New study finds that egalitarian marriage doesn’t make women happier

I support gender roles because I think we are more productive when we specialize (as opposed to when everybody has to do a share of everything). So I find this interesting.


Elusive Wapiti writes about in this blog post.


Norwegian researchers confirm and extend Brad Wilcox and Steven Nock’s research suggesting that egalitarianism sets couples up to fail:

“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home”.

The lack of correlation between equality at home and quality of life was surprising, the researcher said. “One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite,” he said.

The figures clearly show that “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” he went on. The reasons, Mr Hansen said, lay only partially with the chores themselves. “Maybe it’s sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity…

View original post 891 more words


Published by


I’m Tracy

17 thoughts on “New study finds that egalitarian marriage doesn’t make women happier”

  1. This is an interresting subject of study, but also a complicated one. Because happiness is dependant on so many things in our lives. The more egalitarian marriages propably differ from the less egalitarian ones on a great number of other things, than the equality of chores at home or family decision making. So much so, that the correlation between happiness is propably very hard to show to be the result of the equality. Besides the real propblem here is, that happiness can only be measured by the expressions of subjective emotions. Wich is even at best a very elusive concept.

    Now, if the researcher really was surpriced, that the more equal marriages are more prone to end in divorces, than the non-egalitarin marriages, he must be a certifiable idiot. Of course, in a more egalitarian relationship people are free to do as they please and even end it when they feel they need to, as opposite to in a situation in wich the other party has total controll over the other person, it is not likely that the one in controll gives up their controlling power. That actually goes to show that the non-equal relationships propably last longer in a situation where the other party would have chosen to give it up longer than the more equal ones. Correct?

    For example if a woman is totally economically dependant on a man, then she is not likely to seek for a divorce. Is that situation good for her? Does it make her happier, or is she just more likelier to tell herself she is content in the situation, that she can not change? If she is the houseslave of the man, it is not likely that the man is very likely to give her up and propably in such a situation (as almost any such culture goes to prove) the man has so much more freedom outside the family, that he is not likely to feel restrained by the marriage.

    I am not suggesting, that the people in less egalitarian marriages are more prone to lie about their happiness, even though traditionally they propably also carry a higher need to keep up appearances of their marriage being a success, than the people in more egalitarian marriages. However, I do claim that the people in less egalitarian marriages are more likely to suggest to themselves, that they are happy about a number of things, than the more egalitarian families. In an egalitarian marriage every big decision is a compromise, so people may feel that they never get their will entirely satisfied, but it still is a better situation than the one where one family member makes all the decisions allways and others just have to abide. Of course if statistically compared the guy who gets to decide everything his way is more prone to show happiness, than either of the people who always have to give in to compromises. So, if there is one very happy person and one miserable person in one group of two, it equals for more happines than the two hardly sattisfied persons in the other group. However, there is a reason why we tend to choose democracy over dictatorship even on a bigger scale.

    Also because the more egalitarian marriage is a fairly new phenomenon even in our western society, there are a lot of people who end up in one with the oldfashioned expectations, and then they are dissappointed. Not because the system does not work, but because of their own unrealistic, unfair, or even silly expectations.

    I am all for specialization. That does not mean, that the man (most likely a man) should do less stuff at home, nor decide for the family money for example. The home stuff may be divided equally, so that everyone has their job at home. For example like with my parents, as my dad (almost 80 years old now) does the dishes and vacuuming while my mon does the laundry and most of the cooking. They have had this sort of division for decades and it seems to work. To awoid these roles becoming too ardorous, boring, or menial, they sometimes change their different tasks.

    It is interresting, that the conservatives in western countries are selling us all this notion of a happy family where the dad goes to work and supports the family while the mom stays home to tend the kids as some sort of traditional and “natural” form of human society. However, in most agrarian societies around the globe, both the man and the woman have done their share of work and it has been more or less mostly done at their very home. Since the industrial revolution women have done most of the industrial work also. The so called middle class where the wages of one parent were sufficient to support the entire family was ever a small minority even in the few western societies where it grew most. This is also very interresting, since while we are being marketed this image of happiness, the same right wing political groups that ride the image, are also lobbying strongly for a society where markets (ie. businessmen) have total controll over what are the wages paid to the individual workers and they for sure are not prepared to pay any one worker enough to support this middle class family fantasy where only one worker provides for a family of four (or even more if contraception is seen as immoral).

