“If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have done half the things that I have.”
The strongest relationships embrace change, evolution and growth; all of which are at the heart of Leigh’s relationship with Claire “I think it's got better and better over the eight years, because we've got to know each other and balanced our strength and weaknesses - encouraging each other out of our comfort zones.”
Before this support, drive and confidence however, was a precarious beginning. When they first met in Nelson, Clare had just arrived from the UK; Leigh knew their future was dependant on her application for residency, something that loomed over them. “Our relationship could have started and ended very quickly. Luckily for us, she's now a permanent resident.”
Their dynamic is a holistic one, with Claire seeing this as the strength to their stability “It’s about balance; I need to encourage her to slow down, and she needs to coach me to speed up.” Both women value the balance their relationship gives them “Clare's quite grounding for me; she's even more spiritual, and more calm. I'm the super energetic one. Our relationship has definitely helped me chill out. I'm a hyper-Virgo, and I've probably just calmed down a little bit; I’m not so hectic anymore, I still can be that person, but it's nice to consider someone else.”
This consideration extends to even the simplest things, with Clare appreciating Leigh’s intuitive support “One day (and it was a really bad day) I came home and there was a glass of red wine and a glass of white poured. I didn’t have to ask or even choose! That was a bad day, but it ended really well.”
The decision to make their relationship official with a Civil Union was a natural one, and Leigh acknowledges the significance of the location “It was pretty choice, and it was in Whangarei! So wasn't a town where you'd normally have a civil union or a gay marriage! I think it was good for Whangarei as well… Celebrating without judgement, that was pretty cool.” Clare found the ceremony even more emotionally overwhelming than she’d anticipated.
“I don't think anyone prepares you for that feeling you get when you see all of your loved ones in the same room, all at the same time to celebrate you, your relationship, and your life.”
Luck would have it, six months after their ceremony the Marriage Amendment Bill was passed; but rather than feel disappointed, Leigh thinks that’s worth celebrating too. “I think it would be nice to actually formalize our marriage, because lots of people fought hard to get the marriage bill through and it would be nice to respect that.”