Gender Roles Debunked!

Hawkgrrrl Asides, Culture, curiosity, gay, Happiness, homosexuality, liberal, love, marriage, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, news, questioning, sexuality, thought, women 38 Comments

What can we learn about gender roles in marriage from committed gay couples?  Is equity the ideal?  Is it possible?  With less than 24 hours until Father’s Day, here’s some food for thought.

NYT recently published a short article called Gay Unions Shed Light on Gender in Marriage.  The article studies how people in committed relationships care for each other, and how they share responsibility, power and authority.  Some observations:

  • Household tasks
    • Heterosexual couples:  far more housework done by women while more men take the burden of handling finances  Another article in the NYT (When Mom and Dad Share It All) details role equity experiments among couples.  According to a survey done by University of Wisconsin, women do approximately twice as much housework as men (including all household tasks, yardwork, car care, etc. – 31 hrs for women, 15 for men).  For SAHMs, the figures skew slightly higher 38 hrs for the woman, 14 for the man.  Where both spouses work, the figures are only slightly more equitable than the average:  28 hrs for women, 16 for men.  Childcare related tasks skew even more toward women:  a 5 to 1 ratio.  These ratios (hours vary due to technology advancements) hold true across all economic strata for the last 90 years; oddly, the ratio also holds true for contemporary SAHDs.  The article points out that women’s standards for housework are significantly higher than men’s.  Therefore, women will work harder to meet those standards while men will desist when their own threshold for cleanliness is reached.  Psychologically women may feel superior or prideful of their own household competence or they may be more attuned to and influenced by societal expectations than men (e.g. do the kids’ clothes match, is hair brushed, are there dirty socks in areas of the house visible from the front door?).
    • Same Sex couples: much more egalitarian in how the household burdens are shared.
  • Initiative
    • Heterosexual couples:  men are more likely to initiate sex, while women may refuse sex.  Women are more likely to begin conversations about problems in the relationship.
    • Same Sex couples:  burdens for initiating both sex and difficult conversations are more equally shared.
  • Relationship satisfaction
    • Heterosexual couples:  women feel more resentment over the burden of housework and caring for the relationship, whereas men may feel resentment due to differences in sex drive.  According to another study, 58% of women feel resentment in marriage due to perceived inequities (distribution of labor is unfair to “me”) while 11% of men do.
    • Same Sex couples:  as gauged by the study, same sex couples have a higher level of satisfaction and more equality of satisfaction between partners.
  • Arguments
    • Heterosexual couples:  fighting is often unfair and escalates due to behaviors such as domineering and belligerence as well as verbal attacks.  Physical agitation stays longer with the feuding spouses.  The 3 main things couples fight about are children, money or division of labor.  Since these are more unequal in heterosexual relationships, hetero couples are more prone to highly charged emotional conflicts.  On the topic of money, the article about Moms & Dad points out that women often consider their jobs to be more flexible than men, despite the actual role they hold; societal norms also continue to influence career decisions for women.
    • Same Sex couples:  there were better behaviors exhibited in fighting, such as infusing humor and affection, stepping back to conversation rather than emotional escalation.  There was more equity in perceptions and more open discussion about job flexibility with less defensiveness.

Another mythical stereotype about hetero couples was that in conflict the woman makes demands while the man withdraws from the conflict, but this was found to be true in the same-sex relationships also, and not a byproduct of gender.

The study concludes that it’s easier to understand the other person’s perspective in a same sex relationship.  But it did hold out the ray of hope that hetero couples who defuse anger and work to relate to their partner’s concerns have the strongest marriages.  (What’s next?  Ice is cold?  Water is wet?)

So, based on this study, life would be a lot easier if we could just become gay.  Maybe we could create some sort of reprogramming seminar.  Just a thought.

Are gender roles really eternal (did I really sign up to do laundry in the pre-existence)?  And does that mean that gender roles are good, or should we work to overcome them if we want happier marriages as this study suggests?  Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 38

  1. Other than biology, I have yet to figure out what the Proclamation is referring to about gender roles… As you can tell, I have a problem with them, lol. While I think clarifying roles and/or responsibilities is important in relationships, I have talked to plenty even recently who still believe that men and women are inherently better at certain things, and “should” be doing certain tasks.

    Women can fix cars just as well as men, and men can nurture just as well as women. If there is any difference I think it is due to socialization. So no, I don’t think laundry-doing was pre-ordained. 😉 As for “presiding,” I haven’t figured that one out either yet and my wife and I sort of run things tag-team style in our family. Many people have explained it to me as “husband and wife talk and find something they agree on, then the husband makes the decision.” That makes no sense to me because they made the decision together; they are equal.

    As for the “household tasks” and sexual orientation, I was studying this issue recently for a presentation in one of my classes, and found that while heterosexual husbands REALLY need to do A LOT better in this area (in fact, they hold the key to much of the marital satisfaction), wives can really help if they reject the “traditional” roles themselves, and favor a more egalitarian style.

