5 Ways To Prepare Yourself For Marriage

So you did it….you took the plunge and decided to get married.  It’s a big step, and realizing you are soon going to be married to your partner for the rest of your life (let’s hope!) can feel overwhelming. Marriage is a commitment, so these feelings are normal.  The good news is, there are a few simple guidelines you can follow in order to prepare yourself for this momentous step.

 

1.     Live together first, or at least live together for some extended periods (long weekends or weeks) in advance of getting married. Let’s face it, the marriage itself is sort of just a label, symbolizing your joining and commitment to one another. It’s the actual joining of your households that can feel more like a shock to the system. If you’ve already lived together first, or know what it’s like to share the same bedroom, then it won’t feel so shocking when the U-haul pulls up.

2.     Have a conversation about what marriage means to each of you.  This will help you and your partner feel like you’re on the same page, and that the reasons for getting married, anxieties, fears, hopes, etc. are all out there and being discussed. That way, you aren’t entering into something with as much anxiety, because you’ve discussed the things that could come up, and you and your partner aren’t alone in this.

3.     Get your own personal affairs and finances in order. You may have been used to being single for a long time.  You never had to answer to another person or needed to know exactly what assets you have, what money is in what account, how much credit card debt you REALLY have. Since two are soon to become one, it may make sense for you to survey your financial situation, and make note of what you really have (debt, assets, etc.) so that you can be transparent about all that. This will help ease the anxiety of merging your life with that of your partner.

4.     Talk to an accountant or financial planner. An extension of Number 3, it could help to talk to an accountant before the wedding about what might make sense for you and your spouse to be after you get hitched. Your tax situation may change, and it might even make sense to share benefits.  Getting expert advice on this can be useful so that you’re not figuring out all of this yourselves. These are often complicated issues, so give it over to someone who understands the nuts and bolts.

5.     Breathe, stay present, and enjoy the ride.   I personally believe that your spiritual and physical health is just as important (or more) than figuring out your financial situation.  You want to enter into this new phase in a good place, without fear, feeling as settled as you can.  You should take extra time to do things for yourself that keep you calm, from meditation to exercise to allowing for good quality sleep. You’ll do no service to your partner in marriage if you haven’t first taken care of yourself. You’ll be much more equipped to join in love on good solid ground, if you take care of yourself. Marriage isn’t two halves joining together to make a whole, but two wholes that have chosen to spend their lives together.  Nurture yourself so you are whole and complete before joining, and enjoy the journey. 

How Group Therapy Can Benefit LGBT Patients

How Group Can Benefit LGBT Patients      

 

Growing up as a young gay person in suburban California and then Savannah, Georgia, I felt utterly alone. I felt that my only chance for survival was to hide my identity as a gay person in order to fit into society and be accepted.  I had no gay role models, no gay friends, and no openly gay family members.  Coming out freed me and allowed me the chance to be who I was, but I still found it very difficult to connect with people, especially with other gay men. Entering adulthood, I simply didn’t know how to connect in a healthy way, and constantly worried about rejection or lack of acceptance.

Only when I began my journey in LGBT group therapy did I begin to be able to observe how I felt in the presence of gay men in a healthy environment. I began to work through my impulse to shut down around others, and my debilitating fear of intimacy and the risks that accompany it. I started to develop a positive sense of myself as seen through the eyes of my peers, and a new sense of connection and community with other gay men began to emerge.

Group provided me a setting where I felt safe enough to slowly “come out” as my authentic self, and I began to allow myself to be “seen”. The power of this holds no bounds, especially as a boy who felt invisible growing up in a heterosexist and homophobic culture and family, and had very little or no mirroring as a gay man.

Going through this process with other gay men was especially healing. In some way or another, these other men had gone through some version of what I had gone through, and that common experience was binding.  Group therapy gives us and our patients the ability to notice reactions they might have to others, some positive and some negative, and helps us understand where these reactions might be coming from. It also allows us to realize the power of choice they might have over their reactions, or even their feelings. Group also gives patients the platform to try as best as they can to identify and express their feelings, and be heard, something that is often difficult for many LGBT folks who literally had to suppress feelings to survive.

We live in a world of relationships and interacting with others.  As a therapist working in this field, I now regularly bring up the topic of group therapy with my patients when the time is right.  If I didn’t, I would feel as though I was withholding something of great value to them. Although individual therapy is so essential, I have grown to realize that group therapy can be just as powerful, or possibly even more so.  Many gay men didn’t have a sense of belonging, or a healthy opportunity to develop naturally as their true selves in relation to others.  They therefore especially need and deserve the healing power of group therapy.