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(p. 70) Stress in the Lives of Same-Sex Couples: Implications for Relationship Dissolution and Divorce 

(p. 70) Stress in the Lives of Same-Sex Couples: Implications for Relationship Dissolution and Divorce
(p. 70) Stress in the Lives of Same-Sex Couples: Implications for Relationship Dissolution and Divorce

David M. Frost

, and Allen J. LeBlanc

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Subscriber: null; date: 16 January 2019


People in same-sex couples experience stress much as their counterparts in different-sex couples do. Stressors such as managing finances, negotiating challenging relationships with relatives, taking care of children, and conflict with a partner have been shown to affect relationship quality and contribute to the likelihood of relationship dissolution over time (e.g., Bodenmann et al., 2007). In addition to experiencing these commonly recognized forms of stress, same-sex couples experience unique stressors that are not experienced by different-sex couples—namely, minority stressors related to the stigmatization of same-sex relationships by society at large (Frost, 2011b; Meyer, 2003).

Most of the scholarship considering minority stress concerns individual-level experiences. This chapter details the unique nature of the couple-level experience of minority stress in same-sex relationships and potential ways in which thoughtful examinations of couple-level minority stress (LeBlanc, Frost, & Wight, 2015) can lead us to better understandings of relationship quality and relationship dissolution among same-sex couples. First, we describe the role that social stress can play in relationships for all couples, followed by our articulation of unique forms of social stress facing people in same-sex relationships. We discuss our model of couple-level minority stress, as well as related dyadic minority stress processes (LeBlanc, Frost, & Wight, 2015). We conclude by presenting a theoretical framework illustrating how couple-level minority stress may result in negative consequences for relationship quality, dissolution, divorce, and mental health.

(p. 71) Social Stress and Relationships

Research has established that social stress—in a variety of forms—is a significant contributor to waning relationship commitment, relationship dissolution, and divorce in the general population. For example, in a study of recently divorced individuals from three countries, decisions to divorce were linked to the accumulation of social stressors (although not necessarily attributed to a specific stressor, cf. Booth & Amato, 1991; Bodenmann et al., 2007). Further, in one of the few studies of social stress and divorce that tracked the natural occurrence of divorce over time, newlywed couples who were divorced at a 10-year follow-up assessment demonstrated higher levels of physiological indicators of stress at a baseline assessment compared to couples who stayed together over the same period (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2003).

It is important to note that social stress experienced in a relationship can originate from within the relationship itself as well as from sources outside of the relationship. The linkages among distinct stressors are illustrated in the concept of stress proliferation, which refers to the observation that the experience of social stress often begets more stress in people’s lives, creating a causal chain of stressors that can directly and indirectly diminish well-being (Pearlin, 1999; Pearlin, Aneshensel, & LeBlanc, 1997; Pearlin & Bierman, 2013). Stress can proliferate across domains of stress within an individual’s life (e.g., from the workplace to the relationship), and stress can proliferate from person to person, especially within relationships where individuals are structurally linked to one another (e.g., between spouses or between parents and children).

Studies of stress proliferation have usefully focused on stress experiences within key social roles (e.g., mother, sister, coworker, caretaker), the obligations of such roles, and the social and interpersonal interactions attached to them (Milkie 2010). For example, researchers have studied stress contagion in the forms of stress spillover (how stress moves from one role in life to another through intrapersonal processes) and stress crossover (how stress moves from one person to another through interpersonal processes). This research has mainly been conducted in the context of relationships between different-sex spouses and between different-sex parents and their children (e.g., Grzywacz, Almeida, & McDonald, 2002; Young, Schieman, & Milkie, 2014). Such a role-based framing of stress proliferation has provided fertile ground for understanding the stress experience by illustrating not only how stress moves within individuals’ lives (LeBlanc et al., 1997; Pearlin et al., 1997), but also how it is shared between individuals. Indeed, stressors faced by one person often intrude on the lives of those with whom they are close (e.g., Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler, & Wethington, 1989; Wight et al., 2007).