  2. This is interesting, but I can’t help being a little suspicious about this article. So gay unions are superior in every possible way to hetero unions? I guess the proof is just overwhelming that traditional marriage is oppressive and must be deconstructed for the good of humanity.

  3. E: I think you’re missing the point of Hawkgrrl’s post. Her post can be summed up with the question in the final paragraph: “Are gender roles really eternal?” The survey and findings were used as evidence of similarities in the way roles are played by people in committed relationships, regardless of gender.

  4. Point-by-point:

    1) Household tasks – “The article points out that women’s standards for housework are significantly higher than men’s. Therefore, women will work harder to meet those standards while men will desist when their own threshold for cleanliness is reached.”

    So, if two women or two men live together, they are more likely to have similar housework standards – meaning they will be more likely to spend similar amounts of time on that housework – whether that creates a spotless house or a natural disaster. Duh.

    2) Initiative – Again, given the stereotypes for each, if BOTH are more likely to initiate or less likely to initiate, both will initiate more equally. Duh.

    3) Every point really is just more of the same.

    The take-away argument for this article seems to be that we should live with someone who is as much like us as possible. For heterosexual couples, maybe it simply means that we need to strive to become one in a real and meaningful way – so that we eliminate differences that divide us while allowing for those that don’t.

    As to the last set of questions, maybe we should take the Proclamation seriously, admit biological or cultural, yet generic, “primary roles” and work to help each other as equal partners in the actual accomplishment of the duties within those roles. I really believe if the membership understood and followed what the Proclamation actually says in this regard, these debates largely would disappear.

  5. What is wrong with gender roles?

    For example, consider the statement: “far more housework done by women while more men take the burden of handling finances” Is housework inherently superior to handling finances? Or vice versa?

    Are not both necessary to the proper operation of a household?

    Division and specialization of labor are extremely helpful in effectively and efficiently completing all the required tasks in a family- allowing more time for leisure.

    The problem isn’t gender roles. The problem is that we have imbued certain aspects of these roles with unwarranted relative values, (tending to overvalue male roles, especially financially related tasks).

    I would argue that this is an aberration due to the Great Depression. The Great Depression inflicted terrible psychological damage on American thought. Does anyone really think a community can experience 1/4 unemployment, and another 1/4 underemployment over a period of years and not be effected by it?

    One of the most obvious effects was the explosion in the number of lawyers. Professions such as doctor and lawyer became the gold standard of employment for the 1950’s- why? Everyone acts as if it was only natural for parents to want their children to grow up to become doctors or lawyers- yet traditionally the natural path for children was to go into the same profession (or a related one) as their parents.

    Another was the idea that the most important and essential role of a husband was to earn money. Almost as an exclusive role, precluding any other activity, and justifying neglect in other areas of husbandry. Why? Well, you just passed through a period when men could not find work, it becomes pretty obvious as to why money earning was overvalued by the next generation.

    It explains why women wanted their daughters to marry a doctor or a lawyer- or someone with established wealth or earnings. They had seen their mothers suffer because their father could not earn money.

    It also explains why many men began to denigrate roles of the wife in the family. Not every man is going to achieve financial or career success. Some end up in dead end jobs that provide sufficient for their needs but no advancement. Previously men in such circumstances could seek validation in other roles- such as instruction of his children, but with the new emphasis on career and earnings as the primary measure of a man’s worth, these men felt like failures.

    What’s the easiest way to make yourself feel better? Find someone else you can put down below you so that you are at least better then them. Hence the start of “Well at least I earn the money in this family- What do you do all day?” as an argument made with their wives. To further their claim on a superior role in the family, these men began refusing to preform “inferior” roles in the home- labeling it “women’s work”.

    Then came the Feminist revolt against this use of wife roles as a tool to make men feel better about their failures.

    Instead of rejecting this twisted male view of the world that valued men earning money outside the home over housework and childcare, feminism accepted it, and declared that women would now get to share in the more important role of earning money, and no longer be trapped in “the drudgery” of raising children and doing housework.

    Nevermind the fact that the raising of children and the care of the home are obviously of greater value then simply earning money.

    So here we are today, with the whole world turned on it’s head. Both men and women today have skewed values due to the trauma of the Great Depression- and nobody even seems to think to question these new values.

  6. E – “I can’t help being a little suspicious about this article” – well, both articles were in the New York Times (NYT). Are you accusing the world’s newspaper of a political agenda?

    Cicero – your insight into the great depression is interesting and certainly explains some of the inequality in women working outside the home, but OTOH, the second article showed in the University of Wisconsin study that while the raw number of hours changed over time (overall time spent on housework was greatly reduced due to technological advances) the ratios between men and women had stayed consistently the same for 90 years. Fathers are still spending proportionately the same amount of time with their children (1 hour to every five of their wife’s) or household tasks (1 hour to every 2 of their wife’s).

