Achieving and maintaining gender equality in your relationship is not going to be easy. Most couples fall into unequal marital patterns without their conscious intention or awareness. Successful egalitarian couples are vigilant about being proactive in decision making. Here are several fundamental issues that will facilitate achieving and maintain gender equality in your marriage.
Be aware of gender issues. Being aware of the strong pull toward traditional masculine and feminine roles is the first step in moving beyond gender.
Challenging gender entitlement is often instigated by women. A new husband may think he gets to make the decisions about money; gets to go play golf on Saturday because he has worked hard all week; only has to “help” out with the children. Husbands who are committed to an equal relationship have to remind themselves, “This is my house, these are my dishes, and this is my baby just as much as hers.”
Develop new competencies. Couples who are committed to gender equality in their marriage have to develop new competencies for which they have not been socialized. Men will have to learn how to be fully involved parents; they will have to be willing to express themselves; will have to attend to the things that make them an equal partner. Women often have to learn to be comfortable knowing what they want; be willing to express directly what they want; and be committed to productive work outside the home.
Dual commitments to family and work. Equality is promoted when both partners express a strong commitment to both family and work participation. This makes family commitment a high priority for men and a commitment to paid work a high priority for women. If commitment to paid work is not equal, gender is likely to become a prime force in family life as women vest their identity in family responsibilities, and men invest theirs in work.
Active negotiation about family life. Maintaining gender equality means facing issues and working to resolve them, rather than letting them fester. Both husbands and wives can learn to get input from both sides of an issue and improve their negotiation of their perspectives.
Knudson-Martin, C. (2005). “Moving beyond gender: Processes that Create Relationship Equality.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Volume 31, Issue 2, pages 235-258, April 2005.
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