Guest Blogger

If Scrooge Were Queer: 20 Questions for Couples in the New Year

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 17, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: bisexual, Christmas carols, future, lesbian, New Year, psychology, queer, Questions, relationships

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jeff Lutes is a psychotherapist who lives with his husband and their three adopted children in Austin, Texas. He is the principal consultant for ContemporaryCouples.com, where he teaches online dating and relationship workshops to the LGBTQ community.

Jeff-Lutes.jpgImagine for a moment that you have a life-changing dream. In this dream, you and your partner are the protagonists in a remake of Charles Dickens' timeless novella, A Christmas Carol.

But this version has a twist. Instead of grumpy old codgers in musty pajamas, you and your partner are dressed in classic nightshirts from the Gap, briefs from Abercrombie & Finch, and slippers from Old Navy. You both have six-pack abs.

As your head hits the pillow, you're feeling a bit "Bah! Humbug!" about the relationship. It's lost the spark it once had, and you just seem to be going through the motions without much zing or zeal. Then something spectacular happens while you slumber. The ghosts of your partner's past and future pay you a visit.

First, you are whisked away to your partner's past and spend a day with the six-year-old child they used to be. You can see your partner with the family sitting around the kitchen table. You hear the conversations and are a first-hand witness to the family dynamics. You see what makes her cry; you see what makes him laugh. You see when that little child felt secure and loved, and you also see the times that child was alone, hurting, and afraid.

For a brief moment you are back to the present, tucked safely under the covers. Yet in the blink of an eye, the ghost of the future takes you away on a new adventure.

Suddenly you have a birds-eye view of your partner's dreams for the future. Magically, you can see them as the person they've always wanted to become. They are accomplishing their goals and fulfilling their life's ambitions with enthusiasm because they are doing all the things that give them meaning and purpose. What do you see?

Finally, you wake up and think "Dang, wait till my psychoanalyst hears about this!"

You probably won't have this dream. But you can take some active steps to rejuvenate your relationship in the New Year. So build a fire, pour some eggnog, and curl up with your partner on the couch. With a copy of this article in your lap, take turns asking each other some of the following questions. Ask 3 - 5 questions from each list. Interrupt only if absolutely necessary, and feel free to ask any questions of your own that might help your partner share the depth of their story.

Within every story is a dream, a wish, or a passion that contains a thread of identity. Weaved together these tales become a rich tapestry that sheds light on who we are today and who we someday hope to be. So tell a story, listen to one another, and commit yourself to forgiveness, compassion, and new possibilities in 2011.

Stories about the Past:

  1. What event from your childhood stands out the most? Why?
  2. When you think back to when we first met and started dating, what do you remember? What were some of the highlights for you?
  3. When you were a kid, which adult in your life influenced you the most? How?
  4. What are you the most proud of in your life so far?
  5. Looking back over our relationship, what is your fondest memory? What times stand out as the really hard times?
  6. Tell me about your parents' marriage. What was it like?
  7. Tell me a story about you and your best friend in childhood.
  8. What was the most embarrassing moment in your life so far? What happened?
  9. What messages did you get about gay people and same-sex relationships growing up?
  10. Tell me your "coming out" story again.

Stories about the Future:

  1. What are your biggest aspirations and dreams? How can I support you in making those a reality?
  2. What personal improvements would you like to make in the new year? How can I help you?
  3. What is your life mission? Do you see yourself as having a purpose? If so, what is it?
  4. What are your hopes for our children?
  5. What would you like the two of us to accomplish as a couple?
  6. What are your financial goals?
  7. What are your spiritual goals?
  8. What areas of our relationship would you like us to work on? What would our relationship look like if we improved those things?
  9. How do you want people to remember you? What do you want your legacy to be?
  10. When we're both 80 years old, what kinds of conversations would you like us to be having?

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Sadly, I turned to Jerame and asked a couple of the questions and he just said, "Can we just watch TV now? You know all this stuff"

And THERE is being together for 13 years. Long history apparently equals a short discussion.

Jeff, these same questions could be asked (with a few small changes) of parents and siblings. In fact, the questions could also be asked of any hetrosexual person to determine what they were thinking while growing up with gay people.
As a parent of a gay man, I know I must have said or done things that were horrifying to my gay son. We all must have some cringeworthy moments in our past. I can only hope that my son knows how much we have grown in our thinking because of his coming out of the closet those many years ago. I tear-up when I think of the times that he may have been made uncomfortable by his own family. I am blessed to have my wonderful son and his spouse. Their children are well cared for and loved so much. I could not ask for a better example of manhood than these two men. By the way, My son and his family live in Austin and you may know them, John and Steve Wright, Eli and Simon. I love them so much and wish for them only the best in life. I am a very proud Mom.

Betty,

John and Steve are some of my dearest friends. Our two families get our kids together occasionally for play-dates, and year before last we did a weekend together on the coast and let the kids play on the beach. You have every reason to be proud of these two fine men and their beautiful boys. Thank you for commenting on my post and happy holidays!

What stands out for me is the story of my parents family. From an early age, people said my brother and only sibling was gay.

My parents were horrified, and I avoided the situation.

The net result is my brother, one of the Uniquely smart/ super brilliant person in this country (4th in his class at Harvard, a (almost - long story) PHD at MIT has had his life ruined - because it was much to late before we came to understand his odd behaviour is due to OCD.

And one of my sons seemed suicidal as a youth. Obvious problem failure with girls for a kid who had to have a GF by the time he was 10.

He's fine now, medical coverage for a Psych helped. But I never knew the real reason for the seriousness of his problem until I had him meet Matthew Shepards parents in 2005.

And after that meeting he said that he thought if he couldn't succeed with girls he thought there was no other choice except to "become gay". Which to him was a fate worse then death.
On this one we were lucky. And his shrink told me this is a very common fear.

As for the religious extremists in this country who are directly responsible for 3000 gay kids - a 9/11 every year - who commit suicide, all I can say is we are fighting the wrong war on terrorism.

And who knows how many other of the 5000 or so kids who commit suicide every year are secretly gay or similar to my kid.

The religious right extremists are mass murderers of our children. Who should be treated as such. They may only use words, but so did hitler only use words, and look what happened