    I think Ray’s hit it on the head, although I’d go a little further even. I’m not sure gender roles (whatever that means) really are eternal (although each of the sexes seems to have natural tendencies over a large population), nor am I sure that gay unions are really better than straight ones in terms of long-lasting happiness (but maybe getting along is easier). What I took from it is that working together as a couple toward equality is a better means to happiness (certainly more practical to me than changing my sexual orientation) than assuming that one spouse loves to wipe the butts of toddlers while the other is more suited to changing the oil. Couples should discuss and make conscious choices about money, children, and labor distribution, and they should probably push each other to dispel assumptions about gender roles and about standards for tasks. Fortunately for me, I’m already in such a marriage and I don’t feel the work distribution is terribly unfair (my husband might). Unfortunately, some are not in the same situation.

  7. AdamF – “I haven’t figured that one out either yet and my wife and I sort of run things tag-team style in our family. Many people have explained it to me as “husband and wife talk and find something they agree on, then the husband makes the decision.” ” IMO, these days your system is the norm. My husband’s family always put this a different way. Everyone weighs in, and then my mother-in-law makes the final decision (or tells my father-in-law who relays the decision). As my husband puts it in our family, everyone gets a vote, and Mom gets five votes. I think it just points to the fact that patriarchy is a myth: women use soft power in a patriarchical power structure, and soft power usually rules, relegating the ostensible power to the role of figure head. Or as you say, in a more open relationship, decisions are simply made equally. But even in equal relationships, some decisions are more important to one spouse than the other and vice versa. If one spouse always gets final say as patriarchy is understood by some (I would say misunderstood), soft power (intellect, persuasion, and even passive aggression and manipulation) will always find a way to equalize that system.

  8. My wife and I try to operate as a quorum presidency is supposed to operate – by common consent and unanimity wherever possible. We talk about everything imaginable and, whenever an “important” decision needs to be made we make it together. If we can’t agree, we stick with the status quo.

    That means our children don’t get most of their last-minute requests, since my wife and I haven’t had a chance to discuss it – and, in almost all cases, what they are requesting is not a real emergency situation. I simply tell them, “You know I can’t give my permission without talking to Mom. You also know we generally don’t make decisions like that the same day you ask us. We need time to think and talk about it. What can you do to rearrange it for next week or this weekend?” If it really is an emergency situation and we don’t agree, she allows me to decide – knowing I then am the one who has to deal with the consequences if my decision is incorrect or causes unexpected complications. (and I mean it when I say she “allows” it)

    Too many people (including parents) think that decisions MUST be made in the moment. I can’t think of a single time we’re delayed a decision on which we didn’t agree and regretted it later.

    Having said all of that, she cares more about many things than I do, so I am fine if most of our decisions reflect what she wants. My boys have learned the “Yes, Dearem Theorem”. Very few things are worth making a conflicting issue of them. Our marriage works as well as it does to a certain extent specifically because I have no problem being the head that she as the neck turns.

  9. Sometimes we just have to stand up for truth for the sake of goodness and truth, regardless of sophisticated arguments that can be made. It simply is not true that homosexual couples can replace the God designed truth of heterosexual couples sealed in the temple. They simply cannot replace it. This is the design of the Universe before God ever was, adhered to by every God that was ever in eternity, regardless of any argument made by any devil that ever existed in eternity. Heterosexuality is it. Period.

  10. hawkgrrrl, AdamF-

    Interesting, because my mother’s family and my father’s family are so different from each other, and from your descriptions of family decision making.

    I guess my mother’s family is a bit closer, in that my Grandmother is the main power in the family. However, in my mother’s family, everybody gets a say. Everybody gets together and everybody argues until finally a consensus is reached. Many a family vacation has had a couple hours disappear into a debate that ended with nobody doing anything because nothing was agreed on.

    However, there is the great strength to this system in that everybody feels very comfortable expressing their true opinions to each other.

    On the other hand my father’s family is very patriarchal. Grandpa planned all the family vacations for that side of the family. However, being patriarch means that you have to put the needs of the family before your own. So Grandfather would talk to each family member about all the possible activities, and figure out what they wanted to do. Then when he created his plan he would be sure to incorporate something for everyone. Sometimes he’d build in some flexibilities. Other times he would say something like “This is what A, B, and C family members are going to go do- you are welcome to come as well, but I thought you others might prefer doing this activity instead and we can meet up again afterwards”.

    Well, this all created the interesting effect that the rest of the family often would get together and try to divine what Grandpa wanted to do this vacation, so that we could all include that activity in our suggestions to Grandpa, because we knew that if he thought we didn’t want to do something it would never make it into the plan- even if he really wanted to do it.

    There were a couple times when there was a miscalculation and we all ended up doing something that nobody wanted to do, because we were under the mistaken impression that someone else wanted to do it…

  11. For me, all this studies proves is that so called ‘gay couples’ aren’t couples at all since they lack all of the normal dynamics of a couple!

