Egalitarian marriage is what it says it is, equal footing between the husband and wife. It is the direct anti-thesis or patriarchy or matriarchy. It means equal footing in decisive matters, not a patriarchal/matriarchal union with an advisory position.
A lot of people have the misconception that an egalitarian marriage is where one spouse makes a decision after consulting the matter to their partner. It’s the soft version of the egalitarian marriage, but it’s still not truly equal as one spouse has the final say on important family matters. A lot of people prefer the soft version since a structure prevents huge arguments when the couple disagrees on the issue.
A Christian egalitarian marriage solves the problem by placing the couple under God (or more accurately, under advisement from a Christian Sectarian Church) effectively creating a swing vote.
Egalitarian marriage vs. Traditional marriage
A lot of cultures follow what is called the traditional marriage scenario. The husband is the head of the family and its breadwinner. The hardships required to put food on the table earns the husband the right to make the decisions for the family.
The wife then takes cares of the household, that includes making things comfortable for the tired husband and child-rearing responsibilities. The work as you can imagine is more or less equal during the days when a man needs to till the soil from sunrise to sunset (A homemaker’s job is never done, try it with young children). However, that is no longer the case today. Two fundamental changes in society enabled the feasibility of an egalitarian marriage.
Economic changes – Consumerism has increased the bar for basic needs. Keeping up with the Joneses is out of control because of social media. It created a scenario where both couples need to work to pay the bills. If both partners are now bringing home the bacon, it takes away the right of a traditional patriarchal family to lead.
Urbanization – According to Statistics, a whopping 82% of the population lives in cities. Urbanization also means that a majority of workers no longer till the land. It also increased the educational level of women. The increase of both men and women white-collar workers further broke down the justifications of a patriarchal family structure.
The modern environment changed family dynamics, especially in a highly urbanized society. Women are earning as much as men, with some actually earn more. Men are participating more in child-rearing and household chores. Both partners are experiencing the hardship and rewards of the other gender role.
A lot of women also have equal or more educational attainment as their male partners. Modern women have as much experience with life, logic, and critical thinking as men. The world is now ripe for an egalitarian marriage.
What is egalitarian marriage and why is it important?
In truth, it’s not. There are other factors involved such as religious and cultural that prevents it. It is not better or worse than traditional marriages. It is just different.
If you seriously weigh in the pros and cons of such a marriage to a traditional one without adding in concepts such as social justice, feminism, and equal rights. Then you will realize they are just two different methodologies.
If we assume that their education and earning capacity is the same, there’s no reason why it’s better or worse than traditional marriages. It is all up to the values of the couple, both as married partners and as individuals.
Egalitarian marriage meaning
It is the same as an equal partnership. Both parties contribute the same and their opinions have the same weight in a decision making process. There are still roles to play, but it is no longer confined to the traditional gender roles, but a choice.
It is not about gender roles, but the voting power in the decision-making process. Even if the family is still structured traditionally with the male breadwinner and female homemaker, but all major decisions are discussed together, with each opinion as important as the other, then it still falls under the egalitarian marriage definition.
A lot of modern proponents of such marriage is talking about gender roles too much, it can be a part of it, but it’s not a requirement. You can have a reversed dynamic with a woman breadwinner and a house-band, but if all decisions are still done as a couple with opinions equally respected, then it is still an egalitarian marriage. Most of these modern proponents forget that “traditional gender roles” is also a form of equally sharing responsibilities.
Gender roles are just assignments on things that need to be done to keep the household in working order. If you have grown children, they can actually do all of it. It is not as important as other people think.
The biggest consequence of an equal partnership between two people is deadlock on choices. There are situations where there are two rational, practical, and moral solutions to a single problem. However, only one or the other can be implemented for various reasons.
The best solution is for the couple to discuss the issue with a neutral third-party expert. It can be a friend, family, a professional counselor, or a religious leader.
When asking an objective judge, make sure to lay down the ground rules. First, both partners agree that the person they approach is the best person to ask about the issue. They can also disagree on such a person, then run through your list until you find someone acceptable to both of you.
The next is the person is aware that you are coming as a couple and ask their “expert” opinion. They are the final Judge, Jury, and Executioner. They are there as a neutral swing vote. They have to listen to both sides and make a decision. If the expert ends up saying, “It’s up to you…” or something to that effect, everyone wasted their time.
In the end, once a decision is made, it is final. No hard feelings, no court of appeals, and no hard feelings. Implement and move on to the next problem.
Egalitarian marriage has its ups and down like traditional marriages, as I’ve said before, it’s not better or worse, it is just different. As a couple, if you wish to have such a marriage and family dynamic, always remember that it only matters when big decisions have to be made. Everything else doesn’t have to be equally divided including roles. However, once there’s a dispute on who should do what, it becomes a big decision and then husband and wife’s opinion matters.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.