As a professional matchmaker, I’ve noticed more men and women calling themselves a feminist and wanting to date a feminist lately. Men are proudly sharing that they are a feminist and they believe in equality between the sexes. When searching for your life partner, sharing the same values is key when considering a long-lasting relationship. So, let’s start a conversation on the values of equality that many strive for in their relationships.
“Equality in a relationship means that each person’s interests and desires are respected and met to a reasonable degree as opposed to just one partner’s needs dominating the relationship. Inequality in a relationship refers to an imbalance of power between partners.“Stephanie Perez @ www.joinonelove.org
I believe the key to a healthy relationship is open and compassionate communication between partners. Being respectful of your mate means valuing the decisions they make, even if you would make different ones. When you listen, support, and share, your girlfriend or boyfriend knows you care.
Example of a disrespectful communication would be:
“I don’t know why you did that in the first place. No wonder your friend/boss/family is mad at you.”
Can you feel the feelings associated with that statement? Say your partner really felt that way. What could they say to you instead so that you can feel validated and understood?
“Your boss is mad at you. That must feel awful. How are you feeling?”
Does that sound better? Your partner isn’t there to fix your problems or blame you for having your problems. It doesn’t matter if you did something to create the awful situation you are in. When your partner listens and validates, you are more likely to discover your part in the situation and come up with a remedy, if there is one.
When you feel a desire to give your husband or wife advice, take a moment to just be with them in their emotions. Most of us just want to be heard when we are upset. We can ask for advice when we want it. If you really, really want to give advice to someone and believe you can be of help, communication experts advise waiting until the person has expressed themselves fully. Then ask if they would like some advice.
Sharing Household Duties
This is at the top of the list for many people. Sharing the duties of the home and yard will create harmony within the household. Gone are the days of “women’s work is inside the house” and “men’s work is in the yard and the garage.” Women and men are capable of doing all of the duties of caring for a home and property. Of course, we all have special talents and unique experiences which may lead to preferring some duties over others. When both people in the relationship discuss what needs to happen to maintain the home and come up with a plan together with mutual respect, the better the change of two happy people.
When one person in a relationship expects the other to take care of the yard, do the laundry, or vacuum the floors, that’s when resentments build. If you both hate doing laundry, consider using a laundry service or rotating weeks to share the drudgery. If you both love cooking, cook together or switch days depending on your unique work schedules. Yard work can be very enjoyable when shared between partners. Get dirty and sweaty and then cool off by spraying him/her with the hose!
Making Decisions Together
When discussing vacations, ways to save money, paying off debt, and how to parent your kids, plan a distraction-free time to discuss it all. If you are set on a decision, consider opening your mind to other options by presenting the facts and creating a list together. If you refrain from stating your strong opinion first, you are more likely to come up with a solution that you can both love. Oftentimes in relationships, if one person is adamant about something, the other person builds up resistance to it simply because they don’t want to feel someone holding power over them. We all want to be able to share and be heard.
Expecting Equal Pay Between Genders
While your partner doesn’t control how much money you make in your job, it’s lovely when they support your goals for financial security. Comments that are likely to be a trigger and a red flag are:
“You will never make as much as me.”
“I’ve never heard of a woman making more than a man in your field.”
While dating, bring up conversations related to the topic to elicit their reaction. Share stories about people you know who are making less than the opposite gender. Even if this topic doesn’t apply to your profession specifically, when these opinions differ, they can come out in other ways in the relationship.
Lack of Power Dominance
I often see powerful people in relationships with shy people that are eager to please. When couples marry in their twenties, they are bound to go through changes as they mature. However, when power dynamics start, they are often hard to break. Starting your relationship out with open communication and with the goal of equality will serve you both for your whole relationship.
Does your partner always decide where you will vacation that year?
Does she decide where to dine for every date?
Does he get the final say on the house you want to buy together?
Does the person who makes the most money, decide how to spend it for big joint purchases?
This is likely not a healthy relationship, based on mutual respect. Inviting a third person to seek counsel can give you both tools to unpack unhealthy habits to work towards mutually satisfying goals.
Feminism: A Journey to Equality
This workbook is a wonderful tool that can help you discover yourself in a deep way. Equality and feminism are the themes with journaling exercises to encourage personal growth. Written by Jennifer Vollbrecht and Danaelle Rodriquez, this workbook gives us permission to tune in and play. Buy your copy of Feminism: A Journey to Equality and start growing!
You, Me, and Uni
This company is woman owned and woman focused. You can find encouraging and helpful articles on the website, as well as order herbal teas (hand-crafted by a master herbalist) and learn more about the book mentioned above: Feminism: A Journey to Equality.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden is a freelance writer and editor in Gainesville, Florida.