Gay Dad Photo Essays

11 Gay Couples Share Secrets to Their Long-Term Relationships This Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, we spoke with 11 gay dad couples who've been together for almost a decade or longer to learn what's made their relationships last

You're the peanut butter to my jelly, the gin to my tonic, the strawberries to my cream, the Mr. to my Mr.!

Happy Valentine's Day folks! We're excited to celebrate this day of lurrrrvvve by featuring a few dads in our community who've been together for almost a decade or more! And they're ready to share their secrets to a successful relationship and parenting partnership.

Dads Johnny and Henry, Miami, Florida

Johnny and Henry 2007 / 2020

Johnny and Henry have been together for 12 and a half years. "So in gay years, that's a 100!" said Johnny, laughing.

What's your secret to relationship longevity?

"I can honestly say that we are BEST FRIENDS! You must be able to tell each other everything and be honest with one another for it to work. Any and all subjects are fair game and being able to talk about everything makes it true. Oh - and laughter! We always have fun in everything that we do."

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"My advice will be to always stay true to why you are together and what you found in that person to want to commit as a partner and as a parent. Always keep it happy and fun loving and be PATIENT! Not everyone is like you so once you understand that, everything else is golden. Oh- and BE ON THE SAME PAGE AS PARENTS! You may not agree on things but always stay UNITED and support each others decisions."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Johnny: "I love the fact that he puts up with all my craziness and loves me for me. He is a great father and an amazing hubby. He loves me unconditionally. What I love most about him is his heart. He is a really good person with amazing intentions."

Henry: "I love that he is spontaneous. He is hilarious and always makes us laugh. He keeps me and the boys grounded and secure. I love him very much."

Dads Bryce and Jeff, Phoenix, Arizona

Bryce and Jeff 2008 / 2019

Bryce and Jeff currently live in Arizona after relocating there a year ago from Southern California. They've been together 12 years, and 4 of those have been married.

What's your secret to relationship longevity?

"Embrace change and diversity. People and relationships are constantly changing and should be acknowledged and celebrated."

As a couple, how do you deal with conflict in your relationship?

"We have learned the value in compromise and the importance in understanding one another perspective, thoughts, and feelings."

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"Be emotionally attuned to one another. Do not listen to only to what your partner is saying, but also to the emotions accompanying their words. Being attuned emotionally affords you the ability to understand one another and respond appropriately, in turn strengthening your communication and relationship."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Bryce: "I love that Jeff is always available, whether that be physically or emotionally, to either our daughter or myself, whenever we need him."

Jeff: "I love that Bryce has the ability to make us laugh and make the best of any situation we encounter as a family."

Dads Brian and Jeff, South Kingstown, Rhode Island

John and Brian 2008 / 2020

John and Brian have been together for 18 years, and married for 10. Their key to longevity: happiness.

How do you make time for yourselves as a couple?

"Since having children, we have less time as a couple but a lot of time as a family. Kids are always around! Just kidding.. but no, they really are. We try to have date nights every week, and we always stay actively engaged in the other's interests."

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"Remember it's all about compromise. Same-sex families are not "traditional", which can be played as both positive and negative. We sort of get to make up our own rules, but we are definitely scrutinized more often."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

John: "Brian's a very dedicated Dad and Husband. He will do everything he possibly can for all of us."

Brian: "John's laugh and spontaneity - I'm not that type of person but if helps us balance."

Daniel and Ole, London, United Kingdom

Ole and Daniel 2009 / 2020

Daniel and Ole live in London, United Kingdom and have been together for 14 years.

As a couple, how do you deal with conflict in your relationship?

"Ole typically initiates the talks. Daniel sulks :)"

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"Having children made our relationship stronger. Ole is the best parent I ever seen and watching him makes me love and trust him even more."

How do you make time for yourselves as a couple?

"We are terrible at it. We live in London, where none of us have family. But we both get time off when our parents are around or when the kids are visiting their grandparents in Germany or Brazil."

What's one thing you love most about Ole?

"He is straightforward and honest, he brings the best of me."

