Back in 2006 when I was working a full-time corporate job, while also trying to write what would become the Offbeat Bride book, I felt myself sliding toward a nervous breakdown. My weeks consisted of 45 hours of my day-job, 10 hours of commuting, 40 hours of book-writing, and some sleep (if I was lucky).
Desperate for some guidance and inspiration, I sent an email to one of my local writing heroes, Dan Savage. I was basically just like, DUDE HOW DO YOU DO IT?! Writing a book while also working a full-time editorial job? How do you manage?
This was Dan’s response:
i kill myself.
i also have a stay-at-home parent/partner who does my laundry, buys me food, reminds me to bathe.
it’s the secret of my workaholic success….
His partner? Terry Miller, who is now Dan’s husband (thanks to Washington’s marriage laws). I’ve slowly come to realize that in the years since I had this exchange, I’ve modeled my het marriage to emulate their gay marriage… and I’m convinced it’s been one of the contributing factors to the success of my husband’s and my 16 years together. Here are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned:
1. Be supportive & appreciative
Yeah, no shit. This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes I get myself all tangled up and feel like it’s somehow unfeminist of me to just sit back and help my husband. (A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle! I can do it all by myself! So can he!) But, oh wait. Sometimes, when I remind myself that we’re just two people (not a man and a woman), I can just be a supportive partner who takes care of our kid, folds our laundry, and unloads the dishwasher while my partner is off doing the work that is important to him. Fucking duh.
The flip side of this is the deep appreciation for your partner’s role in your success. I think what most impresses me about that email Dan sent me in 2006 is that he didn’t even try to be like, “Oh, here are my big fancy writing and productivity tips.” He was basically just like, “I owe it all to my partner. The end.”
Let’s all sing the appreciation song every day!
2. Get hotter
In the 19 years since Terry and Dan first hooked up in the bathroom of the bar where I celebrated my 21st birthday, Terry has basically become a tanned, perky-nippled, perfect-assed demi-god.
While I’m no perfect-assed demi-god, I am in imminently better condition now than I was when I married my husband, and I take way better care of myself — not just physically, but emotionally, too.
Part of this is just maturing and having a more respect for myself and my body, but part of it is making an effort to show my partner, “Yeah, that’s right: you’ve been having sex with this for 16+ years, and it just gets better in all the ways I know you like it.”
3. Allow — nay, ENJOY — ogling
One of the things I love about Terry and Dan’s relationship is that they clearly enjoy it when people enjoy the other one. Sure, sometimes that enjoyment is more than ogling, and Dan’s written about how they’re monogamish (choice quote: “When I’m cheating on my partner, he’s cheating on me at the same time — at the other end of the same guy.”).
I’m not just talking about sexual activities, though… I just mean that there’s a value taking enjoyment from other people appreciating your partner. Don’t resent it — revel in it! Note Dan’s playful comment on this photo of Terry:
THAT’S what I’m talking about. It’s stuff like this that inspired me to hire my own husband to do a hand-balancing routine at the Seattle Lovesick Expo and then pimp him out to the press (HEY EVERYONE COME STARE AT MY HUSBAND’S BUTT!). It’s why I almost always leave letchy comments on my husband’s photos. Enjoying when others ogle your spouse is a great reminder of how lucky you are. (Yeah, that’s right. THAT’S MY HUSBAND. Maybe tonight I’ll actually stop watching House of Cards with him long enough to hit it.)
So, yep: most everything I learned about sex I learned from Dan Savage’s sex advice column, and most everything I’ve learned about marriage I learned from his husband. This is the future the conservatives warned us about, and it’s full of hot, happy married people and perky nipples. Yay, family values! (Now when are they writing that parenting book…)
Please join me in following Terry on Instagram. It’s a mix of hot dude, cute puppies, and adorable children… many of my favorite things. This post may or may not have just been an excuse to link to his account.