

Chunate: We’re still working. 

BL3: And in the middle of all this, how did you topic of Vann being trans come up?

Vann: I asked her when did she realize I wasn’t a full-blown lesbian?

Chunate: Outside of sex, I knew when we first moved together. We didn’t do the girly stuff—there was no interest there. The stuff I was interested in, he had no interest in. It was just different. He always acted like a man. He was a man. I had a man in my house. I didn’t full on know but knew something was different. This was not a wife. This is somebody else. I married somebody else.

You started becoming something else when we were [in our first place]. Before we even got married, before we got together even when we started dating there was a level of girlfriendness there. We would talk and Vann would paint his nails every once in a while and talk about clothing but it was different. Then when we moved in with each other, stuff started changing and he started moving toward heterosexual. I started feeling like, “Okay, where is my wife?” He wasn’t chauvinistic. It’s just his personality changed.

Vann: I started feeling like I got a family and I have to provide for them and I have to protect. I felt possessive especially around the children’s fathers. I just felt that she’s mine. I’m hers and these are my kids. I felt like the world was against us. The climate at that time was negative about lesbians. We had been battered and beaten around “this is a sin and God don’t like that, ya’ll gonna mess these kids up.”

Marathon Love: How Vann & Chunate Transitioned From a School-Girl, School-Boi Crush, Part 1

*In the following two-part post, Vann and Chunate share their how they met, fell in love and how they adjusted to Vann’s gender identity. When sharing how they first met, please be aware that Chunate uses “he” pronouns even though Vann had not yet transitioned.

Vann and Chunate were married August 15, 2004 in Canada.

Vann and Chunate were married August 15, 2004 in Canada.

Chunate was working at a McDonald’s in Baltimore in 1997 when Vann walked in with a friend. Chunate hooked them up with some food, but had no idea that Vann would later become her wife and then her husband. At the time Vann had ever dated a woman and Chunate was somewhat accustom to loving women, however neither had a clue about gender identity. Vann simply remembered thinking Chunate was very pretty. They eventually developed a close friendship and August 15, 2014, marked their 10 year anniversary. Below they share how their relationship evolved:

 

Black Lesbian Love Lab: How did you two become friends?

Chunate: He lived directly down the street from me. [One day] we sat on the curb and talked and talked and talked from there we built a friendship. We would talk daily. I’d go to his house sit and vibe just get to know each other. And then he would pick my daughter up from the school bus for me because I had to go to work. We had a real good friendship.

Vann: She was living with her mom and I was living by myself. We talked a lot about everything.

Chunate: And then … he abandoned me. He started hanging out with some new people and when I wanted to hang around I was the high blower. I didn’t smoke like that. Trying to talk to someone on weed was not working. We kinda drifted apart. I knew I was a lesbian. I knew that I liked women … but I hadn’t pursued anyone just yet. I liked Vann. I did.

BL3: Vann, did you know the attraction was mutual?

Vann: I had no idea she was attracted to me, I really didn’t know what was going on. I knew that I had a caring for her, a protective feeling that I had. She had a friend that did her dirty …

Chunate: That was my first [woman]. The day after we [hooked up] she acted like it never happened. I told Vann.

 

Vann: I was mad (smiling). Cause I liked you I guess. Even now when I look at it, I hadn’t laid claim. We were doing this tango of a dance. Part of the reason I was getting high so often was because I was fighting an internal battle around what I now know as my gender identity.

 

Chunate: While he was figuring out what he was trying to do, I was moving on. I started dating a girl I met while working at a nursing home. By then I knew I was a full-fledged lesbian. I knew what I was and what I wanted but still at the time I was living with my daughter’s father. I was trying to please both.

BL3: What was going on with you Vann?

Vann: Mentally I couldn’t accept the fact that I liked women, period. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it too tough. I had to get okay with it somehow. I struggled with what that would mean for my family and whether God would approve of it but at the same time I would fantasize about being with women.

