Perfect Partners

Gay parents often balance their relationshipsmore equally than heterosexual parents. An older sister tells of her brother's death from AIDS.

By PT Staff, published on January 1, 1995 - last reviewed on January 23, 2015

FAMILY Gay Families

See ya June and Ward Cleaver. A new menage has moved into the slot
as model family for our times. Say hello to gay male couples with adopted
children. Creating their own rules as they go along, these "gay parenting
couples" have stumbled upon new ways to make relationship equity

Marriage and family therapist Dan McPherson, Ph.D., compared
relationship satisfaction and the divvying up of parent and family tasks
in 56 couples--28 gay male partnerships and 28 heterosexual.

"When it comes to both child care and family tasks--like mowing the
lawn or doing the budget--gay parents divide things up significantly more
evenly than straight couples," reports McPherson, himself half of a gay
parenting couple. Not surprising, gay couples declare more satisfaction
with the division of labor than heterosexual couples.

After the arrival of a child, women in "straight" marriages want
their husbands to shoulder more child care responsibility. "Gay couples
negotiate tasks on the basis of interest, ability, or fairness, whereas
heterosexuals have to choose to surrender to or counteract preexisting
social roles," says McPherson. On the whole, both sets of couples were
satisfied with their relationship, yet gays were happier in the areas of
shared interests and affectional expression. Does this mean the gay
parenting couple is an inherently more satisfying relationship? No, says
McPherson, a private practitioner in San Francisco. He's not suggesting
that all couples share evenly in family duties. How tasks are split isn't
important; it's having the freedom to carve your own role in line with
your interests.