When people think of a traditional marriage, they often think of the Cleavers on Leave it to Beaver. The husband leaves for the office every morning, manages the money, and is the head of the household. While the husband has his sphere, the wife stays at home, cooks, cleans, and takes care of her children. She adheres to her husband's decisions and has little to no control over household funds. What the Cleavers have in common with each other, is that they both adhere to traditional gender roles. This is what is commonly accepted as a traditional marriage.
The marital characteristics, like work, money, and decision-making, are split according to traditional gender roles. A new type of marriage has been emerging, and this type of marriage is called a Peer Marriage. Couples in peer marriages are reshuffling traditional gender relations and are remaking relationships into a more equitable division of marital characteristics, which often results in a happier and more stable marriage.
Characteristics of a Peer Marriage
Peer marriages have four characteristics. The first characteristic is a more equitable split of household labor, regardless of occupational status. Peer couples do not have more than a 60/40 split of household duties and childcare. While many couples say that this is their ideal, they often fail to implement it in their own lives due to our training in traditional gender roles. A complete 50/50 split is not needed for couples not to resent one person doing less. What a peer couple has is patience, good will, and a determination to learn and compromise.
The second characteristic is an equal influence over important decisions in the household. No person has more power or influence in the couple's decision-making. The third characteristic is in line with the second. In a peer marriage, both partners have equal control over the household finances. This is where a lot of couples falter, because it is very rare for both partners to make the same amount of money. In our society, we tend to give more power and prestige to the person who makes the most money. In our society, this person is usually the man. Decisions about money should be arrived at equally by both partners in a marriage.
Finally, the jobs of each partner in a peer marriage are given equal consideration. If one person earns less than the other, their job should not necessarily be sacrificed for their partner's job. Neither should the person who earns less be the one who does the most housework and childcare. Peer couples consider everything equally when making life plans, which is crucial to a happy, stable marriage. Peer couples have an equal standing and don't defer to only one partner.
Unlike Traditional Marriages
Many of the characteristics of a peer marriage are in stark contrast to traditional marriages. Couples in traditional marriages split their spheres of influence and power, with the man given the most influence and power over things like finances. It is impossible to have a peer relationship when one person has more control, influence, and power than the other. If one has more control, influence, and power, then that person is also less likely to do a significant share of housework and childcare, which is a characteristic that is different from peer marriages.
Most marriages are in some way traditional marriages. Due to this prevalence, there is a blueprint for marriages with a record of successful methods that can be applied to your own marriage. Peer marriages are a newer phenomenon and some people struggle with not having a clear model to follow. Also, interestingly, peer couples often face a decline in sexual activity. Peer couples share such deep intimacy in their everyday lives that sexual intimacy is often neglected. Traditional marriages have separate spheres and do not share as much of their everyday lives. Because of this, their sexual activity is often more frequent and passionate.
Peer relationships are not necessarily the best relationship for everyone. Traditional marriages are often as happy as peer relationships, and peer relationships can break up just as traditional relationships can. What is important is being open to the dynamic nature of marriage. Couples should recognize that one marriage type isn't the type for everyone, and if you aren't happy with the type of relationship your marriage currently is, it is possible to change.