Updated: Apr 11, 2020
For LGBTQ+ people, relationship navigation can be a blessing or a curse. Recently, we had the immense pleasure of having a conversation with a relationship expert who gave us some incredible insight.
Ingrid Sthare is a Greenville, South Carolina based relationship expert who works with clients nationwide. She has over 17 years of experience as a matchmaker and relationship coach. While she helps people find self-love, she has also created a successful time-tested program to enhance relationships using positive psychology and neurobiology for both heterosexual people and LGBTQ people. She’s certified in Transformational Life Coaching and Board Certified Coaching.
Ingrid’s coaching process is different from typical counseling because it seeks to find what’s right rather than what’s wrong. Ingrid created the program herself after seeing so much heartbreak, both personally and professionally.
“I’ve seen just how broken our family court system is. I wanted to offer something they just weren’t. I wanted to give people a different perspective. Coaching is very different from counseling. I have a lot of respect for counselors, but I don’t think their broader approach is helpful for everyone. My approach is specifically tailored to help couples rebuild.”
Our conversation then turns to things that she’s seen have the most impact on the LGBT clients she’s worked with.
I've come out. Now what?
"Because of such support of the community, I think people are more comfortable coming out. By the time people are coming to me they’re wondering how do I get to know and love myself more? I have a program for just that."
What’s the biggest external struggles the LGBT couples you work with face?
“Family lack of acceptance for one. Another is being unprepared for the possibility their relationship or marriage could fail. The couples I’ve worked with never learned how to have a relationship. And most people have learned from parental models which can be antiquated or dysfunctional."
What are the biggest internal struggles?
"Trust and communication. Most couples that see me think communicating with one another is the problem. The underlying cause usually stems from lack of trust. We want to figure out why the trust dissipated in the first place and then work on healing that break so communication is smoother. I can teach people communication models and skills, but until there is trust, no one in the couple is listening."
Do the LGBT couples you've worked with have disagreements over finances?
"All couples that I work with have something going on with money. And I work with a lot of high profile people who have plenty of money. It is not only lack of money that causes issues. Interestingly enough, couples are more apt to talk about what’s going on in their bedroom than what’s going on in their bank accounts. And talking about sex is not easy. Your money is part of your shared vision of the future, so it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page. Knowing where you’re going is important and money is often a vehicle to get you there. My couples program involves discussion of money. And sex."
How do you foster sex positivity with LGBT couples?
"I encourage mirror work , originally introduced by Louise Hay and expanded upon since, and learning to love yourself by literally making love to yourself. Sometimes clients feel betrayed by their body. And that’s many people. Across the board. From wanting larger breasts or not wanting to have a penis at all. How we go about acceptance or change is where the difference is. We’re not taught to love ourselves. It’s considered wrong or narcissistic. But when we learn to do it and find ways which our body can experience pleasure, we become more honest and a better partner in relationships."
Advice to LGBT couples who are in a rut? How do you suggest we go about making everyday life just a little bit better?
"Great question! Stay curious about your partner! Keep learning about them. Don’t assume as time moves on that you know what they’re going to say, so no need to ask. Ask curious questions like you did when you first met. Maybe they changed their mind and daffodils aren’t their favorite flower anymore. Try a baking class to see if you enjoy it and who follows directions better."
Ingrid has invested her own money and time to create something she believes in and has seen addressing these problems and improving lives.
“I believe all LGBT couples could benefit from relationship coaching. It helps them unlearn harmful things and relearn positive things. But as for the LGBT community, marriage has just been made legal recently. So, let’s celebrate marriage and commitment by investing in relationship education. That’s what I do. Give clients tools to last a lifetime.”
We also discussed how Ingrid helps couples who decided that parting ways was the best option for them.
“We work for amicability in the split. Especially if there are children involved. I also work with select attorneys to ensure a lower cost and lower conflict resolution because we’ve already done the work in our coaching program to heal the marriage or partnership or to dissolve it cordially.”
If you’re interested in seeking out Ingrid’s help, you can contact via Psychology Today. If you are not located in the South Carolina area, Ingrid offers video conferencing sessions to accommodate.
Visit Ingrid online! Website: https://relationshipcoachingandcoupling.com/
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