From Partner to PeerEliminating Gender Inequality in MarriageBy Helena PastineSociology 235
Why I chose this topic I have been in relationships where both partners assume a specific role I am now in a relationship that is more “peer” that “traditional” I wanted interested in researching this topic after reading on of our lectures including information on it I feel it is important to understand and learn about this style of marriage
Background Some of the key points of peer marriage are: You trade a relationship for that of a friendship The equal distribution of love and labor create an “irreplaceable” bond between partners 50/50 split in chores and child rearing – no “second-shift” for either partner Both partners has equal influence in decision making Equal access to family funds Each person’s work holds equal weight in relationship
Background Cont. In a peer marriage, the key to success is EQUALITY! The relationship and family become priority over work and other outside activities. Although the sexual intimacy of the relationship dies down, it is rewarded with a better sense of communication as both partners understand the work it takes to nurture their relationship. Since both partners are committed to the other, they find it almost impossible to replace them and identify their relationship as “unique” in that respect. With both partners sharing responsibilities, they are more understanding and sympathetic towards one another.
Hypothesis Through my research, I came up with this hypothesis; Couples who practice a peer marriage will have more respect for each other than those couples that practice a traditional one.
Method I decided that the best way to gather some field research was to do interviews and observations of couples who practiced both peer and traditional style marriages. All together I interviewed 4 couples and was able to observe 3 of them. Couple #1: 33F & 43M – Traditional Couple #2: 47F & 50M – Traditional Couple #3: 24F & 24F – Peer Couple #4: 24F & 24M – Peer
Method Cont. My interview questions were as follows: Would you consider the duties both inside and outside of your home to be equally dispersed between both partners? Do both partners have equal access to family income? Does your partner recognize and show appreciation for you on a regular basis? Who has more involvement with the children? Asked when children were involved
Results Couple # 1 (33F & 43M) Female answered she did more chores and the male answered they did equal amounts Both claimed equal access to family funds Female thought she was underappreciated and the male thought “she knew” he appreciated her Female thought the child-rearing was mostly done on her part and the male thought it was equal The observation of this couple was definitely reflective of a traditional marriage. The female was certainly struggling with a “second-shift” and the husband was oblivious to the outstanding effort she put into the relationship Couple # 2 (47F & 50M) Female happily took on “house-wife” role and male was “breadwinner” – She does all household chores except those she in unable to do
Results Cont. Male had only access to couples money as he was the wage earner Female felt underappreciated and male felt they equally appreciated each other This couple is extremely traditional. The female is dependent on the male and the male also relies on the female for domestic upkeep. While the female feels “out-of-love,” the males lack of involvement denies him the ability to understand her feelings. Couple # 3 (24F & 24F) Both partners felt duties to be equally dispersed Both partners combined income and had equal access to it Both shared appreciation for each other regularly During an observation, this couple showed the most affection toward one another. There was a strong sense of togetherness and equality. They were a good example of a peer marriage.
Results Cont Couple # 4 (24F & 24M) Both shared equal feelings of responsibility in the home Both had equal access to funds as their accounts were not yet combined Both shared appreciation toward the other partner
Conclusion What can be concluded from this experiment was that the older couples seemed to have more traditional style marriages while the younger couples had more peer style marriages. I believe that age as well as sexual orientation definitely play a huge role in the style of relationships practiced between partners. Older couples seem to be more attached to traditional family values and younger couples seem to favor peer marriages. I believe that my experiment largely supported my hypothesis that people who practice a peer marriage will have more respect for each other. If I were to do this study again I would plan to have more participants of all ages, sexual orientation, and traditional and peer marriages.
Works Cited Blair, Sampson Lee. 1998. Work Roles, Domestic Roles, and Marital Quality: Perceptions of Fairness Among Dual-Earner Couples. Social Justice Research vol. 11, p313-335. July 29, 2010, Ebsco Host. Kimmel, Michael. 2008. The Gendered Society, Third Edition. New York, New York. Oxford. Schwartz, Pepper. 1994. Modernizing Marriage: Equality and Flexibility Make Better Husbands and Wives.