Over the past week I've been sharing super sweet love stories from around the internet, and I hope you've enjoyed reading them! Today I am featuring one final couple, Brian and Sharlim. Brian and I actually met way back in middle school, continued our friendship through high school, and have kept in touch ever since. Brian is quite simply, amazing. He's an incredible designer with more talent in his pinky than anyone I know, and the clothing and costuming he creates are nothing short of brilliant. Brian and his handsome partner Sharlim lead a beautiful life together, and I'm so excited to feature them here. Enjoy!
How did you and your partner meet? How long have you been together? When did you know he/she was "the one?"
Sharlim: Brian and I met online. We spent several weeks and several email and text messages before we went out on our first date. At first I did not know if he was the one. We are so different in terms of personality. He is more quiet and I am, as a typical Puerto Rican, louder and hyper. I think I realize that he was the one when I noticed that he was able to deal with me and that I felt more relaxed and peaceful when I was around him. I felt that I complimenting his life in someway I cannot explain and he was complimenting mine.
Brian: I knew he was "the one" when my dog and family approved. I know it's really a silly answer but we all can be blinded in the beginning and it was nice to see that I didn't have to convince them that he was a great guy.
Everybody loves him for their own different reasons and often times my own parents will call just to talk to him and forget about me! He finds a way to relate to all my friends, family and clients. He's very charming and relatable.
My dog's introduction was quite comical. She behaved in a way as if "be nice to Brian or else you'll have to answer to me." She took an instant liking to him, so much so that she demanded and got his attention more than I did.
I also knew he was "the one" when I realized just how selfless he is. By nature he is very much like his mother and loves to provide and care for everybody. Early on in our relationship, at my request he canceled long standing plans with his friends who were visiting from out of state. A relative of mine was dying and it was my last opportunity to visit them in the hospital. This was also Sharlim's first time meeting several of my family members. It really showed me on many levels that not only was he willing to put my needs before his and his friends, but also that he was willing to endure any awkwardness of meeting family in a hospital setting for the first time.
What's a typical weekend like for the two of you? How about a date night?
Brian- We are such a boring couple. Our "quality time" is generally very low key, relaxing and traditional. Part of Sharlim's Puerto Rican culture is showing affection through food. So if we have had a long week, a nice dinner is the first idea that always comes to his mind. Either he likes to cook for us, or find a new restaurant to try out. We spend way too much money on dinners out, but it really is our only indulgence. Aside from that, Sharlim loves movies and entertainment so we often get comfy with some Netflix or a new movie in theaters.
I like to try to introduce new ideas when things feel like they are getting boring. Sharlim is always willing to try new things. If we're being adventurous we will take a day trip to places within the state, or if we can get away for a long weekend we will go to my family's cabin in Payson. If we only have a few hours, we will swing by the art museum or a drag show where my costume designs might be shown.
Because I'm trying to grow my own business, and Sharlim is always on call for work we have placed focus on a date night in order to keep a balanced life. Both of our works can demand so much of our time that 2 weeks can fly by without even realizing it. For us we have set aside Friday nights because we tend to have money and are not super busy with everything else. I think it's really important to dedicate uninterrupted time for each other. It is helping me create a boundary to shut off business and turn on relationship time easier.
What makes your relationship work? Or in other words, what's your secret to a long-term, loving relationship? Any advice?
Brian- We work because we are quite opposites. Sharlim is very left brain and I'm very right brain. He is very smart with the facts, accounting, and logistics of life and I'm better skilled at creativity, creating our comfort, planning our future, focusing on health, etc. He easily manages our finances where I have very little patience or skills for paying bills, customer service calls, comparative shopping, cooking and household responsibilities.
We also handle stress very differently. If I have an emotion, I show it to my closest loved one. Sharlim endures me venting any frustrations, fears and concerns I have. He is always wonderful at listening and chilling me out and being supportive. He focuses on resolving the problems and getting us back to a calm state. He validates my perspective when he agrees with it, and reminds me when I may be having unrealistic expectations. On the flip side, Sharlim has one emotion "normal." Even in moments when he should lose his mind, he's very patient and calm. I remind him it's okay to be angry, sad, disappointed etc. He is learning to be emotionally vulnerable all around and I'm learning to change my thinking and behaviors to get my desired results. This is an example of one of the many ways we compliment each other.
Being very different can be a barrier at times as well. We just have to remind ourselves that we are two different people. We don't have the same opinions, perspectives, upbringing and some values. There is no need to change each other, it's just important to accept each other the way we are and push each other to be open minded.
My biggest advice is just being accepting of the person as they are. Of course nobody is perfect and everybody has qualities that are undesirable. I think it is important that the other person's positive qualities outweigh their negative qualities. Sharlim does not try to change me and I do not try to change him. I cannot stand how messy Sharlim is. Somehow he collects junk mail paper and empty boxes. Our office is a mess every time I step in there. I can never use my own desk. He's also the type of cook that uses every utensil and bowl we have to create a simple dinner. But I'm at peace with it. It's far less confrontational to accept the fact that Sharlim has some weird quirk about paper, boxes and dishes. If it bugs me enough either I clean it up or tell him "hey…this is a disaster, lets take 10 minutes and fix it." We both are pretty aware of our own short comings and willing to admit that they are there. So when I say "this kitchen is a mess" Sharlim says "yeah you're right. Let's clean it or I'll clean it after dinner."
Sharlim: Many of our issues have been because of lack of communication which lead to many misunderstandings. We have improved communication a lot and that has made us stronger. We express clearly stuff that we like about each other and things that bother as well. I think that is the main ingredient on having a long term loving relationship. Also, I give Brian several hugs and kisses a day I always like to express how much I love him. It is always good not only for your partner, but also to yourself to be reminded that you care and love someone a lot.