Tuesday, July 23

Is the Cost of Gay Couples Therapy Justifiable?

Playing the part of a devoted partner made me feel constrained and compelled throughout the first fifteen years of my dating life. I was frustrated because I didn’t know why I was losing my identity, my dreams, and my sense of self. Everything that made me, me, appeared to be sucked out of the vacuum that was dating.

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I often had the impression that my partners were pressuring me to change who I was or how I did things. I could never be enough to satisfy the man-of-the-moment in this situation.

When I first started dating in 2005, I believed that couples therapy was only for those in marriage. It wasn’t intended for boyfriends who were in committed relationships.

But as I approached my thirtyth birthday, I became aware that I was turning off excellent men as well! I was terrified of getting old, but not quite as much as I was afraid of being a lousy spouse and maybe dying alone.

I at last understood that I required expert assistance.

I was a complete mess when I walked into the couples and relationship therapy clinic for the first time. My house in relationships was a chaos!

I started reassembling my gifts, streamlining my routines, and arranging my identity over time. I immediately started establishing reasonable expectations and boundaries. My self-assurance that I was in good health increased. I hadn’t yet explored the depths of who I was in relationships, despite having done a lot of effort to understand who I was.

It was time for me to tend to my relationship after making sure I could take care of myself.

I used to think that being in a relationship meant having my spouse happy until I started couple’s therapy. I would suppress my opinions, stifle my dreams, and give in to my cravings. And when I wasn’t hiding who I was, I was attempting to be extraordinary. I reasoned that a nice automobile, a successful profession, and designer clothing would make my partner happy. My goal was to become the enigmatic arm candy that all eyes were drawn to.

Couples counseling undoubtedly assisted me in seeing the extent to which I had transformed intimate relationships into a show.

My partner and I were excited and anxious as we sat in our therapist’s office. There, I discovered that the actions I had previously labeled as controlling were actually my partner’s desires that I mature, speak clearly, and voice my unfiltered opinions. I started to peel away the layers that shielded me from vulnerability and prevented me from seeing the freeing power of close relationships.

On the sofa of my therapist, I first observed something that, in my experience as a couple’s counselor, I see in many of my clients: a common concern within the LGBTQIA+ community is that, despite being deeply in love with someone else, the ideal partner may be around the corner. We’ve taught ourselves to believe that someone else is out there waiting for us, someone with a more attractive smile, a more loving heart, a lively personality, or a flawless body. In the end, we are afraid of commitment because it might mean that we would miss out on the chance to meet this idealized, unrealized person.

Lower Line

Every relationship is difficult, messy, and demanding. We’ll never find a spouse or partners with flawless character or impeccable history. Every one of us has exquisite imperfections.

Despite our flaws, I think that relationships—especially close ones—are where we grow the most because they allow us to be completely ourselves. Our biggest fears, long-standing grudges, deepest desires, and longest goals are all sparked by relationships. Our relationships serve as the training grounds where we hone our abilities, fortify our fortitude, and ultimately become skilled fighters. Our partners have first row seats even though our relationship skill is on show for all of our friends and family to see. You didn’t believe that you were at odds with your spouse, did you? We confront ourselves when it comes to relationships.

My spouse has listened to me express my inner stories of guilt, insufficiency, and insecurity. He developed so that he could affirm me with deeds as well as words as I grew to mend these voices. My spouse is irreplaceable because he has witnessed me fight the deepest personal struggles and has purposefully evolved to be his own person in order for me to feel totally safe, accepted, and loved by him.

Hopefully, I’ve been the same for him.

We saw couples counseling as more than just teaching us how to talk to each other and resolve conflicts. It was about developing emotional and relational stability so that we could build the relational house together that enables us to coexist in complete authenticity and belonging. After a few years, our time in couple’s therapy has shown to be well worth the effort.

It’s never too late to ask for help if you need it, and it’s never too early to begin creating a relational home if you need assistance with relationships or being a healthy spouse. Believe me!