Note: This guest post is from Marina Salsbury.

It takes hard work to care for and support a family in and out of the home.

With an ever increasing number of women flourishing in the workforce, the traditional family structure of rigidly defined gender roles has given way to a more equal participation of men and women in all areas of family life.

While liberating both sexes from prescribed societal norms, it has become fertile ground for arguments about contributions to the family unit.

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The empathy gained from this shift combined with a common measurement for valuing contributions can be the deciding factors in a successful and long-lasting marriage.

In the last twenty-five years an increasing number of women have not only entered the workforce, but have earned more money than their husbands, forever altering the traditional family dynamic.

Wives Earn More Than Their Husbands

Thirty-three percent of all married couples in 2006 saw the wife earn more than her husband. Furthermore, women are working in and studying degrees (such as online MBA programs) traditionally saved for men.

This relatively new development has brought to light the difficulties in defining fairness when discussing perceived contributions to the family. Equitably comparing different aspects of family life, while difficult, has surely entered a new phase in human history.

The present construction of the modern family unit, where both men and women have had far more control over what role they will fill, has provided a far greater understanding concerning all aspects of family life.

Census Bureau statistics show the percentage of families with children under eighteen where women are the sole provider to be increasing. Gender roles have largely abolished themselves, relying more on the individual talents of couples to sort out what roles they need to fill.

Finding the Right Balance at Home

The simple fact of the matter is that there is a known quantity of work to be done to properly maintain a family.

Listing out work duties and chores succinctly, and the time it takes to complete them, is a crucial step to settling disputes that are ultimately about one member feeling treated unfairly.

In the case of two-income households, the amount of money brought in should really be a non-factor, since arbitrarily assigning worth equivalent to marketplace value is pointless. Time becomes the commodity used to define fairness because it is measured equally for both people.

In the end, arguments and differences of opinion are natural, regardless of how close a married couple think themselves.

Making sure fairness is achieved in contributions to the family relies on a combination of honesty and empathy. With the help of shifting gender roles in the modern family, this has never been more achievable.

As with any team, success depends on cultivating a sense of equality, and finding a common measurement for contributions, such as time, is the logical first step.

How about you – do you have traditional or non-traditional gender roles in your household?

Marina Salsbury planned on becoming a teacher since high school, but found her way instead into online writing after college. She currently writes on a variety of topics, but always seems to veer back to education-related articles.


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. Really?

    “In the case of two-income households, the amount of money brought in should really be a non-factor, since arbitrarily assigning worth equivalent to marketplace value is pointless. Time becomes the commodity used to define fairness because it is measured equally for both people.”

    Perhaps if assigning a monetary value was arbitrary, this would be fine, but it’s not. You can hire people to clean your house and you can go out to a restaurant or even have meals shipped to your home. I’m not saying that there aren’t other dimensions to the equation aside from money in the context of a family, but determining the economic value isn’t haphazard.

    Case in point re:other dimensions, I tried to hire someone to come in and clean the house, and my wife wasn’t happy about it. The household work disagreement that we’ve had centers on expectations of cleanliness. I have a much higher standard for what’s clean than she does. It took me a while to understand that and be at peace with it. Attempting to resolve the incongruousness, I was going to hire someone to clean the house, but as noted, that didn’t pan out.

    Since, I’ve concluded that if I have the high standard I should be the one to meet it. Thus, I do most of the cleaning, which, why I don’t know, hasn’t been met with the same animosity. I’d still prefer to hire someone to do it to free up more of my time for higher value work, but taking my wife’s emotional response into account, I’m fine with doing it myself.

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