Gender legacy is a term that reflects a contractor pull for couples between equality and traditional gender expectations.  Gender legacy couples talk about their relationship using strongly egalitarian language.  Their relationship is “50-50”, they have “mutual respect”, and they work as a “team”.  But if you ask them to describe their daily lives, a legacy of gender is seen to underlie their relationship.  These couples describe their preference for the tasks they do remain closely linked to their gender (i.e. “I know she knows to take care of the baby”).  Wives describe themselves and their husbands describe them  as “naturally accommodating” and more “tuned into” the needs of others.    Wives tend to spend most of their time at home, leaving them responsible for both their work and family life by default.    Gender legacy couples fall into gender-typical patterns, leaving family responsibilities primarily in the hands of women,  regardless of their sated commitment to equality

Karin and Miguel appear egalitarian; Katrina runs her own business and Miguel works for a local governmental agency.  they have one child, a young son.  They say they have a “50-50” marriage and participate together, whether it is cooking, cleaning, or shopping.

However, Katrina takes primary responsibility for the home and their child.  According to Katrina, fairness is Miguel cooking dinner when she can’t cook or giving the baby a bath when she can’t.  Miguel assumes Katrina will be available for time together when he is and does not like her to go out when it is not necessary.  Miguel is not aware when Katrina needs emotional support and Katrina edits what she will bring up for discussion in order to keep things running smoothly.  Conflicts that occur are not resolved.


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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