At that time I’m a professional with a background in social work and didn’t know what to do. I was not in the party scene. I worked in Mount Vernon [a gay neighborhood in Baltimore] but there were no black women there at the time. And I was not a lipstick lesbian so I didn’t even know what to do. When I was high, I thought I was approaching Chunate and coming onto her. I swore I was doing mad game and then she said that I wasn’t, that I was just staring at her.

Chunate: He thought he told me he liked me. We ended up deciding to go to our first Pride festival together. We got dressed up, went downtown after dinner and caught the bus. There was an understanding that it was date in Vann’s mind.

Vann: I felt jittery on the inside. My stomach was turning. It was the first time that I was going out with a girl. She smiled like a Cheshire cat so she knew she was being courted.

Vann: The first time I ever slept in a bed with her was in 1999.

BL3: What happened?

Chunate: Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Vann: I didn’t know what to do. It was at her mom’s house. It’s Chunate and I’m thinking, “Oh my God do I kiss her?” She’s like the apple of my eyes. I didn’t know what to do, I was just scared and so I did nothing.  She was waiting for me to make the first move, I was stuck in park. I left that morning and went home.

Chunate: We didn’t see each other for another couple of years.

Shante and Tori: When Did You Fall in Love?

Shante and Torri will only get married when it is legal to do so in their home state of Alabama. Photo Courtesy of Freedom to Marry

Shante and Tori will only get married when it is legal to do so in their home state of Alabama. Photo Courtesy of Freedom to Marry

Do you remember when you first fell in love with your honey? For Shante and Torri, the memory is vivid:

“She trapped me. We went out on a little date and we ended up going back to the apartment so she could get a jacket because we were going to a party. But we ended up listening to Jimi Hendrix and, you know, if anybody puts on Jimmy Hendrix, you just can’t leave.”

The two are being featured in a new photo series being promoted by the Freedom to Marry organization. The Spirit of the South photo series features LGBT couples and their supporters who are campaigning for marriage rights in the South.

Shante and Tori, who live in Alabama, say, “We’re not going to get legally married until it is legal in Alabama. I’m not going to go anywhere else to be married. If everything else I do is here, why should I go somewhere else to get married?”

They definitely have a great point. Click here to see other photos in the Spirit of the South series.

Nikki & Amena Ponder Wedding Cupcakes, Cookies, Pies Oh My

Nikki and Amena sample cakes, cakes, cakes!

Nikki and Amena sample cakes, cakes, cakes!

Nikki and Amena, a Maryland couple engaged to be married next fall, have agreed to share with us their journey to the altar. Today they talk with us about selecting one of the most important elements of the wedding reception—the cake:

 

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): What kind of cake were you looking for? 

Amena: A cake that everyone will like.

Nikki: A cake that embodies both of our tastes. I’m a chocolate lover.

Amena: I like chocolate but I really love vanilla cake.

BL3: How important is the cake to your wedding ceremony? 

 

Nikki and Amena considered selecting pies, cookies and cupcakes to be the centerpiece of their wedding, but ultimately decided on cake!

Nikki and Amena considered selecting pies, cookies and cupcakes to be the centerpiece of their wedding, but ultimately decided on cake!

Amena: It is an important part of the reception. I thought about having cupcakes even cookies or pie. I wanted to be different. But I like cake, good, old-fashioned cake! YUM!

Nikki: To me the cake is important because it is a symbol of the union and people look forward to tasting something sweet at the end.

BL3: How did you go about selecting a vendor? 

 

Amena: We went to the Say I Do LGBT Wedding Expo when it was in D.C. and Edibles Incredible (our vendor) was there. We put our name on the list for a free cake tasting. When we had the tasting, we were hooked! The cake was SOOOOO good.

BL3: How important was it for you that your baker be queer friendly? 

 

Amena: It was very important to me. I don’t want to do business with any vendors that are not LGBT friendly.

Nikki: If they are not queer friendly I would be afraid they would tamper with the taste or mess up the cake in some way. Plus, they would be judgmental and not easy to work with. But you may never see that in their actions because they want the money but you would feel it.

