By Florence Edwards*
Same-sex marriages between women are considerably more likely to end in divorce than same-sex male marriages and heterosexual marriages, according to a study from Norway and Sweden.
There have been many debates about why lesbians have a higher divorce/separation rate, but one of the things that isn’t being talked about is how lesbians in long-term relationships are able to stay in love and in lust with each other in spite of the odds and outside sexual temptations.
Cheril N. Clarke, an award-winning playwright and author, recently tied the knot with her long-time partner, Monica, who she’s been with for over a decade. The dynamic duo has been very transparent about their relationship with their fans and the public, but in this juicy interview, Cheril is going to go deeper and reveals the true secrets to creating and maintaining a passionate long-term love affair with your partner.
The reason I felt so compelled to share Cheril’s viewpoint on relationships is because Cheril and Monica’s love is genuine and unconditional. They are truly in love and it isn’t just for show — these two powerhouses are truly committed to making love work. They have done the work to have a successful marriage and are role models to lesbians around the world who are seeking true, lasting love.
If you’re feeling sexually unfulfilled in your marriage, or are thinking about cheating (emotionally or physically), having a threesome, or ending your relationship, don’t do anything before you read this article. It will truly transform your mindset and help you attract what you really desire from your partner. Read on to learn Cheril’s secret for having a sizzling relationship and keeping your mate satisfied inside and outside of the bedroom.
Besides honest communication, what are two of your secrets to long-term relationship bliss?
Cheril Clarke: Decide that you are going to be a drama-free couple. I know that sounds overly simplistic, but it’s true. As with all things in life that we want, obtaining them comes from the simple act of deciding we’re going to get them. What does that mean? It means figuring out early what each other’s buttons are and finding ways to handle sensitive issues in a respectful way. It means not saying things you know will hurt your partner just because you want to win an argument. In our relationship, it means knowing each other well enough that there is no need to argue at all. Monica and I have just started chipping away at 12 years together and I can honestly say we have not had any serious disagreements since our first year when we were getting rid of individual baggage. We talked a lot.
Deciding you want a drama free relationship also means making rules in the very beginning of what you will and will not tolerate. Our rules are simple: don’t cheat, don’t lie, and don’t get abusive (physically or verbally). That’s it. Nothing complicated. Be mature enough to handle hard topics. Sometimes you will have to do things you never thought you’d do for the sake of one another’s mental health. Marriage is give and take. It’s something that only the two people in it have the right to define for their union. Marriage is not a one-size-fits-all thing. The key is knowing yourself and your spouse. What do you need in order to make it long term? Do you need to learn how to be more patient? Spend less money? Do you need to speak up more? Boost your self-confidence? These are the kinds of conversations couples need to have early and often. There should be no guessing in a healthy relationship. None.
Expecting and encouraging growth, both as a unit and individuals. We don’t expect each other to “never change” from the individuals we were when we initially fell in love. That’s unrealistic. It’s boring. We all have layers; and sometimes in the beginning of a relationship only a few of those layers are visible to our partners (and to ourselves). It takes a buildup in trust and/or self-confidence for the other parts of ourselves to become apparent. When that happens, we have to be supportive of one another and find healthy ways to merge these new layers of self to our existing foundation.
Monica and I firmly also believe in a never-ending cycle of learning, spiritual development, dream-chasing and self-definition. We encourage each other to sit down on a regular basis and define/redefine what’s important. What will truly make us happy? What do we need to get rid of all together (this goes for work, people, eating and exercise habits, etc.)? We make a habit of exploring new places, even if it’s just a new city a few hours away. We meet new people and read a variety of books.
Challenge yourself to conquer an old fear. Catch an old dream that the younger version of you thought was impossible. Be interesting. Be fearless. Turn off the TV and smartphone. Live. And never stop growing.
What are some of the ways you connect with your wife? Some people focus on sex, and that is the foundation of their relationship, but what are some other ways couples can be intimate on a daily basis?
CC: Spend some time learning more about what makes her happy. While our interests overlap in a lot of areas, there are a few things that she’s really passionate about that I’m not. I still take time to ask her about those things and why they’re so fascinating to her and vice versa. Support those individual passions. A few other things we do on a regular basis is keeping fresh flowers in the house. We keep our home in a sanctuary state. A spotless home with visual stimulation and aromatherapy is an easy and subtle way to keep an air of romance going. We also made a point to get the hundreds of our happy pictures off our computers and into digital photo frames. We remind ourselves of the fun times we’ve had and look forward to the ones we will create.
Monica and I are nerds at heart. We’ll watch documentaries together and spend the evening discussing them. We go on nature walks at nearby parks and look at plants, birds and people. Another thing that we do that feels intimate without involving sex is cooking together. She used to be a much better cook than me (I was living on fried rice and chicken wings when we met). [Laughs.] But now I can really hold my own in the kitchen. There’s something intimate about creating a meal together. We’re not just making dinner, we’re spending quality time together to create the food that will nourish us into our future. That brings me to one other thing; we eat dinner in our formal dining room every night. With no cell phones or TVs in that room, it ensures we have that time to just talk and laugh together.
