The Great Debate: Traditional Vs. Modern Love?
While traditional gender roles are rapidly dismantling with time, they still influence our outlook on relationships. Many modern men and women are adamant about freeing themselves from traditional stereotypes, but underlying expectations based on gender still exist. Each relationship is unique and it is the duty of the individuals to define who is responsible for what.
Do not make the mistake of getting into a relationship without establishing a clear understanding with your partner about your roles. When outlining the roles in your union, ask yourself, “What are the traditional gender roles I adhere to and how will they affect my relationship?”
1) Define your relationship philosophy.
I was having a conversation about gender roles with a friend this week who prefers a mix between modern and traditional. Tying his manhood to providing, he was perfectly comfortable with the idea of paying the majority of the bills while his significant other covered their leisure activities. Having a similar exchange with a close woman friend yielded a different response. Rejecting the idea of staying home to care for the family, she stood firmly on the notion that she would take care of herself financially. She believed that by allowing a man to take care of her, she would have to relinquish control and power over her life. These opinions are reflective of just how much our understanding of gender roles influence us when it comes to love.
When laying the foundation for your relationship, do not bypass the conversation about finances. Will you or your mate take a traditional stance when it comes to financially contributing to the home? Should the man provide and the woman oversee the day-to-day functions of the household? Or do you believe that everything in a relationship should be 50/50, including the bills and chores? Making sure that you and your lover align on important topics such as who will cover the household expenses and who will be primarily responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the home is necessary to avoid future confusion and discourse.
2) Determine who makes the decisions.
Traditionally speaking, men are more dominate and women are more emotional. We are trained to believe that from birth. Used as a tool to reinforce gender norms, the church and many other religious organizations teach believers that the hierarchy of the home is to honor the man as the head, followed by the wife, and then the children. This family dynamic is “God’s Order,” and the thought process has spilled outside the church doors and into everyday society.
Moving away from traditional gender roles, more modern relationships involve two people who share the power and decision making ability in the home. Collectively, both parties address issues and come up with the best solution. To be successful in your union, there must be an agreement about who makes the major decisions.
When it comes to your relationship, it is vital that you and your partner establish a decision making process. Is there a head? Or do you function as a unit, coming together to make all major decision. Or does someone delegate the decisions (ex., woman makes decisions regarding children and the man makes decisions regarding finances or vice versa)? Establishing a healthy flow of communication will prove to be influential in keeping order in your home.
3) Establish a parenting style that you both agree on.
Traditionally, gender roles encourage women to be the nurturer of the family. She is positioned to softly tend to her husband’s and children’s needs. She prepares the meals, does the laundry, and educates the children, while the father serves as disciplinarian and provider. His presence becomes a tool for mothers to evoke fear in her children. Unnerved at the thought of having to deal with an upset father, mothers would often use the dominance of the male’s disposition as a threat to whip her children into shape. Statements like, “I am going to tell your father about this when he gets home,” is not uncommon in traditional households.
However, in modern homes, it is not abnormal for the mother to be the disciplinarian and the father to be the “good cop.” Parenting, like finances and intimacy, has the ability to ruin a relationship. Establishing a concrete understanding of how you want to parent in your home is fundamental for maintaining harmony in the family.
4) Who dominates the bedroom?
The constant suppression of sexual fantasies is often seen in more traditional relationships. Used for the purpose of reproduction, traditional roles as it pertains to sexual intimacy gives very little acknowledgement or respect to the desire of the woman. In many traditional relationships, all of the power is given to the man and requires complete submission from the woman.
This differs from the more modern relationships. In these partnerships, sexual intimacy and power is interchangeable. This relationship does not demand submission, nor does it bottle in the sexual needs of the woman. Whatever you and your partner decide regarding sex and intimacy, it’s essential that both of your needs are met. If not, regret and resentment will build in the dissatisfied partner.
Whether or not we recognize it, our adherence to gender stereotypes can be innate. The moment you put a barbie in your daughter’s hand or give your son a football for his birthday, you are training him or her to understand that gender roles are not fluid, meaning there is a distinct role for men and for women. Traditional gender roles works well for many families and proves to be the best method for maintaining a healthy family unit.
However, times are changing. With this shift comes new and less rigid expectations. Individuals who reject the traditional lifestyle have a more open idea of what it means to be in a relationship. Both methods have proven to be valuable. What is most important is that you and your partner are connected and have similar beliefs regarding these roles. Instead of going against your beliefs, find a mate who is in agreement with you!
Jazz Keyes is a community activist, poetess and a nationally certified Life Purpose and Career Coach. Keyes supplies clients with the necessary tools and techniques to awaken their divine energy, heal their open wounds and create an aura of love, compassionate and tranquility. In 2013, Keyes was named “13 People to Watch For” by Rockford Register Star and in honor of Black History Month 2014, Keyes was recently named a“Neighborhood Hero” by ComEd’s Power of One Campaign. Keyes in currently pursuing her Masters in Clinical Psychology and hopes to one day be a best-selling author and motivational speaker. She has devoted a great deal of her time and energy on mastering the art of communication in order to create healthy, dynamic, long-lasting relationships.