Making Love Last: Real Couples Share Their Stories
Family Circle honored me by including my family in an article about relationships and how love lasts through the decades. I don't know if I have all the secrets but it was fun talking about Dane and my kids. You can read the original article here or below!
Couples in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 70s tell us how they make love and wedded bliss last.
Israel Segal and Dane Holweger
Israel Segal, founder of Free Your Mane, a hair and skin care company
Dane Holweger, freelance production designer for still photography
Children: Nola and Ziggy, 12
Married since: July 18, 2015 (after 18 years together)
Los Angeles, California
Sometimes, all it takes is the right call at the right moment. "We actually met on the phone," says Israel. "I hired Dane to help me art direct a campaign and we talked for a couple weeks before we connected in person. Collaborating on a project made it easier to get to know each other, and I could tell right away that we had an ease of conversation and that we got each other's jokes. But I had no idea what he looked like yet, so I didn't know how handsome he was. Good thing too—I probably would've been intimidated." Dane was initially drawn to Israel's voice and sense of humor, and felt there was a palpable chemistry between them. Then they finally met. "We both really liked what we saw and I never looked back," shares Dane. "Almost 20 years in, his voice and sense of humor still rank right up there with my favorite traits."
Both men were in their 30s when they met, and both had a pragmatic approach to dating. "We love the fireworks but not every day is the Fourth of July," notes Dane. "I don't believe there is only one person waiting somewhere in the world for you–I believe there are many people you could love and share the rest of your life with, but there's something special about the one who finds you when you are ready for that grown-up relationship. Israel is my soul mate." Israel can't recall the exact moment when everything clicked. "I'm not sure I believe in 'the one.' I had a series of 'the ones' in my 20s, and believe you me they were not 'the one'! With Dane it was more a series of moments that built on each other over time, a slow burn. What I did know right away was that we just kind of 'got' each other; there wasn't a lot of exposition necessary. He makes me laugh all the time. That counts for a lot!"
Twelve years ago Israel and Dane adopted African American twins. For many couples parenthood, even with all its wonder, can present new trials, but for a couple made up of two dads there can be additional hurdles. "Building a family with two beautiful children is my greatest joy and presents my greatest challenges," says Dane. "We've learned to allow the kids, now 12, to know their story in age-appropriate increments—from 'Your mommy was not well and could not care for you properly' to 'Your mother had a drug dependency issue that influenced the choices she could make as a parent.' Our communication has benefited greatly through the process of learning to communicate with our kids. They love us dearly, they express that freely, and on rare days they do wish they could know their birth mom."
When Israel and Dane's children were toddlers, the family was unwittingly featured in a story for a local paper that was misrepresented to them as an introduction to transracial adoptive families. "A 'Christian' woman wrote in saying the transracial aspect paled next to the two daddies thing as concerning," says Dane. "I'd love to send her the handmade happy Father's Day cards, the honor roll certificates, the pictures of our family trips to Italy and Mexico, the letter of love our daughter wrote and read to us at our wedding...the list goes on. But I wish that woman well, and wish for her enlightenment because, as our kids make clear every day, love is the ultimate 'Christian value' and it isn't the property of any religion."
What defines this couple most is the love they share and the way they bring out the best in each other. "Israel has always found it within himself to extol my virtues and talents to anyone who will listen," says Dane. "He speaks of my integrity and artistic skills—he makes me want to be the person he sees. Not that he has a skewed image of me, but rather he reminds me of my best self on the days I may need reminding." Israel initially responds with a joke: "Sometimes he brings out the worst in me too—I think you stop being on your best behavior after the first few years together. Otherwise your interaction must be pretty superficial. But honestly he sees the best in me too, which helps me rise to the occasion. He also doesn't let me go too far down a rabbit hole—he brings me back with a kind word. Or a joke." Israel adds some of the wisdom he has garnered during his time with Dane: "After so many years together, you realize that you grow in different ways at different times. You have to allow each other the space to do that while believing that you won't grow apart. Sometimes it's just a leap of faith."