At mid-marriage, say psychologists Wayne and Helen Reznick, "the initial (traditional) marriage contract is being exploded. Negotiating these changes can be a real bear."
But if successful, the marriage "becomes more of a partnership."
For the wife, "It means coming into her own from a dependent position where she looked to men for support and approval." Though there is less "hero-worshiping," she also knows her mate is "no orge. He's neither an idol nor a devil."
For the husband, particularly among couples caught up by the women's movement after years of marriage, it's a matter of "Everything was going fine. What happened all of a sudden?"
Some men "are threatened by women's independence. It's their fragile male ego." There can be jealousy because "she's involved in something else." They think, "I'm supposed to fill all her needs."
Many men "might unwittingly undermine" their wife's efforts. "Women have been socialized to be the woman-behind-the-man. The man-behind-the-woman is something less practiced."
Men in time learn to take the family's domestic chores more seriously. "They may not like it, but they feel it's important." It is important, too, that they take their wife's aspirations seriously.
A couple's maturity, say the Reznicks, probably can be measured by how "they go about making decisions. If they fight and struggle all the way, everybody feels lost."
In their home, "Once we recognized we both value a clean house and good meals, then we didn't seem to fight about it the way some couples do."
Couples have a better chance for happiness, they say, if they:
Get down to specifics on domestic chores and childrearing. Who does the toilets and who does the diapers? But weigh such factors as: "Do you have time?" "Is it easier for you than it is for me?"
Strive for mutual respect. Without it, you've got problems.
Keep perspective in arguments. "Don't be accusative." Consider yourself "pioneers setting the stage for important changes."
Support each other's efforts. "Say, 'Thank you' for cleaning the toilets."
Avoid psychological locks. "She has been socialized into seeing dirt; he wasn't." "Men shouldn't play helpless" to get out of household duties.
Make sure each is hearing what the other is saying, "so both can think they are winning."