LGBTQIA+ Couples Counseling & Therapy
LGBTQ Couples Counseling in Chicago
All relationships face tough times, but same-sex couples deal with additional layers of complexity. Learn why finding a couples counselor with experience in LGBTQ relationships is important for you and your relationship.
How to Approach LGBTQ Couples Counseling
No matter who you love, love is tough. In relationships, we constantly contend with our differences. We need to learn how to compromise. We have to forgive and be forgiven. Despite all the rewards of being in a relationship, it’s also a lot to juggle. And, while same-sex couples face all of the same hardships and rewards as heterosexual couples, they also confront additional layers of complexity.
Even as same-sex marriage and progressive family values become more ubiquitous, LGBTQ people still face oppression, discrimination, and alienation. In this article, we’ll walk through how same-sex couples can confront strains on their relationship—from common relationship conflicts to unique LGBTQ challenges—with couples counseling.
The Unique Challenges of LGBTQ Couples
Discrimination at home, school, work, or in your community, in general, is traumatic. While the severity of these experiences varies, it truly impacts your relationship with yourself and others. Discrimination and homophobia can lower self-esteem, decrease your perception of self-worth, and may lead to feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, and depression.
All these feelings and manifestations of trauma also strain relationships. While being in a relationship can be an incredible pillar of strength, the effects of trauma on both parties can also be trying. You don’t have to weather these alone. Whether you talk to a counselor on your own or together, it’s completely normal and encouraged to seek support.
Next Steps in the Relationship
Society has set out a distinct set of “steps” or “stages” for heterosexual relationships. However, same-sex couples often need to take extra steps to determine what’s next for their relationship. Even as social norms changed and same-sex marriage became legal across the United States, LGBTQ couples may still find themselves asking:
- What’s the next step in our relationship or commitment to one another?
- Should we get married?
- Should we have an open or closed relationship?
- What does it take to make this work?
Whether you and your partner want to decide on your next step or how to move forward, couples counseling can help. You can attend premarital counseling, discernment counseling, or participate in individual sessions to work out these important decisions.
Coming Out and Being Out
If each individual’s “out” status is different, this can be one of the most trying challenges for LGBTQ couples. Their out status with their family, co-workers, friends, or the broader community may be different. It can be exceptionally tenuous for a couple in which one individual is out and the other is not. One person may feel hurt and resentful of the partner who hides their relationship because they are not out yet. On the other hand, the partner who hasn’t told friends and family, may feel pressured to come out before they’re ready to do so.
On an individual level, coming out is a highly personal experience that can result in relief, a trauma, or a mixture of the two. Adding this to a relationship can be challenging. However, with open communication, commitment, and a strong support system this is something you can get through. Talking to a couples counselor with experience in LGBTQ or same-sex couples challenges, specifically, can be especially important for couples going through different stages of the out process.
If you’re looking for a relationship, read why it’s recommended to be with someone who is equally closeted or out.
Ambiguous Gender-Based Expectations
Whether we agree with it or not, society ingrains us with gender-based expectations in relationships. Heterosexual couples grapple with these norms too, but LGBTQ couples may face even more tension with gender roles at home or in a relationship. If you and your partner find yourself in conflict over societal gender norms, try to be aware of why certain situations make you or your partner uncomfortable, resentful, or angry. Then, discuss these with a couples counselor.
It’s also important that you discuss roles together and come up with your own rules. In fact, this is an amazing opportunity to strengthen your relationship! Because roles are not necessarily assigned by the expectations set in a “traditional” home, you and your partner can discuss roles based on your interests, time, or intentions, and build what works best for both of you.
“Families of Choice” — Establishing Family Life in Non-Traditional Circumstances
Because same-sex couples may face a lack of support from family, colleagues, religious communities, or other social circles, they often need to construct “families of choice.” This means building an adequate social network that develops as a chosen family. Coupled with a feeling of alienation from what should be a strong support network from one’s family and social circle, creating “families of choice” can make a big difference for a couple.
LGBTQ relationships are also like any other relationship
Ultimately, any relationship has its own challenges. And, like all relationships, you may also grapple with:
- Communication and conflict
- Finding a gratifying sex life
- Developing a happy and stable family life
Fortunately, what makes a relationship strong and resilient is the same no matter who is involved. Individuals in a relationship seek:
- Attention to the relationship
- A good sex life
- Strong and open communication
- Ability to compromise
- Respect and trust
How Same-Sex Couples Counseling Can Help Your Relationship
While LGBTQ couples possess unique challenges to grapple with, they also have unique strengths! With a couples counselor experienced in LGBTQ relationships, you will uncover the important relationship skills you and your partner need to leverage your strengths and build a resilient relationship.
- Get LGBTQ Dating and Relationship Tips
- Learn more about Couples Counseling Associates
- Learn about individual counseling sessions
- Find the right couples counselor
- Read about marriage conflict, fights, and their effects on children
- Sign up for the Couples Counseling email list for helpful relationship tips
Our experienced associates can help you and your partner:
- Work through the unique challenges of same-sex and LGBTQ relationships
- Come to a mutual understanding of the next steps in your relationship
- Become better, more open communicators
- Learn how to de-escalate and mitigate conflict
- Build a strong, stable, and resilient relationship that lasts
More Resources for You and Your Partner
In our efforts to bring value to your life, or if you are not in the Chicago area, Couples Counseling Associates has developed a series of lessons that could have a major impact on effectively improving your relationship. We encourage you to dive into the series and discover how these resources can benefit you and your partner.
Remember, it’s the positive habits we develop that guarantee us success in all areas of our lives. Discover the seven healthy habits that improve relationships or get in touch with us to learn more about Couples Counseling Associates.