An Interview with Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D.

Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman has been an advocate for same-sex {couples} since lengthy earlier than marriage equality. She and her husband, John Gottman, have spent greater than thirty years serving to {couples}, each straight and homosexual, create and keep larger love and well being of their relationships.

As a self-identified feminist who is worried with problems with social justice, Julie was keen to check homosexuality at a time when homosexual women and men had been thought-about damaged or deviant. While she was pursuing her Ph.D. in scientific psychology within the early 1980s, she grew to become conscious of the best way through which homosexual and lesbian mother and father had been discriminated in opposition to in little one custody circumstances. These mother and father usually misplaced custody throughout divorce proceedings as a result of they had been assumed to be unfit.

“It was a nightmare,” Julie says. “The children would be taken away and given to alcoholic mothers or fathers, drug addicts, grandparents, uncles and aunts—anybody other than the gay or lesbian parent.”

Judges at the moment made rulings based mostly on assumptions about what would occur if youngsters had been raised by a homosexual or lesbian mother or father—specifically, that the kid would develop up homosexual or gender-confused (which was thought-about dangerous)—despite the fact that there was no analysis to again up these assumptions.

“This was a travesty of justice,” Julie says. “And being a nice Jewish girl, I’m very interested in justice in general and persecution in particular.”

Julie carried out the world’s first controlled study on youngsters being raised within the properties of lesbian mothers. Her analysis checked out how daughters raised by their organic lesbian mothers after a divorce turned out, as in comparison with daughters of divorce who had been raised by heterosexual single mothers or re-mated mothers who discovered new male companions.

“What I found is there were no differences in sexual orientation between three groups of daughters, no differences in gender identity, and in social adjustment also no significant differences,” Julie says.

The solely development she noticed was that daughters raised in two-parent households, both homosexual or straight, had a stronger sense of well-being and safety on the earth in comparison with these raised by single mother and father. 

In 2003, John Gottman launched the findings of a 12-year study of homosexual and lesbian {couples} he performed with Robert Levenson. The research discovered that same-sex unions had been similar to heterosexual ones in satisfaction and high quality however that there have been slight variations in how homosexual {couples} interacted and dealt with battle.

“What we saw is that [gay and lesbian] relationships tended to be a bit healthier than those of heterosexual couples,” Julie says. “Gay men tended to be much more direct. In terms of conflict management, there was much less physiological flooding. There was more humor during their conflicts. They were often good friends, and they could talk much more directly about sex and therefore had more contented sexual relationships because they really understood each others’ needs. For lesbians, much of that was the same.”

What is it about same-sex relationships that makes them extra resilient within the face of battle? The research didn’t provide conclusions about why, however the Gottmans have developed some attainable concepts.

“The conjecture is that there’s a lot of social conditioning that goes on for genders,” Julie says. “Naturally [partners of the same gender] are going to grasp one another slightly bit higher as a result of they perceive the social conditioning that one another has gone via. There can also be much less concern about being weak. But we must always take that with a grain of saltit relies upon on the area and household tradition through which every individual was raised.”

Julie says one more reason same-sex {couples} are possible so resilient is as a result of they’ve already needed to face battle with others as they’ve established their identification, and within the midst of rejection from household, church, and society, they create different assist constructions for themselves.

“Another part (of resilience) is that you have community,” Julie says. “Because our culture is homophobic, most gay and lesbian couples have a group around them, if they’re not too isolated, that pulls together because of social persecution. The culture out there can still be hostile and frightening. That outside negativity unites people, and there’s research in groups such as church communities that shows that when a community is tightly knit, they help support marriages to stay together.”

This perception highlights the disservice accomplished by “welcoming” however non-affirming religion communities that enable same-sex {couples} to attend companies however by no means settle for them into the neighborhood.

Resilience is a vital attribute of a wholesome relationship, even for the Gottmans themselves. As the authorities and specialists on marriage, many {couples} anticipate them to have all the things labored out of their relationship.

“People put us on a pedestal, that we should have the perfect marriage,” Julie says. “So what we do, and we do that each time in our couples workshops, is to speak about how we’re in the identical soup as everyone else. In entrance of the viewers, we course of a regrettable incident that we’ve had, which means a horrible battle that will find yourself with John sleeping on the sofa. In this fashion, we work exhausting to take ourselves off the pedestal and to say that all the things we all know we’ve discovered from the {couples} who got here via our lab. We attempt to put into apply what we’ve discovered, however we’re human too, and typically we fail and do a horrible job and need to restore it and work on it like everybody else.”

The Gottman Institute has helped thousands and thousands of {couples} enhance and restore their relationships via workshops, books, and thought management. Not everybody, nevertheless, has appreciated their evidence-based method to relationships, partly as a result of the strategy espouses an egalitarian method to marriage. Julie recounts a time that an ultraconservative church in Texas started spreading nasty rumors about them to discredit them and their work.

“We were challenging the notion that men in opposite-sex relationships should have all of the power and all of the decision-making and should never listen and be ‘pussy-whipped’ by their wives,” she says. “We were also challenging that domestic violence is acceptable and saying that it’s not OK for men to keep their women ‘in line.’”

Although Julie has no statistics on what number of same-sex {couples} have used the Gottman Method, she says that in a study performed by two Certified Gottman Therapists in San Francisco, Gottman Method Couples Therapy proved extremely efficient in serving to to strengthen the relationships of distressed homosexual and lesbian {couples}. Also, anecdotally, it seems that extra homosexual and lesbian {couples} have sought out their sources as homosexuality turns into extra broadly accepted.

“We’ve seen prior to now three or 4 years, out of twenty-two years, we’ve had many extra lesbian and homosexual {couples} coming to our workshops,” Julie says. “Not as many gay guys. There may still be some fear about being in a primarily heterosexual audience. But I’m hoping more will come.”

Julie’s finest relationship recommendation? “Honor each other’s dreams. Ask each other questions about what gives your lives meaning and purpose. What are each partner’s dreams within that life mission and purpose, and how can the other partner support them?”


Excerpted from Modern Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage, © 2019 David and Constantino Khalaf. Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press.


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