What can gay and lesbian couples teach straight ones about living in harmony?

In The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss written by Liza Mundy and published by The Atlantic, the author reports on the growing body of research that finds same-sex unions are happier than heterosexual marriages.The research suggests that this might be because heterosexual couples still struggle with the ideal of egalitarianism and often fall back on old stereotypes and ideals of masculinity/femininity and marriage, without negotiating expectations, or setting out the rules for the marriage. It seems that without the stereotypical, often patriarchal understanding of marriage, couples overall feel better and are happier!

For example, “Schwartz and Blumstein found that gay and lesbian couples were fairer in their dealings with one another than straight couples, both in intent and in practice.” Further, even when in conflict, same-sex couples fight fairer. “They can even fight funny, as researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California at Berkeley showed in an article published in 2003, based on a study of couples who were navigating potentially tense interactions. Recruiting married straight couples as well as gays and lesbians in committed relationships, the researchers orchestrated a scenario in which one partner had to bring up an area of conflict to discuss with the other. In same-sex couples, the partner with the bone to pick was rated “less belligerent and less domineering” than the straight-couple counterpart, while the person on the receiving end was less aggressive and showed less fear or tension. The same-sex “initiator” also displayed less sadness and “whining,” and more affection, joy, and humor. In trying to make sense of the disparity, the researchers noted that same-sex couples valued equality more, and posited that the greater negativity of straight couples “may have to do with the standard status hierarchy between men and women.” Which perhaps boils down to something like this: straight women see themselves as being less powerful than men, and this breeds hostility.”

Read the full article here.

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