PEER MARRIAGE by Pepper Schwartz

PEER MARRIAGE

How Love Between Equals Really Works
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An illuminating examination of modern egalitarian marriage by a sociologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Spurred on by insights gleaned during research on her first book (American Couples, with co-author Blumstein, not reviewed) as well as her own egalitarian marriage, Schwartz interviewed over 100 couples in search of the distinguishing characteristics, assets, and liabilities of traditional versus peer marriages. The latter is defined here as ``a collaboration of love and labor in order to produce profound intimacy and mutual respect.'' Such marriages are characterized, Schwartz says, by shared parenting and household duties, equal decision-making power, equal financial control, and equal work status. Not content to dismiss the traditional hierarchical arrangement of male provider/female caretaker on the basis of liberal politics alone, Schwartz demonstrates how the inherent imbalance of power in such marriages prohibits deep friendship and true partnership. She compares the traditional relationship between wife and husband to a friendship between an employee and boss, in which intimacy is limited by the power inherent in the work relationship; similarly the traditional husband's power, residing among other things in control of money, limits marital intimacy. While Schwartz's evidence indicates that the rewards of marriage between equals outweigh the risks, the costs are given full consideration here: Some couples complained of sex feeling incestuous because they were so close; career goals often had to take a backseat to accommodate the commitment to sharing family life; and there is little support from family, friends and society for rocking the boat. Although traditional husbands will probably balk at Schwartz's implication that men are more to blame than women in failing to achieve marital equality, any couple contemplating marriage or reevaluating an existing one will find powerful information and encouragement here for a true marriage of minds.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-931715-0
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994




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