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Cohabiting couples display traditional views

A recent study from America has found that working-class couples who choose to cohabit rather than marry tend to have traditional views on gender roles within the home.

The study, by researchers from the University of Indianapolis and Cornell University, found that the behaviour of many of these couples was guided by the idea of the male breadwinner/female homemaker, even where the woman was the main money earner.

“Many people have thought of these cohabitors as very egalitarian,” said Dr. Amanda J. Miller. “In fact, in many ways, these working-class cohabitors are playing house. They’re acting out the roles traditionally played by married people.”

“A number of these working class men wanted the respect of being the breadwinner, but were not necessarily taking on that role,” she continued. “While they were content to let their girlfriends pay at least half of the rent, they admitted that they had no plans to take on half of the housework, even if their partners were very unhappy about doing more than their fair share.”

According to the researchers, the study suggests that working-class men were at greater risk of losing their jobs during the recession, and losing this ground in the workplace made it more important to them to stand their ground at home.

Unsurprisingly, researchers also found that many women in these cohabiting relationships were reluctant to get married, as they see it as leading to them having to do even more work.

“They’re afraid that they’re going to be doing even more than they do now,” Miller said, “which may help explain the retreat from marriage among those with less than a college education.”

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