Nikki and Amena brought along their friend Corrine (right) to help them sample the cakes.

Nikki and Amena brought along their friend Corrine (right) to help them sample the cakes.

BL3: Have you settled on a cake yet? If so, which did you choose and why? 

Amena: Yes! We chose three flavors. We want them to be a surprise. We choose these flavors because we think they will make everyone happy.

Nikki: And that’s all we are going to say about that!

Reflections of A Pillow Princess

Written by Ms. Boss Femme/Disrupting Dinner Parties

Could these really be the hands of "real lesbian"? Image courtesy of Expert of Beauty

Could these really be the hands of a “real lesbian”?    Image courtesy of Expert of Beauty

Every so often, maybe at a happy hour or a house party, someone will pick up my hand, examine my fingers, and exclaim “Oh wow, you have straight girl nails! How does that work?” I usually laugh awkwardly and change the subject. I also occasionally find myself part of a group conversation about, say, how to avoid lockjaw and  tongue tiredness during a long session of cunnilingus. In these situations I try to be inconspicuously quiet, sometimes nodding in agreement to pieces of advice that sound right.

The truth is, in my current relationship, which happens to be with a masculine-of-center woman, there’s no reason for my nails to be super short because I don’t stick my fingers anywhere particularly delicate. And I can’t contribute any lessons learned from going down on her because… I don’t. I am the one who gets the finger action. I am the one who tires tongues. I am the receptive partner, and according to some definitions, I am a “Pillow Princess”.

A Pillow Princess is a woman who, during sex with other women, enjoys being pleasured but never reciprocates, rarely reciprocates, or reciprocates in a limited manner. It is sometimes tricky for me to navigate queer spaces, because I find that the queer cultures I am a part of have packed a lot of meaning into the relationships between gender expression, gender roles, and the performance of dominance and submission. Each scene has attached something different to the meaning of lopsided sexual reciprocation, and as it almost always does, this has a lot to do with race, class, and exposure to Big F Feminism. It’s almost like folks are still figuring out how to work through the tensions described in the novel Stone Butch Blues, where stone butches (women with masculine gender expression who top their partners sexually and are averse to engagement of their own genitalia during sex) and their feminine partners were criticized by second-wave feminists who felt they were perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes.

The DC locals queer scene, which is heavily black and working/middle class, is a beautiful space but also a space that glorifies heteronormativity. There is extreme pressure to be either a stud or a femme. Studs date/have sex with femmes. Studs top and femmes bottom. And there is a sense that this is how the sexual dynamics between women always are, or should be. While the gender expression of my partner and I, and the sex in our relationship, fit into this system perfectly, it’s so constricting that I feel uncomfortable supporting it. I just see so many people for whom its not working- studs who change their entire gender expression and slide into a sexual role they don’t prefer because they feel that’s what they have to do to date the person they like.

Femmes who perhaps want to cut their nails short, but keep them super long because their stud girlfriend wants them that way as a symbol of who is dominant in the relationship. Receptive studs, topping femmes, folks who are neither stud nor femme, and a whole bunch of other people get left out or policed into changing who they are. But if I chime into a sex convo with something like “Hey! You know what’s cool. Sometimes the femme can be the one getting fucked but still be the dominant person in the situation because she’s calling the shots!”, more often than not I just get funny looks.

In my queer college alum/social justice worker (vanilla) circles, there are completely opposite sentiments. There’s a strong push for everyone to be free! Fuck gender roles! Down with heternormativity! Be in equal, reciprocal sexual relationships where everyone is getting all the pleasure! Which is great, but not to the point that it stigmatizes those whose preferences don’t match up. I’ve been told that a partner who doesn’t reciprocate any sex acts is selfish.

Marathon Love: Before it was Legal, Cheril & Monica had a Fairytale Wedding

Monica and Cheril say communication is key to their longevity.

Monica and Cheril say communication is key to their longevity.

