At least in California, we are finally equal in all areas of the law and that cannot be understated. I believe this will have a healing effect on gay and lesbian people who have felt marginalized by society all their lives
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) May 20, 2008
As lesbian and gay couples plan their summer weddings, many therapists argue that premarital counseling should be part of those plans. "Premarital counseling helps couples slow down and be conscious about their decision-- helping them to determine what marriage will mean for their relationships," says San Francisco Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Michael Halyard.
Counseling can also help couples improve communication, deepen intimacy, and improve patterns of relating. "Relationship skills are learned, and often we are pre-programmed by our family of origin how to relate, without consciously making conscious choices about our behavior," explains Halyard.
Michel Halyard, MFT is the former Vice-President of Gaylesta, the Bay Area Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) therapist organization, and specializes in LGBT mental health issues in his private practice. He also runs the website SFtherapy.com.
"Of the couples that plan on getting married, some have been together for many years or even decades and already know what they're getting into. But for others, they may not have been together that long, and may not truly know each other. For them, premarital counseling is essential. It is an investment to protect the relationship," says Halyard. "Counseling is also helpful for couples contemplating other changes in their relationships, like having children."
"Lesbians and gay men are famous for rushing into commitments. Getting married for political reasons--although laudable--is not a recipe for longevity. It's important to know yourself, know your partner, and be realistic about how serious marriage is. Don't forget that marriage is a huge commitment--it's a whole lot easier to get into then get out of," cautions Halyard.
Some same-sex couples are expected to spend lavishly on their weddings but Halyard warns not to ignore the relationship itself.
"If couples designate just a fraction of their wedding budget on premarital counseling, it could go a long way to ensure them living 'happily ever after.' 'Happily ever after' means partners taking an active role in healing their spouses, rather than re-injuring them in unconscious patterns," explains Halyard.
Although the recently expanded rights under the domestic partnership laws have gotten closer to marriage, Halyard says allowing same-sex marriage changes everything for lesbians and gay men.
"At least in California, we are finally equal in all areas of the law and that cannot be understated. I believe this will have a healing effect on gay and lesbian people who have felt marginalized by society all their lives," predicts Halyard.
"I'm just happy I finally have a credential that I'm proud of. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, and as an intern before, I felt insulted that the name of my license discriminated against my community. Now I'm looking forward to doing marriage therapy with lesbian and gay couples," adds Halyard.
About Michael Halyard
Michael Halyard, MS, MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and specializes in LGBT issues in his private practice. He runs the web site SFtherapy.com. He is a former Vice President of Gaylesta, the LGBT psychotherapist organization for the Bay Area.