Introducing the Relationship Series: Leslie & Brian Jay

Therapists are taught that non-disclosure is the best practice. As with most things taught in school, the reality is more difficult. In practice it is often challenging to be a blank slate to our clients. I got engaged and married in the course of the three years at my last job. It was impossible to pretend like that did not happen. My goal is always to be a real human for my clients.  

Clients often open up to me about their relationship issues and may ask things like "does that ever happen in your relationship?" or "what would you do if that happened to you?" I feel a sense of obligation to them and myself to be real with them. I do not act as if my relationship exists in a perfect vacuum void of any problems. I prefer to balance the boundary of giving helpful personal details while remaining professional. 

For the next month, I am going to get a bit more personal. I aim to continue being professional while offering personal insight and examples from my own relationship. My objective is to share with you, my lovely readers, how and why our relationship works as well as I think it does. My other goal is to include my wonderful husband's perspective on our relationship as well. So without further adieu, here are a few disclaimers: 

  • I am not a relationship therapist; they have a special degree for that in NYC.
  • I have never online dated. Nine years ago we met the old fashioned way before it was a thing i.e. I flirted with him and made it really obvious that I was interested until he responded.
  • I do not think our relationship is perfect, but I do think it is functional. My hope in letting you in like this is to encourage better communication, inspire couples to travel, and to normalize bickering (in Italy it is so commonplace it would be unhealthy for us not to!). 

To give you a little background information on the two of us, Brian and I met while working at a restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida during our college years. We dated for one year before I offered Brian our first adventure: move to New York City so I could go to graduate school. He accepted and we have been living in NYC ever since. As with any relationships, we have had our share of ups and downs. What I believe has kept us strong is our individual sense of selves and our communication.

As in any new relationship, communication styles have to be learned and jointly developed for a healthy dialogue. Being a therapist, I pride myself on my communication skills. I almost always know what I want and I know how to effectively communicate my thoughts and feelings. Brian is an excellent communicator, even though he might not always know what he wants. We balance each other out in that I can be a bit too outspoken and he can be a bit too laid back. Most of all, we respect each other's differences and embrace one another for who we are, rather than expecting the other person to change. 

After nearly five years, Brian proposed at the very same restaurant where we worked and met. Wedding planning brought up issues we had never encountered before, but we worked through it and are stronger because of it. On our wedding day I vowed to be present in our relationship and I encourage the same for all of you. This vow has been crucial for me to remember since at times I can be stubborn and emotional which takes me away from the present moment. During the course of our marriage, we have dove into our respective careers and worked far too many hours all while trying to make our relationship a priority. Even when we are stressed we always come back to the things that we enjoy and make us happy as a couple: cooking, eating, being outdoors, being active, and going on adventures. 

Last year we decided that we would go on the ultimate adventure and live in Italy. So here we are working together again, this time on a farm in Italy. It is not always easy to be around each other 24/7. Most couples do not have the opportunity to work with one another once, let alone twice. It takes a critical amount of communication, love and patience. It also takes a lot of appreciation for each other, our environment, and the life we are building together. 

We are looking forward to sharing our ideas on what it takes to build and sustain a healthy and happy relationship. I welcome any questions that may be unanswered over the course of the series. Ask away! I'll get as professionally personal as I can allow myself to be!