(p. 72) Minority Stress and Same-Sex Relationships

The minority stress framework (Meyer, 2003; Meyer & Frost, 2013) articulates specific and unique minority stressors that sexual minority populations are exposed to as a result of their stigmatized social status, as are other stigmatized or disadvantaged populations, including gender minorities (Hendricks & Testa, 2012). These stressors include event-based forms of discrimination (i.e., prejudice events) as well as chronic and everyday forms of discrimination (e.g., being treated with less courtesy, people acting as if they are afraid of you). These “distal” forms of differential treatment from society can lead to more “proximal” forms of stigma-related stress, such as entering into situations expecting to be discriminated against (i.e., expectations of rejection), the need to manage how “out” one is to other people across various contexts in life (i.e., stigma concealment), and the application of societal devaluation of sexual minorities to one’s own sense of self (i.e., internalized stigma).

There is a growing body of research that has demonstrated how individuals in same-sex relationships experience these minority stressors in ways that can have a negative impact on their relationship quality (Rostosky & Riggle, 2017b; Doyle & Molix, 2015, for a meta-analysis; see Rostosky & Riggle, chapter 3, in this volume). For example, people in same-sex relationships, like their sexual minority counterparts who are single, experience discrimination as well as daily hassles and harassment (Green & Mitchell, 2008; Peplau & Fingerhut, 2006; Rostosky & Riggle, 2017b). There is also some evidence to suggest that sexual minorities in same-sex relationships might be especially vulnerable to stress associated with being rejected and misunderstood by other people in their lives, especially by their families of origin, compared to their single peers (Frost et al., 2017; Lewis, Derlega, Berndt, Morris, & Rose, 2002). Moreover, societal stigma surrounding same-sex relationships can also be uniquely internalized, contributing to feelings of internalized homophobia among people in same-sex relationships (Frost & Meyer, 2009), which has been shown to be detrimental to relationship quality among sexual minority individuals (e.g., Balsam & Szymanski, 2005; Edwards & Sylaska, 2013). When compared to sexual minority individuals who are single, those in same-sex relationships may experience greater stress related to not being accepted and being misunderstood by other people in their lives, especially by their families (Frost et al., 2017; Lewis et al., 2002). These interpersonal stressors, along with other forms of discrimination and victimization, are associated with decreased relationship quality (see Doyle & Molix, 2015, and Rostosky & Riggle, 2017b, for reviews).

Classic discussions of internalized stigma (e.g., Coleman et al., 1992) point out that the anxiety, shame, and devaluation of sexual minority individuals and one’s self as a sexual minority are likely to manifest in interpersonal relationships with other sexual minority individuals. Studies have empirically demonstrated that similar stigma-related processes affect same-sex relationships—and individual (p. 73) partners—in numerous ways, such as decreasing relational functioning, increasing conflict among partners, and decreasing overall relationship satisfaction (e.g., Balsam & Szymanski, 2005; Edwards & Sylaska, 2013; Frost & Meyer, 2009).

Although there is now a substantial body of research that links individuals’ experiences of minority stress to relationship quality, we are aware of no studies that examine whether minority stress is associated with relationship dissolution. There are at least two potential reasons for this dearth of evidence. The first and most obvious is that it is hard to study the occurrence of relationship dissolution prospectively, and few studies have sufficiently large samples of people in same-sex relationships to track dissolution as it occurs over time. The second stems from the challenge of creating models that can accurately predict the occurrence of relationship dissolution among same-sex couples by accounting for the unique psychological, relational, and societal challenges they face relative to different-sex couples due to the stigmatization of their relationships by society at large. In response to the latter reason for the dearth of evidence, we propose a theoretical framework that attempts to more fully examine the role that minority stress plays in lives of people in same-sex relationships. In doing so, we build on our recent conceptualization of couple-level minority stress (LeBlanc et al., 2015). In short, our goal is to provide a foundation and justification for future research that explains relationship dissolution among same-sex couples, and ultimately to inform interventions designed to help people in same-sex relationships manage the unique challenges they face, individually as partners and collectively as couples.