    Christin de Pisan was a medieval philosopher who said that the equality of the sexes is not about women doing all the same stuff as men and vice versa, but that the jobs mostly done by women should be equally valued by the society as the ones done by men.

    Sorry about the long comment. I hope you find it interresting and that you get well soon.

    1. I totally agree with all that. The title of the piece is attention seeking and rather than seeking to find a reason behind the results of the study it leaps quickly to the most scaremongering conclusion it can because that supports its ideological point. Your comment brought up some very interesting points I have not even considered.

      1. it’s attention seeking? I need to make myself more clear….in the context I mean like …it made me angry. It is like… this study supports my argument that women and men should not be equal. That wasnt the right word but the word escaped and still escapes me

    2. I’m sorry. I was depressed before I responded to your comment and I wasn’t afterwards, so I probably took out my frustration on you. Forgive me.

  2. ” Of course, in a more egalitarian relationship people are free to do as they please and even end it when they feel they need to, as opposite to in a situation in wich the other party has total controll over the other person, it is not likely that the one in controll gives up their controlling power.”

    I wonder, have you ever seen a non-egalitarian marriage? Your idea of a marriage in which one person has *total control* of another, is that a kind of marriage you’ve seen or simply what you imagine a non-egalitarian marriage as? A marriage in which one person has to total control over another is what I call slavery. I’ve seen non-egalitarian marriages and I can’t describe them with the words “slavery” or “total control”,.

    “For example if a woman is totally economically dependant on a man, then she is not likely to seek for a divorce.”

    In what country? In the countries that I know of, a woman who is financially dependent on her husband will get alimony from him. She won’t lose that support after she divorces him. She’s also likely to get custody of the children. She’s no tin the position to lose – he is. she can make him wish he had never crossed her. So, if a woman in a non-egalitarian marriage does not seek a divorce, I doubt the loss of support would be the motivating factor.

    “If she is the houseslave of the man, it is not likely that the man is very likely to give her up and propably in such a situation (as almost any such culture goes to prove) the man has so much more freedom outside the family, that he is not likely to feel restrained by the marriage.”

    Excuse me, but did you just describe women in non-egalitarian marriages as slaves? On what basis? I live with my brother and I do all the chores – because he’s lazy. But I’m not his slave. That should be pretty obvious. You’re not a slave just because you do housework.
    Secondly, no man remains in an egalitarian marriage just because his wife does his chores. Seriously, he can probably get a maid for less than it takes to care for her.

    In conclusion, your idea that non-egalitarian marriages are less likely to end in divorce because both partners need each other does not hold water.

    That said, you seem to be assuming that non-egalitarian marriages are actually less happy than egalitarian ones in your comment. If you have some reason for thinking so, please provide it. Otherwise, try not to write with that assumption in mind.

    Finally, this whole thing reminds me of an article I read earlier that gives me one reason women in non-egalitarian marriages can and should be happier than their peers.

    But it’s true: according to our survey, 84% of working women told ForbesWoman and TheBump that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury they aspire to.
    What’s more, more than one in three resent their partner for not earning enough to make that dream a reality. (Source: )

    These women live the life that the rest of us only dream of. Why shouldn’t they be happier?

    1. Why don’t we just agree that each couple decides what kind of situation they live in. Regarding the Forbes article of course if given a chance not to work and lounge all day everyone will take it in a hypothetical sense..Heck my feminist self will grab it with both hands.That doesn’t mean I would and i doubt in the real world facing that choice most people would. Why is this even an issue?Is there a point to this? Is the writer/blogger trying to make a case for marriages where the roles are so clearly defined?Should all women become stay at home moms and man the head of the house? Are they supporting an earlier claim?Do women belong in the kitchen and men at work?Why compare?
      Secondly in a society that encourages such roles .. take Nigeria.. how many women stay in marriages because they will then have a lower status in the society.Lack of agency (keeping in mind that agency allows the couples to chose how to structure their marriage) would definitely lead to dependence on the individual that has freedom ie the freedom that comes from money.

