Today I wanted to talk about couples and relationships. The pandemic tested a lot of them, am I right? Across the board, similarities between various types of relationships, whether poly, monogamous, queer or heterosexual, most people desire better communication, creating shared meaning or values with one another -- meaning what is the goal of the couple together -- and navigating personal differences. Most people want to feel more supported, committed, and understood.
Gottman did a 12 year study that focused on 21 gay and 21 lesbian couples, which is remarkable because there isn’t a whole lot of research out there for the LGBTQ community in relationships. What they found is that lesbian and gay couples used more humor and kindness during conflict than hetero couples. They used fewer hostile and controlling emotional tactics, and there was greater fairness and power sharing among couples.
This shows that maybe hetero couples could learn a thing or two from queer relationships!
However, queer relationships do face specific barriers and obstacles that heterosexual couples don’t face. Sometimes there’s difficulty with acceptance within themselves or from their community, family or friends. There are higher rates of discrimination or prejudice. Sometimes there are worries about concealing the relationship; maybe one or more partners are in the closet. There are higher rates of internalized shame and guilt. There are varying comfort levels with emotional intimacy. All of these things create a higher vulnerability to relationship stress.
That’s where I can come in. It’s really important to tailor the therapy experience to highlight these very specific needs. Whether you’re wanting to work on communication and creating shared meaning, or you’re wanting to focus on specific needs and issues, this couples therapy experience is a great thing to explore.
If what I said to today interests you or is relevant to you, give me a call. I look forward to working with you.
Coriann is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving adults, teens, and couples virtually throughout California.
Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.