Couple-Level Minority Stress

We use the remainder of this chapter to highlight the potential value of a couple-level minority stress framework (Figure 4.1) for understanding and addressing the ways in which minority stress can potentially lead to relationship dissolution among same-sex couples. What follows is a discussion of two primary ways in which minority stress experiences may influence relationship quality for people in same-sex relationships, and the dissolution of same-sex couples.

Figure 4.1 Couple-Level Minority Stress as a Potential Explanation for Relationship Dissolution and Divorce Among Same-Sex Couples

Figure 4.1 Couple-Level Minority Stress as a Potential Explanation for Relationship Dissolution and Divorce Among Same-Sex Couples

Unique Couple-Level Minority Stressors

The central premise of the couple-level minority stress framework is that when sexual minority individuals become part of a same-sex couple, they may become vulnerable to unique couple-level minority stressors that are not reducible to their experiences as sexual minority individuals. Couple-level minority stressors are those that may be experienced by individual partners or jointly by couples as a result of the stigmatized status of their relationship, in and of itself. In other words, when their intimate relationships are devalued or diminished by society, individuals may face hardships or adversity as a result. They may also face such (p. 74) (p. 75) challenges together—with their partners—as people who share a stigmatized status as members of same-sex couple. It is the source of this stress (i.e., society’s marginalization of the relationship) that defines such stressors as couple-level minority stressors (LeBlanc et al., 2015).

To illustrate the distinction between individual- and couple-level minority stressors, take the example of a man who hides the fact that he is gay from his friends, whom he perceives to be homophobic, to avoid a range of unsupportive reactions. This constitutes individual-level minority stress in the form of expectations of rejection and identity concealment. However, if this same man were to move in with the man he has been dating for the past year, his status as a member of a same-sex couple will likely result in exposure to additional stressors, above and beyond what he may experience as an individual. For instance, in addition to his personal identity concealment, he and his partner may now be faced with managing the visibility of their relationship. This constitutes a couple-level minority stressor in the form of couple-level concealment. The lack of acceptance from at least one set of friends and potentially others in their respective social and familial networks can be considered a couple-level minority stressor in the form of rejection of his partner and their relationship. Legal barriers to their goals to adopt children together, for example, constitute a couple-level minority stressor in the form of discrimination. The key distinction in these examples is that in all couple-level forms of minority stress, the root source of stress is the social disadvantage afforded to same-sex relationships rather than partners’ individual sexual minority identities.

Couple-level minority stressors have the potential to negatively affect relationship quality and the well-being of each partner. Such effects may occur as a result of unexamined stress processes involving a domain of social stressors that emerge in relational contexts, and not only stressors that have been conceived of and assessed as individual-level phenomena. Although researchers have examined the dyadic nature of more generally experienced social stressors (e.g., Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler, & Wethington, 1989), research has yet to directly investigate the existence or substance of couple-level stress constructs.

Dyadic Minority Stress Processes

Just as general stressors proliferate and move from one life domain to another and between persons, as discussed previously, minority stressors may also proliferate from the individual to the couple level, and there may be a proliferation from status-based stressors to role-based stressors (e.g., minority stressors leading to other relational stressors). In the language of stress proliferation theory, couple-level minority stressors (e.g., status-based stressors associated with being in an intimate relationship that is socially stigmatized) might be understood as a primary source of minority stress that can proliferate to other relational stressors (e.g., role-based stressors associated with being a partner in an intimate relationship), thus (p. 76) seen as secondary stressors (LeBlanc et al., 2015). For example, feeling the need to hide one’s relationship from one or both partners’ families of origin (primary couple-level minority stressor) might lead to conflict in the relationship (secondary relational stressor).

