When I made the decision to come proverbially out of the closet sixteen years ago, I never thought that I would be afforded the opportunity to marry, in this lifetime. I was wrong. Justice Anthony Kennedy majorly argued in Obergefell v. Hodges that "No union is more profound than marriage. ... It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. ...They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." This momentous step in the right direction has many of us rushing off to our counties Probate Court petitioning for that sacred license that solidifies our love and allows us equal access to Social Security and inheritance just to name a few. I too am excited, but I most temper my elation with prudence.
While marriage, especially same-sex marriage, is met with polarized views by our society, there's no denying the realization that with marital freedoms comes the equal freedom to divorce. Speaking of divorce in the wake of such an enormous victory for LGBT men and women may seem anomalous, but it is necessary. While the real percentage of the divorce rate is open to discussion and debate, the tidal wave of raw data and undigested information regarding the prevalence of divorce cannot be ignored: people marry, and people divorce.
As a relationship expert, I have seen far too many people prematurely jump into relationships not being constitutionally ready for the commitment that coupling requires. Many of us enter into relationships with others, looking for them to love us, and accept us when we haven't learned how to do that for ourselves. We long for that feeling of completeness that marriage vows to bring when we have not thoroughly sorted out our ambiguities, and we expect our partners to do that work for us. For many, when we first meet that someone who finally accepts us for who we are - good, bad, and indifferent; is willing to spend time with us and break bread with us, we quickly snatch them up, vowing to learn to love them later.
We all want to be loved, and most of us want to get married - I get that. But I need you to pump your brakes for a minute, look past the wedding bells, and the honeymoon and play the tape all the way through to the end and ask yourself: Does your partner have the ability to live monogamously? Can he or she provide for you and your family? Does he or she want something out of life? Do his or her dreams and aspirations include you?
I wish I could say that this is all that is required for a perfect marriage, but it is not - and let's be clear, there are no perfect marriages, but there are some things that we can do to ensure that our marriages stand the test of time. I encourage you to pick up a copy of my most recent book available on Kindle and Amazon titled, Don't Give Up Before the Miracle Happens: A Relationship Guidebook for Same-sex Couples. This is a guidebook, written specifically for LGBT men and women, which provide a road map for successful relationships. As LGBT men and women, there are issues that are unique to our relationships and marriage type that must be discussed to minimize conflict and divorce in our unions. This book will guide you and your partner into having a healthy conversation about marriage and help you to resolve issues that could potentially lead to separation or divorce before they happen.
Let's not fool ourselves. Many people want to see marriage equality fail. They feel that the Supreme Court has made a mockery of marriage by allowing us to marry and if we minimize the sanctity of it by being imprudent in our decision-making and the way in which we manage our relationships we will prove them right. I am in the business of proving my naysayers wrong; hope you are too.
For more than six years Psychotherapist and Life Coach, Dr. Warrick T. Stewart (affectionately known as Dr. Warrick) has been an integral and innovative addition to the counseling, and mental health field. Dr. Warrick is a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor in both North Carolina and Georgia. He is also a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Diplomate of American Psychotherapy Association.