We’re so excited to bring back our resident relationship expert, Tamara Adilman, MA, MEd, RCC.
We recently sat down with her and had a long discussion about relationships, her personal journey, and sex. (Yep, we went there.)
In part 2, of our 3 part series, we’re talking all things personal. We asked all these questions and more:
How is being apart of the LGBTQ community affected your relationship experience?
How do you handle your relationship while being a “relationship expert” and the pressures that may come with that?
If you were to tell someone struggling in their relationship only one thing what would it be?
What do you always bicker about?
We can’t wait for those answers and more, so without further ado—let’s get into it! Make sure to scroll below and see what Tam is up to (hint: it’s amazing).
RP: Tell us a bit about your personal relationship history.
T: Sure! So I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for 32 years.
RP: Wow! That’s a long time. That’s awesome! Congrats.
T: Thanks. And we have 2 young adult sons. One is 25 and one is 20.
RP: What’s a bit about your story?
T: So my partner is a woman, I am in same sex relationship which, for 32 years, is a very big deal. You know it’s hard. It was probably harder in the 80s. But we met in university so we got together very young. And have never broken up and worked through everything that comes up.
RP: Have you guys ever gotten married?
T: Um I’m about as married as I want to be. [laughs] Sarah would probably like to get “married” married. But that’s just never been a big goal of mine, I feel very married. I don’t know if I’ll if we’ll do that in that traditional way. It has not been on my bucket list, lets put it that way. And after you’ve been together for 32 years it just seems a bit of irrelevant.
RP: So, what would you say is the best thing about your relationship?
T: Well I would say there’s a couple things. One is the commitment and loyalty. No matter what happens, whatever difficulty or conflict or challenge or life change that we go through, there’s always that commitment and that loyalty that we will always work it through. So I think that really helps keep a lot of safety. We don’t ever say, “oh I’m going to leave if this doesn’t happen”. I think when that is unwavering, it just really makes it easier to work through things because nobody’s going anywhere.
T: Then I think the other thing is just the kind of communication skills and listening that we do and have developed. I mean that’s really what’s key. I mean communication is such an overused word, but to me, communication is being able to understand each other’s world and accept one’s partner for their differences and listen and try and meet the partner’s needs. I think that that’s the other most important part.
RP: Mmmm. We love that. What would you say is your biggest relationship challenge?
T: Hmm. I don’t really feel like we have any anymore.
T: I need to think back…What use to be really hard? You know I think for my relationship, and in any relationship, it always comes down to two people being quite different and that being really difficult in the relationship because we’re so much more comfortable if our partner is like us.
T: You know everything comes down to: who’s going to be the one to change, doesn’t it? Are we going to do it your way or my way. It’s the differences. You know when things are good we get along everything is fine. Some of our personality differences and our different needs over the years. What do you wanna do for your free time, how you wanna raise your kids. So, it’s the biggest relationship challenge, trying to cope with differences in who we both are really.
RP: How is being apart of the LGBTQ community affected your relationship experience? You mentioned before you’re kind of a “rare breed” being in a same-sex relationship that long. Can you speak to that?
T: We were such trail blazers back then, because 30, 25 years ago who was doing this?
T: I wouldn’t say we were really apart of the LGBTQ community looking back now. I mean, it seems now that everybody is having kids and it’s just so common, but back then maybe we knew 3 or 4 other couples or families. So I wouldn’t really say we were apart of the LGBTQ community, I think our community was much more just our families. My parents and all of my siblings and all of our kids and cousins.
T: We were apart of a jewish community, too. So our community really was the straight community but they really really embraced our family.
RP: Interesting. Do you think that held a positive impact on your relationship experience?
T: Yes, absolutely. We were always so welcome accepted and validated. It wasn’t really ever an issue either for us or really even for our kids in school. Our kids went to private school, I think they grew up in a bit of a bubble. It was a lucky bubble and it was all very intentional.
RP – Wow. Thats amazing. What is something you always bicker about?
T: I think the differences between um my extroversion and Sarah’s introversion probably play out the most. You know, me wanting to be more social or do more things or wanna talk about things right now. She’s more of an internal processor, takes her a while to figure things out can’t necessarily deal with things right now so i think that would be
a part of it. We are very similar kind of around the house were both fairly tidy we’re both relatively organized. Oh! You know I’m not very good on the computer.
T: And I’m not interested in learning. Sarah’s not super happy about that because she tends to do all of the business of the family and I don’t really, I’m not interested and I think that’s a little bit hard. I don’t think we bicker about it too much, she used to be a bit resentful but I think she’s realized I’m not going to learn how to do it.
T: You know, to me, bickering is day to day irritation with each other because of unresolved things that are actually much deeper.