    “it’s easier to understand the other person’s perspective in a same sex relationship”???, doh??
    off course, since they are the same -mates,buddies.

    In a ‘real’ couple one has to get to know the opposition, and eventually love them. And its a lot harder to accept someone who pees sitting down and uses makeup than someone who’s just like us, who we don’t need to guess what they are thinking or why their hormones make her sad and so on and so on.

    Remember that ‘men are from mars and women from venus’.

  12. #6: Well, yes. I could be wrong, but isn’t it sort of conventional wisdom that the NYT has a “progressive” political agenda?

  13. #11:
    For me, all this studies proves is that so called ‘gay couples’ aren’t couples at all since they lack all of the normal dynamics of a couple!

    Carlos, do you actually know any committed gay couples? I don’t just mean “know of them,” but actually know them, enough to have some idea of their day to day lives? If you’re able to make the above comment, I’m guessing you don’t actually know any gay couples, and you’re operating on some sort of fantasy idea of what a gay couple “must” be like.

    In a ‘real’ couple one has to get to know the opposition, and eventually love them.

    So a “real” couple is made up of adversaries, who get to know “the opposition,” and “eventually” love them? That’s an amazingly sad outlook on relationships, Carlos. Are you “the opposition” of your spouse? Is she your “opposition?” Wouldn’t it be better to be on the same team?

    And its a lot harder to accept someone who pees sitting down and uses makeup than someone who’s just like us, who we don’t need to guess what they are thinking or why their hormones make her sad and so on and so on.

    Carlos, I don’t really want to be disrespectful, but I can’t help but laugh at your comment here. Your comment seems to suppose that all men are basically alike, so there’s no effort between gay partners to figure out what the other is thinking, etc. (Not to mention, your comment betrays an archaic sexism, and suggests that you’re prone to dismissing your spouse’s feelings and emotions as hormonally-induced vagaries!) Nothing could be further from the truth, Carlos.

    When two people bring their lives together, no matter what their biological sex, it takes real work and committment to sustain and build a relationship. Any two people will have different viewpoints, habits, and idiocyncrasies, which require understanding and compromise.

    off course [sic], since they are the same -mates,buddies.

    Committed gay partners do not relate with one another in the way a man and his “buddies” interact, Carlos. They share a depth of emotional intimacy that simply doesn’t exist between a “buddies.” That emotional intimacy goes far beyond the whole “it’s a guy thing” understanding that exists between “buddies.”

    Carlos, I have “buddies,” and I know the difference between a “buddy” and a partner. My best friend (who happens to be another gay former LDS member) and I know each other extremely well, and share very similar backgrounds. We’re close enough that some in our social circle have wondered why we didn’t get together romantically. The truth is, however, we simply don’t have that kind of compatibility. Neither of us has what the other ultimately needs and wants in a partner, and if we were ever to try to be in a romantic relationship, we’d almost certainly destroy our friendship. “Buddies” frankly make really, really bad lovers.

  14. #12 E – Ray’s right. I should have emoticon’d my statement about the NYT. LOL! Despite NYT’s political slant, there have been a lot of great articles about what straight couples can learn from gay couples. Insights into marriage are helpful on any front, IMHO. And I have really found the insights into relationship dynamics and gender roles helpful.

    Cicero – your description of your grandfather’s style is totally foreign to me, so thanks for sharing it! It also shows how others conform to the power structure to still get something they want out of it. In the case you described, the descendents use their soft-power in alliances to promote what they want in subtle ways. Because your grandfather is kindhearted, he wants everyone to be pleased, so he’s open to their suggestions. The problem with too strong a patriarchal structure is that those beneath that structure will find it oppressive and resort to negative forms of power (manipulation) or resist (rebellion) or have an underdeveloped ability to make decision (weak moral compass). JS certainly took Emma’s feelings into account, and Lucy Mack clearly wore the pants in that family. To some extent, I wonder if JS’s focus on “patriarchy” was partly a way to bolster the demoralized Joseph Sr’s role.

  15. Nick, just quickly:

    1- I work with some gays, one has gone through all the medical problems with his, ah, sphincter, inner one, and he loves to tell people about it to boast of how much he has used it; but no, I don’t know his partner but remember that the comment was about the study and the results proposed.

    2- in a sense they are the adversary as an opposition since from our earliest years we are separated into different camps, male and female, for clothing, bathrooms, YM/YW etc. Thats the sense I was talking about not a belligerent one. But then sure, we come together to form a single union in marriage and yes we are on the same team in the marriage sense.

    3- Peeing sitting down was suppose to make one laugh a bit! all tongue in cheek. About the misses, well maybe yours was different to mine, don’t know. But mine had all the PMS/PND (which we don’t have), never touch by me makeup desk, and many more little things which I’m sure same-sex couples would not face.