On November 13 Cheril and Monica will celebrate 11 years together as a couple. Ever since meeting, the mid-30s couple who live in New Jersey, have been enjoying an adventure-filled life together. They share their love story below:

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): How did you meet?

Cheril and Monica: We met at the LGBT Center in New York City. It was an event for African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change. Cheril approached Monica after she (Cheril) finished performing. She was a part of the evening’s entertainment.

BL3: What do you love about each other?

Cheril and Monica: We love how easy it is to communicate because that’s really the foundation of everything. Our willingness to talk about everything keeps us connected and in love.

BL3: When did you first know you were in love with each other? Who said the words first?

Cheril and Monica: We fell in love after about three months. Monica said the words first. 🙂

BL3: How did your families first react to your relationship?

Cheril and Monica: Both of our families were supportive for the most part. There was one or two people on each side who had difficulty accepting our relationship, but over the last decade we have smoothed things out with everyone. They’re all supportive now!

BL3: Are you religious?

Cheril and Monica: We are not, but we are both spiritual and recognize our connection with everything in the universe.

See the gorgeous  pictures from their wedding on the next page!

Big Love: Teves & Vonetta Are Moms to Seven Children

Vonetta Lee and Teves Mobley-Lee are parents to seven children, five of whom are adopted.

Vonetta Lee and Teves Mobley-Lee are parents to seven children, five of whom are adopted.

Reprinted from the Huffington Post/RaiseAChild.Us

Teves Lee and Vonetta Mobley-Lee are two hard-working, black lesbian moms from Long Beach, California who adopted five of their seven children through the foster care system and say that they could not be more blessed.

Teves, 41, is a fifth-generation barber and the owner of Afros of Hollywood Barber and Beauty Salon. Vonetta, 38, worked as a bus operator for 15 years prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom. They met 21 years ago through a mutual friend when Teves’ biological daughter, Kyrstena, was one year old and became a couple 14 years ago. Together they founded and run a nonprofit called Haven of Hope Foundation in Long Beach that houses homeless individuals, including single mothers and fathers, homeless teens and former foster youth.

While her children are in school, Vonetta tends to the nonprofit by conducting intakes of new residents, meeting with case managers and so forth. In the evenings, Teves often teaches at Marinello’s School of Beauty in Boyle Heights, so Vonetta teams up with the oldest daughter, Kyrstena, who is 22, to help the younger kids with their homework. The children attend church every Saturday and enjoy family outings on most Sundays.

The youngest members of the Mobley-Lee clan are all dressed up in their church best.

The youngest members of the Mobley-Lee clan are all dressed up in their church best.

The couple originally focused on fostering, but when reunification of the foster children with their biological family fell through, Teves and Vonetta decided to adopt them. Ultimately, Vonetta adopted TeVon, Teves’ second biological child, who is now 10 years old, and together the couple adopted five foster children. Only a few children who came to their home did not end up staying.

The family lives in a 7,000 square-foot house with seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a good-sized yard sheltered by high brick walls. They have three dogs, Mister, Dosha and Seven, who was a gift to Vonetta on the couple’s seventh anniversary. The menagerie also includes six new puppies that TeVon and Kyrstena delivered, an African Grey parrot named Huckleberry and a couple of little fish.

If the large two-mom family seems unusual to anyone, they keep it to themselves.

Teves herself grew up in All Saints Church of God and Christ, formerly Jesus Memorial Church of God in Christ where her uncle is the pastor, and for her there is no compromising when it comes to its role in her life.

“They weren’t that happy with the dynamics of my family,” said Teves of the church, “but that’s what my family is so they really have no choice but to accept it … But if you don’t give people the room to have a problem with it, then how can they?”

What Teves would most like to share with prospective foster-adoptive parents is encouragement for individuals who may be nontraditional or non-gender conforming, or who may have small criminal matters in their past.

Teves and Vonetta became a couple 14 years ago.

Teves and Vonetta became a couple 14 years ago.

