I was thrilled to learn a few months ago that my New York Times “Modern Love” column would be referred to in “Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers),” by Daniel Jones, editor of the wildly popular feature in the Times’ Sunday Style section.
Yeah, sure, ego played a role in my elation, but much more important is that the topic of transgender couples gets some attention. The more we’re out there, the more that other couples in our situation will feel that maybe, just maybe, they can make it work. And if they can’t or don’t, that’s OK, but perhaps they’ll be more inclined to stay open, respectful and loving during the process.
First, the book in general — read it! It just came out today! If you care about romance, relationships and love on any level, it will touch you. Dan divides chapters and organizes his material into various headings, including Pursuit, Connection, Vulnerability, Trust, and Infidelity. Lina and I are under the Loyalty heading. More on that later.
One lovely review in Elle and a feature/interview in Marie Claire say more than I could and better, so read them. Here’s a brief excerpt from the excellent Elle piece by Lynn Darling: “Jones proves an exceptional guide — droll, compassionate, nonjudgmental –through all of love’s many phases. …. Jones is an unabashed romantic, God bless him, and he celebrates love’s accidental nature, its capacity for mystery and — more important — redemption. ‘After all,’ he writes, ‘isn’t that what love, at its best, is about — healing wounds and being good?’ ” (I should add that the Elle piece mentioned our marriage as well — spreading the trans couple message even further!)
So, back to Lina and me. At first I bristled when I saw we were under the chapter titled Loyalty: The Devotion Test. (The book imparts stories and wisdom through little quizzes, a play on the ones found in women’s magazines.) My first thought was: I didn’t stay with Lina out of any sense of loyalty, but out of love, pure and simple. But, it’s true that I felt devoted to this person and her well-being, so perhaps loyalty kept me open to exploring the possibilities. To explain our story, Dan quoted from my Times essay. The quiz consisted of laying out parts of our story and then asking readers, “what would you do?” Dan praised those who kept an open mind and wanted more information. (The other example, by the way, involved a woman who stayed with a man who was HIV- positive, much older, and a former addict.)
At one point he wrote, “When we try to guess what we’d do based on hypothetical questions, we often underestimate our capacity to be able to adapt, to grow , and to love. We think: I could never do that. But when we find ourselves in the situation, we seem to find a way to do it. We’re stronger than we thought we were. Or perhaps we’re more attached than we ever imagined we could be.”
The answer, at least for me, is, we discover that love is the most powerful force imaginable.
I appreciated the way Dan summarized our story: “All in all, it has been a multiyear devotion test they have passed with flying (rainbow) colors. And today, years later, they remain very much together and in love.” The “rainbow” reference amused me. And it’s true, we are still together and very much in love!
So, I hope you’ll read the articles, the book, and keep up with Dan on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. If Dan is in your area, check him out in person (his schedule is on FB and he’ll Tweet it.) Tell him Diane and Lina sent you!