One of the most difficult things to change is old ideas about how to be husbands and wives. Thank goodness gender is much less important in our public lives in the new millennium. However, in our private lives, old and rigid ideas of masculinity and femininity get replayed over and over in marriage.
Changing the way marriage pulls for us to “act out” our gender roles is going to be very difficult. Sociologist, Sara Berk, coined a terrific term, “the gender factory”, to describe how household activities, caring for the children, and even the way we show we care personally about each other as husbands and wives are driven by our implicit desire to feel masculine or feminine. That is, feelings about femininity and masculinity get tied to specific marital activities, e.g. women take care of the children and men help out.
Millennials, ranging in age from 18 to 33, are providing a bit of good news relating to ideas about gender roles. An historically unprecedented belief that there are no inherently male or female roles is part of their core belief system. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the question of whether or not these millennials will get and stay married. Millennials feel that they don’t have to be married to have sexual relations. In the changing generational workforce, millennial women don’t feel they have to be or stay married to survive economically. If millennials do marry, will they be able to sustain their stance on gender equality?
I am writing this blog on how to keep things equal in your marriage because of my concern about the difficulty of maintaining equality for men and women in marriage. I think maintaining equality in marriage is vital for a number of reasons: (1) women will not achieve equality in society as a whole if they live in a gender-defined relationship in their marriage, (2) because I have been married for a long time to a man who from the earliest days of our marriage was committed to the idea of being equal partners, (3) having both mother and father investing time and effort into raising their children is good for everyone, (4) having a good, intimate relationship in the context of marriage is good for us as individuals and good for our society.
Click on these thumbnails for more about being masculine and feminine and how to co-construct your marriage….