For the last decade or so, we’ve been told countless times that legalizing gay marriage would, say it with me, “destroy the sanctity of marriage.” Well, as it turns out, straight dudes are ruining “traditional” marriage all by themselves, with no help from the gays.
An article in Monday’s New York Times explores the intersection between economics and marriage. The author, economics professor Nancy Folbre, explains that the “marriage market,” like so many other things in our society, is regulated by the simple principle of supply and demand. And, bad news boys: husbands are not in high demand.
Folbre points to a recent poll that found that only 25 percent of black women of “prime marrying age” were looking to get hitched, as compared to 43 percent of black men who were eager to put a ring on it.
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So, what’s the deal?
Well, Folbre says that marriage offers both benefits (financial support or companionship, for example) and costs like, say, having to wash someone else’s underwear. To make a long story short, what has happened over the last few decades is that more women are working and earning more money, but apparently men aren’t picking up much slack at home by taking on a greater share of the cleaning, cooking and childcare.
It’s like modern men are proposing to women: “Hey, baby, how about I move into your house, which you will continue to clean, and you go out and make a bunch of money, and then come home and cook dinner for me every night? And in a few years, you can push a huge baby out of your tiny vagina, and proceed to take care of that baby, mostly by yourself, while also continuing to cook, clean and work.”
I don’t know about you, but if that were the scenario in store for me, I wouldn’t be too jazzed about marriage either. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about any of that because lesbians are perfect brilliant geniuses at marriage – at least according to a recent article in The Atlantic. Author Liz Mundy writes:
Same-sex spouses, who cannot divide their labor based on preexisting gender norms, must approach marriage differently than their heterosexual peers. From sex to fighting, from child-rearing to chores, they must hammer out every last detail of domestic life without falling back on assumptions about who will do what. In this regard, they provide an example that can be enlightening to all couples.
Watch and learn, straight people – we know how it’s done. As a recently married lesbian, I have to say marriage, liberated from archaic gender roles, is pretty damn good. In my house (and I imagine in many of yours), we divide duties based on who is good at it, who has time, and in many cases, who hates that particular chore the least. I do the dishes because I am great at putting things away neatly. My wife does the laundry because she likes her clothes washed more often than I would ever get around to doing it. I make a mean excel spreadsheet, so I manage the money. Shira loves to buy things, so grocery shopping is her job. Whoever is hungrier or isn’t working late will usually make dinner.
Perfect. Wedded. Bliss.
JK. We have our problems, like every couple. My wife will never be able to fold clothing to my precise standards, so I’ve accepted that unless I want to do my own laundry (I don’t), I will have to live with my t-shirts folded in bizarre shapes and sizes. And, I know Shira hopes that one day I will start rinsing the dirty dishes before shoving them into the dishwasher (never going to happen). But, here’s the thing, when there is conflict, we can talk about it.
Oh boy, can we talk about it, right ladies?
Mundy discusses the research that resulted in the book American Couples: Money, Work and Sex. Among other things, those studies showed that when compared to straight and gay male couples, “lesbians…tended to discuss things endlessly, achieving a degree of closeness unmatched by the other types of couples.”
So, we divide household duties equitably and we know how to create intimacy – yay for us! Victory tastes so sweet. Incidentally, that research also revealed that all of that talking and processing may not be the absolute best thing for lesbians’ sex lives because, Mundy writes, “…lesbians may have had so much intimacy already that they didn’t need sex to get it; by contrast, heterosexual women, whose spouses were less likely to be chatty, found that ‘sex is a highway to intimacy.’”
But, that is another discussion for another day.
Not only are lesbians the best at marriage, we are the best parents, too. Take that, religious right! Mundy referenced a University of Virginia study in which 100 straight, gay and lesbian couples were observed playing with their children. Here again, same-sex couples, unable to fall back on traditional gender roles, seemed to find a better way to do things.
The lesbian mothers tended to be egalitarian and warm in their dealings with one another, and showed greater pleasure in parenting than the other groups did. Same-sex dads were also more egalitarian in their division of labor than straight couples, though not as warm or interactive as lesbian moms.
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So, there you have it, girls. After being told for so long that we are “less than” and that our relationships are unnatural, the truth is finally exposed: Lesbians are natural-born experts at marriage and parenting. In fact, it seems like the heterosexual community might be able to learn a thing or two from us. I actually feel kind of bad for straight guys. Maybe we should start some sort of training program for them. It could be a Big Brothers/Big Sisters type of thing. We could pair up each guy with a lesbian who would show him how to act right when you’re married to a lady in 2013. We’ll iron out the details later.
In the meantime, go enjoy your happy lesbian home, which was, of course, cleaned in an egalitarian fashion. Whip up some dinner (unless it’s your wife’s night to cook), and play with your adorable, happy, well-adjusted children. Just don’t forget to have sex with your wife!
What do you think is the best thing about lesbian marriage?