Marriage Counseling for Same Sex Couples
There are many
counselors who provide couples therapy, relationship counseling,
premarital counseling, and marriage counseling to gay and lesbian
couples and by extension also support institutionally the marriage of
same gender couples. Supporting marriage for all couples, same or
different genders, means supporting not only the marriage ceremony but
their lives after it and in preparation for it as well.
The point of
premarital (pre-nuptial, pre-union, engagement) counseling for any
couple is to help them focus on what they are doing and to create
clarity about how they do it. The processes—their communication styles,
their histories, their goals and how they will pursue them—are far more
important than any decisions. A good counselor should be able to help
provide clarity for the couple about what they believe, desire, and,
most importantly, the ways they relate to each other.
In addition to
managing the issues faced by all couples - issues of roles and
responsibilities, financial concerns, intimacy and sexuality, and
different communication styles - gay and lesbian couples face the added
challenge of nurturing their relationships in a world that is often
hostile. Outright rejection or more subtle lack of understanding by
family and friends can create an added burden for couples already
struggling to create healthy intimate relationships. For gay and lesbian
couples choosing to commit to each other in a social environment that
does not honor that commitment, making such a commitment can take great
courage and inner strength.
Gay and lesbian couples often
seek the expertise of a qualified counselor. Distressed couples,
regardless of their sexual orientation, are often facing similar kinds
of problems when they request the help of a couples counselor.
Some of the problems common to all couples in distress are issues with
communication, intimacy, handling conflict and family of origin issues,
among others. However, lesbian and gay couples face some special
challenges. These unique challenges may include...
--Coping with homophobia with
in-laws, in the family of origin, and the larger society.
ambiguity in the areas of commitment, boundaries, and gender linked
--Developing adequate social
support (the "families of choice").
internal and external homophobia.
and insemination: children, in general, bring up a
variety of issues heterosexual couples do not share.
there are inherent problems when one person is not out
and the relationship is kept secret.
regarding sex-roles in gay vs. heterosexual couples.
with your relationship at work: whether to come out,
coping with co-workers who are attracted to you if you
cannot reveal your relationship, the office Christmas
with "small town" issues in the gay community or with
isolation from other gay couples if you live outside a
Relationship Tip Sheet for Gay & Lesbian Couples
Same Sex Marriage Problems
Things to Discuss with Your Partner Before Marrying
Building Long Term Gay & Lesbian Relationships
UU Church: Premarital Counseling Guide for Same Gender Couples
Top Ten Arguments Against Gay Marriage
Dos and Donts of Gay Divorce
Wikipedia: Relationship Counseling
10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Married
Gay & Straight Weddings
Definition of Marriage
These days, the word ‘marriage’ can be
problematic. Many people think of ‘marriage’ solely as a legal
institution reserved exclusively for heterosexual couples. To be honest,
I sometimes use this definition of ‘marriage’ in my work, because if a
couple is legally married and they’re having trouble in their
relationship, their legal status can raise certain practical issues that
often are different than those faced by couples who are not legally
married (legal separation, legal divorce, certain kinds of financial
Having said that, I also hold to a
definition of marriage that goes like this: any couple, gay or straight,
in which the two persons have chosen to be together as partners in an
exclusive, committed relationship, is what I would call “emotionally
married.” (This is a concept created by the noted marriage therapist
I assume they are facing many of the same
fundamental challenges that legally married couples face: intimacy,
personal growth, the need for each individual to take responsibility for
his/her actions, and so forth. (And any gay couple with children will
tell you that the legal issues can be just as complicated, thank you
These days, more and more people are
waiting to marry, or choosing not to marry at all, and of course many
couples are not allowed to marry because of their sexual orientation.
Yet they are still sharing a deep emotional bond, so from my
perspective, in a very important sense, they are married. For me,
‘marriage’ is really just a word that means this:
These two people are sharing life together
as a couple, joined in a powerful bond, a bond that their friends and
family recognize (whether or not they support it!), and a bond that can
be as challenging—and upsetting—as it is exciting and life-giving.
Stephen Crippen, LMFT)
Marriage Problems for Same Sex Couples
sex couples have many of the same
problems that affect heterosexual couples. Aside from communication
problems, same sex couples have the extra difficulties of not being
legally recognized as married in most states. Politics aside, marriage
is a serious commitment for anyone, gay or straight.
biggest problem affecting same sex marriage is geography. In most
states, it's illegal. As of September 2009, gays and lesbians can marry
same sex partners legally in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont
and Maine. New York and Washington, D.C., recognize marriages by
legally performed elsewhere, and homosexual Californians who married
before the passage of Proposition 8 are still legally recognized as
people believe homosexuals are more promiscuous than heterosexuals.
While some gay people do not desire a monogamous lifetime commitment to
a single partner, some straight people share those sentiments. The idea
that gays or lesbians are not interested in a serious, monogamous
commitment such as marriage is not true.
sex couples who wish to dissolve their marriage face a challenge. Some
couples married in locations that have imposed stricter rules on gay
marriage licenses and thus are unable to get divorced because their
original marriages are not legally recognized.
Unlike heterosexual couples, married same sex couples might be unwilling
or unable to relocate for
or job opportunities if such areas do not recognize the marriage as
legally binding. As of September 2009, no formal studies have been
conducted on the economic implications of this for same sex couples, but
one researcher observed the intersection of legal and financial matters
when homosexual couples move to areas not supporting same sex marriage.
Those opposed to same sex marriage are not backing down, presenting new
legal challenges in every state where same sex marriage has advanced.
Additionally, hate crimes on perceived members of the gay community have
increased as gay marriage has become more visible.
Same Sex Marriage Counseling
About Gay Marriage:
Collection of Articles
Same Sex Marriage
How to Get Married
Civil Unions &
Same Sex Marriage
Collection of Articles
About Gay Marriage
Video: Gay Marriage History
How to Plan a
Gay Marriage Survey
Freedom to Marry
Arguments & Motives
By Scott Bidstrup
Partners Task Force
for Gay & Lesbian
Amazon: Books on
Association for Lesbian
Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama