Many people hope that their relationship or marriage will be one that is mutually supportive — a relationship of equals. Less actually achieve an equal partnership because they or their relationship lack the essential traits to support a mutual relationship.
What are some of the basic features of an equal relationship or marriage, and an equal partner? Ideas about equality in relationships vary, but what follows is a compilation of the most mentioned traits from studies, surveys, and polls across the world.
It may come as a surprise that conflict is found in the most equitable relationships. But shouldn’t these relationships have the least conflict? Not really.
Conflict in itself is not what promotes equality — it is the ability to accept and manage conflict that creates an equal partnership. If one partner refuses to discuss their differences or is unskilled at handling conflict, the other half will be forced to compromise for the sake of the relationship. This may happen several times in the course of a relationship, and inequality is created.
Research has found that a combination of masculine and feminine traits in both partners helps in creating equality. In addition, androgyny is correlated with overall marital satisfaction.
Androgyny makes one more comfortable with expressing or taking on roles typically assigned to the other gender. A male partner, for example, will see no issue in expressing his feelings directly, or helping out with household chores.
- Belief in Nurture
One aspect that has been found repeatedly in equally, mutually satisfying relationships is a belief that nurture plays a stronger role in creating human personality and behavior than does nature. In other words, few “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” supporters find themselves in equal relationships.
A fundamental part of establishing an equal relationship is the believing that men and women aren’t locked into different, unequal mindsets and skills. It is easy for a guy to dismiss his partner’s feelings as unimportant if he believes that women are innately over-emotional.
Although conflict is essential to an equal partnership, it is necessary for partners to harmonize and become in tune with the other and their experience. Mirroring occurs when you mimic the expressions, attitude, communication, and other aspects of another person.
Accommodation and mirroring feed into each other; one creates more of the other. Once you see something from another’s point of view, the give-and-take of an equal relationship naturally follows. But accommodating shouldn’t be done by one partner only — doing so creates the opposite result: inequality.
Listening is crucial to any healthy relationship. But listening doesn’t mean simply following what the other person is saying.
In order to create an equal relationship, both partners must listen to the other and try to understand their viewpoint. In doing so, both learn how to better meet their partner’s needs. Listening is a seemingly simple, but very effective and essential step towards creating a mutually supportive relationship.
- Timing/Mental Health
Even if a relationship contains all of the above ingredients, an equal relationship will not be established unless the relationship is formed at the right time and partners are mentally fit.
Relationships formed early on are less likely to be equal. Everyone needs time to adjust to the boundaries of a committed relationship, and that takes time. And if a person is not comfortable with themselves and their identity and is insecure, a relationship becomes one of parenting — an unequal relationship.
Equality in relationships is beneficial to both men and women. Those in equal partnerships are more intimate, less depressed, and have greater satisfaction with themselves and their relationship. They may be hard to create, but the benefits of an equal relationship are plenty and long-lasting.
What do you think helps create an equal, mutually beneficial relationship?