Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy Couple Highlight: Sharlene & Julie

Sharlene Kinscy & Julie Garcia from New York

How long have you been together? We have been together since July 23, 1995 – almost 18 years.

How did you get together/meet?  We met at a summer cook-out. 

What was the initial attraction?  Sharlene:  I was attracted to Julie’s confidence. She had swag. She carried herself in a way that she knew she was the finest thing in the world, but was vulnerable at the same time. I liked how she was able to handle herself. Julie: I was attracted to Sharlene’s personality. We were playing cards, and she was so  easy to be around. She made me feel as if I had known her for a while. She made me feel safe.

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship? Sharlene: One key is being able to step back and regroup when things get heated between us. We both have a strong desire to make our relationship work and we both have a “You’re the LOVE of MY LIFE feeling about one another.”

In the almost 18 years that you have been together, how were you able to re-group, re-define and/or re-negotiate your relationship? Sharlene: Counseling was helpful. We started counseling as a couple, and then I went as an individual. We had to re-group because I had to learn new skills, for example, I had to learn how to be better at conflict. I had to learn not to kill her with my tongue because my words were like a sharp razor. I had to learn to control me because I would sometimes get physical. I had to re-group and learn what I should never do, and I now I have a “never do” list. 1) I will never resort to violence. I will never raise my hand to her for any reason. 2) I will never use my words to inflict intentional harm. No matter what she does or what she says, I will never get to that place anymore. Julie: I had to re-group too. I have to develop my own “never” rules. 1) I will never have to finish an argument. I had to learn to step off also and to give her time. I had to learn to stop pursing her and to stop needing to have the last word. Pursing her never resolved the conflict. 2) I will never have an affair. I know that I want to grow old with this woman. There is no place that I would rather be than with her. 3) I will never settle. If I am not happy, I will leave. I see so many couples staying together and they are miserable. No amount of money or anything else can make me stay if I am not happy.

How do you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship? Julie: Sharlene hurting me with her words was a challenge. I was raised differently than she was, and I wasn’t accustomed to hearing mean things from someone I loved. We went through a hard time, and I had to learn to love me.  I still loved her, but I needed her to make some changes. I couldn’t allow her to hurt me with her words. Everybody has their own baggage, and we were both raised to be dominant. She is a strong woman, and so am I. We had to learn to work together. Sharlene: Julie having an affair during the 4th year of our relationship was very difficult for me. It made me doubt me, her, and her love. There was a lot of questioning, but we decided to fight for our relationship. I know that I need faithfulness, and we both are committed to that. Julie: We have been together so long so whatever the argument is, I know that it really doesn’t matter. I love her, and that’s what’s important. Sharlene: There are no hard and set rules for any given situation. We’re constantly learning new tools to communicate with one another. We just make it work.

You mentioned learning new tools. What are they: Sharlene: I had to learn when I was reaching the point of no return and to take control of my emotions. Now, I no longer get to that point and Julie says she has noticed the difference in me. I also learned how to relinquish my need for order and control regarding household chores. For example, when I want something done, I am ok if it’s not done right away or not done my way. Julie: I have learned to concede on things that are not important. I have learned just to give up when things don’t really matter. Lol

Why do feel that couples have trouble staying friends: Julie: One, they don’t know how to fight fairly. It is never just about winning and losing. It is about making sure you are heard and working with your partner to resolve issues. Also, we pick people who we are not really compatible with. People who like oranges, pick apples and then wonder why they are not friends. If you are very different, is it hard to be friends. We know couples who have been together for more than 10 years and have been unhappy since the third year. The sad part is that after 3 years, people will just stay even if they are not happy. Sharlene: I believe that you have to be a healthy individual first before you can be part of a couple. I have sister friends and confidants, and you have to be able to cultivate relationships outside of the partnership. You have to have love and support coming in from other sources. It is also important to have mutual friends, but be mindful that you can’t pick your partner’s friends. Unless there is disrespect, your partner should be able to have her friends even if you don’t like them. Julie: It is important to make sure that you have the same values and some of the same interests too. For example, if you like to laugh, don’t date someone who doesn’t have a sense of humor. That’s not smart.