Among same-sex couples, minority stress proliferation may also occur in instances of stress discrepancies between partners, or the degree to which individuals’ levels of stress experience vary in relation to those of a significant other (LeBlanc et al., 2015). Indeed, it is often unlikely that both members of a couple experience minority stress in the same ways, or to the same degree (Lyons, Zarit, Sayer, & Whitlatch, 2002; Wight, Beals, Miller-Martinez, Murphy, & Aneshensel, 2007). Because stress within intimate partnerships is more than the sum of its two parts, it is important to understand how partners stand in relation to one another. For example, summing the degree to which two women involved in a same-sex relationship experience internalized homophobia—an individual-level minority stressor—would yield the total internalized homophobia burden for the pair. However, that sum would not reflect the extent to which the two partners similarly (or differently) experience this burden. For example, a couple where both partners experience moderate amounts of internalized homophobia and a couple where one partner experiences a low amount of internalized homophobia and other experiences a high amount would both have a similar total internalized homophobia burden as calculated at the couple level—thereby ignoring the difference in their circumstances.

Indeed, if one partner has low levels of internalized homophobia relative to the other, stress may emerge from this discrepancy in multiple ways. For instance, it may become a source of relational conflict or a barrier to desired intimacy, thus increasing the potential for relationship dissolution. For this reason, it is important to take into consideration each partner’s level of stress vis-à-vis that of her or his partner, in order to fully understand the impact of stress discrepancies on subsequent relational stressors and risk for relationship dissolution and divorce.

Another form of minority stress proliferation concerns instances of stress contagion, whereby individual-level minority stressors faced by one partner intrude on the life of the other. Stress contagion typically concerns the associations between each individual’s stress experience and the mental health of an intimate other (e.g., the degree to which Partner A’s experience of stress at work is associated with Partner B’s anxiety levels). The degree to which a specific stressor (e.g., from among a range of minority stressors discussed previously) faced by one partner influences her or his loved one’s experience of the same or other stressors is not well understood. For instance, if a gay man holds a deep-seated belief that male couples should not be allowed to raise children together (a form of internalized homophobia), which leads him to consistently argue against the rights of same-sex couples to become parents, his feelings and actions may create ongoing stress and relationship strains for his partner, decreasing the likelihood that their relationship will last. Alternatively, over time, his partner might adopt (p. 77) the same stance against same-sex couples’ desires and efforts to have and raise children (adopting internalized homophobia), or he may come to vigilantly defend against his partner’s and others’ efforts to discourage or legally prohibit same-sex parenting.

This situation may present initially as a discrepancy in internalized homophobia, which potentially leads to greater relational conflict (stress proliferation), yet stress contagion is evident in the process by which one partner’s experience of internalized homophobia creates changes—either positive or negative—in the other partner’s experience of the same minority stressor (internalized homophobia). The mechanisms through which stressors become contagious are not well understood, and it is not known which stressors are most or least contagious between partners within the relational context—with those most contagious potentially having the potential to incur greater harm to the relationship and ultimately cause it to end.

Although we are focused here on stress discrepancy and stress contagion effects between partners, scenarios may exist in which partners with similar levels of given minority stressors affect one another’s stress processes in important ways, and these too should be considered. For example, two partners who are both very high or very low in terms of internalized homophobia might feed off of one another, further heightening or diminishing their individual experiences of internalized homophobia, which has been consistently shown to affect relationship quality, but only at the individual level (e.g., Frost & Meyer, 2009).

The Potential Impact of Couple-Level Minority Stress on Relationship Dissolution: An Extended Framework

Building on our previous work (LeBlanc et al., 2015), a visual representation of the experience of couple-level minority stress in same-sex couples and its potential associations with relationship quality and dissolution is presented in Figure 4.1. The basic premise of the framework is that exposure to both individual-level minority stress and couple-level stress increases the likelihood of experiencing mental health problems for members of same-sex couples (Paths 1 and 2). The ways in which couples experience the previously discussed unique couple-level minority stressors are illustrated with the rectangle in the center of the figure. These unique couple-level minority stressors are hypothesized to create increased potential for relationship dissolution directly and indirectly, through processes of stress proliferation.

