Richard Swerdlow: Stress in Marriage

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 (Richard Swerdlow)

Valentine’s Day is coming up and Richard Swerdlow looks at some recent research on stress in same sex and straight couples.

It's Valentine's Day, that celebration of love and marriage. Now that my husband and I have been married a few years, I have some advice about marriage. And I’m qualified to dole out advice because in 2019 the Journal of Marriage and Family studied 378 married couples female, male and straight to investigate emotional distress in different types of marriages. This study concluded male couples had the lowest levels of marital discord.

The study put forward a couple theories about well couples and why gay men have successful marriages.

Just being male in a sexist society was one reason. With men still earning a disgraceful average income of 19% more than women, male couples often have less financial stress. And since many male couples are not raising children, money and kids are not reasons to butt heads.

But it wasn't only money and kids. The study concluded two guys communicate more directly and effectively, and no gender roles results in more equal divisions of household labor.


Some of it is positive attitude. Since male couples my age never thought first-comes-love-then-comes-marriage applied to them, we're not taking this right for granted. I, for one, am thrilled with every one of those 1,138 romantic little federal statutory provisions granted by legal marriage.

With data showing two husbands are better than one, I'm glad my neighborhood, the Castro, is full of happy marriages. Marriage is good for a community. Married folks, gay and straight, with a spouse to depend on, use fewer government services, and have higher levels of physical health, mental health, and economic well-being. Research shows being married actually increases longevity.

Although, as my husband points out, maybe married people don't live longer, it just seems longer.

So have yourself a merry little Valentine's day, and make your marriage gay: Equalize the playing field, communicate, and not just on Valentine's Day but every day truly appreciate your spouse. No matter what gender they are.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow teaches in the San Francisco Unified School District.