The National Marriage Project's Brad Wilcox says there's only one thing wrong with how modern heterosexual marriage is often portrayed: "It's wrong."
In an essay challenging an Atlantic cover story, "The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss," Wilcox writes that the three biggest myths of heterosexual marriage are that it's unfair, unequal and unhappy — three claims in the "Gay Guide," written by Liza Mundy.
"Of course, it's true that some marriages are unequal and unfair, leaving a minority of wives (and husbands) unhappy," he writes. "And most husbands and wives experience moments or even periods of frustration with their work-family arrangements. Nevertheless, the big picture for marriage in America — for those Americans fortunate enough to have tied the knot — is remarkably more rosy than Mundy's portrayal would suggest. Most husbands and wives make about equal total contributions to the paid and unpaid work needed to sustain a family, judge their marriage to be fair and are happily married."
Wilcox points to a Pew Research Center study showing that most married parents each put in about 55 hours a week on work, housework and child care. Their time contributions are roughly equal.
He bolsters the point with the 2010-11 Survey of Marital Generosity, which found that the majority of married parents believe their marriages are "fair" — 73 percent of married dads and 68 percent of married moms.
"Perhaps in part because husbands' and wives' perceptions of equality are important predictors of contemporary marital happiness, most married parents report that they are satisfied with their marriages," Wilcox concludes. "Specifically, 80 percent of today's married fathers and 77 percent of today's married mothers say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their marriage."
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