Equality in Marriage

Successful marriages take planning and effort for both partners in a relationship. Although, most couples send more time talking about caterers and venues and choosing all the details of preparing for the one night event instead of discussing all the little details of the lifetime commitment.

Today more than ever the political structure of marriage is complicated by the fact that so much as changed for both genders in the society. While most newly married couples would expect to be equal partners, in their new roles as husband and wife, they don’t understand what that would entail and how much effort it would take to create. I believe equality like happiness is an abstract concept that ebbs and flows just as happiness in marriage. It is a foundation or a fundamental idea that can not be gained in the short run but is established for couples who are in it for the long hall.

According to the Ten Habits of Successful Intimate Partners, If you want to succeed in your relationship, you need to have interpersonal habits like the ones described in the article, such as avoiding a judgmental attitude, standing up for yourself without putting your partner down and giving equal regard, to name a few. In the article Atkinson says, “The best relationships operate like democracies: one person, one vote. When people go to cast their votes in a democratic society, nobody stands at the polling place deciding if their reasoning is good enough to allow their votes to count. Their opinions count equally, regardless of what anyone thinks of their reasoning“.

The sad truth is that 60 percent of marriages for couples between the ages of 20 and 25 end in divorce according to the National Center for Health Statistics. (Dr. Phil Marriage and Divorce: The Statistics). I believe this occurs because ideally couples envision a life of equality on a day to day basis. But in truth equality is not simply about a 50/50 split of household chores or childrearing decisions or even financial responsibilities {Vignette: Equality in Marriage} . It cannot be measured or balanced at any given point in time because it perpetually fluctuates. Anyone in a successful marriage will tell you the idea of equality is something to strive for but it can’t be measured or counted until the end of the game, unfortunately many couples move on before the pendulum swings in their direction. Marriages have come a long way. Women have not always been treated as equal to men. For a long time women would do whatever their husbands told them to. Women were not alond to go out and find jobs to make money for themselves. Women stayed home and took care of their husbands and children. Women were not alond to get divorces and if they talked bad about their husbands they were looked down on and their husbands would find out. In 1857, women could finally divorce their husbands who weere cruel to them or if their husbands had left them (Trueman). This was a great step for women to become independant. Usually in a marriage the men took care of the any monry that was earned and made sure all the bills were paid. Women did not have any controll over the money. Women were only given money if they needed food or clothes for their families. By 1870, women were finally aloud to keep any money they earned and were also aloud to get some small jobs. Women did not leave their husbands very much because the jobs they could get did not pay very much and most times they would have a few children that they would have to support also, By 1891, things were getting better for women, they were getting paid more and many more jobs were avaliable. Also in 1891 women could not be forced to live with their husbands anymore. This was a big break through for women. By the nineteenth century women were aloud to vote. Today not only can women vote they can do almost anythhing for work that they want to. Most women today make as much as their husbands if not more and still take care of their families. Women have proven to society that they can and will always be equal to men. This has been a huge part in equaity in marriages.

“The time to tilt your marriage a few degrees in the direction of equality is before you reach that breaking point, advises psychologist Francine Deutsch, Ph.D., author of Halving It All,, a study of equal parenting…you can still talk about what fairness means to you, what partnership means in your marriage. Remember, you’re not necessarily aiming for perfect equality here—just for a balance that works for the two of you.” (Gifford p.4) Gifford states in, You can Have a 50/50 Marriage,” Ask him to tell you what he needs from you—and promise to provide it. Then be clear about what you need from him every day, not just once in a while…You can’t have equality, says Deutsch, if you really want your husband to be your assistant.” This article discusses 50/50 in the sense that both partners feel they are part of an egalitarian marriage, where as, as long as both partners feel they are giving and getting in equal measure they are satisfied (that does not necessarily mean each responsibility or burden is shared equally).

According to Pepper Schwartz in Peer Marriage, “The point of the marriage was not to share everything fifty-fifty. Rather, the shared decisions, responsibility, and household labor were in the service of an intimate and deeply collaborative marriage. I call this kind of marriage peer marriage; it is a marriage of equal companions, a collaboration of love and labor in order to produce profound intimacy and mutual respect.” (p.2)

“The most important elements in the quality of all marriage, especially those with working and high achieving wives, are the husband’s sensitivity, supportiveness, and sense of self worth. Of course this finding does not excuse wives from sharing the responsibility for marital quality; marital success always will require the positive contribution of two individuals.” (Vannoy-Hiller)

In a successful marriage, when two people decide to commit themselves to each other, they come into the marriage with a common understanding that equality in marriage is not to gained in equal wins to losses but in the realization that even when you feel you are giving more than your fair share you know that one day your partner will reciprocate.

By: Esther Faro

Beginning years

Mid years

Final years

Atkinson, B. Ten habits of successful intimate partners*.
www.thecouplesclinic.com/pdf/ten habits.pdf.,
Gifford, S. (2001). You can have a 50/50 marriage!. Redbook, Mar2001,
196(3), p116p6.

Phil, Dr. (2003). Marriage And Divorce: The Statistics.
www.drphil.com/articles/print/?Article ID=351.,
Schwartz, Pepper. (1994) Peer marriage :how love between equals really works New York :
Free Press ;

Trueman, Chris. "Woman's Rights". History learning site.
2000-2001. Web. 10 May 2011. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/womensrights.htm

Vannoy-Hiller, Dana.Philliber, William W.. (1989) Equal partners :successful women in
marriage Newbury Park, Calif. : Sage Publications,
Glassbergen, Randy, 2003., Google images., www.glassbergen.com.