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GAY COUPLES: Expectations vs. Reality
As well as the effects of open or institutionalised homophobia in society, many gay couples experience great stress when everyday supports are missing from their lives; these might include familial, religious, economic, or social support. Lacking such supports combined with the stress of living as members of a minority, can all put pressure on the relationship. The effects of internalised homophobia from your background or upbringing. This may include unacknowledged feelings of shame or ingrained messages that you are not normal. The issues concerning having children via adoption or artificial insemination. Getting clear about your roles in the relationship, boundaries and commitment. This may include looking at the differences between same-sex and heterosexual relationships. Coming out to friends, family and at work. Coping with homophobia from friends, family, or society as a whole. Feelings of isolation which may surface, or the lack of a sense of community to support you How Relationship Counselling Helps Same-Sex Couples Despite advances in equality, heterosexism still plays a big part in our society. Will this counsellor accept that my relationship is normal? They understand your challenges and will meet you with the same acceptance and non-judgement as they do all their clients. In the first instance, relationship counselling for gay couples gives you a safe, non-judgemental and supportive environment in which to explore your relationship, its patterns and dynamics and to express how you feel. Counselling where a couple works with an un-biased counsellor opens up channels of communication between you, encourages honesty, creates greater understanding, brings a feeling of really being heard and fosters deepening intimacy. You can also look at how your sexuality, and the ways you learnt to accept it and be gay, now influence your relationship. In same-sex relationships having the same gender can help couples have a high level of initial rapport and understanding and to connect and merge deeply with each other. Also, years hiding their sexuality or believing they must be alone, perhaps forever, can all add to the emotional intensity of at last finding someone. The early stage of the relationship can be a wonderful high. In addition, each partner may have done different amounts of coming to terms with their sexuality. How open and expressive one partner is of their sexuality may be in conflict with that of their partner. Or there may be difficulties with being close, with one partner longing for the safety of closeness and feeling held and recognised and the other finding closeness suffocating. This may be particularly so if closeness brings back memories of the years in the closet, when closeness came at the price of having to hide, pretend or being rejected by others. On top of this there may be all kinds of more general difficulties you may be facing, such as one partner wanting more independence and the other seeing this as uncaring or feeling abandoned. One partner may want to talk and express themselves even when this leads to conflict, and the other may find conflict highly distressing and seek to pacify or placate, wanting harmony at all times. Relationship Counselling helps you acknowledge the truth of what is really happening for you both. You can then look at causes and influences now and in the past and the resulting painful emotions which lie unhealed beneath the surface of relationship problems. Counselling also brings in a broader perspective, where you can get clear about the effects of historical and present prejudice, and the influence they have on how you relate to each other. Through counselling, old feelings of alienation, isolation, or fear, can be acknowledged and lessened or contained, and new ways of meeting these challenges together can be discovered. Strengths of Emotion Focused Therapy: EFT is one of two most well-substantiated therapies validated by over 20 years of empirical research. It is an effective therapy for couples with sexual abuse histories, depression, grief, management of chronic illness, eating disorders, and PTSD. EFT is equally effective across cultures, with same-sex couples and with educated or less educated couples. EFT is brief therapy between sessions, depending on couple history and length of relationship. Clients report that five things happened in therapy that made things better for them: At ARM we see couples that are struggling or fighting in their adult love relationships as they attempt to stay connected to each other. Unfortunately, this sometimes drives them further apart. We can help you to be closer to each other and love in a way that neither rejects or attack.
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