To illustrate one potential path of stress proliferation, the need to hide one’s relationship from one’s family (primary couple-level minority stressor) might lead the couple to experience conflict internally (secondary stressor, Path 5). In turn, relationship conflict would then increase the likelihood that the couple would break up, given the link between relationship conflict and dissolution (Path 6). Separate research efforts have demonstrated that relational stressors in the form (p. 78) of increased conflict, intimacy problems, and disengagement from effective maintenance may be produced by minority stress (e.g., Doyle & Molix, 2014) and lead to relationship dissolution (Balsam, Rostosky, & Riggle, 2017; Goldberg & Garcia, 2015; Goldberg, Moyer, Black, & Henry, 2015). In turn, this mediated pathway (Paths 5 + 6) is likely a route through which couple-level minority stress can negatively impact relationship quality and longevity among same-sex couples.

Additionally, the previously discussed dyadic minority stress processes in the form of stress discrepancies (Paths 3a and 3b) and stress contagion (Paths 4a, 4b, and 4c) are likely to operate in ways that increase relational stress, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of relationship dissolution (Path 6). Finally, although the focus of this chapter is not on mental health, the fact that each partner’s mental health can be negatively impacted by individual and couple-level minority stress further creates the potential for mental health problems (e.g., depression) to result in the ending of the relationship (Path 7), as has been demonstrated in prior research conducted on the general population (see Davila, Stroud, & Starr, 2009, for a review).

Although the proposed model does not include all potential explanations for relationship dissolution among same-sex couples, it does envision an expanded universe of their stress experiences—both in general and related to their stigmatized status—by illustrating the interconnectedness of stressors and stress processes experienced by individuals and within the dyad. Frameworks such as this one are important for moving social stress research forward in that they avoid the limitations of examining stressors that originate from one source or domain at a time (Wheaton, Young, Montazer, & Stuart-Lahman, 2013). Most importantly, much can be learned from the study of linkages between individual- and couple-level minority stressors and how these two domains of stress may interact to create potential for relationship dissolution.

Intersectionality and Couple-Level Minority Stress

Despite our efforts to expand current conceptualizations of minority stress processes with our novel conceptualization of couple-level minority stressors, the reality of relational stress is of course far more complex than what we have portrayed here. To explain the promise of our current approach, we have selectively focused on one relationship type (same-sex couples) defined by one marginalized social status (sexual minority), yet in reality individuals occupy—and their intimate relationships simultaneously represent—multiple statuses (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, and immigration status). To illustrate, same-sex couples in which at least one partner is a person of color may contend with unique stressors emanating from stigma or disadvantage associated with both sexual orientation and racial/ethnic identity. Although we are not aware of any studies that directly test this assertion, research indicates that sexual minority persons who are also from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds experience not only more, but potentially unique (p. 79) forms of minority stress relative to their white counterparts (Bowleg, Huang, Brooks, Black, & Burkholder, 2003; Meyer, Schwartz, & Frost, 2008).

Similarly, socioeconomic status (SES) is very likely associated with exposure to couple-level minority stress. Even further, although not typically thought of as social status, geography might also play a role. This is true because different parts of the country (e.g., states, counties, and cities) have different histories and policies that influence the ways in which sexual minority persons and couples perceive and experience stigma and discrimination (Hatzenbuehler, 2014). For example, same-sex couples living in rural locations may be at greater risk for minority stress than those living in urban environments (Swank, Fahs, & Frost, 2013), which typically provide more opportunities to connect to supportive communities and network with other same-sex couples. Thus, future studies must also address the intricacies of studying the intersectionality of multiple statuses—within individuals and within dyads—in the evolving study of social stress and its contribution to relationship dissolution (cf. Cole, 2009; Grollman, 2014).

