Marriage, Egalitarianism and the Proclamation on The Family


A few months ago, The New York Times Magazine discussed a study which found that couples who  considered their relationship as “egalitarian” had less sex than couples who adhered to traditional gender roles.

The results from this study surprised many. It was assumed that sex would improve as the marriage became more equal. Not so! This study found “that when men did certain kinds of chores around the house, couples had less sex. Specifically, if men did all of what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming…then couples had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car….The more traditional the division of labor, meaning the greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s reported sexual satisfaction.

Women “do want their husbands to help out — just in gender-specific ways. Couples in which the husband did plenty of traditionally male chores reported a 17.5 percent higher frequency of sexual intercourse than those in which the husband did none.”Proclamation and equality

The findings in this study comes as no surprise to those who work in the field of family therapy, “No matter how much sink-scrubbing and grocery-shopping the husband does, no matter how well husband and wife communicate with each other, no matter how sensitive they are to each other’s emotions and work schedules, the wife does not find her husband more sexually exciting, even if she feels both closer to and happier with him.

The bottom line is this, “the less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire. In other words, in an attempt to be gender-neutral, we may have become gender-neutered.

For those who are LDS, consider these questions. What might the proclamation on the family say about the results of this study? Does the proclamation on the family encourage egalitarian marriages?

Personally, I don’t think so, but a person who sees life through the lens of equality might interpret this document as advocating egalitarianism, when in fact The Proclamation on the Family emphasizes distinct gender roles between men and woman. I believe The Proclamation on the Family, if followed to the extent circumstances allow, will lead to happier marriages.

I also believe it’s important to emphasize, when it comes to marriage there are no guarantees of living happily ever after. There have been many couples who have adhered to traditional gender roles and are now divorced. An important bit of fact to take from this study is that men and woman want different things, and it is those differences that attract us to each other.

Most (99.9%) of people who are married understand how important physical and emotional intimacy is. How important? President Kimball, a Prophet of the Mormon Church taught that the number one cause of divorce is over the issue of sex. “If you study the divorces…you will find that there are [many] reasons.  Generally sex is the first.  They did not get along sexually.  They may not say that in the court.  They may not even tell that to their attorneys, but that is the reason.”(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 1982, p. 329)

The Proclamation on the family lays out clear guidelines for man and woman to follow in their relationship. The roles defined in this document are considered sexist and bigoted by today’s society. I myself am thankful that this study was done, as it confirms the wisdom found in The Proclamation. It shows that men and woman are in fact different, and it is those differences that attract us to one another.

5 replies »

  1. Married Man Sex Life blog would confirm this finding, as have articles written by women about what most women want in a man. Sure, they want their husbands to help out around the house. But on the more basic evolutionary biology scale, they want a man to be a man. Not a brute, not a raper or pillager. Just a man who does manly things, who acts as a protector and provider. More alpha, less beta, usually results in more sex.

  2. Reading the same article, I found this embedded in it:

    “This isn’t to say that egalitarian heterosexual couples aren’t happy. Lynn Prince Cooke, a professor of social policy at the University of Bath in England, found that American couples who share breadwinning and household duties are less likely to divorce. And Stephanie Coontz, author of “Marriage, a History,” told me that having a partner who does housework and child care has become a bigger factor in women’s marital satisfaction than many other factors that used to predict marital happiness, like a man’s level of income or shared religious beliefs.”

    So less sex, but greater happiness, less likely to divorce. I think we may need more criteria when evaluating gender roles. Another study suggested that the higher education and income, the more a potential marriage is going to be egalitarian. That is, when women have choices, what do they choose? Now ultimately my concern is coerced “roles”. That is, the societal, religious expectations that people must express gender in this or that way. I’m not opposed to the idea of gender, only when it becomes so normative that the costs are high for those who fail to conform

    • Hey Dwight, sorry it’s taken this long to respond, I am sure you know how life goes. To begin, no one is saying that egalitarian marriages can’t be happy. The article points out that woman want their husbands to help out in gender specific ways. That does not mean the husband can’t do both. I would venture to say that many do.

      “…my concern is coerced “roles”…That is, the societal, religious expectations that people must express gender in this or that way.” Do you ever worry about secular coercion? What do you think the response would be if a graduate student (her classmates, professors) said her goal in life is to get married, have children and be a home maker?

      “I’m not opposed to the idea of gender, only when it becomes so normative that the costs are high for those who fail to conform.” What are the costs? The price being paid are by the woman who would make marriage and homemaking their priority if not for the propaganda by today’s academics that a woman’s value is in the corporate world. With the amount of propaganda given it’s any wonder that woman even want to get married and have children.

      Youtube video- Depressing to watch! I am writing a post about this issue of gender identity. As you know Time Magazine is featuring a story about this topic.

      I look forward to continuing our conversation.

  3. The bottom line is this, “the less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire. In other words, in an attempt to be gender-neutral, we may have become gender-neutered.“

    What??! Have sex only 1.5 times less per month makes them gender-neutered? Only if you start out at 2 times per month!!? What am I supposed to infer from the conclusion that sex a mere 1 time more per month is proof that gender stereotyped roles lead to healthier, better marriages. A few failures in logic in this one. I don’t mind anyone choosing however they want their family to be. Yes, I’m attracted to my husband’s masculine muscles, even when he’s folding laundry.

    • Hello Kristine,
      Thank for taking the time to read and comment. The point you make is valid and I actually had the same thought. What I find interesting Is that those who conducted the study were suprised to find that egalitarian marriages did not result in more physical intimacy. To me that’s common sence but academics don’t get it. The premise in the academic world is that men and woman are basicly the same and differences in gender roles are the result of social constructs. Another reason I like the article in the NY Times is that also confirms common sence. I also think that the preoccupation with equality will only lead to problems. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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