Dads Alejandro and Alex, Arlington, Virginia

Alex and Alejandro 1997 / 2019

Alex and Alejandro have been married for 7 years and together 25 years this year! "He's the Yin to my Yang."

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"We get up earlier. We stay up later. We laugh more. We cry more."

How do you make time for yourselves as a couple?

"After 22 years together as a 'couple,' seeing the world and building our life together, we were thrilled when we became parents. Now, we see ourselves as a family, not a couple. So, time as a couple is not something we generally seek out. We do go to the theatre, about every other month and have friends that line-up at the opportunity to babysit. But, as cliché as it may sound, we spend every moment we can, together as the three of us. We figure that eventually he will pull away from us like all kids, so we value the time we have now, when he wants to spend every moment with us."

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"Treat your spouse the way you want your child to treat him. Children see and hear everything. You will see your actions reflected in your child. Be the adults you needed when you were children, not necessarily the ones you wanted."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Alex: "Alejandro is generally quiet. But, when he opens his mouth to speak, he can usually quiet the entire room; whether he is delivering a deadpan joke, making an observation everyone has missed, or defending his family, his words carry weight."

Alejandro: "Alexis the kind of person who can talk to a rock (and the rock would talk back). I'm always in awe at how easily he can start a conversation with a stranger and in a matter of minutes they'll be chatting like old friends. He's the kind of person who will defend you in any situation, but also will be the first one to tell you if you're wrong."

Dads Dustin and Burton, Raleigh, North Carolina

Burton and Dustin 2013 / 2019

Dustin and Burton have been together for over 7 years, and married for 5. Their secret? Finding humor in everything.

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"It's made us closer. Before kids it was all about caring for each other. Being able to watch your husband love and care for your kids makes you see them in such an evolved light. It's made me fall deeper in love with him."

How do you make time for yourselves as a couple?

"You have to put your husband first. It's good for your children to see you value your spouse. One day your kids will leave the house and you will be left with just the two of you again. You can't forget about each other and that can easily happen. Kids in the best of ways can be all consuming."

How do you balance being a father and a husband / partner?

"It's hard. Being a dad is a full time job so we have found date nights are key. Chatting in bed from exhaustion after the kids are down is very different then sitting across a table having a nice meal together without kids at a restaurant. You have to stay connected so put a reoccurring date night in the books."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Dustin: "I've never met a man more comfortable in his own skin. He is confident and his heart is kind. I find both to be so sexy."

Burton: "Dustin is creative, charming and a perfect father to our children."

Dads Josh and Stephen, Portland, Maine

Josh and Stephen 2013 / 2019

Josh (he/him/his) and Stephen (he/him/his) have been together for 8 years and have one child together.

What's your secret to relationship longevity?

"Don't try to be each other's everything, having healthy friendships and staying connected to community outside of our partnership is just as important as staying connected to each other."

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"The stakes became a lot higher when we decided to have a child. We might disagree on big or little issues, but ultimately we are always going to work it out because it's not just about us anymore. We also appreciate each other in new and different ways, witnessing each other's tenderness and vulnerability as we became parents together."

How do you balance being a father and a husband / partner?

"I don't feel like there is ever a great balance in the early years of parenthood. You are juggling so many complex and new relationships and connections. But I think it is important to remember that each relationship depends on and effects the others. If I don't give time to myself then I am not going to show up my best self for my partner or our kid, if I don't give time to my relationship than our family connection won't be as strong. We have tried to prioritize family time, in these early years especially, because the time goes by far too quickly. Josh and I (hopefully) will be together for a very long time, but our kid is only going to be young and willing to hang out with us for so long."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Josh: "Stephen is always down for an adventure."

Stephen: "Josh encourages me out of my comfort zone."

Dads Mitsuo and Rickard, Luleå, Sweden

Rickard and Mitsuo 2010 / 2019

Rickard and Mitsuo have been together 11 years. They met in Tokyo in 2008, and after three years they were married and moved to London. They moved to Sweden when their son was born.

