How to have a Feminist Marriage
During our engagement, my (now) husband and I committed to having a feminist wedding. What made our ceremony feminist? The little things (walking in together instead of having my father “give me away,” writing our own vows and me going first, and our officiant pronouncing us “partners in marriage” instead of “husband and wife”). Now that we are married, I still believe it’s the little things that make a partnership feminist. Because feminism is not “one size fits all,” my feminist marriage will look different from yours. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean one is better (or more feminist) than the other.
Feminism is about equality between spouses
Equality between partners is more important than the tasks you do. One of my feminist friends has a full-time job, a 45 minute commute, a husband who often works from home, and she still does all of the cooking. While this is my personal nightmare, this arrangement works for them because she loves to cook. She’s happier doing it than not doing it. Making a marriage that works for both you and your spouse is what feminism is all about.
It doesn’t matter if you do more of the female identified tasks and your partner does the more masculine stuff (or vice versa). What matters is feeling respected and valued and that you are an equal partner. When it comes to the important decisions, are they made together? Do you have equal say about what’s for dinner or how you spend household money? That is feminism.
Fair is not always equal
This is a concept that I use a lot with the couples and families that I work with in my private practice. But it is equally true to having a feminist marriage. How realistic is it to divide everything 50/50? If we get so caught up in the tit-for-tat of chores, finances, and household obligations than we miss out on the joys of marriage and what really works for our families.
So rather than making sure that all things are divided equally, I recommend dividing things fairly. This means constant negotiation. Talking things out and working through things with your partner ultimately strengthens your marriage. You and your spouse will feel far more supported if you are communicating your wants and needs.
So what does that look like? For my marriage, sometimes the lion share of the housework falls on one person for a bit. As a small business owner. I occasionally need to push through and focus on my business. My husband works a more conventional job and will pick up my slack during these days/weeks. When I have more flexibility, I’ll clean while he’s at work, which opens up more quality time on the weekend. We talk this over and work it out. There are days/weeks when things are not split equally but it doesn’t feel unfair because we’ve talked about it and we are both contributing to the family. It’s a constant negotiation but we’re making sure that the marriage works for both of us.
What Does a Feminist Marriage Look Like?
A feminist marriage is one where each partner feels valued, respected, and heard. There will be tasks that you do more of (because it’s important to you, you’re better at, or your partner hates doing it and you don’t mind) and it doesn’t really matter if it’s a traditionally gendered task. What matters is that you feel valued. You feel like your opinion matters and you are heard in the relationship. You have a say in what’s important and so does your partner. A feminist marriage is one in which both partners needs are met. In a feminist marriage, you truly have a life partner.