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In the Raw: How do legally married same-sex couples navigate their experiences as a couple?

Are you a same-sex couple legally married in California?

A San Diego student is interested in your story and I recently had the chance to speak with her about it.

"There are 18,000 legally married same-sex couples in California and there are more than 50,000 registered domestic partners," reports ABC News, San Francisco.

Having the legal recognition of marriage for same-sex couples has an impact on the way couples relate and define their relationship. Legal recognition also has a huge impact on the experiences within the relationships.

Erin Falvey, a doctorate student at both San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University, will be conducting a study on the experiences of same-sex couples who are legally married in California.

The study will focus on gaining a greater understanding of how legally married same-sex couples describe and navigate their experiences as a married couple. The study will begin in the next few weeks.

I asked Erin why this study is important to her.

"[Because] the mental health field has historically contributed to the marginalization and oppression of gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals, couples, and families," she said.

Falvey not only wants to share insight into the day-to-day experiences of legally married same-sex couples, but also on the resilience and resistance strategies that the couples employ when navigating oppressive circumstances -- such as anti-gay amendment campaigns.

As part of the study, Falvey will include live interviews.

"I will interview [subjects] and ask questions related to [their] experiences. This may include questions about family, friends, and community. The interviews should take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours to complete and will take place at my office. I'll be videotaping the conversation as well as taking notes to ensure that I have accurately documented your story.

"In order to further ensure the accuracy of my report, I will provide you with a draft for you to review and provide feedback or corrections to the content prior to its completion," Falvey said.

There will also be a follow-up group interview, in order to get a more in-depth understanding of the experience. After her study is complete, the results will be reported in a publication, and the participants involved will be confidential.

If you and your spouse are interested in participating, please contact:

Erin C. Falvey, MA MFT, Doctoral Candidate, SDSU & CGU
e-mail: erin@narrativetherapysd.com
Phone # (619) 261-4221

Participants will not be paid for their participation in this study.

If you are a same-sex couple legally married within California, please visit Erin’s website to read more about her study and find out how to become a participant.

Jennine Estes, MFC#47653, is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications – Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, San Diego local news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her new San Diego Couples Therapy website.