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"I was feeling we were independent from each other even after we got married. Now, we are still individuals, but we share responsibilities, time, thoughts, our son's custody… like a family. And the meaning of love has been changing a lot, from romantic love to some kinda deeper love. I guess we have less opportunity for adult time and adventure :)"

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"Make time and talk to each other. Share and listen to your partner, to what you/they are feeling, thinking, worrying and wishing, Don't overestimate or underestimate your partner. You might be thinking you know everything about your partner as your relationship grows getting longer, but you never know everything."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Mitsuo: "Rickard is very calm and patient; that's what I love most about him."

Rickard: "Mitsuo is very caring and creative; he comes up with great ideas for things to do together and then makes them happen."

Check out their website and Instagram here.

Dads David and Batiste, Valencia, Spain

David and Batiste 2000 / 2019

Spanish dads David and Batiste have been together since September 21, 2000.

As a couple, how do you deal with conflict in your relationship?

"We are very different, but we try to talk and to be empathetic. Everything has many points of view and a stressed life doesn't help."

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"Being parents is the best thing in our lives, but each day has only 24 hours and most days that is not enough. We try to educate our daughter with values that are important for us. In general, we are closer to one another, but there are many stressful situations that makes us argue."

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"Pay attention to your partner. Children are very important, but we have to take care of our relationship as a couple. Support your partner always when you are with your children. If you do not agree with something, tell your partner later, never in the presence or your children."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

David: "What I love most about my husband Batiste is his ability to make even the most difficult situations easy."

Batiste: "What I love most about my husband David is his kindness with all the people around us."

Dads Biff and Trystan, Portland, Oregon

Biff and Trystan 2010 / 2019

Trystan and Biff have been together 10 years and have three children. They find honesty to always be the best policy in their relationship.

As a couple, how do you deal with conflict in your relationship?

"We have found that most conflict dissolves over time. When conflict arises it's typical for us to each wait to address it. If we're still feeling upset a day later, then it's worth addressing. We never name call or attack. We try to be honest, but kind."

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"LOL - our love for each other has only deepened. Having kids allowed us to see parts of each other that we didn't know existed. Of course, life is also more hectic and stressful, but the joy of having a family outweighs all of that."

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"Alone time (even sexy time) is not likely to happen unless you plan it. Don't be afraid to schedule things. Staying connected will make you better partners and parents."

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Trystan: "Biff is the most selfless person I know. He almost always puts the needs of our family over his own, sacrificing his own comfort (and sleep!) so our children have everything they need to thrive. He is incredibly thoughtful, weighing his words with care so they don't have a negative impact on any of us. He never complains when I have to travel out of town, he's emotionally brilliant, he always has smart things to say when I ask him about what's going on in the world."

Biff: "Trystan is always curious, wanting to explore new places, food, music, etc... He always brings energy and excitement. When we married, he promised me a life of adventure. He's kept that promise..."

Dads Mundo and Denis, Miami, Florida

Mundo and Denis 2000 / 2020

Denis and Mundo met in 2000 and dated for a year. After 10 years apart, they got back together in 2011 and were married in 2012.

Since having children, how has your relationship changed?

"Our relationship has changed since having kids because we now have someone else that depends on us. Our focus is her. It's sort of difficult to balance fatherhood with time for ourselves. We are both working parents, with no family nearby. It's definitely a juggle, but we manage to squeeze in some time for ourselves while she is at school."

What's one bit of advice you could pass on to others who are in the early stages of their relationship and also have children?

"Our advice to other couples in the early stages that have child(ren) is that it's ok to be overwhelmed with a new born, it's normal. Everyone is going to give their opinions, what works, what doesn't work, what formula you should use, baby food versus home cooked purée.... do what YOU FEEL is best for YOUR BABY and YOU!"

What's one thing you love most about each other?

Mundo: "To be honest for me, I have been in love with Denis for the last 19yrs even when we weren't together. I have always loved who he is as a person and now even more so as the father of our daughter.

Denis: "The thing I love the most about Mundo is that the love he has for our daughter is a million times more then the love he has shown me. I knew I made the right choice in marrying him and deciding to have a child with him the moment I saw him hold our daughter. It all came together as one in that moment!"

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