Traditional couples intentionally organize their family life around gender.  They consider men and women as “naturally different” who play different roles in marriage.  The division of task by gender is not open to negotiation although they can be flexible on a day-to-day basis.  For traditional couples “equality” refers to each gendered role as deserving of “resect”.   With regard to decision-making , they each have a voice in that each is heard.  However women speak of trusting their husbands to not use their authority to advance only their own position.

James and Kwan have a young daughter and are expecting a second child.  James is a school counselor and Kwan is an accountant.  Kwan is the partner who insisted upon a gender-based relationship.  She wanted the father to be the head of the house, making the important decisions for the family.  In discussion, each contributes their perspective, but Kwan tends to defer to James.  As she says, “…He is a big thinker.  He doesn’t just go after his emotional like me”.  Like most other traditional couples, Kwan and James see equality as equally giving in the relationship.


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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