“Gay couples, especially ‘aggressive’ females, may feel society sees them as unfit to be a parent and I didn’t come across any of that kind of stereotyping whatsoever,” said Teves, who had initially feared her tattoos and masculine personality might cause the foster agency to reject her. “Not to say that it’s not out there or that it wouldn’t happen, but I personally didn’t experience any of that. I would also want to tell people that if you’ve had a legal history of some sort or hiccup in the past, it might not automatically disqualify you so do your research.

Having a lot of children was not part of Vonetta’s plan but she fell in love with them, and now she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Are You Giving Her the Milk for Free?

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Written by Z. Amara Perri

I just came across a post from a woman who decided to dump her boyfriend of five years. Why? Because after five years, he still hadn’t proposed. She felt dumb that he got all of his cookies AND milk for free. She didn’t say what else was wrong with the relationship, but I immediately thought how different things are in the LGBT community. Before a majority of people started understanding that #loveislove, we had to make up our own rules. For starters because we are often in same-gender relationships, we don’t wait for the one with the penis to ask for our hand in marriage.

Anyway up until very recently, marriage was strictly the domain of heterosexuals and so the getting-the-milk-for-free concept was somewhat alien. Why? Because most queers don’t adhere to the heterosexist pressures to reserve sex for marriage, and frankly we didn’t have the same societal pressures to marry each other. Of course legal same-sex marriage didn’t suddenly cause queer people to realize they wanted some sort of commitment after all. For decades many of us in the LGBT community patched together our own marriage-like ceremonies, partnerships and contracts without government oversight. While not having access to legal marriage inspired some to fight for marriage equality, it gave others (like me) a convenient excuse not to make such a public, binding contract as legal marriage.

But now that many of us in the gay community have gotten access to some of the rights and privileges of marriage, I wonder if that has changed the conversation about marriage for some of us. Personally, I never had a desire to get married to any of my previous partners. I mostly told myself it was because I was a child of divorce, I knew no happily married couples, I worried it wouldn’t work out and I honestly didn’t feel ready. I was however, okay with long-term relationships. In fact I replicated marriage by living with and sharing financial responsibilities with two partners. I knew plenty of lesbian couples that did the same thing and so this was normal for me. I didn’t start feeling the pressure to get legally married until gay marriage started becoming legal, and I avoided it successfully. I often told women upfront that marriage would never be on the table. (In essence I was one of those who liked to get the milk and cookies for free-ish.) Today, I realize that the biggest thing that stood between me and marriage was fear. Now I’m definitely open to legally marrying the love of my life whenever she decides to make herself known to me.

Now I’m curious, do same-gender loving women, especially those who are black, place more value on a legal marriage than a long-term relationship? I’d love to know what you think!

As a lesbian do you want her to put a ring on it or are you cool with a long-term commitment? Comment below. 

Michelle & Teresa: Lessons Learned From Marrying the Woman I met on Facebook

Written by Michelle A. Dowell-Vest/A Gurlz Guide

Michelle and Teresa exchange kisses and vows during their June wedding.

Michelle and Teresa exchange kisses and vows during their June wedding.

On Saturday, June 14, 2014, under a colorful Japanese Maple tree, in a park in the middle of Washington, D.C., I became  Michelle A. Dowell-Vest.  I married the woman created just for me. It was magical, it was awesome, and it was the culmination of an entire year of an online romance turned magical life together.

We lived and loved out loud and … I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I met my wife, online, through a mutual friend on Facebook.  I had never dated anyone I met off of Facebook, but she was so irresistible I couldn’t help myself.  I remember seeing a picture of her a year and a half  before we started dating and saying to myself, “Man, I would love to get to know her.”  There was so much that happened in my life between that first time I laid eyes on her and the moment I actually laid my eyes on her. This last year was an amazing adventure but  it didn’t come without its lessons.

I thought I would share some of  them with you.

Starting Over Was Everything ~ I left Atlanta in April of 2013.  Atlanta, was home to me for seven years and it was good to me until it just wasn’t. When I left, I felt relief. I was able to heal in a way that I deeply needed. I was able to find myself again.  I need to leave so that I could be ready for her. Ironically, she lived in Atlanta. Had we met while I was there, our relationship would have been very different. I may not have been as well prepared to love her as I was by starting over and relinquishing the Atlanta residue that hovered over me. Don’t be afraid to start over.

