Making a marriage work takes work. A relationship is also a partnership - the beginning of thinking of yourselves as a member of a team team, not two separate individuals. Two long term married couples reveal to /Peter Dunne/ that, like anything else, the more you put into a marriage, the more you get back.
Photos provided by the couples.
For Marlon Jimenez-Compton (he jokes by pronouncing the ‘double barrel’ as he says his second names) the love of a good dance almost got in the way of the love of a good man.
15 years ago in 2004, on a night out with friends, Marlon spotted John Compton across the dance floor in The George. There were immediate sparks. Not shy in the slightest, Marlon made a beeline for John and the pair got to chatting. Proving to be no shrinking violet himself, John asked if Marlon would like to leave with him. “And I said ‘no’ because I wanted to dance.
So I went back to my friends, and my friends asked me ‘what happened?! Why did you walk away from him!? And I said, ‘he’s going home. And I want to dance.’”
That was almost that, but about a month later, the pair spotted each other on the online dating site Gaydar. They continued chatting, until, as Marlon shared, “On July 15, he invited me to his house for dinner.” Marlon remembers the date clearly, as “the next day was my birthday, July 16.” Clearly the dinner went well, as Marlon followed, “So now we celebrate both my birthday and our wedding anniversary, because we celebrated our civil partnership on July 15, 2011.”
Anyone who ever meets Marlon will learn two things very quickly – firstly how much he absolutely adores his husband John, and secondly, he really //really// believes being married is the best thing ever. Suffice to say, it was no shock when Marlon revealed it was him who had popped the question. They were in a restaurant called The Angler's Rest in Strawberry Beds. It had just been refurbished and John commented it would be a great spot for a wedding. Marlon replied, “so why don't we get married?”
This was in the month of November. When civil partnership became available in January the following year, the couple where quick to take advantage, celebrating their ceremony that July. That wasn't the end though. When the equal marriage referendum made grá the law, the couple once again made their vows to each other.
So why is marriage so important to them?
Being practical for a moment, Marlon lists the important legal rights that come with being married, but follows “When we actually got married, I felt that there was a rebirth of the love. I felt a sense that we actually belong to each other now.”
Marlon stresses something he believes is necessary before someone considers marriage - “You have to love yourself first. I know it's a cliché, but if you are unable to love yourself, you will not be able to love anybody else. Also, maintain your independence – not in a selfish way, but in the way that you have to be self aware – you are your own person, your partner is their own person. If you have that in mind you will be able to separate yourself from situations that you need to separate yourself from.”
So, is there one universal secret to a successful marriage? “Every marriage is different. Whatever is working in our marriage won't necessarily work in somebody else's marriage. Trust is important. Love. Respect. Communication is huge, in a marriage or even in any relationship.”
Marlon offers the heartfelt advice - “Do not compare your union with somebody else's. Your union is yours. Enjoy how special it is. Enjoy how unique it is.”
15 years together obviously means 15 anniversaries. Is there any one in particular that stood out? “I think the fifth year was important. I remember going out to dinner and it struck me 'Wow, we made it this far.'”
“We married twice. And here we are, 15 years later, we have a house, a dog and 11 fish.”
The couple share a terrific sense of humour, and to anyone who sees them it is clear they truly enjoy each other’s company. Best of all, Marlon didn’t make have to make a choice - after all these years together, there’s still a lot of dancing, although most of it takes place in the kitchen rather than The George.
Thank you to Peter Dunne, our editor, for such a great piece.