By Wagner, Cynthia G.
The Futurist , Vol. 40, No. 3
Conflicts come to most couples, over most of the same things: Whose turn is it to clean the tub? How much was spent on that new jacket? Whose family should we spend the holidays with? And couples sometimes break up.
As society looks to the question of allowing same-sex marriages (or banning them), more research is being done on the nature and quality of gay and lesbian relationships, and whether they differ from heterosexual relationships. Researchers hope to learn how to predict the success of relationships and how to improve them, enhancing the quality of people's lives. Researchers also want a better understanding of the differences that are often cited to support different treatment of homosexuals under the law.
Do gay and lesbian couples have as good a chance at maintaining stable and satisfying unions over the long term as do heterosexuals? So far, psychological research on homosexual relationships has been too scant to provide clear answers to such questions, but some conclusions may be drawn, according to Lawrence A. Kurdek of Wright State University.
From his meta-analysis of studies that have been made of gay and lesbian couples, Kurdek suggests that there may be more similarities than differences between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. The issues that matter to a couple are often the same, such as division of household chores, sources of conflict and satisfaction, and the need for a supportive social network (family and/or friends). And the factors that will predict the success or failure of the relationship are also similar: personality traits, level of trust and respect, and ability to communicate and resolve conflicts.
"Although members of gay and lesbian couples do not divide household labor in a perfectly equal manner, they are more likely than members of heterosexual couples to negotiate a balance between achieving a fair distribution of household labor and accommodating the different interests, skills, and work schedules of particular partners," Kurdek notes. …