Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Marital Equality: Its Relationship to the Well-Being of Husbands and Wives

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Marital Equality: Its Relationship to the Well-Being of Husbands and Wives

Article excerpt

Marital Equality: Its Relationship to the WellBeing of Husbands and Wives. Janice M. Steil. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 1997. 145 pp. ISBN 0-8039-5250-3. $42.00 cloth, $17.95 paper.

The topic of equality in marriages has been prevalent for more than 25 years in both the research literature and the popular press. A landmark study reported by Jessie Bernard in 1972 concluded that, psychologically, "his" marriage was better than "her" marriage.

Janice M. Steil's book, Marital Equality: Its Relationship to the Well-Being of Husbands and Wives, examines reasons for these differences in psychological well-being between married men and women. The first chapter uses Bernard's research as a springboard to examine subsequent research on the effects of marriage on both sexes. Steil concludes the chapter by indicating that later research also found that men benefit disproportionately from marriage. Therefore, Bernard's premise seems to stand. Steil then uses the remaining five chapters to look at specific concepts that she believes are related to reasons marriage favors men.

Chapter 2 examines social roles and psychological well-being. Parenthood seems to take a higher toll on women than on men. Also, employment roles indicate that wives working outside the home never fare as well psychologically as employed husbands. However, they seem to fare better than full-time homemakers.

Marital power and relationship equality are examined in the third and fourth chapters. Steil cites at length the research that she and a colleague, Beth Turetsky, conducted on marital power. They found that employed mothers had less power than their childless counterparts and that the presence of children in a marriage created an imbalance in perceived equality between husbands and wives. …

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