      1. Yes, I believe the result of the research is that women are happier if they stay at home and take care of the children while the men work. The forbes article supports the idea that most women *want* that. It’s okay if you don’t want it. But if you’re going to argue that women are happier in egalitarian marriages, you need to be able to support it and effectively criticize the research that says otherwise.

        Yes, men and women can stay in a marriage because of reasons – children, stability, society, etc. But that doesn’t mean that egalitarian marriages are better. In Nigeria, people will still stay in egalitarian marriages for marriages status, stability, etc.

        So, what’s your point. Do you think that egalitarian marriages are happier? Or do you think they’re better even if they’re not happier? Or do you just prefer them?

      2. No I think that we should not impose them on people. If a couple want an egalitarian marriage , good for them if they don’t good for them. I am not criticizing the study either -the commenter above did just that-I am just wondering about the intent behind it. My opinion is that it can work either ways even though women -who are definitely going to lose out if society was structured in a way that took their choice away from them.Men will too.. what if a man wants to stay at home and take care of the children?What if the woman wants to work? What will happen then?
        And while it sounds like making a mountain out of a molehill I believe that every opinion we have must be fair and just when generalised to the real world.
        In Nigeria, women who are beaten and abused stay in their abusive homes because marriage is looked upon as respectable, because society judges them for being single, because they are dependent on their husband’s income. They don’t have alimony there. If Nigerian society was not stuck in this mindset, maybe these abuses may end more quickly.The mindset being that the man can be the head of the household if this is what the couple and not society and social norms have instructed. As for myself I will stay clear of any man who demands that I stay at home looking after his children, being totally dependent on him.In fact I shudder at the thought but if you want that you have the choice.

      3. Of course, women can choose any kind of marriage they want. I would simply advise them to choose one that is likely to benefit them better.

        Both my parents worked throughout my childhood. I was the one taking care of the children when I was just a child myself. My children won’t go through that. And I can’t work and care for them at the same time so I’m going to find a man who can and is willing to support me and our children.

        As an aside, I don’t think the problem in Nigeria is that the man is expected to be the head of the household. I meet lots of women here who stay with their children all day, cook, clean, homeschool and help their husbands and their church. Their husbands are the heads of the family. But they learn to lead the way Jesus asked us to – by being the servant.

        Nigerians don’t need to change their concept of marriage – it’s working well here. What they need to do is start raising their sons well.

      4. First of all, my parents both worked as well, my mother was a high status banker then she went back to her agricultural studies.Please do not generalise as i have the same views.
        Secondly how does staying at home benefit over working? they both have their merits and demerits. Besides only the luxury of wealth allows you to stay at home in this current economic climate. Perhaps that was what the Forbes women wanted, to marry rich because that is the only thing that allow you to stay at home.
        Thirdly Please do not bring my Lord, Jesus Christ into the argument.Where in the bible does he say this??Servants? I want verses….And if you are using the mostly outdated and partly irrelevant old testament I hope you do not mix wool and linen.
        Fourthly how dare you sit there and state that the Nigerian concept of marriage is good as it is. How can sons be raised well when they see their mothers being shouted on and ordered by their fathers, when they are being taught and can see that women are inferior to men, when abusive and unfaithful husbands are allowed to carry out their activities because the women are too afraid of social stigmatization and loss of status, where widows and divorcees are scorned and treated like dirt.Only when women are equal in Nigeria , in marriage and out of it , can we conclude that there is nothing wrong with the system.Don’t be blinded to what women, girls like you and I and those younger go through in the name of marriage. How many women have been killed because the man is lauded as the head and the woman is the tail.
        Sorry for the rant but that touched a nerve I didnt know existed

      5. Maryann,

        I lived through my parents marriage. And my mother was one of those women who stayed in a horrible marriage for her children. I know that the model of marriage they had is the same model I see around me here in the US. The difference is that here men actually follow Jesus’ teaching about being leaders, while in Nigeria men are taught that being the leader means anything but serving. It is their knowledge of God that is warped.

        Here is the passage:
        “When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10: 41 – 45

        I’m ending this conversation. I need us both to be calm if it is to be productive.

