Sex, chores and fairness: egalitarianism in the modern couple

28 Sep

Societal and historical traditions dictate that men bring home the bacon and women look after the home. But how do these roles play out in progressive, forward-thinking cultures in the present day?

selfless platonic relationship

Egalitarianism in the modern couples; a topic that comes up time and time again. Recently, a study in the field of Marriage and Family conducted by Professor Daniel L. Carlson of Georgia analysed a large sample of heterosexual American couples in relation to labour division. It was identified that the division of labour within the relationship is strongly connected to the satisfaction of both parties’ experience in the long-term, including data from domestic living, from seemingly trivial tasks e.g. taking out the rubbish, to variables that can influence the wellbeing of the relationship, such as the frequency of sex and both parties’ perception of the overall level of fairness.

This study found that approximately half of the couples take a conventional approach to the sharing of tasks. Interestingly, a big decrease was found from the 80% of women who reported to be the primary homemakers in their relationships as recently as the 90s. This is the result of the increased female workforce and a trend towards more flexible working hours and schedules.

This study further found that the frequency of sex – and, alongside it, the level of sexual satisfaction – increased with self-reported egalitarianism. Couples who reported to be egalitarian had higher levels of wellbeing in their relationships, happier love lives compared to couples who engaged in more traditionally structured coupledom.

The most flourishing and long-lasting relationships are the most egalitarian.

Nevertheless, Carlson and colleagues’ findings have vices. Whilst it’s undoubtedly, it is significant for couples to share the responsibility of doing the chores, those couples who have the highest levels of satisfaction and happiness of all are the ones play to their strengths and understand that having clearly defined roles and responsibilities does not automatically equate to inequality. In some instances, the women may be a better cook and is happy to take these chores while the man is better at gardening. The occurrence of them being categorised into sex-specific roles of the conventional couple is of no consequence as long as both of them are happy with the distribution of work, resulting in them spending more time together.

It seems that egalitarianism in gay couples, are not subject to the same societal rules of the traditional couple. A study consisting of approximately 1000 couples of both orientations found that gay couples share the duty of housework more equitably. Robert-Jay Green suggested that homosexual coupledom throws traditional gender roles out the window. Both partners consider each other equals on a fundamental level, transcending outmoded societal dictate.


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by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida Maclynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.More by this author

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