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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Some Heartening News
January 31, 2010 - 8:31pm

When wives earn more outside the home, and husbands take on more housework, marriages tend to be happier!

Men are now doing twice as much housework, and three times as much childcare, as they did in the 1960s!

It says so right here in the New York Times, so it has to be true, right?

Seriously, there seems to be increasing recognition that although gender roles may be stubborn, they’re apparently not fixed; and that when there is equality in marriage, there is more enjoyment and stability. This can only be a good thing.

The article does discuss some challenges to equality. For example, among men in their 50s, having a wife who earns more is associated with poorer health. (This item particularly caught my attention because my own husband was in perfect health until I abandoned a higher-paying job than his to return to graduate school, and then learned that I was pregnant on his 50th birthday. During that period we were both plagued by stress-related symptoms—but I imagine that the prospect of starvation trumps narcissistic gratification in most cases.)

When I was growing up, very few people were even looking at these issues. It’s not just that the date wasn’t there, but that the frame didn’t exist. Among married couples, at least in the middle class, which was then considered the norm, men worked and women stayed home and managed the house and kids. If a married woman worked outside the home, everyone pitied both halves of the couple: her because her husband couldn’t take care of her, and him because he must feel emasculated.

Things are changing rapidly, and in this case, it seems, for the better. Maybe by the time my son gets married, if he does (another former given that is now an option), people once again won’t be looking at these issues — because there will be no need to.


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