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Gender Equality May Be ‘Hurting’ Marriage And That’s Disappointing

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Divorcing is quite expensive. Legal fees aside, tallying up the cost of moving out, setting up your own place, and dissolving mutual assets is a pretty big bill to pay. This predicament leaves many unhappy couples giving their marriage another go, especially in this recession. While it’s great that less families are splitting up, one psychologist and researcher points out that marital expectations and marital realities are not aligning specifically when it comes to gender.

In a piece in USA Today, William Doherty, a marriage and family therapist and professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, surveyed 2,484 parents who filed for divorce in Minnesota. Next month, he’ll present his findings in Washington to discern the reasoning behind some couples throwing in the towel while others stick it out. Among his research, gender equality and gender roles play a pretty big part in achieving marital bliss:

Doherty says marriage today involves expectations of more gender equality than in the past. “We expect so much out of marriage, but we haven’t prepared people for the skills that are necessary for the kind of marriages that we want now.”

So while modern parenting culture tells your husband that he should relish the time with the kids and want nothing more than to co-parent with you, the reality is that some men probably do still find it rather emasculating or demeaning to do what you do everyday — even if they won’t say it.

Yesterday during a Mommyish editorial meeting, some of my fellow editors mentioned that among many couples they know who actively co-parent or perhaps have a stay-at-home dad, there is often resentment for not just having the mommy handle all the childrearing. As the only childless twenty-something in the room, this broke my heart to hear.

Whatever those “skills” are that Doherty speaks of, we need to get on those ASAP. The divorce rate may be down, but that doesn’t always mean that couples are happy.

(photo: Shutterstock)