Marc and Amy—An Example
Marc and Amy are committed to the idea of equally shared parenting. They don’t divide up childcare and household tasks or divvy up specific responsibilities; nor do they keep track of who has done what. They each take responsibility for all aspects of parenting their two children on separate days. The couple divides their responsibilities (e.g. getting the children up, feeding them, getting them to daycare or school, etc.) based on who is working what hours on a given day. Amy and Marc continually stay alert and monitor how things are being shared between them.
Sometimes the tasks do fall along traditional gender lines. The point, for Marc and Amy, is not to default to these gender-driven roles but rather to think things through and talk about it.
Assessing Your Relationship
This kind of attention to maintaining a collaborative relationship in which you negotiate issues in good faith takes a lot of work, much of it is being self-reflective…knowing where you are emotionally and psychologically in order to stay committed to this kind of relating. And, you must develop and practice ways to negotiate win-win solutions. Some examples of what you may feel as you become willing to become collaborative negotiators are
- This is too much work!
- I’ve had enough “self-awareness.”
- Do we have to “negotiate” everything?
Focus on How You Are Relating To One Another
A committed marriage is a lifelong partnership that links two people around their most fundamental wishes and wants. A good way to assess how you are doing in your relationship is to look at how you and your partner are interacting with one another. Do your interactions support you both as individuals while at the same time enhancing your relationship?
Couples need to interact with one another intentionally and attentively. Some things simply cannot be mandated, not even by contract nor by gender. You can intentionally and attentively negotiate collaboratively with one another.
References: 1. Thompson, Linda. “Conceptualizing Gender in Marriage: The Case of Marital Care.” Journal of Marriage and Family 55, no. 3 (August 1993). 2. Gottman, John. Why Conventional Marriage Wisdom Is Wrong. (July 11, 2018). https://www.gottman.com/blog/why-conventional-marriage-wisdom-is-wrong/. 3. Aponte, Catherine E. (2019) A Marriage of Equals: How to Achieve Balance in a Committed Relationship. Berkeley, CA: She Writes Press. 4. Lisa Belkin, “When Mom and Dad Share It All,” The New York Times Magazine, (June 15, 2008), http://www.nytimes.com/ 2008/06/15/magazine/15parenting-t.html.
Written by: Catherine Aponte, Psy.D Originally appeared on:Psychology Today Republished with permission