T: It’s never about the toilet paper or the toilet seat. It’s always about other things. I think that maybe we get to the deeper things quicker but we do bicker when we’re really tired and stressed you know like really, really tired
RP: That makes a lot of sense. So, our next question: How do you handle your relationship while being a “relationship expert” and the pressures that may come with that?
T: I think what Sarah would say is, I am a relationship expert, and i am but I also kinda try and walk my talk. The kind of therapy I do is very specific, I’m certified in it, and in order to become that kind of therapist you have to go through as a participant with your partner all of it yourself.
T: So it really would equal the playing field.
RP: Mhmm. Definitely.
T: So it isn’t very much like I’m the expert and she’s the novice, we pretty much are equal when it comes to our relationship. She’s very very smart about relationships. When it comes to the two of us its pretty equal, we’ve been through tons of relationship workshops and training together.
RP: That’s amazing. I love that.
T: I don’t know if that would have worked, I think the reason why we’re together still is because we are learning these skills.
RP: So what is something others would be surprised to know about your relationship?
T: We’re still very attracted to each other. [laughs]
RP: After 32 years!? That’s pretty good!
T: After 32 years we are still really into each other and we fight like everybody else sometimes. We are immature sometimes, too!
RP: So what would be something you want more of in your relationship?
RP: Yes! We so resonate with that!
T: I want more time. I always can’t wait for the weekend, I’d love more holidays, I love going on holidays. We were in Hawaii for a couple of weeks in February and March and it was just like magic. I love holidays. You know life gets crazy, it goes by so fast and we’re on the other side of the kids and they’re little, you are selfless and its all about giving giving giving. Your relationship takes a toll. So now that we’re on the other side of that, I want more time to have fun and hang out, you know?
RP: Absolutely. So, what would be something you’re trying to eliminate from your relationship?
T: Probably, negativity.
RP: In terms of communication or energy?
T: Communication and being grumpy. You know we both work incredibly hard at our work. We’re both very busy and i think that you can kind of not bring your best home. So trying not to be negative and trying to be appreciative sometimes. We do kind of appreciations regularly just to remember, I really appreciate this and I really appreciate that.
RP: That’s a good one
T: I would say trying to eliminate being crabby and negative
RP: What was the best relationship advice you’ve ever gotten?
T: My parents have a great relationship but they never gave me any direct advice, it’s more through modelling and I think that’s been really great for us to see. I mean I think we really all look up to my parents cause they really do love each other and they’re very committed but they never said, “Do this and this” it’s just a lifetime of modelling.
RP: Wow! That’s powerful. So, if you were to tell someone struggling in their relationship only one thing what would it be?
T: I would say you could be right or you can be in a relationship but you don’t get both in this life.
T: Because the problem is, and this may be jumping ahead to another question, but when people are in relationships they go from the “we” to the “me”. They start off in the “we” and then they move into the “me”. I want you to meet my needs, what about me…And then you have these two “me’s” fighting for each other. So when you do that, who’s going to be right? Who’s going to be the one? Instead of thinking about the “we”. The “we” is how do I meet my partners needs? Because if they’re meeting mine and I’m meeting their’s, the struggle is gone but most people are just trying to have their needs met by their partner and not thinking that its a “we”.
RP: Yes. it’s reciprocal.
T: All the time. You know, being in a relationship is not being an individual its being relational. So much self development is so focused on the individual and it really is to the detriment of relationships because people say, “I should be happy and you should be meet my needs and I should just grow within myself.” And, well that’s true to a certain extent, but you know if you’re doing it with somebody else the relationship can be extending. I feel very strongly about that.
RP: We do, too!
RP: Thank you so much for letting us into your personal relationship. Next up is all about sex.
There you have it! Part 2 in our 3 part series diving into her personal same-sex relationship with her partner for 32 years. We love chatting with Tamara and we don’t know about you, friends, but we took a lot away from this. Here’s our main power punches:
Commitment and Loyalty go a long way.
Think about the “We” and not the “”Me”.
As Tam so perfectly said, “You could be right or you can be in a relationship, but you don’t get both in this life.”
We can’t wait to share part 3 with you next week, we’re talking all things sex. I’m sure we’re going to have even more amazing insights. See you next week!
Tamara Adilman, MA, MEd, RCC
Tamara Adilman, MA, MEd, RCC has been a Relationship Therapist for over 20 years in Vancouver where she works in private practice specializing Relationship Therapy for couples of all sexual orientations. She is an Advanced Clinician and Certified Workshop presenter in Imago Couples Therapy and facilitates the Getting the Love You Want Workshop In Vancouver.
She has been with her partner Sarah for 32 years and they have two adult sons together. She has devoted her work life to helping couples learn to connect and heal together so that they can live in a conscious relationship with each other. She believes that intimate partnership is the most enriching and challenging relationship of one’s life and that everyone needs skills to navigate it. Tamara loves her work and is passionate that working with one couple at a time can change the world! She can be reached at 604-732-7344.