    But I undertand what you’re saying with the work and commitment bit and that’s fine. But the story was about the ‘differences’ between traditional and same sex couples, where the latter get alone better and……well its all written above, and ends with: “The study concludes that it’s easier to understand the other person’s perspective in a same sex relationship” to which I say, off course its easier because they aren’t the opposition (in a sense, not adversary one) and hetero couples are fundamentally different at the most fundamental level (ie we don’t have monthly cyles, dresses, want to see chick flicks but prefer football mostly etc etc) At the end of the day its easier to start off as buddies with your same sex partner than with the opposite sex, even if the latter relationship grows and matures and becomes a celestial one. And remember that the word ‘couple’ did originally imply opposites working together, which I don’t see happening within same sex so called ‘couples’ since they don’t start of as opposites.

    (By the way, you should go to church tomorrow with your exmo partner and try to fit in as a non-member :), only my suggestion though 🙂 )

  16. A gay acquaintance of mine invited me to dinner at his home once and a gay couple was also invited. These two had met when they were 18 and had been together for 18 years. The topic of conversation turned to the features of their relationship that promoted their longetivity. They were both well-employed, family-oriented, well-accepted. They had no children, but were good uncles to their sibling’s children. They both concluded that one of the factors that was of benefit to their longetivity was the fact that they did not have children. More time was devoted to their relationship and there were fewer conflicts of the nature that they observed with their heterosexual friends.

    This, of course, was one couple’s outlook and there are obviously gay couples that have children, but it is an interesting scenario to contemplate with hawkgrrl’s points.

    Household tasks; children = more tasks; “Childcare related tasks skew even more toward women: a 5 to 1 ratio”. (for how many average children is this ratio based?)

    Initiative; children = more distractions, more fatigue and less energy left to initiate (skewed toward women); “men are more likely to initiate sex, while women may refuse sex”

    Arguments; The 3 main things couples fight about are CHILDREN, money or division of labor (more children result in money being stretched further and more household labor to be divided)

    So, to look at the report and assume that the differences are strictly a function of gender may be misleading. What are the average household sizes and, furthermore, what percentage of the time does the number of children in the home fluctuate due to custody arrangements. Even comparing childless hetero couples to childless gay couples on relationship satisfaction can be difficult due to differences. The extended family of a hetero couple are much quicker to assume that children will be coming and so the pressure is on. Mixed-gender couples also usually (not in all cases) have an expectation that biologic fertility is available, and considerable relationship energy can be spent on the topic of managing the biologic fertility. Discovery of unexpected impaired fertility is another potential consumer of relationship energy. Issues of managing and using fertility can have direct impact on the issue of sexual satisfaction.

    Certainly gay couples face huge obstacles from society affecting their relationship satisfaction as well, so its not as easy as “life would be a lot easier if we could just become gay”. Could you, strictly speaking as a theoretical conclusion to your posted data (and not from any personal recommendation of mine) say “life would be a lot easier if we could just removed biologic fertility”. “Maybe we could create a reprogramming seminar.”

  17. Carlos,
    First, you don’t need to tolerate a co-worker’s boasting about his sexual habits, no matter who he goes to bed with. You need to pull the guy aside quietly and encourage him to have some discretion, or failing that, you need to have a chat with your employer’s human resource department.

    But the story was about the ‘differences’ between traditional and same sex couples, where the latter get alone better and……well its all written above, and ends with: “The study concludes that it’s easier to understand the other person’s perspective in a same sex relationship” to which I say, off course its easier…

    Perhaps I shouldn’t comment on a study I haven’t read, but I suspect the explanation in the article is oversimplified. It may be easier for a gay couple to understand each other on certain specific issues, but even if you’re both from Mars, there’s a good chance your from opposite hemispheres of the planet.

    In my own experience and observation, successful committed gay couples seem to share a characteristic that successful straight couples have. They pay attention to what each other is feeling, and respect those feelings. They treat one another, and speak to one another, accordingly. They’re actually committed to making each other happy, or to put it another way, they avoid selfishness.

    It’s stereotypical to assume that gay men have a higher level of such sensitivity than straight men do, but perhaps that stereotype is true in a large-scale, general sense. I can assure you, however, that I’ve also encountered bitter, caustic, selfish gay couples, who seem to have little or no regard for each other, let alone love. Sadly, some of these couples persist in staying together, just as some bitter, caustic, selfish straight couples do. It seems to me that successful couples are more about what’s in the head and heart, than what’s between the legs.

    (By the way, you should go to church tomorrow with your exmo partner and try to fit in as a non-member 🙂

    ACK! Even as a nearly-fundamentalist believing Mormon, I hated going to church on Fathers’ Day! That, however, is the subject for another post entirely! 😉

  18. Rigel – interesting perspective; the first article didn’t address the differences in numbers of children, but your assumptions probably have merit there. The second article focused on both married and gay couples with children, but even so, there probably was a higher average number of children in the hetero couples (based solely on the case study couples they used. The gay couples in the article had one child while the hetero couples had 3 or more). Very insightful.