In addition, social status afforded by access to legal marriage might serve to magnify or diminish the experience of couple-level minority stress. This will be especially important to investigate now that the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges makes the option of legal marriage available to all couples in the country, regardless of partner gender. However, despite legal recognition, same-sex couples may still perceive stigma and discrimination from the government in addition to interpersonal sources (e.g., family, coworkers) given the newness of this important social change (Frost et al., 2017; LeBlanc, Frost, & Bowen, 2018). Moreover, as time goes on and more same-sex couples enter into legal marriages, studies can follow married and cohabiting same-sex couples over time to examine the extent to which couple-level minority stress is a factor that contributes to their potential for divorce and dissolution.

Resilience Resources Relevant to the Experience of Couple-Level Minority Stress

Although our focus is on minority stress and its deleterious effects on relationship quality and longevity among same-sex couples, it is important to note that many same-sex couples experience happy, healthy, rewarding, and lasting relationships despite the constellation of unique stressors that surround them. Thus, it is also essential to examine the conditions under which same-sex couples are able to cope with, overcome, and resist the negative effects of minority stress. There are several resilience resources that same-sex couples may draw on to more effectively cope with minority stress, and reduce its potential contribution to relationship dissolution (e.g., Gartrell & Rothblum, Conclusion, in this volume). They may employ dyadic coping strategies that are common among all couples, regardless of sexual orientation (e.g., Bodenmann, Pihet, & Kayser, 2006; Bodenmann, Meuwly, & Kayser, 2011; Rostosky & Riggle, 2017a). However, resilience resources specific to (p. 80) the experience of minority stress (e.g., Meyer, 2014) are of particular interest in the present discussion, given they may be most useful in dealing with the unique aspects of minority stress that same-sex couples face.

For example, couples are faced with the challenge of establishing and maintaining intimacy within their relationships while contending with negative stereotypes about their relationships and resulting minority stressors. Some research has indicated that individuals in same-sex relationships use cognitive strategies (i.e., meaning-making strategies) to frame the experience of minority stress as a social challenge that they can overcome, and become stronger as a couple as a result of, and exercise “positive marginality” by defining important relationship milestones for themselves rather than relying on heteronormative definitions of success in relationships (Frost, 2011a, 2011b; Rostosky & Riggle, 2017a). Indeed, the use of such “redemptive” meaning-making strategies when contending with minority stress is associated with heightened closeness in same-sex relationships (Frost, 2014) and may then be protective against relationship dissolution.

Finally, resilience resources at the community level must also be considered. Existing research suggests that community-based supports may be instrumental in mitigating the negative effects of minority stress (Meyer, 2003). Such minority group-specific resilience resources are established through strong bonds with one’s sexual minority peers and a sense of connectedness to larger sexual and gender minority communities (Frost & Meyer, 2012; Meyer, 2014; Russell & Richards, 2003). Extending this concept to the couple level, it can be argued that having a supportive social network that includes other same-sex couples likely will be helpful in dealing with couple-level minority stress (LeBlanc et al., 2015). Indeed, classic research shows the presence of “similar others” to be beneficial for mental health and psychological well-being among stigmatized populations (Frable et al., 1998), and useful for making positive social comparisons (Crocker & Major, 1989). Additionally, members of same-sex couples might be best equipped to offer support when facing couple-level minority stress given they likely have been through similar experiences and are better equipped to offer advice and support to manage and overcome the negative effects of couple-level minority stress (cf. Frost, Meyer, & Schwartz, 2016; LeBlanc et al., 2015).

Implications and Conclusions

Because minority stress stems from societal stigma, which can only be eliminated through social and structural intervention (Meyer & Frost, 2013; Ouellette, 1998), many same-sex couples are in need of help from clinicians and counselors to navigate minority stress in their lives (Moradi, Mohr, Worthington, & Fassinger, 2009). Helping sexual minority individuals more effectively manage minority stress in their efforts to form and maintain intimate relationships is an important challenge and opportunity for clinicians (Kertzner, 2004), and addressing the negative (p. 81) effects of minority stress is necessary to build resilience resources and reduce the potential impact of minority stress on relationship dissolution and divorce.