After 18 years, how do you stay connected: Sharlene: Work at it. Seek out places where you and your relationship are affirmed. You can’t exist in a cocoon. Maintain an environment that supports your relationship. Read a book, go to a seminar/ conference or do whatever you can to learn how to stay connected. Julie: Go to counseling. Sometimes you need a person who can hear both sides of the story and hear what you both are saying. Sometimes you need that to stay connected. If you can’t hear each other, it is hard to stay connected. Learn ways to be intimate even when experiencing sexual droughts.

What role does spirituality play in your relationship? Sharlene: We are both very aware that there is a Higher Power, The Creator, (for me The Savior Jesus Christ) who is in control. We believe that prayer is the connection to the source that sustains us. Julie: We worship together and we know that we are blessed to have each other. We are thankful. We sometimes pray together because I think it is important for partners to share the same spiritual beliefs. Sharlene: I pray constantly, but for Julie it is more of a process. Some nights I see her on her knees by the bed praying and that does something for me.

What role does sensuality play in your relationship? Sharlene: I think my baby is fine and so does she, LOL. I love her breast and her big beautiful brown eyes. She knows how to get my juices flowing (when she wants to). Julie: I’m just as attracted to her physically and sexually as I was the first time I saw her.

How has romance changed over the 18 years: Sharlene: Prior to the conference, we would have our peaks and valleys. We would have droughts and times of ecstasy. We learned that was normal and that we have to talk about it. Before the conference, I was burying my head in the sand when there was a drought. I am coming to terms that we have to talk about it instead of feeling inadequate. Julie: After the Create Love Conference, we talked about the “whispering” exercise because it was so powerful. Last Sunday, we started the “whispering” exercise with each other. We whispered in each other’s ear and it took us to a whole different level. It was so arousing. It was like giving a battery a boost.

How do you make her feel special:  Julie: We still like each other and I still like to make her laugh. I can come out the shower naked and jump around to make her laugh, we just enjoy each other. Sharlene: It is a way that we can still look at each other that makes each other feel special. It feels as if I am looking at her for the first time. Julie still makes me giggle like a little girl, she still makes me blush. After almost 18 years, that’s special.

How have you dealt with the physical changes that have occurred over the 18 years: Sharlene: That’s hard. I am not sure how to address all of the physical and emotional changes that I have gone through. I have put on weight, and I am very self-conscious. It sometimes affects my confidence, but Julie always reminds me that I am beautiful. I am working on it but I am not there yet. Julie: I think Sharlene is beautiful and I will always be there for her. I am almost 55 years old and I still got it going on, lol. I don’t think that I’ve changed (physically) over the past 18yrs. I might have a few more gray hairs, can’t walk as fast, can’t jump as high, can’t bend as far but a sista still got it going on.

What has she taught you? Julie: Sharlene has taught me perseverance. For 18 years, we were able to fight through difficult situations and get over hurdles. Sharlene has taught me to never give up and that real love can endure hurtful setbacks. Sharlene: Julie has taught me to be kinder and to be softer- to show more tolerance in uncomfortable situations and unplanned events; such as unexpected house guests. Most of all, she has taught me that I am a warrior and a giver -that I can love someone even when they’re not acting lovable.

What one word describes/characterizes your love: Sharlene: Love- Complete and total love even in the midst of hardship and struggle. Even in the midst of joy and peace, there is an unbreakable thread of love. Julie tells me that “you put a string of lights around my heart”. She always makes me feel special.  I know that she is my soul mate, and I have never felt differently. Despite everything we have been through, I know that she is the love of my life. Julie:  Blessed: I am blessed to have this woman in my life. She has never cared what anyone else said. She knew what I was in her heart no matter what. I am blessed and I am so grateful that I have her in my life. I know that she is the one I will grow old with.

(Interview conducted and written by Minister SharRon Jamison)

We are grateful to Sharlene & Julie for sharing your amazing love with us at Create Love for Women Who Love Women!

Imani Evans
Create Love! For Women Who Love Women
Creator & Co-Founder

SharRon Jamison
Create Love! For Women Who Love Women

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