Marriage, Diversity & Relationships 

By 10th March 2016Blog, Featured

Since March 2014 same sex marriage has been lawful in the UK and it would appear that civil ceremonies are more likely than religious ceremonies. Although the arguments against same sex relationships within the church are lessening, there is still strong opinion against this. The Office for National Statistics has advised that in England and Wales, between March 29th and June 30th 2014, there were 1409 same sex marriages, of which 796 (or 56%) were female couples. The law in Scotland is due to be changed similarly but Northern Ireland is likely to have a referendum on the issue later this year, having already rejected the proposal on three previous occasions. Same sex marriage is, hopefully, here to stay, and it is my opinion that our society is a better place for it.  Other countries are not so fortunate: Australia, for instance, legalised it and then repealed the legislation within a very short time. I am not a religious person myself but I have experienced religious objections against same sex marriage, in the same manner that I have experienced discrimination against the transgender community. However why should a particular section of society, admittedly a small one, be further discriminated against because of the history of the two participants? A loving couple who wish to celebrate and make public their love and commitment to each other should surely be a positive statement for anyone to see.

I recently attended a wedding which demonstrated to me the wide diversity in age, sexual preference and gender identity which is possible in England today. This was a civil marriage, not a civil partnership, which was all that would have been available to them before the end of March this year. The marriage was between two women, with an additional element of added diversity, in that they were both originally identified as male at birth, but both had successfully transitioned to become the women they should always have been.

The congregation was a mixture of young and old, gay and straight, married and single, with an additional sprinkling of transgendered women in various stages of their transitional journey. In short, it was not a typical, classical wedding ceremony. There was no best man, no bridesmaids or pageboys, no hymns or organ music – in fact the music was modern jazz and blues. To those looking on, though, it was a normal, happy wedding just like any other. Those present, who knew the history of the two brides, were aware just how different this occasion was for the couple, each having dealt with a unique journey to reach this happy milestone in their lives.

I hope they continue for a very long time to ride the crest of the wave of happiness which bore them along that day.  Yet all relationships will undoubtedly have some difficulties in time and this is where relationship therapy can be of benefit. It may not be an issue of a sexual nature; it can be as simple as a lack of understanding due to poor communication between two people. The fact that this particular couple is lesbian and transgendered does not, in my opinion, increase the likelihood of relationship problems. Diversity within a couple’s relationship is not a problem in itself, yet marriage brings with it responsibilities and a change in dynamic between the couple that may not have been previously anticipated. They will, of course, be just as likely to have financial, family or work-related problems as any ‘normal’ heterosexual couple, and these can be dealt with appropriately by any qualified therapist.

However, if such a couple were to have problems of a sexual or relationship nature, then it would be preferable for them to seek specialist help because of the complexities of their personal histories. Relationship and sexual therapy is a specialised field and clients who feel that this type of therapy would be beneficial, either individually or as a couple, should seek help from an appropriately qualified therapist. Organisations, such as The College of Sex and Relationship Therapists (COSRT), will be able to help in finding a suitable therapist.