Two issues split more couples apart than anything else: money and fidelity. Money might well be the thornier problem. In any case, it deserves the attention of a whole column. For married straight couples, it is wives who most often end up enforcing the notion of fidelity. The evolutionary benefit to the human race by way of protecting family unity against the wandering nature of horny men is obvious. In pop psychology terms: Mars is able to separate sex from relationships in a way that Venus usually chooses not to. A well publicized recent survey showed that successful marriages went long term for one compelling reason, namely that men gave in to the will of their wives. It doesn't take a genius to see that suppression of the husband's previously mentioned capacity is the wife's prime directive.
Deeply loving and sacred sex happens only with soul mates regardless of gender. Sure, women stray but not as often and usually for different reasons. Political correctness and double standards aside, that extra chromosome lets men believe sex can be purely recreational. It therefore follows it can also be utterly meaningless; a claim wayward men have made to their disbelieving wives since the beginning of time. Controversy arises when we mistakenly dissolve differences between the sexes in the righteous pursuit of equal treatment. A majority of gay men wouldn't think to question whether sex can sometimes be trivial entertainment. We know who we are. Why should we follow the rules of heterosexuals?
This all came up for Tyce and myself several years into our relationship. When we travelled to gay resorts we found ourselves tempted by all the beautiful men cavorting on vacation. Our bond has a strong sexual component but as with most couples the years of shared joys and pains are far more responsible for our closeness and longevity. At a gay beach in Hawaii we noticed that other couples would separate and wander off into a mesquite thicket to partake in safe and meaningless pleasures of the flesh with strangers. We realized we could do the same without the slightest threat to our commitment. It's just a vacation activity no different from having a tropical cocktail or riding a roller-coaster.
Skeptics will say we're deluding ourselves. If we were happy and satisfied each other it would never occur to us to do such a thing. Perhaps that's true. Then again, does being involved in a loving relationship destroy lust for strangers? My guess, for men anyway, is only for the first few years. The secret for us is we're not risking anything. Our pledge is to each other and we would never cheat. We just operate with a different definition. Cheating to us means opening ourselves to a relationship outside the one we have. We don't do that. We're men, we know it, and we know that for us sex doesn't have to mean anything more than a friendly handshake.
We enjoyed reading your column, full of details that we relate to; maybe because we have enjoyed the bitterness and blessings of a 10 year relationship.
We consider ourselves among the fortunate ones to have either endured the pressures or simply ignored the processes. In our situation, I found it difficult to impress someone who had never experienced a mutual male relationship. This was compounded by a Ph.D. in survival I acquired through several humbling and educational experiences with previous relationship attempts. But, we made it. Consistently, it seems, other people find it difficult to rationalize or identify with our relationship. But that's okay. We did ours the old-fashioned way; we earned it.
I have never been one to appreciate a display of stones, minerals, and other rocks on the human anatomy as significant. However, on May 7th (our 10th) I plan to reward our efforts with a deserving and acceptable token of achievement in the form of a commitment ring. I firmly stand by my values that this does not represent any label or claim by definition. Simply put, we are two individual and confident men that independently share an honest, trusting, gratifying and pleasurable companionship. We willing give without expectation; receiving with appreciation and no anticipation. Best friends, we share all, comfortably conceal no secrets, and remain open-minded and understanding with uninhibited honesty. Few mates of any persuasion find such a treasure.
The need to be openly described and recognized as partners is meaningless and of no concern to us. Acceptance seems to come naturally since most acquaintances first know and like us as individuals of no distinction. We don't make our relationship an issue; therefore, there is no issue.
I trust you found the confidence to allow your companion the freedom to choose his path of least resistance in any given situation. Never allow another person's direction or action to negatively impact you. You have to assume it was not intended that way. Should it have been, it would have failed. Intimidation and/or offensiveness simply cannot be accomplished unless you create the opportunity and allow it to happen.
I congratulate you guys for your successes. May you have many more, enhanced by relaxed demands of patience and compromise.
To You and Yours,
If you would like advice regarding acceptance by your homo-mate's family or any other straight or gay relationship problems address your questions to Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.