Women » Features

Lesbian Divorce Rates Skyrocket; Conscious Girlfriend Helps

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday May 6, 2014

Whether they are in opposite- or same-sex relationships, women are well known to demand higher relationship quality than men. So with the advent of same-sex marriage comes the advent of lesbian divorce. Now, Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D, and her partner of eight years Michelle Murrain, Ph.D, offer ways to "help women love women better" with Conscious Girlfriend.

"Early studies suggest that the lesbian divorce rate is astronomical -- nearly three times higher than the heterosexual divorce rate, and more than twice as high as the divorce rate for gay men," said Dr. Ruth L. Schwartz of Healdsburg, California. "We founded Conscious Girlfriend to help lesbians gain the skills to create happy, healthy, lasting relationships. To our knowledge, we're the first such program in the entire world."

Schwartz, 52, is a psychologist, and Murrain, 54, is a neuroscientist. These "Professors of Love" who have taught at eight universities and published a dozen books use a system that blends science, psychology and spirit to help women get rid of past loves, find a way to lasting love, or bring life back to their current relationships. They also bring their own past experiences to the table.

"We've been life partners for eight years, and we have an amazing relationship," explained Schwartz. "But each of us went through many painful relationships and breakups before gaining the skills to build the partnership we have today. Now we've combined our backgrounds in psychology, neuroscience and spirituality to provide cutting-edge, lesbian-specific relationship help."

Women initiate up to 80 percent of heterosexual divorces, so when two women come together looking for intimacy, affection, respect, security and autonomy, they need someone to teach them the skills to find, create and sustain the kinds of relationships they long for.

"Many lesbians struggle in relationships," added Murrain. "And until now, help really hasn’t been available to us. There are hundreds of heterosexual relationship coaches and workshops, but few female couples would feel comfortable being the only lesbians at a workshop, or talking to a straight man or woman about their intimacy challenges."

Conscious Girlfriend, which Murrain and Schwartz launched in January of this year, fills that gap by providing coaching, workshops, retreats, online classes and even "conscious matchmaking."

"It’s not surprising that lesbian couples have a hard time," says Murrain. "After all, we didn’t grow up knowing healthy, happy lesbian couples on whom we could model ourselves. And we may have been rejected by our families, tossed out of our churches, and subject to taunting and even violence."

Although younger lesbians may be used to a world where same-sex relationships are the norm and families are welcoming and accepting, many older lesbians had to keep their sexual orientation and relationships closeted for reasons of safety. And women of all ages admit that they could use some help keeping their relationship running smoothly.

"Many of the women using our services so far are over 50. Quite a few are over 60," said Murrain. "They’re tremendously excited by the possibility of marriage, but there is also a lot of concern about ’doing it right.’ At our last workshop, a 69-year-old woman, a retired physician, broke down in tears. She kept saying, ’There was nothing like this when I was young. You just can’t imagine. Absolutely nothing.’"

"But we also heard from a 26-year-old woman who was thrilled to find us," said Schwartz. "She said she’d been looking for something like this for a long time. Another woman told us we were the best birthday present she’d ever gotten! Lesbians are really excited to have the chance to come together and learn the skills that will help create and sustain real love."

Schwartz and Murrain are planning a relationships retreat on May 23-25 in at a beautiful hilltop retreat center north of San Francisco, with gourmet food, a hot tub, and like-minded "conscious girlfriends," while learning the lesbian-specific communication, intimacy-sustaining and conflict-healing skills that can transform your life.

For more information, visit http://consciousgirlfriend.com

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook