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srmaher

Marriage, Egalitarianism and the Proclamation on The Family

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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.”

 

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.

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Hogwash!

My husband enjoys cooking - I do not!  If we were to do things according to traditional gender roles - resentment would kill any possibility to ever get 'in the mood'.

On the flip side - my friend is stuck in a marriage where the husband sees things in a traditional (ie 1950s) way and you guessed it - resentment abounds which does not for a happy marriage make!

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I just looked up the actual academic article.  http://www.asanet.org/journals/ASR/Feb13ASRFeature.pdf.  From my reading, it's pretty clear that the NYT overstated the results.  The biggest problems with these findings is that they claim that the sexual frequency within a couple drops from just under five to just above three when the proportion of core housework the male does goes from 0 to 1 (see page 40 in the pdf).  

 

The problem is that there are no data to support the extrapolation out to a proportion of 1.  The point estimate for the proportion of core work a man does was between .25 and .21.  A standard deviation of .19 means that your data really only support extrapolations up to a proportion of men's core housework being .60.  Realistically, I don't see any reason to think the trend is exactly linear past a proportion of 0.5.  To some extent, you would anticipate a mirroring effect if the man were doing the bulk of the core housework, or at least some kind of non-linear modification to the trend.

 

Realistically, the worst case scenario is that couples where the man and woman split the core housework evenly might have sex one less time per month than a more traditional couple, but even this will be moderated by the presence of children, the age of those children, employment status of the spouse's, and time spent alone with each other.  What's more, the study doesn't address concerns noted in other literature about the expectation of sex on demand by men in more traditional marriages.  

 

So, in short, I don't think this study says what you think it says (or what the NYT thinks it says--granted, the NYT article was written by a therapist, but I can't find any information on her degree other than that she majored in French.  In any case, social scientists have a reputation for bad statistical practice).

Edited by MarginOfError

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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 agree with you that a person who sees life through the lens of equality might interpret the Proclamation as advocating egalitarianism.  But I would also point out that a person who sees life through a traditionalist lens would interpret the Proclamation as advocating against egalitarianism.  

 

The reality is that the Proclamation advocates both traditional gender roles and egalitarianism.  Which of those gets more emphasis from any particular person says more about the person than it does about the Proclamation.

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I also call hogwash. Masculinity and gender roles has absolutely nothing to do with washing dishes or not.

 

There are way too many skipped and missing variables to draw any sort of conclusions from a study like this. For example, there's no reason to presume that the less masculine man is a result of the feminine chores, rather than the feminine chores perhaps being a result of the lesser masculinity (I'm not arguing this is the case -- as I pointed out, I don't think masculinity has anything to do with dishes or vacuuming, just pointing out the inconclusive nature of the points being drawn).

 

Also, the same can be said of the traditional interpretation often seen in the reading of Kimball's "sex is one of the primary causes of divorce" statement. There's no reason to presume that statement is because the husband and or wife is bad at sex, doesn't engage often enough, or is based in other worldly, self-centered views of sex. In point of fact, there's every reason to presume that it is just the opposite of that. That sex being one of the primary causes of divorce is because people's attitudes about sex is messed up and self-centered. The messed up self-centered attitude will lead to sexual problems regardless of the frequency of supposed quality of relations. A translation of this statement to mean we need to ensure we're having higher amounts of quality sex is totally invalid, and the frequency of people's interpreting it this way is indicative of the problem.

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From the Family Proclamation:

 

 

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

 

The gender roles specifically call out presiding, providing, and protecting for fathers; and only nurturing for mothers.

 

Is meeting the requirements of a clean house providing/presiding/protecting or nurturing? Is meeting the requirements of clean and orderly clothes p(3) or nurture? Is ensuring a meal providing or nurturing?

 

Most of these sound like either they fall under providing (and become the father's gender role), or else the second clause kicks in with the obligation "to help one another as equal partners".

 

 

 

From SRMAHER:
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.

 

Can I restate it in this manner? "The husband and wife who communicate withe each other, are sensitive to each other's emotions and work schedules, where the wife feels both closer to and happier with the husband are not living the principles in the Proclamation because they are not having more and exciting sex."

 

Could you also quote the portions of the Proclamation that deal with sex?

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Notquiteperfect: 

 

You mentioned that traditional, 1950's type roles would cause resentment. If your husband came home and said, you know what. I want to be a stay at home dad, i don't want to work and provide for this family, in fact I think these "traditional" gender roles is nothing more than social constructs. You need to go out and work and provide for the family and I will be the stay at home dad. What would be your reaction? Perhaps you might support such a thing, but I presume that most women would not. 

 

That being said, would you say that your husband primarily does the "masculine"  jobs around the house? If so, then I think you find it tremendously attractive when he helps out doing traditional "feminine" activities.  As the study says, women want their husband to "help out around the house," but they want them to fill the masculine role. although the study does not say this, I believe that women are more attracted to their husbands when they primarily focus on the "masculine roles," than help out their wives doing "feminine" chores.  This is a theory of mine, what are your thoughts? 

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MarginofError

 

I am glad you read the article. What are your thoughts about those conducting the study being surprised by the results? To me its common sense, the preoccupation with equality in our society has had awful consequences, especially to marriages. The definition of equality that I am deriding is how liberals define it, which is the equality of results which is different then the equality of opportuinty that takes into account peoples differences, especially man and women. 

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I agree with you that a person who sees life through the lens of equality might interpret the Proclamation as advocating egalitarianism.  But I would also point out that a person who sees life through a traditionalist lens would interpret the Proclamation as advocating against egalitarianism.  

 

The reality is that the Proclamation advocates both traditional gender roles and egalitarianism.  Which of those gets more emphasis from any particular person says more about the person than it does about the Proclamation.

 

 

I agree, unfortunatly society (academia, media) are preoccupied with equality, which i see as the most destructive force over the past 40 years. To your point, it is politically incorrect to discuss gender roles, your looked at as a bigot and sexist if you say anything that advocates traditional roles. If your a women and you advocate gender roles, forget about it, your considered a traitor to your sex. The brethren have been clear, men are to help out around the house, but their primary role is to provide and protect their family. 

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The Folk Prophet

 

"There's no reason to presume that the less masculine man is a result of the feminine chores."

 

No one is saying this, the study is showing what turns a women on. Look, if a women finds a man attractive who neglects fulfilling the gender role of being a man, then thats fine. Most women do not find this attractive. I would say that most women expect their husband to help our around the house but they expect their husband to fill his primary role as a man first and foremost. 

 

 

"There's no reason to presume that statement is because the husband and or wife is bad at sex, doesn't engage often enough, or is based in other worldly, self-centered views of sex."

 

The point I believe Kimball is making is that sex plays a central role in the emotional connection between a husband and wife. The lack of Physical intimacy in a marriage is a symptom (general rule) of a emotional detachment between the two. Attraction between the sexes is more likely to happen when each person fulfills their gender role, a man does not want a competitor and a women does not want to be married to another women. 

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The gender roles specifically call out presiding, providing, and protecting for fathers; and only nurturing for mothers.

 

Is meeting the requirements of a clean house providing/presiding/protecting or nurturing? Is meeting the requirements of clean and orderly clothes p(3) or nurture? Is ensuring a meal providing or nurturing?

 

I think if we add the word "homemaker" to this equation, it might help clear up some of your questions. ;)  

 

 

 

 

 

"Most of these sound like either they fall under providing (and become the father's gender role), or else the second clause kicks in with the obligation "to help one another as equal partners"

 

 

Since you bring up equal partners, should the husband expect his wife to get a job, even though he earns enough to meet their needs? After all, "equal partners" right?

 

Can I restate it in this manner? "The husband and wife who communicate withe each other, are sensitive to each other's emotions and work schedules, where the wife feels both closer to and happier with the husband are not living the principles in the Proclamation because they are not having more and exciting sex."

 

 

If what you are saying is true, believe me, they would be having a lot of sex (generally speaking). 

 

Could you also quote the portions of the Proclamation that deal with sex?

 

Where would you get the idea that I implied in any way that the proclamation specifically deals with sex? 

Edited by srmaher

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Notquiteperfect: 

 

You mentioned that traditional, 1950's type roles would cause resentment. If your husband came home and said, you know what. I want to be a stay at home dad, i don't want to work and provide for this family, in fact I think these "traditional" gender roles is nothing more than social constructs. You need to go out and work and provide for the family and I will be the stay at home dad. What would be your reaction? Perhaps you might support such a thing, but I presume that most women would not. 

 

That being said, would you say that your husband primarily does the "masculine"  jobs around the house? If so, then I think you find it tremendously attractive when he helps out doing traditional "feminine" activities.  As the study says, women want their husband to "help out around the house," but they want them to fill the masculine role. although the study does not say this, I believe that women are more attracted to their husbands when they primarily focus on the "masculine roles," than help out their wives doing "feminine" chores.  This is a theory of mine, what are your thoughts? 

 

Actually, my husband would be *fabulous* at home but he chose a career that pays well and is one that he enjoys and is great at. Furthermore, since women make less than men, it doesn't make as much sense for me to do the 'providing'.  As far as what my reaction would be - I'm actually quite bothered that I'm expected to want to be home.

My husband does whatever I need him to do.  There have been times when I've handled the power drill while he did the mundane tasks and other times where he's more suited to doing the 'heavy lifting'.  Also, I don't view things as being 'more or less attracted' - just more or less annoyed.

But enough about me.  Studies are stupid.  Too many are not thorough, biased, slanted and disprove a previous study (showing that they're not reliable).  So - I think people should ignore 'studies' and just do what works for them!

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The Folk Prophet

 

No one is saying this, the study is showing what turns a women on. Look, if a women finds a man attractive who neglects fulfilling the gender role of being a man, then thats fine. Most women do not find this attractive. I would say that most women expect their husband to help our around the house but they expect their husband to fill his primary role as a man first and foremost. 

 

I accept that women find masculinity attractive. I do not accept that doing the dishes is not masculine.

 

The point I believe Kimball is making is that sex plays a central role in the emotional connection between a husband and wife. The lack of Physical intimacy in a marriage is a symptom (general rule) of a emotional detachment between the two. Attraction between the sexes is more likely to happen when each person fulfills their gender role, a man does not want a competitor and a women does not want to be married to another women. 

 

I agree with this too. I think where I disagree is in what defines the roles of each gender. It's not the stereotypes.

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I accept that women find masculinity attractive. I do not accept that doing the dishes is not masculine.

For some reason I am now picturing a man getting out a buffer and pressure washer to do dish's "like a man".

I can't stop laughing.

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I think if we add the word "homemaker" to this equation, it might help clear up some of your questions. ;)  

 

 

If we add the word "homemaker" to the equation, we're no longer talking about the gender roles defined in the Family Proclamation, which is what I thought you were using to frame the discussion.

 

 

 

Since you bring up equal partners, should the husband expect his wife to get a job, even though he earns enough to meet their needs? After all, "equal partners" right?

 

Is that what "equal" means to you? Do you also demand urinals in women's restrooms? I think if they are being provided for, but at a cost that's too great for the father, then it's fully appropriate for the mother to pair up with him in meeting the obligations of this sacred responsibility - not as an underling, nor as a manager, but as equal partners.

 

 

If what you are saying is true, believe me, they would be having a lot of sex (generally speaking). 

 

I figured it was true from this quote:

 

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.

 

Father is sink-scrubbing, grocery-shopping, communicating with Mother, sensitive to her emotions and work schedules. In turn Mother is communicating with Father, sensitive to his emotions and work schedules, and feels both closer to and happier with him.

 

Despite this, Mother does not find Father more sexually exciting.

 

Now you say generally speaking they are having a lot of sex. If you question this part of the findings (and this seems like a crucial point to question), do you question other aspects too? 

 

 Where would you get the idea that I implied in any way that the proclamation specifically deals with sex? 

 

From my reading of your OP, I thought it was inferred that couples that don't live the principles of the Family Proclamation (by being too egalitarian and ignoring proper gender roles) do not reap the blessings of those principles. The way this was measured in the study is by sex. So I thought maybe something in the Proclamation mentioned this blessing.

 

Otherwise, I'm just as baffled over what this study has to do with the Proclamation as compare to, say, one that says men who abuse their wife and children (expressly condemned) have higher blood pressure. That's all well and good, but unless high blood pressure is what it means to "one day stand before God", it doesn't really have any relation to the Proclamation.

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I think this is a prime example of the age old problem that the press usually does a poor job of relating scientific studies of any kind.  Its a common problem that is irritating but not much we scientist can do except use the Internet to really explain our results to the public!  Also, I really think that this study is using sex as a measure of "success" and that seems very narrow definition of "success".  I'm a husband who does most of the cooking at home, simply because I love to cook and cooking is not one of my wife's most favorite chores!  What each spouse does to support the home and marriage is a complex, individual process!  Having been in churches (Baptist) where we were brow-beaten to follow more traditional roles; I find the teaching of our church to be most delightful!  Emphasis on the "equal partnership" of the relationship is so refreshing against the backdrop of the teaching of other churches!

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MarginofError

 

I am glad you read the article. What are your thoughts about those conducting the study being surprised by the results? 

My thoughts are that the authors of the study are bad at statistics.  After looking at it some more, even they overstate their results, albeit unintentionally.  If you look at the baseline values, the mean sexual frequency is about 5.5 with a standard deviation of 4.5.  That provides a coefficient of variation (CV) of 0.81.  With that kind of CV, either the data are normally distributed (bell shaped) with a very wide variance; or they are skewed.  These data cannot be normally distributed--the mean is too close to 0 with too large a variance for it to be normally distributed.  And data that are this close to the minimum value with a high CV are almost always right skewed.  That means that the majority of the data lie below the mean with a few outlying large values exaggerating the mean.  In other words, the majority of married couples are having sex less than 1.25 times a week.

 

When you look at the regression, the coefficient associated with the man's share of core housework only accounts for 0.66 lost sexual encounters...but again, that's the difference between 0% of the core housework and 100% of the core housework.  At the worst case, it probably only accounts for about 0.33 lost sexual encounters, or just a 6% reduction in their sexual frequency.  

 

While this may be statistically significant (it's really easy to find statistical significance in a sample of 1200), I have my doubts that it is practically significant.  So if the researchers are surprised by the results, I'd argue it's because they aren't fully considering the practical considerations.

 

To me its common sense, the preoccupation with equality in our society has had awful consequences, especially to marriages. The definition of equality that I am deriding is how liberals define it, which is the equality of results which is different then the equality of opportuinty that takes into account peoples differences, especially man and women. 

 

It isn't nearly so clear that equality is having awful consequences on marriage.  Especially from this study.  Strong, happy marriages are built on strong happy individuals.  If you want to see what equality is doing for marriages, then study marital satisfaction.  There are plenty of validated tools out there.  But it's entirely possible that marriages with less sex have higher satisfaction scores.

 

And as a liberal and a feminist, let me just point out that your characterization that, to us, equality is about equality of results is just plain wrong.  Feminism advocates for equality of opportunity, for woman _and_ men, and is engaged in the process of removing the cultural barriers to providing those opportunities.  

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Guest

 

 

Also, I don't view things as being 'more or less attracted' - just more or less annoyed.

 

My favorite point of the whole discussion!

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