Traditional Gender Roles in Marriage

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The traditional gender roles of men and women play a large part in marriage and family dynamics. Generally speaking, gender roles are set forth by society, but they can change as the times change. In the United States, the gender roles of both men and women in marriage have changed greatly over the centuries. The economy has also had a large affect on gender roles.


When immigrants founded and settled in the New World, they brought their established gender roles with them. European settlers added to these original gender roles when they began farming and setting up both family units and towns. At this time, the wife was considered the caregiver and the husband was relied on to support his family.

Women's Role

Traditionally, the wife works a part-time or full-time job until she has children; at that point, she leaves behind her job or career to stay at home and raise her kids. In most marriages, most household responsibilities fall on the wife's shoulders, including cooking and cleaning. However, many women dislike this aspect of their marriage and feel angry about taking on all of the household responsibilities.

Men's Role

In a marriage, and in a family, the man's traditional role is to provide for the family, earning money by working a full-time job. Men are expected to provide information and guidance relating to sports, careers and financial matters. Unfortunately, this role of implied power has given men the assumed personality traits of being aggressive and controlling, as well.


As more women entered the workforce in the 20th century, decisions that once were solely the husband's began to be made by both husband and wife, together. Additionally, current gender roles stress working together in terms of child care, household responsibilities and earning money. In same-sex relationships or marriages, and in the case of a couple who live together but aren't married, household chores and responsibilities tend to be shared more often than in man-woman marriages.


However a couple decides to live, one thing is certain---in order to have a happy, healthy marriage, both parties must agree on gender roles. Whether a couple sticks with the traditional gender roles of the 1950s, where the men worked while the women spent their days at home, or goes with modern gender roles, when most responsibilities are shared, both the husband and wife have to view gender roles the same way.