McNaught: Keeping Them Together

Photo Courtesy of Brian McNaught

When we found the silhouettes of the two guys and a dog, we knew nothing of Auguste Edouart. Ray and I were at an auction on the north shore of Boston and, Jeremy, the Irish Setter, was at home. We both spotted the pair, and decided to join the bidding for each one, individually. 

We got both. That was many years ago. We paid a lot, but it turned out they were worth at least what we paid, and they haven’t been apart since then. They’ve traveled to many states, and many homes, and the silhouetted dog came to represent different breeds, but they have always been within easy eye contact.

It’s harder to keep a loving relationship together than it is a pair of rare pieces of art. A week ago, I learned of the divorce of two men whose beautiful, family and friends wedding I officiated on the beach of the Pines on Fire Island. The marriage was featured in The New York Times Sunday newspaper, in the Announcements that many gay men I know comb weekly. 

As you might imagine, I was shocked, saddened, and concerned for them. As it turned out, the sadness I experienced was for myself, as I had lost a significant piece of my romantic love mobile, which was now out of balance.

The men in question are much younger than me, but they’ve been married for some time. Their email announcement assured the recipients that they continued to love the other, but after much soul searching, discussion, and therapy, they had decided together that life called them in different directions. These are mature, emotionally healthy guys who wanted their family and friends to be assured there was no “bad guy” in this decision.

I responded in part, “If you two beautiful souls are happy with your decision to divorce, I applaud the courage you brought forth to struggle together for reconciliation, and then acceptance that you are being called to grow in different ways. There is no failure here. True love of another can’t be measured in years. The love that remains between you is taking a different form.”

“Let gratitude for the life you’ve shared guide you as you deal with the messiness of separations. Things and money are meaningless. The question you will ask yourselves in the future won’t be, ‘Did I get everything due me?’ but rather, ‘Am I proud of the way I behaved?’"

“You guys can’t truly separate from one another. Your bodies can. Your souls can’t. They are intertwined for eternity, just as mine is with you. We change each other. We learn from each other. We imprint ourselves in the souls of everyone we encounter. After the many years you shared life’s experiences, trust that you will forever be a manifestation of that dance.”

In our 43 years together, Ray and I have imagined separating many times, but it was always the result of a hurtful moment, not a true feeling that we shouldn’t be together, or that life would be better without the other. We’ve had our moments when we each imagined what furnishings we’d take to decorate our new places, but those fantasies passed within a day or two, or a week, when we both came to realize that the fight was about nothing that couldn’t be addressed with loving, open communication.

Sometimes our disenchantment from the other was the result of not being centered, of being tired, overwhelmed, jealous, hungry, confused, hurt, scared, unappreciated, etc. Every loving couple has these moments, and some of these “moments” may require interventions and outside counseling. But, if you prioritize your relationship, and love, if not lust, prevails, it can endure most anything.

 I look at my husband now, and I know he’s not the same guy I moved in with in 1976. Though younger, he looks older than me. His chronic, severe back pain has shortened both his fuse and our walks. We haven’t had sex in a long time because of the impact of his and my surgeries, and the meds we both take to deal with the pains and our prostates. But, when I look in his eyes, hold his hand, hear him laugh, watch him with children, see him care for Lincoln, and share with me his feelings, I know he is the soul with whom I still choose to dance.

Maybe when our bodies are both dead, the Auguste Edouart silhouettes of the two guys and the dog will be separated, but our souls are too intertwined for that to happen to us.

 

About the author...

Brian McNaught has been a leading educator on LGBTQ issues globally since 1974. He has made his many books and DVDs available for free at Brian-McNaught.com. The New York Times named him “The Godfather of gay diversity training.

 

Check out other stories by Brian McNaught

McNaught: Memories Light The Corners Of My Mind

McNaught: Through Thin And Thick

McNaught: The Way We Were


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