Are you considering getting married? Are you already in the planning stages and thinking about a wedding? How incredible, amazing and wonderful that we can be asking ourselves these questions today!
Getting married is one of those experiences that cannot be fully described. It’s like trying to explain what it’s like to be a parent, to fall in love, or to have a spiritual experience. You can describe all of the circumstances but the most important ingredient will still be missing; the inner experience. Although I cannot help you fully understand that piece, what I would like to do is help you prepare for this unknown, beautiful and yet challenging journey as you begin sharing your life in a whole new way with another person.
For centuries men and women have been getting married; they have defined their roles as partners and parents, designed their families and all of their expectations according to society. The Associated Press reported the following:
“the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy reports that their research as of January 1, 2014 concluded that 22% of married men and 14% of married women admit to having cheated at least once and the average length of an affair was 2 years; the percentage of marriages that survived the affair was 31%.”
The number we often hear for the divorce rate is in the range of 30- 50%. Not a great track record for an institution that was considered so highly valued that gays and lesbians were deprived of it for so long (and in many areas still are).
Have you noticed that you’re putting a great deal of time, energy, attention to detail, and money, into the planning of your wedding? Not that your wedding isn’t important; it is. Your wedding is a rite of passage as you transition from your former individual self to a union with the person you love and have chosen to spend your life with. Beyond the wedding, however, is your marriage and in order to have a successful marriage it too needs this level of commitment. Your best chance of creating a solid loving and lasting marriage is to begin by building a strong foundation, one that is loving, strong, stable, compassionate, respectful, nurturing, loyal and committed. Love alone is not enough.
In my therapy practice I provide pre-marital counseling as well as counseling for couples who have been together for a long time but are seeking to strengthen their relationship. I know it will be tempting for LGBT couples to run out, unprepared, and get married simply because we can. It is with this in mind that I am currently writing a book on pre-marital counseling specifically identifying issues unique to same sex couples; a book that I hope will serve as a guide toward building a strong foundation and a healthy, loving, forever marriage. I believe it is possible for us to create our own positive role models and not follow in the footsteps of heterosexual marriages which statistically have not fared well. My goal is to help members of our community get married and create the families we envision for ourselves.
The following is a list of some of the challenges you might meet along the way. See if you are able to identify which ones may be true for you and your partner. Then consider if you might benefit from some counseling to create a tool box from which to build your strong foundation.
*Coming out to your families
*Ex’s as friends
*Sex and Intimacy
Life will present you with many challenges as you journey together in marriage; some you will expect, others will catch you off guard. A good marriage is not one that has no challenges, it is one in which both partners are willing to be vulnerable, accountable, flexible and open to seeing such challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. When this happens we become more connected, more intimate and stronger as a couple.
I encourage you and your partner to begin a dialogue about these topics and begin examining not just your similarities and differences but your ability to communicate about them. Good communication will be one of the most important tools in your toolbox.
Please feel free to contact me with any ideas, suggestions or comments, or for assistance in your relationship.