What Makes Parents Share Equally?
It is a joy to swap stories with another parenting couple who equally share their household, childraising and breadwinning. One of the things I like best about this exchange is that I get to find out why they are equally sharing. Every couple has a slightly different take on how they ended up where they are now.
There are those couples who vow not to become traditionalists. They enjoy bucking the status quo, and usually establish a unique way of life for themselves before they have children. When their first child comes along, they fashion a new unique life with their baby. In talking with this type of equally sharing couple, I get the sense that they want to see how far they can ride out their current lifestyle before they have to mix things up again. And that they will keep choosing something out of the ordinary.
Then there are those who say they just 'fell into it'. Often, a subconscious shift from the traditional happens for these couples when they make a specific decision about one of their jobs. For example, the father might have been laid off early in their baby's life; this crisis may have led to a prolonged paternity 'leave' in which Dad bonds so closely with his baby that he then seeks a position that allows him to stay home one day a week. These couples may have fallen into equal sharing, but most of them say they don't think they would ever want to return to their old ways. What started as a subtle unconscious shift becomes a purposeful and carefully guarded lifestyle.
And then we have the 'simple living' group. It is not uncommon for at least one of the parents in these couples to have dabbled in part-time work before having children or even before meeting. Living a balanced and serene life is highly important to these individuals, and they prioritize simplicity over the stressed-out juggling act that so many traditional couples do once they have children. It is not a big sacrifice for these couples to work less than full time, because money definitely doesn't buy their happiness.
I could go on and on. I haven't even mentioned the die-hard feminists who would be deeply unhappy in an unequal marriage. Or the made-to-be-a-father men who don't want to miss out on their children's upbringing. Or even the practical couple who realizes that it simply makes the most sense for them to equally share their family - financially as well as from a balance standpoint.
As for me and for Marc, we fit a few of the descriptions above. Marc definitely values simplicity and balance. He did not fall into equal sharing; he sought it out quite deliberately. My reasons include a bit of feminist 'fairness' mixed with a deep desire to literally share my family with my partner with everyday intimacy.
Lots of different couples practice equally shared parenting. Marc and I would like to make EquallySharedParenting.com a forum for equal sharers of all types to tell their stories. What makes you equally share? Or if you don't do so today, what would make you want to move in this direction?