    Carlos – I have to agree with Nick that your stereotypes leave me cold. You’ve emphasized negative stereotypes about women that de-emphasize female power (PMS, sad feelings, expecting men to read their minds, liking chick flicks). Those negative stereotypes really just reveal selfishness at their core (I’m not accusing you personally of selfishness, just examining those stereotypes that we have all heard before). There are also negative stereotypes about men, and they also reveal selfishness at their core; the emphasis of lack of tolerance for petty differences is itself selfishness. I agree with Nick that regardless of who is in the relationship, the only way to have a great relationship is: “They pay attention to what each other is feeling, and respect those feelings. They treat one another, and speak to one another, accordingly. They’re actually committed to making each other happy, or to put it another way, they avoid selfishness.” Well put, Nick!

  19. “They pay attention to what each other is feeling, and respect those feelings. They treat one another, and speak to one another, accordingly. They’re actually committed to making each other happy, or to put it another way, they avoid selfishness.” Well put, Nick!

    Hawkgrrrl beat me to it. That was perhaps the best, most succinct summary of successful marriages (relationships) I’ve ever read.

    Just to muddy the water with another slight stereotype, perhaps some gay couples are able to see the need for what Nick describes specifically because they know how it feels to be rejected and abhorred and reviled and NOT ACCEPTED by others – so they know how badly it is desired and how important it is to respect others and treat them well and focus on making others happy. That’s not exclusive to gay couples, obviously, but it’s worth considering. Maybe we really do “love because s/he first loved us” – likening that passage to ourselves.

  20. I’m with Nigel here. It’s difficult making an apples-to-apples comparison unless there’s stronger socioeconomic crosstabs. Two things from the Church’s Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting (that just came alongside this month’s Ensign) shed some light on this:

    #1. Even the Church recognizes the increased strain on families’ time due to the embarrassment of activities available to its members, especially those who live in affluent/developed countries. The conversation in the meeting discussed ways for the Church to scale back its activities to allow more time to be spent at home, being with the family. Without question birthing and raising 3 children is very different than (in the case of gays not necessarily lesbians) adopting 1 child to raise. I know it’s dangerous to overgeneralize based on one’s own experience, but my wife and I rent our condo from a gay couple more or less our same age (they also don’t have 100K in grad school debt). There’s many reasons why a 2br in the West Village costs 1.2 million…and one of those factors is all the DINKs out there, straight or gay. And the presence of children really radically alters the 4 issues at question here. (Which is why, no doubt, the solipsistic classes tend to look down on the whole enterprise).

    #2. Elder Holland’s talk re: General Patters vs. Speciic Lives points to the fact that the focus needs to be on certain eternal principles, with adaptations made depending on individual circumstances. So, lots of gender “roles” or responsibilities could be socially engineered, which means they could also be re-engineered at will depending on the culture(s) involved, individual personalities, etc. In fact, this is one of the beautiful facts of the restored gospel: there is both flexibility and rigor.

  21. #20:
    Just to muddy the water with another slight stereotype, perhaps some gay couples are able to see the need for what Nick describes specifically because they know how it feels to be rejected and abhorred and reviled and NOT ACCEPTED by others – so they know how badly it is desired and how important it is to respect others and treat them well and focus on making others happy.

    Amen to that, Ray. This crossed my mind, but I didn’t find a good way to say it. You did it beautifully.

  22. “Even as a nearly-fundamentalist believing Mormon, I hated going to church on Fathers’ Day!”

    Nick, between this and your denunciation of the “Follow the Prophet” song, you’re beginning to lose credibility as a former “nearly-fundamentalist” TBM, lol. 🙂

  23. Here’s the problem I see with the “distribution of household work” charts I see.

    When I’m not at work, I try to do as much as my wife. I know I don’t keep up 100% (that’s where having different standards for cleanliness and whatnot comes in), but it is in the 80-90% range, easily. I cook most of the meals on the weekends (and would cook on the weekdays if we felt like eating that late in the day), do laundry, vacuum, take care of the kids, put them to bed, etc, etc, etc.

    BUT, and I say this in the strongest way possible, I am simply not home as many hours in the week as she is. There is no way that I am going to do as much of the housework as she is. It is never going to happen. Am I then not contributing to my house and marriage? Well of course I am! I am providing the money we use to pay rent, bills, etc. By a mutual agreement BEFORE we got married, that’s what we decided on. A traditional arrangement to be certain, but talked about before we got married, and we’ve discussed it several times since then.

    A survey of this sort MUST account for the time available to each partner to spend on housework. For instance, if the husband is working 50 hours a week, then he obviously cannot spend as much time at home on the house work.

