Gay Marriage Counseling | Finding the Right Therapy for Same-Sex Couples

Many couples find themselves arguing over the same things and experiencing trouble with communication and intimacy. These challenges are seen across all types of relationships, including in straight and gay couples.

According to research by Dr. Gottman and colleagues, all couples experience the same problems and often use the same solutions to ensure long-term relationships with the involved parties. LGBTQ counseling or therapy is helpful for same-sex partners facing these challenges as it helps improve communication and intimacy.

Sometimes they may feel stuck in the maladaptive patterns and need help moving forward. Counseling provides techniques designed to help couples heal together, thereby strengthening their bond.

Finding the Right Approach to Therapy with Same-Sex Couples

Couples therapy is an essential need for all relationships. Unfortunately, not all couples therapists are equipped to handle or are educated on gay and lesbian issues. Most therapeutic interventions are designed to handle and offer insight into straight couples.

Such approaches often fail to address the challenges that same-sex partners face. Consequently, LGBTQ couples must select a therapist who has the knowledge and experience in handling LGBTQ issues (see ‘Gay Sex Therapist‘).

two women sitting on the couch

One of the approaches your therapist might apply is the Gottman Method. The Gottman Method is a therapeutic technique frequently used in gay counseling to reduce conflict and nurture close connections in gay couples.

It’s excellent at improving communication by removing any barriers that may hinder understanding. However, the Gottman method isn’t restricted to gay relationships; it’s also widespread in marriage counseling for straight couples.

Another approach is emotionally focused therapy (EFT), which helps couples identify patterns to express example, one responsible for their present challenges. The last technique on this list is reflective listening, where partners take turns actively listening to each other. 

Common Relationship Issues in Gay and Lesbian Couples

Having Children

The topic of having children in a gay or lesbian relationship happens to be a very sensitive subject. There are different options for many same-sex couples; some may choose to have them via surrogacy, adoption, or assistive reproductive technologies.

You must consult with qualified medical professionals before making such a decision.

two women with a baby on the seaside

Parenting Concerns

Society today is making progress in acknowledging and accommodating same-sex partnerships. Nevertheless, there still is a lack of social support for same-sex families when it comes to parenting. Due to the dominant heterosexual culture, gay male couples often encounter stigma due to their parenting choices.

Gay men may experience challenges when it comes to caring for and raising kids. The inability to define clear roles in the relationship causes additional stress, resulting in an unfair power dynamic. One partner will be tasked with providing for the family, subjecting them to immense pressure.

Gay and lesbian couples tend to face the same challenges as heterosexual couples regarding parenting, except for a few.  Fortunately, a family therapist can help gay couples navigate the complex territory surrounding having and raising kids.

Blended Families

Blended families are another relatively common issue brought across during couples therapy for gay or lesbian couples. The presence of kids from previous marriages can greatly affect family relationships, not only in opposite-sex couples but also in many heterosexual couples. A lack of family support further compounds the issue.

The most vital factor is the kids’ welfare. With this in mind, a couples therapist will help the involved parties establish a common ground to discuss important topics like education. Alternatively, you can also enlist the help of a  marriage and family therapist.

two men and a girl

Couples therapy paired with family therapy will help create better communication techniques between family members for a long-lasting and healthy relationship. That way, you can raise your kids in a loving and healthy relationship despite the various challenges brought about by having a blended family – see also blended family counseling.

Poorly Defined Gender Roles

Conventional gender roles typically tend to work better in heterosexual relationships. In such setups, the man is expected to focus on providing for and protecting the family while the female leans more towards nurturing and caregiving.

On the other hand, for most gay and lesbian couples, there is a lack of clearly defined gender roles. For example, in gay couples, both males may contribute equally towards provision and caregiving. It will help create clear and definitive roles for each partner since the traditional concept of parenting may not apply.

