Love’s Contemporary Conflict – Gender Roles

man_housework

The cool thing about being men and woman in America in this millennium is that we can carve out the lifestyle we want. We can work full time or part-time, we can be mothers/fathers or child-free people, we can choose to get married, co-habit, or live in blissful autonomy alone with our canine. We can choose to be a homemaker or we can be really ambitious outside the home and make enough money to hire someone else to make our home better.

In our love lives, the choices are a little different. Women can choose to have traditional feminine gender roles in terms of care-giving, nurturing, communication, and sexuality or, now that women’s male energy has been liberated through feminism, they can be more male in their style of relating. All this choice is ultimately a wonderful thing, but it’s also creating a whole lot of confusion for couples. Mostly because men didn’t get the memo. They didn’t get it because women forgot to write it.

Gender roles are perhaps the least understood and the most subversive component in our modern love lives. Gender roles are different from gender identity (how we perceive ourselves as women and men) and sexual orientation (which gender we are attracted to.) Gender roles are what we do. The behaviors that reflect our feminine or masculine self as dictated by cultural and familial programming. In couples, much bickering, disappointment, and down-right confusion can be attributed to gender expectations that we are unaware of.

Behaviors that can be related to gender can be far ranging, from money making, to house keeping, nurturing, social scheduling, and emotional teaching and protection. I once lost total faith in a boyfriend when, on vacation, a late night knock at our hotel room door prompted him to suggest a paper-rock-scissors game as the deciding factor in who was going to get out of bed to answer the door. I was horrified. My personal gender conditioning includes a belief that men should function as protectors, first and foremost. Asking a woman to answer a door late at night felt somehow unmanly to me. Of course, I didn’t fully realize it until this event.

On the flip side, there are men who are very happy to have a female partner who’s out there by day carving the carcass with the best of them, but when it comes to social behaviors, they prefer something more traditional. A woman who acts “lady like” (whatever that is) in public helps some men feel chivalrous and masculine.

Perhaps the most contentious battle ground for nesting couples is the argument over who will fulfill which roles in terms of home nesting and maintenance. And it’s a battle that can usually be settled between two open minded people who have love and compassion for each other. That is, until a baby moves in. In the early stages of parenthood, most women are so biologically wired to take on the role of primary caregiver of offspring, that before long, those tired new moms have also inherited most of the home-making duties without their consent. This is not to dismiss the amazing men who become primary nurturers early on because their power hungry wife would prefer to wear a suit than a nursing bra (or simply because her gig pays a heck of a lot more). But you guys are still the minority. And when a once corporate woman, finds herself in the bewildering position of a traditional gender role, it can cause plenty of friction in her love life. And, in case this is news to you, the feeling of anger is the number-one killer of female sexual desire.

The answer is to examine our own gender expectations before we enter into relationships and to express them early on. Discourse is always the way out of conflict. There are some gender role tests available on the internet that can help you clarify your perceptions. And it’s important to be both open-minded to new ideas and clear within yourself about which gender expectations you simply cannot compromise on. Gender roles are a product of biology and culture and they are living, ever-changing part of our relationship landscape.

Married couple having an intimate discussion

10 Secrets of Mindful Love

Get 25% off Dr. Wendy’s exclusive online workshop. Transform your relationship today!

 Click here.

 

DR. WENDY WALSH IS AVAILABLE FOR TELEPHONE RELATIONSHIP COACHING. TO SCHEDULE, PLEASE CLICK HERE AND COMPLETE THE BOX ON THE LEFT. SHE’LL PERSONALLY RESPOND.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.18.56 PM

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LOVE AND SEX? GET 50% OF MY ONLINE WORKSHOP “THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HUMAN MATING” USE PROMO CODE “LOVE 50” CLICK HERE

 

One thought on “Love’s Contemporary Conflict – Gender Roles

  1. Can gender roles be overcome? Can a person learn and accept a different gender role or is it biologically programmed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *