The Healthy Gay Marriage

The contemporary objective for gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage is to create a healthy gay marriage in what has been until now a largely heterosexual institution. Before delving into this topic it is important for interested readers to realize that some gay persons have been living as ‘married’ couples long before gay marriage became legalized.

These individuals created a commitment to ‘marry’ based solely upon a ‘promise’ of love. This commitment of love as the true foundation of marriage is available to any two persons in love regardless of gender.

In this post I will explore the various psychological issues that can interfere with or complicate a homosexual marriage at this point in the history of our society. The first is the continued existence of ‘closet thinking‘ in some gay and lesbian persons. This basically means that some gay people are still ‘hiding’ the facts of their homosexuality to avoid some perceived threat.

Closeted individuals are usually expecting some kind of rejection or negative judgment if they are discovered to be homosexuals by heterosexual persons in their personal and work lives. The bigger danger being the judgment the individual is passing on him or herself.

It should be pretty obvious that a closeted gay person would have significant difficulty being in a committed love and married. There is a certain amount of freedom required to be in love. In love you have to be able to be yourself in a relationship, to give and receive love openly without conflicts.

Many people come out of closets (assuming there are all kinds of closets) when they have to. It’s common for a person to outgrow a closet and experience a crisis making the transition into more public acknowledgment. Making this change is difficult at first until you realize how limited closeted living really was and how unrealistic the fears are.

Most ‘closet liberations’ result in better love-lives, more freedom of thought, feeling, and action, as well as a better sense of self. All qualities that make for a better spouse.

Next on our list of issues that interfere with a healthy gay marriage are the negative beliefs some gay persons have about the stability and durability (otherwise endurance) of gay love relationships. They think of gay love relationships as short-term, overly sexed (or physical), and for the most part turbulent. Descriptions like loving, committed, loyal, and long-term are unexpected by these individuals.

Promiscuity is the norm with multiple partners. The troubling part is the potential for a self-fulfilling prophesy and possibility these beliefs are defending against underlying fears.

I have come to understand that there is a certain creative power involved in the act of believing something. Even more so if you are convinced that something is true. If you don’t expect much from a gay love relationship, chances are you won’t get much from any gay love relationship you find. Now the reason for this could be as simple as finding the same lovers who can’t or won’t commit over and over again.

Or you could be so convinced the relationship will go bad, that the relationship is pretty much engineered to fall apart. However it goes, the underlying expectation of limitation and trouble is at work creating the difficulty you are so convinced will happen.

Some people I have treated kept their ‘gay relations’ specifically to sexual encounters with anonymous men or women. Otherwise they stayed to themselves or kept heterosexual relationships going in public while practicing anonymous homosexual encounters in private. Some insisting on leaving town to relieve sexual tensions ‘more safely’ with anonymous lovers somewhere else.

Obviously this kind of fearful and fragmented love-life would surely interfere with deepening intimacy. Jumping from anonymous sexual encounters to a public love relationship or marriage will certainly be a difficult transition but not impossible.

Whatever fallout is expected if a homosexual love-life becomes visible to friends, family, and work relationships never turns out to be as bad as expected. Of course, you’ll get a chance to find out who can really love and accept you as you. Always an important project in life for everybody.

Regarding the family of origin, as a gay person you’ve probably had a difficult time finding the acknowledgment and support you needed in your family. Most gay persons I have treated over the years have their ‘war stories’ about rejecting family members who criticized them for any kind of visible homosexual behavior.

Given the importance of the family as the place and people you are supposed to learn the most about ‘love’ from while growing up, this kind of experience can be very painful to say the least. It’s understandable why their viewpoints and reactions would be the hardest to ‘unload.’

If you were brought up believing that homosexuality is a ‘sickness’ or ‘aberrant’ behavior, this obviously won’t make being a married person any easier. In fact, it’s this kind of negative learning experience that creates the conflicts that interfere with a stable married life. Devoting a little time, energy, and possibly resources to figuring out what you’ve learned about homosexuality over the years can help you focus on what to ‘let go of’ in preparation for marriage.

Last on my list of things that can interfere with a healthy gay marriage is the dose of homophobia that every gay person has consumed growing up in this culture. Our heterosexual society has feared and misunderstood the emergence of homosexuality as a free alternate lifestyle until very recently. The ‘liberated homosexual’ has been very threatening to people uncertain of their own developing identities.

As an adult gay person living openly, you have to ask yourself to what extent you are still afraid. Afraid of what, you’ll ask? Just afraid. Afraid because you had reasons to be years ago. Afraid because you can still remember the closet you spent time in. Afraid because you still see the fear in some other people even today. Afraid because it’s irrational and doesn’t make sense that you should continue to be.

As with all fears, the more visible we make them, the more easily they can be analyzed in the light of day. As the first generation of gay persons to marry legally, your objective is to dispel the interferences and complications to gay marriage for yourself and the next generations of people who will be free to marry regardless of gender. And to show the heterosexual society you live in that being married as a gay person is no different than being married, period.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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