Couples Counseling: Societal Pressures Can Worsen LGBT Relationship Problems

May 31, 2011 by

Couples counseling shows that, regardless of background, most couples in distress tend to be facing common relationship problems – issues with communication, intimacy, handling conflict, and their significant other’s family. Just by themselves, these types of stressors can disrupt any relationship, but if you’re in an LGBT relationship, any problems you encounter are likely to be exacerbated by hetero-normative assumptions prevalent in our society.

For example, counseling for couples having difficulty with intimacy might involve going on a romantic getaway together to help solve their relationship problems. For LGBT couples, however, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Even on trips that advertise themselves as being “gay-friendly,” many face homophobia – overt or unintentional – from the hetero world, which can make intimacy downright impossible.

Hetero friends, family members, and society at large don’t always understand how to relate to your relationship problems and can be unintentionally insulting, trying to fit you and your partner into the typical husband and wife roles. Alternatively, people can act as if your relationship doesn’t matter as much as their hetero one, suggesting things for you or your partner that they wouldn’t think about doing in their own relationship. Family members – even outwardly supportive ones – might not always see your relationship as “real” when compared to a heterosexual relationship.

Seek Couples Counseling from a Therapist Who Has Experience with LGBT Issues

As an LGBT couple, you and your partner likely don’t see who you are and how you love reflected in our world, which can corrode your self-esteem and create more stressors in your relationship. Couples counseling for LGBT relationships needs to take these unique stressors into account when dealing with relationship problems. Couples counseling challenges may include:
1) Coping with homophobia in the family and society
2) Resolving relationship ambiguity in regards to commitment, boundaries, and behaviors linked to gender.
3) Developing a social “safety net.”
4) Stresses involved with creating “multiple identities” or compartmentalizing the relationship in certain environments.
5) Partners who define their sexual orientation differently.

Understanding these outside stressors can really help with LGBT couples counseling.  If you need help please give us a call or visit our website and check out our free resources.