    The real question then becomes whether or not they can rearrange their work so that they do not have to spend 50 hours a week at work–because that is NOT a healthy life. [Before anyone argues the point–NO IT ISN’T! 40 hours a week is really not healthy either. Yes I know that historically it is a short work-week compared to our ‘pioneer’ ancestors, but I could write a dissertation on why there are massive differences between what they did and what we do in terms of hours per week. Maybe I will.]

    What do Same-Sex Couples tell us? Frankly, both members are more likely to work, so a more equal time availability to spend on housework (especially as compared to most LDS couples), so this actually tells us very little. I’d say that the biggest thing that we can learn here is that division of labor is a concept that needs to be understood and recognized. My wife and I have an agreement. When I get home I don’t complain about how hard my day was at the office, and she doesn’t complain about how hard her day was with the kids. Unless something truly unusual has happened and there is a very specific need to vent. Then we share briefly and then move on. But we do not dwell on it, and we DO NOT EVER make the mistake of saying, “my day was worse/harder than yours”. That’s just not a comparison we make. You can’t do that.

    Sexual drive differences are perhaps the most difficult. I won’t go into detail on this, but lets just say that this is a big deal, and it’s not going to change, but my understanding is that this can be an issue for same-sex couples more than most hetero couples would imagine. Believe it or not, there is a high amount of variability in libido in both men and women. One of the things we are NOT taught to do is in the Church (LDS) discuss this with a potential marriage partner, but it probably should come up at least once. It’s a tricky subject, especially since in many (hardly all) cases at least one of the partners is a virgin, and both are likely to be feeling quite sexually charged right before the wedding. That said, some sort of measure of general libido would be probably help the couple a lot, making sure that they had a reasonably high degree of matching on this, because it is extremely frustrating for a male with a high libido to be married to a woman who flat isn’t interested in sex. I’m not trying to turn this into a sex-thread, but that’s a very simple fact. It will ruin a relationship. The reverse is also true, however. If a man is uninterested in sex (I’m told it happens, as difficult a scenario as it is for me to imagine) and his wife has a particularly high libido, she will be rather upset (and probably wonder if he is cheating).

    Arguments are a matter of socialization in how we handle things. I suspect that watching my parents handle disagreements is one of the reasons I tend to want to discuss things to death, while my wife (whose parents are crazy), has a very different style. She tends to need some space for a bit before she can discuss them. If I get really upset, I will blow off some steam with a particularly violent video game, but that’s a long-standing habit since I’ve lost access to a good splitting maul and stand of firewood to chop. Hard physical labor is a good way to work of frustration, but so is engaging in some violent video games. Better than doing something dangerous or saying something stupid. Neither of these things happens very often. I’m usually pretty calm, and we get along pretty well.

    Overall, the best things we learn from non-traditional couples is that if we want to get along with each other, it’s best to work at the relationship. Which is something we should have already known, but some people just didn’t want to take that to heart. Maybe now they will.

  24. #24:
    Nick, between this and your denunciation of the “Follow the Prophet” song, you’re beginning to lose credibility as a former “nearly-fundamentalist” TBM, lol.

    LOL! Well, AdamF, if in my TBM stage I thought that everything was rosy in the LDS church, I wouldn’t have been “nearly-fundamentalist,” now would I? 😉

    As for Fathers Day, I know plenty of LDS women who hate to attend on Mothers Day, and plenty of LDS men who hate to attend on Fathers Day. At lease the women can feel glorified and idealized (if the “perfect” image doesn’t just depress them. Fathers Day gets completely ignored in some wards, and in others, it’s mainly a litany of how foolish/incompetent/inadequate earthly fathers are, with a tribute to the idealized Heavenly Father. It’s an interesting sort of reverse-sexism that exists in the LDS church, along with the goofy canard that women are inherently “more spiritual” than men.

  25. Benjamin O – as to division of labor, it’s up to you and your wife. The potential resentment, IMO, is more a by-product of different expectations and standards and also opening our eyes to the contributions of our spouses. Women tend to care more about how the house looks because they believe it is a reflection of them, and in some cases, they should either lower their standards, quit being prideful, or hire help. And men and women should agree to the threshold they can both live with. My standards are really high on neatness in public areas (they’ve steadily eroded over time), but I can give latitude on actual cleanliness. Plus, we’re able to afford hired help, which is great because now there is a hard deadline for picking your stuff up: “We have to hurry and pick up! The maids are coming!”

    What was eye opening in the second study (the Univ of Wisconsin) was that even stay-at-home dads do about half as much housework as their working wives. That tells me it’s not just a matter of who’s got access to the vacuum cleaner and time on their hands.

  26. “Same Sex couples: burdens for initiating both sex and difficult conversations are more equally shared.”

    This goes along with my theory that most men are gay because it’s the only way they can find a partner who will have sex with them often enough. No duh the guy initiates sex in hetero couples. Who needs a “scientific study” to know that?!

    “Are gender roles really eternal (did I really sign up to do laundry in the pre-existence)?”

    I would guess that your intelligence was organized into a female spirit, and that female spirits got female bodies (except in the case of pesky genetic mutations), and that you had nothing to do with the choice. Still, if sex is not determined until physical/earthly procreation, and all spirits are unisex until born, you still had no choice in the matter and your sex was a result of the determinism of which spermatazoa swam fastest to fertilize the oocyte.

    Much of Mormonism is about choice, but if I recall “Saturday’s Warrior” correctly, there were chicks in the pre-existence.

  27. This goes along with my theory that most men are gay because it’s the only way they can find a partner who will have sex with them often enough.

    Tell that to some of the gay couples I’m acquainted with, who complain that they haven’t had sex in a year or two.

  28. hawkgrrl #19,

    I think you may have read too much into those ‘examples’ (PMS, chick flicks…) They were only ‘examples’ to show that ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’. It then takes a much larger step to reach that ideal: “They pay attention to what each other is feeling, and respect those feelings. They treat one…..etc”

    When both are from mars then (probably) they have to take a much smaller step to reach that ideal since they are more similar to start with. One then finds the results that you wrote about here (gay couples share housework more etc etc) But off course there are variation to all this across the full spectrum.

    Still, as #17,#21,#25 and others before discussed, there are many differences in a hetero couples due to life itself. I say that gay couples don’t go through the same dynamics that a hetero couple does and that’s because gay couples are not ‘couples’ in the true sense of the word (they aren’t “two equal and Opposite forces joined together”).

    Nick #18,

    “you need to have a chat with your employer’s human resource department”

    Mate/dude, will never happen! We have a ball with him and he’s usually the centre of attention/jokes and he loves it. Here, in a country that has legal gay unions plus probably the biggest gay Mardi Gras in the world, well, HR would have ME sacked!

    And I didn’t know it was fathers day in the US yesterday; so fine you didn’t have to go. But next week isn’t, so I expect you to have your bum in church next week (with you boyfriend) 🙂 not have your bum…… 🙂

  29. Srsly, tho: maybe different intelligences organize into different sexes, and you have always been and will always be female. This seems more in line with Mormon theology to me than any other proposition (but still apparently no choice is involved).

  30. Derek – maybe, but why no choice? Bcuz we have existed from eternity to eternity? In which case, I still say our understanding of those roles is needlessly convoluted by the society in which we live and that we would have to find a way to strip those cultural biases out to truly understand what is eternal in gender. You want to take a crack at it?

  31. GUY SMILEY says Homosexual marriage is not able to match eternal union in the temple.. what IF there was such a union to let the facts play out? Not saying it is wrong what he said but how do we know, it has not been tested.

    I am straight but wonder if government should allow ‘it’ as it is no matter to those who will not religiously honor homosexual unions.
    The government does not ban adultry or premarital sex…why should this be any different? The church did not step in and fight or at least win if they did, to STOP other sexual behaviors to the US citizen not in the teachings of the church. Life went on.
    I say let all marry who want too, let them be TIED as any other couple. With divorce so easy to get what is marriage anymore from a legal point ? Not all that permanant. I would not be surprised if the homosexual weds last longer and stronger.

    I feel legal marriage will make a better , more responsible group of people than just shacking up.

  32. This is the best argument I have heard against gay marriage.

    Gay marriage doesn’t satisfy life’s purpose

    It is amazing to me the extent that people will go to in order to achieve their personal goals. Take, for example, Prop. 8 that was on the ballot . This is the second time the California voters have passed this law, and yet those who fought against Prop. 8 continue to fight against the will of the people.

    They keep saying this is a religious issue. That is not true. Everyone needs to answer the question of “What is the purpose of life?” Leaving religion out of the answer, as well as the Bible and personal opinions, there is only one answer that can be given that will satisfy the laws of NATURE. That answer is: “Reproduce yourself and your species.”

    Can two female or two male marriage partners conform to this law? No! So, this is not a religious issue alone. It is an issue that defies the laws of nature. The animal, bird, fish, insect, and plant kingdoms all live this law. They reproduce themselves as per nature’s laws.

    If any of these kingdoms failed to live this law, their kingdom would become extinct in a short period of time. If the plant kingdom failed to live this law, there would be no food for man or animals to eat. We would soon become a dead planet.

    Only man wants to defy this law of nature. In so doing, they become destroyers of, rather than contributors to, the human race.

    Society is based on the family of husband wife and children. This is how the next generation rises. I can just see states or countries legalizing gay marriage and then losing population.

  33. Jon, fwiw, cutting and pasting the exact same comment in multiple threads on the same blog, especially when others have responded to it on another thread, generally isn’t considered kosher. A little disclaimer or qualifier is appropriate – something like, “I am copying something I said on a different thread entitled, “_______________________” – or simple providing the url for the other thread.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *