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04 December 2010


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These are fantastic 'general considerations'. Like you, I get frustrated by the automatic equating of submission issues to those of economics and even education. I look forward to your part 2.


I don't really have a problem with the whole submit thing. Then again, my husband isn't very demanding or anything like that. But I feel that if we can't come to a mutual agreement, someone has to have the final say on a decision. So he gets it. I am okay with that -- less stress for me.

Donna Jannuzzi

Lots to think about here. I just wanted to say that there will probably be tension in any marriage regardless of whether someone is set-up as the primary provider if the conditions you presented exist within that marriage. Meaning that if either spouse, and let’s be honest here it is usually the woman, thinks that equality=sameness that is going to create a tension all its own. Likewise, I think your example of being invested in one’s work/education as a means of self-fulfillment – this can be okay to an extent but it can easily, not always, but easily be motivated by selfishness instead of as you say, thinking of your work as a means of serving your family. I think in both of those cases there is a sort of self-centeredness or unhealthy competition that is pre-existing to the question of whether one person is cast as the primary provider. Adding that (the casting of roles) on top of such a situation no doubt sets-up one of the spouses for feeling that they are somehow inferior to the other. It probably/possibly also causes feelings of resentment? Just my initial thoughts.

Dorian Speed

Excellent post. Mine's more ranty.


"Meaning that if either spouse, and let’s be honest here it is usually the woman, thinks that equality=sameness ... "

I am not saying that the harmful attitude is the belief that equality = sameness. I wrote, "invested in the equality/sameness model of marriage." Probably should have been more clear; I was hoping that setting it off with "reciprocity/complementarity" would help.

By the "equality/sameness" model I mean the idea that we'll divide the housework, the childcare, the money, etc. as equally as possible and if we don't "get" our share in one place we'll exact it in another. This is something that can occur both in two-earner and in one-earner couples, by the way.

And no, I don't think it's more prevalent in women than in men. The assumption that gender-role problems are women's fault bothers me to no end.

Donna Jannuzzi

I realize that you were setting the two models against each other... or maybe you didn't mean to set them against each other rather just compare the two? However, I do think that the attitude that equality = sameness is harmful to a marriage, mostly because I don't think it is true. I think there will always be inequalities in the division of labor. And yes, I agree that this can happen in both two- and one-earner couples.

Also, I guess I disagree with you because I do think that that particular idea is more prevalent in women than in men. However, it does not follow that all gender-role problems are women's fault. There are many (many!) other harmful and erronous ideas that both sexes hold on to that contribute to the wider problem.

Donna Jannuzzi

Let's see, erronous should be erroneous. :)

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