What were some of your early struggles in your marriage and what were some of the steps you took to work things out?
CC: 1. Exes. Well, just one ex on my side. I got rid of that problem because Monica gave me an ultimatum: get rid of your baggage or I’m moving on. I wasn’t about to let her go, so, bye, Felicia! (Of course, that wasn’t her name.) [Laughs.] 2. Patience. Monica is a fast-paced, high-energy person and she used to lack patience for most people and things. I had to put her in check a few times and bring her back to earth. [Laughs.]
How has your relationship changed since becoming a married couple? Has your relationship blossomed even more? If so, in what ways?
CC: We’re both stronger in mind, body, and spirit. We are happier now than we’ve ever been. Life is exciting and we want to live the hell out of it. We’re each other’s number one fans. We attribute it all to not being afraid to dream the impossible and then go after it.
Infidelity is always an issue in lesbian relationships. Should it always be a deal breaker? In your opinion, is there a way to affair proof your marriage?
CC: Yes, infidelity should be a deal breaker. I say that more so about the act of having an affair than the sex itself. It takes time, effort, and planning to lie, cheat, and steal from your spouse. When people say they “just fell in love” with someone else, they’re lying. That’s bullshit. You don’t just fall in love. Falling in love takes the time. It means you called, sent texts and emails, met the other person, etc. Those actions don’t “just happen.” It’s selfish and indicative that you weren’t mature enough to say, “Babe, there’s someone else I find really attractive” and find a way to remove yourself from the temptation.
You can affair-proof your marriage by being honest about your needs and desires. Actually, this starts before you get married because you shouldn’t tie the knot at all before these discussions have been had. It’s crazy to think your spouse will only be attracted to you for the rest of her life, but it’s not crazy to expect the respect. If there is someone who has caught one of your eyes then the other should be the first to know, not a friend and definitely not the “new” person. There are ways to keep things spicy in your relationship if fidelity is an issue, but they are not for everyone and the decision should not be made by one party in the relationship. It should be made by both.
What was one of your biggest surprises about married life?
CC: That it is actually getting better with time for us, but also the fact that we see the demise of other couples along the way.
What are two things lesbian couples should do before getting married?
CC: 1. Spend a lot of time together in a space that leaves you nothing to do but talk—in person, about everything. 2. I’m drawing a blank for a second thing because I think all of the above covers it.
Lesbian bed death has been mentioned in books for many years. What are three ways lesbian couples can have a hot sex life without going outside of their relationship?
CC: Make a bucket list for sexual adventures and start checking things off. Watch “stimulating movies” together. [Laughs.] Go to a strip club if you need to or role play with each other at a random bar.
What new projects can fans look forward to this year?
CC: With regard to upcoming projects, I’m working on bringing my play “Asylum” to Philadelphia this summer (still working on dates with the theatre). Other than that, Monica and I continue to run our LGBT children’s bookstore: www.myfamilyproducts.com. We have a new and improved coloring book in the works but it won’t be available until later this year.
About Cheril N. Clarke: Cheril N. Clarke is the author of the book series, The Beautiful People, as well as five novels, including “Foundations: A Novel of New Beginnings” (2001), “Different Trees from the Same Root” (2003), “Intimate Chaos” (2005), “Tainted Destiny” (2006), “Losing Control” (2009) and two award-winning plays, “Asylum” and “Intimate Chaos.”
She has been featured in Curve Magazine, The Princeton Packet, Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), About.com, Out IN Jersey, EURweb, Burlington County Times, Phillyburbs.com, 247gay.com, Femmenoinre.net, Sistah2Sistah Magazine, Clik Magazine as well as Crain’s New York Business newspaper, among others.
Her opinion columns have been featured by the National Coalition of Black Justice. Clarke has also published poems, short stories and reviews of hip-hop spoken word theater in various literary magazines. Her editorial work has appeared in About Magazine, GayWired.com and on 247gay.com. Clarke was a keynote speaker at an African Asian Latina Lesbians United conference and has performed at events organized by African American Lesbians United for Societal Change.
Florence Edwards is a seasoned writer, publicist, author, and speaker who loves helping women have passionate sex lives and relationships. She loves writing edgy, sensual, and creative material that gets people hot and bothered. Contact her with all of your LGBT questions at Florence.Edwards1976@gmail.com. Be sure to visit the Publicity 911 website, www.Publicity911.com, if you are interested in obtaining top-notch, kick-ass PR services at a competitive price. You can follow them on Twitter: @Publicity911.
*This post originally appeared on Examiner.com. Cross-posted with permission. Read the original article here.