EDGE Blogs ::

Gay Marriage Becomes More Accepted. But Proceed With Caution!

by Vince Pellegrino

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday July 12, 2011

Victory has been declared in the fight for marriage equality in the wonderful state of New York. Now gay marriage is legal in six states: including Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and the District of Columbia. Some other states recognize civil unions with the possibility of passing future gay marriage legalization.

This was a clear victory for marriage equality advocates and those desiring their committed relationship be recognized as a marriage and not simply a civil union or commitment. But with this new legislation being passed and with most of the same rights being afforded to the heterosexual community now being afforded to the GLBT community, so too arrive some potential perils.

While I personally view marriage as a wonderful step in truly acknowledging the love between two people who want to create a life together for the rest of their lives, one must also consider the possibility of the marriage having its own set of problems -- similar but, not unlike heterosexual couples.

There aren't many reliable statistics on long-term gay relationships, although many gay relationships have lasted for years, equaling heterosexual marriages (if not surpassing them, considering the divorce statistics these days). According to one article, "Homosexuals and Same Sex Marriage," "Monogamy, meaning long-term sexual fidelity, is rare in GLB relationships, particularly among gay men. One study reported that 66 percent of gay couples reported sex outside of the relationship within the first year, and nearly 90 percent if the relationship lasted five years."

As presented in my previous article on "Love, Sex, and Dating," I mentioned an interpersonal relationship scale called the "Stages of Coming Together," where the Bonding Stage is the last stage, in which a couple decides to consummate the relationship. Marriage has become a expected outcome, thanks to legislation here and in many nations, such as Canada and the Netherlands. In fact, the marriage ceremony becomes the official and most public recognition of a couple's love and commitment to one another.

I enjoyed that beautiful public recognition of my love for my then-lover, Rick, when we participated in a commitment ceremony in my backyard in Connecticut. Present were 110 of our closest friends and family members. That day still remains one of the most wonderful and even magical moments in my life and still continues to bring a smile to my face.

Unfortunately, my partner and I split up some five years later, following a very unsuccessful retail business venture where all of the expenses were my personal responsibility to the point of near bankruptcy. My partner assumed no debt and even demanded a salary to work at the business.

In hindsight, I realized that if we were legally married, he would have been able to also secure half my assets unless he was willing to sign a prenuptial agreement. And for that possibility alone, I am sadly grateful that there was no legalization for gay marriage at that time. For I know I would have impetuously signed those papers with little to no thought of its potential financial outcome, as I did when signing a personal guarantee for the lease to the store.

Today, I welcome the chance to meet a new partner with whom to share my life and perhaps even to marry. But prior to considering marriage, I pray that I do not allow any romantic fervor to cause rash decisions which I fully own up to being guilty of in the past. I hope I have the maturity to take the necessary time to get to know and trust my future husband before walking down the aisle.

Alice Walker once wrote, "I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all of my heart." That too is my hope for my future and for all of you as well. And to all of you who plan to take that important step to wedded (I hope!) bliss, I give you sincere blessings and wish for a long and happy future together in love with clear communication and sensibility. And the sense to know when to call it quits if it doesn't work.

Dr. Vince Pellegrino has PhDs in educational theater and drama therapy from New York University and is a board-certified psychotherapist in New York City and Connecticut. He teaches communications at Hofstra University. He is currently working on a book, "Gay Communication Game," about "Gayspeak"; an interactive TV program featuring real-time therapy sessions in development. Go to Dr. Vince TV for more information.