Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy Couple Highlights: Lenora and Sandra

Lenore & Sandra 
Atlanta, Ga.
Where did you meet and what were the initial attractions? Lenore: We met online and over a period of time with the online chat, I asked Sandra to meet with me. Sandra invited me over to her home in NJ and we developed a loving relationship since that first date. Sandra and I are both creative artists, eclectic. We love to club dance, to eat cuisine dining, are both from NY, enjoy hosting parties, love our family, are loyal to our friends, love a good laugh, are home bodies, and are extremely ambitious.

Sandra: We met online. I initially reached out to Lenore to say that, although she was not my type, I liked her profile, style of writing, and that I wished her luck in her search. We became pen-pals of sorts as I was dating at the time.

You have been together for over six years. First, congratulations. What advice would you give to other couples and why? Lenore: I would not recommend any one to move as quickly as we did. We moved in together after sixty days of dating. Please date each other for at least two years, discuss everything under the sun to better acquaint yourselves, and have fun….travel, spend time together, with friends and family….just get to know each other before you move in together.

Sandra:  I would advise they proceed slowly, cultivating a friendship while asking lots of questions. And know that you’re under no obligation to continue if you’re feeling leery or uncomfortable.

What made you know that it was time to get married and how has being married changed your relationship? Sandra: Well, Lenore brought up living together after only a couple of months. I honestly believed it was because she was unhappy with her living environment at that time. I knew that it was way too soon having not known her for very long. She sensed my mistrust of the idea, and in her haste AND chivalry proposed marriage in an attempt to make me more comfortable…..that idea that this was not a fly-by-night relationship. It was a romantic gesture as were others on her part and I relented. For I am nothing if not a total romantic.

Lenore: Sandra stated she wanted the relationship to be meaningful and legal and that sounded reasonable to me. I wanted to marry Sandra because I loved her, so I proposed and she said yes. Marriage is a legally binding commitment and I take it very seriously and it’s my first marriage. I vowed not to separate from her. I am a runner by nature, so now I have to slow my impulse to flee whenever I feel frustrated or afraid; I have to work through the challenges. I like the idea of marriage, the commitment to love my wife for better or worse and the emotional maturity challenges I experience daily. I am very responsible, focused, steadfast, faithful, and deeply concerned about someone else now that I married Sandra.

Getting together is easy. Staying together is difficult. You have weathered many transitions and storms?  How did you manage and what was the hardest part?  Lenore: I manage my emotions by talking to others, writing/ journaling, attending self- help support groups, seeing a therapist, going to church fellowship, creating visual artworks, staying focused on career goals, and creating a balance in my relationship. It has been very difficult experiencing grief and loss. Sandra lost her mother recently. When I met her she was recently divorced from her former wife, and she had relocated to NJ from her hometown NY. I had to learn to manage my emotions over a period of time, to establish a support network for myself, and to set concrete boundaries with Sandra. It appears that Sandra transfers her sadness, frustrations and anger as it relates to grief and loss, unto the person closes to her (me). Our decision to retire to Georgia has been daunting because the southern culture is very different from NY.  Also my family resides in Georgia and has been very supportive of us. Sandra appears to feel displaced and lonely, after having lost her mother and her daughter lives four hours away. I believe our recent church membership will give us additional support and spiritual strength to continue to weather this storm. We love one another very much and that is the glue that sustains us.

Sandra: The hardest part was dealing with the fact that there was someone else in Lenore’s life almost immediately after our big union. Though I asked her on several occasions {she denied it of course} and I told her several times that she was free to be with this person if she desired, she continued to deny that there was someone else. She denied it until the woman found me on FB and wrote a devastatingly scathing message to me about “their” relationship and how I’d better leave Lenore alone. Lmbo! I tell you I can laugh now but at the time it was heart-wrenching. Particularly when my previous marriage had ended from infidelity. It took a lot to get through this period - God, good friends, counseling, love and a fighting spirit on both our parts.

How do you deal with and face challenges (family acceptance, money differences, etc.) that might come up in your relationship? Sandra: I deal with everything by being honest; first and foremost with myself. I have an open kind heart but I also live by the courage of my convictions. My credo is “just do it” you know, like Nike. Though I will say that family situations are very difficult on many levels. Some are outright homophobic and some still pretend that Lee and I are two single roommates. I tend to stay away from situations where I cannot honestly be myself and I don’t deny that it hurts on occasion

Lenore: We talk, yell and scream about it; and tackle each challenge together because we are both type A personalities and stubborn as bulls. Sandra does not let anything kick her to the floor because she is a warrior by nature. She will fight to the end to get what she wants. I am very driven, hardworking, extremely ambitious, loyal, and trustworthy sometimes to a fault. I am also very easy going, popular, very close to my family, loving and kind hearted. Sandra does not believe I demonstrate the above mentioned characteristics with her often enough and she makes no bones letting me know this. I struggle with being openly affectionate and touchy feely with Sandra since we relocated to the South. Sandra has and will continue to fight for her relationship with me and I am extremely focused on doing better when it comes to intimacy with my wife. Our strong love for each other and my unwillingness to give in to failure when it comes to intimacy continues to keep us together. We are both out to our families and it’s been a challenge for Sandra, because of folk’s religious beliefs. My family totally accepts me, because I came out when I was very young, and over the years they finally came to accept my sexuality. I am Sandra’s rock with regards to coming out issues.

