The Evolution of Marriage
Kudos to Daddy Dialectic's Jeremy Adam Smith for scoring a thought-provoking interview with Stephanie Coontz, a leading historian of marriage and family. In the interview, Dr. Coontz emphasizes that marriage has undergone an enormous no-turning-back transformation from a gender-stereotypic arrangement to an intimate union of best friends/lovers. Because most of today's couples don't 'need' each other in the same ways 1950s couples did (women needing men to earn the family paycheck and men needing women to raise the children and tend the house), a successful family now depends on the creation and nurture of this intimacy. It requires a true partnership of equals, if I may extrapolate a little.
Dr. Coontz then describes the tremendous changes that men have made in recent history toward this equality. She says feminists speak of a stalled revolution in gender equality, but Dr. Coontz feels otherwise: "In fact, as a historian, I have to say that [men] are changing, in a period of thirty years, in ways that took most women 150 years of thinking and activism. Every cohort of men is doing more in the house, and if you look within a cohort, the longer a man's wife has worked, the more likely he is to do caregiving and housework. This is a huge change."
And the results are "tremendous good news", per Dr. Coontz, in terms of the quality of marriage itself, reduced divorce rates, and better outcomes for kids in marriages with highly involved fathers.
For more detail, check out the full interview. For that matter, I highly encourage you to make Daddy Dialectic routine reading - Jeremy and his colleagues are thoughtful, excellent writers, and highly involved in the cause of equally shared parenting.