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.
"..the most vexing problems are not necessarily entrenched in deep-rooted biological differences between men and women."
The idea that men and women are so fundamentally different that relationships must be based on a complementary (and conflicting) balance is not inborn. It is purely a social construct, and the experience of same sex couples can teach the rest of us a few lessons.
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.And yet, at the same time, same-sex couples also experience what this researcher calls the demand-withdraw” interaction.
One of the most common stereotypes in heterosexual marriages is the “demand-withdraw” interaction, in which the woman tends to be unhappy and to make demands for change, while the man reacts by withdrawing from the conflict. But some surprising new research shows that same-sex couples also exhibit the pattern, contradicting the notion that the behavior is rooted in gender, according to an abstract presented at the 2006 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science by Sarah R. Holley, a psychology researcher at Berkeley.So, not only do straight and gay couples have more in common with each other, so do men and women.
Once we start treating each other as individuals, stripped of pre-conceived gender norms and biases, we will all be better able to navigate the minefield of our relationships.