As the “Family” counselor in Dallas, and as someone who is a native and openly gay Texan, I am completely aware that for individuals, couples & families in the LGBT community, the holidays can bring about a unique kind of stress. A stress around who your family wishes you were (and in some cases thinks that you are) and who you really are.
This stress can bring up a lot of conflict, both with your family of origin and your family of choice. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve had a significant number of people in this community come into my office trying to work out this very conundrum. I’ve taken that experience and combined it with some personal experiences of my own, to develop a few simple tips for you to try over the holiday season.
These tips will each get their own blogpost over the coming days. I hope they’re helpful for you, and if you have any questions, input or comments, feel free to comment here or email me at Rebekka@DallasRainbowCounseling.com
Tip 1. Know exactly what you want:
I had a couple in my office last November, and one of them was feeling hurt by his spouse’s family never inviting him to family holiday events. It was clear to both of them that the reason he was never included was because the family didn’t approve of their relationship, and didn’t accept them as they accepted the straight couples in the family.
The first question I asked both of them before we went anywhere else was this:
“What would you like to have happen instead?”
And then I got as many details about their preferred future as I could. The reason that I asked that question first, is because whether or not their family will EVER look and act as accepting as they might hope, it was extremely important to know exactly how they envisioned a happy holiday season as a couple. Getting these details gave us a clear destination that we could then measure movement towards as we moved forward.
So, if you are feeling a bit anxious about the pending holidays, the very first thing that I would advise both you and your partner to do, is clarify for yourselves what your vision of a happy holiday season would be, so that you are both aware of exactly what you want, and on the same page with it.
Tip #2 coming your way on Wednesday the 9th.
Getting into the spirit already,
Rebekka Ouer, LCSW