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The Male Couple's Guide is a no-nonsense, practical guide to couple life for both single men in search of a spouse and men already in relationships. If what you need is straightforward information on everything from where to find a man and how to introduce him to your family to moving in together, getting the checkbooks figured out, exploring your options for having kids, and how to divorce when the relationship's gone sour, you've found the right book.
I wrote The Male Couple's Guide because my partner and I couldn't find the information we needed about insurance, buying a home together, and navigating the legal complexities of being a same-sex couple. There were plenty of books on the shelves about how to make your man happy and putting the sparkle back in your sex life. At the time, way back in the mid-1980s, these books were all directed at a heterosexual audience. Nonetheless, they were often applicable to any couple relationship. But that wasn't the information we needed. I figured there had to be plenty of other couples who had the same questions we did. And, sure enough, there were.
Since the original edition of The Male Couple's Guide was published in 1988, it has sold thousands of copies. After the third printing, my editor and I thought it was time to do a revised edition, complete with all the latest information and resources you're likely to need. Much has changed since the first edition. For example, when I first began my research in 1986, I could hardly find any men to talk to me about adopting children. Sure, there were couples who had adopted kids, but most had to hide their homosexuality and their couplerelationship before they began the adoption process. And almost none would talk to me. This situation had changed considerably by 1992, and you'll find plenty of information on how to make kids a part of your family in the "Parenting" chapter. Some things haven't changed. AIDS is still with us, and its toll rises daily.
You'll quickly find that The Male Couple's Guide is not objective. I've done my best to steer clear of moral judgments, but there are still plenty of opinions expressed here, including my own and those of the people I interviewed. When I do talk about the right and wrong ways of doing things, keep in mind that each individual's and each couple's circumstances are different, so you'll have to tailor what you read here to fit your own situation and needs.
To find the information I needed for The Male Couple's Guide, I talked to all kinds of people, from single and coupled men and their families to dozens of experts in such fields as medicine and real estate. The couples I quote in the book live all over the country, in locations as varied as the rural South, southeastern Alaska, New York City, and Los Angeles. They come from all walks of life and include physicians, schoolteachers, postal workers, and truck drivers. Most of the men who tell their stories here have been together from two to fifteen years, but some have been together as few as six months and as long as forty years.
Don't look for them in The Male Couple's Guide because you won't find them. First, I'm no fan of statistics. Second, I don't believe there are statistics available that accurately reflect the varied experiences and life-styles of male couples. This doesn't mean there aren't statistics to be had. For example, on the subject of male-male monogamy, the figures I came across ranged from 27 percent monogamous in the Mendola Report (1980) to 5 percent monogamous in The Male Couple (1984). What's the real percentage? Your guess is as good as mine.
Like anyone writing on a broad topic, I was often tempted to make generalizations, and on occasion you'll find them here. But when I make generalizations, I'm careful to note that my conclusions are based on the information drawn from the people I interviewed or my own beliefs. These generalizations are not necessarily representative of anything beyond my personal conclusions and are in no way meant to speak for all gay men and couples.
When appropriate, chapters end with a selective list of available resources, including books and organizations. In a few cases, I've included information about how to find a physician, psychologist, real estate broker, and so forth. The Appendix at the end of the book lists general resources.
In deciding which organizations to list, I generally restricted my choice to the most established organizations available. But the information I provide here is just a start. Each locality has its own organizations and resources, and that will mean having to do some of your own homework. For example, when you want to find a gay accountant or one who is comfortable with gay couples, you'll have to ask friends, check your local gay newspaper, or call your local gay help line.
The books I recommend include brief descriptions. I'm not in love with all the books I recommend, but each has something to offer. And not all the books listed are written specifically for a gay audience. Some of my favorites, such as Bernie Zilbergeld's Male Sexuality, were written for a larger, general audience.
What a nightmare this is. How many times have you tripped over the introduction of your boyfriend, lover, partner, spouse, significant other, friend, husband, whatever? Of course, the problem isn't restricted just to gay couples. When my mother has been involved with a man, she's had the same problem. There's no generally agreed-upon term for her to use when introducing her "boyfriend." For my mom, like those of us in couple relationships, boyfriend seems trite, especially when the man you're referring to hasn't been a boy for decades. Lover sounds illicit. Friend is too vague, and covivant is too pretentious. In The Male Couple's Guide I use three terms: lover, partner, and spouse. I don't find these words adequate to describe my husband, friend, and sweetheart, but for want of better words, I chose these three.
Throughout The Male Couple's Guide I talk about my experiences and my relationship with Scott. I decided'and the decision was not an easy one'to add my own voice in the hope that what Scott and I have been through would add some depth and credibility to the advice I offer here. Plenty of the advice I've included comes from the mistakes I've made and the challenges Scott and I have faced in our own relationship. Some chapters, specifically Chapter 9, "Legalizing Your Relationship," and Chapter 11, "Insurance," I wrote as Scott and I plowed through the process of arranging for adequate insurance and drawing up the legal papers we needed to protect each other and our property.
I hope that our experiences and the experiences of the people I interviewed for The Male Couple's Guide help you get through the many challenges of couple life. No relationship, no matter how good, is easy. But there are plenty of gay couples to learn from, so there's no need for every gay man and every male couple to reinvent the wheel.
With the exception of experts, all names have been changed. That includes my spouse, whom I refer to here as Scott. He asked me not to use his real name simply because he values his privacy. I've also changed identifying details, such as physical characteristics, ages, locations, and professions. All medical, legal, and insurance information provided is the most current available at the time of publication. For questions or advice about specific concerns, please consult a professional.