Final Research Essay
October 9, 2018
Gender Specific Roles
Gender roles in marriage are set out by the behavioral norms created from the society in which our culture has formed. The distinct character among various cultures and religions have shown us that the roles husband’s and wives’ play have been influenced by these factors. With each culture holding a different value for both the male and female counterparts in marriage, there are issues that will arise when trying to mold two set of values into one entity.
It is quite evident in today’s society that tradition still prevails. Woman have overcome adversity and put through trials and tribulations, yet many people will still look to the husband for financial stability and the wife for maintaining household order. In this essay, I will outline some of the key changes taking place that are helping improve the overall equality of husband and wife, along with finding key strategies for a successful marriage when the outlining the expectations for one another.
Parting Ways with Old Norms
Religions and cultures all have different expectations of their roles and responsibilities that are to be fulfilled my both parties in the marriage. The husband and wife are supposed to treat one another with respect as they have promised each other a lifetime of love until “death due you apart”. However, this has not always been the case for religions outside of main stream Christianity. Traditionally, in a Christian marriage, women were thought to remain in the home, where they were to tend to their children and husband while maintaining all the household work. The men were looked at as the breadwinners for the family. The one who was financially responsible for providing the means necessary to not only maintain, but to improve a family’s overall well-being. Women had limited legal rights preventing them from gaining social equality between her and her husband. The husband was always given a way to stay two steps ahead of their wife so there would be no competition to be had.
As the woman and man’s role in marriage continue to change from the traditional old school ideology to a more modern take on marriage. Access to education for women, passing federal laws and opening the door for non-traditional marriages to become common have paved a way for the traditional gender roles to make a change. With the help of political and social movements to help change our nation’s bias views on what an American family should look and act like, the gender role stereotypes will soon be forgotten.
New Take on Marriage
Communication is key in tearing down the predisposed notion how a marriage should be. It is helpful to look at successful marriages who have “developed a shared understanding of who does what in their relationship (where there is) sometimes an unspoken recognition of an evitable division of labor and responsibilities” CITATION Fre13 l 1033 (Fredric Neumann, 2013). In traditional marriages, the husband leads the family’s income while the wife works less hours at a paid employment job, and more time tending to the home. With the success of feminist movements, federal laws being passed and women seeking more independence, traditional marriage has lost its popularity as many people believe it represents a time when women were suffering from oppression. As the social norms have changed, so has the view on a husband and wife in a marriage, creating a more equal representation. Egalitarian marriages have become more and more popular over the last couple decades, allowing both the husband and wife to work and contribute income for the family. In this particular type of marriage, husband and wife share financial obligations in supporting the family leading
At Home and at Work: A Man’s Role
To understand the spectrum of a man’s role in marriage, we have to first understand the traditional views in which men were regarded as being the bread winners. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics CITATION Sta00 l 1033 (Statistics, 2000) roughly one in three women worked while a reported 86.4 percent of men were in the labor force. Jump ahead to 2018, where men now only make up 53 percent of the workforce CITATION NGr18 l 1033 (Mankiw, 2018), we can see that men are no longer looked at as the sole income providers for the family. Although women still work less than men, statistics show men are taking more time and responsibility when it comes to household activities and child care CITATION Bia10 l 1033 (Bianchi ; Milkie, 2010). Thanks to changes in trends and social norms, it is becoming more acceptable for men to complete tasks around the house that used to be reserved for wives while the wives are also claiming tasks men would have traditionally done. More so, it is no longer unheard of for a woman to be the financial provider for the family while the man takes on more responsibility with childcare and household chores.
Aside from the financial aspect, men have many other roles that play a critical role in marriage. Husbands and father are looked at as protectors, leaders and teachers. Protectors shield any harm that may threaten the marriage and family. Whether it be emotional, physical or spiritual, a man’s role is to protect his wife and children from bullies, bruises and anything that may threaten their family values. Leaders don’t wait for others to make the calls when the they’re losing the war and it feels like they’re running out of options, they step up and take the necessary steps to help everything back together. Marriage is not made up of a 50/50 partnership like many people are led on to believe; it requires 100 percent from both sides in order to remain successful. The last-mentioned role is that of a teacher. Fathers who spend more time in the workforce than mothers, experience more widespread and higher “feelings of not spending enough time with children” CITATION Bia10 l 1033 (Bianchi ; Milkie, 2010). They could miss out on their shared responsibility of instilling their children with the proper morals and rules for becoming a decent human being. Men’s roles in marriage can become more complex given the type of marriage they go in to, but in this paper, we’ll stick to general Christian (or non-denominational) ideologies.
Career or Mother: A Woman’s Role in Marriage
As women’s participation in the workforce has increased over the years, so has her responsibilities as a wife and mother. With decades passed, and a new promising era for the working woman, they are still dealt a difficult hand when making a choice between wanting to accomplish higher achievements within her career and wanting a to start (or maintain) a family. Why do women have to choose? Why can’t they do both? Men do it. The answer is lies in the socioeconomic inequalities that still exist between the male and female workforce, along with maternal responsibility. Although there is a threat, a study by the U.S. Department of Labor shows women now hold at least 50% of management and professional positions in finance managers, accountants and medical and health service manager roles CITATION Byr17 l 1033 (Byrne & Barling, 2017).
This statistic sits uneasy with the societal stigma that suggests that men are supposed to hold a higher paying job than their wife. In marriages where the woman makes more, a woman is subject to the view that she “married down”, potentially hurting the husbands’ ego. Thus, increasing the risk for divorce. Then there’s the argument of mothers’ who work full time having a negative effect on the children’s over-all well-being because they lack the maternal support they would have received if the mother was present. This argument has never been proven, nor do any studies suggest a developmental delay in older children.
Unfortunately, many women find themselves choosing between the desire to be successful and the desire to build a family. Among these women, a majority of them admit that they know a time is coming where they will have to choose between a promising, successful career or raising a family, because it is not feasible to have both. A recent study has found that the pay gap (when correcting for education, occupation and work experience) between a childless woman and a woman with children have actually increased over the last 30 years CITATION Lyd18 l 1033 (DePillis, 2018). It also found that a woman with one child versus a woman with three or more have an 11% difference in salary pay. It has come down to justifying being a mother or supporting you child because society has not yet allowed for women to do both. A woman’s role in marriage is not yet clearly defined. They are to be the source of mental and emotional support to their husbands, while being a main caregiver for their children.
Men and women’s roles in a marriage, along with family values and type of marriage, are choices people have to make based on their beliefs, morals and education. Those who follow the scripture and maintain a close relationship with God, typically choose the traditional marriage lifestyle as the Bible guides them in doing so. Those families who are both employed, experience good result with sharing responsibilities commonly prefer the egalitarian marriage lifestyle, until they a child is brought into the scenario. When the child is born, the woman will stop working for a short time while the man picks up the slack and maintains income.
The last couple decades of change have helped shape the individual’s roles in the marriage when being gender specific. The flexibility of allowing both genders to work will enable them to be less likely to be subjected to the economic instability and aid in closing the gap between men and women’s income. Destroying the strict gender role stereotypes in past era of marriages will hopefully allow for a better understanding between a husband and wife, while also help decrease the skyrocketing divorce rate.
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