Missed this last month: the Atlantic ran a 9,800-word cover story by Liza Mundy summarizing decades of sociological studies comparing same-sex unions and hetero marriages. Among the many findings, all of which are direct quotes lifted from the article:
• Same-sex unions are happier than heterosexual marriages.
• Researchers found that the quality of gay and lesbian relationships was higher on many measures than that of the straight control group (the married heterosexual siblings), with more compatibility and intimacy, and less conflict.
• Gay and lesbian couples were fairer in their dealings with one another than straight couples, both in intent and in practice.
• Other studies have since confirmed findings that same-sex couples are more egalitarian.
• A growing body of scholarship on household division of labor shows that in many ways, same-sex couples do it better.
• In all couples, the person with the higher income had more authority and decision-making power. This was least true for lesbians; truer for heterosexuals; and most true for gay men. Somehow, putting two men together seemed to intensify the sense that “money talks.”
• [on conflict] In same-sex couples, the partner with the bone to pick was rated “less belligerent and less domineering” than the straight-couple counterpart, while the person on the receiving end was less aggressive and showed less fear or tension. The same-sex “initiator” also displayed less sadness and “whining,” and more affection, joy, and humor.
• [on an experiment of parents and kids playing with toys] The same-sex couples are far more likely to be in there together, and the opposite-sex couples show the conventional pattern—the mom more involved, the dad playing with Tinkertoys by himself.” When the opposite-sex couples did parent simultaneously, they were more likely to undermine each other by talking at cross-purposes or suggesting different toys. The lesbian mothers tended to be egalitarian and warm in their dealings with one another, and showed greater pleasure in parenting than the other groups did. Same-sex dads were also more egalitarian in their division of labor than straight couples, though not as warm or interactive as lesbian moms. (Patterson says she and her colleagues may need to refine their analysis to take into account male ways of expressing warmth.)
• We know that heterosexual wives are more likely than husbands to initiate divorce... Intriguingly, in Norway and Sweden, where registered partnerships for same-sex couples have been in place for about two decades, research has found that lesbians are twice as likely as gay men to split up.
Liza Mundy is the author of three books, most recently The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Our Culture.