How Gay Couples Counseling Can Help

As same-sex marriage becomes more accepted and common, an increasing amount of research is being done. Early findings suggest that gay male couples get divorced at roughly the same rate as heterosexual couples. The lesbian rate may be higher than both.

While more work is being done, some basic truths are becoming apparent. To start, it’s a good thing that same-sex couples are gaining more rights. However, there is no reason to romanticize them by assuming higher success rates. When it comes to maintaining a healthy, happy relationship, there is no value in making any such assumptions. Whatever your sexual orientation, you and your partner must be willing to put forth the effort and seek help when you need it.

Couples are Couples…Right?

While, of course, there are some commonalities between couples of any gender, same-sex marriages involve some unique factors. For example, and generally speaking, heterosexuals who are moving into a committed relationship are doing something that is highly expected of them. Quite often, they are encouraged and supported by others in joining their lives together. Gay couples are often composed of two individuals who have had to deal with the massive challenge of coming out. In some cases, this may be their first “public” relationship.

Consider just a few factors at play here:

  • Gender expectations
  • Family reactions
  • Workplace acceptance or lack thereof
  • Even some therapists may be ill-prepared to address the many nuances involved

Additionally, same-sex couples are dealing with plenty of standard couple issues too. These may be related to finances, starting a family, where to live, social circles, and so on.

Even more challenging is the fact that they are likely managing intense general social dynamics simultaneously as well. For this reason alone, gay-specific couples counseling can serve as a much-needed safe space for both partners.

Some Sample Factors to Consider During Same-Sex Couples Therapy

Sex Life

Same-sex couples deal with many of the same types of sexual issues as heterosexual couples. Some examples might be:

  • Monogamous or non-monogamous lifestyles
  • Masturbation
  • Pornography
  • Sexual dysfunction problems
  • Dealing with past sexual trauma
  • What constitutes infidelity?
  • Sex roles
  • Public displays of affection: yes or no?

Of course, that last factor often leads to more complex issues. It highlights how gay couples may deal with similar topics but must do so from an entirely different lens.

Outdated Norms

Overall, any couples counselor would be well-served not to assume, for example, that a woman is more in touch with her emotions while a male is apt to deny his feelings. Of course, this is easier said than done. Our cultural conditioning has drilled stereotypes into our heads. Even a skilled therapist is not fully immune.

Ironically, working with same-sex couples can be a wonderful catalyst for shelving archaic perceptions. All parties involved are granted room to explore and reimagine what it means to be a man or woman in love. Society still holds to its black-and-white expectations of men and women but reality, deeper connection, and  peace of mind often dwell in the grey area.

What to Expect During Same-Sex Couples Therapy

Neutral Mediation

Therapists don’t “take sides.” They also don’t work as your referee. Rather, the experience involves creating space for what’s hidden to come to light — without bias or agenda.

Your Patterns will be Challenged

Couples of all stripes fall into behavior patterns. Many such patterns are counterproductive. Be ready to have those patterns exposed, analyzed, and addressed for the better good of both partners.


There is perpetual trial and error involved in all relationships. As your counselor gets to know you both, they can provide you with applicable homework. New approaches must be tried and then discussed in order to access their usefulness.

Gay-Affirmative Perspectives

You and your partner come to therapy expecting to be questioned. Just as important, you are encouraged to ask your own questions of the counselor to make certain they are in synch with your lifestyle and your needs.

Seeking the support of a specially trained and experienced therapist will afford you and your partner nonjudgmental support in a space created for exploring and strengthening your relationship.