They’ll also help you find and establish a community with other same-sex couples facing the same or different challenges. A good network will provide support and comfort to parties that may feel overwhelmed and make them feel heard. 

Marriage Counseling in Same-Sex Couples

Couples therapy for same-sex couples does an exemplary job of addressing and resolving relationship troubles. Some of them include:

Differences in Relationship stages

Differences in relationship stages can drive a rift between couples. They are common in same-sex couples because the two parties usually meet at a time when they have yet grown into their identity.

For this reason, relationship problems such as betrayal and jealousy come up. This element is because each member is developing differently in terms of sexual orientation. Partners may find it laborious to manage emotions and communicate effectively.

The stage differences challenge the level of openness in the relationship since each individual has a contrasting view of the same. Even though this concern remains resolvable, not many couples find common ground.

Conflict and Domestic Violence

Unlike lesbians, who are considered more expressive when it comes to emotional matters and conflicts, gay men are less inclined to express their emotions. As a result, gay couples need to be extra thoughtful when handling conflict. This phenomenon suggests that gay men may need a hand in times of dispute.

a gay couple in conflict

Studies indicate that cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) are significantly higher in same-sex partnerships than in heterosexual couples. Its primarily seen in lesbian couples and lesbian marriages more than other same-sex couples. The primary contributing factor is the minority stress that members of the LGBTQ+ community face.

Unfortunately, the topic of IPV is not common in the public scene due to the stigma that comes with victims and survivors of domestic violence. 

Exes and Previous Relationships

It’s customary for ex-partners to cut off all communication after the dissolution of a relationship. However, for LGBT couples, it doesn’t quite work the same. Here’s why: for same-sex couples, ex-partners become part of their support group (see also ‘LGBT Relationship Counselling‘).

Their shared memories, experiences, and the strong bond developed in the process makes them an essential part of their social circle. Most lgbtq+ individuals report a lack of social support and inclusion, usually resulting from society’s lack of tolerance towards them. Therefore, friendships with exes act as a substitute for the same. 

a gay couple in the room

Of course, it’s only normal for a partner who has a significant other who’s still in communication with their exes to feel jealous and insecure at times. The problem arises when these feelings go unaddressed, leading to resentment and dissatisfaction within the relationship.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation is a common challenge coming up during gay marriage counseling. It’s among some of the personal struggles gay or lesbian individuals may face. Ultimately, a lack of openness around the subject due to internalized shame may hinder the couple’s capacity to provide support for one another.

Of course, the reluctance is often influenced by fears of rejection, discrimination, and targeted violence.  Marriage counseling can help alleviate these worries and build a sense of trust between the partners.

Where to Access Counseling for Same-Sex Relationships

The internet is a great place to start. A quick google search will give you a long list of therapists and life coaches to choose from. Next, you’ll narrow down the entries to a few names, depending on the qualities you’re looking for.

two man with a laptop sitting on the floor

Ensure that the therapist has the experience and knowledge in handling relationship issues in a gay couple. You could also get your friends and fellow couples to refer you to professionals. Also, before booking your first therapy session, schedule a telephone interview with the counselor. It is an excellent time to establish the candidate’s suitability by asking pertinent questions.

A point worth noting is while therapy can significantly improve a relationship, it’s not a quick fix for all your problems.

Benefits of Marriage Counseling in a Same-Sex Relationship

Marriage counseling teaches couples how to resolve conflicts amicably and effectively. Through constant practice, couples learn and adopt techniques aimed at moving past such obstacles together.

Counseling also helps individuals work through complicated feelings and emotions. One partner may find it hard to express their feelings due to fear of rejection and ridicule. Therapy remedies this by teaching partners how to provide a safe space for vulnerability and shared intimacy.

Lastly, counseling helps heal old wounds. A skilled professional helps couples work through feelings such as resentment and fear, thereby resolving past issues affecting their union. The result is a happier and more cohesive dynamic where each individual is content and fulfilled.

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