How satisfying is your romantic relationship? In an important study, the authors tracked a few hundred lesbian, gay and heterosexual couples over 10 years. All couples lived together, and some couples had children. They found that lesbian couples had the highest levels of relationship satisfaction, and gay males showed almost no decline in relationship satisfaction over time. In contrast, heterosexual couples generally reported a decline in relationship satisfaction. In previous studies, gay and lesbian partners were more likely to talk about their feelings during conflict than were heterosexual partners, and the authors theorize that this may contribute to sustained relationship satisfaction.
Of course, the type of relationship you’re in, is not the only predictor of satisfaction. The authors identified stressors such as moving in together and having children as affecting relationship satisfaction. Additionally, entering into a relationship with idealistic expectations and managing conflict poorly, can cause a decline in relationship quality for any couple. So what is the key to relationship satisfaction? As the research suggests, communication is the key to reducing conflict. The more couples discuss their problems and constructively resolve them, the more satisfied they will be. Additionally, receiving support and guidance to navigate the expected and unexpected challenges of life as a couple can play an important role in being resilient and satisfied partners.
Are you part of a resilient and satisfied LGBTQ couple who would like to mentor other couples? Or would you like to be mentored to learn how to more successfully resolve conflict and meet the challenges of couplehood? Find out more about being a mentor in the Q Marriage Mentors Program here.
Kurdek, L. A. (2008). Change in relationship quality for partners from lesbian, gay male, and heterosexual couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(5), 701-711.