Homo What Straight People Can Learn About Marriage From Gay People
posted by June 10 at 9:27 AMon
First off, it doesn’t have to be that way—”it” being argument style, division of household labor, etc.
A growing body of evidence shows that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else about marriage and relationships. Most studies show surprisingly few differences between committed gay couples and committed straight couples, but the differences that do emerge have shed light on the kinds of conflicts that can endanger heterosexual relationships.
The findings offer hope that some of the most vexing problems are not necessarily entrenched in deep-rooted biological differences between men and women. And that, in turn, offers hope that the problems can be solved….
Notably, same-sex relationships, whether between men or women, were far more egalitarian than heterosexual ones. In heterosexual couples, women did far more of the housework; men were more likely to have the financial responsibility; and men were more likely to initiate sex, while women were more likely to refuse it or to start a conversation about problems in the relationship. With same-sex couples, of course, none of these dichotomies were possible, and the partners tended to share the burdens far more equally.
While the gay and lesbian couples had about the same rate of conflict as the heterosexual ones, they appeared to have more relationship satisfaction, suggesting that the inequality of opposite-sex relationships can take a toll.
And from an earlier write-up of the same studies…
The findings also showed that same-sex couples, regardless of civil union status, were more satisfied with their relationships compared to married heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples reported more positive feelings toward their partners and less conflict than heterosexual married couples, said the authors.
Now the fundies don’t like these reports—basically any “research” study that doesn’t prove that gay men and lesbians aren’t busily eating each other’s feces when we’re not recruiting children is, to their minds, fatally biased. And fundies are deeply invested in the notion that there are “deep-rooted biological differences between men and women.” So studies that show that same-sex relationships function well, and that people in them are relatively content, and that folks in opposite-sex relationships can learn a thing or two from us, well, those studies are sure to be unwelcome over at Focus on the Family.
But there’s something I’d like to see these researchers address, and it’s an issue that’s sure to drive both fundies and some in the gay rights movements up the wall: monogamy.
Male same-sex couples in long-term relationships report higher levels of satisfaction, are better at resolving conflict, have less destructive argument styles, share house work more equitably, etc. We’re also a hell of lot less likely to be strictly monogamous. Many gay male couples have negotiated “agreements” about outside sexual contact (scope, frequency, safety, etc). Reading these reports I can’t help but wonder what impact, if any, the lesser emphasis gay men place on monogamy has on relationships. Does talking about and defusing one of the chief sources of marital strife—attraction to others; the desire, acknowledged or not, for a sexual variety over the life of a multi-decade partnership—contribute to higher rates of relationship satisfaction? Do gay male couples report less conflict than straight couples because fewer gay couples are conflict—or denial—about outside sexual contacts?