Although the concepts outlined in the couple-level minority stress framework largely map on to those experienced at the individual level, couple-level minority stress is inextricably tied to individuals’ membership in a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex, and this stress is rooted in society’s stigmatization and marginalization of that relationship. Thus, interventions focused on helping sexual minorities manage minority stress need to be expanded beyond individual patient treatment modalities to couple-level counseling and dyadic psychotherapies (e.g., Green & Mitchell, 2008). Within these couple-level interventions, clinicians will also be able to assist couples in dealing with the unique couple-level minority stressors and dyadic minority stress processes that can contribute to relationship dissolution.

Additionally, as laws change and structural stigma may decline (Hatzenbuehler 2014), familial and other interpersonal sources of minority stress will likely endure. Thus, it is important not to lose sight of family as a more proximal and potentially more substantial barrier (Frost & LeBlanc, 2014; Frost et al., 2017) to equal participation in society. For example, familial devaluation of one’s same-sex partner and/or prohibitions against getting married and parenting may be more likely to contribute to relationship dissolution and divorce than structural inequality (e.g., laws and policies) now that equal legal recognition is becoming available for same-sex couples in more and more countries. Thus, in this rapidly changing social context, it is our hope that future research and interventions applying the couple-level minority stress framework may be helpful not only in better understanding the factors that lead to relationship dissolution and divorce but also in helping to prevent same-sex couples from breaking up when staying together is their goal.

Discussion Questions

  1. 1. How do minority stressors experienced by sexual minority individuals create additional stress for same-sex couples?

  2. 2. How are individual- and couple-level experiences of minority stress distinct?

  3. 3. What are the potential causal pathways though which experiences of minority stress increase the likelihood of relationship dissolution and divorce among same-sex couples?

  4. 4. How might clinical and counseling interventions help sexual minority individuals and same-sex couples cope with and resist the negative effects of minority stress?

  5. 5. What effect will the changing social and legal policy climate (e.g., marriage, adoption) have on same-sex couples’ experiences of minority stress?

(p. 82) Acknowledgment

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant 1R01HD070357 (Allen J. LeBlanc, Principal Investigator).


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                Rostosky, S. S., Riggle, E. D., Rothblum, E. D., & Balsam, K. F. (2016). Same-sex couples’ decisions and experiences of marriage in the context of minority stress: Interviews from a population-based longitudinal study. Journal of Homosexuality, 63, 1019–1040.Find this resource:

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                    Suggested Resources

                    Overview of the Stress Process Model

                    Pearlin, L. I. (1999). The stress process revisited: Reflections on concepts and their interrelationships. In C. S. Aneshensel & J. C. Phelan (Eds.), Handbook on the sociology of mental health (pp. 395–415). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press.Find this resource:

                      Detailed Presentation of the Minority Stress Model and Intervention Targets

                      Meyer, I. H., & Frost, D. M. (2013). Minority stress and the health of sexual minorities. In C. J. Patterson & A. R. D’Augelli (Eds.), Handbook of psychology and sexual orientation (pp. 252–266). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Find this resource:

                        Detailed Presentation of the Couple-Level Minority Stress Model

                        LeBlanc, A. J., Frost, D. M., & Wight, R. G. (2015). Minority stress and stress proliferation among same‐sex and other marginalized couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 77(1), 40–59.Find this resource:

                        Overview of Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy Interventions for Same-Sex Couples

                        Green, R. J., & Mitchell, V. (2008). Gay and lesbian couples in therapy: Minority stress, relational ambiguity, and families of choice. Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, 4, 662–680.Find this resource:

                          Documentary Demonstrating the Lived Experience of Couple-Level Minority Stress

                          “Freeheld.” Film by Cynthia Wade.