Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Same-Sex Couples Offer Insight Into Gender and Marriage - NYTimes.com

Article from the NY Times about how gay couples compare to straight couples in terms of their relationships.
June 10, 2008

Gay Unions Shed Light on Gender in Marriage

By TARA PARKER-POPE

For insights into healthy marriages, social scientists are looking in an unexpected place.

A growing body of evidence shows that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else about marriage and relationships. Most studies show surprisingly few differences between committed gay couples and committed straight couples, but the differences that do emerge have shed light on the kinds of conflicts that can endanger heterosexual relationships.

(snip)

In heterosexual couples, women did far more of the housework; men were more likely to have the financial responsibility; and men were more likely to initiate sex, while women were more likely to refuse it or to start a conversation about problems in the relationship. With same-sex couples, of course, none of these dichotomies were possible, and the partners tended to share the burdens far more equally.

Yes. Here's how we share the housework.

"We outta clean the bathroom."

"Yeah."

A week later:

"We outta clean the bathroom."

"Yeah."
...when same-sex couples argued, they tended to fight more fairly than heterosexual couples, making fewer verbal attacks and more of an effort to defuse the confrontation.

...

“When they got into these really negative interactions, gay and lesbian couples were able to do things like use humor and affection that enabled them to step back from the ledge and continue to talk about the problem instead of just exploding,” said Robert W. Levenson, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jim and I almost never fight. I fact, I can't remember the last time we even had a fight. But, one time, we were really going at it when he suddenly thought of a funny punchline. So, we paused for the punchline, had a great laugh and then returned to the fight. But by then, all the air had blown out of the confrontation and we settled it instantly.
One of the most common stereotypes in heterosexual marriages is the “demand-withdraw” interaction, in which the woman tends to be unhappy and to make demands for change, while the man reacts by withdrawing from the conflict. But some surprising new research shows that same-sex couples also exhibit the pattern, contradicting the notion that the behavior is rooted in gender...
When people ask us the secret to our long relationship, it's the fact that we just ignore each other. But we're happiest ignoring each other together.

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