THE BLOG
03/29/2013 05:03 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Will Gay Marriage Save the Institution?

Let's hope that the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage -- so that the institution itself has a fighting chance.

As a couples therapist I can attest to the fact that gender differences are a nemesis of marriage.

I'm speaking from the trenches, as a therapist who spends most of the time refereeing sparring bouts between married couples (all of them straight, to date). Allow me to lay out this thorny issue in all its psychological complexity: men and women are way, way different.

Shall I count the ways? Communication style, relationship patterns, sexual drive, problem solving, perception of emotional slights, and even opposing interpretations of the word "clean" as applied to housework -- these represent just a few major battlegrounds between men and women. And those are the couples who are striving to reach common ground.

Gay couples launch relationships with an inherent advantage. They're compatible by gender, if not from the same mold, at least from the same planet, so the Mars and Venus duality proves less of an issue.

Of course, every person is an individual and every couple is unique. Both straight and gay people enter intimate relationships with baggage, which may run the gamut of challenges to emotional intimacy to substance addiction. Still, compatibility is to marriage what an egg yolk is to mayonnaise: it prevents curdling. Compatibility is aided by similarity: We both like to play tennis; we both want two kids; we're the same religion; we both love time with family. Why not add "and by the way, we're the same gender" to this list?

Okay -- I hear the yelps that opposites attract. To a certain extent that's true. My yin to your yang equals a complete whole. But let's talk about the phase of marriage that I deal with daily: a decade or so past the honeymoon. In other words, reality. Bosses are nagging; kids are whining; dishes are piled up in the sink. Did I mention that there's a pile of bills awaiting payment? Baseline compatibility helps keep couples from unraveling under life's daily pressures.

So, I say "Go, Supreme Court!" Aside from the economic, legal and social benefits of gay marriage, let's do whatever we can in this country to give marriage itself a fighting chance.

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