The Equality Myth

Part 1 of the Quest for Happiness Series

Inequality in the division of labour at home has long been a sore point for married women. In theory, the egalitarian model of the modern dual-income, shared-homemaking marriage should solve this problem; as women move into the paid workforce, men would assume more responsibility at home.Right?

This is the typical understanding of equality, where both do an equal amount of work both inside and outside the home. However, this arrangement doesn’t appear to be delivering happier marriages. 

A recent survey* of over 5000 couples found that an equal division of labour was not predictive of marital satisfaction among wives. In fact, stay-at-home wives were generally happier than their at-work counterparts.

What women (and no doubt men) really want is equity. 

Equity means fairness; that both are contributing roughly equivalent amounts to the relationship overall.  It seems that in terms of labour, work outside the home can be happily traded off against work inside the home.      

*Wilcox and Nock, University of Virginia

Francine & Byron Pirola

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links. For Media Enquiries Please Contact us here

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