We all like to think we will find our true love and ride off into the sunset together on beautiful, silky horses to a secluded location where we will make love and be happy for the rest of our lives.
Cue record scratch.
Most of us also know that horse rides are a lot bumpier than the glamour exuded in their apparent appeal, and fantasy quickly turns into reality when you factor in the demands of everyday life and things like paying bills, doing laundry, and who left dirty dishes in the sink for the third time this week even though I asked that she not do that?
So you're not on a tropical island drinking in each other's loving eyes and freshly prepared fruit drinks served in pineapples every day for the rest of your lives, but you have found someone who you fit with. You've fallen in love and made a long-term commitment to a partner who you truly love more each day (regardless of whether they wash the dishes). Maybe you've even put a ring on it with legal documentation, otherwise known as domestic partnerships, civil unions, or marriage, or you've pledged to be together until death do you part and then some.
What happens if life throws you a curve ball so wide and fast and uncertain that it threatens to destroy everything you've built together? Can your relationship survive big change?
There are all sorts of circumstances that might qualify as big change that can throw your relationship into question. Of course, what qualifies as big change also varies from person to person and couple to couple. One person's menopause might be another's picnic. One partner's long distance job offer might be another's deal breaker. Maybe one partner cheats or there's a death of a family member or relocation that takes a couple from small-town life to a big city with temptation neither had been exposed to previously. It could be a new baby, a disease, or a prison sentence. There are many different factors that change a couple's dynamic.
One gargantuan change that might not immediately come to mind is a monumental shift in your partner's identity that puts into question your own. That's exactly what happened to Diane when her wife of 15 years came out to her as transgender and started the journey towards transitioning to male. Their new co-authored journey, Queerly Beloved, chronicles the inner-workings of both their minds as they traverse one of the most challenging changes any couple might face.
Diane raises valid concerns about what her personal and professional lesbian identity would look like as she transitions to become a wife to her husband. Would she still be a lesbian? Would the outside world still see her as one? She worries for her husband's safety in public accommodations and together they worry about family and social acceptance. They navigate tough questions together and support Jacob's coming into his own in a way that most trans people could only hope for.
One thing is clear throughout the book -- Diane and Jacob do not ever waver in their love for one another or their willingness to stick it out through thick and thin. A strong message of love wins out resonates and one gets the sense that this couple could withstand any blow. As husband and wife and members of the queer community, they just seem more contemporary and dynamic than ever. For anyone struggling with questions regarding their own identity or that of their partner, or just for anyone who believes that love bears no identity, Queerly Beloved is an inspiring read.
Would your relationship make it through big changes? Do you have any deal breakers?