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Three Year Follow Up: Where Are The Vermont Same-Sex Married Couples Now?

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

In 2000, Vermont was the first state to legalize same-sex relationships, so that heterosexual and same-sex couples had the same legal rights. Published in February in Developmental Psychology was the first longitudinal study completed to examine same-sex couples in civil unions.

Researchers had 65 male and 138 female couples participate in the follow up study. Where do you think they are now? Are they still together?

They were compared with 23 male and 61 female same-sex couples not civil unionized, as well as being compared to 55 heterosexual couples.Of the 65 male and 138 female couples available to participate in the study:

  1. Same-sex couples not in civil unions were more likely to have separated.

  2. Same-sex couples (both unionized and not) reported lower levels of conflict, and greater levels of compatibility, intimacy and relationship quality than heterosexual couples.

  3. Having less conflict, as well as greater levels of outness, correlated with relationship happiness for male couples at the 3yr follow up.

  4. Having less conflict and having more frequent sex correlated with relationship happiness for female couples at the 3yr follow up.

So what could this mean?

  • A formal commitment, recognized by the state, apparently helps same-sex couples stay together (at least at 3yr follow up).

  • Working on your relationship helps; Improving your compatibility and working to decrease conflict with your partner increases the quality of your relationship. The Gay Couples Institute believes that couples therapy using the Gottman Method is probably the smartest vehicle to decrease conflict and improve intimacy.

  • Being out significantly helps male couples. Talk about the pros/cons of this with your partner.

  • Having frequent sex significantly helps female couples. Ladies, keep your sex life in good shape.

This educational information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care. Each persons' situation is unique. GCI suggests that you personally consult a trusted professional prior to making changes in your relationship using this article or other advice. The Gay Couples Institute is committed to your success and is here for you.


The Gay Couples Institute Research Team


Three-year follow-up of same-sex couples who had civil unions in Vermont, same-sex couples not in civil unions, and heterosexual married couples. Balsam, Kimberly F.; Beauchaine, Theodore P.; Rothblum, Esther D.; Developmental Psychology, Vol 44(1), Jan 2008. pp. 102-116.

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