Be Equally Yoked~ My wife and I are very similar. We are independant, driven, Type-A personalities with a touch of professional ADHD and noticeable egos. We are both artists in our own right with a commitment to our individual dreams and goals. It was funny, when we started dating, everyone who knew us as individuals, said they could totally see us together and didn’t know why they didn’t think to introduce us. We respect each other immensely so there is no competition. It’s so important to be equally yoked. You don’t have to do the same thing professionally, but you do have to have similar interests. Life is just more fun that way. We became partners in not just life but in business.

Love Shows Up The Way I Expected It To~ I was telling my wife the other day that every relationship I had before her chipped away at my own “stuff.”  By the time she came along, I was expecting the love of my life. I was expecting to get married and to love deeply. I was open to it and ready for it. I had spent a year speaking healing to myself and love into the universe.  I spent a year purposefully waking up, every morning, with the mission of becoming whole. I told the universe what I wanted and she showed up, exactly how I spoke of her.  The way you speak about love, is exactly the way it will show up. Be careful of your words.

Our Relationship, Our Rules~ So much of our initial courtship was long distance. We didn’t have the benefit of Friday date nights or sleepovers. We created our own brand of courtship and we did it our way. We decided how we would flirt, how we would love and how we would present that to the world. We flirted, courted and loved out loud. Really out loud. We realized early on that we both loved online PDA and we showed it, without shame or fear.  It was about us being us and having the freedom love our way. We just happened to do it out loud. Do your relationship your way, Period!  Michael S. Rosenwald with The Washington Post wrote an article about online love and featured us. If you missed it, click Here to check it out.

Everybody Wasn’t Happy For Us~ The universe removed people from my life who were not supportive. I experienced, who I thought were close friends, tell me that our “out loud” brand of love made them uncomfortable, so they de-friended me on line and eventually in real life. I experienced the loss of a close friend because I planned my original wedding date just a little too close to hers. I learned that some friends didn’t believe me to be capable of making my own decisions about love, only to realize later that they were reflecting their own broken love concepts onto me. I experienced people having online discussions about the validity of my relationship and engagement.  I understand that we lived our love out loud, and critics were to be expected.  I guess I expected  these women to have some degree of class, and expected them to at least save that conversation for girls night out, or a phone call to gossip. It was so reminiscent of mean girls. I realized that some people only want you around when you are sad, broken and needy. I realized that some people who love you when you are broken, will be unable to love you when you are whole. Somehow your brokenness makes then feel better about themselves. And I learned that it’s OK to let go.  I let go of them all.

Life Will Shift~Roll With It~  All of those preconceived notions of what you  think you can control,  let them go.  I learned that rolling with the day by day adjustments to our new life together,  was so much more important than me controlling everything. I’m a control freak so this was a huge shift for me.  I made a great choice in a mate, so I can trust her to always do what is right for us and what’s in our best interest. I trust my choice, I trust her decisions. 10462844_10152197638609033_879135998581393492_n

Eloping was Awesome~  When we first announced our engagement, we had plans of a big, elaborate wedding. As time went on we were less and less motivated to plan and pay for that wedding. We really wanted something simple and organic to our energy and to be surrounded only by our family. That is what we did and we didn’t feel bad about it. It was the right move for us. It’s not your mom’s, or friends’, in-laws, or best friend’s wedding. It is yours. So plan the wedding that fits you and be unapologetic about it. Set your plan in motion and invite others to share in your happiness and celebration in the way that fits your vision for your wedding, reception and honeymoon.

Love Inspires More Love~ I wish I kept a list of how many people have in-boxed my wife and I and thanked us for loving out loud. It inspired them to repair relationships, to love without fear, to start a conversation with their crush and to believe in love again.  Those conversations trumped any of the negativity that came our way.

I love that our love inspired more love. I love that my best friend got the nerve to reach out to someone who she had been watching for a while.  I love that they are now engaged. I love that our flirting inspired another couple to rekindle their romance and now are happier than they have ever been. I love that our love gave hope and a renewed belief in love for some who had all but written it off.

Love is Only As Scary As We Make It ~ For those who are afraid to love, lay down your fear. Each relationship we experience is practice. It’s OK to practice. Practice often. Make mistakes, get your heart broken, cry. Each time you love and lose, you come that much closer to your one. Your heart will bounce back, I promise.  You will find love. Just don’t be afraid.  And that is NOT easy for me to say.  I have been heart broken but I survived and you will too.  Courage is rewarded with love.  Be courageous! I am thankful for my wife, the road that I have traveled and the journey that lay ahead.

“Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”~ Dr. Maya Angelou


This article was first published at A Gurlz Guide. Click here to listen to Michelle and Teresa’s new radio show chronicling their first year as a married couple. The show is called This Married Life.  

Dating Diaries: Four Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Relationship

An honest conversation is  one way of stopping self-sabotage in its tracks.

An honest conversation is one way of stopping self-sabotage in its tracks.

We had spent the entire weekend snuggled up and loving on each other as chilly winds whipped the East coast. We split the time between her house and mine—laughing, chatting, dancing, singing, teasing each other mercilessly, reading together and sharing parts of our deepest selves. On Sunday she cooked us breakfast and I cooked us dinner. It all felt so damn good. And then I said something thoughtless and disrespectful. The details of what I said are not important. The impact is. I had hurt the feelings of the sensitive, sweet Pisces I had been dating for the past month.

At first I told her I was just being honest and honesty had been extremely important to us both. But that wasn’t the truth. I was trying to convince her, and maybe myself, that she had no right to feel disrespected. We had candidly talked about our exes, bared some tender feelings and exposed some our fears to each other. I went to take a shower and while I did, I admitted to myself what my problem was—things were going too great and I felt an irrational urge to sabotage a good thing.

Interestingly, I had just that evening read this quote from Rashida KhanBey that she posted on her Facebook page and agreed 100 percent with her:

“Let’s just be honest some people just get into relationships to prove a lie to themselves that they are unlovable. So they do everything they can to sabotage the goodness brought into their lives as an indirect way of pushing that person away. Finally when the person gets fed up with the mistreatment and they leave ya’ll wanna sit here like ‘I knew it was coming. Don’t nobody love me.’ NO! You won’t let anyone love you. The cycle stops with YOU.”

So when I got out of the shower, I admitted to her what was going on in my head and why I said what I did. I apologized to her for being a jerk. At this point she started being distant and said she didn’t know if she was ready to start dating and that she would have to think about where we would go next. Her words pierced me, but I pretended they didn’t. I told her it was her decision and that she should do what was best for her. She was running and I was letting her.

She turned off the lights and went to sleep. There was no usual kissing and snuggling up to each other. I turned my back to her, got on my phone and started reading. I knew she hadn’t been sleeping and turned around when I felt her tap my shoulder. It was then I forced myself to tell her that I didn’t want us to give up on something that had been so great so far. She then admitted that she was only pulling back because she was scared. Our previous relationships had left us both raw and fearful. But by facing our fears and talking about them, we realized that running away was not the answer. Had we not found the courage to be honest and vulnerable, our night, heck our entire relationship, would have had a completely different ending.

When we woke up this morning in each other’s arms, she told me she realized that we were both worth being in a loving relationship even one with bumps along the way. And I agree!

What I learned from this experience may seem a little relationship 101, but it was a powerful lesson that I wanted to share with you dear readers. So here again are the lessons I learned:

  1. When you make a mistake, own it and apologize right away.
  2. Recognize and name your own patterns of sabotage, once you do that those patterns have no power.
  3. Forget your ego and tell her your fears. Again, fears have no power once they are exposed to light.
  4. Recognize that you are worthy of being loved and giving love.