      6. You should have phrased it better.It sounded like you thought women should be servants in a marriage. I too have lived through my parent’s marriage and that is why I believe in equality in marriage and why the Nigerian model is flawed.How about we agree each to his own- which was kinda my point in the first place. I got really steamed yesterday , that was …..odd.

  3. Maybe I should point out something:

    Saying that in a marriage, there should be clearly defined roles with one person as the head is no more remarkable than saying that in a committee of 5, each person should have clearly defined roles and one of them should be the chairman. It’s a good organizational strategy. It does not devalue those who are not chairmen. It does not make them lesser human beings.

    If the chairman begins abusing his power and oppressing the others, the solution is not to abolish the chairman. It’s to either teach him to use his position in the right manner. It does not mean that there is something wrong with the idea of a chairman. It just means that you have a bad chairman.

    If a man, in his role as leader, does not follow Jesus’ command to lead as a servant, If he does not follow the Bible’s command to love his wife as Christ loved the church (and died for her) (Ephesians 5:25) , he is a bad leader. It is not that there is something wrong with having leaders. It is that he should never have gotten that job. Women should choose their husbands wisely so they don’t find themselves in that situation.

    If the egalitarian marriage worked better, it would be preferable. So, if either of you has research to that conclusion, feel free to present it.

  4. One of the most efficient armies in the history of the world is the Swiss confederate army in 15th and 16th centuries, that was lead by committees. A chairman may be a good solution to run a company and a ship needs a captain. But even a ship does not really need its captain before a crisis, mostly the professional sailors make the ship run smoothly without any one person taking responsibility of rapid decisions. Hopefully no family ever has to be run like a company, or ends up in a crisis in wich really rapid decision making is essential.

    My mom stayed at home when I was a small kid. My parents could afford it and the Finnish society supported her in this. Though my parents were just common labourers, they could afford this because the labour movement and socialist politicians had pushed for what we call a wellfare society here in the Nordic countries. However, though my dad supported us financially, my parents made all the financial decisions together as compromises. That is what true egalitarianism in a marriage is in my opinion. My mom was not dependant on my dad financially and my dad imposed no authority over her, since she was an adult member of that family.To that I referred with my Christin de Pisan comment.

    I have seen my share of non-egalitarian families where all too easily the man is drunk with power and teaches his sons the same attitudes of women as some sort of property of the man of the house. Though here in Finland women have the possibility of alamony, if they divorce their husbands and the rest of the society is not very likely to look down upon them, I have wittnessed marriages where the woman lives in mental submission and has given total dominance of the family matters to the man. Do they enjoy that or is it more likelier that they feel compelled to be satisfied on what they have? Does it make them better mothers or people that they are much more prone to ask what the man of the house, or the family wants than what they themselves ever might want? They may even be gratefull, that they do not have to put an effort in any hard decisions, but is that not sad? It is almost like they were dehumanizing themselves willingly. Would they report being happy in an inquery?

    In our culture it is a very strong and sad tradition that a man has to manage. Far too often one can read about a Finnish man who has murdered his entire family when his busines has crashed. It is the shame of the man who did not have success in financial life, that he kills his wife and very own children because he could not support them anymore. It is the extremely selfish act of a self centered man. These are our Christian honour murders… Oh they propably have nothing to do with Jesus, but they are the acts of people who think they are good Christians.

    We are often victims of the role models we are forced into by the society whatever those roles might be. And though we might not understand or accept the source of our anguish, it does not mean that there is no reason for it.

    It is exactly the point of alamony to make married people equal with each other. To make the marriage egalitarian. So, that the woman (I am sorry to say more often) could leave an abusive relationship.

    Even companies where the workers have their share in the decision making have often better working athmosphere and people are generally happier.

    We have before found out that we have a different understanding of the word slavery, but to me it means the dominance of one person and subjucation of a nother person to the will of the forementioned person to the level where the other person is no longer treated as a nother human being, but as property.

    I totally agree with Mimipeppermint, that each to their own and that the research has such results wich could be easily taken out of context to could give people some very bad advice to end up in abusieve relationships. As may have been the intention of Wintery Knight. Has he managed to fool you Tracy or am I totally wrong about him?

    I think being lazy is no excuse for your brother not to do his part.

    Sorry about the long comment again, but you got so far with this before I had a chance to but in again.

What did you think of my post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s