I know faith is important to both of you. How do you practice your faith as a couple and what role does spirituality play in your relationship?  Lenore: I love to fellowship, to study theology, to pray, meditate, and follow spiritual principles on a daily basis. We pray at the dinner table and I always encourage Sandra to go to God for refuge and comfort, as it relates to her grief.  Sandra is a believer and has a strong relationship with God, she experiences her spirituality through gospel music and expressing her feelings openly (crying etc.).

Sandra: As a couple we practice by prayer and meditation…believing in a higher power, and attending church together when we can.  I am very spiritual and I know that that higher power has brought us both through some tremendous struggles. This is where Lee and I have never ever disagreed and though we are two entirely different personalities, it is in spirituality that our heart and mind connect 

After 6 years, how do you keep the fires burning? What role does sensuality play in your relationship? Sandra: Well, right now the fires are more like smoldering embers. I think it has a lot to do with hormonal changes -- peri-menopause and actual menopause. There are also a side of life’s stressors thrown in - job changes, moving several times, health issues, and various family crises. Sex begins on a mental level and with all we have to deal with on a daily basis, well…But I will say that for me intimacy is just as important if not more, than sex. Lee and I have that in spades. We have intimate rituals like dancing in any room of the house at any moment….sometimes in the morning between our second cups of coffee. Or, when we’re in separate rooms writing or watching TV and Lee calls, “Honey! When are you coming to bed so we can watch a movie” lol! Yes. A movie…. not sex. But we are together sharing a movie experience, with a lot of handholding, fondling and tender kisses. Though she and I used to swing from the chandeliers, (can I say that) I love that we have intimacy on a regular basis.  But now that we have settled in GA and our minds have quieted a bit I think the glowing embers will ignite again.

Lenore: It’s been very difficult to say the least. Our fire has been out for over a year now and we are determined to ignite again! We decided we would date one another again, spend as much time together and learn through intimate moments what turns us on and fan the fire again. Sensuality plays a major role in our relationship. We are both very sexual beings and sex has been dead for way too long so that is a priority for us in 2015. We do hug, kiss, hold hands, and dance at home quite often.  There have been so much grief and loss challenges as of late, then the move to the South, the culture shock, career challenges, and financial challenges; we have been holding on through the grace of God. We love one another deeply and we want the relationship to endure.

Every relationship develops “Relationship Rules” that support your union. What are your spoken and unspoken rules? And how did those rules form?  Lenore: We must be faithful! I broke our trust by cheating early in the relationship and I promised I would be faithful for the duration of our marriage. Rules……Develop trust, effective communications, no violence ever, no cheating, must respect one another, allow each to have their space, be fully responsible for our financial decisions, and put each other first. These rules were formed over the years as we developed our relationship and realized over time that these particular rules needed to be adhered to.
Our relationship has been a work in progress, Sandra is an extrovert and I’m an introvert, Sandra has excellent communication skills and I prefer to quietly go along to get along.  Sandra: I would say love, loyalty and respect.

Every relationship challenges us in different ways. What did you have to learn and un-learn to love her fully? Sandra: I had to learn how to deal with someone in recovery for the most part and how to keep loving no matter what. Lee does not like to appear vulnerable which to me part of being open to being loved is. I am very intuitive and observant so I knew this from the beginning and accepted her with all of her idiosyncrasies and foibles. I dare say that it took her quite a bit longer to accept mine.

Lenore: I am learning not to run, to remain open minded, to resist shutting down, to be clear with the ladies that I am married and fully committed to my spouse, to communicate more, to take risk with intimacy, and share my feelings more often. Sandra is very passionate and speaks her mind, no holds barred. I am cautious, calculating, and slow to demonstrate vulnerability. Sandra has been very patient with me and I’ve developed tougher skin with regards to Sandra’s words.

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself?  And her? Lenore:  I realize I am a wounded soul who has slowly picked up the pieces and is becoming a whole person again. I am a very loving, caring, nurturing, giving, and a selfless individual who just needs to let go of my fear of being hurt. Sandra is the same way I am, except she is not afraid of being vulnerable with me and will not give up her fight to win all the love I have to give. Sandra: I think it’s taught us both how “to accept” and that there are different ways of loving for different people

What one word most captures her essence and your love? Sandra: Mutual admiration. Oh…sorry that was two words right? Ok then…strength. Lenore: Passionate! Sandra is fiercely passionate, a warrior, and a fantastic artist. My love is DEEP

What will be your legacy as a couple? Sandra: Hmm…I believe we’re still working on that. Stay tuned. Lenore: Our legacy as a couple will be that we endured the lowest valley of grief and loss; re-committed ourselves in a loving committed relationship, and co-owned a successful not-for-profit community-based business dedicated to Sandra’s mother!

We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and

 Create Love Founders

Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison

 Don’t forget to register for the Journey to Wellness Retreat. September will be soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment